Pop Quiz 479

Okay, here’s a fun one for you. I don’t -I mean that- have the answer to this pop quiz. I was there and it has me stumped. We were walking around the plaza in Brussels; they were having some sort of cultural festival. The Basques, Argentines and Uruguayans were easy to pick out. However these guys weren’t speaking Spanish and I have absolutely no idea what these costumes signify. Since we don’t speak Flemish or French, we had a failure to communicate. By the way, it was my job to learn French for this trip. I had “learn French” on my to do list for the Thursday before we left but I obviously didn’t get around to it that day, hence the communication problems.

I’m tempted to call them celery heads although the headresses are white.

Couldn’t figure out what they were at first but a closer examination revealed those were feathers. Could those be ostrich feathers? They were very dancey. I just don’t get it. Ostrich feathers -those are from Africa, no? I was kind of wondering…I would only imagine the Flemish would distance themselves from their socio political history in South Africa but I guess not? Me, I’d pretend I’d never been there but that’s the only connection I see to those huge feathers and the decidedly European symbology appliqued front and back, even a stripe on the CB pants seam.

And the shoes were wooden (the Dutch aren’t the only ones to wear wooden shoes). And then the cow bells, what’s up with that? And lastly, the little basket of oranges? I give up. Your turn.

Today we’re off to Premiere Vision. I’ll fill you in on the details later. I’d meant to post on the TexWorld show from yesterday…

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24 comments

  1. The basket of oranges presumably refers to the House of Orange, the Protestant royal family of the Netherlands. (You know how wearing green is the thing to do on St Patrick’s day? It’s catholic gang colours. Wearing orange used to get your head kicked in. Probably still does in some neighbourhoods. As in Orangemen.)

  2. They are NOT Dutch, that I know for sure. Or I must have been locked up in a basement for 40 years (that is a local tradition in Belgium).

    But honestly, I have never seen these costumes before. It’s not Carnaval either, that starts at 11 November.

    I found out what the festival was, and they have a website:

    Traditional festivities of the free Commune of Ilot Sacré

    The Ilots Sacré are 7 protected areas in Brussels where no building is allowed.

    Okay, I found them: Gilles « Les Commerçants » de la Hestre.

    Here is info on their costume, but only in French.

    Here’s a computer translation for non-French speakers.

    So they are just Belgians, and it is also for Carnaval.

  3. They are NOT Dutch, that I know for sure. Or I must have been locked up in a basement for 40 years (that is a local tradition in Belgium).

    But honestly, I have never seen these costumes before. It’s not Carnaval either, that starts at 11 November.

    I found out what the festival was, and they have a website:

    Traditional festivities of the free Commune of Ilot Sacré.

    http://www.ilotsacre.be/site/en/activities/program.htm

    The Ilots Sacré are 7 protected areas in Brussels where no building is allowed.

    Okay, I found them: Gilles « Les Commerçants » de la Hestre.

    Here is info on their costume, but only in French:

    http://www.gilleslescommercants.be/histoire_costume.php

    Here’s a computer translation for non-French speakers:

    http://tinyurl.com/4e4m2r

    So they are just French speaking Belgians…

  4. kqthleen says:

    GRRRRRR: <it hqs been heck trying to use the french keyboqrd to check e,qil qnd nqvigqte fro, the shoz qll dqy: <it tqkes forever to type qnything: Eric sqys they deliberqtely ,oved so,e letters qreound for no good reqson: <i ,eqn; zhy szqp plqces for the q qnd a<! <it doesnùt ,qke sense1 : <i still hqve not found the delete key: you hqve to ,ove the cursor forzqrd hozever ,qny lines; then bqckspqce delete: Thqt <i cqnc find:

    <i think ze cqn forget encoding: <just use q french keyboqrd qnd type nor,qlly:!

    Glqd you qre hqving fun zith the belgiqn pop auiw:

  5. J C Sprowls says:

    LOL! I forgot about this, too. Oh how memory wanes. In any event, for those who don’t already know, an image of the French AZERTY keyboard can be found here, on Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZERTY

    And, some additional trivia from WikiPedia:

    The QWERTY layout of keys has become the de facto standard for English-language typewriter and computer keyboards. Other languages written in the Latin alphabet sometimes use variants of the QWERTY layouts, such as the French AZERTY, the Italian QZERTY, and the German QWERTZ layouts.

  6. Eric H says:

    I don’t know what ze problem eez. All you ‘ave to do eez, you tahp as eef you ‘ad a — how do you say? — a Franch accent. Sink “Clouseau”. Zen zees keyboard eez a piece of tort.

