Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Catching ducks in decoys

Some Dutch loanwords in varieties of English are well-known, some less so. In earlier blogs in this series I described how words such as 'boss' and 'cookie' derive from Dutch. We find other loanwords related to particular activities. For example, in seafaring, the case of 'skipper' from the Dutch schipper is well-known. Less well-known is the English term 'avast' meaning 'stop' which comes from the Dutch hou' vast ('hold fast'). In fine art, we find 'easel' from the Dutch ezel, which also means 'donkey', 'landscape' from landschap, 'etch' from ets and 'sketch' from schets.
Another loanword from Dutch that is less well-known is 'decoy'. This was a popular method for catching ducks in the Low Countries. The English term is a corruption either of eendekooy meaning 'duck cage' or de kooi meaning 'the cage'. The first recorded decoy in English was built for Sir William Wodehouse at Waxham in Lincolnshire in 1641. In 1665, a Dutchman by the name of Sydrach Hilcus built a decoy for King Charles II in a lake in London. As with other loanwords, 'decoy' has taken on other meanings in English and is now often used to refer to someone who deliberately distracts attention from someone else.

Further reading: 
Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702) (Leiden: Brill, 2015), p. 160.
C. Hanson-Smith, The Flemish Bond: East Anglia & The Netherlands-Close & Ancient Neighbours. (Diss: Groundnut Publishing, 2004), p. 75

Friday, May 25, 2018

Virgin Islands Dutch Creole

As a result of the extensive trading activities of the Dutch from the seventeenth century onwards, including the movement and employment of large numbers of slaves, several Dutch creoles emerged. It has even been argued recently that Afrikaans emerged initially as a creole. The Dutch linguist Cefas van Rossem has done extensive work on Dutch creoles in the Caribbean. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century three creoles, which owe much to Dutch, emerged in this part of the world, Skepi Dutch, Berbice Dutch, and Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. The last of these emerged in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries on what were then the Danish Virgin Islands. Moravian missionaries recorded samples of the creole as they learnt it to try and make converts of the local people. Two examples that Van Rossem quotes are ' sellie ha loop slaep mit tien yer' which means 'they went to sleep at ten o' clock', and 'mi graag sal doe die', 'I shall gladly do this'. Danish, Spanish and English elements are also found in the creole. In 1916, the Danish sold the islands to the Americans. The last speaker of the creole passed away in August 1987.
Further reading:
Cefas van Rossem, The Virgin Islands Dutch Creole Textual Heritage: Philological Perspectives on Authenticity and Audience Design. Nijmegen, 2017.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dutch in the Scottish Highlands

In an earlier blog I discussed the evidence for the use of Dutch or Flemish in Wales. As one might expect, there is far more evidence for the use of Dutch in Scotland. We find one example of this in the army of William III, which invaded England in 1688. This was a multinational army including many Englishmen and Scotsmen or people of British heritage. One such individual was Sir Thomas Livingstone (1652?-1711). He was born in the United Provinces to Scottish parents and married a Dutch woman with the wonderful name, Macktellina Walrave de Nimmeguen. After the 1688 invasion, William sent forces to Scotland to suppress Jacobite opposition to his rule. These were led by the Scot, Major-General Hugh Mackay, who had been in the service of the States General and who had also married a Dutch woman. Livingstone went to Scotland under Mackay's command. We have three letters that he wrote to Mackay in the Highlands in … Dutch. Why would he write in Dutch to a Scot in the Highlands? One possible explanation is that he was using Dutch as a cipher. The enemy Jacobite forces would typically have used Scottish Gaelic, so may well not have been able to read Dutch. In truth, we do not know, but this is another example of how Dutch turns up in some rather unexpected places.

