Learning Flemish won’t happen in a day, and David Evans proves it. © Greeblie via Flickr
You may remember our mid-season Flemish lessons brought to us from across the pond by our British reporter, David Evans. Here, he road tested his skills and interviewed some Belgians (and people in Belgium) while attending the World Cup in Hoogerheide in January to work on an in-depth interview with Amy Dombroski and the Telenet-Fidea team for Cyclocross Magazine, Issue 21.
by David Evans
I must say I’m very impressed with your midterm papers. I thought you’d be thrown by the speaking and listening test consisting of a simultaneous translation of Louis C.K.’s 2010 interview on The Late Late Show, but no, good grades all round.
In preparation for our upcoming field trip, I recorded a few interviews with some Flemings and one Walloon on a recent trip through Belgium. We’ll cover their attitudes to language, cyclocross, national identity, and much, much more.
Without further ado – could you dim the lights, Eric? Roll tape.
Interview #1: Helen, 26, Journalism Student & Hostel Concierge, Brussels, 23:11pm, 1/18/2013.
Intrepid Reporter: Helen, do you speak Flemish?
Helen: No, I’m French.
I.R.: So you’re not from Belgium, you just live here?
H: No, I mean I am from the French part of Belgium.
I.R.: I see. Would you like to learn Flemish?
H: Not really. It’s no good here [in Brussels]. All my friends speak French, and my studies and work are in English. I’d rather speak German, it would be more useful.
I.R.: None of your friends speak Flemish?
H: [Thinks hard, furrows brow, taps nails on a table] Erm, no. A friend’s boyfriend is Flemish. And … no. No one.
I.R.: Why do you think that is?
H: It’s like another country. I don’t really care for all that [waves an arm towards a newspaper, presumably referring to politics], but it feels very far, like another country.
I.R.: One more thing—do you like cyclocross?
I.R.: [In poor French accent] C’est cyclisme, comme V.T.T. mais…
H: Oh. No. Sorry.
Interview #2: Vic, undisclosed age, Living Legend & Belgian Host of Amy Domboski, Vic’s House, 21:48pm, 1/19/2013
Inebriated Reporter: Vic, how many languages do you speak?
Vic: Oooooh, so many. All the languages of the peloton. [Vic's mannerisms and intonation defy a bracketed explanation.]
I.R.: What do you think of Flemish?
V: Which Flemish?
I.R.: What do you mean?
V: Well, if we go 30 kms [1. He points out of the dining room window 2. This is what Vic actually says, 'kms', pronounced 'kimms'] that way they speak another Flemish and if we go that way [other window] they speak a different Flemish.
I.R.: Really? How?
Vic: The sounds are harder there [first window] and they sound silly there [second window].
V: So the Flemishes [sic] change every way.
I.R.: So, do you like Flemish?
V: I think I don’t know what you mean but maybe I know do know what you mean. Yes, Flemish is strange. Belgium is very strange.
Interview #3, four millennial Belgian ’cross fans, one visibly intoxicated, two clearly cold, Hoogerheide World Cup, 13:20pm, 1/20/2013
Icy Reporter: Are you Flemish?
Here, Kevin Pauwels is on the way to the win © Bart Hazen
Adolescent #1: Huh?
Adolescent #2: [says something, presumably in Flemish]
I.R.: Are you Flemish?
Adolescent #3: KEVIN PAUWELS! KEVVVVVIIIIN PAUWLES!
I.R.: He’s drunk. Is he drunk? [mimes drinking]
A. #1: Oh! Yes! He’s drunk. Beer.
A. #2: [pointing to my press accreditation] Journalist?
A. #3: KEVIN PA-PA-PA-PAUWELS. [Lurches off, continues singing, other adolescents give a wave and follow their friend]
 Believe it or not, these transcripts are taken from actual interviews with actual Belgians on the weekend of the Hoogerheide World Cup. N.B., Before anyone points this out, I know that the Hoogerheide World Cup is in Holland. These interviews occurred while travelling to and from the race. Pedants.