Monday, February 4, 2019

Snowy view of Holland

Although the primary reason for the Dutch going to Japan from around 1600 onwards was to trade, they often brought gifts with them in order to endear themselves to local rulers including the shogun. Among the gifts they presented to Japanese were telescopes, clocks and peep-boxes. Peep-boxes were devices into which the viewer could peer and see different views that were on cards inserted in the box. Of particular interest is the fact that the pictures on the cards often gave the viewer a sense of the depth of a scene. This was a result of the use of single-point perspective, to which the Japanese were introduced in works of art imported by the Dutch (although earlier arrivals such as the Portuguese probably also brought such paintings to Japan). 
In the late eighteenth century, there was a particular craze for all things Dutch including these peep-boxes. The above picture was used in such a device. In the Japanese inscription in the right-hand margin one can read Oranda yukimi no zu in kanji with a katakana gloss. Oranda, in fact derived from the Portuguese word for the country came to stand not just for Holland, but for things foreign in general. The text means ‘Snowy View of Holland’. One can perhaps see a little snow in the picture, but it seems to owe more to somewhere in East or South-East Asia rather than the Low Countries.

Further reading: Yasumasa OKA, ‘Hollandisme in Japanese Craftwork’.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Dutch drainage workers on the Upper Spree

                                                The Hollaenderwindmuehle in Straupitz

As the recently-established project, Vertrokken Nederlands/Emigrant Dutch is demonstrating, people have been emigrating from the Low Countries to elsewhere in Europe and indeed in the world for hundreds of years. There are many reasons for this including difficult economic conditions, religious persecution and the search for 'a better life'. In some cases, it is the skills that migrants from the Low Countries have that allow them to emigrate. In previous posts on this blog, I have discussed the contribution textile workers from the Low Countries made to revitalizing the economies of English towns such as Norwich and Colchester. Another skill that the Dutch in particular have in abundance is drainage engineering.
In England, the Dutch drainage engineer, Sir Cornelis Vermuyden, led teams from the Low Countries and England to drain land in Essex, the Fens and the Lincolnshire/Yorkshire border. The Dutch River in Lincolnshire is one toponym that bears testimony to Vermuyden's work. In Poland, too, many workers moved from the Low Countries to assist with draining land around Gdansk and marshy land along the River Vistula. Settlements with 'holender' or variants thereof in their names are testimony to the Dutch presence there.
Another suggestion is that drainage workers from the Low Countries moved to the Upper Spree region in Brandenburg in Germany in order to assist with draining this marshy area. One physical, although by no means, conclusive, piece of evidence for the Dutch presence is of a 'Holland' wind mill at Straupitz (Tšupc) neat Cottbus. This was built in the early nineteenth century, replacing an earlier mill from the seventeenth century. Further work would need to be done before the presence of Dutch drainage workers could be confirmed, but it is certainly a suggestion that deserves attention. If it were found that Dutch were in this area, the question would arise whether any traces of the language remain. One challenge would be to distinguish between the influence of varieties of German and varieties of Dutch. The other main language spoken in the area is Lower Sorbian, a West Slavic language, still spoken in some villages around Cottbus. It would be interesting to explore whether any traces of Dutch can be found in this language.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Blog no. 50 - Printing Dutch books in Norwich

