Over 40% of the population of Belgium speaks French – more precisely, Belgian French – as their native language. In contrast, over two-thirds of the Belgian population can converse in some form of French. It is one official language of the state, along with Dutch. Major concentrations of Francophones in Belgium are settled in the locations like Wallonia and Brussels Capital Region.
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Origin of the Belgium French
French has existed in Belgium for several centuries. It is said that though the region between the cities Liege and Tournai was populated by French speakers, it remained independent and unattached to France until Belgium came under French rule. Also, this region was first populated by Latin speakers. With the influence of the neighboring North France region, French was introduced along with the considerable influence of the Walloon language. Over centuries, the French language gained control over this region. From the eighteenth century onward, Belgian French refined and became more neutral than the older Belgian French dialect. Some believe the Belgian French dialect spoken in Belgium today is closer to Standard French than the French spoken in southern parts of France.
The Belgian French dialect has evolved as a language that has borrowed various features of several other languages. A considerable amount of lexical inclusion from the Dutch language has been present in Belgium for centuries. Secondly, the Walloon language initially used in the region has also influenced the Belgian French dialect. Apart from these, the Belgian French dialect also contains German language features.
Belgian French Compared to Standard French
The Belgian French dialect has distinct and prominent variations in pronunciation as compared to the Standard French dialect. Still, these variations are comparatively fewer than those compared between Standard French and the regional French dialects within France. Belgian French dialects have variations in pronunciation, and they could be classified according to the upper class, middle class, and lower class of French-speaking people. The lower class speaks a specific strong accent, while the upper and middle class have a neutral accent.
There are also variations in the pronunciation of the words in Belgian French across different cities. For example, people in Brussels and Liege do pronounce the letter “h,” while Standard French speakers consider it to be a silent letter. Belgian French is spoken more in a tone that resembles a song, a style not seen while speaking the Standard French dialect.
Belgian French Translations
Highly specialized translation companies like ours offer Belgian French translations, although most Belgians are quite comfortable with reading content in French for France.
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