Etymology of the Dutch ship-type name ‘Samoureus’

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    Ulrich G

      Can any member clarify the origin of the Dutch/Low German ship-type name ‘Samoureus’ (sounds like French). What I know are at best guesses, the most amusing being that the vessels departed from the ‘Pont des Amoureuses’ in Amsterdam. I searched the web in vain for half an hour.


        The term goes back to the 17th C. The NMM holds a sketch of a ‘Samoreus’ at anchor by van de Velde. It seems to have referred to a design of inland waterway freighter like an Aak, but its appearance would have changed over the centuries. The vessel type originated on the Sambre River, which flows into the Maas at Namur.


        Ulrich G

          My concern is only about the etymology of the term, which already occurs in a customs document of the town of Schoonhoven in 1497. The shipbuilding tradition of the ‘samoreus’ (I know of about a dozen different spellings) is quite clear, it belongs to the vast aak-family of large Rhine river craft (there are also other uses of the term ‘aak’).
          Personally I do not believe that the type originated on the Sambre (some even say: Sambre + Meuse = ‘samoreus’) on the grounds that the Maas/Meuse shipbuilding tradition is entirely different, and best represented by the ‘mijole’.
          Such differences between geographically separated river basins are only natural, authors like Beaudouin and Westerdahl can tell you a lot about it. Perhaps a clue may be that in 1967 my grandma in Rotterdam, who knew the word from oral tradition, pronounced the word ‘sammereus’ (with a closed first syllable ‘sam-‘), and this is exactly the spelling that the engraver Groenewegen used in his caption in 1789.
          Nooms in ca.1650 had ‘sammoreus’. Both perhaps only heard the words spoken by informants. Possibly the spellings in documents like ‘samoreus’ and ‘samoureus’ are merely learned ‘enhancements’, and ‘sammereus’ would be the starting point for further investigations (ideally assisted by a professional linguist).
          I also believe that the word strongly resisted sound changes over time because of its relative isolation (a special word for a special object in a special environment and only known in one language/dialect). Meanwhile, I found the Dutch online etymological dictionary, but access there is restricted by membership.

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