Frenchification of Brussels


Frenchification of Brussels

Since the founding of the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830, Brussels has transformed from being almost entirely Dutch-speaking, to being a multilingual city with French as the majority language and lingua franca. This language shift, the Frenchification of Brussels, is rooted in the 18th century but accelerated after Belgium became independent and Brussels expanded past its original boundaries. cite web |language=French |url=http://www2.cfwb.be/franca/services/pg027.htm |title= Wallonie - Bruxelles, Le Service de la langue française |date=1997-05-19] cite web |language=French |url=http://www.ulaval.ca/afi/colloques/colloque2001/actes/textes/tourret.htm |title=Villes, identités et médias francophones: regards croisés Belgique, Suisse, Canada |publisher=University of Laval, Québec]

Not only is French-speaking immigration responsible for the Frenchification of Brussels, but more importantly the language change over several generations from Dutch to French was performed in Brussels by the Flemish people themselves. The main reason for this was the low social prestige of the Dutch language in Belgium at the time.cite web |language=Dutch |url=http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/toor004gesc01_01/toor004gesc01_01_0029.htm |title=Nederlands in België, Het Nederlands bedreigd en overlevend |author=G. Geerts |work=Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse taal |publisher=M.C. van den Toorn, W. Pijnenburg, J.A. van Leuvensteijn and J.M. van der Horst] Only since the 1960s, after the fixation of the Belgian language border and the socio-economic development of Flanders was in full effect, did Dutch stem the tide of increasing French use.cite web |language=Dutch |url=http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_han001197301_01/_han001197301_01_0009.htm |title=De historische kracht van de Vlaamse beweging in België: de doelstellingen van gister, de verwezenlijkingen vandaag en de culturele aspiraties voor morgen |author=J. Fleerackers, Chief of staff of the Belgian Minister for Dutch culture and Flemish affairs |date=1973 |work=Digitale bibliotheek voor Nederlandse Letteren] Through immigration, a further number of formerly Dutch-speaking municipalities in surrounding Flanders became majority French-speaking in the second half of the 20th century. [cite web |language=Dutch |url=http://www.ovv.be/page.php?ID=3 |title=Kort historisch overzicht van het OVV |publisher=Overlegcentrum van Vlaamse Verenigingen] cite web |language=French |url=http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3214,36-969206@51-926038,0.html |title=Bisbilles dans le Grand Bruxelles |publisher=Le Monde |date=2007-10-02] cite web |language=Dutch |url=http://www.ovv.be/page.php?ID=1971 |title=Sint-Stevens-Woluwe: een unicum in de Belgische geschiedenis |publisher=Overlegcentrum van Vlaamse Verenigingen] This phenomenon is, together with the future of Brussels, one of the most controversial topics in all of Belgian politics.cite web |url=http://concise.britannica.com/dday/print?articleId=106096&fullArticle=true&tocId=9680 |title=Brussels |publisher=Encyclopædia Britannica] [cite web |language=French |url=http://info.france2.fr/dossiers/europe/34025346-fr.php?page=2 |title=Bruxelles dans l'oeil du cyclone |publisher=France 2 |date=2007-11-14]

Given its Dutch-speaking origins and the role that Brussels plays as the capital city in a bilingual country, Flemish political parties demand that the entire Brussels-capital region be fully bilingual, including its subdivisions and public services. They also request that the contested Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde arrondissement become separated from the Brussels region. However, the French-speaking population regards the language border as artificial [cite web |language=French |url=http://www.lalibre.be/article.phtml?id=10&subid=90&art_id=283113 |title=La Flandre ne prendra pas Bruxelles... |publisher=La Libre Belgique |date=2006-05-28] and demands the extension of the bilingual region to at least all six municipalities with language facilities in the surroundings of Brussels. [The six municipalities with language facilities around Brussels are Wemmel, Kraainem, Wezembeek-Oppem, Sint-Genesius-Rode, Linkebeek and Drogenbos.] Flemish politicians have strongly rejected these proposals.cite web |language=French |url=http://www.lalibre.be/article.phtml?id=10&subid=90&art_id=202792 |title=Une question: partir ou rester? |publisher=La Libre Belgique |date=2005-01-24] [cite web |language=French |url=http://www.uniondesfrancophones.be/ |title=Position commune des partis démocratiques francophones |publisher=Union des Francophones (UF), Province of Flemish Brabant] [cite web |language=French |url=http://info.france2.fr/dossiers/europe/34025346-fr.php?page=7 |title=Bruxelles-capitale: une forte identité |publisher=France 2 |date=2007-11-14]

Introduction

Ever since its inception in the 10th century, Brussels had been a city where people spoke Dutch, mainly in the form of local Brabantian dialects of the Dutch language.nl [http://brussel.vlaanderen.be/brusselhistorisch.html] "Brussel historisch", Hoofdstedelijke Aangelegenheden, Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap] cite web |language=french |accessdate=2008-04-02 |url=http://www.ulb.ac.be/philo/spf/langue/francais.htm |title=Le français en Wallonie et à Bruxelles aux XVIIe. et XVIIIe. siècles |author=Daniel Droixhe |publisher=Université Libre de Bruxelles] However, the language situation of Brussels has seriously changed in the last two centuries. On the one hand, Dutch was largely replaced in favor of French, the so-called "Frenchification", and on the other hand, during the 20th century Brussels became more and more of an international city. This "internationalization" brought an influx of foreign immigrants who favored using primarily French or foreign languages rather than Dutch.nl [http://www.briobrussel.be/assets/andere%20publicaties/brusselse_thema%27s_7.pdf] Janssens, Rudi (2001), "Over Brusselse Vlamingen en het Nederlands in Brussel", In: Els Witte, Ann Mares (red.) 19 keer Brussel; Brusselse Thema's (7), VUBPress, ISBN 90 5487 292 6]

