You all know what, in the literal sense of the word, is meant by the term Yankee Dutch.

It is a mixture of the Holland and American languages, sometimes resulting almost in a new language, a language all by itself.

There used to be people that, having immigrated from the Netherlands into this country, after a comparatively short period had forgotten or pretended to have forgotten their mother tongue and seemed to speak it with great difficulty. They always spoke the American language even when they conversed with those that would much rather speak Holland. But the fact was that they were not sufficiently familiar with their adopted language to speak it correctly. They appeared to be in a sorry plight. The Holland language they had forgotten; the American language they did not really know. And they spoke in the vernacular of the man who said: “Holland forgets me, but I still stick to my mother’s tail.”

Of course, even apart from such extreme instances, it is but natural that communities of immigrants from the Netherlands should often confuse the two languages they speak. Dutch phrases are mixed in with sentences in the English language and vice versa. And the sentence structure of the one language often reveals the influence of the other. And even with our best efforts the Holland we speak in this country has a tendency to become corrupted in course of time.

Very easily we lapse into some form of Yankee-Dutch.

You will, however, also readily understand that my subject is not to be taken literally. It is not my intention today to make a plea for the preservation among us of a purer Dutch, nor to warn you against Dutchisms in your American speech, however valuable this might be. The subject I announced is to be understood figuratively. I would speak to you of a spiritual, religious Yankee-Dutch, of a mixture in theory and practice, in faith and walk, in confession and life, of the truth and the lie, of Calvinism and Arminianism, of the Word of God and the word of man.

I find my subject suggested in two different passages in Scripture.

The first passage is found in Neh. 13:23, 24: “In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon and of Moab. And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jewish language, but according to the language of each people.”

You are acquainted with the history.

Judah had been taken captive into Babylon, and a remnant had returned. After a number of years, Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer, heard of the sad plight of that remnant and of the holy city and its walls, the work of rebuilding and restoration that was being carried on. He obtained from his lord a leave of absence to visit his brethren and help them in their efforts to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. After a certain period he also visited those Jews that evidently, lived on the outskirts of the land. And he discovered that many of them had married heathen wives, wives from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. And their children could not speak Hebrew. They spoke half in the language of their mothers, to whatever nation they happened to belong. Now, this might signify that half of the number of children spoke the strange language, while the other half were able to speak the language of the Jewish people. But more probable, it seems to me, is the interpretation that all the children spoke half in the language of the strangers, and half Hebrew, so that the result was, that none of their offspring could really speak the language of their fathers.

They spoke “Yankee-Dutch.”

The other passage that I had in mind you may find in II Kings 17:32 ff. There we read: “So they feared the Lord and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob whom he named Israel.”

And in the last verse of this chapter we read: “So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.”

This chapter deals with the captivity of Israel, the ten tribes that had been carried away by Assyria. The Assyrian government sent of their own men into the Jewish country, Samaria, to inhabit and cultivate the land. They feared not the Lord. And the Lord sent lions among them that killed some of them. The inhabitants, realizing the reason why the lions had been sent among them, viz. “because they knew not the manner of the God of the land,” appeal to the king of Assyria and explain to him the situation. The king sent one of the Israelitish priests, of them that had been led captive, into Samaria in order to “teach them the manner of the God of the land.” And the priest came and taught them “how they should fear the Lord.”

The result of his instruction is described in the words we quoted above. Notice the apparent contradictions, by which nevertheless the fruit of the priest’s instruction, and the attempts of his disciples to accommodate themselves to “the manner of the God of the land,” are forcibly described.

They feared the Lord, vs. 32; they fear not the Lord, vs. 34.

They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, vs. 33.

So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, vs. 41.

They do not after their statutes, or after their ordinances, nor after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, vs. 34.

A better picture of “Yankee-Dutch” could not very well be drawn.

It is “Yankee-Dutch” in practice.

And do not fail to notice that this evil practice is continued in generations. Their children and their children’s children also “feared the Lord, and served their graven images.”

(to be continued)