Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Isonymy and Isolation by Distance in the Netherlands

by I. Barrai, A. Rodriguez-Larralde, F. Manni and C. Scapoli

in "Human Biology", Volume 74, Number 2, April 2002
pp. 263-283 | 10.1353/hub.2002.0016

The isonymy structure of the Netherlands was studied using the surname distribution of 2.4 million private telephone users selected from a 1996 commercial CD-ROM containing the names of 6.3 million users in the country. The users were distributed in 226 towns selected on a geographic basis to form an approximately regular grid throughout the Netherlands. Names of telephone users in each town were downloaded from the CD-ROM, with private users being selected for inclusion in the analysis. The shortest linear distance between several nearest neighboring towns was less than 2 km (e.g., Kampen and Ijsselmuiden, Krommen and Zaandijk, Hendrikdo and Papendrecht) and the longest distance was 326 km (Delfzijl and Oostburg ZL). The number of different surnames revealed by the analysis was 126,485. Lasker's distance, the negative value of the logarithm of isonymy between localities, was found to be significantly correlated with linear geographic distance, with r = 0.47 ± 0.006. A dendrogram built using the matrix of isonymy distances, using the nearest neighbor-joining method, separates the Dutch towns into several clusters, most of them correlated with traditional Dutch regions. Comparisons with the results of previous analyses of the structure of other European countries are given. From the present analysis, isolation by distance emerges clearly, and it is relevant, although much weaker than in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Germany. The random component of inbreeding estimated from isonymy indicates a considerable degree of homogeneity in the Netherlands.