Much more than with other Dutch-speaking cities, during its history Brussels has been administered by a large amount of foreign princes and overlords, who frequently used French as language of the court.nl [http://www.paulderidder.be/print/taalgebruik.pdf] "De mythe van de vroege verfransing", Taalgebruik te Brussel van de 12de eeuw tot 1794, Paul De Ridder] This was especially true of the Low Countries under Burgundian rule. The prestige of Dutch in present-day Belgium had been through many ages marginalized, while French had taken the role of a cultural language. The large-scale Frenchification of Brussels only began in the 19th century, and by the 1910 census a majority of people in what is now the Brussel-Capital Region reported that the language they spoke exclusively or the most frequently was French. [Sources: nl icon [http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resultaten_van_de_talentelling_per_gemeente_van_het_Brussels_Hoofdstedelijk_Gewest#Brussels_Hoofdstedelijk_Gewest talentelling] ; fr icon [http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9sultats_des_recensements_linguistiques_par_commune_de_la_R%C3%A9gion_Bruxelles_Capitale#R.C3.A9gion_Bruxelles-Capitale recensement linguistique] . Figures from "De Vlaamse Gids", issue 3/1960 (study by Hein Picard).] Halfway through the 20th century the number of monolingual French speakers surpassed the number of bilingual French/Dutch speakers.

In the second half of the 20th century, the Belgian city population growth was fueled by a massive wave of immigration, which contributed to Brussels' transformed bilingual nature into one of multilingualism, with French as lingua franca.nl [http://www.npdata.be/BuG/54/BuG-54.htm] "Laatste 45 jaar in Brussel: 50% bevolking van autochtoon naar allochtoon", BuG 54- Bericht uit het Gewisse 04/04/07, Non-Profit Data] Today 76.7% of people living in the Brussels-Capital Region speak French at home, while 15.6% speak Dutch and 27.6% speak another language (percentages add up to more than 100% because some people speak more than one language at home).nl [http://www.brusselsstudies.be/PDF/NL_51_BruS13NL.pdf ”Taalgebruik in Brussel en de plaats van het Nederlands. Enkele recente bevindingen”] , Rudi Janssens, Brussels Studies, Nummer 13, 7 January 2008 (see page 5).]

Late Middle Ages

Around the year 1000, the County of Brussels became a part of the Duchy of Brabant and therefore of the Holy Roman Empire and Brussels one of the four capitals of the Duchy, along with Leuven, Antwerp, and 's-Hertogenbosch. Dutch was the main language of Brussels, as was the case in the other three cities. Not all of Brabant, however, was Dutch speaking. A large part of the Duchy south of Brussels, around the town of Nivelles, was a French-speaking area and today forms the separate province of Walloon Brabant.

Initially in Brussels as well as other parts of Europe, Latin was used as an official language. From the late 13th century, people began to switch to the vernacular. This occurrence took place in Brussels and then in other Brabantian cities, which all had eventually switched by the 16th century. Official city orders and proclamations were thenceforth gradually written in Dietsch, a predecessor to the modern Dutch language. Dutch remained the administrative language of the Brussels area of the Duchy of Brabant until the late 18th century. Under control of the German principality, Brabantian cities enjoyed many freedoms, including choice of language. Before 1500, there were almost no French documents in the Brussels city archives. By comparison the cities in the neighbouring Duchy of Flanders such as Bruges, Ghent, Kortrijk and Ypres the percentage of French documents in city archives fluctuated between 30 and 60 percent. Such high level of French influence has not yet developed in the Dutch-speaking areas of the Duchy of Brabant, including Brussels.

After the death of Joanna, Duchess of Brabant, in 1406, the Duchy of Brabant became a part of the Duchy of Burgundy and the use of the French language increased in the region.fr [http://www.ernestmandel.org/fr/ecrits/txt/1963/bruxelles.htm "Bruxelles, la Flandre, et le fédéralisme"] , Ernest Mandel, 1963]

In 1477, Burgundian duke Charles the Bold perished in the Battle of Nancy. Through the marriage of his daughter Mary of Burgundy to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, the Low Countries fell under Habsburg sovereignty. Brussels became the capital of the Burgundian Netherlands, also known as the "Seventeen Provinces". After the death of Mary in 1482 her son Philip the Handsome succeeded as the Duke of Brabant. In 1506 he became the king of Castile, and hence the period of the Spanish Netherlands began.

panish Period

After 1531, Brussels was known as the "Princelijcke Hoofstadt van 't Nederlandt", literally the "Princely Capital of the Netherlands". After the division of the Netherlands resulting from the Eighty Years' War and in particular from the fall of Antwerp to the Spanish forces, the economic and cultural centers of the Netherlands migrated to the northern Dutch Republic. Brabant and Flanders were engulfed in the Counter-Reformation, and the Catholic priests continued to preach in Latin.

