Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Dutch community in Edinburgh

St. Giles Cathedral, or the High Kirk in Edinburgh 

It is perhaps unsurprising that there was a Dutch/Flemish community in early modern Edinburgh. Lowland Scotland was primarily for the Reformation, with a church similar in theology to the Dutch Reformed church. The city lies on the other side of the North Sea from the Low Countries (well, a little to the north) and there were plenty of trading connections between Scotland and the Low Countries in the Middle Ages. The Dutch/Flemish community in Edinburgh included textile workers. Indentures were made in Dutch between local employers and weavers for the Low Countries. The Dutch artist Adrian Vanson worked at the court of James VI and his wife, Susanna de Colone, traded in Edinburgh on her own account. 
In 1587 an Act of Parliament was passed to allow 'Flemings […] to have a kirk and minister of their own'. This is suggestive of a Dutch-language church although to date I have found no firm evidence of this. In 1630, the Burgh records indicate that a Dutch schoolmaster was appointed: 'David Phorbous, Dutche scoolemaister for teaching the Dutch language within the Burgh'. Dutch diplomats such as Hadrianus Damman, came to the Scottish court and Dutch and Flemish merchants and sailors came to Edinburgh and the nearby port of Leith. Any linguistic influence of Dutch on Scots is not easy to evaluate given their common roots -for example the Scots 'kirk' is cognate with the Dutch 'kerk' for church. One suggestion for Edinburgh is that the unpopular town guard, the Toun Rats, take their name from the Dutch 'rot(e)' meaning a file of soldiers. Flemish weavers introduced dolls known as 'Flanders Babies', a type of chest,  'the Flanders kist' and mirrors called 'keeking glasses' (kijken = 'to look' in Dutch).  

Further reading: 

Christopher Joby, The Dutch Language in Britain (1550-1702). Leiden: Brill, 2015, esp. Chapter 7.
Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, 'rot'.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Dutch in the Spice Islands


The Indonesian archipelago has a rich diversity of languages. Several varieties of Malay are spoken in the area including the official language of Indonesia, Bahasa Indonesia, and Manado Malay, the subject of an earlier blog, spoken in Northern Sulawesi. Another variety is Ambon Malay, a Malay creole spoken on Ambon and surrounding islands collectively known as Maluku (the Moluccas) or the Spice Islands. Arab traders and Muslim missionaries brought Malay to the islands in the fourteenth century. In the early sixteenth century, the Portuguese arrived bringing their language and Catholic religion with them. By the time that the Dutch arrived at the turn of the seventeenth century, there were two languages of wider communication in the islands, Malay and Portuguese. After ejecting the Portuguese in 1605 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) established a base at Ambon. They made two attempts to introduce their language to the local people. In 1607 they established a school and taught in Malay and Dutch. However, by 1615 it was clear that these attempts were making little headway, in part because local people found Dutch a difficult language. Another attempt to introduce Dutch was made in the 1620s, using Malay as the medium of instruction. However, these efforts too eventually foundered and in 1665 the VOC decided it would no longer promote the use of Dutch among the inhabitants of Maluku. Another reason why Dutch was not adopted by local people was that although the Dutch had managed to dislodge Portuguese as an LWC, they could not or did not do so with the other pre-existing LWC, Malay. Despite this, as Nicoline van der Sijs has written, as a result of the continued presence of the Dutch in the area, there are some 570 Dutch loanwords in Ambon Malay. Among these are ambtenaar (official), belasting (tax) and jaloers (jealous). Other varieties of Malay spoken in Maluku such as Ternate Malay and Bahasa Indonesia also have plenty of Dutch loanwords.

Further reading: Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse woorden wereldwijd. The Hague: SDU, 2010, pp. 47-48.
Kees Groeneboer, ‘The Dutch Language in Maluku’, Cakalele, Maluku Research Journal Majalah Penelitian Maluku, 5 (1994), pp. 1-10. 
François Valentijn, Omstandig Verhaal van de Geschiedenissen en Zaaken het kerkelyke ofte den Godsdienst betreffende, zoo in Amboina, als in alle de Eylanden […] (Amsterdam: Joannes van Braam, 1726), pp. 2-44.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Forms of address in Norwich Dutch (of Norwichs Vlaams)

So far this blog has often discussed Dutch as a contact language and Dutch loanwords borrowed by other languages as a result of this contact. However, this post looks at forms of address, which in English are typically 'you'. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of Dutch or nederduytsch speakers left the Low Countries for religious and or economic reasons. Some settled in England, including my hometown Norwich. I am working on a project looking at Dutch as an emigrant language in Norwich. One source for this is a series of letters written by Dutch-speakers, mainly from West Flanders, to friends and relatives who remained in the Low Countries. These tend to be fairly informal in nature and the language probably comes quite close to the Dutch/Flemish that would have been heard on the streets of early modern Norwich. It should be noted that they only survive in transcription, so we must use the results from them with caution. 
Another source for 'Norwich Dutch' is correspondence written by leaders of the Dutch church in Norwich to leaders of Dutch churches elsewhere in England, above all in London. I have compared the forms of address in each set of letters and the results are quite unequivocal. The dominant subject form of address is the g-form, ghy (or variant spellings). This is to be expected as this was the dominant form in Flanders at this time. Perhaps less expected is the total absence of the older pronoun du (cf. German Du), which still persisted in Flanders in the sixteenth century, although it was in recession. As for the church letters, the dominant form there is ulieden or u.l (the u-form). The result for these two sets of letters is statistically significant,  χ2 (1) = 21.0022, p < .01. So it can be tentatively asserted that there was what linguists call a T-V (Tu/Vos) distinction in Norwichs Vlaams between the informal g-form and the formal u-form. The detailed results of this study are on the Facebook page 'The History of Language in Norfolk'. I would like to compare these results with those from other sets of letters in (West)-Flemish - please let me know of any such collections.

