Jersey Dutch was a variant of the Dutch language spoken in and around Bergen and Passaic counties in New Jersey from the late 17th century until the early 20th century. It may have been a partial creole language based on Zeelandic and West Flemish Dutch dialects with English and possibly some elements of Lenape. It was spoken by the descendants of Dutch settlers to New Jersey and by the mixed race people known as the Ramapough Mountain Indians. It was sometimes called Neger Hollands – "Negro Dutch" – when spoken by people of African descent.
There were two distinct variations of Jersey Dutch, the regional Dutch dialect that was spoken by the actual descendants of Dutchmen, and the version spoken by black slaves and people of mixed race. In the latter, there is an overall decline in inflection, apparently including a loss of past-tense verb forms. This is due to the isolation from other Dutch speakers and contact with English-speaking settlers. The former variation experienced a similar decline but to much less of an extent, and is not a creole language.
An example of Jersey Dutch:
- En kääd'l had twî jongers; de êne blêv täus;
- de andere xong vôrt f'n häus f'r en stat.
- Hai waz nît tevrêde täus en dârkîs tû râkni arm.
- Hai dogti ôm dat täus en z'n vâders pläk.
- Tû zaide: äk zal na häus xâne. Main vâder hät plänti.
In standard modern Dutch:
- Een man had twee jongens; de ene bleef thuis;
- de andere ging voort van huis voor een vermogen.
- Hij was niet tevreden thuis en hij werd daardoor arm.
- Hij dacht aan thuis en zijn vaders plaats.
- Toen zei hij: ik zal naar huis gaan. Mijn vader heeft voldoende.
- 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 he became poor.
- He thought about home and his father's place.
- Then said: I shall go home. My father has plenty.
From: A text in Jersey Dutch Dr J. Dyneley Prince, 1910.
Read more about Jersey Dutch: Further Reading
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