December 10, 2007

WRONG QUESTION:

Nation or state? (Lisa Jardine, 12/11/07, BBC)

The French-speaking Walloons, and a smallish cohort of German-speakers, in the economically less prosperous south, are afraid that devolution will lead to Belgium breaking up along its linguistic faultlines, leaving the Walloons isolated and economically vulnerable.

Anyone who visits Belgium is quickly aware of the linguistic fracture that runs through the country. Dutch and French speakers watch different TV stations, read different newspapers, and attend different universities.

Shakespeare Folio edition
Was Shakespeare English or British?

Even the political parties divide into Dutch- and French-speaking. Leterme is a Christian Democrat, but the list of conditions he drew up for a coalition government, were rejected outright by the French-speaking Christian Democrats.

When my graduate students change trains in Brussels on our way to our annual field trip to the Plantin-Moretus printing museum in Antwerp, they are usually relieved to discover that Brussels is French-speaking.

As we board the train for Antwerp - or "Anvers" as it is marked on the Brussels departures board - I have to warn them not to try to communicate in French once we get there. Far better to speak English than to risk a tirade of nationalistic anger by accosting a Flemish-speaker in the tongue he associates with the Walloons. [...]

In the mid-16th Century, the loose confederation of provinces and territories which make up the modern Netherlands and Belgium constituted one "country", under Spanish occupation.


Bingo! It should be: Country or nation?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 10, 2007 9:13 AM
Comments

Forget Francaise, just yell at them in German. They'll jump.

Of course, today it might make more sense to shout in Arabic.

Posted by: ratbert at December 11, 2007 2:35 AM
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