This post is written for the Bilingual for Fun Carnival, Hosted by Bilingual For Fun. I originally wanted to write something lighter, but given my countries current political situation, I thought it called for a related post.
Being Belgian means we come from a tiny country, where the longest drive from one point to another without crossing an international border is 3 hours, yet there ar three different language groups. Yes, three. People tend to forget that there is a small German-speaking part of the country. We tend to ignore that part of Belgium to the extent that they aren't even included in the political debacle.
I distinctly write political debacle, because the Belgian crisis is little more than a crisis created on the political level.
The Belgian people, for the most part, couldn't care less. And for those who actually know people from the other side, there is little or no friction whatsoever. There is no such thing as ethnic trouble... for we are etnically confused. We're not much of anything really, so we don't think about it much and just go about our day. Are we one people? Two peoples? No people? All of the above? I don't know, and frankly I couldn't care less.
Me, I am Flemish, my mother was Flemish and my father too, although he spend the integrity of his youth on Walloon territory, in a French-speaking school. My mom's mother's parents were from Brussels... Kind of messes up things, as Brussels is bilingual and we don't really know what it belongs to (the very modern day Belgian politics thing to do was to split that off to and have it as another seperate territory).
My husband is bilingual (French/Dutch). Born in Brussels from a Flemish kind of bourgoisie mother (they historically tend to speak French because that's classier) and a Walloon father. He was schooled in the Flemish part of Belgium and also went to a Flemish university, and that's where we met.
My eldest brother married a Walloon girl, too, and lives close to Brussels.
My daughter was born in Brussels and is raised bilingually. She speaks mostly French, because that's the main language here in Ivory Coast. She speaks Dutch with me and our family's carrier language is Dutch, but for the rest of the day, it is only French.
We are but one family, but there are many others like us, interlaced and intertwined. Truly Belgian. If the country would seperate, what would that make us? Would I have to go and demand amnesty in Brussels? Would I be a political refugee? What would my daughter be? Or my husband? Would we just get to pick?
How arbitrary and truly trivial this all is.
If we'd all just be one bilingual country there would be no issues. Even more daring, trilingual! Imagine the benefits! Imagine the advantage one would have internationally. Is it so difficult to just have the kids learn all of the countries' languages?