Philosophy over coffee

Holland, Hollander, Hollands.

In Interesting, Size: Grande on June 16, 2008 at 8:44 am

Due to the currently ongoing Euro 2008, watching Netherlands play aroused my curiosity as to why they are oftentimes also referred to as Holland. In the case of the UK, it was kind of understandable that they were called Great Britain. But Holland and Netherlands when put together do not make up one whole name as is the case with the UK. Netherlands of Holland or Holland of Netherlands? No, although the latter is a bit more appropriate. Find out why, after the jump.

(This picture is a perfect representation. Well, sort of. You have the flag, the people, and who knows maybe they’re speaking the language too!)

Holland is actually just 2 of the 12 provinces that make up the country (need I say Kingdom?) of Netherlands. Located in central-western part, these two provinces are Northern and Southern Holland. Such use of a part of a territory to refer to its totality is called pars pro toto in Latin. Wikipedia gave the example of Russia to refer to the former Soviet Union or England to refer to the United Kingdom. Perhaps one reason for such interchangeability is the fact that the province of Holland used to be the most powerful in all of Netherlands. Its cities were also important trading cities that out of the six cities that made up the Dutch East Indie Company, five were from Holland. The province also remains dominant as it holds 37% of the national population.

When people refer to Netherlands as Holland, they refer to it as a country. They then refer to the people as Hollanders and to the language, Hollands. But when they say it right, the country is referred to as Nederland, the people as Nederlanders, and the language, Nederlands.

PS The term Netherlands has Germanic origins.

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