Nommensen. Who?

[Where did Ingwer Ludwig Nommensen originate from? We were told from the beginning that he was a German, and he was sent to the land of the Batak by Rheinische Missiongesselschaft of Barmen. But later on, we read that there were actually people who argued that he was a Dane. Well, let’s see…]
Older Ingwer*
*Public domain
It has been the custom of the majority of Danish and Norwegian people to have patronymic or family name ending with “-sen” for male descendants. To give several examples: Andersen, Jensen, Nielsen, Hansen, Christensen, Larsen, Pedersen, Petersen, Thomsen, Poulsen, Johansen, Poulsen, Madsen, etc.
For hundreds of years the Danes used the patronymic style of naming: meaning people’s names include the fact that they were the son or daughter of their father. The noble and upper class families, and the descendants of immigrants, had long had surnames associated with them (i.e. names that did not end in “-sen”, like: Lund, Kofoed, Hvass, Bohn, etc.). These names were often used in additon to a person’s patronym, i.e. Hans (=given name) Jensen (=patronym) Kofoed (=surname).
The ordinary, lower class Danes began to take fixed (inherited) surnames (using the “-sen” only, and ceasing to use “-datter”), starting in the larger cities, around 1800; this gradually spread to rural areas. It became the law beginning in 1828, followed by an updated ruling in 1856, and a final ruling on the matter was handed down in 1904; this means that by decree of law patronyms became surnames.
Apparently at the early Viking age circa 7-8th century the Saxons settled in western Holstein, the Danes in northern and central Schleswig. In 9-10th century the Frisians populated western Schleswig. Later on, the Danes expanded their realms into the whole Schleswig and the rest of northern Jutland peninsula. The Saxons, on the other hand, would spread to the east and dominated all the present’s day Holstein, then migrating north and south. See a map of Jutland peninsula below.
 The Jutland Peninsula.*
Red: Northern Schleswig region (Danish today). Brown: Southern Schleswig region. Yellow: Holstein region. As of 1920 Southern Schleswig has been merged with Holstein to form the Schleswig-Holstein province of German federal states. *Wikipedia, Public domain.
[Not included in the map: across the north of Jutland peninsula, are Norway and Sweden]
The Frisians, it seemed, were not as forceful and dominating a character as the Danes or the Saxons. They preferred to stay peacefully along Schleswig’s western coast and islands. Today as it was then, these traditional region of Frisians is known as Nordfriesland. It is one of the district in Schleswig-Holstein province. For the historical settlement of the Frisians in the western sea shores or low lands of Jutland and Europe, see the map below. According to ancient sources, the Frisians lived along the expanse of the North Sea coast. The 7th and the 8th century Frankish chronologies mentioned that the kingdom of Frisia comprised of the areas which are known today as the coastal provinces of the Netherland and the German North Sea coast. During that time the Frisian language was spoken along the entire southern North Sea coast. These traditional areas of theirs was conquered by their neighbors since the 15th century. West Friesland and Friesland became a part Netherland , East Frisia was a part of Prussia. North Frisia became a part of the Danish duchy of Schleswig, well until 1864.
Map 4: Area of historical Frisian settlement.*
*Wikipedia, Public domain.
From the time the Danes came to Schleswig from the eastern part of present day’s Denmark, and the Saxons colonised Schleswig migrating from Holstein, Schleswig had been in turns, under the rivalry powers of Danes from the north and Saxons from the south. This ended in 1920, when a plebiscite resulted in the partition of Schleswig. North Schleswig since then is formally attached to the kingdom of Denmark, while Southern Schleswig belongs to Germany, which later merged with Holstein to become Schleswig-Holstein province.
Over centuries Germanic languages in Holstein and other Germanic regions evolved to form a Low German dialect. Linguistically Low German-speaking immigrants arrived, and previously Danish-speaking families often came to find it convenient to change language. During the centuries after the middle ages, Low German came to dominate in southern Schleswig, which had originally been predominantly Danish-speaking. Around 1800, areas in the middle of Schleswig were more or less mixed between German and Danish languages. With its vigorous tradings and other means of economic activities, the Saxons and other German ethnics from the south expanded their geographic domain.
[This fact concerning language is very interesting because Ingwer, as part of the preparation prior to his entering the seminary, were required to learn German language beside Latin…]
Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was spoken on the north-west coast of Germany and Denmark down until the 12th century. It was later evolved into Middle Low German, which was widely used around the North Sea and Baltic Sea, well into the 16th century. It evolved yet again into modern Low German (Niederdeutsch), which is still spoken to this day in north-west Germany and known as a regional language and dialect. High German that will eventually become standard German (often called Hochdeutsch in German), on the other hand, based largely on varieties used in central and upper regions of Germany. It took the authority until the middle of the 18th century to create a standard that was widely accepted.
Until about 1800, standard German was almost only a written language. People in urban northern Germany, who spoke dialects very different from standard German, learned it almost like a foreign language and tried to pronounce it as close to the spelling as possible. The 18th and 19th centuries were marked by mass education, the language of the schools being standard German.
[Nommensen was born, raised and went to school mid-19 century in Nordstrand. As with most other families in Nordstrand, his was poor. But he did quite well in his studies and was good enough that he was qualified to become a teacher in his late teens or early twenties. The point is: Nommensen did go to school, yet before he entered the seminary he was required to learn German, i.e. High German. Then, can we infer that his school got to be other than German school? Was it Danish school? Frisian school, maybe?…]
After a long disputes between Germany and Denmark, since 1920 North Frisia region eventually became a part of Germany. Today it is contained within the Nordfriesland district of Schleswig-Holstein province, which includes Nordstrand.
Nordstrand (highlighted in red).*
One of the small island off the west coast of Nordfriesland district, within today’s Schleswig-Holstein province of Germany (insert). *Wikipedia, Public domain.
Nordstrand, among several other municipalities within the district of Nordfriesland (Northern Friesland) of Schleswig-Holstein province.* *Wikipedia, Public domain.
[From personal communication with Thomas Nommensen:
Thomas Nommensen: “… I thought you already knew that Nommen is a Frisian first name and the postfix “sen” means “son of”. Danish use this the same way,…”]
[“Friesen gibt es allerdings überall auf der Welt…. sowie Ingwer Ludwig Nommensen aus Nordstrand, der als Missionar der Batak in Indonesien bekannter war als in seiner Heimat. “
Birth-place Memorial of I. L. Nommensen, the Apostle to the Batak.*
Norderhafen, Nordstrand. *Courtesy of Matthias17 at

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