A letter written by a Flemish 'Stranger' in Norwich to family in Ieper

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dutch Sundays in Japan

The Dutch word for 'Sunday' turns up in two different forms on the island of Kyushu in Western Japan. In May each year, the city of Hakata holds the extravagant Dontaku Festival. Dontaku is derived from the Dutch word for Sunday 'zondag'. According to one account, in Meiji Japan (late 19th Century), the Dutch word was appropriated for 'holiday' and then came to be applied specifically to festivals held on holidays and now survives as the name of the Hakata Festival. The term, has however, spread. There is now a wrestling event held close to or during the festival in Hakata called Resuringu Dontaku (Wrestling Dontaku). One other word to come from this rendering of 'Sunday' is 'handon'. This means 'half Sunday or half holiday' and seems in fact to refer to Saturdays in parts of Kyushu.
More recently, the town of Hirado has introduced the Hirado Zondag. This is held on every third Sunday of the month  Here, the local women dress up in Dutch clothing and tea is served free. While the use of dontaku may originate from the Dutch and indeed European custom of making Sunday a day of rest, the Hirado Zondag seems aimed at celebrating the historic link between the Dutch and Hirado, where the Dutch had a trading post from 1609-1641. In both cases, there is also at least one eye on the tourist trade.

Hakata Dontaku Festival 

Further information:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Dutch courage

For some reason, in the English mind, the Dutch have a close association with alcohol. Shakespeare made reference to this and today we talk of having 'Dutch courage'. The English language has borrowed Dutch words relating to alcohol. One of these is 'brandy' from the Dutch brandewijn, literally burnt or distilled wine. The English borrowing has of course been adopted by other languages. One of these is Italian - il brandy. I once worked for an Italian brandy company, where the brandy was moved along a brandydotto, similar to an aqueduct, but for brandy.
Another alcoholic beverage whose English name is borrowed from Dutch is gin. This is a shortened form of genever, which comes from the Dutch jenever/genever eventually going back to the Latin for juniper. Gin drinking was popularized in England after the accession of the Anglo-Dutch king, William III, and in some sense replaced French brandy. This period has become known as the Gin Craze and inspired the great English satirist, William Hogarth to make the engraving Gin Lane, populated by poor Englishmen and women drinking unlicensed gin. In the nineteenth century gin was again popular leading to the emergence of Gin Palaces. While many languages have borrowed and adapted the English 'gin', several languages spoken in the Indonesian archipelago have adopted variations on the Dutch jenever.

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

William Hogarth's Gin Lane

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dutch words in Portuguese creoles

It is well known that Dutch and Portuguese battled it out for domination and the right to trade in several parts of the world in the seventeenth century. In some cases, such as Japan, the Dutch gained the upper hand, while in Brazil, initial Dutch gains were eventually overturned by the Portuguese. It is no surprise that the frequent coming together of the Dutch and Portuguese had consequences for language. In Japan, Portuguese was the dominant European language from c. 1550 to 1650. Dutch gradually gained ground, but Japanese were still using the Portuguese language long after the Portuguese themselves had been banished in 1639. Lists survive containing words in Dutch, Portuguese and Latin. No distinction is made between them suggesting Japanese may have switched between the languages in the process of shifting from Portuguese to Dutch.
Elsewhere, Portuguese creoles emerged. Dutch loanwords in several of these have been recorded by Nicoline van der Sijs. The creole Portuguese of Batavia, Java contained some 90 Dutch loanwords such as vierkant ('square'). In the Portuguese creole on Ceylon, some 40 Dutch loanwords such as boek ('book') were recorded at the start of the twentieth century. The Dutch took Malacca in modern- day Malaysia from the Portuguese in 1641. Some 60 Dutch loanwords were adopted by the local Portuguese creole, such as lui ('lazy').
This contact also worked the other way. For example, in Japan the Dutch referred to the Governor of Nagasaki as comprador, from the Portuguese for 'buyer'.

Further reading: Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse Woorden Wereldwijd. The Hague, 2010, p. 59.
Christopher Joby 'Dutch in Eighteenth-Century Japan', Dutch Crossing
doi: 10.1080/03096564.2017.1383643

Friday, September 7, 2018

Flemish in Northern France

In a previous blog, I discussed the history of Dutch or Flemish in what is now French Flanders. This was historically part of the County of Flanders but over time it was gradually annexed by France, not least as a result of the expansionist policies of King Louis XIV. French culture including the French language gradually gained ascendancy in the region. Schoolchildren were taught in French and at one point they were told 'dont spit and dont speak Flemish' .Nevertheless, traces of the Flemish variant of Dutch persist.
In the previous blog I mentioned place names such as Steenvoorde and Wormhout, which have clear Dutch origins. Other traces can be found in churches and cemeteries, which often act as the memory of a language. In the church to St. Vedast/Vaast in Hondschoote, there are gravestones in Dutch, and Flemish names abound in municipal cemeteries in Hondschoote, Cassel and other towns close to the present-day Belgian border. Boards on roadside chapels also attest to the historic use of Flemish in the area. According to one source there are still some 200,000 speakers of Flemish in this area, although this may be an overestimate. Conversation evenings, information panels written in Flemish and bilingual street name boards in French and Flemish (e.g. Strazelestraete in Fletre/Vleeter as opposed to standard Dutch straat) are just some of the ways in which Flemish is kept alive in Northern France. In my travels around the region I came across a wonderful 85-year-old lady, Yvonne Dupont, in Godewaersvelde (great name), who still spoke Flemish, sometimes mixing Flemish and French. In some sense, Flemish in Northern France could be seen as an endangered language, but it still continues to be spoken in several social domains, including the local café!

Further information: