Evolution Home Bookstore Manuscripts Ordering
Evolution Publishing
PO Box 1333
Merchantville NJ 08109, USA

Email: info@arxpub.com


Minority Languages of the Mid-Atlantic
A Bibliography


Besides English, which is overwhelmingly the primary language of the Mid-Atlantic States, there are several other immigrant languages which were used in the area and which here developed peculiarities of their own.

Pennsylvania German, or Pennsylvania Dutch, as it is sometimes called, (though it is a dialect of German and not of Dutch), is the most well-known of the immigrant languages, because of the number of speakers as well as the fact that it is still spoken in the present day. It was originally based on German dialects from the Palatine region, but by now has evolved into a full-fledged dialect in its own right. Pennsylvania Dutch: A Dialect of South German with an Infusion of English by S. S. Haldeman (1872) is an early and thorough scholarly treatment of the dialect as it was spoken in the late 19th century.

The Dutch dialects spoken in New York and New Jersey were quite firmly established there in preceding centuries, but by now are totally extinct. Jersey Dutch enjoyed some currency in Bergen and Passaic Counties until about the turn of the century. It was essentially a variety of Flemish, colored with words from English and the Minsi dialect of the local Indian tribes. Jersey Dutch was also used by the Negroes of the area, who developed a variety with its own dialectal pecularities.

These minority languages all left a substantial legacy of dialect words which can still be heard in the American English of their descendants: "olicook" for doughnut, for example, as a Dutch survival, and "ponhaws" for scrapple, as a PA German one.

Other Old World languages in the region left no lasting influence in modern English. Swedish was spoken along the Delaware River throughout the mid-1600's, though to what extent a uniquely "American" dialect evolved from it is not certain. A word-list of the West African language Mandingo was recorded in eastern Pennsylvania during the 1740's, mistakenly described as "Nanticoke" and presumably used in a biracial community of free blacks and American Indians from Maryland.

Cohen, David Steven. 1984. "The Folklore and Folklife of New Jersey." New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers U. Press. (contains a chapter on folk speech, mentioning 'Jersey Dutch' in neNJ and seNY, as well as 'Albany Dutch' of the Mohawk and upper Hudson rivers: p. 22-29)
Jersey Dutch
Prince, J. Dyneley. 1910. "The Jersey Dutch Dialect." Dialect Notes III, 459.
Shetter, William Z. 1958. "A Final Word on Jersey Dutch." American Speech 33:243-251
Storms, James B.H. 1964. A Jersey Dutch Vocabulary. Park Ridge: Pascack Historical Society.
Pennsylvania German
Buffington, Albert F. and Barba, Preston Albert. 1965. A Pennsylvania German Grammar. Allentown: Schlechter.
Danner, Edward Russell. 1951. Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary and handbook: with special emphasis on the dialect that was, and is, spoken in York County, Pennsylvania. York, PA: William Penn Senior High School and Atreus Wanner Vocational School.
Frey, John William. 1942. A Simple Grammar of Pennsylvania Dutch. Clinton, S.C.: J.W. Frey.
Haag, Earl C. 1982. A Pennsylvania German Reader and Grammar. Keystone Books, The Pennsylvania State University Press: University Park and London.
Haldeman, Samuel Stehman. 1872. Pennsylvania Dutch: a dialect of South German with an infusion of English. Philadelphia: Reformed Church publication board. Reprint Available from Evolution Publishing
Kelz, Heinrich P. 1969. Phonologische Analyse des Pennsylvania-deutschen. Bonn:Druck:Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universitat.
Lambert, Marcus Bachman. c1924. A Dictionary of the non-English Words of the Pennsylvania-German dialect. Lancaster, PA: Lancaster Press.
Reed, Carroll E. 1949. The Pennsylvania German dialect spoken in the counties of Lehigh and Berks. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Reed, Carroll E. and Seifert, Lester W. 1954. A Linguistic Atlas of Pennsylvania German. Marburg/Lahn.
Seifert, Lester W.J. 1946. Lexical Differences Between Four Pennsylvania German Regions. Allentown, PA: Pennsylvania Folklore Society.
Brinton, Daniel G.  1887.  On certain supposed Nanticoke words shown to be of African Origin.  American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal 9(6):350-354.

Last Modified: 4/16/03
Evolution Publishing | American Dialect Homepage | Mid-Atlantic Dialect Homepage