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Old May 6th, 2010, 05:04 AM   #3061
Alqaszar
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The Flemish are a bit paranoic, but that sure has historical reasons. Belgium was foundes as a French-speaking country, and Flemish was just a language of the lower class in Flanders, while even the borgeoisie spoke french wich was in the 19th century a lingua france in Europe, like English today.

Then, the Wallonian south of Belgium had the calssic montane industries which made Belgium to one of the earliest indsutrialised countries on the continent. So the Wallonians had all cultural, political and economical dominance.

Since 1831, this situation has changed radically. Today Flanders is the richer part of Belgium, while the Wallonians have to deal with the rotting old industries along the Sambre and Meuse rivers, wehre the circumstances are just like in any other European post-industrial area like the Ruhr Valley here in Germany, for example.

Unemployment is high, while the old working class being in a passive position. While being in parts of Liège, you can see and feel that, it reminds me exactly of the atmosphere in Duisburg or parts of Dortmund. The population has not entirely understood that they have to get "their asses up", and many depend on social wellfare, some even in the second or third generation after their fathers or grandfathers lost their formerly well-paid jobs in the steel and coal industry. People seem passive and eegerless, and that is what I can recognize in the Flemish resentiments: Wallonians, get your butts moving, we don't want to pay for you any more.

Same happens here, where the former agricultural and poor Bavaria developed into Germany's richest Land and now doesn't want to pay their share of support for the poorer lands in the East or West.

But in Belgium, that discussion is very heated because of the Vlaams Blok (now Vlaams Belang) party, wich is one of the new populistic, xenophobic right-wing-aprties we have in Europe since the early Nineties (Lega Nord in Italy, FPÖ in Austria, SVP in Switzerland, PVV in the Netherlands...) and cooking their own anti-democartic soup on that issue. So the debate looks a bit overheated from the outsider, and the other parties don't do anything to make a better impression. The BHV problem, which led to the actual political crisis in Belgium, is the best example.

Here we are back at the problems of borders, this time of electional districts.

However, it's hard to understand, that a country with two official languages, Flemish and French, is not able to provide at least a basic service in both languages in all its territory. In Brussels, English would be athrid option, because this is really an international city.

Noone expects that the whole country starts to learn German because of the 20,000 German speaking Belgians in the East, making German the third official language of Belgium, but at least Flemish and French should be accepted nationwide.

Borders in Europe are there to be torn down, because they are are relict from the past, when kings and despotes used them to line their power and use their underlings as bloodspill. But like we got rid of those despotes, like we (almost) got rid of war in Europe, we have to get rid of the poisenous idea of nationalism and their borders.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 12:52 PM   #3062
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
Wow, that's such a postnational, post-Schengen mentality...
Weird reaction considering your reply in another thread when I mentioned a Fleming moving from Wervik to Werviqc-Sud also having to adapt to his new French speaking environment :

Quote:
Originally Posted by brisavoine
1- Wervik et Wervicq-Sud ne sont pas situés dans le même pays. Bruxelles et la Flandre, jusqu'aux dernières nouvelles, sont dans le même pays : la Belgique. Tu comprends la différence ?
So borders between France and Flanders should be respected but borders between regions not?
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Old May 6th, 2010, 01:16 PM   #3063
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alqaszar View Post
However, it's hard to understand, that a country with two official languages, Flemish and French, is not able to provide at least a basic service in both languages in all its territory. In Brussels, English would be athrid option, because this is really an international city.

Noone expects that the whole country starts to learn German because of the 20,000 German speaking Belgians in the East, making German the third official language of Belgium, but at least Flemish and French should be accepted nationwide.

Borders in Europe are there to be torn down, because they are are relict from the past, when kings and despotes used them to line their power and use their underlings as bloodspill. But like we got rid of those despotes, like we (almost) got rid of war in Europe, we have to get rid of the poisenous idea of nationalism and their borders.
First of all, there are about 70,000 German speakers in the east of Belgium.

Secondly, Belgium does have three official languages but each language is only official on part of the territory : Dutch in Flanders and Brussels, French in Wallonia and Brussels and German in the east. This means that local and regional authorities can only use the official language of the region but federal authorities can use each of the three official languages in contacts with a person, no matter in what region he lives. So a Francophone inhabitant from Oostende will receive his regional water tax document in Dutch (regional competence) but his road tax document will be in French since it's a federal competence.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 02:50 PM   #3064
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Fascinating discussion!

