Thursday, September 04, 2008

Word of the Day - Zoetelaar

A sutler or victualer is a civilian who sells provisions to an army in the field, in camp or in quarters. The word, like numerous other naval and military terms, came into English from Dutch, where it appears as soetelaar or zoetelaar. It meant originally "one who does dirty work, a drudge, a scullion", and derives from zoetelen (to foul, sully), a word cognate with "suds" (hot soapy water), "seethe" (to boil) and "sodden". (wikipedia)

A traditional occupation for Jews, including during the American Civil War.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dutch have a military tradition? Good heavens! One does not think of the Dutch as other than merchants, sailors, and bankers.

And water-engineers, of course. But that is necessity, not the spice trade.

---Grant Patel

September 05, 2008 11:37 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

From the Nederlands Etymologisch Woordenboek (Jan de Vries, 4th. printing, copyright 1997 by Koninklijke Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands):
Zoetelaar - eerst sedert Killiaan, overgenomen uit het duits als legerterm - sut(t)eler), sudeler, oudnhd sudler - afl van het werkwoord mhd. md. sudeln, dat blijkens mhd. sudel 'kok te velde' eigenlijk 'slordig, knoeierig koke' betekent, en dus van siedn afgeleid is.
[Abbreviated transcription - translation below.]

September 05, 2008 1:32 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Fr. The Netherlandish Etymological Dictionary of Jan de Vries:
Zoetelaar - first noted since Killiaan (Cornelis van Kiel, 1528-1607, corrector at Plantijn's printing press in sixteenth century Antwerpen, first and probably most important etymologue of the Netherlandish languages), taken over from German as an army term - sut(t)eler, sudeler, early modern high German sudler - derived from the workword (verb) middle high German middle German sudeln, apparently from middle high German 'cook on military expedition', actually meaning 'sloppy putzsy cooking', and thus is derived from zieden (seething).

September 05, 2008 1:33 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Grant, in addition to a military tradition (we invented the modern professional army), we also have a long tradtion as anal retentive obsessive compulsives. I think it is genetic - even after several generations as so white I could pass for white, certain atavistic tendencies surface at the drop of a hat.

Not all of us, however, have a copy of the Nederlands Etymologisch Woordenboek by Jan de Vries (fourth printing, copyright 1997 by Koninklijke Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands) at our desk. Or several other etymological works for various languages. That is a blessing for the truly 'Anaal'.

September 05, 2008 1:37 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

'slordig, knoeierig koke'

That should be 'slordig, knoeierig koken.

Sorry for the sloppy Randstadish transcription - I have spent too much time toalking with those 'Ollanders.

September 05, 2008 1:39 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

And typing with sloppy fingers, obviously.

September 05, 2008 1:39 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

And Killiaan is actually spelled Kiliaen. A genius. The gaon ha diqduq mi Antverpn.

September 05, 2008 1:42 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


I am at a loss for (Dutch) words!

September 05, 2008 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spoken like a Dutchman, both. Glad you're not a Dutch uncle - you would never hush.

---Grant Patel

September 09, 2008 11:56 AM  

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