Fleming and Walloon

Fleming and Walloon

      members of the two predominant cultural and linguistic groups of modern Belgium. The Flemings, who constitute more than half of the Belgian population, speak Netherlandic (Flemish) and live mainly in the north and west. The Walloons, who make up about one-third of the Belgian population, speak dialects of French and live in the south and east. The vast majority of both groups are Roman Catholic.

      Originally, the area of Belgium was a part of Gaul in Roman times and was inhabited by Romanized Celts. Gradually the land was infiltrated by groups of Gothic Germans, until finally in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, a new wave of Germans, the Salic Franks, began pressing down from the northeast. Eventually they pushed back the Romans and took up a line generally corresponding to the present north-south division between Flemings and Walloons, a natural line of formerly dense forests. Only later, in the 5th century, after the withdrawal of the Roman frontier garrisons, did many Franks (Frank) push on southward and settle much of Gaul proper. The northern Franks retained their Germanic language (which became modern Netherlandic), whereas the Franks moving south rapidly adopted the language of the culturally dominant Romanized Gauls, the language that would become French. The language frontier between northern Flemings and southern Walloons has remained virtually unchanged ever since.

      This linguistic boundary is minutely demarcated by law and passes roughly east-west across north-central Belgium on a line just south of the capital city, Brussels. North of the line, all public signs and government publications must be in Flemish, which has official status; the same situation prevails for French south of the line. In Brussels, which is officially bilingual, all signs and publications must be in both languages.

      Much of the history of modern Belgium consists of the struggle of the country's Flemish-speaking community to gain equal status for its language and to acquire its fair share of political influence and economic opportunity in a society that was dominated largely by Walloons after the country achieved independence in 1830. In the 20th century the Flemings were successful in obtaining legislation to further these aims, but their linguistic and other differences with the Walloons remain a source of social friction.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Walloon — ► NOUN 1) a member of a people who speak a French dialect and live in southern and eastern Belgium and neighbouring parts of France. Compare with FLEMING(Cf. ↑Fleming). 2) the French dialect spoken by this people. ORIGIN French Wallon; related to …   English terms dictionary

  • Fleming — ► NOUN 1) a Flemish person. 2) a member of the Flemish speaking people inhabiting northern and western Belgium. Compare with WALLOON(Cf. ↑Walloon). ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

  • Fleming — I. /ˈflɛmɪŋ/ (say fleming) noun 1. a native of Flanders. 2. a Dutch speaking Belgian. Compare Walloon. II. /ˈflɛmɪŋ/ (say fleming) noun 1. Sir Alexander, 1881–1955, Scottish bacteriologist; discoverer of penicillin, 1929; shared Nobel prize for… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Walloon — [wɒ lu:n] noun 1》 a member of a people who speak a French dialect and live in southern and eastern Belgium and neighbouring parts of France. Compare with Fleming. 2》 the French dialect spoken by the Walloons. Origin from Fr. Wallon, from med. L.… …   English new terms dictionary

  • Walloon — n. & adj. n. 1 a member of a French speaking people inhabiting S. and E. Belgium and neighbouring France (see also FLEMING). 2 the French dialect spoken by this people. adj. of or concerning the Walloons or their language. Etymology: F Wallon f.… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Fleming — [ flɛmɪŋ] noun 1》 a native of Flanders. 2》 a member of the Flemish speaking people inhabiting northern and western Belgium. Compare with Walloon. Origin OE Flæmingi, from ON, reinforced by MDu. Vlāming, related to Vlaanderen Flanders …   English new terms dictionary

  • Fleming — n. 1 a native of medieval Flanders in the Low Countries. 2 a member of a Flemish speaking people inhabiting N. and W. Belgium (see also WALLOON). Etymology: OE f. ON Flaeligmingi & MDu. Vlaming f. root of Vlaanderen Flanders …   Useful english dictionary

  • Belgium — /bel jeuhm/, n. a kingdom in W Europe, bordering the North Sea, N of France. 10,203,683; 11,779 sq. mi. (30,508 sq. km). Cap.: Brussels. French, Belgique /bel zheek /; Flemish, België /bel khee euh/. * * * Belgium Introduction Belgium Background …   Universalium

  • Brussels — /brus euhlz/, n. a city in and the capital of Belgium, in the central part, with suburbs 1,050,787. Flemish, Brussel /brddyuus euhl/; French, Bruxelles. * * * French Bruxelles Flemish Brussel City (pop., 2000 est.: 133,900), capital of Belgium.… …   Universalium

  • Netherlands, The — officially Kingdom of The Netherlands byname Holland Country, northwestern Europe. Area: 16,033 sq mi (41,526 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 16,142,000. Capital: Amsterdam; Seat of Government: The Hague. Most of the people are Dutch. Languages:… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.