Walloon

Print

A language of Belgium

Alternate Names
Wallon
Population

600,000 (Salminen 2007), decreasing. Few monolinguals. Active speakers may only be 300,000 (Salminen 2007).

Location

Wallonia. Central Walloon: Namur, Wavre, and Dinant; Eastern Walloon: Liège, Malmedy, Verviers, Huy, and Waremme; Western Walloon: Charleroi, Nivelles, and Philippeville; Southern Walloon: the Ardennes region, Marche, and Neufchâteau. Also spoken in Luxembourg until recently. It is or was spoken in parts of northern France, and in Green Bay, Wisconsin, United States.

Language Status

6b (Threatened). Statutory language of provincial identity in Wallonia (1990, Valmy Feaux Decree of 14 Dec).

Dialects

Central Walloon, Eastern Walloon, Southern Walloon, Western Walloon. Developed between the 8th and 12th centuries from remnants of Latin brought to the region by Roman soldiers, merchants, and settlers. Eastern subdialect considered the most difficult to understand.

Language Use

Many native authors. Used in theaters. An indigenous language recognized in Belgium since 1990. Usage began decreasing in the 20th century, but Walloon is increasingly recognized as valuable for informal purposes. More rural use than urban. Not used in schools. Many children learn the language but many are likely to shift entirely to French [fra] (2007).

Language Development
Magazines. Newspapers. Radio programs. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 1934.
Writing
Latin script.