People, Place, and Time

Telling my family's stories

Dutch names in Dörrebach

One of the unexpected discoveries about the Berlandis, when I found the parish records in Dörrebach, was that they appear to be from the Netherlands – Dutch! In the parish records, they are sometimes recorded as “Berlandi”, but more often as “Barlandij” or “Barlandÿ” (more about the difference in a moment!).

Now, these are German speakers writing in Latin, but neither German nor Latin has either an ij nor a ÿ in their orthography. But Dutch does. And guess what? The sequence -ij is a suffix – a piece of a word that has its own meaning, and attaches to the end of other words. It’s related to the -y in English, in words like bakery and brewery. So, for example, Barlandij would be someone from Barland, which is a region of the Netherlands.

Other Dutch names with this suffix that I found in Dörrebach parish include:


as in these examples:

Notice that several of these derive from personal names like “Peter” and “Jacob.”

Now, if you’ve been looking at the handwriting, you’ll notice that it’s really hard to tell if the ending is ij or y (with the umlaut, or pair of dots, above it). This isn’t just your problem; in the following pictures, you can see that even in print, it can be quite difficult to decide which is which.

Fortunately for us, in Dutch, the two are used interchangeably, so it doesn’t matter a huge amount which one it looks more like. Wikipedia actually has a very nice article about this here.

Also, you should know that ij isn’t just found in the endings of these names. For example, the maiden name of Christopher Rosche’s second wife Elisabeth was written as both Kijmmerle and Kemmerle.

Here it looks like the ij got replaced with the native German segment e. Barlandij also got “Germanicized” – although it doesn’t have any particular meaning in German, Berlandi (or Berlante, as it was sometimes written in Wisconsin) is a more German-looking name – at least the orthography is right! Other names, like Sodij, replace the -ij with the English -y, so you’ll see a lot of Sody people running about — well, relatively speaking — and not so many Sodijs.


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This entry was posted on July 23, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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