English by Dutch people (2)

I wrote my first blogpost about a letter written by a Dutchman, which was written in English entirely. Meanwhile, I found another example of English written by a Dutch person, in a letter, dated 14 April 1758, where I did not expect to find any English because it was entirely in Dutch. The man who wrote this letter, Pieter Hanson, wrote a letter to his wife and, to my surprise, used a bit of English at the end of his letter. He wrote:

my Dier Polly
Do not fer Get Jour Dier Hansom [?] Dat
Loves you so Dear Ly

Pieter Hanson1

It is only a short sentence, but an interesting one. It is clear that his spelling is influenced by his native tongue, Dutch. For example, he writes Jour which should have been written with a <y>. In Dutch, <j> and <y> are pronounced similarly, which might explain why he wrote a <j> here (he does write you though, which might mean that his English was not so good that he could use the English spelling consistently). Furthermore, he writes Dat instead of that, which can be explained by the fact that the Dutch language does not know the ‘th’-sound. It is possible that Pieter Hanson, like many Dutch speakers today, pronounced this sound like a <d>, which explains why he wrote Dat instead of that.

Furthermore, there may be a possible pun on his name. The name of the letter writer is Pieter Hanson (originally from “son of Hans”), but it looks as if he spelled his name ‘Hansom’. If the character is indeed an <m>, could he have meant that his wife should not forget her handsome husband?

Lastly, I think it is interesting that he addresses his wife with ‘Polly’, whereas her name was Maria Magdalena Maerle. Perhaps this was a nickname that he used for her, similar to the English Mary called Polly, as discussed elsewhere in this blog.

Pieter Hanson2

(Images reproduced by permission from Marijke van der Wal.)

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