Jersey Dutch

Jersey Dutch (Duits)[2] was a Dutch dialect formerly spoken in and around the counties of Bergen and Passaic in New Jersey from the late 17th century until the early 20th century. It may have been a partial creole language[3] based on Zeelandic and West Flemish Dutch dialects with English and possibly some elements of Lenape.

Jersey Dutch
RegionNew Jersey, United States
EthnicityKnickerbocker Dutch
ExtinctEarly 20th century[1]
Latin (Dutch alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Jersey Dutch was spoken by the Knickerbocker Dutch, the descendants of New Netherlanders who settled in Bergen, New Netherland in 1630, and by their black slaves and free people of color also residing in that region, as well as the American Indian people known as the Ramapough Lenape Nation.


Dutch in the English language originally referred to all Germanic language speakers. The English settlers referred to the Dutch language spoken by the Knickerbocker Dutch of New York and New Jersey as low Dutch (Dutch: niederduits), and the Dutch language spoken by the Pennsylvania Dutch in Pennsylvania as high Dutch (German: hochdeutsch).[2] Below is a quote from the Boston Gazette on October 8, 1795, mentioning a speaker of high and low Dutch:

"A white girl... who talks good English, high and low Dutch."[2]

Negro DutchEdit

A variety of this dialect, referred to by Jersey Dutch speakers as negerduits[2] ("Negro Dutch", not to be confused with the Dutch creole Negerhollands) was spoken only by the black population. It was distinguished from Jersey Dutch by pronunciation and grammar, reflecting African linguistic retentions: an overall decline in inflection, apparently including a loss of past tense verb forms because of isolation from other Dutch speakers and contact with English-speaking settlers.[3]


An example of Jersey Dutch:[4]

De v'lôrene zőn.
En kääd’l had twî jongers; de êne blêv täus;
de andere xöng vôrt f’n häus f’r en stât.
Hāi wāz nît tevrêde täus en dârkîs tû râkni ārm.
Hāi doǵti ôm dāt täus en z’n vâders pläk.
Tû zāide: äk zāl na häus xâne. Māin vâder hät plänti.


De verloren zoon.
Een man had twee jongens; de êne bleef t'huis;
de andere ging voort van huis voor een vermogen.
Hij was niet tevreden t'huis en daardoor toen raakte arm.
Hij dacht aan dat t'huis en zijn vaders plaats.
Toen zei hij: ik zal naar huis gaan. Mijn vader heeft overvloed.


The prodigal son.
A man had two sons; the one stayed at home;
the other went abroad from home to make his fortune.
He was not content at home and therefore then he became poor.
He thought about it at home and his father’s place.
Then said: I shall go home. My father has plenty.

In standard modern DutchEdit

Een man (kerel) had twee jongens; de ene bleef thuis;
de andere ging voort van huis voor een vermogen.
Hij was niet tevreden thuis en daardoor raakte hij arm.
Hij dacht aan thuis en zijn vaders plek.
Toen zei hij: ik zal naar huis gaan. Mijn vader heeft genoeg.

In EnglishEdit

A man had two boys. One stayed at home;
the other left home to make his fortune.
He was not content at home and therefore he became poor.
He thought about home and his father's place.
Then he said: I shall go home. My father has plenty.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Jersey Dutch, still spoken near New York a century ago | DUTCH the magazine". Archived from the original on 2016-12-23. Retrieved 2016-12-22.
  2. ^ a b c d Nicoline van der Sijs (2009). Yankees, cookies en Dollars: De invloed van het Nederlands op de Noord-Amerikaanse Talen. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 25, 41.
  3. ^ a b Holm, John A. (1989). Pidgins and Creoles. Cambridge University Press. pp. 335–8. ISBN 0-521-35940-6.
  4. ^ A Text in Jersey Dutch by J. Dyneley Prince, Ph. D., in: Tijdschrift voor nederlandsche taal- en letterkunde, uitgegeven vanwege de maatschappij der nederlandsche letterkunde te Leiden. Twee en dertigste deel. Nieuwe reeks, vier en twintigste deel. Leiden, 1913, p. 306–312 (HathiTrust-US). Cf.: J. Dyneley Prince, Ph.D., The Jersey Dutch Dialect, in: Dialect Notes. Publication of the American Dialect Society. Volume III (Parts I-VIII, 1905 to 1912). p. 459–484 (HathiTrust-US)


  • (in Dutch) Handboek der Nederlandsche taal: Deel I. De sociologische structuur der Nederlandsche taal I., Jac. van Ginneken and L.C.G. Malmberg, 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. 1928. Chapter 10: Het Amerikaansch.
  • (in Dutch) Ik was te bissie...Nederlanders en hun taal in de Verenigde Staten: 2.3 Het taalgebruik van de 17e-eeuwse immigranten en hun nakomelingen, Jo Daan, De Walburg Pers. 2007. [1] (Click on link and then scroll down.)
  • Mencken, H.L. The American Language. 1921. Appendix II - Non-English Dialects in America: Dutch

Further readingEdit

  • Bachman, Van Cleaf. 1982. ‘The story of the Low Dutch language’. De Halve Maen 56: 3, 1–3, 21; 57: 1, 10–13.
  • Bachman, Van Cleaf. 1983. ‘What is Low Dutch?’ De Halve Maen 57: 3, 14–17, 23–24.
  • Buccini, Anthony F. 1995. ‘The Dialectical Origins of New Netherland Dutch’. Dutch Linguistics in a Changing Europe. The Berkeley Conference on Dutch Linguistics 1993. Ed. by Thomas Shannon & Johan P. Snapper. Lanham etc., 211–263. (Publications of the American Association for Netherlandic Studies, 8).
  • Dewulf, Jeroen. 2015. 'A Strong Barbaric Accent: America’s Dutch-Speaking Black Community from Seventeenth-Century New Netherland to Nineteenth-Century New York and New Jersey'. American Speech, vol. 90, no. 2 (May 2015):131-153.
  • Noordegraaf, Jan. 2008. 'Nederlands in Noord-Amerika. Over de studie van het Laag Nederlands (Low Dutch)'. Trefwoord, tijdschrift voor lexicografie, December 2008, 1-29. (
  • Prince, J. Dyneley. 1910. ‘The Jersey Dutch dialect’. Dialect Notes 3, 459–484.
  • Prince, J. Dyneley. 1913. ‘A text in Jersey Dutch’. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsche Taal en Letterkunde 32, 306–312.
  • Scheltema, Gajus and Westerhuijs, Heleen (eds.),Exploring Historic Dutch New York. Museum of the City of New York/Dover Publications, New York (2011) ISBN 978-0-486-48637-6
  • Shetter, William Z. 1958. ‘A final word on Jersey Dutch’. American Speech 33, 243–251.
  • Storms, James B.H. 1964. A Jersey Dutch vocabulary. Park Ridge, N.J.: Pascack Historical Society