From 'Batavisation' to 'Verdeutschung': Willem 's language policy in the Grand Duchy (1815-1840)

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Abstract

William I has definitely not gone down in Belgian history as a herald of French language and culture. Paradoxically, this is pretty much what he was in the so-called 'Quartier Allemand' of his Grand Duchy of Luxembourg until the outbreak of the Belgian Revolution. In that territory, German was initially regarded as the sworn enemy, i.e. the language of hegemonic Prussia, against which a symbolic bulwark needed to be erected. Ironically, German which was favoured at the expense of French later on, when the latter language was seen as the language of expansionist Belgium after 1830. Against this background of power relations, measures in favour of Dutch, the 'Landtaal', were until 1830 seriously contemplated for the Quartier AUemand of the Grand Duchy, and to a certain extent enforced without meeting with any noticeable public discontent. The events that took place in 1830 brought the official policy of 'netherlandicization' to a standstill, although some of its agents remained in place for a while. Nowadays, little direct evidence of Dutch linguistic influence from Willem's reign can be found in the Grand Duchy. But the Orangist imagery, manipulated by Luxembourgish nationalists as a symbol of political and cultural independence versus Prussia, motivated the cultivation of a remote Dutch connection in the interest of the nascent Luxembourgish linguistic particularism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVerslagen en Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en letterkunde
Volume117
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Psychology(all)
  • Linguistics and Language

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