Today is the anniversary of the colony of New Amsterdam officially becoming New York, when the Dutch ceded control to the British. But Dutch influence on New York, and on America, is longstanding–Dutch values of tolerance and freedom of religion are things Americans hold dear (in 1597 The Netherlands established “no one shall be persecuted or investigated because of his religion”). But Dutch culture made its way into our language as well.
Francis Harrison (fl. 1730–1732), Geoffrey Needler
The English and Low-Dutch School-Master, 1730
New-York: Printed and sold by W. Bradford
Y Bind Brad/.Har 1730
This dictionary, currently on display in A Brief History of New York: Selections from A History of New York in 101 Objects, translates between English and Low Dutch. When the British took over, there were considerable language gaps, and guides like this flourished to help people communicate. However, many Dutch words snuck their way into everyday New York slang, and continued to spread across America. If it weren’t for the Dutch, we wouldn’t have words like “cookie,” “coleslaw,” “waffle,” “doughnut,” “stoop,” and “Yankee.”
Are these words you use in everyday life? What objects do you think define New York? Let us know!