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.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Negation in Norwich Dutch

St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, which houses a wonderful Easter 
tapestry by Flemish weavers
Last month, I wrote a post about forms of address in Norwich Dutch (Norwichs Nederlands or Norwichs Vlaams). There I concluded we could tentatively talk of a Tu/Vos distinction in early modern Norwichs Nederlands. The dominant subject form of address in the letters written from Norwich to friends and family in Ieper in West Flanders (the Norwich Ieper corpus) was ghij. In this post, I return to those letters and discuss another linguistic feature that occurs quite frequently, namely negation in finite verb phrases.

In Old Dutch there was typically single negation, with the particles ne or en. This form of negation continued to be used in Middle Dutch in certain situations. However, by then negation was typically expressed by what some scholars refer to as ‘bipartite negation’, i.e., a two-part construction consisting of the negative particle ne or en before the finite verb and the negative adverb niet, e.g., ik en zie niet (‘I do not see’). In this construction niet is sometimes replaced by other words connoting the negative such as nooit (‘never’) and the article geen (‘not’/‘no’).

In Late Middle Dutch texts there is limited evidence for the use of niet, geen etc. on their own, e.g., Is Priamus niet dijn vader? (‘Is Priam not your father?’). In New Dutch (16th C. to present) this form gradually became more widespread until it emerged as the standard form of negation, although the shift towards the use of niet, geen etc. on their own happened at different times in the various parts of the Dutch language area. The Brieven als Buit (‘Letters as Loot’) project found that by the seventeenth century, bipartite negation was used in about half of all cases of negation in Zeeland and South Holland, whereas in North Holland it was only found in about a quarter of cases. However, in Amsterdam bipartite negation was used more frequently than elsewhere in North Holland. One possible reason for this is that there were many immigrants in the city from the Southern Netherlands, including Flanders, where bipartite negation continued to be used more often.

Of the 89 occurrences of negation in the Norwich Ieper corpus 76 (85%) involve bipartite negation. For example, in one letter (56) we read zoodat ic niet en vinde (‘so that I do not find’) and ghy ne soudt nemmermeer peinsen (‘you would nevermore think’). The other 13 tokens exhibit single negation, all using niet, geen etc. on their own. One construction that occurs on several occasions is ‘wilt niet + infinitive’ for the negative imperative, e.g., Wilt niet vergeten (‘Do not forget’) (16). This is probably a function of the fact that imperatives lost the second negation particle earlier than other constructions.

From this evidence we can tentatively conclude that bipartite negation was the dominant form of negation among Norwich Dutch authors at this time. As these were personal letters, we might also tentatively conclude that it was a form frequently heard on the streets of early modern Norwich. This result is in line with other studies which found that bipartite negation persisted longer in the Southern Netherlands than in the Northern Netherlands. However, as there are few surviving collections of personal letters written in West Flemish from this period, it is, I would suggest, a useful addition to existing scholarship on this subject.

Further reading:

J. van der Horst: Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse syntaxis. Leuven, 2008.

C.M. van Kerckvoorde, An Introduction to Middle Dutch. Berlin, 1993, esp. p. 97.

J.A. van Leuvensteijn et al. ‘Vroegnieuwnederlands’. In: M.C. van den Toorn et al. (ed.), Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Taal. Amsterdam, 1997, p, 334.

J. Nobels, (Extra)Ordinary letters: A view from below on seventeenth-century Dutch. Utrecht, 2013

Friday, October 12, 2018

Dutch loanwords in Italian and vice versa

The Arnolfini Wedding (detail), The National Gallery, London

Contacts between the people of the Italian peninsula and the Low Countries go back thousands of years. The Romans occupied much of the Low Countries. The name of Utrecht, partially derived from a Latin word, Traiectum, is witness to this. In the Middle Ages, there were extensive trading contacts between Italy and the Low Countries. Dante refers to 'Quali Fiamminghi tra Guizzante e Bruggia' ('Those Flemings between Ghent and Bruges') in Inferno Canto XV in his Divina Commedia and a century later Jan van Eyck would immortalize Giovanni Arnolfini, a banker from Lucca, and his bride, in a painting that now hangs in London. It is often thought that it was primarily Italian art that influenced Netherlandish art at this time. While this is true, Paula Nuttall has persuasively argued that the influence also went the other way. Such artistic exchange is a good example of bilateral cultural transfer.
But what of language? Of course, many musical terms such as belcanto and aria have entered Dutch as well as other categories often associated with Italy such food and finance. The Dutch word 'bank' for the financial institution derives from the Italian banco.
As for the Dutch influence on Italian, this is perhaps harder to trace. One example from the sixteenth century is beurs. This was the name of the place in Bruges where merchants and bankers came to trade. The Florentine Lodovico Guicciardini suggested it was named after the Van der Beurze family, whose emblem was three money bags (beurzen). The association between beurs and financial exchanges has continued in other languages, including Italian (la borsa). 
Nicoline van der Sijs calculates that there are some 150 Dutch loanwords in Italian, although many are what she describes as 'internationalisms' i.e., Dutch words that have become common in many languages. Some have entered Dutch via Afrikaans such as apartheid. Others, though, have entered Italian via English. In the Italian sentence il boss vede lo skipper dello yacht ('the boss sees the skipper of the yacht') we find three English loanwords that are in turn Dutch loanwords in English (baas, schipper and jacht(schip)). This is a good example of what one might call 'the circulation of loanwords' and specifically of how Dutch has often exerted influence indirectly on the lexis of many other languages.

