Maastrichtian dialect

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(sometimes Mestreechs-Limburgs or colloquially Dialek, Plat)
Pronunciation [məˈstʀeːxs]
Native to the Netherlands
Region City of Maastricht
Native speakers
60,000 (date missing)[citation needed]
Official status
Official language in
Limburg, Netherlands: Recognised as regional language as a variant of Limburgish.
Regulated by Veldeke-Krink Mestreech
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None

Maastrichtian (Limburgish: Mestreechs [məˈstʀeːxs]) or Maastrichtian Limburgish (Limburgish: Mestreechs-Limburgs [məˈstʀeːxsˈlimbœʀxs]) is the city dialect and variant of Limburgish spoken in the Dutch city of Maastricht alongside the Dutch language (with which it is not mutually intelligible). In terms of speakers it is the most widespread variant of Limburgish, and is a tonal one. Like many of the Limburgish dialects spoken in neighbouring Belgian Limburg,[2] Maastrichtian kept a lot of Gallo-Romance (or more accurately, French and Walloon) influences in its vocabulary.[3] This Francophone influence can additionally be attributed to the historical importance of French with the cultural elite and educational systems as well as the historical immigration of Walloon labourers to the city.[citation needed] Despite being a specific variant of Limburgish, Maastrichtian remains mutually intelligible with other Limburgish variants, especially the ones of surrounding municipalities.

Whilst Maastrichtian is still widely spoken, regardless of social level, research has shown that it is suffering from a degree of dialect loss amongst younger generations. This is the case in dwindling of speakers but also in development of the dialect (dialect levelling) towards Standard Dutch (e.g. the loss of local words and grammar).[1]

Geographic distribution, social status and sociolects

File:Maastricht Mestreech - Achter de Oude Minderbroeders Achter d'n Awwe Minnebreure.jpg
Bilingual street sign in Maastricht: Achter de Oude Minderbroeders is Dutch, Achter d'n Awwe Minnebreure is Maastrichtian.

Maatrichtian being a city dialect, the terminology "Maastrichtian" (Mestreechs) is practically limited to the municipal borders, with the exception of some places within the Maastrichtian municipality where the spoken dialects are in fact not Maastrichtian. These exceptions are previously separate villages and/or municipalities that have merged with the municipality of Maastricht namely Amby, Borgharen, Heer and Itteren.

The social status of Maastrichtian speakers is determined by the type of sociolect spoken by a certain person, with a division between Short Maastrichtian or Standard Maastrichtian [4] (Kort Mestreechs, Standaardmestreechs) and Long/Stretched Maastrichtian (Laank Mestreechs). Short Maastrichtian is generally considered to be spoken by the upper and middle classes, whilst Long Maastrichtian is considered to be spoken by the working class.

A particular feature of Maastrichtian is that it gives its speakers a certain prestige.[5] Research of the dialect showed that people talking the "purest" form of Maastrichtian, i.e. the Short Maastrichtian (Kort Mestreechs) sociolect, were perceived by others to be the well-educated ones.

Written Maastrichtian

The oldest known and preserved text in Maastrichtian dates from the 18th century. This text named Sermoen euver de Weurd Inter omnes Linguas nulla Mosa Trajestensi prastantior gehauwe in Mastreeg was presumably written for one of the carnival celebrations and incites people to learn Maastrichtian. As from the 19th century there are more written texts in Maastrichtian, again mostly oriented towards these carnival celebrations. Nowadays however, many other sources display written Maastrichtian, including song texts not written for carnival as well as books, poems, street signs etc.

Standardisation and official spelling

In 1999, the municipal government recognised a standardised spelling of Maastrichtian made by Pol Brounts and Phil Dumoulin as the official spelling of the dialect.[4]


Other literature on Maastrichtian

  • Aarts, F. (2009). 't Verhaol vaan eus Taol. Maastricht, the Netherlands: Stichting Onderweg.

Local anthem

In 2002, the municipal government officially adopted a local anthem (Mestreechs Volksleed) composed of lyrics in Maastrichtian. The theme had originally been written by Alfons Olterdissen (1865–1923) as finishing stanza of the Maastrichtian opera "Trijn de Begijn" of 1910.[6]


  • Wikipedia: Maastrichtian is included in the Limburgish Wikipedia. Since there are only standardised 'variants' of Limburgish but no widely accepted/recognised standardised Limburgish itself, each article is tagged as being written in a certain variant of the language. All articles in Maastrichtian can be found here.
  • Wiktionary: For an overview of some Maastrichtian dialect specific words, their English translations and their origins proceed to this Wiktionary category.


The phonology of the Maastrichtian dialect, especially with regards to vowels is quite extensive due to the dialect's tonal nature.


