211 responses to What language do the Amish speak?
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    R. E.
    An Matthew (December 17th, 2012 at 11:56)

    An Matthew

    Ich schreibe auf Deutsch da du diese Sprache lernst.
    Wenn ich englisch schreibe, zuerst auf norwegisch und lass dieses überstzen auf englisch (geht über Google Translate) gut aber ja! aber nicht gut genug.
    So meine Muttersprache nimm ich an, gleicht sehr im der Sprache der Amish. Meine Muttersprache ist elsassisch. Alsatian! Elsasser-ditsch (Alemannisch)
    Es ist ein deutscher Dialekt wie viele Dialekten in Deutschland \ Ôsterreich \ Schweiz. Die Dialektene sind viele, viel älter das das Hoch-Deutsche oder Amts-Deutsch. Ich kan Dir gerne die alle nennen, aber es sind viele. Un da hat der Schrifsteller Goethe er nötig gefunden das die Bayern mit den Leute aus Schleswig-Holstein sprechen können, eine Schrift-und sprachen “erfundet” da sie miteinander kommuniseren können.

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      gerlinde Heinlein
      What language do the Amish speak? (January 15th, 2013 at 20:34)

      I grew up in Augsburg…. a city in Bavaria… Provice Schwaben.
      I spoke this dialect as a child. It is very unique from any other part of Germany. “Schwitzer deutsch” a swiss dialect is very different from the “schwabischen ” dialect.
      My children and I have so much fun listening to them speak in german. Today the dialect is not so strong anymore due to TV, etc.

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        James Kramer
        Augsburg (September 9th, 2013 at 10:29)


        How nice to see something from someone from the town near and dear to my heart: Augsburg! I bin vor viele Johr’ Student do gwä un ka’ au Schwobisch schwätze! The Amish would do well to train up their children in German and English–not an impossibility: my grandmother remembered school in German and English in Pittsburgh (Lutheran Church schools) and even though many had an Americanized accent, they were completely fluent in German. Mr. Zadoch, our oldest member @ St. Matthew’s German services, NOrthside, Pittsburgh, PA where I was the last organist to serve the German services (they stopped in the early 1990s believe it or not) was one of those who learned High German in school along with English and spoke with an American accent–yet could read and understand every word in the hymnal and sermons! It’s not impossible–someone needs to take the upper hand and PRESERVE WHAT IS WORTH PRESERVING!!!

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    R. E.
    Janice Hill (December 17th, 2012 at 12:54)

    Janice Hill

    Janice if you can copy from the book you mention here, the Bible. Whether it is written in Gothic or not, I can read both written language, it could be of great interest to many. So I wait one or another time to get over there and put up with the quiet, listening and hearing Amish people spoke. See how they greet each other, how they work and consume. But most is the language that occupy me.
    Have a fantastik Christmas Janice!

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      Janice Hill
      What language do the Amish speak? (December 17th, 2012 at 13:10)

      I certainly will try,.I will see what this forum can let me load..I tried pics before and was not successful – however perhaps I can do a try at another way to link it. So yes I will get it out and think on this.
      I have a family Bible printed in Cassel dated 1781. It’s exact identification is this: Biblia,das ist die ganze Helilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testament Author Martin Luther(1483-1546) Publication Cassel: J.R. Seibert 1781. A forward is by Lutheran Minister Johann Arnds.

      I would love to confirm the language – THANKS!!!

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        What language do the Amish speak? (January 21st, 2013 at 13:54)

        Hello Janice and greetings from Berlin, Germany.

        Your old German bible was printed in the City of Kassel (Cassel), Germany. The translation was made by Martin Luther, and the name of the printer was J.R. Seibert. Your edition is to be found in several libraries in Germany: http://www.worldcat.org/title/biblia-das-ist-die-ganze-heilige-schrift-alten-und-neuen-testaments/oclc/50449707

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          Janice Hill
          Bible from Cassel (January 28th, 2013 at 13:00)

          Bible from Cassel

          Gisa, I thank you for your interest in posting to me. I first,.did find this in World Cat. a few years back as you have listed for me. I however came across something new in looking again,.that there is a vol.2 (of the 3 listed) and it is pretty neat! So thank-you for prompting me to look at this URL World Cat. listing again! Something I just learned, this Bible having dates for the family “Gilbert” listed dod.dob’s it says are in this one. This is interesting as my Bible ALSO is from the Gilbert Family! Yes I am a descendant -Wow! But I have no dates in this one. The inked signature is from a Gilbert (can’t say exactly what the first name is,.(another relative thought it was Conrad) But it was given by him to my GGG John May (his mother was the Gilbert surname)So must figure out how to get those dates out of the other Bible!!! What a find!
          * I have to re study all the info ..

