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Old May 4th, 2010, 07:19 PM   #3041
brisavoine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
Please. Belgium and its sociolinguistic geography fascinate me. :-)
Well, the craziest is of course Brussels. Here you have a nice example of the silliness of the Belgian language border (it's a satellite view I posted in the Belgian forum last week). South of the red line, it's officially bilingual (French and Dutch) Brussels, whereas north of the red line it's unilingual (Dutch) Flanders, the Flemish municipality of Vilvorde precisely.

On both sides of the street, the majority of people are French speakers I believe. Yet if you live on the south side of the street, you can use either French or Dutch at the town hall, and you can receive administrative forms in either French or Dutch, whereas if you happen to live on the north side of the street, you cannot speak French at the town hall (it is forbidden to town hall employees to answer you in French), and you will receive administrative forms in Dutch only.

Don't you love Belgium?

[img]http://i40.************/262oeir.jpg[/img]
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Old May 4th, 2010, 07:46 PM   #3042
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Welcome to Europe that blames America for using textual signs...
What does that Dutch sign say (translated into English), anyways?



Mike
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Old May 4th, 2010, 08:07 PM   #3043
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It says the village of "Glane" is off-limits for through truck traffic.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:59 AM   #3044
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Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
Well, the craziest is of course Brussels. Here you have a nice example of the silliness of the Belgian language border (it's a satellite view I posted in the Belgian forum last week). South of the red line, it's officially bilingual (French and Dutch) Brussels, whereas north of the red line it's unilingual (Dutch) Flanders, the Flemish municipality of Vilvorde precisely.

On both sides of the street, the majority of people are French speakers I believe. Yet if you live on the south side of the street, you can use either French or Dutch at the town hall, and you can receive administrative forms in either French or Dutch, whereas if you happen to live on the north side of the street, you cannot speak French at the town hall (it is forbidden to town hall employees to answer you in French), and you will receive administrative forms in Dutch only.

Don't you love Belgium?
Borders need to be respected, as silly as they sometimes are. It's like Baarle -Hertog and Baarle-Nassau, where the (Belgian-Dutch) border even goes through houses! You only get problems when people don't respect borders.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 02:41 AM   #3045
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Nice . . .


What about Germany-France, Britain-France, Italy-France, Norway-Russia, Sweden-Denmark . . . etc. ?
Britain-France



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Old May 5th, 2010, 02:45 AM   #3046
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Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
On both sides of the street, the majority of people are French speakers I believe. Yet if you live on the south side of the street, you can use either French or Dutch at the town hall, and you can receive administrative forms in either French or Dutch, whereas if you happen to live on the north side of the street, you cannot speak French at the town hall (it is forbidden to town hall employees to answer you in French), and you will receive administrative forms in Dutch only.

Don't you love Belgium?
It's not as if those people didn't know that would be the case if they'd buy/rent a house there Funny enough I haven't heard anybody who actually lives in that area complain about the situation. The only people who are seeing problems are the politicians (on both sides). Sadly enough they're trying to put us up against eachother.

According to me, this also contributes to the problem: the latin sociology assumes that the area should adapt to what kind of people live in it, whereas the germanic sociology feels that people should adapt to the region they're going to. That's destined to cause struggles.

But we've had this kind of discussion before on the Belgian forums and I think it was pretty clear everybody was just adamant on their opinion and didn't care about what other people said - thus rendering it into several monologues instead of a discussion.

Greetings,
Glodenox
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Old May 5th, 2010, 02:56 AM   #3047
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Funny enough I haven't heard anybody who actually lives in that area complain about the situation.
No? You must not have opened a Belgian newspaper in 3 years then. It's full of complaints by citizens living in the Brussels area.

Just one example among many others, this blog by a francophone Bruxellois (I neither support nor oppose this blog, it's just an example): http://www.francophonedebruxelles.com/
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Originally Posted by Glodenox View Post
According to me, this also contributes to the problem: the latin sociology assumes that the area should adapt to what kind of people live in it, whereas the germanic sociology feels that people should adapt to the region they're going to. That's destined to cause struggles.
That can be understandable when you move from one city to another city, like moving from Brussels to Antwerp. But when you move from one side of the street to the other side of the street, I don't think there is any "germanic sociology" that can explain why you suddenly have to change yourself entirely. The street is only 10 meter wide.
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But we've had this kind of discussion before on the Belgian forums and I think it was pretty clear everybody was just adamant on their opinion and didn't care about what other people said - thus rendering it into several monologues instead of a discussion.
If people were adamant and going into monologues, then that would seem to contradict your assertion that the people who actually live in that area don't complain about the situation.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:50 PM   #3048
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Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
No? You must not have opened a Belgian newspaper in 3 years then. It's full of complaints by citizens living in the Brussels area.

Just one example among many others, this blog by a francophone Bruxellois (I neither support nor oppose this blog, it's just an example): http://www.francophonedebruxelles.com/
That is a 'famous' anti-Flemish FDF-blog. But I understand it's one of your favourites...


Quote:
That can be understandable when you move from one city to another city, like moving from Brussels to Antwerp. But when you move from one side of the street to the other side of the street, I don't think there is any "germanic sociology" that can explain why you suddenly have to change yourself entirely. The street is only 10 meter wide.
They don't have to "change themselves entirely". Jeez, typical francophone hysteria. The only thing they should know and respect is that they live in an area where the official language is different (Dutch). They can speak whatever language they want at home, in a cafe, on the street,... but the language of the (local) authorities is Dutch. Is this so difficult to accept? When someone from Kortrijk moves to the outskirts of the city and suddenly finds himself across the border in France (by just going to the other side of a street!), do you think it's possible for him to ignore France and demand his documents in Dutch?
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Old May 5th, 2010, 04:54 PM   #3049
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When someone from Kortrijk moves to the outskirts of the city and suddenly finds himself across the border in France (by just going to the other side of a street!), do you think it's possible for him to ignore France and demand his documents in Dutch?
1- the border is not in the outskirts of Courtrai, it is several kilometers to the south of the city, separated by some countryside. It's not like Brussels where the border is literally within the city itself, running across streets.

2- a person moving from Courtrai to Tourcoing will be able to speak Dutch at the Tourcoing city hall if there is an employee around that can speak Dutch. It is not forbidden to the city hall personnal in Tourcoing or elsewhere in northern France to speak Dutch. Also, a person from Courtrai can buy any house he/she wants in Tourcoing without the authorities having anything to say about it, whereas a person from Brussels who wants to buy a house or an apartment just across the street in Vilvorde has to submit an application to the Flemish Brabant evaluation commission (due to the "Wonen in eigen streek" decree) and prove that he/she has a "strong connection" with Vilvorde, otherwise the commission will make the sale of the house/apartment illegal. You'd be hard pressed to find such Orwellian policies in northern France or indeed in the rest of Europe.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 05:57 PM   #3050
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Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
1- the border is not in the outskirts of Courtrai, it is several kilometers to the south of the city, separated by some countryside. It's not like Brussels where the border is literally within the city itself, running across streets.

2- a person moving from Courtrai to Tourcoing will be able to speak Dutch at the Tourcoing city hall if there is an employee around that can speak Dutch. It is not forbidden to the city hall personnal in Tourcoing or elsewhere in northern France to speak Dutch. Also, a person from Courtrai can buy any house he/she wants in Tourcoing without the authorities having anything to say about it, whereas a person from Brussels who wants to buy a house or an apartment just across the street in Vilvorde has to submit an application to the Flemish Brabant evaluation commission (due to the "Wonen in eigen streek" decree) and prove that he/she has a "strong connection" with Vilvorde, otherwise the commission will make the sale of the house/apartment illegal. You'd be hard pressed to find such Orwellian policies in northern France or indeed in the rest of Europe.
On the first sight it might seem a bit 'Orwellian', but you have to understand where it comes from. French is a 'bigger' language than Dutch. Where the 2 languages come together (like in Brussels), the strongest always wins. Please, please try to understand that Flemish authorities want to protect the Dutch language in Flemish villages. It's because a large numer of Francophones refuse to learn a bit of Dutch that these measures exist. Tell me, is it really so hard to learn a few words Dutch to communicate with the local authorities? All these francophones claim to love Belgium so much, is it than really to much to learn a few words of the majority language of Belgium?

Just look at towns like Oostende, Knokke, De Panne, or even Gent and Antwerp! In all these towns there are francophones living in perfect harmony with their Flemish neighbours. You know why? Because they don't demand all their documents in French, and they certainly don't demand that these towns become part of Brussels or Wallonia. The same for the large number of Flemish residents in Wallonia.

The problem is the arrogance of a number of Brussels francophones (not all of them ofcourse), driven by political parties who encourage them not to adapt.


Now back on topic!
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Old May 5th, 2010, 06:31 PM   #3051
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Please, please try to understand that Flemish authorities want to protect the Dutch language in Flemish villages.
The picture I posted above (post #3041) is not a village.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 06:36 PM   #3052
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Quote:
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On the first sight it might seem a bit 'Orwellian', but you have to understand where it comes from. French is a 'bigger' language than Dutch. Where the 2 languages come together (like in Brussels), the strongest always wins. Please, please try to understand that Flemish authorities want to protect the Dutch language in Flemish villages. It's because a large numer of Francophones refuse to learn a bit of Dutch that these measures exist.
Unfortunatelly Europe has way too many areas with language conflicts. I personally think that all of them could be solved quite easily as most of the people that live in bilingual areas are very tolerant and understanding with each other. Problem is that politicians usually take advantage from the language conflicts and use them in their favor to get votes or more money to their area. Of course for a politician will always be better to say that "the conflict is for the language", rather than "the conflict is for the money and power". Unfortunatelly after so many years of reading and hearing politicians say certain things a part of the population start to believe it is true...

In Belgium it would be as easy as to make both languages official and accepted for the public administration everywhere. What's the point on drawing lines? Each language is spoken on strong states (Nederlands and France) so there's not much risk of one of them actually disapering.

I say Belgium because you are speaking of that, but this very same reasoning could be used in dozens of other areas of Europe.

This thread about border crossing and its pictures should make us specially aware of how arbitrary borders usually are. Average people tend to keep that in mind and be understanding with the languages. Problem is politicians don't want that, and keep using language fears and the local nationalisms as arms to get more power and money not caring for the consecuenses. Every bilingual area of europe has its own share of unnecesary antipatic laws agaisnt one of the 2 languages.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 07:26 PM   #3053
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I might have said this already, but I just looooove Schengen
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Old May 5th, 2010, 08:58 PM   #3054
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Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
It says the village of "Glane" is off-limits for through truck traffic.
They should just put up a more normal 'no trucks' sign.



Mike
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Old May 5th, 2010, 10:02 PM   #3055
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No? You must not have opened a Belgian newspaper in 3 years then. It's full of complaints by citizens living in the Brussels area.
I, on purpose, read those newspapers but I don't want to rely on them for factual information about how people think. I KNOW quite a few people (both French and Dutch-speaking) who live just next to those "borders", and they don't have any real issues. They know that if they go to the town hall, they'll have to speak Dutch. There are just a few people who simply refuse to adapt to their neighbourhood and sicken it for everybody (and then I'm NOT talking about language, they just don't care about the people living there).

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Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
That can be understandable when you move from one city to another city, like moving from Brussels to Antwerp. But when you move from one side of the street to the other side of the street, I don't think there is any "germanic sociology" that can explain why you suddenly have to change yourself entirely. The street is only 10 meter wide.
If you're 17 years and 10 months old, do you have a reason to complain you can't do something only 18+ people can do? A border is a border, simple as that. Nothing to complain about and nothing to say about it. You even completely looked past my mention of "they knew that moving there would require them to speak Dutch at the town hall", which was the key phrase. The fact that you apparently refuse to acknowledge this seems to me that you just can't grasp the bigger picture. I'm glad I can say that I do.

And if I didn't make it clear enough: I can understand why people don't like that they have to make that change (although it's hardly any, how often do you really go to the town hall?). They feel that their town's identity should reflect theirs, but that simply doesn't stroke with how we think about towns.

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Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
If people were adamant and going into monologues, then that would seem to contradict your assertion that the people who actually live in that area don't complain about the situation.
Do you actually think that everybody who complains on these forums actually lives there? I guess I shouldn't have written it as if "everybody was adamant about what they thought", but I assumed you would've understood I meant with that that most people didn't care about what others wrote. I don't see any contradiction here.


And with this reply, I conclude my part in this discussion. I think we've littered this topic enough with this useless discussion. My personal conclusion remains that most people don't have any problems and can get along very well near those borders, but that there are a bunch of people who can't grasp that when moving to another area (no matter how close it is, a border is a border), some things may change.

Greetings,
Glodenox
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Old May 5th, 2010, 10:33 PM   #3056
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And with this reply, I conclude my part in this discussion. I think we've littered this topic enough with this useless discussion.
No, please carry on. This is giving me, as an East European, a live opportunity to see how this kind of issues is solved in the Western and more civilized part of the old continent.