Dutch was seen as the language of Calvinism and was thus considered to be anti-Catholic. In the context of the Counter-Reformation, many clerics of the Low Countries had to be educated at the French-speaking university of Douai. However Dutch was not utterly excluded of the religious domain. For instance, Ferdinand Brunot reported that, 1638 in Brussels, the Jesuits "preached three times a week in Flemish and two times in French". While Dutch became standardized by the Dutch Republic, dialects continued to be spoken in the south. As in other places in Europe, during the 17th century French grew as a language of the nobility and upper class of society.nl [http://neon.niederlandistik.fu-berlin.de/langvar/dutchbelgium/ "Vlaanderen tot 1914"] , vakgroep Nederlands op de UF Berlin] fr [http://www.ernestmandel.org/fr/ecrits/txt/1958/perspectives_socialistes_sur_la_question_flamand.htm "Perspectives socialistes sur la question flamande"] , Ernest Mandel, 1958] The administrative languages during this time were both French and, to a lesser extent, Spanish. Some French-speaking nobility established themselves in the hills of Brussels (in the areas of Coudenberg and Zavel), bringing with them primarily Walloon personnel. This attracted a considerable number of other Walloons to Brussels who came either in search of work or to beg. This Walloon presence led to the adoption of Walloon words in the Brussels flavor of Brabantian Dutch, although the Walloons who migrated there quickly adopted and began speaking Dutch.

Austrian Period

Following the Treaty of Utrecht, the Spanish sovereignty over the Southern Netherlands was transferred to the Austrian branch of Habsburgs. This event started the era of the Austrian Netherlands.In the 18th century, there were already complaints about the waning use of Dutch in Brussels, which had acquired the status of "street language".nl [http://www.ned.univie.ac.at/publicaties/taalgeschiedenis/nl/brussel.htm "Het Nederlands in Brussel"] , NedWeb — Universität Wien, Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und, Literaturwissenschaft, Abteilung Nederlandistik] There were various reasons for this. The repressive policies of the Spaniards after the division of the Low Countries and the following mass exodus of the intellectual elite towards the Dutch Republic left Flanders bereft of its social upper class. After the end of the 17th century Dutch Golden Age and the Dutch Republic went into decline, Dutch was considered even less as a suitable language for politics, culture, and business. Meanwhile, French culture was spreading fast. The La Monnaie Theatre (de Munt), for instance, which had been opened in 1700, showed in the middle of the 18th century about 95% of plays in French. During the War of the Austrian Succession, between 1745 and 1749, Brussels was under French rule. By 1780, French was the adopted language of much of the Flemish bourgeoisie, who were later pejoratively labelled "Franskiljons" (loosely: "little Frenchies"). The large growth coupled with the increasing impoverishment of the population led to even further stigmatization of Dutch, the language of the Brussels commoners. In Brussels the percentage of impoverished people doubled from 1755 to 1784, at which point 15 percent of the population was in poverty.nl [http://www.ethesis.net/reizigers/reizigers_deel_e.htm "De visie van reizigers op Brabant en Mechelen (1701-1800)"] , Thomas De Wolf, Licentiaatsverhandelingen on-line] The small French-speaking minority was quite affluent and constituted the social upper class.fr [http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/europe/belgiqueetat_histoire.htm "Petite histoire de la Belgique et ses conséquences linguistiques"] , Département de Langues, linguistique et traduction, Faculté des Lettres, Université Laval de Québec, Canada]

The percentage of the Brussels population that chose to use French in public life was between 5 and 10 percent in 1760, increasing to 15 percent in 1780. According to authenticated archives and various official documents, it appears that a fifth of municipal declarations and official orders were written in French. Twenty years later this rose to a quarter. However, over half of the official documents in French originated in the French-speaking bourgeoisie, who made up just a tenth of the population. In 1760 small businesses and artisans wrote only 3.6 percent of their documents in French; by 1780 this had risen to 12.8 percent. In private life, however, Dutch was still by far the most-used language.nl [http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/toor004gesc01_01/toor004gesc01_01_0029.htm "Nederlands in België, Het Nederlands bedreigd en overlevend"] , door G. Geerts. Uit "Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse taal", onder redactie van M.C. van den Toorn, W. Pijnenburg, J.A. van Leuvensteijn en J.M. van der Horst]

Brussels politician and jurist Jan-Baptist Verlooy wrote in 1788 his "Essay on the disregard of the native language in the Netherlands", in which he declared that the native Dutch-speaking population was 95% of that of Brussels. [A study from 1979 by Hervé Hasquin, a French-speaking linguist and professor from ULB Brussels, gives the number of Dutch-speaking citizens in 1785 as 90%.] In this essay, he emphasized the necessity of the use of Dutch in the development of the people and culture of the Low Countries.

During the Brabantian Revolution of 1789–1790, the municipal government promulgated a number of orders in both Dutch and French, mainly due to the presence of Walloon revolutionaries. In general, before the French invasion in 1794 the Brussels municipal government used French for just five percent of its official declarations, the rest being in Dutch. For the Austrian Habsburg administration French was the language of communication, although the communiqué from the Habsburgs was seldom seen by commoners of Brussels.

