Wtewael.

I recently ran across a reference to the Dutch Mannerist painter Joachim Wtewael and was completely stumped by his surname. I momentarily tried to pronounce it as if it were Polish, with wt = /ft/, but realized that was unlikely; fortunately Wikipedia had the information I needed: “Dutch pronunciation: [ˈyːtəʋaːl]; also spelled Uytewael, which reflects better the pronunciation for English speakers.” It sure does! I’m posting this as a public service, in case anyone else happens on the name and is equally puzzled, and also to ask: is that a common way to spell [yː] in early modern Dutch, or is it the eccentricity of that particular family?

Comments

  1. Must be a relic of the u/v split, because uu is, methinks, the usual way to spell [yː] in Dutch. In addition, Dutch views ij as one letter and capitalizes the whole thing, like IJsselmeer. Maybe they used to do the same thing with UU/VV?

    Reading the Wikipedia article on W, I found the wonderful detail that “the [16th-century] Swabians call it auwawau”.

  2. The spelling Uytewael confuses further, because uy would normally be [ɐʏ]. Mind you, I once had to correct a Wiki article that said the Olympic swimmer Inge de Bruijn’s name is pronounced [ˈɪŋɛ ˈdɛ ˈbryɛin].

    Edit: The painter is pronounced by two Dutch people on Forvo: one, spelling it Wtewael, says it with [yː]; the other, spelling it Uytewael, says it with [ɐʏ]. So as F suggests, I think the W here is a variant of Uu or UU. Dutch doesn’t currently use double vowels before single consonants, but it did in the past.

  3. That is, it doesn’t use double vowels before single consonants before other vowels.

    It does still contain marvels like nieuw and leeuw, essentially nieuuu and leeuuu.

  4. Svmer is icumen in:

    Groweþ sed and bloweþ med and springþ þe wde nu…

    Here too wde = vvde = uude (“standardised” as wude).

  5. Ah, so it’s really UUtewael; that makes sense.

  6. Huh. I’ve been singing this for years, and I find that I’ve made a typical folk-process change, singing And instead of Lhud (after calve cu). “And” is a much better weak syllable than “loud”.

    By the way, how does the international mathematical community pronounce the name de Bruijn, as in “de Bruijn indices”, “de Bruijn notation”, “de Bruijn’s theorem”, and so on? Proper Dutch is [œy]; I suspect I would tend to say [ɔɪ].

  7. If the pronunciation is [ˈyːtəʋaːl], then according to today’s orthography it would probably be spelled Utewaal. A more old-fashioned spelling might be Uutewael or Uetewael. I don’t recall seeing any example like Wtewael in Dutch before. I’m somehow reminded of German Jhering [ˈjeːʁɪŋ], though it’s not really a similar example.

    For older Dutch names you sometimes see variant forms with either [y(ː)] (spelled ‘u’ or ‘uu’) or [œy̯] (spelled ‘ui’ or ‘uy’). Flemish mystic Jan van Ruusbroec [ˈryzbruk] was later also known as Jan van Ruysbroeck [ˈrœy̯zbruk], and the village he was named after is spelled Ruisbroek [ˈrœy̯zbruk] today, I believe. I would just interpret Uytewael as a variant of Wtewael which is pronounced differently, as [ˈœy̯təʋaːl].

    Mind you, I once had to correct a Wiki article that said the Olympic swimmer Inge de Bruijn’s name is pronounced [ˈɪŋɛ ˈdɛ ˈbryɛin].

    I once had to correct the pronunciation of Nistelrooij from [ˈnɪstəlroːɛi] to [ˈnɪstəlroːi̯] on Wikipedia. I think Wikipedia gets a lot of people filling in pronunciation keys that don’t know what they’re doing.

  8. I brake for Dutch genealogical topics. The Meertens Institute has a database of Dutch surnames in current use, in which Wtewael and Uytewael draw blanks, but Uijtewaal gives this result. Uijt is an archaic spelling of uit which means out. Wael is an archaic spelling of waal, which has multiple possible meanings. A waal (or wiel) is a small body of water located behind a dike, formed as a result of a break in the dike at some point in the past. There is also the river Waal, a village named De Waal, a neighborhood or hamlet named Waal, and a village (or twin villages) named Tull en ‘t Waal. And Walloons are Waals (adjective) in Dutch. Uijtewaal most likely uses the geographic sense, so it means Uit de Waal or out of ‘t Waal or from ‘t Waal. (The contraction ‘t is for het or the.) If you compare the Meertens geographic dispersion map with the Wikipedia map showing the location of the village Tull en ‘t Waal, you’ll see that the highest concentration of people named Uijtewaal still lives not far from that hamlet, and family genealogists agree that Tull en ‘t Waal is the most likely origin of the name. Joachim Wtewael himself was born in Utrecht, which today has more Uijtewaals (26) than any other municipality in the Netherlands except for Woerden, an adjoining town with 27. Here is a genealogical page with the descendants of one Jan Wttewael, born about 1420, which shows that the spelling changed to Uijtewaal around 1660. Another Uijtewaal family page says that before the transition of W to U, the W was pronounced “oo” so the name was pronounced “oo’tewaal” (sorry I don’t do diacriticals).

