Yankee Dutch, joeno
So my own ancestry is Dutch (mostly...say, 85% or so), and I grew up in an area with many others of Dutch descent. Even the college I went to (Calvin College) was founded by Dutch immigrants and continues to be probably about 50% Dutch or maybe more. Both of my grandfathers came to the US from the Netherlands, while my grandmothers were born, one in Denver one in New Mexico territory, to recent immigrants. Thing is, my grandparents, like many immigrants even today, were adamant about their kids being American. So I don't know any Dutch. I also feel like I've been discouraged from appreciating my Dutch heritage--not by my parents or anything, but because many places I've been had a Dutch origin but have opened up to many other people. Understandably, those who aren't Dutch feel a bit overwhelmed by that and make a point of their not being Dutch, and suddenly I feel ashamed that I am. I try to downplay that part of me. And then I turn around and see third-generation Hispanic people and think what a shame it is when they don't know their ancestral language. I love Spanish and am much more familiar with the various Spanish and Latin American cultures than I am with actual culture of the Netherlands. All this to give a bit of insight into a paradox within my own identity.
Anyway, I bring this up because I just got from Amazon a fun book that I remember my professor of "History of teh English Language" commenting on: n' Fonnie Bisnis. (Translation: A Funny Business) The subtitle is "The Yankee Dutch world of Loe Verlak, 'peenter, peeperhenger, dikkereeter,' sage." (That would be 'painter, paperhanger, decorator') It's reprint of a humorous 1929 book written in the language of these Dutch immigrants. What Spanglish is to the intersection of Spanish and English, Yankee Dutch is to English and Dutch. Actually, a lot of the words are English...but the author spells them phonetically to mimic the pronounciation of these immigrants. And even when the word is Dutch, well English and Dutch historically are quite similar, so it's possible to work things out. Some of the constructions and a lot of the filler words, though seem to be Dutch. This reprint comes with a CD with a couple of the chapters narrated, which helps a lot. The stories (it's more a collection of stories narrated by one character than a novel) are very funny. And I love hearing them narrated--the little words that are clealy Americanisms are hilarious (joeno = you know; aiteljoe = I tell you). But it's hard. I was thinking it might be like reading Riddley Walker--once you get into it, it all falls in place. But I think my attempts to reconnect with my Dutch past might be a bit more challenging than that.
Ah well, when I get frustrated, I can just close the book and look at the quote on the back, spoken by the character in the book to encourage sales: "Of kos joe'll lijk dis boek!"