petrusplancius (petrusplancius) wrote in linguaphiles,

Dutch idiom

I would be grateful if any Dutch-speaker could help me to interpret an unfamiliar expression in the following sentence from an old maritime narrative. We were trying to sail south over the equator, 'maer de windt en wilde ons niet dienen, leyden alsoo die beste Bough voor ende quamen temet om de noort.'
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  • 5 comments

dorsetgirl

August 20 2014, 13:40:31 UTC 1 month ago

I understand there have been several sets of spelling reforms in Dutch since 1926 and I wonder if it would help if you were to look things up using the newer versions of the spellings? I know google translate has many limitations, but quamen for example isn't even recognised as a word (it looks Latin to me!)

petrusplancius

August 20 2014, 15:11:51 UTC 1 month ago

One soon gets used to the erratic spelling in old Dutch literature! The literal meaning isn't a problem, there's an expression here that I can't find even in 18th century dictionaries that can be useful for that kind of thing. It's probably something entirely obvious in the end.

tinerfe

August 20 2014, 17:10:13 UTC 1 month ago

Quamen = kwamen. Just reading out loud will help with that kind of word. ;)

tinerfe

August 20 2014, 17:08:55 UTC 1 month ago

Actually, it seems you should take that quite literally... see http://gtb.inl.nl/iWDB/search?actie=article&wdb=WNT&id=M009617 meaning II, number 3, "de beste boeg". Normally of course the "boeg" (i.e. bow) is a fixed side of the ship, but apparently "de beste boeg" refers to whichever side of the ship is most suitable to turn to the wind in order to sail in the right direction. Cf. the modern Dutch expression "het over een andere boeg gooien", equivalent to the English "try a different tack".

I'm not quite sure if "quamen om de noort" means that they ended up facing north, or south as they intended, though.

petrusplancius

August 20 2014, 17:39:39 UTC 1 month ago

Marvelous, thank you; I had in fact looked there, but hadn't clicked the + II.3 to get the further information! It all makes sense, the wind was constantly blowing for the south, so they finally gave up and turned in the direction that was best to sail in under those conditions - and thus headed north, though against their will.