Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Belgium and Languages...

I wanted to answer a few questions Hikaria asked me about Belgium and all the languages we speak.


This is what hikaria said...:




"Especially about Belgium and Dutch, but I have a question... why are there so many languages in Belgium? I know Kim Clijsters speaks Flemish, Justine Henin speaks French and there is Dutch... but it's such a small country! "

I'll do my best and try to explain!
First up, where the hell is Belgium?
Well here it is:
And here's how it looks a bit closer:


First up, there are three main languages spoken in Belgium.
Flemish or Dutch (I'll discuss that in a minute) in Flanders (orange), French in Wallonie (pink), German in a small part of Wallonie (green).
In Brussels, our capital, They speak French and Dutch.
Now, about the difference between Dutch and Flemish. In fact the're the same.
Dutch is the general name for our language. This is mainly spoken in The Netherlands and Belgium.
But! The language Belgians actually speak is a variation from Dutch, Belgian Dutch. We understand each other but some words have different meanings and we have own words too. 
For example, 'tas' in Belgian Dutch means 'a bag' or 'a cup' but in Dutch from the Netherlands is only means 'cup'. 
You could actually compare this to American English and British English. Some words are different, some meanings are different but you can understand each other right? That's the same with Dutch and Flemish. If you ask me what language I speak I will always say "Dutch", Not Flemish. 
If I speak a dialect from our region, the German can understand me too. That's why I could probably understand Germans too, if they speak slowly.

About the question why there are so many languages spoken in Belgium, here come's the history,
In the beginning, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (a very small country) were known as the Low Countries (they sometimes still use that name to refer to these 3 countries, although it's now know as the BENELUX)
It's actually rather complicated so I'll try to be clear. There's been a war and the north part from the now known Belgium belonged to The Netherlands, the southern part belonged to France and an eastern part became part from Germany. until in 1830 the Belgium revolution came and made Belgium into what it is now.
In short you can say that Belgium has been under a lot of different rulers: France, Spain, Austria, The Netherlands,... That's why we speak different languages in such a small country ^^ 
*cough* Everybody still awake? (Actually I LOVE history, teehee)

I hope you understand... if not ask away
Why I love Belgium so much I'll explain in another post ^^.
Oh, would anyone be interest to learn some basic Dutch?

3 comments:

hikaria said...

Ah Flemish and Dutch are the same! I thought they were two different languages so I was like wow Belgians sure can speak a lot of languages! I would love to try to learn some Dutch, but I just know my pronunciation would fail. I did French once and I just couldn't pronounce anything! On the other hand Japanese is easy for me, probably because I speak Asian languages :). And the history part is nice too! I love history and I wish Australia had more of it... we're only a country about 100 years old so there is not much to say. Which means there are pretty much no customs, no old traditions because when we were colonised the world was already scientific... it's a shame really. I am lucky to be Chinese as well so I can enjoy traditions and festivals too :). Thanks for answering my question :).

Thanh Thao said...

Great, so you can understand me, too, when I am speaking German with you! :-))

I've been to Belgium for a couple of times, I love the french fries there :-))

さらまり said...

Oh yeah, I just learned about Flanders and Walloonia in georgraphy class recently. Belgium is a good example of an ethnically diverse country working together. Well that's what my textbook said, I'm not going to pretend I am an expert haha^^ Thank you for sharing the information!

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving me a comment! I love reading your reactions and I'll always try to answer them so check back ^^.
Thanks for brightening my day!