As well as Belgium’s French and Flemish-speaking regions, a handful of municipalities speak German. But, with increasing division between Flanders and Wallonia, the eastern Cantons have been looking at their options.
Traditionally, Belgium's 15 cabinet posts are shared out equally between French- and Dutch-speakers, but the prime minister's job has not entered the equation as the post has so far been treated as 'linguistically asexual.' However, with socialist leader Di Rupo poised to become the first francophone to hold that position since 1974, Flemish politicians from the other side of the linguistic divide are starting to criticize the arrangement.
While it is now largely known in the academic community that the Eskimo language did not actually have that many words for snow–what they had a few words for snow that was modified in various ways (e.g., wet snow, icy snow, fluffy snow)–this new Kate Bush album has resurrected interest in popular questions about the relationship between language and thought: Does the language we speak affect how we think? Or do our thoughts affect our language?
No-one knows how many Dutch-speakers live in Brussels or how many French-speakers. Language is such a touchy subject in Belgium's bilingual capital that since 1961, when linguistic censuses were abolished, it has been forbidden to ask who speaks what at home. The tiniest indication of demographic change among the city's million-strong inhabitants is used as ammunition...
Since 2008, when Twitter first became available in Japanese as well as the original English, the social network has consistently added additional language options. The addition of Dutch and Indonesian makes for eleven total languages, but the method may be even more significant that the total.
(AP) BRUSSELS (AP) — The Brussels subway sound system has become the latest front in the linguistic fight between Dutch speakers and Francophones that has kept Belgium without a government for more than a year. Subway officials want to play songs from both languages over the public address systems to replace just instrumental music.
IN THE metro stations of Brussels they pipe old pop hits for commuters. Songs in English, Spanish and Italian can be heard. They no longer play songs in French, the city’s main language, because Dutch-speakers took umbrage. No battle is too trivial in Belgium’s language wars. If the linguistic schism permeates everything in Belgian life, the divisions are only worsening.
Next in the pod, fellow Big Show podcaster Clark Boyd on the trials, tribulations and silliness of living in Belgium, where most people define themselves not by nationality but by mother tongue. Clark lives in Brussels, which is officially bilingual. Most of the rest of Belgium is determinedly monolingual — Dutch in the north, French in the south.
How expats are learning their local language How easy is it to learn the language of your host country? Do locals lend a helping hand, and are they patient enough? And what's the best way to learn a language these days?