Monday, January 3, 2011

Melting snow

although there are still some snow mountains here and there, i saw yesterday night that all the snow pictured above in the boston common entirely disappeared; no more sleighing (i dont know whether this is the correct word for the activity above) there! the picture was taken last wednesday when boston was still covered. 
when looking up the word sleighing i discovered that it actually originates from the dutch word "slee"; it entered the american english language around 1700. the dutch were among the earliest inhabitants of north america, and therefore many words come from the dutch language! for example: boss ("baas), bush ("bos" or, in old dutch "bosch") and landscape ("landschap"). apparently, in later centuries we "gave" the americans the words dope, knickerbocker (??), snoop, spook, waffle and cookie. but for me, the most interesting is the following; also the word "yankee", the most american (word) of all, is most likely a dutch word from origin... howcome? well, the most likely source is the Dutch name janke, meaning "little Jan" or "little John," a nickname that dates back to the 1680s. Perhaps because it was used as the name of pirates, the name Yankee came to be used as a term of contempt. It was used this way in the 1750s by General James Wolfe, the British general who secured British domination of North America by defeating the French at Quebec. The name may have been applied to New Englanders as an extension of an original use referring to Dutch settlers living along the Hudson River. Whatever the reason, Yankee is first recorded in 1765 as a name for an inhabitant of New England. Around the same time it began to be abbreviated to Yank. During the American Revolution, American soldiers adopted this term of derision as a term of national pride.(this latter part i literally stole from here).
(the relation between the dutch and american language is also described in the novel Netherland by Joseph O'Neill; a book i liked a lot, surely its not merely about language, its about a man living in NY, during and after 9/11)
ok... and i didnt want to write much this time... hihihihi.