Limburg toddlers to learn Limburgish? Province plans language revival

Limburg has a rolling countryside and its own language. Photo:
Limburg has a rolling countryside and its own language. Photo:

Toddlers in Limburg are to be spoken to in Limburgish in an effort to help keep the local language alive, the Limburger newspaper said on Thursday.

The province is launching an experiment at play group Spelenderwijs in the far south in which play group leaders will talk to the children in Limburgish rather than Dutch.

Some words, such as hin for hen, are fairly easy to understand but others, like kuusj for pig and sjokel for swing are very different from Dutch.

‘Limburgish is still the first language in many Limburg families,’ said regional language expert Ton van de Wijngaard, who advises the provincial government. ‘But once they go to play groups, children only hear Dutch… and then they don’t want to talk Limburgish at home any more.’

The province has published a new policy document which states the language is a very important part of Limburg’s cultural heritage and should be given a more prominent place in education.

The province is also planning to develop special lessons on Limburgish for use in both primary and secondary schools.

The province’s culture director Ger Koopmans told the paper he is ‘charmed’ by the plan. ‘This is an important step in keeping Limburgish alive,’ he said. More details about the plans will be released in the coming months.

Limburgish has been recognised as an official regional language in the Netherlands since 1997.

According to the Limburgish Academy Foundation Limburgish also has its own written tradition, which dates back to at least 900 AD and some of Europe’s most highly regarded literature came from Limburg between the 11th and 14th centuries.

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