Okay, Okay, I Stand Corrected…There is Actually and English Word for a Dyke

You know, as much as I know about the English language you would think that I would be able to communicate in the dang languages proficiently.  However, such is not always the case.  Even I have days where I am incredibly glad that I am able to get my point across thanks to being a polyglot.  See kiddos it does pay to know more than one language and you are about to find out why.  You will also find out just how European I am.

I was talking to a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago about Netherlands and interesting places to visit and things to do during travel.  The subject came up about swimming around the Delta Works and the Zuiderzee Works.  By the way, that is sorta illegal, do not do that.  Well, he looks over at me and gives me this serious look before asking me “what is the English word for dyke”.  My response to this was “Umm…dyke”.  My entire life I had grown up with family down in Louisiana and I had no idea that there is actually an English word for a Dyke.  That word is Levee.  Yep,  a levee and a dyke are actually the same thing.  In my defense, levee does come from a French word and French is commonly spoken in Louisiana as a second language.  The word in French is levée and it means “to raise”.  Oddly enough, the word levee, despite being French, originated in the United States!  I thought that was a bit odd and amusing, the English word originated in the country I was born in and I had no idea.  

Where does the word dyke come from and why would my friend ask about  the English word for it though?  This word, which also in my defense, was the most common word for a natural or artificial wall to keep water from flooding an area come from a Dutch word! My friend that I mentioned above that asked about the English word for dyke is part Dutch and does know Dutch.  In his defense and mine as well, in Netherlands the word for a levee is called a dyke.  Yes, I found another Dutch speaker in my part of Oklahoma!  Thank the Lord!  The word dyke comes from the Dutch word dijk.  This word not only referes to the bank used to keep the water from flooding the lowlands, but the trench as well.  The word has a closer meaning to the English “to dig” than anything else which makes more sense than levee’s “to raise” in my opinion.  The word dijk is pronounced pretty much the same as dyke.  I have run into the issue of English speakers not knowing how to pronounce the Dutch and German “j” and even less that can pronounce the “ij” sound without horribly mangling the spelling. 

Well, there you have it.  I learned something new and you all did as well.  Dykes and levees are the same thing.  It all depends on where you live or how you were raised.  I still stand by my Dutch though.