Thursday, September 20, 2018

Walloon Wonderland

The Walloons are the people of Wallonia, a region in southern Belgium. Today, Walloons mostly speak Belgian French, but a few still speak or study their traditional language, which is divided into several distinct dialects.

This is a translation of “Alice in Wonderland” into the Walloon language, more specifically Central Walloon (the dialect spoken in Namur). Even more specifically, it's the variant spoken in Namêche, the village where the translator happens to live! Apparently, this form of Central Walloon is already quite close to Liège Walloon, a different dialect. The translator had to coin the neologism “lézârd” for lizard, since “cwate-pèces” apparently wouldn't do the trick.

Since my Walloon language, central or otherwise, is a bit rusty, I'm sure you wonder how I know all this. You guessed it: the book comes with a short foreword by the translator…in English. The wonderful tale of Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the Red Queen and all the other goofy characters have also been translated to Charleroi Walloon and Picard Borain (another regional language sometimes heard in Belgique).

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