Of the five European countries Mark and I visited this summer, I bought the most books in Luxembourg. Iceland, which I still have to report on (I am waiting until after I have visited with Kristen Chew before I make anything public) comes in second. Norway, where I only bought three books, is in third place while Belgium and the Netherlands pull up the rear with 2½ books each. I bought one book in the cookie-cutter jigsaw borderland paradise of Baarle-Nassau/Baarle-Hertog so I’m not sure which country I was in when I bought that particular book. My receipt says that the store was in the Netherlands, and if so then Belgium saw only two book sales:
I am interested in regional idioms so I always look for these dictionaries whenever I travel. Het Antwerps zakwoordenboek is a dictionary of Flemish terms used specifically in Antwerp. The title translates to The Antwerp pocket dictionary but there’s no way this hardcover can fit into any of my pockets. While Mark and I were in the city for the OutGames, I asked the locals who were working at the sports facilities what words they used that were particular to Antwerp. Questions like this always bring out lively discussions as citizens listening in always like to provide a suggestion of their own. One term I heard spoken often was none other than the name of the city. In Antverpian Flemish, the city name Antwerpen is pronounced more like Aantwaarrepe. I cannot tell you the number of stunned looks I got when I spoke to Antverpians (in English) yet pronounced the name of their city Aantwaarrepe. This dictionary lists Antverpian Flemish terms alphabetically, followed by their standard Flemish equivalent.
Belgium is a bilingual country so naturally I had to seek out a dictionary of Belgian French terms. French is not spoken in Antwerp, and I found that Antverpians preferred that I speak English to them versus French when I told them I could communicate with them in either language. Dictionnaire des belgicismes is a much more elaborate work than the Flemish dictionary. This book was close to twice as long, at 400 pages to 230 (the paper in the Flemish book was very thick). Each Belgian French term was given a phonetic transcription, part of speech indicator, gender, notes about where it was spoken in Wallonia and how popular it was or if it was slipping out of favour, as well as plenty of examples of the particular word in context. This is in fact the second book I have about Belgian French. At Schoenhof’s many years ago, I bought:
Le français en Belgique, a 530-page book that would send my airline luggage allowance over the limit. I think I got this when John and Kristen Chew and I drove down to Boston. This book traces the history of French in the region, its morphology and syntax, plus also very interesting chapters on the particular idioms of French spoken in Wallonia and Brussels. There were even entire chapters about the minority French communities in Flanders and in the small German-speaking region of Belgium.