Walloon is a language spoken in parts of Western Europe, predominantly Belgium. It is considered a close relative of French. Walloon is at least one thousand years old, brought to its native regions by Roman soldiers and settlers. Walloon is nowadays classed as an endangered language, with an estimated 1-1.5 million active speakers.
Walloon distinguishes itself from modern French in a number of ways. Walloon's phonology includes sounds, such as 'tch' and 'dj', that do not exist in French.
Unlike in French, Walloon has no gender difference for definite articles and possessives:
|le ciel (sky)||li cir|
|la voiture (car)||li vweture|
|son corps (body)||si coir|
|sa fenêtre (window)||si fignesse|
In French, adjectives mostly go after the noun, but in Walloon the opposite is true.
|on foirt ome; ene blanke måjhon|
|un homme fort; une maison blanche|
|(a strong man; a white house)|
Other than French and Latin, many Walloon words have cognates in Dutch, German, English and other Germanic family dialects. Some examples:
The language has its own association: the 'Union Culturelle Wallonne' (UCW), which promotes Walloon's continued presence in family life, schools, media etc. The association is also responsible for coordinating the work of several hundred local associations.
Walloon continues to appear in new literature and theatrical productions, as well as occasionally on Belgian state television. Church services are sometimes given in Walloon.
Like that of many minority languages, Walloon's future is far from secure. The predominance of French in Walloon-speaking areas means that, increasingly, young people are choosing not to continue their region's linguistic heritage, or do not have the option to study Walloon seriously; few teachers speak the language.
A committed number of writers, poets, musicians and activists continue to promote Walloon. They are optimistic for the future of their language.
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