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          Janice Hill
          What language do the Amish speak? (January 28th, 2013 at 15:10)

          Gisa..as my prev message stated..(this on just a few hours later) I am really excited to find this vol 2 – you say these are in Germany,.I am not sure how I would e-mail as there is no link or library name listed where this is; can you help me? I want to get the family names and dates out of the Bible of course,,I don’t know if this will be possible?…Any hints..as all I have as an identifier on this listing is an OCLC number..(6928835)and no name of a library?

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      What language do the Amish speak? (January 28th, 2013 at 12:47)

      R.E. I am just getting back to the forum today and wanted to copy you or let you know I am responding to Gisa,..but one part of it I thought might be helpful? I hadn’t thought to include previously that I did already research as Gisa has given the URL to the World Cat library,.. I had done this but to my knowledge and limited German (like zero) I did not think it held answers to the language the Bible is printed in. But perhaps it does? The link is in her post..But Something I just learned, and my interest is piqued is that one of the volumes (vol.2)of the three listed in libraries in the world says “Gilbert Family” as a schematic search term with the explanation of this Bible having dates for the family “Gilbert” listed dod.dob’s I assume. This is interesting as my Bible ALSO is from the Gilbert Family! Yes I am a descendant -Wow! But I have no dates in this one. The inked signature is from a Gilbert (can’t say exactly what the first name is,.(another relative thought it was Conrad) But it was given by him to my GGG John May (his mother was the Gilbert surname)So must figure out how to get those dates out of the other Bible!!!

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    Grrrrr (January 21st, 2013 at 11:30)


    I grew up in Karlsruhe, Germany and therefore my first language is German or Deutsch i studied in Holland and learned Dutch then later moved to Pennsylvania not far from Lancaster. I cannot understand how the Amish can have a German bible written in Hoch Deutch which is actually proper German without a dialect and claim they speak “Dutch” (which they don’t!) And then say well its actually “Deutsch” (which it isn’t!). The so called Pennsylvania Dutch is not German nor Dutch! Not even “old German” and definatel not Hoch Deutsch! I will say there are some German words in the Pennsylavnaia Dutch language that have an extremely heavy south German sound to them. There are also a few Dutch words and a lot of jumbled English words. Most of the words are made up and while they sound like one of these languages they are not! I guess you cant expect much from a culture that wont go to school past the 8th grade.

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      What language do the Amish speak? (January 21st, 2013 at 13:17)

      Dear Ahaich, you have given a good description of how unique the Pennsylvania German dialect is. It’s one of a kind, wouldn’t you say? Sorry if it’s frustrating to you. It’s up to you if you want to learn it. The High German in the Bible is used by the Plain People for reading in church services, but the Pennsylvania German is used for conversations at home. Generally, it’s a plus to be able to know more than one language.

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      Don Curtis
      Pennshylvania Deutsch (January 21st, 2013 at 13:47)

      Pennshylvania Deutsch

      While I find your comment extremely rude and arrogant in critisizing the Amish people I will still respond to it in a civilized manner. My son, who joined the Amish, was recently visiting friends in Germany. While there he had the opportunity to speak to a gathering at a local church in the village and later met some of the folks at a reception. One older gentleman introduced himself and explained that he was a retired professor of Classic Languages. He went on to explain that he had been raised most of his life in a village in the Pfaltz area. His home had been bombed out during the war. His father was killed when the Russians came. So, he and his mother went back to the Pfaltz to live with his maternal grandparents in their rural farming village. He was so thrilled to hear Mark and the boys with him speak their Pennsylvania Dutch. He said that it just sounded like his grandparents speaking. He said that when he closed his eyes he could almost believe his grandfather and his grandfather’s old Pfaltz farmer friends were talking. He said that so many of the idioms, phrases, expressions, and accent were like the Pfaltz dialect of 300 years ago. He said that it just had touched his heart and was like a gateway to his past. So, Ahaich, whoever you are and wherever it is in Germany you are from, I guess that there are some German people that would disagree with you.

