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What’s with this “Wren” thing?
The oldest extant version of the fable
are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology
Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche
Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”)
collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read
y name is Ingmar Roerdinkholder, 35 years old, and I’m one of those Lunatic Language Lovers on the Lowlands Linguist List.
I was born in Winterswijk, a town in the Achterhoek region, province of Gelderland in the eastern part of the Netherlands. East, North and South of Winterswijk is the German border. Winterswijk is attached to the Netherlands only to the west, and a beautiful Low Saxon dialect is spoken there.
When I was seven years old I moved with my family to Zuidwolde, a village in the Northern province of Drenthe. There, too, a Low Saxon dialect is spoken, but it differs from that of Winterswijk. In Drenthe I passed the rest of my youth, until I went to study in Eindhoven, a large city in Noord-Brabant. The Brabant dialect is a Low Franconian one and it is spoken in the Southern Netherlands and a large part of Belgium Dutch speakers.
My paternal grandparents spoke Winterswijk Low Saxon to each other but did not do so to their children and grandchildren. By the way, my mother is from Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen (Zeeland Flanders), the southernmost part of Zeeland, and she always used to speak the local West Flemish dialect with her mother, brother and sister. That is how I got to know a lot of different Dutch dialects, although I was brought up with Standard Dutch myself.
When I came to Zuidwolde I found out that almost all children at school spoke Drenthe Low Saxon and I copied that. Dialect became my second language that way, and so I can say: Dutch is my mother tongue, Low Saxon is my ‘mother dialect’ and Zeeland Flemish my mother’s tongue.
From the time I went to high school in Hoogeveen I stopped using Low Saxon, and that was certainly the case after I moved to Brabant.
Six and a half years ago my eldest son Imme was born. When he was two years old we (or I) decided to move back from big and busy Eindhoven to my town of birth Winterswijk that I had left 25 years earlier with my parents and my two sisters. I had made a kind of romantic idealized picture in my head of that town, its natural surroundings, its culture, the people, the dialects, my relatives and everything over there. I wanted to live and raise my children there. My wife Barbara, born and raised in Eindhoven, was sweet enough to agree to this and to follow me.
We lived in Winterswijk for about one and a half years. It was such a remote area! It’s an hour or so by car or by train to the nearest cities. It even took a lot longer to our friends and family in Eindhoven, Drenthe and other parts of Holland, and it also turned out to be a normal town like any other, less ideal than I had guessed. It took Barbara more than three hours a day to come and go to her job in Arnhem. We decided to move to a more central place and bought a house in Duiven, about eight miles east of the Gelderland capital Arnhem.
We still live there and our second son Arvid was born here. In this region, De Liemers, originally the Low Franconian “Cleves Tongue” is spoken, but in Duiven one will hear predominantly Standard Dutch.
I do have very good memories of Winterswijk, the beautiful surroundings and nature, and we still go there frequently, usually to visit my grandmother—who translated The Wren into the local Low Saxon dialect.
From about my tenth birthday I became very much interested in languages, dialects and cultures. Nevertheless I didn’t study linguistics or so, which I regret a bit now.
I did study cultural anthropology at Utrecht for one year, but I quit that when I got a regular job.
I always maintained memberships at different libraries and read an awful lot of books about all kind of languages and dialect, just for a hobby so to speak.
What I always did too is constructing and inventing my own languages. The one most known of them is Middelsprake, the Intergermanic common language, based on the most important living Germanic languages of Western Europe and Scandinavia.
Other examples are Alborgian, a Maghrebi Arabic dialect spoken by Christians on an island South of Portugal; Muntyiki, Portuguese based creole of a Caribbean Dutch colony called Monchique; Guervalese, between Asturo-Leonese and Galician, but outside of Spain; Hamelandsch, a standardized form of the dialects of the old Chamavia, i.e. Achterhoek, Twente and Southern Salland in the Netherlands, and Westmuensterland and Bentheim in Germany; Carthangyz, Turkic language with Slavonic influences; Varadinian, a Slavonic language enclave between Hungary and Romania, massively influenced by Hungarian; Kemperwaals, Romance language in the Brabant and Limburg Kempen area at the border of Holland and Belgium; Quentinese, isolated Low Franconian language in Northern France; Sireis or South Frisian, the only real Ingvaeonic dialect left in the Western Netherlands; Scandofrisian, an old Frisian dialect with strong Danish influences; Scandislavonic, a West Slavonic language (related to Kashubian) under heavy Swedish influence; and a number of others.
I am planning to build my own website later on this year and put the files about my languages on it, it will be called Ingmar’s Linguarium or Linguarium Ingmarium.
For one and a half years I have been writing poems in Low Saxon, in the Drenthe dialect of Zuidwolde where I grew up.
At the website www.drentsetaol.nl you will be able to find about twenty of these, click Schrieverij > schrief het ies op.
At Lowlands-L my poem Liekstèen/littekens (Scars) was translated by several people in Northern Low Saxon, German, English, Yiddish, Muelheim Low Franconian, Afrikaans, Danish and Scots. Below the original South West Drenthe Low Saxon version:
De liekstèen in mien lèven bint
Markerings van’t bestaon
Diep in mien ziel ekarfd
As bij een olde ekkelboom
Een naam ekrast deur jonge haand
Umhoog is mit egruid
Zo holdt die olde wonden mij
Deur jaor en dag hen toe ebracht
Gezelschop töt an’t lest
Mar now ’k die tiekens lèze wee’k:
De karver is allange dood
De boom nog oaverènd
The poems and short stories I have written will be put on my site as well.
Furthermore I’d like to mention that I have a lot of contacts with the renowned Stellingwerven writer and poet Johan Veenstra. We met through the Internet, but we’ve become good friends now. We always use Low Saxon as our means of communication: Johan his Stellingwerven variety and I my closely related South West Drenthe one. I have gotten the honor of having the chance to read and criticize Johan’s latest novel, which he’s still working on, and all comments and remarks between us about that are in dialect too.