JaySee wrote:I think that in the Flemish part of Belgium Dutch is the only language in use, and in the Walloon part it's only French. I find it hard to imagine that it is actually legally forbidden to speak French in certain public institutions in Flanders, but maybe in border communities where the problems between the language groups are biggest such rules might be unoficially enforced.
Yeah, I know, it's hard to imagine, I mean, it's just grotesque ! As you said, I don't think it was actually written in legal documents or whatever, but in some small villages the mayors themselves asked the employees not to speak in French. The journalists used hidden cameras to see how it was, and well, the employees weren't really cold, but they sure were a bit scared. It's probably a marginal phenomenon, but it shows you the tension that exists between them. It was talked about "racism" (maybe simply communitarianism would fit better here) too, it was frightening. Again, it's probably marginal, but they didn't even want to sell lands to people that didn't speak Dutch.
JaySee wrote:I heard about the documentary, I thought it was a nice idea as well. Quite a good criticism of the way things were going politically at that time. Over here and in Flanders there's actually talk about them "joining us" should they separate from Wallonia, although that idea is only supported by a small minority I think.
Same here : I didn't go to Belgium to see for myself, but I've seen another documentary (well, right after the hoax, then with the political crisis, we had a certain number of documentaries about Belgium) where the journalist asked Walloon passers-by about whether they'd like to join France, and actually I was kind of shocked to see that the majority wanted to (even elderly people, who in my mind were more attached to the unity of their country). Now, I suspect heavy editing, because I don't think it reflected the actual proportions, but still it was a bit strange.
JaySee wrote:It's interesting too to see that in Holland Belgium is much more viewed as one entity, we never really speak about Walloons or Flemings, just about Belgians. I don't think Belgium will split up anytime soon though, it would have drastic consequences and it really seems like the last option to consider if everything else has completely failed (I also wonder what they would do with Brussels and the German minority in the east).
Actually, in France too we talk about "Belgians" as one people - but we mean
Walloons, because to us, Belgium speaks, is French. And it's pretty logical I would say since there aren't cultural relations with Flemings (for instance, Tintin - soon in theater I think - by the Walloon Hergé, is one of our favourite comics here in France, we have lots of Walloon comedians, and... we love "moules-frites", which is to us is typically Walloon, etc). So, in some way, I wouldn't find it ridiculous if the country split, but well, you raised the issue of the other communities and Brussels (let's see... West Brussels and East Brussels... I don't know why but it doesn't sound that good
) : probably too much troubles for so little gains (if there are gains at all).
JaySee wrote:in Holland we have tons of jokes about Belgians being "dumb" and in Flanders they have jokes about the Dutch being "greedy"... which I guess is true if you look at Holland's history
Really ? Do you know that the single most productive joke material in France is Belgians ? Literally, I'm not exagerating (well, we make fun of Swiss too, but to a much lesser extent). I usually don't find these jokes that funny, but you just told me the best ever
(really, it's culturally interesting - maybe not really kind, but interesting)