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        Jae Utke
        Plattdeutsch (September 2nd, 2013 at 20:12)


        My father speaks a form of Plattdeutch which is similar, but not quite the same as the Deitsch spoken by the Amish. (We have roots in the Germans-from-Russia ethnic groups.) In my area, we have several Hutterite colonies, and Dad has spoken to the people who live there–again, not quite the same, but intelligible. (They speak Hutterish.)

        There were so many small, enclosed areas in Germany, many many many areas spoke some form or another Plattdeutch became the common tongue. But, not all the forms were mutually intelligible. Some infused a bit of French, some Dutch; it just depended on locale, and sometimes exposure to outsiders. Hoch Deutch (High German) was supposed to “standardize” the German language, which it basically has, being as it’s the main form of communication on TV, in the media, movies, etc, etc…. However, it’s kind of like here in parts of the USA, a speaker might say in school, “I’m planning to do _____ after supper,” but once the speaker goes home, the comment becomes “I’m fixing to _____….”

        There is a linguistic phenomenon called “register” which is used in society–there are different levels of familiarity that are allowed in certain situations. That’s why one would not say, “Dude, how’s it going?” when meeting an interviewer for a job. However, if one asked a friend, “I would like to inquire as to your health and general well-being…” the friend would (rightly so) think the first friend was acting like a pompous jerk.

        What all of this comes down to is, the Amish (and several other groups) speak their “language” and call it good. The Amish never really intended to communicate with the outside “world”, thus really had no need to learn High German (except as it pertains to the Bible.) As they found their connections with outsiders required more and more English, the English strayed into their language (much as foreign words like “yacht,” “patio,” and “butte” strayed into English.)

        The Amish are a neat people. As I have German-from-Russia roots (as do many Mennonite sects) I consider the Amish “relatives.” Anyone who wants to blast the Amish are going to hear it from me, first. If they’re lucky, it’ll be in English.

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          Jae Utke
          Our Plattdeutsch Dialect's Name (September 2nd, 2013 at 21:16)

          Our Plattdeutsch Dialect's Name

          The dialect of Plattdeutch my father speaks is Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch.

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        What language do the Amish speak? (March 30th, 2014 at 11:57)

        Maybe you should look on a map where in Germany the Pfalz region is, then “maybe” you can figure out why that region has it’s own dialect. Germany is just like America when it comes to dialects. Northern Germany speaks “Hochdeutsch” while in the south they have their own specific dialect. It’d be like comparing the English spoken in San Francisco for example to the Amish version of that, which would be the English spoken by some redneck Tennessee hillbilly. You catchin’ on now, y’all?

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      What language do the Amish speak? (January 22nd, 2013 at 08:05)

      Greetings, Ahaich:

      Firstly, you are right insofar as the Amish do not speak Dutch (as in ‘niederländisch’), nor do they speak Modern High German (or ‘hoch-deutsch’).

      Secondly, as you will no doubt have ascertained from this particular thread, the Amish use a language that in many ways defies a strict, academic approach (believe me, I’ve tried).

      Based on what orginally appears to be a South German/Swiss dialect (‘alemannisch’ is one theory), it has over the centuries absorbed lexicological as well as syntactical traits from Standard English to produce what is commonly referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch. Despite the lack of linguistic codification, PA/Dutch seems to be perfectly adequate for communication amongst the Amish, and so qualifies as a genuine language.

      Thirdly, most of the prevalent assumptions and claims concerning the Amish are made by ‘the English’, i.e. Americans or ‘outsiders’, such as myself. The Amish themselves seem to have other things on their minds.

      Finally, I shall assume that the invective tone of your comments reflects academic purism, which I might understand, and nothing else.

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        James Kramer
        Languages (September 10th, 2013 at 11:30)


        The Amish Pa German is a language, however, not because it is simply adequate for communication. There is a substantial literature and written forms abound! If they could agree on a lithography (there is a New Testament in a form of lithography based on English which is hard for someone who grew up with German to wade through–I’m living proof of that!) and I would suggest since the majority of the words came from German, a German lithography would be needed, not an English one–the language could be preserved, maintained and allowed to bloom as a language, not merely a dialect. In Pittsburgh we have a dialect–the difference being: no one writes Pittsburghese, but we speak it informally: gumbands, in’e road ‘n at etc. are common expressions every Pittsburgher understands, but no one ever really uses in writing. “I’ll be dahn in a minit I’m reddin’ out the cuppboard” is another–dialect, not standard. Make PA German a standard language–GIVE IT A COHERENT LITHOGRAPHY and continue the literary tradition. Anyone who’s ever studied language knows that in order to retain it if living in a place where anotherlanguage is more commonly used knows you need to muster all of your resources–that would include reading and writing.

