Saturday, July 21, 2018

Strangers Hall in Norwich

In the middle of Norwich is the wonderful Strangers Hall museum which is located in a majestic townhouse, first built some 600 years ago. The museum takes its name from the Dutch, Flemish and Walloon immigrants or Strangers who came to Norwich in the sixteenth century to escape the religious and economic turmoil in the Low Countries that was the prelude to the Eighty Years War. However, there was always a question mark over whether Strangers actually lived in the house … until now. Thanks to the work of Alastair Duke and latterly myself, we have established with a fair degree of certainty that they did live there. The evidence comes in the form of a letter that one of the Strangers wrote in Flemish to relatives back in Flanders. He describes the house in which he was staying in a manner which fits its layout in the sixteenth century. Furthermore, he mentions the High Street, the former name of the road on which the house stands and he says that the owner was Master Thomas – this I realized one day was Thomas Sotherton, a leading citizen of Norwich who owned the house when the letter was written. The letter only survives in a transcription tucked away in a relatively obscure mid-nineteenth century Dutch journal, but this example perhaps shows how such a letter can be of use for historical research and tell us about the world we live in today.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

'The Dutch craze' and strawberries in Tokugawa Japan

The presence of Dutch merchants and physicians, inter alia, in Tokugawa Japan led to a range of consequences for the Japanese language, which could hardly have been foreseen when the first Dutch ship, De Liefde, ran aground on the coast of Usuki in Bungo Province (now Usuki City, Oita Prefecture) on the eastern coast of Kyushu in April 1600. One consequence of language contact between Dutch and Japanese was a number of changes and additions to Japanese grammar, which will be the subject of future blogs. It also resulted in additions to the Japanese lexicon, sometimes in the form of whole words, such as the Japanese for coffee, but in other cases it resulted in new words which were part Japanese, part non-Japanese. One example of this is words beginning with 'ran' (蘭). This in fact derives from the second syllable of the Japanese rendering of the Portuguese word for 'Holland' 'Oranda', the Portuguese having arrived in Japan some fifty years earlier. Perhaps the best known example of this is rangaku (蘭学), the study of Dutch books, or more generally of Western books imported into Japan by the Dutch. Gaku (学)  means 'study' or 'learning' in Japanese. Japanese nobles who dedicated themselves to studying the Dutch language and Dutch learning, i.e. rangaku earned the name ranpeki (蘭癖) (lit. ‘those with the Dutch craze’). Sometimes, new words in Japanese were formed using oranda. This was often the case for new varieties of flowers and vegetables that the Dutch introduced. For example, the Japanese for the variety of strawberry Fragaria x ananassa is oranda-ichigoオランダいちご. As I have written before in this blog, Dutch may not be a world language, but it has certainly influenced many other languages in a variety of, sometimes unexpected, ways.

Further reading:  Frits Vos, ‘Dutch Influences on the Japanese Language (With an Appendix on Dutch Words in Korean)’, East Asian History 39, 2014, pp. 153-180.
Chris Joby, 'Dutch in Eighteenth-Century Japan', Dutch Crossing, DOI: 10.1080/03096564.2017.1383643

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Why Dutch is called, er, Dutch