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Old May 6th, 2010, 02:53 PM   #3065
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Can you please post a comprehensive map or a link to a map showing the ethnic/linguistic and administrative boundaries in Belgium? Many thanks.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 04:07 PM   #3066
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Let me just say to Surel, after my little rant [blushes], that I ought to have indicated that you - judging from that one post - are among those whose English is near-perfect (like Chriszwolle and Brisavoine*) rather than just picking on one little lapse from idiom. But that's sort of my point. It's just about impossible to ever speak a language you're not born into as well as its native speakers do, or as well as you do your own....

'nuff said.

*and I'm sure are others here....
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Old May 6th, 2010, 04:12 PM   #3067
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à Brisavoine, vous vous intéresseriez, peut-être, à cette discussion-ci (je crois que les non abonnés peuvent lire le forum) :

http://forums.lemonde.fr/perl/showth...sed&sb=5&part=

Vous pourriez m'identifier, peut-être, de par mon pseudo.

En effet, je lis le plus que possible en français, et je me suis inscris au forum du Monde (et plusieurs autres, mais je me trouve là plusieurs heures par jour) principalement par souci d'améliorer mon français. Qui n'est pas encore au niveau de votre anglais, mais - j'espère - presque....

Bien à vous.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 04:18 PM   #3068
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Nenea Hartia: if you read French, this site will tell you everything you ever wanted to know, and then some, about the Belgian situation. (And it's in French, but based in Quebec. It's a site that specializes in what I'd call the sociolinguistic policy of probably every country in the world. So I don't think they particularly take sides in the Belgian situation.)

http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/Europe/belgiqueacc.htm

If you don't read French, go to Wikipedia in the language of your choice, look up Belgium, and start digging....
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Old May 6th, 2010, 04:27 PM   #3069
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Okay (in particular in response to Josh's point about respecting regional borders), one opinion from a non-Belgian: it seems to me that drawing a line through what were already the outer suburbs of a major city and expecting said suburbs to continue using exclusively a language other than the majority language of the city... well, say what you like about whether the policy was justified or not, but I think it wasn't likely to work. And indeed it hasn't.

We're not talking about individual people moving across a national border, or a regional one. Francophone Belgians moving to (or already living in) Ghent or Antwerp should understand and respect that Dutch is the language of that part of the country. Just as Flemings moving to Liège or Charleroi do and always have done. But here, we're talking about entire Dutch- (or Flemish-, or dialect-) speaking towns turning into suburbs of a (largely) French-speaking city in a relatively short time. So that analogy doesn't quite work.

There must be a way of respecting the fact that "the Periphery" is both Flemish and part of metropolitan Brussels. I don't know what that way is, though. And it's up to Belgians, of course, to find it. As an interested foreigner I sincerely hope they succeed. And I don't see how splitting the country would solve the problem, since Flanders would still have a large Francophone minority (majority in certain communities) on its hands.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 06:01 PM   #3070
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alqaszar View Post
the Flemish resentiments: Wallonians, get your butts moving, we don't want to pay for you any more.
The Belgian government has agreed to give 2.5 to 3 billion euros to bail out Greece. That means each Fleming will pay more than 300 euros per person for the Greeks, without any Flemish party protesting against it. Apparently it's ok to give money to the Greeks, but not ok to give money to the Walloons. Go figure!
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Old May 6th, 2010, 06:04 PM   #3071
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh View Post
So borders between France and Flanders should be respected but borders between regions not?
No, what I meant is it's insane that internal borders should be more tight and insulating than international borders.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 06:15 PM   #3072
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nenea_hartia View Post
Can you please post a comprehensive map or a link to a map showing the ethnic/linguistic and administrative boundaries in Belgium? Many thanks.
This is the situation in the Brussels area (the only area in Belgium where there are language/border/community problems).

