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  • Germanic
    • West Germanic
      • Netherlandic
        • Amerikaens
Early forms
Leeg Duits
  • Early Amerikaens
    • Middle Amerikaens
Writing system
Official status
Official language in
New Netherland
South Tussenland
Amerikaens Free State
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byAmerikaens Taelkomisie

Amerikaens (Amerikaens: /ɑ.mi.riˈkɑːns/) is a West Germanic language spoken across and native to vast swathes of North America. The language is a descendant of numerous Dutch dialects introduced to New Netherland in the 17th century which were spoken by settlers from the Netherlands. Distance from Europe, the impact of indigenous and immigrant lects, as well as preservation of archaic dialectal features caused Amerikaens to develop distinguishing characteristics over the next few centuries. In 1910, a standardized orthography devised by the Amerikaens Taelkomisie and based on the prestigious New Amsterdammer accent was adopted.

Today, Amerikaens serves as the official language of a number of Amerikaener states such as New Netherland, Tussenland, Boschland, and several others. Since 1951, it has also become one of the official languages of the Association of North American Nations. As of the late 20th century, Amerikaens was widely spoken as the native language of the majority of the population of New Netherland, Tussenland (except the provinces of Meerenland and the Vorstlands), the Free State, and Boschland. It serves as the official lingua franca of South Tussenland and Opdamsland and a prominent minority language in Mexico and Panama City.


In the 17th and 18th centuries, variants of the Dutch language spoken in America were commonly referred to as Nederduytsch or Lîg Duyts ('Low Dutch'). With the independence of New Netherland in the late 18th century, the term Amerikaens gained popularity as the Amerikaener identity formed. The two archaic terms are still used in academia and in casual and regional parlance.

In Dutch, the language is generally called Amerikaans and sometimes Amerikaans-Nederlands ('American Dutch'), the latter often with paternalistic or patronizing intent. Anglophones use the word Amerikaens and less often American Dutch, New Dutch, or New Netherland Dutch.



Due to Amerikaens phonology differing greatly by dialect, the Juys Mondordt (/jœus mondɔːrt/, 'correct speech') accent of New Amsterdam is widely considered to be the standard and most prestigious variety of the language. It has 21 consonants, 12 vowels, and 6 diphthong phonemes.


Labial Alveolar Post-alveolar Dorsal Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d g
Affricate t͡ʃ 
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ χ h
voiced v z
Approximant w l j
Rhotic r


Front Central Back
unrounded rounded
lax tense
Close i y u
Close-mid øː o
Mid ɛ œː ə ɔː
Open æ ɑ ɑː
Front Back
fronting backing
Close iu ui
Mid œu ɔi ɑu
Open ɑi

Sound changes from Dutch

The dialect of Utrecht is by far the most similar to the Juys Mondordt accent of New Netherland.

The Juys Mondordt accent, as well as several other Amerikaens varieties, are incredibly phonologically distinct from the standard Dutch of the Netherlands and non-American Batavosphere countries. The phonological base for Amerikaens largely rests upon the lects spoken by the founding settlers — dialects which evidently share a strong similarity with modern dialects spoken in Utrecht, north Brabant, and south Holland. Generally, short front vowels were lowered while long front vowels were backed; meanwhile, back vowels were variously raised, rounded and umlaut-ed. This vowel shift can be described as counterclockwise (Linksom). Consonants remain relatively closer to Dutch despite some undergoing palatalization and mergers.

Other phonological traits Amerikaens possesses that differentiates it from the standard Dutch of the Netherlands include:

  • Lenition of word-medial consonants, such as tie /tsi/ becoming sie /si/.
  • Deletion of word-final sounds, most commonly n /n/ and e /ə/.
  • Dutch uw /yu/ becoming ouw /ɑu/, as characteristic of the Brabant and Utrecht dialects.

Consonants in the middle of words have experienced lenition. Most notably, it affects the suffix -tie. Initially, the suffix was realized as /tsi/ but has since shifted solely to /si/. Deletion of final sounds (coda) is also common; final consonants and vowels, commonly n and e, are elided. These changes are markedly reflected in modern Amerikaens orthography; for example, Dutch politie has become Amerikaens polisie ('police').

Context Sound change
All contexts /eː/ > /i/
Syllable-medial /eː/ > /ɛə/
All contexts /ɪ/ >/ɛ/
/ɛ/ > /æ/
/aː/ > /ɔː/
/aː/ > /ɑː/
/ɔ/ > /o/
/oː/ > /u/
Closed syllable, not before /t/, /s/, /nt/, /ɑr/ /oː/ > /øː/
/u/ > /øː/
All contexts /øː/ > /œː/
Closed syllable /ʏ/ > /ə/
Syllable-medial, final /œy/ > /œu/
/ɛi/ > /ɑi/
/eːu/ > /iu/
All contexts /aːi/ > /ɔi/
/oːi/ > /ui/
/ɔu/ > /ɑu/
Context Sound change
Syllable-initial /sx/ > /ʃ/
/sj/ > /ʃ/
/tj/ > /t͡ʃ/
/ɦ/ > /h/
All contexts /ɣ/ > /χ/
/x/ > /χ/


Nicholas de Haze (1739–1798), prominent Flemish-American linguist and grammarian.

