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qwallath

Qwallath

Hi, I'm Oscar, a historical linguist from the Netherlands who also likes to write about music, games, and history. Check out my longer blog posts and other writings on Sub Specie.

Currently reading

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo
Mary Douglas
Signs: an Introduction to Semiotics
Thomas A. Sebeok, Marcel Danesi
Language and Space
Lynn Nadel, Mary A. Peterson, Paul Bloom

Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops: The Influence of Dutch on the North American Languages

Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops: The Influence of Dutch on the North American Languages - Nicoline van der Sijs This etymological work, released practically simultaneously in Dutch and English is a more than adequate overview of the influence of Dutch (and a bit of Frisian) on the various languages of North America (Northeast US, actually). The story is chiefly about Engligh, but a shorter section about Dutch influences on Native American languages is also added.

The book starts with an introduction, describing the process of colonisation and immigration that had led to the presence of Dutch and Frisian in the US in the first place, as well as the story of the investigation and (pseudo-)scholarship concerning this history. At the same time, it is also a brief history of Dutch (mostly religious) communities in the States, and how they slowly assimilated into a broader American culture. For most readers, this part will be the most fascinating and relevant.

The larger part of the book is an actual etymological dictionary, charting most if not all words that the American languages have borrowed from Dutch and/or Frisian. I must say, even as a linguist with etymological interests, that this part could be a bit hum-drum at times, at least when read as a book rather than a dictionary, a tendency which one inherits from reading the storyform of the first part of the book. However, some lemmata are not to be missed, such as the extensive and fascinating long entries on "Santa Claus" and "Yankee"; words that hold in themselves a history of cultural exchange and development.