Vlaamsis a group of dialects spoken in the northern part of Belgium, precisely in the regions of the East Flanders (Oostvlaams), of the West Flanders (Westvlaams), of Brabant and Limburg; small Flemish linguistic minorities are also found in the French Flanders (Nord-Pas de Calais). The Flemish dialects derive from the Low Franconian and belong to the area of the Low German dialects, more precisely they are part of the Southern Nederlands. Their literary use is quite ancient: from the 13th century dates a Flemish reworking of the French Roman de Renart. In the 19th century a common literary language, the hoogvlaams ("chosen Flemish") began to develop above the dialects, but it was not able to prevail; by the end of the last century Dutch has replaced this artificial language in literature and in official use. The name of Flemish is derived from that of the County of Flanders, from Middle Dutch vlāmisch, vlemesch. The name of the County of Flanders itself was first attested in Ghent, in 1237, and etymologically it derives from Old Dutch Flandr, roughly meaning “what is flooded / flooded area”.
- Enciclopedia Grolier