French Period

Following the , the Low Countries were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Spanish-Austrian rule in the region. Brussels became till the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815 the prefecture of the Dyle department. The population decreased from 74,000 inhabitants in 1792 to 66,000 in 1799. Until the establishment of the Consulate in 1799, the Catholics were heavily repressed by the French. The University of Leuven (Louvain) was closed in 1797, priests were considered criminal and churches were plundered. During this early period of the French rule, the Belgian economy was completely paralyzed: it was forbidden to export from the port of Antwerp, heavy taxes had to be paid in hard currencies while goods bought by the French were paid for with worthless assignats. Within this period of systematic exploitation, about 800,000 Belgians fled the Southern Netherlands. [cite web |author=Alexander Ganse |publisher=Korean Minjok Leadership Academy |url=http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/lowcountries/bel17951799.html |title= Belgium under French Administration, 1795-1799 |accessdate=2008-04-03] The French occupation in Belgium led to further suppression of Dutch across the country, including its abolition as an administrative language.nl [http://www.digitaalbrussel.be/thema/toerisme/geschiedenis/franseov.asp "De geschiedenis van Brussel - de Franse overheersing"] , DigitaalBrussel, een initiatief van de Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie] With the motto "one nation, one language", French became the only accepted language in public life, as well as in economic, political, and social affairs. [nl [http://www.dutch.ac.uk/studypacks/dutch_language/brussels/broeksele.html "Broeksele"] , "Bruisend Brussel", UCL, Global University of London] The measures of the successive French governments and in particular the 1798 massive conscription into the French army were particularly unpopular within the Flemish segment of the population and caused the so-called Peasants' War.cite web |author=Jacques Leclerc |accessdate=2008-04-02 |publisher=University of Laval |title=Belgique - België - Belgien |language=French |url=http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/europe/belgiqueacc.htm] The Peasant's War is often seen as the starting point of the modern Flemish movement.cite web |author=Alexander Ganse |publisher=Korean Minjok Leadership Academy |url=http://www.zum.de/whkmla/military/napwars/boerenkrijg.html |title=The Flemish Peasants War of 1798 |accessdate=2008-04-02] From this period until the 20th century, Dutch was seen in Belgium as a language of the poor and illiterate. In Flanders, as well as other areas in Europe, the aristocracy quickly adopted French.fr [http://www.brio.sharedfolder.net/Taal_sociale_integr_1.pdf "La situation des langues à Bruxelles au XIXe siècle à la lumière d'un examen critique des statistiques"] , page 33-79] The French occupation laid the foundations for a Frenchification of the Flemish middle class aided by an exceptional French-language educational system.nl [http://www.brio.sharedfolder.net/Taal_sociale_integr_2.pdf "Peilingen naar het taalgebruik in Brusselse stadscartularia en stadsrekeningen, XIIIde-XVde eeuw"] , De Ridder Paul, Taal en Sociale Integratie 2, Brussel, VUB, 1979]

In the beginning of the 19th century the Napoleonic Office of Statistics executed a review of the language use, which found that Dutch was still the most frequently spoken language in both the Brussels arrondissement and Leuven. An exception included a limited number of districts in the city of Brussels, where French had become the most used language. In Nivelles, Walloon was the most spoken language. Inside of the Small Ring of Brussels, the pentagon, French was the leading language of street markets and of districts such as Coudenberg and Zavel,nl [http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/wink007alge02/wink007alge02_067.htm "Algemeen Nederduitsch en Friesch Dialecticon"] , Tweede deel, Johan Winkler, 1874 - 156. De stad Brussel] while Dutch dominated in the harbor, the Schaarbeeksepoort area, and the Leuvensepoort area. In Sint-Gillis, near the center of Brussels, "Flemish" was still spoken at the time. 150 years later, half of the population spoke only French, and today not a single Dutch-speaking family lives in the municipality.

Immediately after the invasion of the French, Dutch was forbidden to be used in the Brussels city hall. The Frenchification rules implemented by the French government, instituted to unify the state, were aimed at the citizens who were to assume power from the nobility as was done in the French Revolution. However the French conquerors rapidly understood it was not possible to force local populations speaking languages very different of French to use this language. The Frenchification of the Low Countries therefore remained limited, in the Dutch sprachraum, to the higher level of the local administration and the upper class society. The effect on lower social classes, of whom 60% were illiterate, was somewhat limited. Life on the streets was greatly affected, as by law all notices, streetnames, and the like were required to be written in French. From then on, official documents were to be written solely in French, although "when needed", a non-legally-binding translation could be permitted. Simultaneously, businesses from the rural areas were told not to continue operating if they were not proficient in French. In addition, the law stated that all court pleas, sentences, and other legal materials were to be written solely in French, unless practical considerations made this impossible. This law applied to all notaries, although in practical terms this was only implemented by 1803. These measures increased the percentage of official documents written in French from 60% at the turn of the century to 80% by 1813. This reflected more the effects of the new language laws rather than an evolution in language use by the population. Although mainly used by in higher social circles, a more appropriate measure of actual language use might include an observation of written testaments, three quarters of which in 1804 were written in Dutch. Thus, the higher classes still used primarily Dutch near the turn of the century. During the implementation of these laws Brussels continued to grow. The first city walls were gradually dismantled the 15th to 17th centuries, and the outer second walls (where the Small Ring now stands), were demolished between 1810 and 1840, so that the city could incorporate the outlying districts.nl [http://www.bop.vgc.be/didmat/ogenblikken/achtergrond/stadsgeografie.html "De territoriale groei van Brussel"] , Brussels Onderwijspunt, Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie]

Dutch Period

After the fall of Napoleon, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was created by the Congress of Vienna. Right after the formation of the new kingdom, at the request of Brussels businesses, Dutch once again became the official language of Brussels. Nevertheless, the short union of the Netherlands and Belgium from 1815 to 1830 did not lessen the political and economic power of French in Flanders, for it remained the language of the aristocracy there.nl [http://neon.niederlandistik.fu-berlin.de/langvar/statusdutch/index_html/nl#statusbelgium "Het Nederlands: status en verspreiding"] , Nederlands Online, Institut für Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie — FU Berlin 2004] Brussels and The Hague were dual capitals of the Kingdom, and in the parliament the Belgian delegates only spoke French. King William I wanted to develop present-day Flanders to the level of the Northern Netherlands, and instituted a wide network of schools in the local language of the people. He made Dutch the single official language of the Flemish provinces, and requested the same for bilingual Brabant and Brussels. The Walloon provinces remained monolingually French. The King hoped to make Dutch the sole language of the nation, but the French-speaking citizenry, the Catholic Church, and the Walloons resisted this move. The French-speaking population feared that their opportunities for participation in government were threatened, and that they would become unneeded elements of the new Kingdom. Under pressure from these groups, in 1830 King William I reintroduced a language freedom policy throughout all of present-day Belgium. This nullified the monolingual status of Brussels and the Flemish provinces.fr [http://mrw.wallonie.be/sg/dsg/dircom/walcartes/pages/car316.htm "La langue et la révolution de 1830"] , Robert Demoulin, Unification politique, essor économique (1794-1914), in "Histoire de la Wallonie", op. cit., p. 313-322 — Wallonie en mouvement] fr [http://www.dmnet.be/ndf/main/fr/pgarfr/arfr174.html "Comment sortir du labyrinthe belge?"] , Marcel Bauwens]

