04 August 2008

A followup on Dutch names

My thanks to Anonymous for posting a reply on my query about "curious Dutch orthography." His/her comments helped me refocus my search today, and I ran across some interesting information.

Before the Middle Ages Dutch names were Germanic and were "composed of two parts. One part indicates the gender of the name, the other a characteristic of the person. This way names like Adelbert or Albert are born, composed of "adel" (meaning "noble") and "bert" which is derived from "beracht" (meaning "bright" or "shining") hence the name means something in the order of "Bright/Shining through noble behaviour"; the English name "Albright", now only seen as a surname, is a cognate with the same origin)."

"Many Dutch names start with a prefix like van ("of/from"), de/het/'t ("the"), der ("of the"), van de ("of the/from the"), and in het ("in the"). Examples are 't Hooft ("the head"), de Groot ("the large") , van Rijn ("from Rhine"); but be careful of such verb-derived names that end in -en that are often occupations, like van Bruggen ("bridge builder")."

"When van is followed by the name of a place or area, this may (but does not always) indicate that a person belongs to the nobility... In Dutch aristocratic names, the prefix is never capitalized. This results in people being very strict about whether the prefix in someone's name should be capitalized or not, and in immigrants from the Netherlands always having an uncapitalized prefix."

"In Dutch name directories, the prefixes are always ignored for sorting (e.g. Van Rijn is ordered under 'R')... However, Dutch names in English directories (e.g. reference lists of scientific papers) may be ordered on the full name including all prefixes (Van Rijn would be ordered under 'V')..."

"A tussenvoegsel, in Dutch linguistics, is a word that is positioned between someone's given name and surname, but is still a part of someone's last name." [one example shown is "'s" to mean "of the" presumably referring to the family of which the person is a part.] [I wonder then if the 's is a contraction of "aus" and that's why the apostrophe is seen before the s...?]

1 comment:

  1. The Dutch mini-word 's (it is called a tussenvoegsel) is a shortened form of the word 'des' which means 'of the':
    's ochtends = "des ochtends" = of the morning
    's Hertogenbosch = "het bos des (van de) hertog" = the forest of the Duke

    (... 's far as I know, anyway. I'm just an Aussie sheila ... Are there any Dutch linguists out there that can verify?)


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