Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Flemish Islander Speaks

Once I finished my translation, it took a day before I could go back to reading Dutch. I was overwhelmed when I looked at it for the first time in a week, but I got a couple of pages done.

I may have an ancestral connection to the Dutch speaking world, but it will remain a conjecture. My grandmother, who was born here, had parents from the Azores. She used to say that we were really Flemish or French, and everyone else shrugged it off. Culturally, everyone was Portuguese, though Azoreans have a tendency to be lighter than peninsulars. I was reminded of what she said about a year ago and looked up the possibility. Sure enough, the Azores were known for a long time as, "The Flemish Islands."

From there, I looked up the old County of Flanders but was soon glassy eyed. The old boundaries were never well defined, and the area is now taken up by Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Also, given the Azores' history of dysfunction and unknown fathers that go with it, ancestry there is a guess at best. There is currently a DNA project trying to sort it out.

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