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De

There are two different kinds of “de” in the following proper names. The French “de”, called a particule, means “of” or “from”. It usually denotes a noble origin and is generally written in lower case; when in front of a word beginning with a vowel, “d'” is used instead. The Dutch “De” is equivalent to the English “the” and starts with an upper case letter when part of a name. Thus, De Vrouw means litterally The Woman, while de Saint-Alban means from the city of Saint-Alban. Both languages have been spoken side by side for centuries in Belgium, and they have influenced each other, so the formal conventions are not always followed in practice.