And the word in the Antwerp area was...generally a heavily accented one.

Post date: Feb 17, 2010 9:50:5 AM

During my recent trip to Antwerp, I continually found myself asking taxi drivers to repeat things - the local accent is very strong, and the Flemish speak surprisingly quickly. The general view appeared to be that I sound like a "Nederlander" (somebody from the Netherlands) - those same taxi drivers were suspiciously keen to make their views clear on the hilarious accent spoken by those from north of the Belgo-Dutch border.

Mind you, our driver on Friday evening spoke four languages, and was prepared to converse in all of them, switching between English, French, Dutch and Spanish as rapidly as he switchbacked between the extraordinary holes in the under-maintained Flemish roads.

Some schoolkids on the train also extracted the Michael - I picked up a dialect reference to "the flying Dutchman", accompanied by disappointingly less-than-furtive giggles, after I inquired about the next station stop.

I frequently found myself wishing people would just speak properly (clearly enough for me to understand). I think I must be getting old.

I also think some more exposure to the accent is required - the two-week trip in March should do the trip. Watch out for more Flemish "Words".