Further reading:
Livingstone's letters: National Archive of Scotland, Edinburgh, GD26/9/255
Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702). Leiden: Brill, 2015, pp. 367-370.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dutch loanwords in Finnish

Flag of Finland (state).svg

Although Dutch has not become a world language, many languages in the world contain Dutch loanwords. As the Dutch etymologist Nicoline van der Sijs has demonstrated one of these is Finnish or Suomi, which has 5-6 million native speakers. It is reckoned that Finnish contains some five hundred Dutch loanwords. Many of these came into Finnish via Swedish, which was the language of education for many years in Finland and which is still spoken as a first language by a Swedish minority in South-West Finland. In the seventeenth century, Dutch was in some sense a lingua franca in the Baltic Sea as a result of extensive Dutch trading activity in the region. Many of the Dutch loanwords that came to Finnish via Swedish are seafaring terms. For example, the Dutch word matroos, sailor, has entered Standard Finnish as matruusi, denoting an experienced sailor The standard Finnish word for the captain of a ship is kapteeni, while in spoken Finnish the word kippari is used. This, it turns out, is derived from the Dutch schipper, a word which like matroos has been loaned to many languages. The lack of initial 's' in this form suggests it was loaned some time ago when Finnish words did not begin with two consonants.

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Dutch-speaking Tartar in Japan

Although economic migration is often in the news these days, it is of course nothing new. As a result of colonization and trade in the early modern period many people moved or were moved far from their home for economic purposes. One example dated 1641 from the journal of the Dutch trading post in Japan illustrates this well. It records that a man from Tartary, a large area covering Central and East Asia, had come into contact with a Dutch trader in Muscovy, an area in modern-day North-West Russia including Moscow. There were Dutch merchant colonies in Moscow and Yaroslavl where the Dutch traded in furs from Siberia. The Dutch trader took the Tartar with him, presumably along one of the great Russian river routes and thence the sea, to Amsterdam, where he taught him Dutch. The Tartar then sailed to Batavia, the Dutch trading post on Java, and thence to Deshima, the Dutch trading post in Nagasaki Bay, Japan. Ironically, he may have ended up not so very far from his home. But in the meantime, he had seen something of the world, stayed in the great trading entrepot of Amsterdam, and learnt Dutch!

Further reading:
T. Vermeulen et al., eds., The Deshima Dagregisters, 13 vols. (Leiden: Leiden Centre for the History of European Expansion, 1986), XI, pp. 133–135.
C. Joby, Dutch in Seventeenth-Century Japan: A Social History, Dutch Crossing, DOI: 10.1080/03096564.2017.1279449, p. 10.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dutch in the Land of our Fathers

The Principality of Wales in Great Britain is not the first place one would look for traces of varieties of Dutch being spoken in history, but there are several reports which suggest that Flemish was spoken in the West of Wales from the twelfth century to the sixteenth century. The sixteenth-century English historian, William Camden (1551-1623), wrote that King Henry I (1100-1135) had allowed Flemings to settle in Pembrokeshire. Some of them were probably related to Flemish mercenaries who had helped William the Conqueror to win the Battle of Hastings in 1066. When Camden visited Wales in the late sixteenth century he recorded that some people there spoke something close to English, which may be a variety of Flemish. The Ghent-born artist and poet, Lucas d'Heere, claimed that he spoke to people in Pembrokeshire who used 'good Flemish' (goed vlaemsch), although it has to be said that his variety of Flemish would have been somewhat different from the variety which may have been spoken in Pembrokeshire. If these reports are true then they add another chapter in the history of Dutch around the world.

Further reading: Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702): A Social History. Leiden: Brill, 2015, pp. 376-378.
L. Toorians, 'Wizo Flandrensis and the Flemish Settlement in Pembrokeshire,' Cambridge Celtic Medieval Studies, 20 (1990), pp. 99-118.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Resting Place for the Dutch

Given the extent to which the Dutch traded and explored in different parts of the world, it is perhaps unsurprising that many of them never returned home. I have seen Dutch cemeteries in Jakarta and Bogor, Indonesia and Dutch epitaphs in my hometown of Norwich, of which more in a later blog. One notable resting place for the Dutch is the Hollandsche Begraafplaats (Dutch cemetery) which nestles amongst Japanese, Russian and English graves on Mount Inasa overlooking Nagasaki, where the Dutch had a trading post from 1641-1860. Possibly the first Dutchman to be buried here was the opperhoofd (chief merchant) Hendrik Godfried Duurkoop who died in 1778 on board the ship 'Huis ter Spijk'. He had been infected by malaria on a visit to Batavia, now Jakarta. There are now some twenty graves inscribed with Dutch epitaphs in the cemetery and these provide a lasting monument to the Dutch connection to Nagasaki and Japan.