Important for the later development of the Dutch language was that the Flemish population experienced a certain of amount of contact with Standard Dutch during the short reign of the kingdom. The Catholic Church saw Dutch as a threatening element representative of Protestantism, while the Francophone aristocracy still viewed Dutch as a language subordinate to French. These views helped contribute to the Belgian Revolution and to a future monolingually Francophone Belgium. This strong preference for French would have a great influence on the language use of Brussels.

Belgian Period

The bourgeoisie in Brussels used more and more French, numerous French and Walloon immigrants moved to Brussels, and for the first time in mass numbers the Flemish people began switching to French. There were a number of reasons for these occurrences.

French as the Single Official Language

By October 16, 1830 King William I had already rescinded a policy that named Dutch as the official language of Brussels.nl [http://www.flandersonline.org/nl/flanders/5/70 "Brussel verfranst in de 19de eeuw"] , Flanders Online, uitgebaat door het Vlaams Dienstencentrum vzw] The sole official language of the newly created state was French, even though a majority of the population was Flemish.nl [http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_han001197301_01/_han001197301_01_0009.htm "De historische kracht van de Vlaamse beweging in België: de doelstellingen van gister, de verwezenlijkingen vandaag en de culturele aspiraties voor morgen] ", Mr. J. Fleerackers, Cabinet leader of the Belgian Minister of Dutch Cultur and Affiars, 1973, Digitale bibliotheek voor Nederlandse Letteren] French became the language of the court, the administration, the army, the media, and of culture and education. With more French being spoken, there was a certain aura of "decency" in societal progress, culture, and universalism. In contrast, Dutch garnered little consideration and was deemed a language for peasants, farmers, and poor workers.fr [http://www.erudit.org/revue/rs/2002/v43/n3/000609ar.html "Le Québec entre la Flandre et la Wallonie : Une comparaison des nationalismes sous-étatiques belges et du nationalisme québécois"] , Erudit, "promouvoir et diffuser la recherche universitaire"] In addition to the geographical language border between Flanders and Wallonia, there was in fact also a social language border between the Dutch and French speakers.nl [http://www2.vlaanderen.be/ned/sites/taalwetgeving/sociale_taalgrens.html "De sociale taalgrens", "Als goede buren: Vlaanderen en de taalwetgeving"] , Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap] French was the language of politics and economics and a symbol of upward social mobility. French poet Charles Baudelaire, during his short stay in Brussels, complained of the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie at the time:nl [http://www.briobrussel.be/assets/bt8download.pdf "Taalgebruik in Brussel. Taalverhoudingen, taalverschuivingen en taalidentiteit in een meertalige stad"] , Rudi Janssens, Brusselse Thema's 8, Brussel, VUBPRESS, 2001.]

The new Belgian capital had been a Dutch-speaking city, where the inhabitants spoke a local dialect of South Brabantian Dutch. A minority of French-speaking citizens, mainly those who had immigrated from France during the previous decades, constituted 15% of the population. Despite this, the first mayor of Brussels after the revolution, Nicolas-Jean Rouppe, declared French as the sole language of administration. The political center of Brussels attracted the economic elite, and Brussels soon acquired French-speaking upper and middle classes. In 1846, 37.6% of the city declared themselves being French-speaking, while this percentage was 5% in Ghent and 1.9% in Antwerp. An important portion of the so-called French speakers were actually Flemish bourgeois with Dutch-speaking roots.nl [http://www.brio.sharedfolder.net/Taal_sociale_integr_4.pdf "Taal- en onderwijspolitiek te Brussel (1878-1914)"] , Harry van Velthoven, p261-443, Taal en Sociale Integratie 4, Brussel, VUB, 1981] In 1860, 95% of the Flemish population spoke Dutch, although these people had hardly any economic and political powernl [http://www.ned.univie.ac.at/non/landeskunde/be/h12/vlaamse.htm "Geschiedenis van de Vlaamse Beweging"] , NedWeb, Nederlandistik Wien] and deemed a good knowledge of French necessary to attain higher social status and wealth.

The role of education

Brussels attracted many immigrants from Flanders, where economic strife and hunger were widespread.nl [http://www2.vlaanderen.be/ned/sites/taalwetgeving/sociale_taalgrens.html "De sociale taalgrens", "Als goede buren: Vlaanderen en de taalwetgeving"] , Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap] Native Flemish Brussels residents harbored a sense of superiority over the other Flemish immigrants from the poor countryside, which manifested itself in the decision to speak the "superior" French language.

In two or three generations, the new immigrants themselves began to speak French. A typical family might have Dutch-speaking grandparents, bilingual parents, and French-speaking children. The exclusively French educational system played an important role in this changing language landscape. Flemish was mainly ignored as a school subject. From 1842, Dutch disappeared from the first four years of boys' schools, although in later school grades it could be studied. In girls' schools and Catholic schools Dutch was taught even less, even though Dutch was still the native tongue of a majority of the students.