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      Deutsch, not Dutch - misunderstanding (October 30th, 2013 at 14:00)

      Deutsch, not Dutch - misunderstanding

      the Pennsylvania Dutch having nothing to do with the Netherland Dutch. The reason that they are called “Dutch” is that when the first Germans arrived here from Germany, they were asked what they were and they said “Deutsch”, but the Americans thought that they said “Dutch”, thus the Pennsylvania “Dutch” – absolutely nothing to do with the Netherland Dutch.

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        Not a mishearing (March 28th, 2014 at 23:07)

        Not a mishearing

        It’s not that English-speakers took “Deitsch” to mean Dutch. Rather, the word “Dutch” was commonly used in early modern English (17th cent. and for quite a while thereafter) to refer to any or all of the Dutch and German dialects or languages (including the more-or-less standard, written forms of both Dutch and German taught in schools). “Dutch” also refered, of course, to the speakers of those languages.

        The usage “Pennsylvania Dutch” is a holdover from that early usage, and it means exactly the same thing as “Pennsylvania German.” The language itself uses the word “Deitsch”, or, if it is necessary to be painfully explicit, “Pennsifaanisch Deitsch”; the usual word for the (Standard) German language in PA German is “Hochdeitsch”–which is itself arguably a tiny bit of a misnomer, but that’s a discussion for another time.


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        Ahhhh- I see (November 10th, 2014 at 10:03)

        Ahhhh- I see

        Thank you for clarifying the “Dutch” (Deuch) (deuchland) meaning German & not Dutch/swiss/netherlands.

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      Dutch or Deutsch ? (March 29th, 2014 at 18:09)

      Dutch or Deutsch ?

      I’m from the coal mining area NE of Köln in Nordrhein/Westfalen, Germany. I’ve lived in English speaking countries since 1953, and our family has always spoken Hochdeutsch at home. What I’ve noticed over the years, is that we’ve formulated our own “German” which now consists of a combination of the “easiest” words from both languages. By doing so, we can speak “more and quicker” than if we chose soley one or the other. When it comes to the Amish, this has become quite more pronounced, since they’ve had many more generations under their belt here in the US, thus much more time to intermingle languages. I think it’s entirely possible for the Amish of today not to be able to understand those 200 years from now for the same reason. So what in my opinion is the modern Amish language of today? A bastardized form of German if you will, most of which I can understand when watching the Amish show on TV, because it certainly isn’t Dutch. When new immigrants to America arrived here years ago, they were frequently asked, “where are you from” or “what are you?” If that person came from Germany he would respond, “Ich bin Deutsch”. (I am German). Most Americans back then, as is the case today, don’t know the difference between Deutsch and Dutch. To them it sounds the same, so they picked the one easiest to pronounce and spell, which is Dutch, and that mixup has remained to this day. Had they asked that question of a person from Holland/Netherlands, he would have answered, “Ich bin Holländer”, or “I am Dutch”. Both of course are 2 totally different languages. I also have an old German bible written in Hochdeutsch but printed in “die alte deutsche Schrift”, or the old German script, which most German speaking Americans wouldn’t be able to read. It’s only about 3″x5″ and titled, Testament und Psalmen. The first page states: Das Neue Testament unseres Herrn und Heilandes Jesu Christi followed by that it was printed in New York by the Amerikanische Bibel-Gesellschaft, gegründet im Jahre 1816. The date of print is 1910 with the signature of the original owner, Arthur Stragis, born December 27, 1884, who was in fact a German immigrant and most likely bought this bible when he entered the US through Ellis Island in New York, like most immigrants from Europe did.

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    Janice Hill
    inactivity lately? (February 17th, 2013 at 10:25)

    inactivity lately?

    HI all, I am wondering if I forgot to check the box of “being notified” for others when I made some recent posts. Just saying hello and hadn’t seen anyone on of late; either to new posts or responses to mine. Just a mid Feb. check in,.and this time I was sure to check the box! ;-)

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      What language do the Amish speak? (February 20th, 2013 at 18:24)

      Hi, Janice! In case you didn’t see it, there were some other recent posts about Pennsylvania Dutch.

      http://amishamerica.com/pa-dutch-interview-amishman-and-sons/ This post has a 19-minute video in Pennsylvania Dutch, plus the readers give excellent resources in the comments.

      http://amishamerica.com/do-you-know-these-10-amish-terms-part-2/ Erik had 3 quizzes so far. Some words are in English, some are in Pennsylvania Dutch.

