Talk:Walloon language

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Translated following this request:

Belgian French vs Walloon[edit]

I don't believe that Belgian French should redirect to Walloon, as they aren't exactly the same thing. "Belgian French" is generally a dialect of "French," while Walloon is a separate language in the same langue d'oïl family. At least, that's what fr:Wallon says. Elsewhere on the web I've seen Walloon described as a French dialect, but I decided to stay with the French Wikipedia's info. I think we should restore the Belgian French article (or should it be Belgian French Language ?), add in links and clarifying text to both articles, and also tidy up the Walloon disambiguation page. I'm no expert on this stuff though, I just did my best to bring over the fr article. – Nathan 16:34, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)
As I understand it Walloon as a name for Belgian French and Walloon as a name of a seperate language are referring to the same language, much like Flemish refers to what is commonly known as a Dutch (group of) dialect(s), but to some people represents a different language. But I am not a native Walloon speaker, so merging may be wrong. I do know that most linguism sites classify Walloon as a dialect of French, for example — Jor (Talk) 16:40, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Hi Jor. I live in Belgium and the two are very distinct. Belgian French is very similar to French spoken in France with the exception of the accent, idioms and local expressions. On the other hand, Walloon sounds like an older form of the French language and it takes a lot of guesswork to understand what is being said due to only a few words sounding similar. It's a bit like the difference between modern English and the English you can find on some inscriptions in old churches. To illustrate the difference, here is a page listing a few computer terms in Walloon which are used in a localized version of Linux: Walloon - English dictionary of computing terms --JamesPoulson (talk) 13:08, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
That is not the only case where the Ethnologue is wrong; in fact I learned not to trust it for proper linguistic classification. If Walloon would to be called a dialect of French, then Polish should be called a dialect of Russian, and Portuguese a dialect of Spanish, etc.
Until recently however the knowledge about Walloon language outside of Wallonia was not very widespread (only in Germany there are scholars a bit more knowledgeable; not that a Walloon speaking part of Wallonia was part of Germany until the 1920's (the so called "Prussian Wallonia")). I hope this article helps. Srtxg 02:07, 12 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I've added a note to the article that some see it as a dialect. I do not think we need the duplication in Belgian French, as the two terms refer to the same language. French language policy is to call all Romance languages spoken in France French dialects, which also happens to French Catalan or other langues d'oc, so this position should in my opinion be represented in the article. I hope the current form is acceptable. — Jor (Talk) 16:56, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Jor, I do not speak Walloon and do not claim to be an expert, but I do speak French and would say it is a stretch to call them "very similar." The Walloon language#Example phrases look like gibberish to me. See fr:Wallon for a side-by-side comparison of the same phrases. And whether or not Walloon is a dialect of French (or a dialect of Belgian French), it is not the same thing as Belgian French. Belgian French has comparatively few changes from standard French, some of which are outlined in the excised article below. I'm not sure what this business is about the French language policy... all of my info comes from an article written in French that didn't show any contempt for Walloon as a distinct language. Finally, please look at the Walloon language#Walloon society and culture section. It talks about Belgians converting from Walloon to French, i.e. Belgian French. I don't care if they're separate languages or separate dialects, but they're two separate entities with associated percentages of native speakers.
Allright, thanks for your insight. In that case I'll revert Belgian French as a redirect and just place disambiguation notes. — Jor (Talk) 17:45, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Picard language[edit]

Picard language states it is spoken in much the same areas Walloon language is. Is this the same language, or another regional Romance language? — Jor (Talk) 16:59, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Never mind. The article for Picardièn states it is spoken alongside Walloon suggesting it is a seperate language. — Jor (Talk) 17:58, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)
More exactly, Picard and Walloon speaking areas are adjacent; and Picard is spoken on the West of Wallonia (see File:Detailed Wallonia map.jpg for the different native languages of Wallonia) Srtxg 02:07, 12 Jun 2004 (UTC)
The two "languages" Picard and Wallon are virtually identical. I'm going to add a comment below on my reasons for saying this.

ISO codes[edit]

This article stated the ISO codes for Walloon were "wa" and "wln", respectively. However, no source I could find even mentions Walloon, or any of these codes. Could someone cite a source for them? Thanks. — Timwi 23:05, 11 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Never mind, I found it...


