The official language of Belgium
The Kingdom of Belgium is one of the smallest countries in Europe. Its area is only 30 and a half thousand square kilometers. However, this small country is very rich and unusual in terms of culture. No wonder the kingdom attracts millions of tourists every year. Here are connected the cultures of northern Flemish and southern Wallonia. The northern and southern parts are distinguished not only by cultural features, but, above all, by languages. Therefore, the answer to the question: "What language is spoken in Belgium?" not really as simple as it sounds.
Three regions of Belgium
Belgium includes three regions: the Flemish Region (Flanders) in the north; Walloon region (Wallonia) in the southern part; Brussels Capital Region - in the center, one might say.
However, there are three language communities in the country:
- Flemish community.This includes residents of Flanders and some of the residents of the Brussels region.
- French community.This includes the population of Wallonia and part of the population of the Brussels region.
- German-speaking community.The smallest of the three, it includes part of the province of Liege in the Walloon region.
As you can see, there are as many as three official languages in Belgium - French, Dutch and German. This is really unusual.
Let's talk about each of the regions in more detail. After all, without this we will not be able to understand the situation with the state languages in Belgium.
Flanders includes five provinces that are similar in size and population.
Most of the population of the Kingdom of Belgium currently lives here - about 6.5 million people. Basically it is the Flemish, the origin of the German people. The ancestors of the Flemish - Franks - appeared on these lands in the V-VIII centuries.
Not so long ago, in the 1960s, the region became an autonomous subject of the federation. Accordingly, he has his own budget, parliament and government.
The official language here is one - Dutch. It has differences from the standard Dutch - for example, dialectisms and some differences in grammar. There are a lot of immigrants in this region, and, I must say, the number of French-speaking minorities is constantly growing.
Wallonia is a subject of the federation, which includes five southern provinces. The official language here is French. Of course, it is somewhat different from the classic version of French and has its own characteristics. This is truly noticeable in oral speech, while the written form is very close to the Paris version.
More than 3 million people live in the region. Most of them are French-speaking Walloons. And in one of the provinces called Liege there is a German-speaking community, but we'll talk about it a bit later.
It is curious that in everyday life the population of Wallonia can use champagne, Loren, Picard and Walloon languages. Previously, they were considered dialects of French, but at the end of the twentieth century they were recognized as regional languages.
One of the provinces of Wallonia is called Luxembourg - as well as the small European state adjoining it. Here, in addition to French, Luxembourgish is used.
Brussels Capital Region
This region is also a subject of the federation. After World War II ended, Brussels became one of the most important centers of world politics.Today, he bears the proud title of the capital of the European Union, and here is the headquarters of NATO. Brussels can rightly be called the center of attraction for many international organizations.
Historically, Brussels was Dutch. But in the XIX century, the situation began to change. Now on the territory of Brussels, the most common French. However, both Dutch and French are official here.
Bilingualism has become one of the interesting features of this region. Everything that relates to official publications comes out here in two languages - Dutch and French, the same goes for most advertising. In addition, all street names, metro stations, etc., have names in both languages. On the plates and indexes you can read both versions of the name. In the metro, stops are also announced in two languages.
The smallest of the linguistic communities in the Kingdom of Belgium is German-speaking. A little more than 70 thousand people live here, most of whom speak German.
As mentioned earlier, this community is located in the province of Liege of the Walloon Region. In the capital of the province is the parliament and the government of the community.
For almost everyone who lives in the community, German is the mother tongue. Therefore, it is mainly used here. However, in some cases, the use of French is permitted in administrative matters.
The territory of the modern German-speaking community is part of the Eastern Cantons. Almost until the end of the XVIII century, they were independent, but in 1795 they were annexed by Republican France. And in 1815, according to the decision of the Congress of Vienna, these lands were transferred to Prussia.
During World War II, this territory was conquered by Germany and incorporated into the Third Reich. After the end of the war, these territories returned to Belgium: the Eastern Cantons transferred from Germany in compensation.
Dozens of years have passed. Currently, many of the locals, especially the young, no longer see themselves as Germans. They consider themselves to be Belgians.
Contradictions of language communities
It is not surprising that the topic of languages is constantly discussed in the kingdom. Even now, when three communities are officially highlighted in the country, disputes on the subject of the national languages of Belgium do not subside.
Despite occasional contradictions, many people in Belgium speak all three languages (or at least French and Dutch).
What about other languages?
Belgium is a very popular country for tourists (several million people visit it every year). And, to their joy, almost the entire population here speaks good English. Therefore, going to these places, it is not necessary to think about which language is the main one in Belgium.
English is also the main language of immigrants living in this country.