Belgium and the Semantic Flux of Flemish, French and Flemings

  • Christophe Declercq
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Languages at War book series (PASLW)


With the outbreak of war, Britain drastically altered its image of Belgium. Under Leopold II, Belgium had become a colonial power of note, especially in Africa from the 1880s onwards (Bandeira Jerónimo and Costa Pinto 2015; Poddar, Patke and Jensen 2008). However, in Britain the disgraceful and inhumane rule of Belgium over its colonies was exposed in reports by Roger Casement and Edmund Dene Morel. As a consequence relations between Britain and Belgium had become sour in the first years of the twentieth century. Although they improved after the death of Leopold II in 1909, the public image of Belgium still had to undergo a dramatic change in order to move from the oppressor to the oppressed in August 1914. However, the image of Belgium continued to be a difficult one to grasp for the British, not least in newspaper articles on Belgians. This paper covers insight into the at times awkward understanding by the British of Belgian matters during the war, taking into account also the preceding confused impressions and how these were met by the Belgians in Britain.


British Newspaper Cultural Circle British Press Commemoration Committee Clear Display 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  • Christophe Declercq

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