I think this paragraph may be wrong:

A borrowing from Germanic languages: the construction Cwè çki c' est di ça po ene fleur (what is this flower?) can be compared word to word to German Was ist das für eine Blume? or Dutch Wat is dat voor een bloem?.

For starters, both the Dutch and the German quotes mean something like "What sort of flower is that". And the french (at least Belgian French) has a similar construction: Qu'est-ce que c'est (que ça) comme (un) fleur? So I wouldn't rush to a conclusion that this is a Germanic borrowing. 17:18, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

I am Dutch and my German is also quite OK, but I don't know much about Romance languages. The Dutch and German quotes both literally translate in English as: "What is that for a flower?" What I can make out of the Walloon quote, the last three words also mean "for a flower". I don't know what "cwè çki c'" and "di ça" mean, but if "cwè çki c'" means "what" and "di ça" means "that", then the Walloon and Dutch and German quotes have the same construction. Dinsdagskind 09:37, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Cwè çki c' est di ça po ene fleur looks really crazy but if you sound it out it is practically the same thing as Qu'est-ce que c'est [dit ça] pour une fleur. It is close enough. So, my question is does the French phrase work in France or is it Belgian French? If the latter then it could very well be a a literal translation borrowed from the neighboring Germanic dialects. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Djkernen (talkcontribs) 19:05, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Proposed move[edit]

It has been proposed that Languages of Oïl be renamed and moved to Langues d'Oïl. Comments and votes on Talk:Languages of Oïl, please, if you're interested. Man vyi 09:09, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

French views about Belgian French and dialects; no difference between Picard and Walloon[edit]

In France, the language has been made uniform over the last few hundred years. This has been an imposed uniformity around Parisian French, enforced so much in the schools to the extent that all dialects almost died out, surviving pretty much uniquely in family groups or more culturally-isolated or -homogeneous communities. The recent acknowledgement of their existence by the French Government is therefore quite a change in policy.

The principle that all French speakers are part of the same culture (and at a stretch, part of the same nation) is still in the background, and a subject dear to the hearts of many politicians (see Francophonie). This is associated with a superiority complex of the Parisian uniformised French as the language imposed by the French Revolution.

The Picard dialect is for me almost identical to Walloon, the slight differences could be explained by distance and the position of French border since 1830. It seems accepted in Wallonia that Walloon and Picard have one and the same root. Note that the local dialect in Mons ("Borinage") is considered Walloon and not Picard by the inhabitants, thus indicating the equivalency of the two terms. If there is a difference, I would point to the absorption of words from mercantile and settlement contacts with other languages. That not all words which are not Romance in origin are borrowed can be shown by comparing two examples: "rabbit" in Picard and Walloon is robet with or without a voiced T (compare French "lapin" and Romance "coney"); whereas "cat" is cat in both (compare French "chat", Romance "catta"). See which has "robet" with a voiced T (robète). This must go back to the localised use of a common Frankish or Flemish root. Jeremynicholas 07:58, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Picard and Walloon are different, and even non mutually understandable.
The main caracteristic of Walloon, and it is the only oïl family member to have it, is the conservation of latin "S" (compare wa: "tiesse" (head) with picard: "tiete" and fr: "tête")
Another difference between Picard and Walloon is Picard still keeps original K and G sounds, while Walloon has TCH [tS] and DJ [dZ] for them (and French CH [S] and J [Z]) (compare wa: "tchet" (cat), picard "cat", fr: "chat"; wa: "vatche" (cow), picard "vaque", fr: "vache"; wa: "djambe" (leg), picard "gambe", fr: "jambe")
there are also conjugation differences, and lexical differences.
one thing in common between picard and walloon is the unvoicing of final voiced consouns; eg: "gade" (goat) is pronounced "gat'", "åbe" (tree) is pronounced "åp'", etc.
about "robete", that word is used most in east-walloon; in the west, near picard, it is "lapén" (like in French) that is used; and there is also a small zone in the far east, very conservative, that still uses "conén" (you can look at wa:Imådje:Mape des 3 mots walons del robete.jpg
the differences between Picard and Walloon have nothing to do with political borders; there has never been any political border coinciding with the linguistic one; the linguistic borders correspond to the religious borders of the bishopries in the high middles ages.
about the local native speech in Borinage, it is clearly Picard, not Walloon. If "wallon" is sometimes used for all non-French romance languages of Wallonia, it is akin to using "patois"; it is not a linguistic term to identify the language, but rather to say it is non-French, non-official. Any person I've met from the Borinage clearly told me that it "Borain" is a variety of Picard, not a variety of Walloon. 00:01, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