The first map shows the real language border today (black line). Dutch-speaking and French-speaking minorities exist on both sides of the border of course, but the orange and blue areas show the areas where the Dutch and the French speakers are the majority.
[img]http://i39.************/15xmnu8.png[/img]

The second map shows the current political regions (political borders are shown in purple on this Michelin map). The Brussels Capital Region is officially bilingual (French and Dutch), the Flemish Region is officially unilingual (Dutch only, except in 6 municipalities where limited language rights are available to the French speakers), and the Walloon Region is officially unilingual (French only). For an idea of distances, the borders of the Brussels Capital Region and the Walloon Region are separated by only 3.1 km at the narrowest (I indicated 3.1 km in pale yellow on the map).
[img]http://i44.************/23wp56d.png[/img]

As you can see, the political borders do not correspond to the real language border anymore, which is why they are having problems.

Last edited by brisavoine; May 6th, 2010 at 06:20 PM.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 06:22 PM   #3073
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
à Brisavoine, vous vous intéresseriez, peut-être [...]
Tu peux me dire tu.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 06:37 PM   #3074
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
This is the situation in the Brussels area (the only area in Belgium where there are language/border/community problems).
There's also the Voerstreek/les Fourons. Although I gather the situation there is not as heated as it used to be.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourons
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Old May 6th, 2010, 06:46 PM   #3075
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
There's also the Voerstreek/les Fourons. Although I gather the situation there is not as heated as it used to be.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourons
Yeah, it's not an issue anymore today.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:04 PM   #3076
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post

As you can see, the political borders do not correspond to the real language border anymore, which is why they are having problems.
So what? If a Brussels district like Molenbeek or Schaarbeek has a majority of Moroccan people, shoud it become part of Morocco?

Borders are to be respected. Period.

This is a good map I found on the Rock Werchter forum (only without the German-speaking community in the east of Wallonia...):



Major cities in Flanders are:
- Antwerp
- Ghent
- Bruges
- Leuven
- Hasselt

Major cities in Wallonia are:
- Charleroi
- Liège
- Namur
- Mons
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:08 PM   #3077
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Wouldn't the problems be solved if there were more of these so-called "language facility municipalities" in the Brussels region? I know you can't expect to get things in French in Oostende or in Dutch in Neufchâteau, but I would expect some bilinguality in forms and official papers around that language border.

I think this issue also has to do with the city of Brussels, which is quickly degrading and French-middle class residents are moving outside the city proper to the suburbs, which tend to be mostly in Flanders because Brussels is more or less an enclave.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:24 PM   #3078
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
Nenea Hartia: if you read French, this site will tell you everything you ever wanted to know, and then some, about the Belgian situation. (And it's in French, but based in Quebec. It's a site that specializes in what I'd call the sociolinguistic policy of probably every country in the world. So I don't think they particularly take sides in the Belgian situation.)

http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/Europe/belgiqueacc.htm

If you don't read French, go to Wikipedia in the language of your choice, look up Belgium, and start digging....
Thank you for the link, it's very useful . I read some French and it looks like the perfect site to start. I also wish to thank you all for the maps you've posted.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:36 PM   #3079
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Belgian-situation-related and highway-related news item of the day :-) (in French) :

http://www.lalibre.be/toutelinfo/bel...-voorpost.html
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Old May 6th, 2010, 07:44 PM   #3080
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
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.
D
I don't know. I wasn't there but I can believe it... wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passport
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Agreement#History

Although individual states issued passports prior to the First World War, systematic identity controls at borders were largely unknown and passports were unnecessary for international travel.[3] The War and its aftermath brought with it a higher sensitivity to issues of nationality and passport controls became an ordinary feature of international travel.[4] Notwithstanding the raising of passport controls in Europe during and after the First World War, some zones of free movement did continue.

...

The rapid expansion of rail travel in Europe from the mid-nineteenth century led to a breakdown of the European passport system of the early part of the nineteenth century. The speed of trains, as well as the numbers of passengers that crossed many borders, made enforcement of passport laws difficult. The general reaction was the relaxation of passport requirements.[3] In the later part of the nineteenth century and up to World War I, passports were not required, on the whole, for travel within Europe, and crossing a border was straightforward. Consequently, comparatively few people had passports.

...

During World War I, European governments introduced border passport requirements for security reasons (to keep out spies) and to control the emigration of citizens with useful skills, retaining potential manpower. These controls remained in place after the war, and became standard procedure, though not without controversy. British tourists of the 1920s complained, especially about attached photographs and physical descriptions, which they considered led to a "nasty dehumanisation".
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