24 Feb 2008

BELGIUM and it's languages

I invite you to come with me for A visit to Manneken Pis in Brussels

This little red spot on the Europe map is Belgium

and so looks a close up. If you drive about 200 km(124 miles) to 250 km(155) to South, North, East or West you arrive at a border. France, Holland, Germany and Luxembourg.

This little country is devided into three regions,

Flemish speaking part (Flanders) French speaking part (Wallonia) and the little red spot is Brussels, where both languages are spoken.

Of course both parts have a regional government. That leads sometimes to quite funny situations.

If there is smog the highway speed is reduced to 90 km/h. If you don't respect it you get a fine of € 40 in Flanders but only a warning in Wallonia. Concretely it would look like this for me :

15 km Waterloo - Brussels = 5 min high speed, 5 min at 90km 10 min high speed and this way I could drive through the whole country.

The weather too is different. I am living at the border between Flanders and Wallonia. After our garden we are in Flanders. When I listen to the french speaking weatherman, he would say (for example) it is 10 ° and sunshine. I listen to the flemish speaking weatherman and there it is 11° and cloudy. I look out of my garden and it's 14° and it rains even after the "border". This is really quite strange.

There are a lot of other absurd linguistic things. If you live in the french part of the country and want to send your child to a flemish school to become bilingual (that's what the politicians praise every day) you are not allowed. The school is only for children living in this town.

The traffic signs for city names are also very difficult especially for tourists. If you want to drive to the walloonish city Mons, in the flemish part it is named Bergen or Lille (France) becomes Rijsel ! How can a poor stranger find his way ??

When I go to Antwerpen which is a flemish town, I speak english or german but not french because I don't want to meet some fanatic flemish who pretends he can't speak french. But it has also happened to me that some of them ask " do you speak french ?"

I only hope the next generation will be more intelligent !


Anonymous said...

Gattina, you live in a much more intelligent place than here. We all speak English and complain when some speak Spanish, which seems to be becoming the second language. How would we react to 3 languages? Chaos, I'm sure!

Mom has some friends who speak 5 and 6 languages and she's always been a bit envious! She can barely manage one ;-)

Maribeth said...

Hubby would only speak German when he was in France as the French gave him a hard time if he spoke English. He would tell them, speak to me in English or German it is your choice! And go from there.
I had a terrible time in France with people saying they did not understand my French. Granted, it was not perfect French, but I tried. But in Germany, People were very willing to listen, (perhaps correct me, which was okay!) and help me out. Needless to say I prefer to try to speak German!

Anonymous said...

You make me laugh with the meteo! As you say the futur generations must change this way of thinking. We have evoluate here since these 30 last years. I really enjoy here when I see several communities of people who have nice relations. Of course many people can't support the difference still but I'm sure we are in the good direction.
Tonight it is the fiesta again here! young people again at home! Et la crèpière est bien utile!

Irishcoda said...

Wow, it's interesting to learn about the goofy things that happen in other countries and I thought it was just us Americans!

Susan Demeter said...

Wow! That would be difficult for the traveller. We do have some similar issues in the countryside between Ontario and Quebec here in Canada.

catsynth said...

I had been reading a bit about the regional divisions in Belgium, it's interesting to hear about it first hand.

Anonymous said...

Sarkokenstein a encore gaffé aujourd'hui! Il a traité de con un type qui refusait de lui serrer la main au salon de l'agriculture à Paris! Cette vidéo était la plus regardée aujourd'hui sur le Web!!!
Bon, je vais au lit! Fini les vacs! Demain on reprend!

Puss-in-Boots said...

I think that's hilarious...and there are a few places in the world with strange laws.

Where I live is about an hour's drive from the border with New South Wales. Now they have daylight saving, but Queensland doesn't. So you drive into New South Wales and all of a sudden it's later than you thought, but still bright daylight.

See, archiac people in Queensland hate daylight saving and won't let it happen here...as they say, go to Queensland and go back into last century!

Unknown said...

It sounds like weathermen are wrong all over. Ours is always wrong. It's the only job you can have and be wrong so much!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating for us that is not living with it :-)

I've only heard dutch (I think) and I must say that a lot of words sounds like a mix between German and Swedish. Or some fantasy language... *giggles*

Kim said...

I'm confused! I just wished I could speak more than one language every day. I can speak some Portuguese after living in Brazil, but I've lost most of it because I don't get a chance to use it much.