The queen strikes back: Belgium's beauty learns language lesson

4th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Six weeks after she was booed by Dutch-speaking journalists, Belgium's beauty queen struck back with her first Dutch-language newspaper interview

Brussels - Six weeks after she was booed by Dutch-speaking journalists for failing to master the language, Belgium's beauty queen struck back Friday with her first Dutch-language newspaper interview.

"Miss Belgium speaks Dutch!" Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad proclaimed over a half-page interview with 20-year-old Alizee Poulicek.

The blonde, blue-eyed Poulicek first hit the headlines in December, when she was named Miss Belgium at a glittering contest in the town of Antwerp - the bastion of Dutch-language nationalism in Belgium.

Poulicek is the daughter of a French-speaking mother and Czech father. Born in the French-speaking south of Belgium, she speaks fluent French, Czech and English.

But at her victory press conference it transpired that she could not answer questions in Dutch - a revelation which provoked the fury of Dutch-speaking journalists.

The subsequent heckling which she received made front-page news across Belgium, where relations between the two language communities are at their lowest ebb for years.

Since that traumatic day, Poulicek has been taking intensive Dutch lessons, the interview revealed.

And her success has been striking: She scored nine points out of 10 in an impromptu vocabulary test on words such as "sun," "beauty" and "evening gown" organized by the newspaper.

"The hardest thing is to understand people, because they speak so fast. But I'm the proof that you can always learn a language. Nobody should give up hope," Poulicek said.


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