31 December 2008

Christmas & New Year in Belgium: Dutch vs. French vs. English

For New Year's Eve, I analyzed the Google search volume for Christmas and New Year-related terminology in Belgium's first (Dutch) and second language (French) as well as today's international lingua franca (English). This meant Kerst/Kerstfeest/Kerstdag/Kerstman vs. Noël (Christmas) vs. Nieuwjaar, vs. Nouvelle Année/Nouvel An (New Year) vs. Christmas/Santa Claus/New Year:

For Christmas, French won clearly while for the New Year Dutch narrowly beat out French. English was of course behind though when taking both holidays together not insignificant: Belgium is indeed becoming more and more international in its population and orientation. Why the two holidays showed opposite patterns as far as the primary languages were concerned was unclear. Maybe the search volume just wasn't big enough. Anyway, let's have a look at the rankings for the different (groups of) terms as far as the 11 provinces were concerned—treating Brussels as a province for convenience's sake.

Yellow indicates a Dutch term or Dutch-speaking province while turquoise marks French terms and French-speaking provinces. The capital district of Brussels is bilingual. As expected, the Dutch terms came first in a Dutch-speaking province while the French ones did in a French-speaking province. The English terms were searched most in a Dutch-speaking province (Limburg) and Brussels. On average though, Antwerp won out, helped by its larger population; Walloon Brabant came in last due to its low population. In the bottom section of the table, I made a quick attempt to rework the ranking numbers taking the population in consideration. Interesting was here that while for the individual terms nothing changed, the average now saw Luxembourg as the winner and East Flanders as the loser.

No comments:

Post a Comment