Walloon (//; natively walon; French: wallon) is a Romance language that is spoken in much of Wallonia and (to a small extent) in Brussels, Belgium; some villages near Givet, northern France; a clutch of communities in northeastern Wisconsin, U.S.; and in some parts of Canada. It belongs to the langues d'oïl language family, the most prominent member of which is French. The historical background of its formation was the territorial extension since 980 of the Principality of Liège to the south and west.
|Native to||Belgium, France|
|Region||Wallonia, Ardennes, minority in Door County, Wisconsin (United States)|
perhaps only 300,000 active speakers in rural Wallonia
|Latin (Walloon alphabet)|
Despite its rich literature, beginning anonymously in the 16th century and with well-known authors since 1756, the use of Walloon has decreased markedly since France's annexation of Wallonia in 1795. This period definitively established French as the language of social promotion, far more than it was before. After World War I, public schools provided French-speaking education to all children, inducing a denigration of Walloon, especially when accompanied by official orders in 1952 to punish its use in schools. Subsequently, since the middle of the 20th century, generational transmission of the language has decreased, resulting in Walloon almost becoming a dead language. Today it is scarcely spoken among younger people, with vast majority of its native speakers being the elderly (aged 65 and over). In 2007, the number of people with knowledge of the language was estimated at 600,000.
Numerous associations, especially theatre companies, are working to keep the language alive. Formally recognized as a langue régionale endogène (regional indigenous language) of Belgium since 1990, Walloon has also benefited from a continued corpus planning process. The "Feller system" (1900) regularized transcription of the different accents. Since the 1990s, a common orthography was established (the Rifondou walon), which allowed large-scale publications, such as the Walloon Wikipedia officially in 2003. In 2004, a Walloon translation of a Tintin comic was released under the name L'èmerôde d'al Castafiore; in 2007 an album consisting of Gaston Lagaffe comic strips was published in Walloon.