A blue plaque commemorating Solempne in Norwich

To celebrate reaching the 50th post in this blog and 5,000 page views, I can think of no more appropriate subject than Anthony de Solempne (spelt variously), who for several years ran a printing press in my hometown of Norwich. Solempne was from Brabant in the South Netherlands and arrived in Norwich in 1567 along with his family. It is perhaps more appropriate to call Solempne a printer/publisher, for it is likely that he was assisted by a typesetter Albert Christaensz from Holland. Between 1568 and 1570 Solempne ran his printing press at the sign of the Dove near to the church of St. John Maddermarket in Norwich. For several reasons it is not certain precisely how many books rolled off his press. At this time, books were often given false publishing details if they were of a sensitive, e.g. religious or scabrous nature. However, it is generally agreed that he printed at least five and possibly eight Dutch books. Among these are an edition of the psalm settings composed by Petrus Dathenus, a catechism and a confession of faith. These books would be used in the Dutch church in Norwich, which had several thousand members at this point. 
One Dutch book about which there has been less agreement is the first edition of Historie van B. Cornelis Adriaensen van Dordrecht, a satire on the misdeeds of a Friar Minor in Brugge. However, the late Karel Bostoen did a brilliant job in analyzing where the book might have been printed and came to the conclusion that although it was written in the Low Countries, it was printed in Norwich due to its scabrous anti-clerical content. 
There were four booksellers in the Dutch community in Norwich and at least one bookbinder, so there must have a thriving book trade in Norwich at this time. The question arises as to whether Solempne in fact had a licence to print. Printing was tightly controlled in this period and in general restricted to London and the university towns of Oxford and Cambridge, so one is left to wonder if Solempne ran his printing press without the knowledge, or perhaps simply without the permission, of the authorities. We also do not know why he stopped printing in 1570. Perhaps there was no longer demand for his books. What we do know is that Solempne continued to operate in Norwich as a wine merchant. The books that he printed continued to be used for many years and add another chapter to the story of Dutch in England.

Further reading: 
Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702). Leiden, Brill, 2015
Karel Bostoen, 'Waar kwam de Historie van B. Cornelis (1569) van de pers? Het spoor terug naar de plaats van uitgave, boekverkoper en boekdrukker'. Handelingen van het Genootschap voor Geschiedenis 'Societe d'Emulation' te Brugge, 151, pp. 65-111.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Norwich Dutch - apocope - or the loss of a word-final vowel

The cloth hall (Lakenhal) in Ieper (Ypres), West Flanders

This and the following post will bring us to 50 posts and some 5000 page views for this blog, which I began to write in April 2018. To mark this, I return to the story of Dutch in my home town, Norwich. In previous blogs, I have discussed results from the analysis of the Norwich Ieper corpus, a set of letters written from Norwich by Flemish immigrants in the late 1560s. This post analyses apocope, the process whereby a suffix gradually weakens and eventually disappears from the end of a word. In Middle Dutch this process predominantly took place in two categories of word: the first person singular present indicative of the verb, for example ik neme (‘I take’) became ik neem after apocope; and feminine substantives, e.g., tonge (‘tongue’) became tong.

This post looks specifically at apocope, or more specifically schwa-apocope, for the first person singular present indicative. It divides this into two categories, those cases where there was inversion and those where there was no inversion. In cases of inversion where ic (‘I’) can be used as a clitic pronoun, the verb was already typically apocopated in Middle Dutch.  By contrast, where there was no inversion, the process of apocope occurred in varieties of Dutch at different times. For example, it was already underway in Hollands in the fourteenth century. However, in the Flemish dialect there is rather less evidence of apocope and in some cases the weak suffix remains in use to the present day. Marynissen draws similar conclusions about the diachronic regional variation for schwa-apocope, although her focus is more on apocope in nouns than verbs. She argues that apocope arose as a result of a tendency to avoid two unstressed syllables in favour of a trochaic pattern of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one. For example, Middle Dutch camere (‘room’) shifted to camer.

In the Norwich Ieper corpus there are 127 tokens of the first person singular present indicative; 112 without inversion and fifteen with it. Of the 112 tokens without inversion, 65 (58%) do not demonstrate apocope. Of the remaining 47 tokens, 19 are modal verbs (wil, zal, moet, mach and vermach), and 28 other tokens do not exhibit a suffix, including 9 of the first person singular present indicative of the verb zijn (‘to be’) (although ic zal is a future marker, formally and syntactically it acts as a modal). If we remove modals and forms of zijn, 75% of first person singular present indicative verbs without inversion exhibit no apocope. So, we can conclude that there was a clear preference for no apocope among the authors of the Norwich Ieper corpus. This provides further evidence of the persistence of the lack of apocope in the first person singular present indicative in sixteenth-century varieties of Flemish.

As for the fifteen cases where there is inversion, four exhibit apocope: hebbick (letter 5); latic and hopic (28); and dinckick (44). The other eleven cases exhibit no apocope, e.g., gheve ick (letter 1), laete ick (45) and bidde ick (62). More evidence is required before any conclusions can be drawn about these cases.


A. Marynissen: ‘Taalverandering tussen evolutie en normering: De e-apocope als breuklijn tussen het Nederlands en het Duits’, Nederlandse Taalkunde 14(1) (2009). p. 233-254.

C.M. van Kerckvoorde: An Introduction to Middle Dutch. Berlin, 1993.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Dutch and Hungarian

The Golden Coach (De Gouden Koets) on Prinsjesdag in September

There has been relatively little contact historically between Netherlands and Hungary, which may explain why there are relatively few Dutch loanwords in Hungarian (about 50) and only a handful of Hungarian loanwords in Dutch. The area where speakers of Hungarian are concentrated, i.e. modern day Hungary and parts of surrounding countries such as Romania, are some distance from the sea and so Hungarian has not incorporated some of the seafaring loanwords that many other languages have adopted. A couple of exceptions are jacht and matróz. Jacht ('Yacht') comes from the Dutch jachtboot. Hungarian also has jachtozó for yachtsman. Matróz comes from the Dutch matroos, sailor, possibly via another language. It forms many hybrid words in Hungarian such as matrózdal, a sea shanty (dal is Hungarian for song).
Nicoline van der Sijs notes that in the Middle Ages a sort of fabric called genti in Hungarian took its name from the town of Ghent in Flanders. In the wake of the Reformation, there was significant contact between Dutch and Hungarian Protestants. A Hungarian bible compiled by a team led by Gáspár Karolyi was printed in Amsterdam in 1590. Religious words such as Mennonita have been adopted by Hungarian. This comes from the Dutch Mennoniet, derived from the name of the leader of the Mennonites (a branch of Anabaptists), Menno Simonsz (1496-1561) from Friesland.
As for Hungarian words in Dutch, there are at least four. One of these, which has become an international loanword is koets ('coach'). This comes from the Hungarian word kosci, which derives from Kocs, the name of the village where the coach park for the Austro-Hungarian Emperor was situated. Another notable Hungarian loanword, again an international loanword is goulash. The authorative Dutch Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal tells us that this comes from the Hungarian gulyás, which is an abbreviation of gulyás hús `meat of the cattle herd'. This entered Dutch in the mid-19th century. A third example is paprika, from the Hungarian paprika, which was loaned from Serbo-Croat. A fourth example is huzaar (Eng. hussar) from the Hungarian huszár, referring to light cavalrymen. This was already in Dutch texts in the sixteenth century. All four words, koets, goulash (previously also spelt goulasch and goelasj), paprika and huzaar form hybrid words in Dutch. Koets forms over 20 hybrid words such as koetshuis (coach house) and koetspaard (coach horse) while 'uit de koets vallen' means 'to come down to earth with a bump'. In the Van Dale dictionary there is an entry for goulashcommunisme, which it defines as 'egoistic materialism'. Paprikapoeder and paprikasaus (powder and sauce) are two hybrid words in Dutch using paprika. Finally, there are several hybrids beginning with huzaar, such as huzarensalade, a salad with cold meat.

Further reading: Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse woorden wereldwijd. The Hague: SDU, 2010.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Code switching in the Dutch East Indies

Batavia City Hall, now in the Old Town (Kota Tua) of Jakarta

When speakers of one language encounter those of another, they often insert words of the other language into their own. This is called code switching. They may do this for a number of reasons. One of these is that they lack a word to describe a new thing or idea they encounter or because the new language has more prestige than their own. When the Dutch began trading with people in East Asia, they encountered many new things, such as goods, types of ship, coins and units of measure, to name but a few. The Dutch were prodigious record keepers, noting down almost everything that happened at their trading posts on Java, in Taiwan, on Kyushu, Japan and elsewhere in dagregisters, or factory journals. These facts mean that the Dutch language in these journals is full of code switching. A recent project on the factory journals kept at Batavia, the centre of Dutch trading activities in the East Indies, gives a sense of the number of non-Dutch words inserted into the Dutch texts.
In one or two cases, the words are of Portuguese origin, such as pancado, a fixed price for raw silk. There are also Arabic and Persian words. The Arabic coin کبير (from the Arabic for 'big') and Persian gīlān ( گيلان ), a type of silk, are two examples, reminding us that the Dutch trading network spread to the Middle East. From the Indonesian archipelago we find words such as the Malay gantang, a unit of weight, and the Javanese demang, a district chief.
Several forms of Chinese are used in Dutch texts. The Mandarin huáng chuán (艎舡), a type of large boat, is often given in a Malay form, wankang. Cantonese is represented with sum, a type of ginseng and Hokkein with the word for 'tea'  (茶), which has given rise to most European words for tea, with a couple of exceptions such as Portuguese chá (from Mandarin) and Polish herbata. Japanese coins such as the ichibu () are mentioned in the Dutch records and Hindi words such as kāch (काछ), a type of cloth are also used in cases of code switching.
Clearly, these texts are still Dutch, although the vocabulary is very different from that being used in the Low Countries. We might call this form of Dutch used in East Asia a regiolect, or thalassolect (sea language) or perhaps emporiolect (a trading language). However, whatever we call it, what the above underlines is the diversity of the history of Dutch. In this regard, it may be better to talk, along with Peter Burke, of Dutches than one Dutch language.

Further reading:

Lohanda, Mona, et al., VOC Glossary Indonesia, Published Version 1.0 on February, 6th 2018.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Gazette van Detroit and Emigrant Dutch

Printing is an important means by which migrant communities can keep their language alive. In sixteenth-century Norwich, the Brabander Anthonie de Solempne operated a press for several years, printing psalters and liturgical books for use in the Dutch language church. Solempne will be the subject of a future post on this blog.
Printing also played a role in supporting the use of Dutch among the tens of thousands of Dutch and Flemish who emigrated to the United States and Canada in the nineteenth century for religious and economic reasons. Roland Willemyns records that the first Dutch-language newspaper begun by the immigrants was the Sheboygan Nieuwsbode in 1849. By the outbreak of WWI in 1914 there were 25 Dutch-language newspapers and periodicals in the United States. In that year the Gazette van Detroit was founded as a Dutch-language newspaper for Flemish car workers in Michigan. Over time, as migrants shifted towards English, it became bilingual and went from being a daily to appearing twice weekly. Circulation numbers dwindled, but in 2006, funding from the Flemish government gave it a new breath of life online, using subscriptions as a source of income. However, by 2018, with subscriptions low and perhaps as well a reduction in readers who knew Dutch, the Gazette van Detroit has had to call it a day.
To judge from posts in Facebook groups such as 'Dutch Culture and Traditions', the descendants of emigrants still hold to some of the customs of the Low Countries. As to whether they keep alive the language in Michigan, or in other parts of the world to which Dutch and Flemish have migrated, this is one of the questions that the new Citizen Science project, 'Vertrokken Nederlands - Emigrant Dutch' hopes to answer. According to one scholar, migrants and their descendants continue to use the emigrant language for 6-8 generations, although this depends on factors such as the relative isolation of the migrant community and the dominant language in their adopted country. Whether the Dutch and Flemish are any different to other groups of migrants in this regard is a question that this project hopes to answer. 

Further reading and web resources:

Roland Willemyns, Dutch: Biography of a Language. Oxford: OUP, 2013, pp. 206-209.
Facebook group: 'Vertrokken Nederlands - Emigrant Dutch'