  9. I’ve made a typical folk-process change, singing And instead of Lhud (after calve cu). “And” is a much better weak syllable than “loud”.

    It’s not Lhud ‘loud,’ it’s Lhouþ ‘loweth.’

  10. Did Wtewael’s ancestors arrive in the Netherlands aboard a Dukw?

  11. I brake for Dutch genealogical topics.

    I was hoping you’d drop by and screech to a halt! Thanks for an extremely enlightening comment.

  12. “And” is a much better weak syllable than “loud”

    John, it isn’t lhud ‘loud’ but lhouþloweth‘ (= ‘mooeth’).

    [Edit: I see LH beat me to it]

  13. Dutch ‘ui’, ‘uy’, or ‘uij’ is traditionally pronounced something close to [œy̯] and this is why we prefer it in an accent-neutral transcription. But in contemporary Netherlands, it tends to something like [aʏ̯], while in Belgium, it is a more traditional [œʏ̯], even smoothing to something like [œː] in some speakers. So it is no surprise that there is no consistent anglicization of this diphthong.

    Merriam-Webster gives the traditional pronunciation of Huygens [ˈɦœy̯ɣəns] in American English as either [ˈhaɪ̯ɡənz] or [ˈhɔɪ̯ɡənz] (my American physics teacher used the latter). Stuyvesant [ˈstœy̯vəsɑnt] is pronounced [ˈstaɪ̯vᵻsənt] in American English. I don’t remember hearing English speakers in the mathematical community say de Bruijn’s name, but my guess would be to make it rhyme with ‘brine’. Then again, Dutch footballer Dirk Kuyt (originally Kuijt [ˈkœy̯t] in Dutch) is pronounced to rhyme with ‘out’ in English…

  14. Eli Nelson says:

    @John Cowan:

    I am not a mathematician, but it looks like many people find “Broyn” the closest, and for some reason, a few people think this is incorrect and insist that “Brown” is the closest. I’d be tempted to go with “Brine” by analogy with “Kuiper,” and it looks like this pronunciation is also used by some other people.

  15. Thanks, Martin, for the info on ‘Uijtewaal’! So I took a closer look at the Wikipedia article on Middle Dutch, and it looks like /yː/ from Old Dutch /uː/ (still /uː/ in Limburg in Middle Dutch) diphthongized to give Modern Dutch /œy̯/ except before /r/. So the form Wtewael (=Utewaal) with /yː/ would be the Middle Dutch form before this change, while its regular development would give the later Uijtewaal (=Uitewaal) with /œy̯/.

    @Eli Nelson, yes, Kuiper (rhyming with ‘viper’) is another good example of Dutch /œy̯/ mapping to English /aɪ̯/.

  16. One correction to my earlier comment: the hamlet I mentioned called Tull en ‘t Waal is today part of the municipality Houten, and Houten, with 28 people named Uijtewaal, has more than Utrecht (26) or Woerden (27). The three towns together have nearly half of all the Uijtewaals in the Netherlands. So for about 500 years, a lot of Uijtewaals stuck pretty close to home.

  17. January First-of-May says:

    For what it’s worth, the Russian transliteration of “de Bruijn” is “де Брёйн” (I thought it was де Брейн, because of a particularly funny comment in Concrete Mathematics about de Bruijn’s (motor)cycle, but apparently they’re just inconsistent with applying the dots on ё – a common problem that actually led to some foreign names, such as Richelieu, acquiring a spelling-based Russian pronunciation with the wrong sound).
    Incidentally, Kuiper is Койпер (as in пояс Койпера), while Huygens is Гюйгенс. Strange how identical diphthongs* in original Dutch are transliterated in three different ways in Russian.

    A few days ago, I had a conversation about Dijkstra’s algorithm, and both me and the other guy ended up stumbling at least once as to how to pronounce it. (It’s Дейкстра, and, allowing for a hard д, the original Dutch is apparently similar.)

    *) I had to go look up the spelling, because for a while my brain refused to accept any spelling of that word as a real one

  18. David Marjanović says:

    German Jhering

    Also Ihering. But I can offer Pompeckj.

    a common problem that actually led to some foreign names, such as Richelieu, acquiring a spelling-based Russian pronunciation with the wrong sound

    As if **Richelier.

    I had to go look up the spelling, because for a while my brain refused to accept any spelling of that word as a real one

    In Ancient Greek, aspiration was a property of whole consonant clusters, and the classical spelling (unlike some inscriptions) marks this aspiration on all parts, leading to phth and chth in Latin transcription. The Modern Greek outcomes, however, are [ft] and [xt] (like in Germanic…) and spelled accordingly.

  19. I think I’ve seen the name before but my brain “auto-corrected” it to something like Witwael. Judging from this mislabeled book on Amazon I’m not the only one?

    http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Witwael-Surprised-Lowenthal-Aug-1995/dp/B0108EAGH4

  20. In computer science, i haven’t noticed de Bruijn indices varying from a rhyme with “coin”.

  21. I’m having a very strong sense of déjà lu, but I can’t think where I would have read about this name in the past year or two if it wasn’t here or at Language Log. I haven’t been able to find anything, though. Maybe it was a similar name and so all my googling is useless. Or maybe it’s just a malfunction in my brain, especially since if it had been mentioned here or there before someone surely would have brought it up in the comments by now.

