From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Description of New Netherland (as it is Today) WDL4071.jpg
A page from a 1655 book by the first Director-General Adriaen van der Donck.
Native toNew Netherland
  • Germanic
    • Dutch
      • Amerikaens
Early form
Bergen Dutch
DialectsAmerikaens dialects
Official status
Official language in
New Netherland
South Tussenland
Amerikaens Free State
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byAmerikaense Taelkomisie
Amerikaens (/ˌɑː.meː.riːˈkɑːns/) is a West Germanic language and daughter language of Dutch spoken primarily by Amerikaeners across a vast area of North America. It evolved from dialects of Bergen Dutch spoken in 17th century New Netherland, eventually developing several different varieties as well as a standard register over the following centuries. It serves as a primary and official language in the states of New Netherland, Tussenland, South Tussenland, the Free State, Opdamsland, and Boschland. Amerikaens is also spoken by minority communities in nearby Latino countries such as Mexico and Colombia.

The language developed an independent identity during the course of the 18th century. In the early 20th century, a common literary variety of Amerikaens was formally standardized in New Netherland and Tussenland. As a consequence, this register of Amerikaens is the predominant form of the language used in government, education, and literature today.


Amerikaens is generally thought to have began its emergence as a separate language from Dutch in the late 17th century. Prior to this point in time, it was generally considered a dialect of Dutch termed Bergen Dutch (named for Bergen County, which is now the borough of Hackensack, New Amsterdam). It was characterized as having origins in the South Hollandic and Flemish dialects of the Dutch language, with significant influence from creoles such as Mohawk Dutch and Wenami Pidgin, northern varieties of French, English, Frisian, Low German varieties, and to a lesser extent, Swedish.

Geographic distribution


The Amerikaens pronunciation standard, established in the early 20th century, is based upon prestigious dialects of New Netherland. It has a phoneme inventory of 25 consonants, 18 vowels, and 9 diphthongs. Dialects of Amerikaens may have considerable variations in their phoneme inventories, with more western dialects straying more from the standard.

Labial Alveolar Post-alveolar Dorsal Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
aspirated ph th kh
voiced b d g
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ χ h
voiced v z ʒ
Approximant w l j
Rhotic r
  • [c] and [tɕ] are allophones of /tʃ/.
  • /d/ is devoiced at the ends of words as [t].
  • [ɕ] is an allophone of /ʃ/.
  • Allophones of /r/ include [ʁ] and [ɾ].
  • /χ/ formed as a merger of the original Dutch sounds [ɣ] and [x]. Before the semi-vowel /j/, it can be fronted to [ç].
  • Voiced fricatives may be generally pronounced as their voiceless counterparts by a large percentage of Amerikaens speakers.
  • Due to influence from French and English, the original Dutch /ʋ/ came to be realised as /w/.
Front Central Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
short long short long short long short long short long
Close i
Mid ɛ œ œː ə ʌ ɔ ɔː
Near-open æ æː
Open (a) ɑ ɑː
Diphthongs ɑi æi ɑu ɛu ɛi œu oːi ɔu ɔi

Vowel shift from European Dutch

The vowel shift in Amerikaens began in the mid-17th century in New Netherland, gradually developing until its conclusion in the late 19th century. Some dialects of Amerikaens, such as the Voor dialects of Tussenland, preserve European Dutch pronunciations.

Dutch Amerikaens Example English Notes
ɪ ɛ [ɪk] ik [ɛk] ik 'I'
ɛ æ [wɛx] weg [wæχ] weg 'Road'
ɑ ɑ [bɑŋk] bank [bɑŋk] banck 'Couch', 'bench'
ɑː [ɑxt] acht [ɑːχt] agt 'Eight'
ʌ [pɑt] pad [pʌt] padt 'Toad'
ʏ [lʏxt] lucht [lʌχt] lught 'Sky'
o [os] os [ʌs] os 'Ox'
ɔː [ons] [ɔːns] 'Us'
i [tin] tien [tiːn] tîn 'Ten'
u [stul] stoel [stuːl] stül 'Chair', 'seat'
[ˈne.ɣə(n)] negen [ˈneː.χə] nege 'Nine'
ɛə, ɛː [neːr] neer [nɛːr] nîr 'Near'
[eːn] een [iːn] în 'One' In dialectal speech.
ɑː [jaːr] jaar [jɑːr] jaer 'Year'
ɔː [ˈɦaː.vər] haver [ˈhɔː.fər] hafer 'Oats'
ɛi ɑi [ˈstrɛi̯kə(n)] strijken [ˈstrɑikə] strÿcke 'To iron'
æi [vɛi̯f] vijf [væif] vÿf 'Five'
œy œu [ɦœy̯s] huis [hœus] huys 'House'


Divergences from Dutch

Amerikaens orthography. first recognized as distinct in the mid-18th century, preserves many forms found in early modern Dutch. In 1910, orthography was officially standardized for literary Amerikaens.

