The German-speaking region of East Belgium is a fine example of the Kuddelmuddel, which national property relations and ethnic identities can occasionally give rise to: the area belonged to the Duchy of Limburg until the 13th century (“ Dutch” in the Holy Roman Empire), fell after the Battle of Worringen to Brabant (“Flemish” in …). In the 15th century it passed by marriage to the dukes of Burgundy (French …), then to the Spanish Habsburgs and in 1713, after the Treaty of Utrecht, to the Austrian Habsburgs.* From 1794 to 1815 it belonged to the French Habsburgs Ourthe.In 1815 it was given to Prussia, in 1918 to Belgium.In all this confusion, “the East Belgians”, at least the majority, see themselves as Germans in Belgium (or German-speaking Belgians, which is not quite the same).
Ethnically, “the East Belgians” see themselves as Germans and speak Lower Franconian or Lower Franconian.West-Central German dialects: Limburgic or Ripuarisch in the northern part around Eupen, Moselfr盲nkisch in the southern part. The Eupenians “actually” speak a Dutch-Flemish dialect, but use standard German as the umbrella language and see themselves as Germans; the Limburgian dialect around Eupen seems to be strongly German colored, if I can believe statements from Flemings. That’s about ethnicities, languages and borders. The southern Eastern Belgians around St. Vith speak the same dialect as the people in the German-speaking Eifel and can talk to the people in northern Luxembourg as well as those beyond the German border in their respective dialects 鈥?100% understandable.**
The official language in the German-speaking part is German.The school lessons in St. Vith (administrative center of the southern part of the German-speaking community) take place in German (in the northern part also, but here I know it from my own point of view). As Joachim Pense has already written, this region is administratively part of Wallonia, but French is hardly more anchored there, at least today, than in Germany.My nephew is the only one of his friends who is still studying in the French-speaking liges (L眉ttich), everyone else has since gone to Germany because they do not get along with French as a teaching language. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, speaks fluent French, as do others of her generation. I therefore assume that the orientation towards Germany is much stronger in the younger generation.
My brother lives there, so I occasionally get there.When I was in the region for the first time, I saw bilingual French-Flemish signs, sprayed with the names in the local dialect, i.e. an oblique German. (Strangely, I don’t know what it’s like at the moment … Trilingual? I’m going to pass it on.) The people on the bus spoke “somehow” German, occasionally there were also people who spoke “somehow” French, with superficial hearing it sounded almost the same, so you had to focus on the words to know what language it was. In any case, the regional variants of the respective roof languages.
The German-speaking region(s) in Eastern Belgium:
*There is a village in the region that was founded by Austrians in the 18th century and where “Austrians” still live mainly.
There is an Austrian enclave in the German-speaking part of the French-speaking half of Belgium. Which variant of Austrian German, Like the (most) natives in the rest of the eastern part of Belgium, I do not know, these are just “the Austrians” … O_o
**Only for Luxembourgers, East Belgians and Eifellaners, of course, I don’t understand a word.:(