Having taught Dutch in several countries, I've often been asked why Dutch is called, er, Dutch - by Anglophones. After all, the reasoning goes, we call the language of France, French, England, English and Italy, Italian. So why is the language spoken in Netherlands, or Holland as it is sometimes called, not Netherlandish, or Hollandish, but .. Dutch. According to the OED, it goes back to the Middle Dutch term, dutsch, rendered in the authoritative Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal as duutsc. This was used to refer to the spectrum of language varieties spoken in the Low Countries and Germany. It is a cognate of Deutsch, the German word for 'German' still in use today, which originally meant 'the language of the people' in contrast to Latin. 
In Tudor England, the Anglicized form 'Dutch' was still used to denote language varieties from Germany and the Low Countries. When the Scottish emissary Sir James Melville visited Queen Elizabeth he observed that her 'Dutch' was 'not gud', but we do not know if he was referring to the language of Germany or the Low Countries. Some English-speakers made a contrast between High Dutch, i.e. German and Low Dutch, i.e. Dutch. We find this distinction in the diary of Robert Hooke, who learnt Low Dutch to read the works and letters of Dutch scientists, but also acquired books in High Dutch. The shift towards applying 'Dutch' to languages varieties of the Low Countries gained an impetus with the political independence of the United Provinces. 
Today, like English, Dutch has several varieties. The two principal varieties in the Low Countries are Netherlands Dutch (Nederlands-Nederlands) and Belgian Dutch (Belgisch-Nederlands), although these include many sub-varieties. Other varieties include Suriname Dutch and Caribbean Dutch  . Indeed, along with Peter Burke, it might be better to talk of 'Dutches' rather than Dutch. 

Further reading: 
Roland Willemyns, Dutch: Biography of a Language. Oxford: OUP, 2013. 
Peter Burke, Towards a Social History of Early Modern Dutch. Amsterdam: AUP, 2005.
Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702). Leiden: Brill, 2015.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Dutch in the Land of the Morning Calm

Dutch was first spoken in the Korean peninsula in the seventeenth century. In 1627 the crew of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship, Hollandia, were blown off course, went onshore and were captured by local Korean inhabitants. Of these, only one, Jan Weltevree, lived into old age in Korea. In 1653 another VOC ship De Sperwer was also blown off course and shipwrecked with fifteen of the crew managing to reach the island of Jeju, to the south of the Korean peninsula. Some of them would eventually meet Weltevree exchanging words in Dutch. In 1666, several of the crew of De Sperwer managed to escape and eventually reach Japan. One of them Hendrik Hamel would return to Holland and publish a journal of his experiences in Korea.
There was little contact with Dutch until the Korean War when several thousand Dutch troops participated in the US-led UN forces. After the Korean War diplomatic relations were established between Netherlands and South Korea. In the 1970s a Bachelors programme in Dutch was established at Hankuk University in Seoul. This is still running with an annual intake of some 30 students.
There are Dutch loanwords in Korean language, which mostly entered the language via Japanese particularly as a result of the Japanese occupation of Korea 1910-1945, One commentator reckons that there are 65 Dutch loanwords in Korean. One example is kabang (가방) (bag). This comes from the Japanese kaban (かばん), which in turn comes from an old Dutch word  kabas, meaning 'basket'. It may well also be that some technical terms, such as grammatical terms in Korean, owe something to Dutch via Japanese. For example, the Korean word for 'noun' is myeongsa (명사). This is formed of the same elements as the Japanese word for 'noun' meishi 名詞 which is a calque on the Dutch for noun naamwoord ('name word').

Further reading: Hamel's Journal and a description of the Kingdom of Korea 1653-1666, trans. Jean-Paul Buys (Seoul 2011)
Ho-Min Sohn, The Korean Language. CUP, 1999, p.118.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Dutch in the plays of the London playwright Thomas Dekker

It was not uncommon for playwrights in the Golden Age of English theatre, i.e. the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean period, to switch between English and other languages in their dialogue, reflecting the cosmopolitan make-up of London at this time. On occasion playwrights switched into Dutch. There are one or two examples in the work Shakespeare and a few examples in John Marston's 'The Dutch Courtesan' (1605) and, later, Aphra Behn's 'The Dutch Lover' (1673). However, the playwright who used Dutch most frequently was Thomas Dekker (1572-1632). Although his surname seems distinctly Dutch, there is no direct evidence that he had Dutch ancestry. It could be said that Dekker works with stereotypes of the Dutch such as a tendency towards drink, bad language and arguing. It is in the play 'The Shoemaker's Holiday' (1599) performed before Queen Elizabeth in 1600, that Dekker uses Dutch words and phrases to the greatest extent. Here, an English aristocrat disguises himself as a Dutch cobbler to win the heart of a middle-class girl. When he first appears he sings a song, which begins:

Der was een bore van Gelderland,
Frolick si byen,
He was als dronck he cold nyet stand,
Upsolce se byen.

