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Oost-Brabants * Jos and Cor Swanenberg (2003 sdu * isbn 9012090105)

Together with a book of Cor Swanenberg alone called Oost-Brabantse Streekwoorden which only contains sayings (which is amusing nonetheless), I also got this more ‘scholarly’ booklet. It came in a series called Taal in stad en streek (‘language in city and region’), a series about dialects, in his case “Oost-Brabant”. Noord-Brabant (“Northern-Brabant”) is a province in the southern Netherlands (the rest of Brabant lays in Belgium since 1813) and the writers have chosen an area with a more or less similar dialect. Still being a relatively large area (dialects differ from village to village) and with a gravity point around the writers’ origin, there is not a whole lot of information about my own dialect, but there are still references. The writer has made a nice little book with information about the dialects in the area, geographical information, differences and similarities between the different dialects/areas, a proposed way of writing and then he continues like a language-learning book with nouns, articles, conjugations, sentences, etc. all garnished with plenty examples from different variants of Eastern-Brabantian with a small glossary towards the end. The writer has a liking for words and expressions that have fallen in disuse, but he also admits that languages change during the course of years, especially in times where people can easily travel to places with other dialects and languages, schools that teach in one form of Dutch, books, internet, television, etc. Personally I found it nice to see how big differences can be sometimes or how similar to my own dialect and to learn a little about other area. The linguistic information is also interesting, instead of only having to ‘go on feeling’.
The booklet is out of print, the website that came with the series taken down and probably none of you readers will be interested in the subject, but in case you are, second hand this booklet is quite well available and some places seem to have some books in stock, since I bought my copy new.

Liederen En Dansen Uit De Kempen * Harrie Franken (1978 / 2003 stichting brabants heem)

I saw this book in the local bookshop. As the title says, it contains “songs and dances from the Kempen”. The Kempen is the area in the Netherlands (and Belgium) that I am from. It is a massive 600+ book and comes with a cd. It is quite expensive and I have been in doubt whether or not to buy it. Today I ran into a second hand copy. This turns out to be the second printing of 1978 (first printing is from the same year) and the book has been reprinted with cd in 2003. I am curious about the cd, so maybe I will get the new printing after all. Not that I am much of a singer or a dancer, but I do like the fact that old songs and dances are compiled and saved for the future. I have learned some of them in my youth, others are quite universal. The songs are simple folksongs, childrens songs, but also devotional songs and interestingly enough, there are a lot of so-called “murder songs” in the book. The best part is, is that the book contains both the texts and the music, so people interested in singing traditional songs will have plenty if they buy this book (of course they are in Dutch or sometimes in the local dialect). This book perfectly fits into my motto, investigate your local history and learn to understand and appreciate it. <25/11/06><4>
I got the fourth printing from the library and this one contains the cd. Indeed there are recordings by Franken from the 1980’ies, one take, including mistakes, talking and laughter. Some songs are funny, other are a bit boring. Three songs have been replayed by Franken’s music group “Ut Muziek”. <17/12/06>

Zeik Op Unne Riek (2001) + Brabants Mooiste Woord * Wim Daniëls (isbn 9077721541 * 2005) + Rare Jongens, Die Hollanders * René van Royen & Synnyva van der Vegt (isbn 9035127528 * 2005)

Recently it seems that it is no longer a shame to be proud about your country or region. These three little books are results of this new awareness. All three books are small publications, not too easy to get, but nice to get or receive/give as a present.
“Zeik Op Unne Riek” (I am not going to translate that!) and “Brabants Mooiste Woord” (“Brabants most beautiful word”) are about the slang of the province of Noord-Brabant in the south of the Netherlands, my province! “Brabants Mooiste Woord” is the result of a contest about what is the most beautiful Brabants word, which was ‘won’ by “houdoe”, our word for “goodbye”. The other contributions can be found in this little book, they are explained, an example sentence is given and here and there you get some etymological information. Interesting, but since Brabant does not have just one dialect, a large part of the book doesn’t ring any bells for me, they are from other regions.
“Zeik Op Unne Riek” is more in my street. The booklet is very small and a bit of a joke. It shows how people from Brabant can say the same in a few words where standard Dutch needs a whole sentence. The idea is that when the Brabant-slang would become the world’s business language, much time could be saved. The Dutch is of course needlesly long and the Brabants as short as possible, then a percentage of the saved letters is given. The result is sometimes very amusing. Just one example: Dutch: “Tot mijn genoegen kan ik u laten weten dat er bij de uitvoering van ons project sprake is van een snel voortgaande progressie” (‘to my delight, i can inform you that with the execution of our project, we can speak of a rapidly proceeding progression’). Brabants: “We zen ‘n hil end op scheut.” (‘we are well on the way’). 69,6%. Often the sentences are very recognisable. The booklet is a publication by the Noord Brabants Museum in Den Bosch and seems to have been in print since 2001.
“Rare Jongens Die Hollanders” (“strange fellows, those Hollanders”) is a booklet about the “national character of the Dutchmen during the Roman time”. The cover of the book and the title are obvious references to the Asterix and Obelix comics. The booklet wants to explain what the Dutch character was 2000 years ago. Because there isn’t too much information, the writers mostly used Caesar’s and Tacitus’ references to the German tribes of this region in general. Not the most common histories, which makes the booklet amusing and entertaining and even a little eductional.
Both “Brabants Mooiste Woord” and “Rare Jongens” are publication by the *) bookshops.