|Native to||New Netherland|
Official language in
|New Netherland |
Amerikaens Free State
|Regulated by||Amerikaense Taelkomisie|
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.
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.
- [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/.
|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.
|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'|
|i||iː||[tin] tien||[tiːn] tîn||'Ten'|
|u||uː||[stul] stoel||[stuːl] stül||'Chair', 'seat'|
|eː||eː||[ˈne.ɣə(n)] negen||[ˈneː.χə] nege||'Nine'|
|ɛə, ɛː||[neːr] neer||[nɛːr] nîr||'Near'|
|iː||[eːn] een||[iːn] în||'One'||In dialectal speech.|
|aː||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.
|m||mm||Komen||Komme||Does not occur at the beginning of a syllable.|
|k||ck||Boek||Boeck||Only occurs at the end of a syllable.|
Spelling to sound correspondences
|a||/ɑ/, /ʌ/, /ɔ/||/ɑː/||b||/b/||/p/|
|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/|
|ai, aei||/ɑi/, /æi/||j||/j/|
|au(x), eau(x)||/oː/||k, ck||/k/|
|i, ie||/i/, /ə/, /ɛ/||/iː/||m||/m/|
|îuw, ieuw||/eːu/, /iu/||ng||/ŋ/|
|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/|
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 tevreden → tevrede (/təˈvreː.də/, lit. content, satisfied)
- Dutch zeide → zeyd (/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.
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').
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.
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'.
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.
|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.
|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|
|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.
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.
|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|
|Present||Pronoun + dü + 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|