9 responses to Speaking ‘Amish English’
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    Comment on Speaking ‘Amish English’ (March 3rd, 2008 at 06:34)

    One of the biggest larks for me is when my wife or her family unintentionally mimic my Amish accent. I still mispronounce words. It’s a cultural influence that happens because Amish people read more in English than they speak or even hear spoken. And like you said it gets passed to the kids and is never corrected.

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    Comment on Amish English and other accents (March 4th, 2008 at 03:11)

    Amish English and other accents

    At the same time ‘Amish English’ is still a lot more intelligible than some of the heavier accents from my neck of the woods! I sort of dodged a thick Southern accent maybe because I grew up in the city and because my mom speaks with a very, slight almost British foreign accent which may have kept it at bay. My pop’s hometown is in eastern NC where the Southern fried accent is a lot more prominent, though he doesn’t have it so bad. When I’m in the South I just find I switch into a bit more Southern…when I’m teaching someone in Poland a phrase in English though the accent goes a lot more neutral as I try to enunciate clearly.

    Pronunciation I think is a relative thing.

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    Comment on Speaking ‘Amish English’ (March 4th, 2008 at 15:36)

    Pronunciation may be relative. Ignorance isn’t. Amish leaders deliberately promote ignorance for the sake of social control. Mispronouncing a word is actually an expression of fealty. Do outsiders like you or Kraybill willfully ignore this or don’t you see it? How would you feel about it, if it occured in your culture?

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    Emma
    Comment on Speaking ‘Amish English’ (March 5th, 2008 at 06:25)

    And what accent in English is the right one, exactly? from the States (which States?), from the British, from the Iraish or the other speacking part of the world?

    I agree accent is relative… The main thing is to get understood and to understand.

    Great work, Eric as usual.
    (By the way I’m going to work a paper on the “Amish” dialect- do you know any book about the question?)

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    Comment on Speaking ‘Amish English’ (March 5th, 2008 at 17:12)

    My references to ignorance and mispronouncing are about a disregard for the integrity of language, not accent.
    I think there is a direct connection between western culture’s success as a society and the importance it attributes to language. The Amish in contrast only value language as a means of control, and by extension, of oppression.

    “(By the way I’m going to work a paper on the “Amish” dialect- do you know any book about the question?)”

    Have fun finding a book on “Amish dialect”. They don’t care enough about their “mother tongue” to document it. If it’s being done it’s probably an outsider, whose motivations may or may not align with the Amish communities welfare.

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    Comment on Speaking ‘Amish English’ (March 6th, 2008 at 04:44)

    Erik, were obviously talking past each other. I tried to clarify that I’m not talking about accent. I agree with you on that part. You may not be aware of Amish people’s restricted language skills and the less than benign reasons behind it. will try to elaborate. (gotta go to work)

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    Comment on Amish or PA Dutch English as one of many regional accents (March 6th, 2008 at 02:24)

    Amish or PA Dutch English as one of many regional accents

    Easy I think you’re stretching the point of my post to make your own point. It sounds like you are arguing that there is an absolute truth to language, a right and wrong way to pronounce each word, and that somehow you feel the Amish are in the wrong. If that’s true, then I wonder who you’d feel is the ultimate arbiter of that truth.

    I would argue the Amish speak one of a large number of regional accents existent in the US. To try to make a point about social control over a slightly different way of pronunciation is I think a bit of a stretch.

    Amish crack up at hearing Southern accents. I’ve joked with them about it. It’s not always the king’s English. But who really speaks the king’s English in America nowadays anyway? Accent is relative.

    To answer the question, if it occurred in my culture, which relative to other ‘cultures’ with different ways of speaking it does, I actually wouldn’t care, because I generally don’t get too hung up on things like how I pronounce tomato versus how you pronounce tomato.

    On the other hand I appreciate the lyrical quality of language and accent, and regional and international differences in ways of speaking, and that is what the post is about. Language and accent can be beautiful things.

    Thanks Emma, there are at least one or two books on Pennsylvania Deitsch I know of. One of them is a fairly slim dictionary that is based on the Holmes County version of the dialect. Can’t say offhand who put it together but might be a nice place to look.

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    Emma
    Comment on Speaking ‘Amish English’ (March 6th, 2008 at 08:04)

    Easy said:
    “(By the way I’m going to work a paper on the “Amish” dialect- do you know any book about the question?)”

    Have fun finding a book on “Amish dialect”. They don’t care enough about their “mother tongue” to document it. If it’s being done it’s probably an outsider, whose motivations may or may not align with the Amish communities welfare.

    I was refering to scholarly type of book. It’s for a work for university….

    You know your remarks (on oppression etc.) are interesting…Here in Quebec, people refer to the French language rules (very much emphasized in France), as oppressive and a way to keep the Quebecers culturally subjected to the Continent or at least to the dominant French speaking culture of the wealthier class. I personnaly consider it’s important to respect the structure of a language but that each group has the right to differences which anyway is going to happen.

    Language(s) are definitely relative (and very much part of what we are and/or what we want to be…).

    Thanks for your answer, Eric. I think I found some interesting books at my University. :-)

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    OldKat’77
    Comment on Speaking ‘Amish English’ (April 5th, 2008 at 12:57)

    A little late in this conversation, but only recently found this site. I currently have a pair of draft horse mares being trained by a young Amish produce farmer in South Texas. I had questioned him about the commonly used languages in the community. He said they spoke a “Swiss” language, which they called Swabish and, of course, English. In the few instances I have heard him speak in Swabish I thought it sounded familiar. When I google it, I find that it is an Alemannic form of German and is closely related to the Alsatian language that my mothers family spoke in the Alsatian communities in the Medina Valley, south and southwest of San Antonio, Texas. Though it has almost entirely died out now, 50 years ago when I was a youngster it was quite common to hear the older people at least great each other in Alsatian. When I study a little about the Amish I understand the linkage better. Thanks for the great site. I’ll visit often.

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