Netherlands Language and Languages
|The Netherlands Background|
|Local Research Resources|
The FamilySearch moderator for the Netherlands is Daniel Jones.
Netherlands Language and Languages
This list summarizes what languages are used in different records.
Dutch: Used in Dutch Reformed Church records and Civil Registration after 1813. Used for any other government records.
Frisian: May be used in place of Dutch in Friesland
Latin: Used in Catholic Church records
German: Used in Lutheran Church records
French: Used in Wallonia Reformed Church records, and in pre-1813 Civil Registration
Portuguese: Used in some Jewish records
Dutch (like English and German), is a Germanic language derived from Old Low Franconian and Old Saxon.
Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands, northern Belgium, the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean, and Suriname. Flemish, which is spoken in Belgium, is a major dialect (regional variation) of Dutch. It uses words similar to the words on this list. Afrikaans, a separate language spoken in South Africa, is descended from Dutch and preserves many older and dialect features of Dutch, but contains many German and English words as well .
Frisian, which is spoken in the Dutch province of Friesland, is a different language from Dutch.
The "Additional Resources" section below will tell you how to use the FamilySearch Catalog to find dictionaries of the various dialects and related languages.
In addition, Dutch is found in some early records of the United States (mostly in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Iowa) and in South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Brazil and Taiwan.
Dutch, along with German, English, Frisian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Afrikaans, is a Germanic language. It is very closely related to the dialects of northern Germany known as Low German. Indeed, the traditional dialects along the Dutch-German border are virtually the same. You may want to read about the linguistic situation in the lower Rhine area or about spelling variations there.
Dutch words for nouns (persons, places, and things) are classified as either common or neuter.
In Dutch, as in English, the forms of some words will vary according to how they are used in a sentence. Who—whose—whom, or marry—marries—married are examples of words in English with variant forms. This word list gives the standard form of each Dutch word. As you read Dutch records, you will need to be aware that some words vary with usage.
The prefix t is equal to the Dutch word het, which means the. The prefix s- is a part of many place-names and means des (of the). All prefixes are disregarded in alphabetized lists, except in Flemish records.
The endings of words in a document may differ from what you find in this list. For example, the document may use the word jonger, but you will find it in this word list as jong. In addition, the suffixes -je, -tje,-tien, or -ke are often added to words to indicate "little." These suffixes can also indicate the feminine version of a name. Therefore, the word zoontje means "little" or "young (tje) son (zoon)." The ending -sdr means "daughter of."
Plural forms of Dutch words usually add -en or -s to the singular word. Thus boer (farmer) becomes boeren (farmers), and tafel (table or index) becomes tafels (tables or indexes). Rarely, -eren is added to form the plural. Examples: blad becomes bladeren (leaves [of a tree]), kind becomes kinderen (children).
In Dutch, many words are formed by joining two or more words. Very few of these compound words are included in this list. You will need to look up each part of the word separately. For example, geboortedag is a combination of two words, geboorte (birth) and dag (day).
In the Dutch language, the letter combination ij is considered a single letter. It has the same value as y, and it is usually alphabetized as if it were a y. Some Dutch dictionaries and indexes use the following alphabetical order:
a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, ij (or y), z
Some Dutch dictionaries alphabetize the letter ij under i then j. Just remember, when a name or town starts with the letter IJ, that you capitalize BOTH the I and the J. In the Netherlands the IJ or ij is ONE letter, not 2 and seeing that you can hardly split one letter when you capitalize it, you really have to capitalize the whole letter - IJ not Ij!
This word list follows the standard English alphabetical order. However, when working with alphabetized Dutch records, use the Dutch alphabetical order.
When the Dutch alphabetize names of places or surnames, prefixes such as van der, de, or ter are not considered in the alphabetization.
van der Graf
Spelling rules were not standardized in earlier centuries. Writers often failed to dot the ij, so that it looks like a y. The letter y was not used in older records. In Dutch, the following spelling variations are common.See the article Spelling Variants in Dutch Documents
y used for ij
g used for ch
d and t used interchangeably
j and i used interchangeably
echt spelled as egt
overlijden spelled as overlyden
Arie spelled as Arij
Marietje spelled as Marietie
The word list on this article includes only the words most commonly found in genealogical sources. For further help, use a Dutch-English dictionary. Several Dutch-English dictionaries are available at the Family History Library. These are in the European collection. Their call numbers begin with 439.31321.
