A thing that stroke me a lot while arriving in Belgium (and still amazes my mum when she comes in Belgium though she comes every summer) is to hear people saying "S'il vous plaît!" all the time.
Of course, this happens if you speak French but I heard it sometimes in Dutch as well ("Als U/je Blieft!").
This happens when you buy something. You choose the item, pay and would hear the cashier or sales(wo)man saying "S'il vous plaît!" while handing your bag to you.
I've never discussed about it but just see it as a sure sign of kindness, more beyond politeness. Politeness would be to hand the bag to client with a smile and say goodbye... but here, it's more than that! And I am not a brown tongue !
Well, this is one of impressions a Malagasy girl had while arriving in Belgium.
Officially Brussels is a bilingual city of French and Dutch languages (in real it's Dutch dialect called Flemish - similar to "regular" Dutch). So always menu was written at least in these two languages in front of restaurants. But I noticed that they mostly could speak either English (most) or German (less) as well.
We were talking with a couple of natives at Grand Place (in English) and they told us that they both spoke Flemish at home (minority) but could understand French as well and sometimes they had to speak using both languages at the same time to communicate with other natives :-). Not so easy, I suppose.
I noticed that all street names are written in two languages: French and Flemish.
There is Flemish name at the top of the sign and French at the bottom.
Street is "rue" in French and "straat" in Flemish. They put the name of the street at the end in French and at the beginning in Flemish. So, there is: Rue Neuve and Nieuw Straat.
I was under the impression before I arrived that people in Brussels spoke Dutch and French quite evenly. This is not the case. I stood at many cash registers dumb founded because I had only learned Dutch. If you go to Brussels, learn some French too!
When visiting a cinema in Belgium, remember that Belgium has 3 official labguages and dubbed versions of movies are everywhere.
To avoid stumbling on to a film you wouldn't understand always look for the sign next to the movie title...
OV or VO
This means Original Version which comes with subtitles but is spoken in the original language.
seems to me a very special phenomon to find two languages spoken in one city. In Brussels they speak french and dutch. You can say that the city is divided in the french and in the dutch zone. The poeple normally understand each other but not everyone speaks both languages. They told me that a lot of times one speak in dutch and the other responds in french and they understand it each other. Impressing!
I thought that French, being one of the official languages of Belgium, would be the best way to communicate here. Actually though, most of the shop keepers would prefer to speak english to you. In the west of Belgium, in fact, most of the locals do not even speak french, but speak Flemish and English.
Belgium has two languages. French and Flemish (which is the same as Dutch). However In Brussels you won’t experience any difficulties because of this. If you can speak either, most of the people in Brussels speak both. If you can’t speak either, you will find English widely spoken and understood.
In Brussels two languages are spoken, French and Flemish (similar to Dutch). But as tourist you could get by with English very well.