Dialect distribution with Wallonia[edit]

As in most cases of dialect distribution, there are no hard and fast borders between various uses. The official Walloon site, of which this page is a large translation, admits the same. In particular the border in Belgium between Picard and Walloon seems to me to be artificial.

One could also define a more generic "distribution of use of dialects within Wallonia" as the base. In that case you end up with five zones by dividing as follows: Mons - Tournai - Ath (Borin); La Louviere - Nivelles - Soignies - Chimay (Centre); Charleroi - Philippeville - Dinant - Namur (Charleroi); Ardennes; Liège and the rest (Liègeois) (though one could argue that Arlon is not Lorrain in language and that Verviers is somewhat different from Liège. This is based on personal observation.

Against the principle of "lî walon rifondu" there acts the great fragmentation of dialects in Belgium, whose development was probably helped by the hilly terrain and very localised cultures under heavy immigration. The whole exercise is hindered by the attempt to write it using some standardised system of diacritics - the dialect differences have grown up because they were not written down. The official site itself refers to wanting to write "fish" as pexhon for both the Liège area where they say pèhon with a silent H, and elsewhere where they say pèchon with a guttural H. Further, one difference between what I define as "Centre" and "Charleroi" Walloon lies in the use of "W" as a prefix for words beginning with vowels when a liaison is imposed: "upstairs" is in French "en haut", pronounced with the "n" attached to the "haut" ("naut"); in Centre this schema is followed but in Charleroi it becomes "en" pronounced with the nasal "N" and a "W" prefixing the soundless "H" - "en waut". This does not show the absolute correctness of the proposal in the previous paragraph, but these differences show the gradual nature of dialect mutation over physical distance. Jeremynicholas 07:58, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

I am not a linguist, so what follows is based on personal observations as well. Although there are some differences between Picard and Walloon, these languages have also similarities. But I don't think they are really the same. Since I am originating from the area of Malmedy (East of Belgium), I was used to speak Walloon when I was young. Unfortunatelly, now that I am living in Brussels since more than 25 years, I have almost no more opportunities to speak Walloon. Nevertheless, having had opportunitie to read Picard, I have found it quite easy to understand, based on my knowledge of both French and Walloon. However, I am not convinced that someone who speaks Picard and French would understand as easily Walloon of Malmdy or, more generally speaking, Wallon Liègeois. For instance, my wife was originating from South Belgium (area of Bouillon). While I had almost not problem to understand the Walloon that was spoken in that area, she was absolutely unable to understand the Walloon that is spoken in my region.

With respect to the orthograph, the wording "pexhon" is typical from the Liège Walloon and reflects in places like "Xhoris" or "Xhoffrais" (pronounced "Horis" and Hoffraix" with a silent H, or family names like "Xhenceval".

actually it is not at all a "silent" H but instead a very strongly pronounced one (in some varietis it is even like a German CH).
the "xh" is a typical old east-walloon writting, that has been taken in standardized pan-walloon orthography ("rifondou walon") to cover both the "H" ([h] / [X]) of the east, and the CH ([S]) prononciation of the west.
so a common writting "pexhon" for both "pèchon" (west) and "pèhon" (east) pronounciations.
"moxhyî" (chasing the flies away; what a cow does with its tail) covers the regional pronounciations: mouchier, mouchyî, moh'yî, mochyî, mohî, mohi.
Pablo@wa 00:01, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

But beside these (minor) differences, you can also find more important variances that allow to make clear difference between East and West Walloon and sometime to locate a boundarie between these two main kinds of Walloon. For instance, the word potatoe is called "canada" in West Walloon while it's called "crompîre" is Est Walloon. And according to some books I have read many years ago, there are a lot of words that would actually allow to make such distinction. --Lebob-BE 00:17, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