Dutch Amerikaens Example Usage notes
aa ae Amerikaans Amerikaens
ei ey Înheid Înheydt
ui uy Fruit Fruyt
ij ÿ Vrijheid Vrÿheydt
uu ue Absoluut Absoluet
ee î Eenheid Înheydt
oo ö Voorland Vörlandt
oe ü Daartoe Daertü
m mm Komen Komme Does not occur at the beginning of a syllable.
l ll Graal Graell
k ck Boek Boeck Only occurs at the end of a syllable.
d dt Stad Stadt
f v Kalf Kalv

Spelling to sound correspondences

Vowels Consonants
Grapheme IPA Grapheme IPA
checked free normal final
a /ɑ/, /ʌ/, /ɔ/ /ɑː/ b /b/ /p/
ae /ɑː/, /eː/ d /d/ /t/
au /ɑu/, /ɔu/, /ɔ/ dj, dsch /ʒ/, /dj/
e /ɛ/, /ə/, /æ/ /eː/, /ə/ f, ph /f/
o /ɔ/, /ʌ/ /oː/ g, gh /χ/, /g/
ö /oː/ h /h/, /ɦ/
ai, aei /ɑi/, /æi/ j /j/
au(x), eau(x) /oː/ k, ck /k/
auw /ɔu/ l /l/
i, ie /i/, /ə/, /ɛ/ /iː/ m /m/
î /eː/ n /n/
îuw, ieuw /eːu/, /iu/ ng /ŋ/
ey /ɛi/ p /p/
eu /œː/ r /r/
oi /ɔi/ s /s/, /sj/
ou, ouw /ɔu/ sch, sh /ʃ/, /sχ/
ÿ /ɑi/, /i/ t, th /t/
ü /uː/ tsj, tj, tsch /tʃ/, /tj/
uy, üy /œu/, /ɛu/ v /f/, /v/
ue /yː/ w /w/
uw /yu/ z /s/, /z/

Sound change

Lenition is prevalent in Amerikaens, especially affecting consonants in the middle of words. Most notably, it affects the suffix -tie. Initially, the suffix was read as /tsi/ but has since shifted solely to /si/. It is reflected in modern Amerikaens orthography; for example, Dutch politie has become Amerikaens polisie (/pʌ.ˈliː.si/, lit. 'police').

Deletion of final sounds (coda) in Amerikaens is one of the defining features of the language. Final consonants and vowels, most commonly n and e, are elided and are also represented in writing.

  • Dutch tevredentevrede (/təˈvreː.də/, lit. content, satisfied)
  • Dutch zeidezeyd (/zæit/, lit. said)


Generally speaking, Amerikaens grammar is largely based on the grammars of early modern Dutch, English, and Flemish. It is often considered to have the simplest syntax and morphology of any continental Germanic language.

Amerikaens does not possess grammatical gender. As it was already waning in Dutch, gender was eliminated completely during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, likely sped up due to the language's origin as a lingua franca among diverse settlers as well as English influence.


Amerikaens only differs between the singular and plural forms, much like English. The plural form is usually created by adding the suffix -s to a word. If a word already ends in an s, then an -en is added.

Dutch Kinderen Cijnsen
Amerikaens Kinds Cÿnsen
English Children Feudal tax


Only two articles, a definitive (de) and an indefinitive (în), exist in Amerikaens. They may be inflected in the genitive form (for example, Koninckrÿck der Nederlands lit. 'Kingdom of the Netherlands').

Singular Plural Indefinite
Nominative de în ('n)
Genitive des der îns ('ns)

Demonstratives are words used to distinguish entities being referred to. As grammatical gender does not exist, there are only four demonstrative determiners in Amerikaens. Proximal indicates that the entities are close to the speaker, while distal incidates that they are far away.

Singular Plural
Proximal dese
Distal die
Possessive dies dier

Dese is equivalent to English 'this' and 'these', while die corresponds to 'that' and 'those'. Dies and dier translate to 'their's' or 'the latter's'.

Genitive case

Amerikaens preserves the possessive genitive case from archaic Dutch declension. Unlike in other varieties from the Netherlands, its survival throughout the late 17th century most probably was influenced by English.

Dutch Amerikaens English French
De vriend van de man. Des mans friendt. The man's friend. L'ami de l'homme.


Like English and Dutch, Amerikaens pronouns retain case distinction; subject (nominative), object (accusative), and possessive (genitive). Pronouns occur in a stressed form (often ending with ÿ) and an unstressed form (shown in brackets). The stressed form retains the whole original vowel and is used mainly in formal situations or when distinction is necessary.

Person Subject Object Possessive
1st singular Ik ('k) Mÿ (me) Mÿn (men)
2nd singular Jÿ (je) Jou (ju) Jouw (juw)
3rd singular, masculine Hÿ (he) Hem (em) Hÿs (hes)
3rd singular, feminine Sÿ (se) Her (er) Hers (ers)
1st plural Wÿ (we) Ons
2nd plural Jul Juls
3rd plural, for a person Les Leu
3rd plural, for an object It Its

The 3rd person plural forms les (/læ/) and leu (/lœː/) come from French les and leur, meaning 'them' and their' respectively. The practice was brought to New Amsterdam by French immigrants and was popularized in the late 18th century, eventually superceding the original Dutch 3rd person plural forms zij, hun, and huns.

Jul(s), the 2nd plural, comes from the Dutch jullie (from jij 'you' + lui 'people'). It is the equivalent of y'all('s) in English, which is used in parts of the United Kingdom as well as Virginia.

Verb tenses

Amerikaens is considered a tenseless language as verbs do not have morphological tenses (verbs do not conjugate or inflect). The infinitive form of the verb is complimented by a pronoun and an auxiliary verb to indicate different tenses.

Tense Form Example: ît(e)
Amerikaens Dutch English
Infinitive Ît(e) Eten (To) eat
Present Pronoun + verb Ik ît Ik eet I eat
Past Pronoun + hab + verb Ik hab ît Ik at I ate
Future Pronoun + zhal + verb Ik zhal ît Ik zal eten I will eat
Continuous aspect
Present Pronoun + + verb Ik dü ît Ik ben aan het eten I am eating
Past Pronoun + dîd + verb Ik dîd ît Ik was aan het eten I was eating
Future Pronoun + zhal dü + verb Ik zhal dü ît I will be eating


See also