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Life and Language in Belgium

Offered Summer 2011 & 2013, Stony Brook University

This course seeks to investigate the relationship between language and society through an in depth case study of Belgium. We examine a number of facets of society, such as: 

• The history of the formation of Belgium
• Belgian communities and regions
• The existence of a ‘Belgian’ identity
• Government
• Food
• Immigration
• Belgium’s place in Europe

In each case, we will ask how the current or historical situation has been affected by the complex linguistic situation in Belgium. 

You can find the syllabus and course outline from 2013 at the bottom of the page. 

Do you speak Belgian?

I compiled interviews with Belgians in a series of mini-documentaries which I titled Do you speak Belgian? as a play on the PBS documentary 'Do you speak American?' 

These videos are in no way meant to show a representative or scientific sampling of Belgian views - I have personal or professional ties to most of the interviewees. They are rather meant to give informed, personal perspectives on the topics covered in the course. 

Meet the Belgians


Meet the Belgians

The first installation of Do you speak Belgian introduces us to the interviewees who took part in the project.









A History of Tension


A History of Tension
This episode discusses the history of the relationship between Flemish and French speaking Belgians. We begin in the time of feudalism when the land we now know of as Belgium was ruled by French Aristocracy. Next, Gert, Raymond & Jan offer differing views on the founding of the Belgian nation in 1830, and Jacques discusses how an economic shift between the world wars made Flanders more economically powerful than Wallonia. 











Flanders and Wallonia


Flanders and Wallonia
From discussing the history of the regions, we now move on to current relations between the Flemish and French speaking parts of the country. Henry, Lobke and Aurelie attest to the generalization that French speakers don't tend to learn Flemish well, while the reverse is not true. Next, we get political, with Jan explaining the controversy surrounding Brussel-Halle-Vilvorde, and Ann, Jacques and Anat discussing how the country's socialist tendencies cause tension at the linguistic border. 










Language Education




Language Education
In this clip, Henry discusses the lax approach to learning Flemish he experienced in school, and his children's language education, while Gert describes the challenges faced by Flemish schools in Brussels.











Flemish Dialects


Flemish Dialects
In this episode, Gert, Lobke, Aurelie, Anne and Jan give us some insight into the status of Flemish dialects, who uses them, and when they are used. 










A Belgian Identity?


A Belgian Identity?
Our interviewees all respond to the question "what does it mean to you to be Belgian?"











Flanders and the Netherlands


Flanders and the Netherlands
Gert and Lobke discuss the relationship between Flanders and the Netherlands. Gert addresses the changes in their relationship over the last century and Lobke goes over some stereotypes the Flemish and Dutch hold about each other









A Belgian in Paris


A Belgian in Paris
Henry discusses his relationship with the French spoken in France











The Bilingual Capital


The Bilingual Capital












Regional Identity in Modern Europe


Regional Identity in Modern Europe














Ċ
poppyslocum,
May 27, 2013, 12:38 PM
Ċ
poppyslocum,
May 27, 2013, 12:38 PM
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