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How do we say that things are Belgian i.e. from the country of Belgium (Bélgica in Spanish)?

It seems there are two adjectives:

  1. belga
  2. bélgico

E.g.

He is Belgian - Él es belga / bélgico

The chocolates are Belgian - Los chocolates son belgas / bélgicos

Do both adjectives have the same meaning? Is there a difference between the two? Why does one of these adjectives end with 'a' and the other with 'o'?

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    As pointed by José Ángel, belga "natural de Bélgica" means that someone, a person, is Belgian. In all other cases both terms are interchangeable, they got exactly the same meaning. The only difference is that "bélgico" seems a bit archaich and old fashioned to our ears. But it's perfectly correct and you can use it.
    – RubioRic
    Apr 26 '20 at 8:24
10

The DRAE (Spanish Real Academy Dictionary) says:

belga Del lat. Belga.
1. adj. Natural de Bélgica, país de Europa. U. t. c. s.
2. adj. Perteneciente o relativo a Bélgica o a los belgas.

bélgico, ca Del lat. Belgĭcus.
1. adj. p. us. Perteneciente o relativo a Bélgica o a los belgas.

So, belga is the usual word, it is the one you should use.

While bélgico, ca is a rarely used word (it is marked as 'adj. p. us' by the dictionary itself, which means 'adjetivo poco usado', little-used adjective). They have almost the same meaning, but you should express nationality only with the first one.

The reason why belga ends with a is etymological, and it’s a word that doesn’t change. On the other hand, bélgico, bélgica uses the normal gender morpheme -o for masculine and -a for feminine.

You say: El belga. La belga. El avión belga. La revista belga. El avión bélgico. La revista bélgica.

I insist, the second form is rarely used. I myself - Spanish is my mother tongue - didn’t know it exists before reading your question, and it sounds ugly to me.

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In my experience, I've never used or heard bélgico . However, Belga is far more in common usage where i live, in both masculine and femenine form.

Bélgico follows the rule adjectivizing things belonging to a certain place, such as "Teutónico" for all things german, "Gálico" for all things French, or "Gótico" for all things Goth, even "Sajónico" for all things Saxon, so it may be correct although in disuse.

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    This answer only states your point of view, which is somewhat discouraged here. You should write long, extended answers citing as many references as you can, to make it clear why the user should not "bélgico". Please read the help center and How to Answer sections for more information. As it is now your answer would be better posted as a comment.
    – Charlie
    Apr 30 '20 at 13:43
  • I edited your answer to provide well known references to a similar use case, backing up the your personal experience help, this way, in my opinion, personal experience can be sourced with references and examples, making it a better answer. It is always better and stronger evidence to provide authoritative or scholarly sources, though. Welcome to the community!
    – hlecuanda
    May 1 '20 at 20:15

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