Monophthongs of the Maastrichtian dialect, from Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
Monophthong phonemes[7]
Front Central Back
unrounded rounded
short long short long short short long
Close i y u
Close-mid ɪ øː ʏ ʊ
Open-mid ɛ ɛː œ œː ə ɔ
Open æ ɑ ɔː
  • The front vowels /y, yː, ɪ, eː, øː, œ, œː, æ, aː/ are somewhat retracted [, y̠ː, , e̠ː, ø̠ː, œ̠, œ̠ː, æ̠, a̠ː], but not retracted enough to be labelled as central vowels. On the other hand, /ʏ/ is so retracted that it is best labelled as central [ɵ].[7]
  • Among the central vowels, /ʏ/ is rounded, whereas /ə/ is unrounded.
    • /ə/ occurs only in unstressed syllables.[8]
  • Among the back vowels, /u, uː, ʊ, oː, ɔ, ɔː/ are rounded, whereas /ɑ/ is unrounded.
    • /u, uː, ʊ, oː, ɔ, ɑ/ are somewhat advanced [, u̟ː, , o̟ː, ɔ̟, ɑ̟], but not advanced enough to be labelled as central vowels.[7]
  • The qualitative differences between the short /ɪ, ʏ, ʊ/ and long /eː, øː, oː/ close-mid vowels are not very big; the short vowels are slightly higher and somewhat more central. In case of the /ʏ/–/øː/ pair, the difference is the smallest.[7]
  • Among the open-mid vowels, only /ɛː, œː, ɔ/ are open-mid [ɛː, œː, ɔ], whereas /ɛ, œ, ə/ are actually mid [ɛ̝, œ̝, ə].[7]
  • The open vowels /æ, ɑ, ɔː/ are somewhat raised (i.e. near-open) [æ, ɑ̝, ɒ̝ː]. /æ/ is similar in quality to /ɛː/; the main difference between them is backness (/æ/ is somewhat more retracted), rather than height.[7]
  • The short counterpart of /aː/ is /ɑ/, not /æ/ (which does not have a long counterpart).


Diphthongs of the Maastrichtian dialect, from Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
Sign IPA Maastrichtian example ("translation") English or other example Notes
aaj [aːi] aajd ("old") -- --
aoj [ɒːi] slaoj ("salad") -- --
äöj [œːi] dräöj ("thread") -- --
aj [ɑi] ajdste ("oldest") -- --
au [ɑu] auto ("car") -- --
aw [ɑw] klaw ("claw") wow! --
ei, ij [ɛ(ː)ɪ] ei ("egg") -- often [ɛː]
ej [æj] hej ("[he/she] had") -- --
ew [æw] klewke ("claw") -- --
iew [iːw] kiew ("gill") new --
oj [ɔi] trojt ([he/she] "marries") -- --
ooj [oːj] snooje ("to trim" or "to prune") -- --
ou [ɔu] douf ("deaf") -- --
ui [øi] buimke ("tree") -- --


Consonant phonemes[1]
Labial Alveolar Postalveolar Dorsal Glottal
Nasal m n (ɲ) ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t (c) k
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s (ʃ) x
voiced v z (ʒ) ɣ ɦ
trill ʀ
Approximant β l j
  • /m, p, b, β/ are bilabial, whereas /f, v/ are labiodental.[1]
    • In the syllable onset, /β/ is articulated with spread lips. However, in the syllable coda, the lips are weakly rounded.[9]
  • Voiceless plosives are unaspirated, whereas the voiced plosives are fully voiced.[9]
  • Word-initial /v/ and especially /ɣ/ can be only partially voiced [v̥, ɣ̊] but without merging with, respectively, /f/ and /x/.[9]
  • /ɲ, c, ʃ, ʒ/ are laminal postalveolar. Phonemically, they can be analysed as /nj, tj, sj, zj/.[9]
  • /ŋ, k, ɡ, x, ɣ/ are velar, whereas /j/ is palatal.[1]
    • Word-initial /x/ is restricted to loanwords.[9]
  • /ʀ/ is a voiced fricative trill, either uvular [ʀ̝] or pre-uvular [ʀ̝˖]. The fricative component is particularly audible in coda, where a partial devoicing to [ʀ̝̊ ~ ʀ̝̊˖] also occurs.[9]
Example words for consonants
Voiceless Voiced
Phoneme IPA Orthography Meaning Phoneme IPA Orthography Meaning
/m/ /miβ/ miew 'gull'
/n/ /nœy/ nui 'new'
/ɲ/ /kʊˈɲɑk/ cógnac 'brandy'
/ŋ/ /ɪŋ/ ing 'scary'
/p/ /pʀiːs/ pries 'price' /b/ /bʀoːʀ/ broor 'brother'
/t/ /tiːt/ tied 'time' /d/ /daːk/ daak 'roof'
/c/ /ˈbɑcɑkəʀ/ batjakker 'rascal'
/k/ /klɔːʀ/ klaor 'ready' /ɡ/ /ˈlɛɡə/ lègke 'lay'
/f/ /fiːn/ fien 'fine' /v/ /vaːn/ vaan 'of'
/s/ /ɑs/ as 'ash' /z/ /ziː/ zie 'sea'
/ʃ/ /ʃeːp/ sjeep 'sheep' /ʒ/ /ʒyβəˈleːʀ/ zjuweleer 'jeweller'
/x/ /ɔux/ ouch 'also' /ɣ/ /ɣoːt/ good 'good'
/ɦ/ /ɦɛi/ hei 'here'
/ʀ/ /ʀoːnt/ roond 'round'
/β/ /βiːn/ wien 'whine'
/l/ /lɪŋks/ links 'left'
/j/ /jɔː/ jao 'yes'


