February 03, 2005

More news from home

Belgium is celebrating its 175th birthday this year (which makes it about 5 years older than New Zealand) and a state-owned radio station launched an invitation to listeners to update the lyrics of the national anthem, called La Brabanconne and it goes thusly:
O dierbaar België
O heilig land der vaad'ren
Onze ziel en ons hart zijn u gewijd.
Aanvaard ons hart en het bloed van onze adren,
Wees ons doel in arbeid en in strijd.
Bloei, o land, in eendracht niet te breken;
Wees immer u zelf en ongeknecht,
Het woord getrouw, dat ge onbevreesd moogt spreken:
Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht.
Translated (loosely, freely):
Oh dearest Belgium
Oh holy land of our fathers
Our souls and our hearts are dedicated to thee.
Accept our heart and the blood in our veins,
Be our goal in labour and in combat.
Flourish, oh country, its unity indivisible;
Always be thyself and proud.
The word loyalty, that you can speak without fear:
For Sovereign, for Freedom and for Law.
Now the adapted version by the public, called De Belgitude:
De regen valt weer,
waar ben ik toch gebo-o-ren?
't Spijt me God, dat ik u ambeteer,
maar, help, de haan kraait, de leeuw spitst boos zijn o-o-oren:
onze lat-relatie rammelt, Heer.
En toch kunnen wij elkaar niet missen,
te veel is trop en trop is te veel;
geef dat ons Manneken nog lang blijft pissen
en bak de frieten maar goudgeel!
It's raining again,
what's this place I've been born in?
I'm sorry, God, for bothering you,
but, help, the cock is crowing and the lion angrily pricks up its ears:
our "LAT"-relationship is ramshackle, Lord.
And yet we can not bear to be apart;
too much is trop and trop is too much;
Please, ensure our Manneken will piss for a long time
and the frites will continue to fry golden!
Well, it amused me a great deal. I wonder if non-Belgians would get the fun, but here are some pointers: the cock is the symbol of the Walloon (French) speakers and the lion represents the Flemish (Dutch) speakers. They've been living in this artificial Victorian (our first king was Queen Victoria's uncle) construct and never really gotten on, linguistically, religiously, socially, culturally, economically and politically. How it never actually split up is a mystery, but "too much / trop" trouble gives a clue. And of course, we all love our Manneken Pis and our Belgian fries.

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