Limburgish is a West Germanic language spoken by more than 1 million people. The language is closely related to Dutch, German and English. Geographically, Limburgish is used in an area consisting of the border regions of western Belgium, southeastern Netherlands, and a small section of Germany and French-speaking Belgium to the south. As a result, Limburgish is at the crossroads of the large Germanic and Latin European cultures. In the 1990s, the Dutch government and the Belgian regional government of Wallonia politically and legally recognised Limburgish as a separate language.
From a linguistic point of view, Limburgish differs from other West Germanic languages due to its remarkable contrastive tonality. In addition, its vocabulary, grammar and phonology distinguish it from Dutch and German, the two major languages to which it is closest. This positioning of Limburgish between Dutch and German is similar to that of Catalan, which – in linguistic terms – can be situated between the two major languages of Castilian-Spanish and French. These two minor European languages – Catalan and Limburgish - share their origins with their major linguistic relatives, but have sustained their own separate development.
Limburgish also has its own written tradition, which dates back to at least 900 CE. The Wachtendonck Codex is the oldest text discovered so far. Some of Europe’s most highly regarded literature came from Limburg between the 11th and 14th centuries, with Henric van Veldeke one of the most popular authors. Until the 15th and 16th centuries, Limburgish was used as a language of government in many parts of Limburg. From the 19th century onwards, Limburgish has been part of a literary renaissance, resulting in the creation of numerous novels, poems, plays, operas, musicals, song lyrics, newspaper articles and various academic texts. A significant indicator of the vitality of our language is the increasing number of websites written in Limburgish.
This section of our site provides answers to questions you may have in relation to Limburgish and Limburg. The navigation bar to the left provides a quick guide to various aspects of Limburgish, as well as additional information on its historical, political, legal, linguistic and sociological aspects.