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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dutch in French Flanders

It will be well known to people in the Low Countries and historians of Dutch, but to others perhaps less well that for many centuries varieties of Dutch were spoken in what is now the far north of France. The family of the Anglo-Dutch poet, Jan Cruso, came from Hondschoote, and Michiel de Zwaan, an important poet and playwright in Dutch in the seventeenth century lived in Dunkerque, or Duinkerken. There are attempts to revive the language in schools and one still finds the occasional native speaker. A few years ago I was cycling in the area and was addressed by an older gentleman in Dutch. When I stopped and asked why he said 'Je lijkt op geen Fransman' - you don't look French! Apparently, he had spoken Dutch at home with his parents, but had to speak French at school and in public life. Perhaps the most obvious sign that varieties of Dutch or Flemish were spoken in the region is the many placenames that look Dutch rather than French. The lack of 'w' and 'k' in native French words indicates that Wormhout and Hazebrouck, to name but two, are of Dutch origin. Some places have Dutch and French names which are quite different - Ballieul in French is Belle in Dutch. Further south we find Arras, which has a Dutch equivalent of Atrecht. At first sight, the Dutch name for Lille, Rijsel, seems to have little in common with the French. However, Rijsel is a corruption of Ter IJsel, on or at the island, while Lille means 'the island'. It is heartening for lovers of Dutch to hear 'Rijsel' used in Eurostar announcements in the language.

Drapeau fr département Nord.svg

For more on Flemish dialects including those of northern France, Veronique de Tier at the University of Ghent is an excellent person to contact.
See also M. Devos and R. Vandekerckhove: Taal in stad en land: West-Vlaams. Tielt, 2005.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The First Dutch Grammar

In the course of the Renaissance, as vernacular languages became more important in relation to Latin, it became increasingly necessary to establish rules for their use. This led to the production of grammars, the first of which was Antonio Nebrija's Castilian Spanish grammar in 1495. For us the question arises as to when the first Dutch grammar was produced. Well, here there are in some sense two answers. One answer is that the first Dutch grammar was Twespraeck der Nederduitsche Letterkunst, first published in 1584. It is thought that the probable author of this was the Amsterdam rhetorician Hendrick Laurenszoon Spiegel. It is a fairly extensive grammar containing many of the features we have come to associate with such books. 
However, another answer is an anonymous manuscript dated 1568, i.e. 18 years earlier than Twespraeck, discovered in a country house in Zeeland in 1975. This has the title Voorreden vanden Noordich ende Nutticheit der Nederduytscher Taelkunste ('Argument for the Necessity and Usefulness of Dutch Grammar'). After much detailed study, Karel Bostoen came to the conclusion that the manuscript was the work of Johannes Radermacher, a German-born merchant who was living in London in 1568. Could it be that the first Dutch grammar was written not by a Dutchman in the Low Countries, but by the Aachen-born Radermacher in England? Yes and no. There are problems with this grammar. The most obvious is that it is unfinished, dealing only partially with one of the three themes set out in its introduction. Furthermore, it was not published, but remained in manuscript, and therefore is likely to have had little influence on subsequent Dutch grammars. On the other hand, it does provide an analysis of types of word, such as noun (namelijk) and verb (wervich) and discusses the sounds of the Dutch language. Perhaps, somewhat provocatively, the answer to the question depends on one's perspective. Some Dutch scholars are inclined to name Spiegel's work as the first Dutch grammar, while others such as the present author may prefer to name Radermacher as the author of the first Dutch grammar.

Further reading: Karel Bostoen. Kaars en bril: de oudste Nederlandse grammatica. Middelburg, 1985.
GRW Dibbets (ed.). Twespraack der Nederduitsche Letterkunst. Assen, 1985.
Christopher Joby. The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702). Leiden, 2015, pp. 323-325.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Dutch in Ceylon

One of the areas of Asia in which the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was active was Ceylon. Today we can see a vestige of this in the fort at Galle which the VOC significantly strengthened. In the sixteenth century the Portuguese were the dominant European power on the island, which was rich in spices, particularly cinnamon. However, in the seventeenth century the VOC began to challenge the Portuguese and by 1656 much of the island was under its control. Ceylon remained under VOC control until 1796 when the British took it in the Napoleonic Wars. It would stay under British control until it became independent in 1948. During the 140 years of Dutch control, they pursued an active policy of trying to make Dutch the principal language on the island. This included setting up schools to teach Dutch to local people, although these often suffered from a lack of qualified teachers. However, the Dutch language policy by and large failed. One reason for this was that Portuguese had already become a language of wider communication (LWC) in Ceylon prior to 1656. Nevertheless, there are many Dutch loanwords in the two official languages of Ceylon, Sinhala and Tamil. Nicoline van der Sijs reckons that there are some 230 Dutch loanwords in Sinhala. Many of these are in the fields of warfare, trade and agriculture. For example, the Sinhala word for 'potato' , අර්තාපල් pronounced artapal comes from the Dutch aardappel. In Tamil, also spoken in Southern India, there are reckoned to be about 50 Dutch loanwords.

Further reading: Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse woorden wereldwijd. The Hague: SDU, 2010, pp. 116-117, 125.
Kees Groeneboer, Gateway to the West. Amsterdam: AUP, 1998, pp. 51-58.