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    What language do the Amish speak? (April 27th, 2013 at 02:33)

    I was near Intercourse recently and had a conversation with an Amish lady in Pennsylvania Dutch. Well, I was using Hochdeutsch and she was using Penn. Dutch. We didn’t seem to have too much trouble communicating, except for the odd word here and there. I’m not sure whether everything quite got across, though… She may now think that the primary language of Australia is German.

    I attend the German Language School, and have for a couple of years now. That’s Saturday mornings, and I’m the only one there who isn’t actually German (this is what happens when homeschoolers want to learn a language). There’s quite a mix there, people from all over Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Although the teachers always use Hochdeutsch with the children, it’s not uncommon to hear them slipping into dialect with each other or with parents, or even for children to use dialect amongst each other. I use Austrian with my father – my teacher has told me off a couple of times for using mountain words. Most of my friends speak a Rheinland dialect, but my teacher and one of my closest friends both speak Swaebisch. I’ve heard it enough that I was surprised to recognise Pennsylvania Dutch as being Swaebisch. Which it isn’t.

  • Pennsylvania German hour, Lob Lied, Pa. Dutch singing

    -The Berks Community Television, www.bctv.org, hosts a Pennsylvania German hour, usually once a month on the first Friday of the month. This is the recording of the one-hour June 7, 2013 program:
    (Among other songs, the Dolpehock Sanger Chor sang, “Bring Sie Rei/Bring Them In”. An interview is in Pennsylvania Dutch.)

    (Pennsylvania German hour/Die Pennsilvaanisch Deitsch Schtunn. Mother’s Day program of song and poems. 5-3-2013.)
    About halfway through, the Chor sang, “Des is em Gott sei Welt”/This is my Father’s World. Then another song, “Meedli, Witt du Heiere?/Daughter Will you Marry?”

    Die Miller Brieder: En Finger, en Daume. Song. 2:27. Miller Brothers. It’s kind of like singing a round, with motions.
    words to the song in English, One Finger, One Thumb

    -John Schmid singing in Pennsylvania Dutch, with Amish photos. 1:49. Mei Vadder un Mudder sinn Deitch, with English translation. 2010.

    -John Schmid has 3 CDs in Pennsylvania Dutch, IN DUTCH, IN DUTCH AGAIN, DUTCH BLITZ. IN DUTCH has the Lob Lied. http://www.johnschmid.org/music.html
    I think the CDs are $15 each. (In Dutch has a double meaning! Am I in dutch if I’m late?)

    Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society has John Schmid’s CDs, too, plus the CD of Enos Stutzman’s BOHNE SUPP.

    -From 2005, http://dorcassmucker.blogspot.com/2005/12/pa-dutch.html (Dorcas Smucker wrote about Pa. Dutch.)
    “And then what should sound but a long, chanted, OO-ooo—ooo-oo—ohh, the opening notes of the Loblied, and I was instantly transported back to being four years old, sleepily putting my head on my mom’s lap on the backless bench in church while the old slow tunes billowed around me in soft, high waves of sound. It was incredible.”

    (Das Loblied 4:45. 2010. The information says it could be downloaded without the pictures.)

    -http://www.loblied.com/ (You can download the song file, or listen to the YouTube with pictures.)

    (sample of “O God Father” in German, in a faster tune. Acappella.)

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    re: ahaich's comments (July 23rd, 2013 at 13:06)

    re: ahaich's comments

    I think ahaichs first sentence says it all ” I grew up in karlsrhure” …. In 1966 I was in this area of Germany and as a young English girl was subjected to a torrid and insulting verbal attack by a group of local residents . This was unprovoked and was because we were English. Bigoted remarks about other cultures from such people do not suprise me

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      Germans in Australia (March 30th, 2014 at 12:28)

      Germans in Australia

      Well Halliday, I on the other hand was a young German boy growing up in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia between 1953 and ’63. Bigoted remarks towards me wouldn’t even begin to describe the verbal abuse I had to endure from those Aussies simply for the fact that I was German. And what do they really hail from ? England’s white trash and convicts, so I suppose I shouldn’t have expected any better. It’s the reason we moved to America in ’63, where we could rid ourselves of that predominately prejudiced “English” society and into one more integrated with peoples from all over the world. Best move my dad ever made. Maybe you should read, “The long, slow death of White Australia” by Gwenda Tavan and it’ll give you a good idea how welcoming you English are.

