C – capital
Y’all thought I was going to say chocolate… Nope, it’s Brussels, the capital of Belgium, has an identity of it’s own. In fact, it’s a region, individualized from Flanders and Wallonia: Brussels Capital. Some say Belgium hasn’t split in two yet because Brussels is some sort of cornerstone. Others say it’s actually fueling the most passionate separatists. I really can’t sort these issues out!
Since I cannot talk about politics, I’ll talk about my impressions of the city. There are lots of special things to mention on Brussels… It’s the headquarters of the European Commission. Its most famous monument is a pissing kid and the other most famous monument is the giant shiny useless replica of an atom. It’s supposed to be bilingual but no one speaks Dutch (and it’s also hard to get the average francophone to speak to you in English…). There is the grey bureaucratic core, the funky eclectic neighborhoods, the overrated crowded historical centre, the elegant residential areas with the charming restaurants and the classic bourgeois houses lined streets, the zones where the recognition of the Sharia is advocated for…
Belgium’s capital is very contradictory place.
D – Dutch
Trivia intro: Dutch is spoken in 6 countries and 28 million people, of which 6 or 7 million are Belgians. Those Belgians leave in the northern part of the country, a region called Flanders, where I also live. Here, people actually speak Flemish: a softer and resilient expectoration-free version of the Netherlands’ Dutch.
Dutch is, naturally, similar to English and at the same time a simplified version of German. It also has the naivety of German vocabulary which, instead of having one word to name a thing, joins a butch of words to describe a thing and calls that a substantive. Example: plane = vliegtuig = flying thing. There is an overwhelming incidence of exceptions to every rule, which makes learning Dutch basically empirical. Flemish, moreover, borrowed many expressions from French to lend to the colloquial language. You frequently hear things such as “ça va”, “merci” and a conjugated form of “marcher” in Dutch (dat marcheert!). Even more entertaining: like the Portuguese, they looooove diminutives. Ça va turns into çavakjes. I find all of this very cute!