Dutch National Archives (Nationaal Archief) Journal of the Factory in Japan (Dagregister van de Factorij te Japan) The Hague.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Niet Zonder Arbyt - Nothing without work

Councils in England typically have mottos that are either in English or, on occasion, Latin, but one exception to this is the South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC). Why? The answer lies in the seventeenth century when Dutch engineers undertook extensive drainage of the marshy Fenland in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. A leading Dutch drainage engineer was Cornelis, later Sir Cornelis, Vermuyden (1595-1677). In Cambridgeshire, he dredged the New Bedford River, which reduced flooding in the area, and thereby made farmland more productive. His motto 'Niet Zonder Arbyt' or 'Nothing without work' is inscribed on a house in Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire, and in recognition of his work in the county it now appears on the SCDC coat of arms. Vermuyden also carried out drainage work in South Essex and on the borders of North Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. His name is commemorated in schools, roads and even the Vermuyden Tea Room in Thorne, South Yorkshire.

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

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Norwich Rembrandt connection

In the 1500s and 1600s the Dutch fleeing economic hardship and religious persecution set up many Reformed churches across Europe and elsewhere. In 1565, Dutch Strangers established a church in Norwich where sermons were preached in Dutch. In about 1603, the Leiden graduate Johannes Elison was appointed the minister of the church. In 1634 he and his wife, Maria Bockenolle, travelled to Amsterdam to have their portraits painted by an up-and-coming artist named Rembrandt van Rijn! These now hang in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Elison died in 1639, having preached, corresponded and run the church's affairs in Dutch for over 30 years. There is a monument to him in Blackfriars' Hall, Norwich, where the Dutch worshipped. It is inscribed with verses in Dutch, English and Latin. The Norwich poet, Jan Cruso, wrote an elegy to Elison, published in 1642, in Dutch alexandrines in which he laments the passing of his friend, the worthy and great Elison (den.weerden...en...grooten Elison). The church held its last service in 1919.

Further reading:
Christopher Joby, 'The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702)'. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
William Woods, 'Annual Dutch Church Service, Norwich,' Dutch Crossing, (1981) 14, pp. 75-76.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Dutch in Taiwan

One of the goals of the Dutch East India Company was to establish a trading post in China. Although it largely failed to do this, it did establish a trading post in southern Taiwan, which it operated between 1624 and 1662. This allowed it to trade with Chinese merchants to whom it sold Japanese silver in exchange for Chinese silk and other products. Although the Dutch were in Taiwan for a relatively short period, the lack of a central authority (it lay outside Ming jurisdiction) and of a pre-existing language of wider communication such as Portuguese, meant that it was relatively easy to introduce their own language to the native Austronesian people. This was achieved in part by the work of Christian missionaries who established schools in Taiwanese villages. By 1656 it is reckoned that over a quarter of the native people understood more than simple prayers in Dutch. However, the spread of Dutch was halted by the attack of the Ming loyalist Zheng Chenggong (國姓爺) (Koxinga) in 1662. Nevertheless, there were reports by French Jesuit priests that native people could still read and speak Dutch in 1714, over 50 years after the Dutch defeat.

Further reading:
Ann Heylen, ‘Dutch Language Policy and Early Formosan Literacy (1624-1662’)’, in Ku Wei-ying ed., Missionary Approaches and Linguistics in Mainland China and Taiwan, (Leuven, Leuven University Press, 2001), pp. 199-252. 
Christopher Joby, 'The Dutch language in seventeenth-century Taiwan, Japan and Maluku: a case-study in language spread' (2018, forthcoming).