Saturday, December 29, 2007

Boulevard and mannequin are Dutch words

The French word, boulevard was derived from the Dutch word bolwerk (before 1395), which is still in use today in The Netherlands and means ‘rampart’. The English word ‘bulwark’ is also a derivative of this Dutch word.
The French adapted several nautical terms from the Dutch around the late Middle Ages and sixteenth century when Holland was a world leader in shipbuilding and nautical science. The French word for the port side of a ship, bâbord, is from the Middle Dutch word for port, bakboord. The other side of the ship is called tribord in French and this comes from stuurboord, the Dutch word for ‘starboard’. Yacht has made it into French (and English and many other languages) from the Middle Dutch word jaght, a word connected to the verb jagen ‘to chase’. The Dutch word for yacht is now jacht. Even the French word, fret, meaning ‘freight’ carried by ships is from the Middle Dutch word, vrecht for ‘sea freight’
And who would have thought that mannequin, the French word for fashion model, came from the Dutch? It is from the Middle Dutch word (circa 1450) mannekijn, meaning ‘little man or puppet' (see picture). Source


Carol L. Douglas said...

BTW, in English there are two related words, "manikin" and "mannequin". "Mannequin" came to English in the early 20th century and means a clothing model (not necessarily a dress form). "Maniken" came directly from Dutch in the 16th century and refers to the jointed wooden models used by artists.

I have also seen "manikin" used to refer to dwarves in English literature.

American schoolchildren always learn that the Pilgrims first moved to the Netherlands on their way to Plymouth Colony in 1620. They were actually on their way to what would become New York but got lost. Good thing, or New Amsterdam (New York) would have ended up being a Puritan city. Unimaginable.

The first Jews in the Colonies were Sephardic Portuguese Jews welcomed into New Amsterdam in 1654. At this time New Amsterdam was still under Dutch rule; since the Netherlands were a bulwark against religious persecution (had to throw that word in) its colony followed suit. Sephardic Jews then settled in other Colonial cities and by the time of the American Revolution, there were about 2000 Jews here. Their contribution to the Revolution was important enough to be noted by George Washington himself.

I think the greatest contribution the Netherlands made to the United States was religious freedom and tolerance.