There was a peasant from Gelderland;
Happy they be.
He was so drunk that he could not stand
On his legs.

This language, which is a mixture of Dutch and English words, could variously be described as cod Dutch or something closer to a Dutch pidgin that might have been spoken by Dutch artisans working in London. The fact the Dekker quite often uses Dutch words and phrases in his plays may suggest that there was a significant number of Dutch men and women in the audience who could understand this dialogue.

Further reading: Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702). Leiden: Brill, 2015, pp. 316-319

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dutch loanwords in Northern Sulawesi

Bahasa Indonesia (literally 'language of Indonesia') is a form of Malay used as a language of wider communication (LWC) in the Indonesian archipelago. Alongside this LWC, many other language varieties are spoken across the archipelago. The Dutch were more active in some parts of the archipelago than others and for longer, and so some of these varieties contain Dutch loanwords not found in Bahasa Indonesia. 
Manado Malay is a Malay creole spoken by more than 500,000 in Manado in north Sulawesi. Furthermore, Prentice argues that it is spoken by many millions more as a second language across this region. The Dutch were active there from the mid-seventeenth century until the mid-twentieth century and as a result there was much language contact between Dutch and Manado. Nicoline van der Sijs writes that there are in fact more than 1,000 Dutch loanwords in Manado, three hundred of which are not found in Bahasa Indonesia. Christian missionary activity in the area means that some Dutch loanwords in Manado are Christian terms such as dominee (minister) and gebed (prayer). Prentice adds to these the term borgo from the Dutch burger (citizen) used to refer to those who speak Manado as a first language. 
Another language spoken on Sulawesi is Gorontalo. Prentice writes that it has loanwords from Manado which in turn came from Dutch. For example, a Dutch loan word in Manado is koi (bed) from the Dutch kooi (bunk). This appears in Gorontalo as koyi. Another Dutch loanword in Manado is klom from klomp (clog). Gorontalo has adopted this as kolomu.

Further reading:
Jack Prentice (1994). ‘Manado Malay: Product and Agent of Language Change’, Language Contact and Change in the Austronesian World, eds. T. Dutton and D.T. Tryon. New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 411-441.
Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse Woorden Wereldwijd. The Hague: SDU, 2010, p. 95.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dutch loanwords in the languages of Ghana

One of the aims of this blog is to demonstrate that although Dutch is not generally considered to be a world language, it has nevertheless influenced other languages in all the continents of the globe as a result of language contact. In Africa, the most obvious example of Dutch influence is Afrikaans and native African languages which include Dutch loanwords borrowed via Afrikaans. In West Africa, too, we see the influence of Dutch. Particularly as a result of Dutch activity in the slave trade in the 1600s and 1700s, but also other forms of trading, several languages spoken in what is now Ghana incorporated Dutch loanwords. In this regard, Nicoline van der Sijs discusses Akvambu, Ewe, Fon, Gã and Twi. Gã has some 56 Dutch loanwords. These include words for people in authority such as admiraal and baas (boss), food such as suiker (sugar) and kaas (cheese), and household items such as ketel (kettle) and kop (cup). Through Gã, spoken around the capital, Accra, some of these words have been incorporated into the other local languages such as Ewe and Twi. Fon, Van der Sijs writes, has only one Dutch loanword, doek (cloth or canvas). By the 1870s, the British had replaced the Dutch as the major European power in the region. English is of course now widely used as a lingua franca in Ghana It is replete with Dutch loanwords, such as 'boss' from the Dutch baas, which was also borrowed by Gã.

Further reading: Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse Woorden Wereldwijd. The Hague: SDU, 2010.