The Institut de la Langue Régionale Flamand ANVT-ILRF was founded with a view to furthering the regional language of West Flemish native speakers from French Flanders as it is spoken nowadays. Its original goal falls into line with the subheading of Jean-Louis Marteel’s handbook Het vlaams dan men oudders klappen. The ANVT-ILRF therefore furthers the use of West Flemish for road and street names as they are actually known to, and used or understood by, the West Flemish native speakers. It gives its technical support for signs in West Flemish only under that condition.
The constant evolution of place names throughout the centuries makes any other option impossible or unacceptable
Let’s take a simple example : Cassel
Among the names and spellings for Cassel which Pierre Piétresson de St Aubin once identified, there are :
- Cassel, in 1328, 1085, 1110, ..
- Casselles, in 1626
- Caseel, in 1307
- Casel, in 1093
- Casele, also in 1626
- Casseel, in 1288
- Casseles, in 1436
- Casseil, in 1374
- Cassele in 1305, 1266, 1641
- Casselle, in 1415, 1383
- Cassels, in 1265
and even :
- Casselberch, in 1507
- Casselberg, in 1818
Or also :
- Kasel, in 1223 (un chastel qui est appelé…), cf. Desmyttère’s chronicles
- Kasel, again in 1383 (Colart de …) Seals of Flanders
- Kassel (en la valée de …) , in 1304 in the Chronicles of Artois
- Kassel, in 1735 in Sanderus’s works
- Kassel, in 1302 in the Chronicles of Bruges
- Kassel, in 1867 in the Archaelogical Statistics
- Kassel, as in Kassel-Ambacht, in 1735 in Sanderus’s work
There is a host of other such examples, which makes it impossible to select one form rather than another.
This is the reason why the ANVT-ILRF recommends the contemporary form of place names as they are used and pronounced by living West Flemish speakers.
We nonetheless encourage specialists in place names to publish the results of their research into the evolution of place names for each single locality throughout the centuries so that the future generations may have comprehensive scope of historical names.
Once again we advocate a view based on complementarity rather than competition.