WikiProject France[edit]

I am removing the tag, since it was probably added by mistake. Feel free to put it back if I am wrong :) -- lucasbfr talk 13:45, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

As Belgian, I have found weird to find the French tag here, although one could argue that Walloon is indeed a local language spoken in France, mainly in the area known as the "Botte de Givet". But I wonder whether this in enough to include Walloon into the Wikiproject France. Moroever, Walloon is not a French dialect, but a distinct language, which make it difficult to include it into the project France --Lebob-BE 15:53, 5 April 2007 (UTC)


I've been reading through the "example phrases", and I've been wondering how all of that is pronounced. Could anyone record and upload a sound sample for the pronounciation? Thanks in advance! Zouavman Le Zouave 11:15, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Celtic origins?[edit]

Is the Walloon language more or less influenced by early Celtic languages than French is ?
Why do the Walloons not use the Gaulish numbering system (quatre-vingts) like the French do ?
What can one say about the popular belief that the word Walloon is etymologically cognate to (petit) G(w)allois ?
If this popular etymology is known to be false perhaps that knowledge should be explained here.
--Paulalexdij (talk) 14:37, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm a linguist, but not necessarily an expert on everything involved in this, so my answers are not necessarily 100% correct:
  • I don't think there's a significant difference between Walloon and French with respect to the Celtic influence. According to the article, Walloon and French didn't start to diverge from each other before the 8th century (and that sounds plausible), which must have been long after the period of Celtic influence had already been over. The main difference is actually in the Germanic influence: While Old French was strongly influenced by Germanic, this influence waned later in the medieval period, but in Walloon, which has always been spoken geographically adjacent to Germanic languages and in contact with them, the Germanic influence never ceased. So Walloon is even more influenced by Germanic than French already is. At least in the vocabulary, this could possibly have led to a certain weakening of the Celtic influence, in that words borrowed from Celtic might have been replaced by Germanic loanwords sometimes, but I don't know any concrete examples, this is only a theoretical consideration (speculation).
  • The origin of the vigesimal system in French is unclear and controversial. Old French still had setante etc., and while vigesimal forms are widely attested in Old French (at first in 12th-century Anglo-Norman texts), even including many forms that are now expressed in a decimal way, it seems to have been optional there and a patently recent development, because Latin obviously did not have it. In Old Danish, vigesimality appears for the first time in Jutland ca. 1300, which seems to preclude the possibility (which otherwise suggests itself) that Anglo-Norman had borrowed it from there. In Insular Celtic, vigesimality does not seem to be of ancient provenance, either, and the only relevant attested form in Gaulish (tricontis "thirty") fits (unlike Old French vins et dis and Basque hogeita hamar) clearly into the decimal system, which, along with the observation that ancient Indo-European languages such as Latin and Ancient Greek do not show vigesimal forms at all, casts strong doubt on the idea that Gaulish was vigesimal. The other logical possibility, that Old French owes its vigesimal forms to Basque, especially the northern dialects, is only made difficult by the geographic discrepance. One would expect vigesimality to show up first and strongest in Old Occitan, especially in Gascony. (Attestation is always a problem with medieval languages, though: texts do not necessarily provide examples of relevant numerals, especially early texts.) Why French has retained at least some of the vigesimal forms (most of them disappeared from the 17th century on, and were apparently gone by the 19th century for the most part, apart from fossilised forms) and Walloon does not simply does not seem to have any widely accepted explanation, though the influence of West Germanic, which does not know such forms, remains a possible reason.
  • Old French wal(l)eis or wal(l)ois means "Welsh" (but sometimes also language d'oïl) and is the origin of both gallois and gaulois. No doubt wallon has the same origin, only with a different suffix. For the ultimate etymology, cf. *walhiskaz and Walhaz. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:48, 20 February 2017 (UTC)


Removed this:

[Walloon is also spoken in] two or three villages in Luxembourg (Doncols, Sonlez), though it is possibly no longer spoken there.

as either it is or it isn't spoken there, and do we mean two villages or do we mean three? If we can't be sure about either of these statements, they should be omitted until they can be substantiated one way or the other. -- Picapica (talk) 11:08, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Wallon, Picard and Norman[edit]

