Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Wed Jan 16 17:48:54 UTC 2002

Can anybody suggest a source of information on this folklore figure?  Or a
source connecting Kees with cheese?  The modern standard Dutch word for
cheese is kaas, while Kees is a nickname for Cornelius.  Jan-Kees is a
common enough compound first name in Dutch, with no echo of a folkloric
figure of ridicule as far as I can tell, and certainly no connection with
cheese.  So I'm at a loss for an internal Dutch explanation for a
connection between Kees and cheese.  Well, maybe not completely at a loss:
given that both the German and the English cognates have an umlauted vowel,
I suppose a Dutch dialect with umlaut might be the source of a form
kees=cheese, but this is just a guess.  (I should perhaps check my big
Dutch dictionary when I get home to see if it sheds any light.)

Peter Mc.

--On Wednesday, January 16, 2002 9:56 AM -0500 "Dennis R. Preston"
<preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU> wrote:

> Joe; I think you have this backwards.
> One proposed etymology does indeed come from the Dutch Jan Kees (John
> Cheese), the traditional nincompoop in Dutch folklore. The
> explanation is, therefore, that the Dutch saw their surrounding
> English-speaking neighbors as nincompoops and laid this "Jan Kees"
> label on them. The rest is interlingual phonological history.
> What's the latest word on this proposed etymology? I guess I reckoned
> it to be a fairly well-established one (so much so that Roger Shuy
> and I reported it as gospel in the old language variation films we
> made for USIA), but the word history hunt is doubtless filled with
> new findings I haven't followed.
> dInIs
>> Another food-related ethnic tag might be "Yankee"
>> According to some source I have since lost, the term came from the
>> English settlers of New York, who called the cheese-loving Dutchmen who
>> populated the area "Jan-Cheeses."  Does this explanation ring a bell for
>> anyone? --Joe F.
> --

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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