When I mentioned to Morgen that I was trying to come up with another good language-related topic to write about, she was silent for a moment, then proclaimed matter-of-factly, “Walloon.” This being a term I’d never heard of, I gave her my standard Scowl of Incomprehension, which she met with her deadly Blank Stare of Shame. This silent exchange is what we do when one of us is incredulous that the other could possibly lack some crucial piece of knowledge. Finally I broke down and said, “OK, what’s that?” Still expressionless, she said, “It’s a language spoken in Belgium.” Hmmmm. French I knew about, but not this one. Sounds really exciting. I said, “Is it interesting?” She said, “Maybe.” And that was that.
It turned out, as it always does, that she was right—it is interesting. But the very first interesting fact I learned about Walloon was one she wasn’t even aware of: Belgium is not the only place where native speakers of this language are found. The other is Green Bay, Wisconsin. [Article Continues…]