  22. Rodger C says:

    I think Wikipedia gets a lot of people filling in pronunciation keys that don’t know what they’re doing.

    A bit off thread, but could someone go in and correct their rendition of Auraicept na nÉces?

  23. Well, it ain’t a-gonna be me, so that leaves Hat and maybe ə.

  24. A bit off thread, but could someone go in and correct their rendition of Auraicept na nÉces?

    Tell me what it should be and I’ll change it.

  25. Rodger C says:

    Well, it’s been done by a self-confessed amateur who thinks the c’s are unvoiced and the e palatalizes after it–in other words, xe knows a bit of Modern Irish and no Old Irish. I’m shaky on details myself, but in the article’s [ăurakepʲtʲ nˠa nʲeːkʲesʲ] the [k]s should be [g]s, the [pt] and [s] shouldn’t be palatalized, and I don’t think the neutral consonants should be velarized. (I’m not on my office computer and can’t easily access phonetic symbols.) Others could add details to this, I’m sure.

  26. the [k]s should be [g]s

    No, because –aicept is from Latin accepta, so the c is actually /k/. I think the c of Éces is /g/, but unless I’m sure… ah, I see eDIL has forms like egess, so that’s solid. I’ll change it, but I can’t be sure I’m right, just more right than the mess that’s there now. Old Irish isn’t for the faint of heart or the weak of mind.

  27. I am far from convinced that the non-palatalized consonants of Irish are uniformly velarized in the phonetic sense anyway, and think all those ˠ symbols are mostly visual clutter. For similar reasons, I refuse to write length marks when transcribing American English, though I don’t go so far as John Wells and write /e/ for the DRESS vowel.

  28. Rodger C says:

    Hat, thanks for correcting me. JC, when I was in grad school in the 70s /ay lərnd tə rayt ə‘merikən ‘iŋgliš ‘fowniymz layk ðis/ and was taught /toht/ that it was the way to do so. Since I’ve never seen it here or on LL, I assume it’s gone the way of all the other certainties of my twenties. Would someone care to enlighten me as to what happened there?

  29. That’s Americanist rather than IPA style; more specifically it is Kenyon-Knott style. I think it’s been pretty much displaced by IPA when used for English because the study of English is inherently international (as English itself is), but not so much when used for Native languages. The WP article quotes David Abercrombie, a British phoneticist, on why the tradition is so strong:

    One may wonder why there should be such a hostility in America to IPA notation. I venture to suggest a reason for this apparently irrational attitude. The hostility derives ultimately from the existence, in most American universities, of Speech Departments, which we do not have in Britain. Speech Departments tend to be well-endowed, large, and powerful. In linguistic and phonetic matters they have a reputation for being predominantly prescriptive, and tend to be considered by some therefore to be not very scholarly. In their publications and periodicals the notation they use, when writing of pronunciation, is that of the IPA. My belief is that the last thing a member of an American Linguistics Department wants is to be mistaken for a member of a Speech Department; but if he were to use IPA notation in his writings he would certainly lay himself open to the suspicion that he was.

  30. January First-of-May says:

    I was surprised by the /š/, because I was sure all the actual linguists used /ʃ/ when not transcribing an ancient language (or Slavic).
    Apparently this is Americanist phonetic notation (or so Wikipedia calls it).

    EDIT: I should have realized that I’ve seen that symbol in transcriptions of North American languages as well! I’m not sure where did the tradition of using it in ancient language transliterations come from, however.

  31. Rodger C says:

    JC, thanks, that’s wonderful. Abercrombie is probably right.

  32. David Marjanović says:

    I’m not sure where did the tradition of using it in ancient language transliterations come from, however.

    That tradition is simply older than the IPA.

  33. As previous commenters have noted, this is a combination of two factors:

    1/ U+U = W (as the English word for that letter clearly indicates; indeed, one might wonder why one doesn’t write “vacwm cleaner” rather than “vacuum cleaner” :-). This isn’t a general custom; more likely this was a rare spelling mannerism.

    2) Many surnames in the Dutch language area (and especially in the South) were recorded when Middle Dutch was spoken. However, simple vowels like the long “uu” in Middle Dutch have since become diphtongated, and “uu” became “uy” and then “ui”. Only in peripheral dialects such as West Flemish or North East Dutch has the pronunciation remained “uu”.

    In Belgium, I have seen the last name of Wtterwulghe, which is based on a similar calque “uit + der + wilge” (only this time it means “From the willow”). The first W would then just be pronounced like a “u” or maybe “ui”.

  34. David Marjanović says:

    This isn’t a general custom; more likely this was a rare spelling mannerism.

    It may well have been general at that time. From a few hundred years earlier, I’ve seen de vulpibus (“about foxes”) spelled de wlpibus, with two intersecting V shapes like in the Wikipedia logo.

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