Further reading:
Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse woorden wereldwijd, The Hague, SDU Uitgevers, 2010
Paula Nuttall, From Flanders to Florence: The Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400-1500, 2004.
Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Colchester, oysters ... and the Dutch language

Colchester in the county of Essex is said to be Britain’s oldest permanently inhabited town and for a time was the capital of Roman Britain. Less well known is the place of a Dutch community and the Dutch language in the town’s history. Colchester lies on the River Colne and is a fairly short boat-trip away from the Low Countries. Flemish weavers had been in the town since the fourteenth century, but their numbers increased significantly from the 1560s as a result of religious and economic problems in the Netherlands. By 1586 there were well over 1,000 Flemish and Dutch in Colchester. Indeed, they were so numerous that some moved to nearby Halstead, where there was a Flemish weaving community for thirteen years. In Colchester, wills, letters and other documents were written in Dutch and a Dutch-language church was established, which functioned for over 150 years. Perhaps its most notable minister was Jonas Proost (b. 1572), who was born in the Dutch/Flemish community in London. Proost was a minister for over 40 years and wrote much poetry including Dutch sonnets. However, perhaps the most well-known Dutch poem written in Colchester was penned by the merchant, Jan Six van Chandelier (1620-1635). On a visit to England, he passed through Colchester and enjoyed eating the local oysters. This inspired him to write Oesters te Kolchester ('Oysters at Colchester'):

O! oestertjen, met groene baardjes,
O! blanke bolle, en volle beet
Betaal myn snoeplust vry, met schaartjes,
Aan ‘t mes, ter schulpknops breuk, gesmeedt…

[Oh! Green-bearded little oyster,
Oh! Pale ball and full bite,
Freely repay my craving, with notches
On my knife, forged to break you shell…]

One person born in the Flemish community in Colchester who returned to the Low Countries was the grammarian, Petrus Leupenius (1607-1670). He was the author of Aanmerkingen op de Neerderduitsche taale (‘Observations on the Dutch language’). In 1728/9 with numbers in the community falling, the doors of the Bay Hall were closed and the Dutch church ceased to function. In memory of the Flemish/Dutch presence in Colchester, an area of the town is called the Dutch Quarter. One possible loanword in the Essex dialect, is ‘dwoile/dwile’ from the Dutch dweil (cloth or rag).

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Dutch loanwords in Chinese

Although the Dutch East India Company (VOC) had many successes in the seventeenth century, the prize of a foothold in mainland China eluded it. An attempt to take Macau in 1622 was unsuccessful. The VOC subsequently built a trading colony in Taiwan between 1624 and 1662, but was eventually ejected from the island by the Ming-loyalist, Koxinga. An embassy to Beijing did not manage to obtain the trading rights the VOC had hoped for and attempts to establish a trading post in the port of Fuzhou achieved little. In the eighteenth century, the VOC managed to trade with China through Kanton (Guangzhou), exporting tea and porcelain and importing spices from the East Indies. Despite this, direct contact with China had little effect on varieties of Chinese. It was in fact primarily through its long contact with Japanese that most Dutch loanwords were adopted by standard Chinese. One way in which these loanwords were incorporated into Chinese was on the basis of sound. For example, the Dutch word gas (gas) was adopted by Japanese as gasu (in katakana ガス and hiragana がす). It can also be rendered in Japanese characters (kanji), based not on meaning, but on sound (瓦斯). It was in this form that it was adopted by Chinese, where 瓦斯 is pronounced wǎsī.

Another way in which the Chinese lexis was influenced by Dutch via Japanese was through loan translations. For example, the Dutch word for the appendix in the stomach is blindedarm, which literally means ‘blind intestine’. This was adopted by Japanese as 盲腸 (mōchō), which also literally means ‘blind intestine’. Chinese uses the same kanji (hànzì in Chinese) but pronounces them mángcháng, again literally ‘blind intenstine’. As one might expect, ‘appendicitis’ is also derived from this loan translation 盲腸炎 (mángchángyán).Finally, Korean adopted this loan translation as maengjang (맹장). Clearly the sound of these forms is completely different from the Dutch, but these and similar examples provide yet more evidence that the Dutch language has influenced many other languages in a variety of ways.

Further reading:

Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse woorden wereldwijd. The Hague: SDU, 2010. Kanton, Fuzhou