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This report is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.

Louis Remacle at 80: a dialect modernist Yann Lovelock
The town of Liege was founded during the early Middle Ages and named after a tributary of the Meuse, on the banks of which it was built. The seat of a prince-bishop, the territories attached to it for the best part of a thousand years comprised much of eastern Belgium and even a portion of what is now the province of Limburg. Its independence ceased with the French Revolution; afterwards it was incorporated into the new Kingdom of the Netherlands, the southern part of which seceded in 1830 to become Belgium. The language of Liege was not the French imposed on it but Walloon, a collection of dialects which to the east develop into the Romance Lorraine dialect and to the west into Picard, which also crosses the border from France. Independently developed from Low Latin, Walloon had a distinctive Celtic and Germanic admixture and there was a considerable literature in it, for the most part songs and comic sketches, dating from the 17th century.

Benefitting from the coalfields which stretch westwards along the Meuse, Liege became an important industrial town during the 19th century. There were those with a sense of history among its inhabitants who could not be reconciled to the primacy given Brussels as the capital and began agitating for a Walloon particularism. Development of a more sophisticated literature in the dialect was one strand in this recrudescence of Liege nationalism and has proved remarkably successful, whether it be in fiction, drama or verse. Walloon is ...


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