The following dictionary is available on microfilm for use in Family History Centers:
Dutch-English, English-Dutch Van Goor Dictionary. 's-Gravenhage: G. B. Van Goor, 1938. (FHL film 1183584 item 2.)
Additional dictionaries are listed in the Subject search of the FamilySearch Catalog under DUTCH LANGUAGE - DICTIONARIES or in the Place search under NETHERLANDS - LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES. These include dictionaries of various dialects and time periods.
On the following Internet address Integrated Language Bank you can find: a modern Dutch dictionary, old, early Middle Ages and later Middle Ages Dutch dictionaries and a Frisian dictionary.
See the 3 FamilySearch Tutorials on "Reading Dutch Written Records"
Cassell’s English–Dutch Dutch–English Dictionary. 36th ed. New York: Macmillan, 1981. (FHL book 439.31321 Ca272.)
Stierp–Impink, A. C. Practisijns Woordenboekje, of Verzameling van Meest alle de Woorden in de Rechtskunde Gebruikelijk (Lawyer’s Dictionary, or List of Most Words Used in Legal Documents). Alkmaar: A. C. Stierp–Impink, 1985. (FHL book 949.2 P26s.) This legal dictionary, originally created in 1785, identifies words found in court, land, notarial, and guardianship records.
Verdam, J. Middelnederlandsch Handwoordenboek (Middle Dutch Dictionary). ’s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964. (FHL book 439.317 V582m; film 1045404 item 2.) This dictionary will help with most archaic words found in documents before 1811.
Additional language aids, including dictionaries of various dialects and time periods, are listed in the Place search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
NETHERLANDS – LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES
NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE] – LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES
or in the "Subject Search" under:
DUTCH LANGUAGE – DICTIONARIES
To find and use specific types of Dutch records, you will need to know some key words in Dutch. This section lists key genealogical terms in English and the Dutch words with the same or similar meanings.
For example, in the first column you will find the English word marriage. In the second column you will find Dutch words with meanings such as marry, marriage, wedding, wedlock, unite, legitimate, joined, and other words used in Dutch records to indicate marriage.
For a full word list, visit Dutch Genealogical Word List
|baptism||dopen, doop, gedoopt|
|Catholic||rooms katholiek, oud katholiek|
|child, children||kind, kinderen|
|christening (see baptism)|| |
|civil registry||burgerlijke stand|
|death||overleden, overlijden, gestorven|
|index||tafel, klapper, fiche|
|marriage(s)||huwelijk(en), trouwen, echt, gehuwden, getrouwd|
|military||militaire, landweer, krijgsmacht|
|name, given||voornaam, eerste naam|
|name, surname||achternaam, familienaam, bijnaam, toenaam|
|town, village||stad, gemeente, dorp|
|wife||huisvrouw, vrouw, echtgenote|
In some genealogical records, numbers are written out. This is especially true with dates. The following list gives the cardinal (1, 2, 3) and the ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd) versions of each number. Days of the month are written in ordinal form.
Dates and Time
In Dutch records, dates are often written out. For example:
Donderdag, drie en twintig maart in het jaar van onse heer een duizend acht hondert en zesendertig [Thursday, three and twenty March in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six and thirty].
To understand Dutch dates, use the following lists as well as the preceding "Numbers" section.
|September||September (7ber)||herfstmaand||autumn month|
|October||October (8ber)||wijnmaand||wine month|
|November||November (9ber)||slachtmaand||slaughter month|
|December||December (10ber)||wintermaand||winter month|
Days of the Week
Times of the Day
Dutch birth and death records often indicated the time of day when the birth or death occurred. This is usually written out.
|des avonds ('s avonds)||in the evening|
|des middags ('s middags)||in the afternoon|
|des morgens ('s morgens)||in the morning|
|des nachts ('s nachts)||in the night|
|in de namiddag||in the mid-afternoon|
|in de voormiddag||in the mid-morning|