Flemish language

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Flemish language,

member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languagesGermanic languages,
subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages, spoken by about 470 million people in many parts of the world, but chiefly in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
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). Generally regarded as the Belgian variant of Dutch (see Dutch languageDutch language,
member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). Also called Netherlandish, it is spoken by about 15 million inhabitants of the Netherlands, where it is the national language, and by
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) rather than as a separate tongue, Flemish is spoken by approximately 5.5 million people in Belgium, where it is one of the official languages, and by a few thousand persons in France. So closely are Flemish and Dutch related that the difference between them has been compared to the difference between American and British English; however, some scholars hold that they have diverged sufficiently since the 16th cent. to be described as separate languages.