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The origin of "van" in Beethoven's name.

The 'van' in Beethoven's surname is similar to the Scottish use of 'Mac' in their surnames, for example MacMillan. Here the 'Mac' means basically 'son/daughter of' and the 'van' in Beethoven's name serves a similar purpose, although here it could be taken to mean simply 'of' rather than 'son of', to indicate the place Beethoven came from. The word 'Beethoven' (actually two words) is Flemish for 'beetroot farms' or 'beet fields' (his ancestors were Belgian beet farmers).

Sometimes Beethoven's name was mistakenly written or spoken as 'von' by others, and Beethoven was in no hurry to correct this mistake, as 'von' indicated a person of noble/royal descent, whereas 'van' betrayed his more humble origins. It is also suggested that Beethoven's name is derived from the Dutch Betuwe, which is part of the Dutch province of Gelderland. Before his grandfather lived in Mechelen, Belgium, some scholars believe the family lived in the Betuwe. Lots of people in the Netherlands and Belgium have van in their name. It means nothing more than coming from. When in the 1800s Lodewijk Napoleon ordered the Dutch to have not only christian names but also a surname a lot of people took as their last name the place they lived. Others were more original like Springinhetveld (Jump in the meadow), Rotteveel (Rotting too much) and so on... no jokes!

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2009-11-24 21:07:34
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Q: What does the 'van' in Ludwig van Beethoven's name mean?
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