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Official Site: Universal Pictures
Van Helsing is a Dutch doctor with a wide range of interests and accomplishments, partly attested by the string of letters that follows his name: "M.D., D.Ph., D.Litt., etc." The character is best known as a vampire hunter, and the arch-enemy of Count Dracula.
The typically Dutch prefix "van" gives the name a Dutch appearance. The character however uses German words instead of Dutch, such as "mein Gott" and "toll", which translate in English to "my God" and "great" respectively. At the time, German was a lingua franca throughout most of northern and central continental Europe, including the Nordic countries and Transylvania, a fact Stoker uses in the story when Van Helsing's friend Jonathan Harker and the locals of Transylvania talk to each other using German.
As an interesting aside, in Finland there are a few hundred people, mostly Swedish speakers, who have the last name "Helsing". In Finland this surname probably originates from the name of Finland's capital, Helsinki (Helsingfors in Swedish). This would seem to indicate that the doctor's forebears emigrated to the Netherlands from the Nordic countries, just as the Dutch surname, "van Praag", indicates ancestral emigrants from the city of Prague.
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