b ch d f g gk h j k l m n ng p r s sj t v w z
Vowels (both monophthongs and diphthongs)
a aa aaj aj ao aoj äö äöj aj au aw e è ee ei ej eu ew i ie iew o ó ö oe oo ooj ou u ui uu


Maastrichtian contains many specific words ample or not used in other Limburgish dialects some being creolisations/"limburgisations" of Dutch, French and German words while others cannot be directly subscribed to one of these languages.

(Historical) Vocabulary influences from other languages

Maastrichtian vocabulary, as the language family it belongs to suggests, is based on the Germanic languages (apart from the Limburgish language family this also includes varying degrees of influence from both archaic and modern Dutch and German). However, what sets Maastrichtian apart from other variants of Limburgish is its relatively strong influences from French. This is not only because of geographic closeness of a Francophone region (namely Wallonia) to Maastricht but also because of French being the predominant spoken language of the Maastrichtian cultural elite and the higher secondary educational system of the region in the past. Some examples:

Francophone influence

English Dutch French Maastrichtian [3][4]
to advance vooruitkomen avancer avvencere
bracelet armband bracelet brazzelèt
errand boodschap commission kemissie
jealous jaloers jaloux zjelous
to remember (zich) herinneren se rappeler (ziech) rappelere
washbasin wastafel lavabo lavvabo

Germanophone influence

English Dutch German Maastrichtian [3][4]
bag zak, tas Tüte tuut
ham ham Schinken sjink
liquorice candy drop Lakritze krissie
plate bord Teller teleur
ready, done klaar fertig veerdeg
swing (for children) schommel Schaukel sjógkel

Other examples of Maastrichtian vocabulary

Some examples of specific Maastrichtian vocabulary:

English Dutch French German Maastrichtian [3] Notes
approximately, roughly ongeveer appoximativement, environ ungefähr naoventrint
bag tas sac Tasche kalbas
completely helemaal, gans tout à fait ganz gans (historically) Common in Germanic languages
frame (of doors and windows) lijst cadre (or chambranle) Rahmen sjabrang
grandmother / grandfather grootmoeder / grootvader grand-mère / grand-père Großmutter / Großvater bomma(ma) / bompa(pa)
sieve vergiet passoire Sieb zeiboar (sometimes written zeijboar)
where? waar? où? wo? boe?

Expressions and Titles

Some examples of Maastrichtian expressions:

Maastrichtian Expression Meaning (Approx.) Notes [3]
Neet laank meh breid Literally "Not long but broad". Commonly used to indicate the characteristic of the Maastrichtian dialect to "stretch" vowels (in speech and writing). The word laank (long) is the example in this case whereas it would be written as either lank or lang in other variants of Limburgish and lang in Dutch.
Noondezju [3] A minor swear word and /or an expression of surprise From Eastern Walloon "nondidju", meaning "(in) name of God"
Preuvenemint Name of an annual culinary festival held in Maastricht A contraction of the Maastrichtian words preuve (to taste) and evenemint (event)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:155)
  2. Rob Belemans & Benny Keulen, Taal in stad en land: Belgisch-Limburgs, 2004
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Brounts P., Chambille G., Kurris J., Minis T., Paulissen H. & Simais M. (2004). "Veldeke Krink Mestreech: Nuie Mestreechsen Dictionair". Veldeke-Krink Mestreech. Retrieved 2008-12-25.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Aarts, F. (2009). "'t Verhaol vaan eus Taol". Stichting Onderweg. Missing or empty |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Muenstermann, H. (1989). Dialect loss in Maastricht. Walter de Gruyter. Retrieved 2009-07-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Municipality of Maastricht (2008). "Municipality of Maastricht: Maastrichts Volkslied". N.A. Maastricht. Retrieved 2009-08-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  8. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:157)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:156)


  • Gussenhoven, Carlos; Aarts, Flor (1999), "The dialect of Maastricht" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, University of Nijmegen, Centre for Language Studies, 29: 155–166, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006526<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • van der Wijngaard, Ton (1999), "Maastricht", in Kruijsen, Joep; van der Sijs, Nicoline (eds.), Honderd Jaar Stadstaal (PDF), Uitgeverij Contact, pp. 233–249<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links