Godverdomme, Belgian – WTF?


Anyone else watching Salamander?

New on UK tv (BBC) it is a Belgian crime drama. Has anyone ever listened to Belgians? What on earth are they speaking?


Salamander, on the fence, linguistically

I imagined there would be a mixture of French and Flemish, though I had no particular ideas about what Flemish might be like – a bit German? ish?

Well, if this tv programme is anything to go by, the Belgians are basically doing something we on the internet could only dream of. Yes, we have Spanglish and all the other cut and shut languages with English, but this lot seem to get their words from everywhere. I just heard a character say “Allez, come on”. It’s all like that. Who knows what I might be hearing if I were less linguistically impaired. I’m getting little bits of Dutch, German, French and English. Though, an initial googling gleans that Flemish is a kind of Dutch, but sinceĀ godverdomme is virtually the only Dutch word I know obvs, that’s what jumped out at me. What is odd is that the sound of the non Frenchy words feels much more Scandie than German to me. I wonder if this is a matter of accent or whether it is more that I simply don’t know what I am talking about?

cosy wasch

Berlin Cosy Wasch

In the UK we theoretically study French as a second language. I know we made some sort of effort even in primary school, but it wasn’t compounded by anything – we never went abroad, and the only French tv programme I know we had was the Magic Roundabout, which, being an animation, was seamlessly not in French. We also had Tales From Europe, which included Heidi and the Singing Ringing Tree, but they were all dubbed. I also did a bit of Latin and a year of German. When I went to Berlin for a few days some years ago I found that I remembered enough to get around, and also dug deep for those words in English that are basically French, trying to find suitable make-likes.

If we watch foreign telly in the UK we tend to like subtitles Probably because they get so much of it, more, I suspect, because of American stuff, if the traffic is the other way they go for dubbing, so although the British are absolutely notorious for not bothering to learn other languages it’s almost like we are quietly sneaking round checking up on the neighbours, while they are so up to their gills in English they prefer to relax with their own language if possible. It is interesting, though, that we have Montalbano from Sicily, Spiral, from France, the entire Nordic Noir genre, and now this Belgian Serpico character (barely a woman in sight, rather going against the grain, since the Nordics and Spiral all have strong female characters) but nothing, unless you count films, from Spain or Germany. This is annoying. Do they not make crime drama in these countries? I mean, if Belgium, a tiny country, can get it together to make an exportable drama surely we could be watching some Spanish and German telly too?

Also, from a language point of view, I’d be interested in watching more Belgian telly, assuming they have something that doesn’t exclusively feature male protagonists (that’s getting a little dull, and we can watch plenty of that in English).

It seems that since the shilly shallying of borders, for a while, we (that is, presumably “England”) had Brittany, and also, for a while, the Normans (French) ran the south of England, we have had our own history of cut and shut with the working classes speaking some sort of low country Germanic language, and the toffs speaking in French, and it looks like the Belgians have done something similar, but come out differently.


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2 thoughts on “Godverdomme, Belgian – WTF?

  1. I imagine @lahikmajoe can recommend some German Crime Drama? Maybe it depends on how contemporary you like your RedRuM cocktail, theres plenty of war films (yeah I know, I’m not meant to mention it ;) (and by plenty I mean Das Boot, don’t say I didn’t research . . .) Has Almodovar not done any TV? Its possible that the Portugese now live in a crime free paradise having decriminalised drugs 13 years ago (no, I’m not procrastinating on facebook . . ) . . .

    • We must get back on our Aldomovar bender.

      Also, I am interested in Portugal. It looks super pretty and has the Atlantic on it’s side. I am not sure I like the lack of muscle in the Med.

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