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7. Valley of the Jeker

In the Valley of the Jeker lie a few villages, like Rukkelingen, Bitsingen, Eben-Emaal, Ternaaien and Wonk, which at the time of the fixation of the lingual border certainly could be caracterized as Dutch-speaking. Nevertheless, they ended up at the Walloon side of the border, and nowadays they lie in the province of Liège. Even now, the older generation uses a Dutch dialect.

The fundamental reason for the "error" are the lingual censuses, held in the communes to measure the lingual ratios. These censuses quickly turned into lingual referendums, in which "French-speaking" stood for "civilized" and "Dutch-speaking" for "not-civilized". Indeed, if you wanted to succeed in life, you had to know French; peasants' Flemish was only usefull in the farms and on the fields. This way, lots of communes along the lingual border were "civilized", including the villages in the valley of the Jeker.

The lingual border was fixed in 1963, and didn't change much since then. The younger generation living in the valley of the Jeker is now completely French-speaking. This means that Flanders is left with only historical claims on this region, and the region should therefore be considered quasi lost: a return to Flanders will have to be paid for by another heavy concession somewhere else. But still, Flanders should hold it against Wallonia at the negotiations in case of a scission.

© Filip van Laenen ( f.a.vanlaenen@ieee.org )