The most common Flemish name for grandmother is bomma, along with bompa for grandfather. Some Flemish use oma, along with opa for grandfather, as do their Dutch and German neighbors. Ending with an "i" instead of an "a" is a common variation, creating bommi and bompi, omi and opi. This audio file demonstrates the pronunciation of bomma.
Flemish, one of the three official languages of Belgium, is spoken primarily in the northern part.
Flemish is very similar to Dutch and is sometimes called Belgian Dutch.
More Name Variations
A number of other terms are sometimes used as grandparent names by the Flemish. These include mémé/pépé, mammie/pappie, moemoe/vava and moeke/vake.
The Flemish language does not have specialized terms for maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents. Therefore Flemish speakers sometimes choose different terms to help their children distinguish between the different sets of grandparents. Alternately, the grandparent's last name may be appended to his or her grandparent name.
About Flemish Culture
Belgium is home to two primary groups. The Walloons live mostly in southern Belgium and speak French. The Flemings live mostly in the northern part and speak Flemish, also known as Belgian Dutch. Conflict and competition was once quite fierce between the French speakers and the Flemish speakers, but that has died down in recent years.
Some authorities add a third group, the German speakers, who primarily live in the northeast, but this group is very small compared to the others.
Most Flemish people are nominally Catholic, although a large portion of these are non-observant. Still, major life events are celebrated with religious rituals.
Also, most Flemings are educated in Catholic schools, but all schools public or private are supported by the state.
The Flemish are known for lace-making, glass-blowing and pottery-making. There is a rich artistic tradition going back to the Flemish masters -- Rubens, Hieronymus Bosch, the Bruegels and others.
Soccer is the national sport of Belgium, and the Flemish are enthusiastic fans. They also enjoy gardening. Belgium has ten public holidays, but Flemings also love folk festivals. Puppets, street theater and song enliven folk celebrations, and celebrants create giant papier-mache characters. The Flemish are also enthusiastic participants in the tradition of Carnival.
Flemish Family Life
Belgium is a very small country. It is smaller than West Virginia. Many Flemish continue to live near where they grew up, making it easy for them to stay connected with grandparents and other extended family members. Still, extended family is not as important in the Flemish culture as in many other cultures. The basic family unit is nuclear. Many young adults continue to live with their parents. On the other hand, most elderly Flemings live in retirement communities or facilities for the aged rather than being cared for by family members.
Traditional virtues such as obedience, cleanliness and hard work are valued among the Flemish. Young people are expected to respect their elders.