walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

A Lesson in Geography and Language

When I was a child, I knew my grandfather came from Holland.

When I went to visit my dad's cousin, I found out my grandfather came from Friesland, in the Netherlands, where English isn't the second language on the signs -- if it's there, it's the third.

And yesterday, I finally decided to find out what the hell Sint Annaparochie was, because I'd finally hit a point where it was really annoying me.

When I went to visit my dad's cousin, I visited Achlum, where my grandfather and her father were born and raised. Achlum is very, very small (and yes, I did get the name correct. The place you're thinking of is bigger). My great-grandmother came from Sint Annaparochie, which is in gemeente Het Bildt.


One of my great-aunts-by-marriage came from Minnertsga, also in Het Bildt. And tons of other relatives came from Sint Annaparochie, Sint Jacobiparochie, etc.

Here's what caught my eye about Het Bildt from the wikipedia entry:

"het Bildt (About this sound pronunciation (help·info)) is a municipality in the province of Friesland in the northern Netherlands; its capital is Sint Annaparochie."

Okay, so that's weird. I was not surprised to find out that a gemeente had multiple population centers/villages -- that, I knew. I was a little surprised to learn that a gemeente could have a capital, but I suppose it is not weirder than a parish or a county having a capital or a seat or whatever. (Important not to get hung up on the word "municipality" which is just an attempt at translating gemeente, which is a political subdivision which has its own particular meaning that doesn't map perfectly to any political subdivision I have previously encountered. Just wait till you find out about the political entity they have to manage water. And I don't mean drinking water.)

Blah, blah, they grow apples and onions, blah blah.

"Het Bildt was largely settled by Dutch inhabitants from South Holland; as a result, the language generally spoken there is "Bildts", a dialect that mixes Dutch (as spoken in South Holland) with West Frisian; Bildts is usually classified as a dialect of Dutch. All three languages - Bildts, Dutch, and Frisian - are spoken in the area. Only in Minnertsga (which did not become a part of the municipality of Het Bildt until 1984) is Frisian the predominant language. Signage in Het Bildt is generally bilingual, with names given in both Dutch and Bildts."


(a) Oh, _that's_ why Sam married a woman whose parents were from South Holland. He liked his mom (from Het Bildt) a helluva lot better than his dad (who rhi was an alcoholic gambler who lost the family farm).

(b) Really? All this trouble I've gone to try to dig up some stuff to learn Frys and now you tell me, _now_ you tell me there's a _third fucking obscure language involved_?

I don't think it would bother me so much if this were all safely in the more distant past, say, two or three hundred years ago. But the nature of Friesland is such that nothing is safely in the distant past; it all crawls right down to today.
Tags: genealogy
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