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Atlas of surnames in the Dutch language area: Introduction
About this project
Just like the dialects, modern Dutch and Flemish surnames show a lot of regional variation. Most family names are geographically spread in a particular region, where the origin of the name is located. Whoever is called Dijkstra is most likely a Frisian or has Frisian ancestors. Typical West Flemish surnames are Vandenbussche, Florizoone etc. In surname geography, the spatial distribution of types of surnames is scientifically investigated.
This online atlas of surnames in the Dutch-speaking area (AFNeT) aims at the digital publication of name maps in which the geographical distribution of types of Flemish and Dutch surnames anno 2007 is documented and commented on. In order to linguistically explore the rich variety in these surnames, the name maps with contrasting types of surnames deal with four types of variation: orthographic variation (spelling), phonological variation (sounds), morphosyntactic variation (forms) and lexical variation (vocabulary).
The observed contrasts reveal striking structural differences, which reflect historical fault lines within the Dutch language area. These have been partially uncovered in my geographic research on surnames, on which I have been publishing steadily since 1991 (see Bibliografie), but there are still many new things to discover!
Institut für Niederlandistik
Universität zu Köln
Material and method
The maps in this surname atlas are based on the exhaustive list of surnames of residents of Belgium resp. of the Netherlands in 2007.
The Belgian material contains the surnames, the place of residence and the number of name bearers per municipality of everyone who was registered in the Belgian population register on 31-12-2007.
The Dutch material contains all surnames (314,000 in total) with the number of name bearers per municipality, which were registered within the Municipal Personal Records Database of the Dutch municipalities around September 5, 2007. I sincerely thank Leendert Brouwer (Central Bureau for Genealogy, The Hague) and Dr. Gerrit Bloothooft (Utrecht University) for making this material available to me my scientific purposes.
Engineer Sebastiaan Marynissen (Whisthub BV) developed mapping software, with which name maps can be drawn with circle symbols of varying size and colour (following the format used in the Deutscher Familiennamenatlas), showing the frequency and distribution of the selected name types in the Dutch language area. Unless indicated otherwise, a representation showing relative frequencies, which allow the pronounced regional differences to become very well visible, was chosen for all maps. The lower limit for the data query was five name bearers per municipality.
The distribution of an individual Belgian or Dutch surname can be looked up on the websites https://familienaam.be (for Belgium) and https://www.cbgfamilienamen.nl/nfb/ (for the Netherlands). For these websites, the same material is used as for this atlas.