Modern Amerikaens orthography is based on a number of phonemic innovations and historical principles inherited from Dutch. In 1903, the Amerikaens Taelkomisie, a regulatory institution for the Amerikaens language, was established by Raedpensionaris Mees van Haerst. Seven years later, the first edition of the Taelbück was published with the Placaet of 19 August 1910, creating a standardized orthography for the language. Aside from the nativization of loan words and minor spelling corrections, Amerikaens orthography has remained largely unchanged since then.

Orthographic innovations

Many innovative features found in modern Amerikaens orthography were popularized by their use in Amerikaener publications and works of the 19th century, most notably the newspaper De Amerikaense Telegraef.

The digraphs oo and oe were converted to the German-derived accented vowels ö and ü respectively. These letters were initially adopted to show umlaut in closed syllables but eventually came to replace the previous digraphs completely, whether the vowel is phonologically fronted or not. For example, both zön (/zøːn/, 'son', Dutch zoon) and (/du/ 'do', Dutch doe) use umlauted letters, despite only zön being phonologically fronted.

The Dutch digraph ee became î to express the raising of /eː/ > /i/ in certain contexts, but similarly came to replace ee completely regardless if the specific phonological change was realized.

Preservation of archaic features

Amerikaens Modern Dutch
ae aa
ÿ ij
ey ei
uy ui
ue uu
dt d
k ck
v f

Amerikaens has preserved many archaic orthographic features, both standard and dialectal, used in the Netherlands from the 16th to 19th centuries. One may trace early consolidation of these retentions to the Nieuw-Nederduytsch spraekkonst by Flemish-American grammarian Nicholas de Haze in 1775. De Haze's native Flanders, unlike Holland and much like New Netherland, had little to no standardized spelling among any class of people during much of the 18th century, allowing rarer and unconventional forms to survive into the 20th century and beyond.

One of the landmark texts that firmly established the preservation of these spellings was the First Constitution of 1797 passed during the early stadtholdership of Marÿn van der Beeke, which was written with the graphemes ÿ, ae, uy, and ue — ones that had become largely outdated for the upper classes of Holland at the time.

Sound to spelling correspondences

Amerikaens has 50 regularly-occurring graphemes which represent its 39 standard consonants, vowels, and diphthong phonemes. A number of exceptions to the table below exist, albeit small, as do a handful of rarer graphemes.

Grapheme IPA
Major Minor
b /b/
c, ch /s/, /k/, /t͡ʃ/
d /d/ /t/
f /f/
g /g/, /χ/
gh /χ/
h /h/
j /j/
k /k/
l /l/
m /m/
n /n/
ng /ŋ/
p /p/
r /r/
s /s/
sch /ʃ/
t, th /t/
tsch /t͡ʃ/
v /v/
w /w/
z, zh /z/
Vowels and combinations
Spelling IPA
Major Minor
a /ɑ/ /ɑː/, /ə/
ae /ɑː/
aei /ɑːi/
ai /ɑi/
au, auw /ɑu/
e /ɛ/, /ɛə/, /æ/ /ə/
ey /ɑi/
eu /œː/
i /i/, /ɛ/ /ə/
î /i/
ieuw /iu/
o /o/, /ɔː/
ö /øː/ [oː], /u/
oi, öi /ɔi/
ou, ouw /ɑu/
u /ə/
ü /øː/ /u/
üi /ui/
uy /œu/
ue /y/
ÿ /ɑi/ /i/


Compared to other Germanic languages, Amerikaens is considered weakly inflected, genderless, and by far more analytic of a language. The simplification of several features is usually attributed to the language's early role as a lingua franca between several ethnolinguistic groups.

Nouns and pronouns

Amerikaens pronouns
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 Hun Huns
3rd plural, for an object It Its

Amerikaens only differs between the singular and plural forms, much like English. The plural form is usually created by the addition of the suffix -s (/s/ or /z/). If a word already ends in an s, then an -en (/ən/) is added instead in order to signify plurality.

Amerikaens also preserves the possessive genitive case from archaic Dutch declension unlike other Netherlandic varieties. Its survival beyond the early 18th century most probably was influenced by the English language.

  • Dutch de vriend van de man lit. 'the friend of the man' → Amerikaens des mans friendt lit. 'the man's friend'

Like Dutch, Amerikaens pronouns retain case distinction; subject (nominative), object (accusative), and possessive (genitive). Pronouns occur in a stressed form 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 needed.


Only two articles, the definitive de 'the' and the indefinitive în 'a(n)' exist in Amerikaens. They may be inflected in the genitive form (for example, Koninckrÿck der Nederlandts 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 indicates that they are far away.

Singular Plural English
Proximal dese This, these
Distal dat That, those
Possessive dies dier Their's, the latter's


Much like its sister language Afrikaans, Amerikaens does not inflect or conjugate, nor is there a distinction between the infinitive and present forms of verbs. In order to form different verb forms such as tense, aspect, and modality, the infinitive form of the verb is accompanied by a pronoun and an auxiliary verb. The below table uses the example of the verb ît (/it/, 'eat') in the perfect and continuous tenses.

Amerikaens Dutch English
Pronoun Auxiliary verb Infinitive
Present Ik ît Ik eet I eat
Past hab Ik at I ate
Future zhal Ik zal eten I will eat
Present continuous Ik ben aan het eten I am eating
Past continuous dîd Ik was aan het eten I was eating
Future continuous zhal dü Ik zal eten I will be eating

See also