On 20 March, we celebrate the French language on the International Day of Francophonie. This is an initiative by La Francophonie, an international organisation representing countries where French is the official language. Belgium, where French is one of the three official languages, is naturally a member of this organisation too. French is the official language of the French Community, the dominant language in Wallonia and an important language in the Brussels-Capital-Region. Many Belgian companies have their texts translated from Dutch into French and vice versa in order to reach the entire Belgian market. At Wilkens c.s., a fifth of all our translation projects involve translations between Dutch and French!
Don't mistake Walloon for French
People sometimes use the term ‘Walloon’ to refer to the French spoken in Belgium, but that’s not actually correct. Walloon is a Romance language that, along with other variants of French, emerged from vulgar Latin. The language developed in our regions through contact with soldiers and traders from Rome.
Walloon is the Romance language that bears the clearest traces of German influence. This is reflected in certain words – ‘de bleke vrouw’ becomes ‘li blanke dame’ – but also in the grammar. For example, adjectives are placed in front of the noun, as in Dutch. ‘Een rood huis’ in Walloon is ‘ene rodje måjhon’, as opposed to the French ‘une maison rouge’. So there are clearly big differences between Walloon and French: ‘bonjour’ is ‘bondjoû’ and ‘au revoir’ becomes ‘a rvey’.
Walloon is spoken in most of Wallonia, but there are several other ‘belgian-Romance’ languages: Picard in the Bergen-Doornik region, the Gaumais or Lorrain in the region around Virton and Champenois in Vresse. Due to the dominant position of French in Belgium, the knowledge and use of Walloon has declined over the past 100 years, sadly threatening it with extinction.
Long live regional variants
Do you want to expand your company’s reach to the Walloon and Brussels market, or help keep the Walloon language alive? Wilkens c.s. will be happy to help with translations to and from all the possible French variants. Thanks to our collaboration with native language speakers of regional variants, you will be sure that your text will be translated with the necessary nuance and that your message will optimally reach your target audience. Contact our project managers free of obligation on +32 (0)9 265 00 40 or via email@example.com.