Just after the mayoral inauguration of Charles Buls in 1881, "lagere scholen" (schools for 6 to 12 year old students) that taught Dutch were reopened in 1883. In these schools, the first two years of lessons were given in Dutch, soon after which students transitioned into French-speaking classes.nl [http://www.vgc.be/Onderwijs/Onderwijsbeleid+van+de+VGC/Over+het+Brussels+Nederlandstalig+onderwijs/geschiedenis.htm "Over het Brussels Nederlandstalig onderwijs"] , Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie] The proposal by Buls was initially poorly received by the local councils, although they were later accepted when studies showed that when students had acquired a good understanding of Dutch, they more easily obtained French speaking skills. The dominance of French in education was not affected, since most schooling in later years was still taught in French. Because of the authoritative position that French enjoyed in Belgium and the misconceptions of Buls' plan, many Flemish children were still sent to French school in order to better master the language. This was made possible by the idea of "freedom of the head of household", which implied that parents were allowed to send their children to any school they wished, regardless of the child's mother tongue. Under Flemish pressure, in order to stem the tide of Frenchification, this freedom was abolished. Since most pupils were sent to French schools rather than Dutch schools, after the end of the First World War there was not a single Dutch class left in central Brussels. In the thirteen municipalities that constituted the Brussels metropolitan area, there were 441 Flemish classes and 1592 French classes, even though the French-speaking population made up just under one third of the total.

As a result of the propagation of the bilingual education system, Dutch was no longer being passed down by many Flemish parents to their children. French was beginning to be used more and more as the main language spoken at home by many Flemings. In Flanders, education played less of a role in Frenchification because most schools continued to be taught in Dutch.

Immigration of French speakers

During the 19th century, reaching Brussels was the goal of many political asylum seekers, mainly from France. The first wave came in 1815 bringing Jacobines and Bonapartists, the second wave came in 1848 bringing French republicans and Orleanists, the third wave came in 1851 after the coup, and the fourth wave came in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War. Asylum seekers and other immigrants also came from other parts of Europe such as Italy, Poland, Germany, and Russia. They preferred to speak French rather than Dutch when they arrived, which further intensified Frenchification.

As the capital of the newly-founded country, Brussels also attracted a large number of Walloon immigrants. In contrast to Flemish citizens of Brussels who came primarily from lower social classes, the Walloon newcomers belonged mainly to the middle class.en [http://concise.britannica.com/dday/print?articleId=106096&fullArticle=true&tocId=9680 "Brussels"] , Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.] Despite the fact that many lower-class Walloons also made their way to Brussels, the perception of French as an intellectual and elite language did not change.nl [http://www.briobrussel.be/assets/andere%20publicaties/btng-rbhc,%2021,%201990,%203-4,%20pp%20383-412.pdf "Thuis in gescheiden werelden" — De migratoire en sociale aspecten van verfransing te Brussel in het midden van de 19e eeuw"] , BTNG-RBHC, XXI, 1990, 3-4, pp. 383-412, Machteld de Metsenaere, Eerst aanwezend assistent en docent Vrije Universiteit Brussel]

The Walloon and French immigrants lived predominantly in the Marollen district of Brussels, where Marols (or "Marollien"), a mixture of Brabantian Dutch, French, and Walloon, was spoken. In addition to these groups, Brussels received a considerable number of Frenchified members of the Flemish bourgeoisie.

Between 1830 and 1875 the population of the city of Brussels grew from approximately 100,000 to 183,683, and the population of the metropolitan area sextupled to 750,000 by 1910.nl [http://www.flandersonline.org/nl/flanders/5/70 "Brussel verfranst in de 19de eeuw"] , Flanders Online, uitgebaat door het Vlaams Dienstencentrum vzw]

This cycle of Frenchification led many Flemings to place a high value on raising their children to speak French and attend French schools in order for them to be able to reach higher social classes and better job opportunities.fr [http://www.liberation.fr/rebonds/290196.FR.php "Bruxelles, un enjeu pour la francophonie"] , Jean-Paul Nassaux, Liberation, 09/11/2007.] nl [http://www2.vlaanderen.be/ned/sites/taalwetgeving/eeuw_taalwetten.html "Een eeuw taalwetten", "Als goede buren: Vlaanderen en de taalwetgeving"] , Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap] Because of these measures, many Flemings became monolingually French.

Flemish complaints

In contrast to the rest of Flanders, French in Brussels was seen less as a means of oppression but rather as a tool for social progress.

In the first decade after the independence of Belgium, the neglect of Flemish language and culture gradually caused increasingly greater dissatisfaction in the Flemish community. In 1856 the "Grievance Committee" was established to investigate the problems of the Flemings. It was devoted to the establishment of bilingual administration, military structures and a bilingual educational and juridical system, but was politically ignored.nl [http://www.vub.ac.be/vlaamsestudenteninbrussel/documenten/pedagogischdossier.pdf "Pedagogisch dossier bij de tentoonstelling "150 jaar Vlaamse Studenten in Brussel"] , Vrije Universiteit Brussel] Among others, Hendrik Conscience, author of "The Lion of Flanders", was a member of this organization.nl [http://www.ovv.be/page.php?ID=425] Overlegcentrum voor Vlaamse Verenigingen] Another group to decry the problems of the Flemings was "Vlamingen Vooruit" ("Flemings Forward"), founded in 1858 in Sint-Joost-ten-Node. Members included Charles Buls, mayor of Brussels, and Léon Vanderkindere, mayor of Ukkel. Although Brussels was 57 percent Dutch speaking in 1880, it wasn't until 1883 that Flemish primary schools were permitted to operate. In an 1881 decision that went into effect in 1884, the municipal government decided to allow birth, death, and marriage certificates to be written in Dutch. However, only a tenth of the population made use of these opportunities. This indicates that in the minds of Brussels residents, French was the normal way of conducting these matters.cite web |language=Dutch |url=http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/toor004gesc01_01/toor004gesc01_01_0030.htm |title=De taalpolitieke ontwikkelingen in België |author=G. Geerts |work=Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse taal |publisher=M.C. van den Toorn, W. Pijnenburg, J.A. van Leuvensteijn and J.M. van der Horst] In 1889 Dutch was once again allowed in courtrooms, but only for use by oral witnesses.