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    Martin Zimmerman
    What language do the Amish speak? (September 21st, 2013 at 18:46)

    As a native speaker of Pennsylvania German who learned to speak English in grade school, I can probably answer a few questions concerning the dialect. Clearly P.G is a German dialect rather than a Dutch one. Some of the shifts that occurred in the development High German are present in P.G. while others are missing.

    The differences between P.G. and H.G. are fairly uniform, such as the following vowel changes: English home, bone, one, alone, stone, etc. are German heim, bein, ein, allein, stein. P.G. heem, bee, een, alleen,schtee. Usually H.G final “n” is dropped in P.G. The frequency of English content varies greatly from speaker to speaker. Older speakers may use very little English, usually only for terms introduced to the dialect since immigration to the Americas.

    The plural form of P.G. nouns will easily distinguish between words of German origin vs. English origin. In most cases nouns of English origin will form the plural forms with an “s” just as in English.

    The German dialects closest to P.G. are: Hesse, Elsass, Saar, Pfaltz, and Mannheim.

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      What language do the Amish speak? (September 22nd, 2013 at 05:43)

      Grüss Gott, herr Zimmermann:

      Thanks for your much appreciated comments. I hope that you will be able to provide some views on the following:

      a) My first theory is that back in the mid-18th century the first Amish, being Swiss, used a dialect from North-Switzerland or one closely related to it, e.g. ‘alemannisch’.

      b) My second theory is that present-day PA/Dutch must be different from the original dialect, even when allowing for near-perfect isolation and some ‘contamination’ from Standard-English. *

      c) You suggest that present-day PA/Dutch resembles dialects found in e.g. Hessen, Pfalz and Saarland.

      d) This would mean that the Amish, linguistically, have moved north from Switzerland and well into south/south-western Germany without any significant external influence.

      That is a very intriguing proposition – if I’ve understood you correctly.

      * I know ‘PA/Dutch’ a misnomer, but it’s the term used by everyone on this site, so let’s go with it.

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        Martin Zimmerman
        What language do the Amish speak? (September 22nd, 2013 at 10:24)

        Hello Grey/Catz, the Amish as well as many Mennonites had their origins in Switzerland, but fled to the Palatinate due to persecution from the established Swiss churches. Once in the Palatinate the number of adherents grew by proselytization of the local populace. Within a few generations the language had largely shifted from Swiss German to Palatinate German. Some groups emigrated to the Americas directly from Switzerland and if isolated, retained more Swiss features in their dialect.

        So, the Amish have ancestral roots in both Switzerland and the Palatinate, but have liguistic roots primarily in the Palatinate.

        As I listen to varios German dialects, I find the Mannheim dialect rather close to mine including the pronunciation of Mannheim as “Mannem”. (We have a local town named Manheim).

        My dialect is not an exact match for any specific German dialect, but rather, an amalgam of several dialects, just as the immigrants themselves.

        Cases in point, Mir for Wir, genung for genug, glee for klein, etc. These changes are found in the various German dialects.

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          Adding another piece to the puzzle. (September 22nd, 2013 at 13:22)

          Adding another piece to the puzzle.

          Hello, Martin:

          If the Amish, prior to emigration, were linguistically rooted in and around Pfalz, it would explain why present-day PA/Dutch seems more akin to dialects found in Germany rather than in Switzerland.

          Maybe it’s time to adjust our view of the Amish as being Swiss: geographically and historically, they still are of course, but in terms of language (and most likely culture) it would probably be more accurate to view them as descended from Palatinate Germans.

          Whether you agree or not, I thank you again for your useful comments.

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            Martin Zimmerman
            What language do the Amish speak? (September 22nd, 2013 at 13:55)

            Your analysis is correct. My own ancestry is about 75% Swiss and 25% Palatinate German. My Palatinate ancestors were from Eich and Sinzenich, Germany. My Swiss ancestors were from Zurich and Bern.

            The Amish surname Zook (Zug) is from Switzerland. Stolzfus is from the Palatinate. Some of the Amish surnames are from Alsace, France, the surname Blank (Blanc in French) for example.

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              Thomas Kaltenrieder
              Blank (December 12th, 2013 at 18:02)


              Blank is also used in the Canton of Berne without having any connection to Blanc from France!

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              Thomas Kaltenrieder
              What language do the Amish speak? (December 12th, 2013 at 18:04)

              The name Blank is also used in the Kanton of Berne without having any connection to the French Name Blanc!

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    Don Curtis
    Interesting post (September 23rd, 2013 at 13:03)

    Interesting post

    I thought this post would be interesting to my son, Mark. He joined the Amish about eleven years ago and speaks fluent Pennsylvania Dutch. He says that the Amish don’t refer to the dialect as Dutch but as Deitsch. Mark related that when the Anabaptists were persecuted and expelled from Switzerland most of them went by boat and followed the Rhine River. The Rhine flows north. Some of them them landed on the east of the Rhine and settled in the Alsace region of what is now France. Others went on and settled on the west side of the Rhine in what is called the Pfaltz Region. They were there for quite a long time. Probably over a hundred and fify years. They picked up Pfaltz speaking converts and probably gradually over time lost a lot of the Swiss German dialect. A year and a half ago Mark was in Germany in the Baden – Wurtemburg area. He met an older gentleman who was just fascinated by Mark’s and the others who were with him when they spoke. He was raised in the Pfaltz and after WWII he and his mother went to live with his grandparents in a little rural village in the Pfaltz. He said that when he heard Mark and the others speak it took him back to his childhood. Their accent, vocabulary, etc. were so much like what the older farmeres and villagers spoke there in the Pfaltz. Certain words that Mark and the others used he said that he hadn’t heard since his grandparents passed away. He said that it really took him back to his childhood. One word that Mark said he just exclaimed over was when Mark used the word “allegebot.” It means “every once in a while.” He was so excited. “Allegebot! Allegebot!. That is Old Pfaltzich!”

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      Martin Zimmerman
      What language do the Amish speak? (September 23rd, 2013 at 13:56)

      Hello Don, yes allegebot is a commonly used word in the dialect. Some other differences are that German “pf” becomes “p”, or even “b” Pflantzen becomes Blantze. Likewise “p” in front of another consonant becomes a “b” Prediger becomes Brediger . “k” in front of another consonant becomes a “g” Kreutz becomes Greitz. Nearly all final “n”s are dropped although they are often retained if there is a suffix. “Schee” (Schoen) becomes “Schenner” in the superlative.

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      What language do the Amish speak? (September 23rd, 2013 at 17:26)

      Great account Don, thanks for sharing. Allegebot! :)

      Yes it is spoken of as “Deitsch” but it is also referred to as “Dutch”, at least when speaking about it with English folk.

      I have always found it fascinating that some German speakers in Germany have this reaction to what Amish speak.

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        Catherine Segal
        What language do the....... (November 28th, 2014 at 21:56)

        What language do the.......

        After having to take a week off work r&r from surgery, I am reading lots of catch up here and enjoying it very much.

        I do have question on “learning” to speak Pa. Dutch. Toward the top of this thread there is a pop up type ad, orange backgrounds asking if you want to learn Pa Durch to please submit your name and email address. Is this something sponsored, approved or otherwise involved with you and the AA forum? Or is it an ad out of nowhere that got lucky enough to appear in the middle of your thread?

        Curious Cat

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          What language do the Amish speak? (November 28th, 2014 at 22:46)

          That’s actually from this site Catherine. It’s not a pop up but just a subscription form for those who want to hear more about the program when it’s closer to ready. We have been developing a basic PA Dutch audio learning program with the help of some Amish friends. We have completed recordings but the production side is taking a lot of work (I’m not involved in that part of the process), but hopefully will start to move along here. If you want us to let you know about it when it’s ready, you can sign up in that form.

          Hope your surgery recovery goes well!

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      H Georg
      Alsac; west of the Rhain (March 30th, 2014 at 08:27)

      Alsac; west of the Rhain

      You mean wast of the Rhain, yes?
      Regards from Sweden

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    "Allegebot" (March 5th, 2014 at 11:42)


    It may not have a relevance.

    In some Swiss dialects, “allpott” means “quite often”, such as “busses run quite often on this route, there is one every 10 minutes”. Not exactly matching “every once in a while”, could be a co-inky-dink.

    I’d be interested to know which expression is used in Amish German for the English ‘about’, such as in “It would take me about 30 mins to finish this work”.



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