Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Multilingualism in Belgium

One of the reasons I am loving it here (yes, despite my complaints I am actually enjoying myself!) is the fact that most things are available in numerous languages.

In Belgium, the bottom half (that shares a border with France) is French speaking, the top half (that shares a border with the Netherlands) is Dutch speaking, and the small part on the right hand side (that shares a border with Germany) speaks.......yes that's right, German! This means that a lot of products here are labelled in both French and Flemish (Belgian Dutch), if not German and English as well. As I'm sure you can imagine, this is great fun for me!

In fact, I am in my element at the big train stations, where announcements are given by the same person in all 4 languages. If interpreting doesn't work out for me, I would happily tell people what train is arriving where from where, in several languages. That does seem rather more attainable as a career, come to think of it!

I think any monolingual visiting this fair country would have to appreciate the beauty of a multilingual environment. It sort of puts England to shame, to be quite honest!

(and yes, I do mean England - in the rest of the UK, English is used alongside Gaelic, Welsh etc, and there is less of a monolingual attitude. We could definitely learn something!)

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