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Book traces influence of Dutch on North America English

Snoop Dutch loan word

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

They may not realize it, but all English speakers have numerous words in their vocabulary that may sound like accented Dutch. Among the most frequently used Dutch loan words in North American English is dollar, a word used by Dutch colonial traders and settlers in an era in which transactions frequently were paid by bartering goods and services. Bakery and to snoop also were borrowed from Dutch, permanently it seems.

While the influence of Dutch in other languages is significant and differs from country to country, it may well be most significant in vocabulary describing maritime and trading activities.

The book Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops, the influence of Dutch on the North American languages raises awareness of a very interesting segment in the history of North American English. Most people are somewhat aware of the connection between Santa Claus (as having its origin in the Dutch folklore saint Sinterklaas) and his sleigh (the pronunciation of the Dutch slee is almost identical). Other contributions of the Dutch language are indelibly embedded to some of our most vernacular terms and expressions, as in a dumbhead (domkop) and talking poppycock.

In her book, the Dutch renowned linguist Nicoline van der Sijs glosses over 300 Dutch loan words like these that travelled to the New World on board the Henry Hudsonís ship the Halve Maan, which dropped anchor in Manhattan over 400 years ago.


Lively and accessible, the information presented in this book charts the journey of these words into the North American territory and languages, from more obscure uses which maybe have survived in only regional dialects to such ubiquitous contributions to our language like Yankee, cookie, and dope. Each entry marks the original arrival of its term into American English and adds up-do-date information on its evolving meaning, etymology, and regional spread. Not to be missed by anyone with a passion for the history behind our everyday expressions, this charming volume is the perfect gift for the linguistic adventurer in us all.

Anyone interested in the history of English will be aware of its loan words taken from Latin and French, but the extent of Dutch influence on English will surprise everyone upon having read the book. Knowing all this somewhat helps deal with the current onslaught of English in Dutch and may help many to appreciate their (rusty) Dutch a bit more.