In the late 19th century, the Flemish Movement gained even more strength and demanded a bilingual Belgium. This proposal was rejected by French speakers, who feared a "flamicization" of Wallonia as well as the prospect of having to learn Dutch in order to obtain a job in the civil service.nl [http://www2.vlaanderen.be/ned/sites/taalwetgeving/eeuw_taalwetten.html "Een eeuw taalwetten", "Als goede buren: Vlaanderen en de taalwetgeving"] , Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap] The Flemings adapted their goals and devoted themselves to a monolingual Flanders, where metropolitan Brussels society still played a major role. The Flemings hoped to limit the spread of French in Flanders by restricting the official language areas in which French was an official language. An event that cause quite a bit of controversy and helped stoke Flemish language demands happened in 1873 in the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek district of Brussels when Flemish laborer Jozef Schoep refused to accept a French-language birth certificate. He was ordered to pay a fine of 50 francs, and shortly thereafter the so-called was introduced, which allowed Dutch to be used by Dutch speakers in court.nl [http://www.law.ugent.be/decaan/geschiedenis/1-hoofdstuk-3.html#_ednref390 Geschiedenis van de Rechtsfaculteit van de UGent] ]

In general, the Flemish Movement in Brussels did not garner much support for its plans regarding the use of Dutch. Each attempt to promote Dutch and limit the expansion of French influence as a symbol of social status was seen as a means to stifle social mobility rather than a protectoral measure as it was perceived in the rest of Flanders. Whereas in other Flemish cities such as Ghent in which the Flemish laborers were dominated by a French-speaking upper class, in Brussels it was not as easy to make such a distinction because so many Walloons made up a large portion of the working class. The linguistic heterogeneity, combined with the fact that the most of the upper class of workers spoke French, meant that the class struggle for most workers in Brussels was not seen as a language struggle as well. Ever since the turn of the century, the workers movement in Brussels embraced bilingualism as a means of emancipation for the local working class. This, along with the educational system, helped pave the way to the Frenchification of thousands of Brussels residents.nl [http://www.briobrussel.be/assets/andere%20publicaties/btng-rbhc,%2021,%201990,%203-4,%20pp%20383-412.pdf "Thuis in gescheiden werelden" — De migratoire en sociale aspecten van verfransing te Brussel in het midden van de 19e eeuw"] , BTNG-RBHC, XXI, 1990, 3-4, pp. 383-412, Machteld de Metsenaere, Eerst aanwezend assistent en docent Vrije Universiteit Brussel]

Language Laws

By the 1870s, most municipalities were administered in French. With the in 1878, a gradual change started to occur. From that point forward, in the provinces of Limburg, Antwerp, West- and East Flanders, and the arrondissement of Leuven all public communication was given in Dutch or in both languages. For the arrondissement of Brussels, documents could be requested in Dutch. [nl [http://home.lvb.net/rechtstoestand7?makePrintable=1 Tweede en derde taalwet] ] Still, by 1900 most large Flemish cities, language border cities, and the municipalities of the Brussels metropolitan area were still administered in French.nl [http://www.ovv.be/page.php?ID=1971 "Sint-Stevens-Woluwe: een unicum in de Belgische geschiedenis"] , Overlegcentrum van Vlaamse Verenigingen]

In 1921 the territoriality principle was recognized, which solidified the outline of the Belgian language border.fr [http://www.carrefour.be/histoire.htm "Contexte Historique"] , Carrefour, "présence francophone en périférie bruxelloise"] The Flemings hoped that such a language border would help to curb the influx of French in Flanders. Belgium became divided into three language areas: a monolingual Dutch-speaking area in the north (Flanders), a monolingual French-speaking area in the south (Wallonia), and a bilingual area (Brussels), even though the majority of Brussels residents spoke primarily Dutch. The municipalities in the Brussels metropolitan region, the bilingual region of Belgium, could freely choose either language to be used in administrative purposes. The town government of Sint-Stevens-Woluwe, today part of the municipality of Zaventem, which lies in present-day Flemish Brabant, was the only one to opt for Dutch in favor of French.

