Life in the Thirteen Colonies

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What languages were spoken in the Thirteen Colonies?

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Because the original thirteen colonies were all British-controlled by the time of the American Revolution, English was the official language and most people in the colonies spoke English, even if only as a second language. However, not all the settlers were of British origin.

A large piece of land that included New York, New Jersey, and parts of Pennsylvania was originally claimed by the Dutch, who established a colony called New Amsterdam. The people who lived there spoke Dutch. Later, when William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania, he invited in persecuted German and Swiss Anabaptists, who spoke German; they became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch (Dutch meaning Deutsch, for German). Germans also settled in other colonies.

Various European groups migrated to the colonies: languages such as French, Swedish, Spanish, and even Hebrew were also spoken. Also, as long as Native Americans lived in the colonies, native languages, such as Algonquin, were also in use.

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