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Atlas of surnames in the Dutch language area: Introduction

About this project

Modern Dutch and Flemish surnames are regional: they usually appear concentrated in core areas in certain regions, where the name originated. Someone called Dijkstra is most likely Frisian or has Frisian ancestors. Typical western Flemish names are Vandenbussche, Florizoone and so on. In surname geography, the distribution of surname patterns is studied scientifically.
This online atlas of surnames in the Dutch language region (AFNeT) aims to map and comment on the distribution of types of Dutch and Flemish surnames in the year 2007. The focus lies on linguistically unlocking the rich variety hidden in our surnames.
There are four kinds of variations that appear in maps of contrasting types of surnames: orthographic variation (spelling), phonological variation (sounds), morphosyntactic variation (forms) and lexical variation (vocabulary).
This research brings fundamental contrasts to light which reflect historical fractures in the Dutch language region. These are partially unlocked in my research on surname geography which I have steadily published on since 1991 (see Bibliografie), but there is still a lot to discover!

Ann Marynissen
Institut für Niederlandistik
Universität zu Köln

Searching the atlas

The Index lists the lexemes covered alphabetically. If you click on a lexeme (at the bottom), links to the websites appear, where the variation of that lexeme is mapped and commented on.
If you want to know if a specific surname is covered in one of the maps, you can type that name in the search bar on the upper right hand side.
If you are, for example, looking for an overview of all kinds of spelling variations that were examined, click on Orthografie on the homepage, then click on 'Spelling variation c/k/ck/kk', then choose one of the lexemes where the spelling variation is covered, for example 'c/k in the occupational name 'koopman''.
The sections Fonologie, Morfologie and the Lexicon can be accessed in the same way. The green links direct you to web pages with maps and comments, the red links do not (yet).
The chapter Categorieën familienamen (Surname categories) offers an overview of lexical motif groups and grammatical types and their distribution in the Dutch language area.

Data and method

The maps made in this surname atlas are based on the exhaustive list of surnames of inhabitants of Belgium and the Netherlands respectively, from 2007.
The Belgian data contains the surnames, place of residence and the number of name bearers per municipality of all those listed in the in the Belgian population register by 31-12-2007.
The Dutch data contains all surnames (314,000 in total), showing the number of name bearers per municipality, which were registered with the Municipal Personal Records Database of the Dutch municipalities by 05.09.2007. I wholeheartedly thank Leendert Brouwer (Central Bureau for Genealogy, The Hague) and Dr. Gerrit Bloothooft (Utrecht University) for making this data available for scientific purposes.
Software engineer Sebastiaan Marynissen (Whisthub BV) designed custom-made cartography software for this data which draws mulitvariate name maps with colour-coded pie charts in different sizes, showing the frequency and distribution of the selected name types in the Dutch language area, modelled on the maps in the Deutscher Familiennamenatlas. Unless otherwise specified, maps with relative frequencies (i.e. percentage representation of the number of name bearers in relation to the total population of the municipalities) are opted for, with five name bearers as a lower limit per municipality. When mapping with relative frequencies, the core areas of the contrasting name patterns stand out sharply against each other.

Anyone wanting to look up the distribution of individual surnames can visit the websites (for Belgium) and (for the Netherlands), which use the same data as this atlas.

The pages with map complexes that are published online in this DokuWiki have the following fixed structure:

  • Research question: explanation of the type of variation being discussed
  • Data: enumeration of tokens (i.e. individual surnames and their frequencies) for each mapped type
  • Map(s) (A, B, C…) with geographical distribution of the studied surname types in the Dutch language area
  • Comment: Interpretation of the map
  • Other variation: referrals to web pages with other types of variation for the same lexeme
  • Tag (Bottom right hand side): Overview of all pages in the atlas where the tagged lexeme is covered
introduction.txt · Last modified: 2023/11/08 19:08 by ann

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