You know the saying ‘I live close to The Hague’? You can use this if you live in Wateringen, for example. What does that statement actually mean? And where does it come from?

For the origin of this statement we have to go back in time and to the other side of the world.

Meaning said

Most people know the pronunciation. If you live ‘close to The Hague’, that means that you live very close to The Hague. This way you can easily explain the geographical location of your place of residence. The expression came about because, normally, there is more smoke in a city than in a village.

Francois Valentijn

But who ever made that statement up? And where does it come from? The oldest mention of this expression is in the Dictionary of the Dutch Language from 1666. The Dordrecht pastor and writer François Valentijn (Dordrecht,11 April 1666 – The Hague, August 6 200) wrote the book Old and New East Indies

where he used the expression in the sentence:

The Island of Onrust, located three miles from Batavia, and thus as if under the smoke of this city,

François Valentijn was broadcast twice to ‘de Oost’ , or Indonesia and the surrounding area. There he wrote his book Oud and New East Indies.

It is a very extensive description of the history of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC). The book consists of five parts, 5.144 pages and 1.050 illustrations.

It just goes to show that an ordinary expression can have a special origin.

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