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Re: Dutch surnames (scatological warning!)

From:Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <>
Date:Monday, April 6, 2009, 11:38
2009/4/6 andrew <hobbit@...>

> This turned up on a local Ethnic Network list that I watch. I would be > interested if someone with more knowledge on Dutch nomenclature can > provide more information, especially if I can feed it back. It is > interesting if it is true as I recognise the name Zondervan still > survives as a publishing house. > > <quote>Napoleon made it compulsory for the Dutch to list a surname in > 1811. Some, to protest this imposed requirement (there were surnames > earlier but they kept changing according to naming conventions), gave > their surnames which were funny/strange/obscene: > Suikerbuik (Sugarbelly) > Uiekruier (Onion-crier) > Naaktgeboren (Born naked) > Poepjes (Little shit) > Schooier (Beggar) > Scheefnek (Crooked-neck) > Rotmensen (Rotten people) > Zeldenthuis (Rarely at home) > Zondervan (without a surname) > Borst (breast) > Piest (to urinate) > The idea was that this would be something impermanent. But once the > register started, the names became permanent. There are those like de > Jong (the young), de Groot (the great), etc. I will love to hear more > on this from some Dutch person (or another) on this forum who may be > able to shed more light on this.<unquote> > >
I'm not Dutch (yet), but close enough that I can give my 2 Eurocents ;) . Things went about as they are described in the quote. The Dutch fully expected the whole "surname" thing to be a temporary folly that would die down quickly. The nobility already had family names, but among the people they were seen as a useless vanity thing. First names with an optional description were enough, and even nowadays people in villages refer to others not by full name, but by first name and some thing relating to that particular person, usually a place, job or common family member (my husband, for his family on his mother's side, will always be "Jan van onze Mariet": Jan of our Mariet, Mariet being his mother. Since he's got at least one other cousin with the same first name and last name, this kind of description is actually necessary). This is especially necessary in villages like Volendam where there are no more than 5-10 different family names in use (for 22000 people), and simply continues the tradition in existence before the mandatory family name appeared. Note that my second last name (my husband's family name) is also relatively strange/funny. "Koevoets" simply means "cow foot" :) . Nowadays, people just seem to live on with their family names, whatever they are. Nobody would laugh at someone for being called "Naaktgeboren", except maybe children (they can be cruel, can't they?), and as far as I know requests to have your lastname changed due to it being funny/strange/obscene are not common. After nearly two centuries I guess the Dutch have gotten used to it. They are a practical people after all :) . -- Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.


René Uittenbogaard <ruittenb@...>
Chris Peters <beta_leonis@...>Dutch surnames