Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Aandacht! Politie!

During a pleasant stroll through Brussels with a friend and a slow mooch around some cafés in St. Géry (in Dutch Sint-Gorikseiland) we marvelled at how where we walked there was once marshland and, later, a series of rivers and streams. Among our conversation we touched on the multi-lingual aspect of Brussels' life and my friend posed me a question concerning the pronunciation of '-tie' in Dutch. Ah yes! To English speakers this indicates a hard sounding 'T' and I myself was disconcerted when I realised that this has a soft sound in Dutch and is much more like an 'S'.

For example, police in Dutch is 'politie' but this is not pronounced /po'liti/ (with a hard 'T') but rather /po'litsi/ or softer even /po'lisi/.

Likewise the word 'Attentie' or attention (synonym of aandacht) is pronounced /a'ten'si/ with a soft 'si' ending. This, of course much like the similar word 'attention' in English; we don't pronounce the '-tion' exactly as the spelling of it might indicate. Instead we also employ a softer '-shun' ending.

Food for thought about pronunciation.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Aethelred the Ill-Advised

With the discovery of King Richard III's remains recently I've been thinking of Britain's monarchs. An interesting and bizarrely named AEthelred the Unready springs to mind and makes me dip into some etymology. His name in Old English was in fact 'Æþelræd Unræd' which meant AEthelraed 'Bad Counsel' (or Ill advised). Nothing to do with being unready, simply a mis-translation of 'Unræd' (potentially used by biographers to their own end).

"Unræd", thinks I. "Hmmm….link to Dutch?"

Of course!

Counsel (or an advisory position) is 'raad' in Dutch (synoniemen: advies, advocaat, counsel).

Etymology for 'raad': [advies, adviserend college] {oudnederlands rat 901-1000, middelnederlands raet [advies, adviserend lichaam]} van raden.

Synonymous with German, 'rat', cf Rathaus (town hall).