petrusplancius (petrusplancius) wrote in linguaphiles,

Dutch query

I need an immediately intelligible English equivalent for 'het Goereetsche gat' for a translation of an old Dutch narrative, would 'the Goeree Channel' be most appropriate?
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

Google translate tells me "gat" is either hole or gap, so I think it depends a lot on what het Goereetsche gat actually is.

Is it a place? A thing? An idea?
It's a 'gap' or channel used by ships sailing out to sea.


August 19 2014, 19:39:21 UTC 3 years ago Edited:  August 19 2014, 19:40:13 UTC

Would strait work? Although, when I Googled "Goeree Strait", I found several references to Willem van de Velde's (the son, not the father) painting called The Dutch Fleet in the Goeree Straits (Guinea), so that might refer to straits off the Dutch Gold Coast (of Africa) . If so, I think channel might be your best bet.

Further searching led me to a Google books page from Cram's Quick Reference Atlas and Gazetteer of the World, published in 1906. It showed a listing for "Goereeshe Gat (sound)". So, "sound" might be a possibility.

Edited to change an "and" to an "I".
It's by this Goeree:, the Dutch named other places overseas after the Dutch Goeree, in W. Africa and Guinea. Strait is a possibility, but I'n not sure that it's quite suitable in the geographical context.
If you're talking about sailing out to sea from within a harbour, then channel works well, although muckefuck makes a good point about a channel having something of the man-made about it, for example dredging to keep the depth.

If it's a piece of (narrow) sea between two islands or larger land masses, then I agree with teaoli that strait might be better.

Or perhaps it's a harbour entrance? I haven't been able to find a body of water called Goeree on google maps so I can't say what I would normally call it.

But if it's "instantly understandable" you want, at the possible expense of nuance, then channel should be fine.
"Channel" for me has an element of artificiality, implying a navigation channel, i.e. a lane of safe passage which is narrower than the body of water it is in (which may be a strait or sound or a larger body such as a lagoon or even a sea) and marked in some way and possibly dredged to accommodate larger vessels.

IME, "channel" is rare as an element in geographical names. I can't think of any examples offhand besides the English Channel, actually.


August 19 2014, 20:23:24 UTC 3 years ago Edited:  August 19 2014, 20:26:16 UTC

I think it's only been called the English Channel for a couple of hundred years, and it's annoying me that I can't think atm what it used to be called.

ETA A 1650 map of Dorset calls it "The British Sea".
I take your point, and to have channel with a capital c would certainly be wrong. I'm not sure what would be a better alternative though, strait doesn't sound quite right to me, passage might be a possibility. Old French writings refer to this gat as a pertuis.
Actually, you may not need to translate it at all. See (landform)
That's very interesting - thanks for the link! But if the OP wants "immediately intelligible" I don't think "gat" cuts it for most English speakers. Having seen what's involved I would choose "channel", with whatever qualifying detail the work requires to explain what sort of channel, or what sort of dangers. Or indeed what sort of shipping.
Thank you, that's interesting; but I think that would require a footnote for the average English-speaker; I haven't ever come across the word in written English. The word evidently does have a very precise meaning in the Dutch context, in that strange world of shifting mudflats and passages.
Also "gat" does have another English-language meaning - it used to be slang for "gun" from the twenties through to the forties or so. Believed to derive from "Gatling gun," though as far as I know never applied to the original weapon. Mostly American but also used in the UK, and the brand name for a type of air gun in the UK.