The Dutch and French speaking Belgians

Is it possible, that the French and Dutch speaking Belgians bear any grudge towards each other?

But maybe the situation has changed in the course of time?!

Hmmmm, that’s a hard question. There are some difficulties in our country, one of them is Brussels (especially the linguistic situation of the city). It’s too complex to explain it here, and I’m not an expert on this theme. However it is true that a lot of flemish people don’t like our french-speaking neighbors, mostly because of how the media portrays them. I do think it’s important to see beyond the stereotypes, and take advantage of this exceptional linguistic situation, which is why I would like to do my master degree in either Brussels or Liège, in French obviously.

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@vincentd Thanks for your response! I admit, that I don’t know much about the history of our Belgian neighbours up to now, but I’m curious to learn more about it. At the moment, I’m focussing on Spanish and therefore I try to learn a bit more about the history and culture of Spain and Latin America. But before long, I intend to start - among others - with your collection “Verfransing van Brussel”. Surely I’ll get to know some facts I didn’t know before about Belgium.

There are difficulties over here, but language is just a small part of the whole thing.

Medias do have a strong responsibility in portraying both communities with very strong words. French speakers are the “lazy asses from the South” and Flemish people are the “selfish nationalists from the North”.
Although some people from both sides might correspond to those images, the vast majority of course do not. Belgium knows quite a typical opposition between linguistic groups as nearly all multilingual nations know. However, the big issue is that since WWII, some serious economic problems got added over the whole thing.
The South that used to be the driving force of the economy of the country declined for two major reasons : 1) the inner changes of world economy and resources that made products as coal way less attractive in our markets, and 2) a global mismanagement and lack of political courage that led local governments to keep on subsidizing industries that didn’t work anymore rather than using this capital to invest into new products (thing the North did very well). All in all, after a few decades, the situation became very polarized in Belgium with a economically very successful Northern region and the South always deeper into crisis. Although the situation in French-speaking Belgium is now better with some major changes in the economy, the difference is still significant and fuels discord.
This situation in itself is not surprising, and rather not very connected with languages (though some politicians would like to make us belive that). Simply, in many other countries in Europe experiencing the same situation with strong economic differences, the reaction are the same. In Italy, they do speak the same language, but the situation is the same with a powerful northern region that has independence movements and the South facing real problems of adaptation to the new aspects of a modern economy. You find this too in the United Kingdom, you had this in Czechoslovakia, and the list of countries is long.

As said before, it would too long to explain all the reasons that led to those tensions… Economic, political ones, without also forgetting the painful memory of the wars lived in a totally different manner by the different parts of the country, ecc, ecc…

The thing is, I know many Belgians who are open to the language and culture of the other community. In Brussels, many people are bilingual and quality jobs often require this skill as a basic one.
A more peaceful situation would first occur through a improvement of the economic situation, and then the knowledge of languages… But even after this… you know, Belgium is Belgium; I think this opposition is also a bit a part of our identity… :wink:

QUOTE Laurent: “The thing is, I know many Belgians who are open to the language and culture of the other community. In Brussels, many people are bilingual and quality jobs often require this skill as a basic one.” END OF QUOTE

This is the positive engagement! I like Belgians (Flemish and Walloons) who have this positive attitude and I have the same attitude which I would promote, if I lived in Belgium. I would always try to integrate both languages and cultures, which would be easy for me as I like and speak both languages, French and Dutch.

I do understand what the economic differences are between Flanders and the Wallonie. These heavy industries like Germany also has/had in the Ruhr region like the coal mines and the steel industry, which are typical for the Wallonie, are somewhat outdated - so there has to come a “Strukturwandel” as it is called in Germany, but this has nothing to do with “laziness” of a population because coal miners and steel workers are wellknown as hard working people who risk their health in such jobs.

Fasulye

QUOTE Vincent: “I do think it’s important to see beyond the stereotypes, and take advantage of this exceptional linguistic situation, which is why I would like to do my master degree in either Brussels or Liège, in French obviously.”

What a pity that the country where I live is quasi monolingual (there are small Sorbian and Frisian and Danish minorities in Germany) but I would also get such an idea to spilt a university study into a bachelor degree in Dutch and a masters degree in French or a bachelor degree in French and a masters degree in Dutch. This is the right attiude which enhances billingualism and polyglottery! See it as an advantage of your country because such a billingual study combination wouldn’t be possible in Germany!

Fasulye