Family names in the plural

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leke
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Family names in the plural

Post by leke » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:30 pm

Hi, Are there any special rules for family names in the plural, that differ from the standard noun plurals?
For example:
Wij zijn de Smiths. :: (Foreign words that also take the plural -s in their original language).
Wij zijn de Witen. :: We are the Wits. (Is this right for a Dutch name?).

Thanks :)

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Quetzal
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Re: Family names in the plural

Post by Quetzal » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:02 pm

I'm inclined to say the default is -s, except where that wouldn't work due to the name ending on an S-sound already (which is the case for a large number of last names), then -en.

It's quite rare to put family names in the plural, though, rarer than in English, I think. Possibly because women don't tend to take their husband's name anyway, so when you're putting a family name in the plural, it's generally to describe some characteristic that is common between all the members of a family (the born members of the family, as the ones married into it have kept their own names), rather than merely talking about some couple who came to visit you or whatever.

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Re: Family names in the plural

Post by BrutallyFrank » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:08 pm

I'd rather say: "Dit is de familie Janssen" and leave that plural out.
"Moenie worrie nie, alles sal reg kom" (maar hy het nie gesê wanneer nie!)

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Re: Family names in the plural

Post by Joke » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:00 am

Sometimes a plural diminutive is used to indicate the whole family: de Smitjes, de De Witjes. But that doesn't work for all names.
I agree with Quetzal and BrutallyFrank that it is far more common to simply say 'de familie X' or just use the first names if you're talking about a couple.

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Re: Family names in the plural

Post by jconibeer » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:23 pm

Hi there

Sorry in advance if this is the wrong place to post - I'm an English linguist and we don't really 'get' grammar.

I would really appreciate somebody telling me how to say the following in the Dutch equivalent: " Dear the Linssen family..."

Then I need an appropriate ending, it's a thank you card, so in English i might say "affectionately...Jackie," or something to that effect...

Any suggestions welcome. Dankjewel!

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Re: Family names in the plural

Post by BrutallyFrank » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:01 am

jconibeer wrote:Hi there

Sorry in advance if this is the wrong place to post - I'm an English linguist and we don't really 'get' grammar.

I would really appreciate somebody telling me how to say the following in the Dutch equivalent: " Dear the Linssen family..."

Then I need an appropriate ending, it's a thank you card, so in English i might say "affectionately...Jackie," or something to that effect...

Any suggestions welcome. Dankjewel!
That's a bit tricky! A formal way would be: "Beste familie Linssen" or "Geachte familie Linssen". In that case the ending could be: "Met vriendelijke groet, Jackie"

If it's less formal, you could start with: "Lieve familie Linssen" or "Hallo familie Linssen". The ending could be: "Groeten, Jackie" or "Groetjes, Jackie".

I just checked some website and they put "Beste" with the less formal, but I'd think it's quite formal too.
"Moenie worrie nie, alles sal reg kom" (maar hy het nie gesê wanneer nie!)

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