Several linguists divide the Oil language in groups and among them the septentrional one, containing Walloon, Picard and Norman (except the southern one). If you compare these 3 dialects (vocabulary, phonetics...) to each other, you notice they have more common points together than they have one by one with the central Oil group ( including Parisian French, so: French).... The language spoken in Les Andelys (100 km west from Paris) is (was) closer to the Picard and the Walloon dialect than the Parisian one. The phonetical and vocabularial differences create(d) a real linguistic boarder that is (was) more significant than the boarders between Norman and Picard or Picard and Walloon. Nortmannus (talk) 16:16, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

@Nortmannus: I always thought the ligne Joret – more specifically the palatalisation line – formed the boundary between Northern and Central Oil, and that Walloon is therefore Central Oil, although it is north of the /w/ ~ /g/ isogloss. Is that the conventional boundary then? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:20, 20 February 2017 (UTC)
Hallo Florian, the Ligne Joret only concerns the northwestern part of France for the non palatalization of the groups /ca/ /ga/ /ok/, etc. North from Granville to les Andelys in Normandy, then through Picardy (north west of Paris) to Belgium in Wallo-Picard : extrem northwestern part of Wallonie. The line w/g is another one, not included in the ligne Joret, but parallel to it only in Normandy, this line is also from Granville to Vernon (Normandy) but further it is distinct : it includes entire Picardy, Wallonie, Champagne, Lorraine, half of Burgundy. The difference is the way to pronounce the w, everywhere it was pronounced [w] but in Normandy they started to pronounce [v] along the 12th century, despite they continued to write the W in the place-names and surnames, to the end of the 13th century : for example Vicquemare (Wiguemare around 1210), Villequier (Wylliquer in 1272), then they were systematically written with a V, but not in Picardy, in Champagne or Wallonie for example they continued to be pronounced [w] for a longer time and to write W-. Concerning the palatalization of the ligne Joret, there are inside it contrasts in Cotentin and on the Channel Islands. In Cotentin (north to Granville) they say cat, for chat, quièvre (or quèvre) for chèvre, but sometimes poutchette [tʃ] for pouquette in Upper Normandy or in North Picardy that means "pocket" corresponding to French pochette (other meaning). On the Channel Islands [tʃ] and [dʒ] are systematically used despite the fact they are all located above Granville (some 10 to 20 km off-shore). In Normandy, the place-names in W- written with a W- are now rare, except at the boarder with Picardy : for example Wanchy-Capval (pronounced Vanchy). Another line, parallell to Ligne Joret in Normandy, includes Picardy and Wallonie entirely, it is the chuintement : plache, commencher for place, commencer in Central French. Cordialement.Nortmannus (talk) 16:20, 20 February 2017 (UTC)
@Nortmannus: Thank you for the info! So is the chuintement line a better way to delimit Northern Oil from Central Oil? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:40, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
@Florian Blaschke: Maybe, but I am not sure that the Wallo-champenois and Wallo-Lorrain share this consonantic trait "chuintement" Walloon is a bit of a political expression, not linguistical.Nortmannus (talk) 18:54, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
@Nortmannus: Personally, I wouldn't subsume all Oil regional languages in Belgium under Walloon, so Belgian Champenois and Belgian Lorrain don't count as Walloon to me, nor Picard. Although there's a map in Languages of Belgium#Non-official languages which shows Wallo-Picard besides Picard and Wallo-Lorrain besides Lorrain (though no Wallo-Champenois, only Champenois), so I don't know. Are these some kind of transitional dialects? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:22, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

Official language[edit]

AFAICT, Walloon is not official in Belgium. Someone should verify this and update the article appropriately.

Also of note: The earliest "French" treatise on the longsword (La noble science des joueurs d'espee) is actually written in Old/Middle Walloon. It contains some distinctive northern langue d'oïl characteristics, such as the word "commenche". The Jade Knight (talk) 22:10, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Walloon is certainly not official in Belgium, and I have corrected it. The error probably arose because the language infobox template contains a field labelled "nation", but when the box is displayed it shows as "official language in": extremely bad template design, in my opinion. JamesBWatson (talk) 08:34, 28 May 2009 (UTC)