Resistance to erosion in American Dutch inflection

  • Caroline Smits
Part of the Yearbook of Morphology book series (YOMO)


In the second half of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th century a relatively large number of Dutchmen emigrated to the United States. In general, these people came in groups and they founded their own settlements, particularly in the Midwest. The majority of these immigrants were orthodox Protestants, a fact which has been of major importance to the maintenance (as well as the development, cf. Van Marle and Smits in press b) of Dutch in the New World. For many of the immigrants — and their descendants — Dutch was the language of communication, at least within the family, until the first decades of this century. However, as soon as the immigrants settled in the United States they came in contact with English as well, especially through school. For many decades, then, there has been a bilingual situation. At first, Dutch was the mother tongue and the linguistically dominant language, whereas in later years English became more and more prominent. It was during and after the second World War that the number of domains in which Dutch was spoken rapidly decreased and a shift from Dutch to English took place. At this moment Dutch is no longer in regular use and, consequently, on the verge of extinction. However this may be, even nowadays there are descendants of these Protestant settlers who have some — be it often rather imperfect — knowledge of Dutch, mostly acquired through parents and (particularly) grandparents. Henceforth, I will call the language as it is spoken by these immigrants American Dutch (AD).


Plural Form Irregular Verb Paradigmatic Form Prototypical Feature Translation Test 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Smits
    • 1
  1. 1.P.J. Meertens-InstituteRoyal Netherlands Academy of Arts and SciencesAmsterdamNetherlands

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