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Old 27th September 2019, 17:15
Andy Fletcher's Avatar
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Belgian Place Names

Is there a general rule for the correct spelling of place names in Belgian that end with "gem"

For the French version of a name it would end "ghem" whereas the Flemish (Dutch) version ends "gem" or are both versions used interchangeably and are not language dependent.

ie Everghem in French but Evergem in Flemish.

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Old 30th September 2019, 13:42
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Re: Belgian Place Names

I think this is a bit of a cultural minefield and depends on whether you're in a French- or Flemish-speaking area. Brussels is officially "neutral" and the destination signs on the buses oscillate between the two versions of each place name.
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Old 30th September 2019, 14:00
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Re: Belgian Place Names

Hi Nick,

Many thanks for the reply. I agree with it probably being a bit of a minefield. I ask because looking at WWII era sources "ghem" AND "gem" seem to be used interchangeably but with RAF sources seeming to have a preponderance for the use of "ghem" which I assume is the French version.

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Old 30th September 2019, 16:24
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Re: Belgian Place Names

Many place names have a different name in French and Dutch like Kortrijk/Courtrai or Leuven/Louvain. So which to use depends on what language you use. If you write in another language then French or Dutch (or German, which is the third official language in Belgium) I think it's best to use the spelling of the region the place is located in.

Concerning the ghem or gem at the end of a flemish place: AFAIR in 1946 they changed many spelling rules in Belgium. The place names ending on ghem were changed into gem in Dutch but not in French. So in French the old spelling is still used to date.

So in Dutch it's Evergem and in French it's still Everghem.
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Old 30th September 2019, 17:34
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Re: Belgian Place Names

Hi Rudi,

Thank you for the explanation. From what I can see the RAF tended to use the French version of names, perhaps that is how their maps were labelled.

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