Saturday, October 21, 2006

It takes three languages to kill a forest

Local elections in Belgium were October 8. Two weeks later, I received the first paperwork for the national elections in the mail from the consulate in Los Angeles.
  • One big envelope
  • One page with three columns, discussing the elections. In three languages.: Dutch, French and German, the three national languages of Belgium.
  • One forms to indicate how to vote (by mail, in person, in Belgium, etc.). Times three languages.
  • One set of information about voting abroad, 2 pages, front and back. Times three languages.
  • One form to indicate who can vote in your name. Times three languages.
  • One booklet with all the towns and the language:
    • N = Nederlandstalig (Dutch speaking)
    • F = Franstalig (French speaking)
    • D = Duitstalig (German speaking)
    • N/F = tweetalig Nederland-Frans (Bi-lingual Dutch and French)
    • Nf = Nederlandstalig + faciliteiten voor Franstaligen (Dutch speaking, with facilities for French speaking)
    • Fn = Franstalig + faciliteiten voor Nederlandstaligen (French speaking, with facilities for Dutch speaking)
    • Fd = Franstalig + faciliteiten voor Duitstaligen (French speaking, with facilities for German speaking)
    • Df = Duitstalig + faciliteiten voor Franstaligen (German speaking, with facilities for French speaking)
My mother tongue is Dutch. So,
Geachte eerste minister,
Cher premier ministre,
Dear prime minister,
Save your duplicate words,
Save your duplicate forms,
Save the trees.
Allow us to indicate a language of preference.

PS: While California prints the driver's license test in many many languages, they will only send you one booklet.

No comments: