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'

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The influence of Dutch on Japanese grammar

Mt Fuji, which Dutch merchants would see on their journeys to Edo (Tokyo)

When one language comes into contact with another language, a number of things may happen. In some cases, pidgins emerge which subsequently become creoles. Some scholars have argued that Afrikaans was originally a creole that emerged from contact between Dutch and other languages, although more recently it has been suggested that Afrikaans is a creoloid, i.e. a language that resembles a creole, but did was not at first a pidgin. 
In other cases, several of which have been discussed in this blog, the languages borrow or loan words from each other. Many languages have Dutch loanwords, some of which such as schipper and baas have become internationalized loanwords, often adopted in their Anglicized forms, ‘skipper’ and ‘boss’. In a smaller number of cases, though, one language may influence the syntax of another language as a result of contact. It has been suggested, for example, that contact with Dutch spoken by migrants in Norwich in the sixteenth and seventeenth century led to a simplification of the local English dialectal present tense verb conjugation, which runs ‘I go’, ‘you go’, ‘he go’. However, archival evidence has cast doubt on this claim.
More promising is the influence of Dutch on Japanese syntax. This occurred mainly through the translation of over a thousand books from Dutch to Japanese in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Japanese and Dutch syntax are very different from each other, and Japanese translators occasionally found that their language lacked the grammar necessary to render adequately the Dutch source texts into Japanese. One example of a syntactic feature that arose in this way is the relative pronoun tokoro no (ところの). Old Japanese lacked relative pronouns (which, who etc.), so in order to translate relative pronouns in Dutch, translators borrowed tokoro no from kanbun, a form of classical Chinese used in Japan. Initially, it was only used as a direct object in relative clauses, but by the early nineteenth century it was also being used as the subject of relative clauses. For example from 1815, we find the following Japanese sentence translated from Dutch, where tokoro no (which) is the subject of the relative clause:

Kore    o          setsumei  suru  tokoro no bunpō      o    iu nari
                        This (DO)        explains           which     grammar (DO) refers to
                      “It refers to the grammar which explains this.”

Until the end of the Tokugawa period, the use of tokoro no was mainly limited to translations. However, thereafter (post-1868), it was used more broadly in Japanese speech and writing. I will discuss other influences of Dutch on Japanese syntax in later blogs.

Further reading:

Fumiko Earns, (1993) Language Adaptation: European language influence on Japanese syntax. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI.
Christopher Joby, (2016), 'Recording the History of Dutch in Japan,' Dutch Crossing 40(3), pp. 219-238.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Dutch and Polish

The Old Arsenal, Gdansk (reconstructed after WWII)

There has long been contact between the Low Countries and the area now within the boundaries of the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska). Gdańsk, or Danzig, was a Hanseatic port and so there was much commercial traffic between it and the Netherlands in the Late Middle Ages. One possibility is that several loanwords related to commerce, such as handel (trade) and kraan (crane) entered Polish at this time, although this is not certain. From handel we get other Polish words such as handlowy (commercial) and handlować (to trade).
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, people from the Low Countries, in particular Mennonites, migrated to the area around Gdańsk and the marshy areas along the River Vistula (Wisła in Polish). Nowadays, 54 settlements have ‘holender’ or a variant thereof in their toponyms, a number which was much larger in the past. It is also reckoned that more than 4000 Poles have the surname, ‘Olender’. In Gdańsk itself, there was a Dutch community in the early modern period where a Reformed church community met for worship. Dutch technical skills were in demand. For example, Abraham van den Blocke, who was of Dutch descent, designed the imposing Golden Gate (Polish: Złota Brama) in the city centre. Along with Van den Blocke and a Polish architect, the Fleming Anthonis van Obbergen designed the city's Old Arsenal.
It is reckoned that there are at least 370 Dutch loanwords in Polish. However, some of these may derive from varieties of Low German (Nedersaksisch), spoken from the West of the Low Countries as far as present-day Western Poland, and used as a lingua franca in the Hanseatic League. Many of the Dutch loanwords in Polish, loaned directly or indirectly, relate to seafaring. These include harpun (harpoon), kielwater (ship’s wake), maszt (mast), szyper (skipper) and kooi (hammock). However, this is not the whole story. Other loan words not related to seafaring include lakmus (litmus) from the Dutch lakmoes and makler (broker) from the Dutch makelaar. In truth, however, it seems that although both Dutch and Polish are significant European languages, there is more work to be done on Dutch loanwords in Polish.

Further reading:

Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse woorden wereldwijd. The Hague: SDU Uitgevers, 2010.
Barbara Czopek-Kopciuch, ‘Holendry and holender; the influence of Dutch immigrants on the Polish lexicon’. Lecture given on June 9th 2009 at the Meertens Instituut in Amsterdam. 
Additional material: Janek Urbaniak.