Yankee Dutch

When people emigrate, the most valuable possessions they take along are their culture and their language. Much of that erodes over time and usually the third and fourth generations know little about their foreign cultural baggage. However, sometimes something special happens and culture and language do not fade but are still passed on from one generation to the next albeit with alterations and influences of the surrounding new culture.

Nice examples of this are Jersey Dutch from Bergen and Passaic counties, New Jersey and Yankee Dutch from Michigan. Especially in Michigan some communities have fourth generation Dutch that still speak (some) Dutch. It is assumed that these communities were able to stick to their Dutch language because of their faith. These reformed Dutch still use a Dutch translation of the Bible and continue to hold their services (partially) in Dutch. Although this will have played a role, it is more likely that the original Dutch settlers of Michigan just kept pretty much to themselves, which made the adoption of English a much slower process.

Larry van Otterloo was so kind as to share some of the Yankee Dutch they speak at home with me. Between brackets, I have added the spelling of the original, present day Dutch words they were derived from:

benout (benauwd) = upset
fees (vies) = disgusting
klein betje (klein beetje) = a little bit
schlukje (slokje) = little sip
dominie (dominee) = pastor
vet and stroop (vet en stroop) = grease and syrup
bontjes (boontjes) = green beans
dote (dood) = dead
coffee kletz (koffieklets) = talk over coffee
hoe je beck jongen (hou je bek, jongen) = shut up
verekte ding (verrekt ding) = stupid thing
smakelik eten (smakelijk eten) = have a nice meal
rokies (rookies) = cigarette
katje (katje) = cat
hoont (hond) = dog
pooperij (poeperij) =diarrhea
mooie verr (mooi weer) = good weather
kippa (kip) = chicken
leefa fentje (lief ventje) = cute baby
frieskop (frieskop) = stubborn person (Frisian head)

Dr. J. Dyneley Prince made a short study of Jersey Dutch in 1910. He stated that it was derived from Southern Dutch or Flemish and was mixed with English and some Mindi Indian words. He saw little future for the language and thought it would soon die out. He may have been right about Jersey Dutch; however, the little list above proves that a hundred years later Yankee Dutch is still very much alive in Michigan. I do hope it stays that way because it is a very natural and beautiful way to keep some of the Dutch culture alive overseas!

Dig further:
A nice little article on Dutch in the United States:
http://www.bartleby.com/185/a12.html

The talking map of the Meertens Institute, to get an idea what Dutch sounds like:
http://www.meertens.knaw.nl/projecten/sprekende_kaart/svg/

More details on Jersey Dutch:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_Dutch

When people emigrate, the most valuable possessions they take along are their culture and their language. Much of that erodes over time and usually the third and fourth generations know little about their foreign cultural baggage.

However, sometimes something special happens and culture and language do not fade but are still passed on from one generation to the next albeit with alterations and influences of the surrounding new culture.

Nice examples of this are Jersey Dutch from Bergen and Passaic counties, New Jersey and Yankee Dutch from Michigan. Especially in Michigan some communities have fourth generation Dutch that still speak (some) Dutch. It is assumed that these communities were able to stick to their Dutch language because of their faith. These reformed Dutch still use a Dutch translation of the Bible and continue to hold their services (partially) in Dutch. Although this will have played a role, it is more likely that the original Dutch settlers of Michigan just kept pretty much to themselves, which made the adoption of English a much slower process.

Larry van Otterloo was so kind as to share some of the Yankee Dutch they speak at home with me. Between brackets, I have added the spelling of the original, present day Dutch words they were derived from:

benout (benauwd) = upset

fees (vies) = disgusting

klein betje (klein beetje) = a little bit

schlukje (slokje) = little sip

dominie (dominee) = pastor

vet and stroop (vet en stroop) = grease and syrup

bontjes (boontjes) = green beans

dote (dood) = dead

coffee kletz (koffieklets) = talk over coffee

hoe je beck jongen (hou je bek, jongen) = shut up

verekte ding (verrekt ding) = stupid thing

smakelik eten (smakelijk eten) = have a nice meal

rokies (rookies) = cigarette

katje (katje) = cat

hoont (hond) = dog

pooperij (poeperij) =diarrhea

mooie verr (mooi weer) = good weather

kippa (kip) = chicken

leefa fentje (lief ventje) = cute baby

frieskop (frieskop) = stubborn person (Frisian head)

Dr. J. Dyneley Prince made a short study of Jersey Dutch in 1910. He stated that it was derived from Southern Dutch or Flemish and was mixed with English and some Mindi Indian words. He saw little future for the language and thought it would soon die out. He may have been right about Jersey Dutch; however, the little list above proves that a hundred years later Yankee Dutch is still very much alive in Michigan. I do hope it stays that way because it is a very natural and beautiful way to keep some of the Dutch culture alive overseas!

Dig further:

A nice little article on Dutch in the United States:

http://www.bartleby.com/185/a12.html

The talking map of the Meertens Institute, to get an idea what Dutch sounds like:

http://www.meertens.knaw.nl/projecten/sprekende_kaart/svg/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_Dutch