JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: origin of family name AMSTERDAM #general

Roger Lustig <julierog@...>

No quarrels with what you say, but a few additional points:

--One need not have lived somewhere to have a name >from that place. A
visit would have been sufficient--or perhaps even a business trading
with that place. A cheese merchant might well have taken such a surname
in hopes of improving business!

--There's a place in the former East Prussia that was called Preussisch
Holland, nowadays Paslek in Poland. Some HOLLAENDERs probably come >from
there; why not an AMSTERDAM(ER) or two? (There's also a SCHOTTLAND up
around there somewhere. Schmuyle is my darling, my darling...)

--The presence of Yiddish words in slang does not necessarily mean that
East-European Ashkenazic Jews lived where the slang is spoken. The old
surviving slang expressions are often >from underground/criminal argot
('Rotwelsch' in German); and people who used it--not unlike Jews in the
old days--were far more mobile than most other people. (Not that Jews
were lowlifes; but many of them did a lot of traveling for business,
etc.--and they weren't serfs.) Accordingly the language got around too.
Yiddish per se wasn't spoken in most of Germany
either--"Jewish-German" of one flavor or another was used--and words
from there, and those imported by travelers >from the East, came into use
in far more places than had Jewish communities large enough to affect
the language of their neighbors. In short: words have longer legs than
people do.


Roger Lustig
Princeton, NJ

Stan Goodman wrote:
On Wed, 9 Aug 2006 14:18:06 UTC, (Michele
Seligmann) asked:

I am looking for the origin of family name AMSTERDAM - My grandfather
was Abram ( Adolf ) - at time of war living in Krakow. I know the
my family goes back at least up to my great grand father - Is there a
Sephardic connection ??
The obvious answer, which I'm sure you have considered and discarded for
good reasons, is that he, or earlier forebears, lived in Amsterdam before
migrating to Poland. You haven't said why this is an inadequate explanation.

There were many sfaradim in Holland after the 15th century, seeking a haven
from the Spanish Inquisition, and your family may have a heritage >from them.
But it isn't true that all Dutch Jews were Sfaradim at any time in history
-- witness the considerable representation of Yiddish in Dutch slang.

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