Now very seriously speaking, your debate here is very interesting and very on-topic if you ask me. I think this thread is not only about some beautiful pictures made in some distant border crossing, but also about how people feel and what people think living one side or the other of an international, or why not, an internal border. Trust me, reading your replies you kinda forced me (in a very good way) to try to find out and learn more about people living in today's Belgium and of course, about their history. And for this, I can only thank you.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 12:06 AM   #3057
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A border is a border, simple as that.
Wow, that's such a postnational, post-Schengen mentality...
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Originally Posted by Glodenox View Post
My personal conclusion remains that most people don't have any problems and can get along very well near those borders, but that there are a bunch of people who can't grasp that when moving to another area (no matter how close it is, a border is a border), some things may change.
If the problem concerned only a "bunch of people", and the larger public couldn't care less about the issue, then surely Belgium wouldn't be in the midst of its worst political crisis since 1830.
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Now very seriously speaking, your debate here is very interesting and very on-topic if you ask me.
Yeah, but the Belgians don't like outsiders to talk about their problems. Ils préfèrent laver leur linge sale en famille.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 12:08 AM   #3058
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No, please carry on. This is giving me, as an East European, a live opportunity to see how this kind of issues is solved in the Western and more civilized part of the old continent.
Indeed. It is utermost interesting to see the Belgium dirty laundry on the bright light. In fact, your short discussion made me register in SSH while I had been following this forum for around half a year. I must pay a compliment to all forumers for their great enthusiasm and care with which they presented to me the magic of european highways and motorways. Thank you.

Just to give a short not. As a Czech citizen residing in the Netherlands, living with a Nederlander I think I am qualified to say something about borders, languages and so forth. I guess, all the borders are here more or less to divide people. All the special requirements which language to speak and which language to use for forms make life of people just harder. The point is, is there an objective obstacle for the city hall clerk to respond in other language then french/dutch whatever towards the people living behind the line? I accept that argument that people moving to there knew what they can accept. But that is not what we should be concerned about. We should be concerned about their well being and that is certainly not improved by this law.

The same can be applied towards the EU as a whole. What does it mean to a nation and what does it mean to a individual. When I ask czech tax office to give me documents in english instead of czech, they will just laugh at me. Ok, but for the Dutch authorities the english would be acceptable, the czech has to be translated to dutch. The problem is not that the clerks would not be able to give it in english, it is just a sentence. The problem are "regulations". Perhaps it is important for a nation to operate in a national language, but is it important for an individual? I guess not so much.

Just look at the stupidity of the regulations on this example. Imagine if the language of a internet forum would be compulsory and based on a country of residence of a given forum. Or imagine, that everyone would be bind to use the language of his her residence on internet forums. :/.

I guess it would be great if english would be accepted in the whole europe as one of the official languages, regardless of the country. This would be something that would help individuals a lot.

Borders and obstacles are important for polititions mainly, because it is nice for them to be a big fish in a small pond, than the small fish in the sea. They like to have people divided, it is easier to control them. For individual people it doesnt make any difference especially in the country where the cultural and socio-economical characteristics are more or less same.

I close it with funny comment on one czech news site. The news was that german police checks 70 % of buses on regular lines crossing the German border from Czech R. Someone commented, that his grandgrandfather went in the start of the century from Prague to Paris and the only thing he needed was the trainticket. We are now not even close to that, Schengen or no Schengen.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 12:54 AM   #3059
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I guess it would be great if english would be accepted in the whole europe as one of the official languages, regardless of the country.
No. No, no, no, no, no.

English belongs first and foremost to its native speakers. If all of Europe adopts English (or rather, what it thinks of as English) as its Esperanto, the next step will be continentals complaining that Brits, Americans, and so on, use words and expressions they don't understand. (Actually, the New York Times a few years ago published a column suggesting that native speakers of English water down their English out of consideration to foreigners.)... Very few people - try as hard as they might - ever speak a language other than their own perfectly. (And I count myself as a person who tries very hard in, for example, French, but will always be an obvious foreigner, so take no offense at what I'm saying here.) Many more people speak their second language fairly well, but occasionally say (for example) "the whole Europe," when they mean "the whole of Europe" or "all of Europe." Many more people speak and write their second language in a way that makes it difficult if not impossible for native speakers to understand. And some people just aren't good at languages.

I shudder to think what a Europe with English as its official second language would look like. (Or rather, what the mutilated English of that Europe would look like.) Learn each other's languages - if you're so inclined - and English too (again if you feel the inclination or the need); strengthen your own; appreciate the diversity you have...and Belgium's my favorite European country but I'm avoiding expressing opinions on the current situation. I'll just say that, from my observation post across the Atlantic (and regular reading of Le Soir, La Libre AND De Standaard, and as much of the history as I can get) there are apparently faults on both sides, and a lack of understanding of the other side's point of view is among them.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 01:21 AM   #3060
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Someone commented, that his grandgrandfather went in the start of the century from Prague to Paris and the only thing he needed was the trainticket.
I sort of doubt it. You would have had to cross the border between the German Empire and the French Republic, and that wasn't a piece of cake.


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And I count myself as a person who tries very hard in, for example, French
Allez, vas y, montre-nous.
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