Sunday, 6 May 2012

The boss!

From your supervisor to Bruce Springsteen we're used to the word 'boss' in English. It's the person in charge. The chief. The order giver…and such an English word!

Such an English word that I was intrigued to learn that 'baas' in Dutch has a similar meaning. They sound similar, but surely they can't be related? Let me check.

boss = baas

In fact I learned it in the context of huisbaas (lit. house boss) or landlord in English. So after a quick internet search found that, yes indeed, they are related. Not only that but etymologically speaking Dutch is the baas over boss…

"overseer," 1640s, Amer.Eng., from Du. baas "a master," M.Du. baes, of obscure origin.

Further digging found this article which tells of baas as a great Dutch export.

"Variations on the Dutch word baas can be found in 57 other world languages, making it the most widely adopted Dutch word, according to Leiden researcher Nicoline van der Sijs.
'We have to conclude that the Dutch and Flemish were happy to be the boss, on ships and plantations and the like,’ Van der Sijs says"

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