Cross-Border Regional Languages: Picard and West Flemish at the Franco–Belgian Border
This article investigates the role of the Franco–Belgian border in regional language activism in the Hauts-de-France region in northern France, as well as whether activists perceive it as a resource for or obstacle to the valorisation or revitalisation of regional languages. Hauts-de-France, which was recently formed after the merger of two former regions, now recognises two regional languages: Picard and West Flemish. Both are considered endangered by UNESCO and are cross-border, in that both languages have also been historically spoken in parts of Belgium. Based on a study of the institutional context and fieldwork carried out with activists who promote these languages, the aim of this contribution is to highlight how activists perceive the border. The Franco-Belgian border is sometimes seen as an obstacle, sometimes as a resource on the West Flemish side, and more often ignored on the Picard side. This article stands midway between cultural geography and political geography, because one of the challenges of studying representations of the border is to understand the role it can play in activists’ strategies.
Copyright (c) 2023 Nicolas Caput
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