a couple of dozen places [Above] where linguistic 'facilities' are provided ex officio because there is a significant minority on the wrong side of the line that was drawn on the basis of the 1930 Census. Does this remind you of a line drawn across the sub-continent that separated India and Pakistan into two nations resulting in the killing of at least a million people living on the wrong side of the new border? The first point to note is how tight the line is. There are probably more French speakers in Antwerp or Ghent than in the whole of Voeren but they just have to lump it. In those Northern cities Vlaams is the language and all official business - and schooling - is transacted in it. Did you know that there are 20,000 Yiddish speakers in Antwerp? Not quite as many as there are German speakers [N=77,000] on the Eastern frontier and they don't get any 'facilities'. And of course, the last 30 years have seen a bit of colour added to the linguistic map of Belgium: Berber, Turkish, Portuguese and Polish can all be heard on the streets
exclaves of West-Berlin, I guess.The local government is required to supply language facilities to their inhabitants who
In Ireland there are two official languages, with Irish taking constitutional priority if there is any dispute that gets confused in the translation. This is why Justices of the Supreme Court are fluent in both languages (are they? probably not!). All official docs are available in both languages. Flyers from the Referendum Commission telling us about Marriage Equality came through the door bilingual despite everyone in the country being fluent in English. That is a significant burden on the tax-payer but we suck it up to show that we are no longer a British colony. Road signs tend to be Irish only in the Gaeltachts where everyone pretends that Irish is the only available language. That's a minor inconvenience and adds a bit of colour to the environment. It's ironic that language is the only medium we have to communicate (apart from a hug) and is so often used as a barrier to communication.
Footnote 1: Mouscron is home to Louis-Philippe Loncke who parodied the oddly compelling "Inspired by Iceland" post-Eyjafjallajökull promotional video about Iceland which suggests that all the stereotypes of Iceland have been internalised but with extra dance!
Footnote 2: One of the hamlets that make up Comines is Ploegsteert which is twinned with Wolverton in Buckinghamshire, England. This is partly because of the 1974 discovery of a trove of WWI letters from a soldier called Albert French who lived in Wolverton but died at Ploegsteert in 1916 two years before he was eligible to enlist. Young French would have known this killing field as Plugstreet Wood. It was here that the famous Christmas Truce soccer match of 1914 was played between British and German soldiers.