Belgian French

Belgian French is the variety of French spoken by the french speakers of Belgium, alongside related minority regional languages like the Walloon language, the Picard language, Champenois and Gaumais. Belgian French and the French of France are almost identical and hence mutually intelligible, but there are differences in vocabulary, which have several causes:

One notable difference between Belgian and Standard French (and shared by Swiss French), is the use of the word septante for seventy, as opposed to soixante-dix (literally 'sixty-ten'); and nonante for ninety, as opposed to quatre-vingt-dix (literally 'four score and ten'). Unlike the Swiss French, huitante is never used for eighty, as opposed to quatre-vingt (four score).

A difference, often considered amusing or surprising by speakers of other variants of French, is the use of the verb savoir instead of pouvoir when expressing a capacity. Savoir exclusively means "to know" in other variants of French.

Another interesting difference is the meaning of the terms déjeuner and dîner. Déjeuner literally means 'breaking the fast', ie: breakfast which is generally eaten in the morning. However, the French King Louis XIV used to get up at noon time and therefore breakfast took the place of lunch both in practice and in vocabulary (dîner took the place of souper, a cognate of the English 'supper'). Since the king's servants still had to get up early, they had a small breakfast — petit déjeuner. The French nobles soon adopted the changes, spreading the new use of the word déjeuner. But modern-day Belgium was not part of France and therefore kept the old meaning (as did Quebec French and Swiss French, also separated from France).

There are also differences in pronunciation, but they are not much bigger than, say, the differences between the pronunciations heard in Marseille and Paris. The most significant difference is that the letter 'w' is almost always pronounced the same way as in English, while French people say 'v'. A much less audible difference occurs with the semi-consonant 'u' (as in 'fuir') which tends to [w] in Belgium, as opposed to a semi-consonantic [y] in France.

See also

Dialects of the French language

France French (français méridional, Orléanais, Bourbonnais-Berrichon) – Canadian French (Acadian, Quebec) – African French (Maghreb)

Belgian FrenchCajun FrenchCambodian French

français d'AosteSwiss French

de:Belgisches Französisch

fr:Français de Belgique


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