Language Censuses

The language law of 1921 was refined and confirmed in 1932. As a result, Dutch was allowed to be used an official language within the central government, the (then) four Flemish provinces, as well as the arondissements of Leuven and Brussels (excepting the Brussels metropolitan area as a whole). The law also stipulated that municipalities on the language border or near Brussels would be required to provide services in both languages when the minority exceeded 30%, and the administrative language of a municipality would be changed if the language minority grew to greater than 50%. This was to be regulated by a language census every ten years,fr [http://mrw.wallonie.be/sg/dsg/dircom/walcartes/pages/txt322.htm Frontière linguistique, frontière politique] , Wallonie en mouvement] although the vailidity of the results from Flanders were frequently questioned.nl [http://www.knack.be/nieuws/belgie/de-belgische-troebelen/site72-section24-article9689.html De Belgische troebelen] , Knack, 12/11/2007] In 1932, Sint-Stevens-Woluwe, now a part of the Zaventem municipality, became the first municipality in Belgian history to recede from the bilingual Brussels metro region because the French-speaking minority percentage fell to below 30%. This did not sit well with some French speakers in Brussels, some of whom formed a group called the "Ligue contre la flamandisation de Bruxelles" (League against the Flemicization of Brussels), which campaigned against what they saw as a form of "Flemish tyranny". Before the introduction of French as an official language of Ganshoren and Sint-Agatha-Berchem, the group also objected to the bilingual status of Ixelles. The group also strongly defended the "freedom of the head of household", a large factor in the process of Frenchification.fr [http://www.amisdesgeants.org/pages/histoire1-1-3-affiche.html La «Tyrannie flamingante» vue par les francophones] , affiches gepubliceerd door de "Ligue contre la flamandisation de Bruxelles"]

Evolution in the City of Brussels

While the Brussels metropolitan area grew quickly, the population of the city center declined considerably. In 1910, Brussels had 185,000 inhabitants; in 1925 this number fell to 142,000. Reasons for this depopulation were manifold. First, the fetid stench of the disease-laden Senne river caused many to leave the city.nl [http://www.ethesis.net/urbanisme/urbanisme_hfst_1.htm Urbanisme in Brussel, 1830-1860] , Edwin Smellinckx, Licentiaatsverhandelingen on-line] Second, pest epidemics occurred in 1836, 1866, and 1874, and cholera broke out in 1832 and 1848, which led to the Senne being completely covered over. Third, the rising price of property and rental rates caused many inhabitants to search for affordable living situations elsewhere. Higher taxes on patents, which were up to 30% higher than those in neighboring municipalities, stifled economic development and drove up the cost of living in the city. These higher patent prices were abandoned in 1860. Finally, the industrialization that occurred in the neighboring areas drew workers from out of the city. These social changes helped speed the process of Frenchification in the central city.

According to the language census of 1846, 60.6% of Brussels residents spoke Dutch and 38.6% spoke French. The census of 1866 permitted residents to answer "both languages", although it was unstated whether this meant "knowledge of both languages" or "use of both languages", nor whether or not either was the resident's mother tongue. In any case, 39% answered Dutch, 20% French, and 38% "both languages". In 1900, the percentage of monolingual French speakers overtook the percentage of monolingual Dutch speakers, although this was most likely caused by the growing number of bilingual speakers. Between 1880 and 1890 the percentage of bilingual speakers rose from 30% to 50%, and the number of monolingual Dutch speakers declined from 36.3% in 1880 to 17% in 1910. Although the term "bilingual" was misused by the government to showcase the large number of French speakers, it is clear that French gained acceptance in both the public and private lives of Dutch-speaking Brussels residents.

Three bordering municipalities were amalgamated in 1920 into the city of Brussels in order to expand the port. In Haren, the percentage of monolingual Flemings that year reached a peak above 82.6%. It had been an independent village, and for quite some time never really developed into a neighbourhood of the city, and was considered a Flemish village within Brussels. and used to be the most Flemish area of the region. [fr [http://www.aquadesign.be/news/article-6922.php Ancienne commune D'Haeren (1130)] ] In Laeken the residents were still 21% of Dutch speaking and 60% bilingual. In Neder-Over-Heembeek the percentage of monolingual Francophones reached 2.1%, and had 30% bilinguals. After 1920, the statistics of the different languages used in these municipalities were not recorded anymore and were included in the census within the city of Brussels.

Expansion of the metropolitan area

Beyond the city of Brussels, the municipalities of Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, Etterbeek, Forest, Watermael-Boisfort and Saint-Josse adopted the French language the most rapidly. In Ixelles, the proportion of Dutch unilinguals fellt from 1846 to 1947 from 53.6% down to 3%, while in the same time the proportion of unilingual Francophones grew from 45% to 60%.

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brussels — /brus euhlz/, n. a city in and the capital of Belgium, in the central part, with suburbs 1,050,787. Flemish, Brussel /brddyuus euhl/; French, Bruxelles. * * * French Bruxelles Flemish Brussel City (pop., 2000 est.: 133,900), capital of Belgium.… …   Universalium

  • Brussels Stock Exchange — The Bourse/Beurs of Brussels The Bourse by night …   Wikipedia

  • North–South connection (Brussels) — Brussels North–South connection Map of the railway (shown in bold black) in relation to the other Brussels railway and metro lines Overview Status Operational …   Wikipedia

  • City of Brussels — This article explains the status of the municipality. For the city itself at the level of the Brussels Capital Region, see Brussels. City of Brussels Name transcription(s)    French Ville de Bruxelles    Dutch Stad… …   Wikipedia

  • Portal:Brussels — THE BRUSSELS PORTAL Wikipedia portals: Culture Geography Health History Mathematics Natural sciences People Philosophy Religion Society Technology …   Wikipedia

  • Symbols of Brussels — There are currently two symbols of the Brussels. Both the flag and the emblem of the Brussels Capital Region depict the Iris pseudacorus (yellow iris), a flower native to the Brussels area. Additionally, every municipality of the region has its… …   Wikipedia

  • Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region — French: Parlement de la Région de Bruxelles Capitale Dutch: Parlement van het Brusselse Hoofdstedelijke Gewest …   Wikipedia

  • List of municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region — 1 2 3 …   Wikipedia

  • Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region — Regional flag …   Wikipedia

  • Northern Quarter (Brussels) — Skyline of the Northern Quarter with the Botanical Garden of Brussels in the foreground …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.