Episode 20: Mestreechs – The Maastricht Dialect with special guest Joes Minis (part two)

Available on Spotify, Youtube, Apple Podcasts and Anchor.

Part two of our Mestreechs discussion is here. In this episode Lucy, Katrina and special guest Joes Minis chat about Mestreechs literature, music and, of course, Carnaval! Join us as we laugh and learn about local language and culture.

If you haven’t seen part one yet, make sure to check that out here!

Our special guest for this episode is local expert Joes Minis. Joes works at the Centre Céramique and on the online resource Zicht Op Maastricht. A huge thanks to Joes for his help on this episode!

The Momus Society played a huge role in preserving and celebrating the local dialect. Above, the first image shows the members of the Momus theatre department in 1900 ( (c) RHCL). The second photograph (top right) shows the Momus card club presenting “Souvenir de la Cavalcade 1891” on 1/3/1891 ( (c) RHCL).

The third picture above (bottom left) shows the Momus theatre department in costume for their production of ‘Le bourgeois gentilhomme’ by Moliere (1673), renamed ‘Den ierzuchtigen burger’ for a local audience (1862, (c) RHCL). The Momus also designed the costumes for their production to contemporary French fashions including top hats and army uniforms ( (c) RHCL).

The fourth picture (bottom right) shows costumed children onstage c. 1920 – 1925 ( (c) RHCL).

Carnaval and Carnaval music have been an important part of Mestreechs history. The first two photographs above show ‘drunk bands’ walking the streets during Carnaval. The first (top left) shows one of the many ‘zaate herremeniekes’, near Sauter’s wine cellars, in 1980 ( (c) RHCL). The second (top right) shows another on the Our Sweet Lady square in 1837 ( (c) RHCL)

The third photograph (bottom left) shows Prince Sjarel I Gemmeke and Frans Thewissen on the way from the Station to the City Hall in 1968 ( (c) RHCL). In the fourth picture (bottom right) you can see an elaborate Carnaval float crossing the Sint Servaas Bridge in 1937 ( (c) RHCL).

Above are more modern photographs of Maastricht’s drunk bands (left (c) maastrichtnet.nl, and right 2018 (c) Limburger.nl).

Above are three diagrams of language in the Netherlands each increasing in how precisely they show dialect areas ( (c) The circle of fifths). You can see here that the Maastricht dialect is part of Nederfrankisch (diagram 1), more precisely Limburg (diagram two) and finally East Limburg (diagram 3).

A traditional tool for learning dialect in Maastricht has been the ‘t leesplenkse which are small cards or wooden blocks with words and illustrations on them. Above are two examples, top left shows a design from 2010 ( (c) mestreechtersteerke.nl), and top right shows a design from c. 1987 ( (c) Veldeke Mestreech).

Below is a contemporary poster with information about the Covid-19 pandemic in the Central, Northern and Southern Limburg dialects ( (c) www.deltalimburg.nl). The poster was originally designed by Italian artist Fabio Vettori and has been translated many times including by Huis voor de Kunsten for Limburg.

The first song used in this week’s episode are from the ‘Kakkestolemeie’ book and CDs, published by Veldeke Mestreech in 2013 to help local children learn the dialect. The song is called ‘Vastelaovend’ and is sung around Carnaval (see images above)!

The second song used in the podcast is another famous Carnaval song called ‘De zaate Hermenie’. To listen to it in full, check out the video above which also includes lyrics so you can practice for next years Carnaval celebrations!

Although we did not have time to mention all of the wonderful places where you can see and hear dialect being used and celebrated in the podcast, below are some additional resources (predominantly in Dutch) to explore!

  • Veldeke Krink Mestreech – the local division of Veldeke Limburg with a lot of information about dialect as well as a Dutch-Mestreechs translation tool! Visit their Facebook page here, and their child-focussed page here.
  • Veldeke Limburg – an association dedicated to the dialects of Limburg. The website (in Dutch) includes this page on literature in dialect as well as an archive of texts and poetry written in various dialects from the Limburg area.
  • Limburgish from ‘The Circle of Fifths’ blog – an informative article about Limburgish and dialects including audio clips and geographical visualisations (included above). The main article is written in Dutch but translates well into English with the Google Translate browser extension.
  • Vastelaovend in Mestreech – Carnaval in Maastricht – a Spotify playlist of Carnaval songs.
  • Visit Maastricht – the VVV (tourist information) for Maastricht has shared many posts on dialect to their Facebook page. Browse their Facebook videos to find words in dialect with Dutch and English translations as well as audio clips.

There are also many enthusiastic performers bringing theatre in dialect to the people of Maastricht! Check out the links below to follow their work:

  • Mestreechter Operètte Vereiniging (MOV) – a company started in 1949 as a men’s choir but which now puts on large amateur productions in dialect.
  • Maos & Neker – a company started in 1983 which puts on large amateur productions every two years in dialect.
  • Kemikke opera’s are also an essential part of Maastricht’s history and theatre in dialect. One of the most famous is the ‘De Kaptein vaan Köpenick’ which you can listen to here!

As always, if you have something you have always wanted to know about Maastricht or wanted to ask a local, please contact us through social media or our website and we will do our best to answer your questions in future episodes!