    I sought of zee William of Orange angle, too, but – alors! – wrong country. Alzo, you know, sometimez zeez European boundaries shift a few hundred kilometres depending on who currently has zee beegest Armee.

  7. Yeah, sometimes the “wrong country” issue is really really important, and sometimes it isn’t. You can’t always tell. For instance, in the Netherlands the Royal Family is the House of Orange which fought the Eighty Years War to gain independence from Spain. And you know what the Dutch national anthem is? An oath of fealty to… the king of Spain! Whatever.

    According to Els’ link, the festival you saw is in tribute to Spain, and the headdresses are a celebration of the Incas conquered by Spain.

    So I guess one Must Not Ever conflate the Dutch with the Flemish, but you can go ahead and conflate either one with Spain and nobody will mind. Or something.

  8. Eric H says:

    Alison, I don’t think it’s any more surprising that inhabitants of the Netherlands, refuge of the Huguenots, would pledge loyalty to the Catholic King of Spain than to find out that Incas had access to ostrich feathers.

  9. LisaB says:

    Kathleen, I feel for you. For the last year or two, my husband has been trying to learn the Dvorak keyboard…just as a personal growth exercise type of thing. He has set all our home computers to use that keyboard layout as the default. Every time I try to use one of those computers, it’s an exercise in frustration for me. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and try to learn it myself. It’s supposed to me a lot more efficient. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_keyboard

  10. Ingrid Betts says:

    I believe this costume may have something to do with the House of Orange (orange baskets) which is what the Dutch kingdom is based on. I’ll ask my Belgian cousin and get back to you.

    Ingrid

  11. Eric H says:

    The Dvorak keyboard is famous for being shown to be more efficient because of tests conducted … by Dvorak (though this fact was concealed). As I recall, independent tests show no difference in efficiency after being trained and allowed to acclimate to the keyboard layout.

    http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html

    This is one of the reasons I believe that the changes in the French keyboard are gratuitous – if there is no efficiency improvement based on layout, why the change? The diacriticals and other characters, I understand, but swapping Q and W for A and Z? And making the period a shifted character? And sometimes moving the M off arbitrarily? If greater efficiency is possible, then I could understand them making changes to make the whole thing ala Dvorak, but these are just for spite (we cannot ‘ave zees American crap steenking up our desktops).

  12. Bo Breda says:

    Despite all this interesting information about who these people are, it occurs to me that at the very first glance I thought they were the Vatican’s Swiss guards – clearly from the same era.

  13. Elsa,
    Wikipedia on boers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boers
    Boer (pronounced [ˈbuːr] in Dutch, IPA: /ˈbʊɚ/, /boʊɚ/ or /ˈbɔr/ in English) is the Dutch word for farmer which came to denote the descendants of the proto Afrikaans-speaking pastoralists of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State, Transvaal (together known as the Boer Republics) and to a lesser extent Natal. Their primary motivation for leaving the Cape was to escape British rule as well as the constant border wars between the British imperial government and the native tribes on the eastern frontier.

    The Trekboere, as they were originally known, are descended mainly from Dutch Calvinist, Flemish and Frisian Calvinist as well as French Huguenot, and German Protestant origins dating from the 1650s and into the 1700s. Minor numbers of Scandinavians, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Scots, English, Irish and Welsh people were absorbed, as well as some descendants from early unions with slaves of mainly Indian and Malay descent and local Khoi people.

    For more information on history before the Great Trek, see Afrikaner.

    Also, wikipedia on afrikaners:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrikaner
    The Afrikaner people are descended from northwestern European settlers who first arrived in the Cape of Good Hope during the period of administration (1652 – 1795) by the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC). While the original settlers came mainly from the Netherlands, their numbers were also swelled later by French and German religious refugees. It is commonly thought their ancestors were primarily Dutch Calvinists, with smaller numbers of Frisians, Germans and French Huguenots, Flemish and Walloons. They lost their Dutch citizenship when the Prince of Orange acquiesced to British occupation and control of the Cape Colony in 1795.

    You’re a South African, so I’m guessing your question goes beyond whether or not the flemish participated in the colonisation of South Africa, but I’m not sure what it is?

  14. Elsa Toerien says:

    It was merely to underline what you said earlier: “one Must Not Ever conflate the Dutch with the Flemish”. Please do not blame the Flemish for the whatever the Dutch might have done. The Flemish had very little influence on South Africa. In contrast with, interestingly, the French, whose sentence construction greatly influenced that of Afrikaans.
    In the website http://www.laetare.be/nl/Perso_Gil5_nl.htm, placed by Els, it is stated that the ostrich feathers were not used before 1880. It is interesting how the availibilty of resources, and fashion, can influence something as supposedly fixed as traditional wear.

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