I really enjoy all the various accents we have in American English – the regional dialects, quirky localisms, unique manners of speaking (this may be because I also apparently have an odd way of speaking 🙂 ).
Amish in different communities have different accents and pronunciations when they speak English as well. When you compare English pronunciation in the Lancaster County Amish community with that of Amish in Holmes County, Ohio (and especially some groups like the Swartzentruber Amish), you can notice a clear difference.
Amish accents in English can be distinct to their own communities but can also be affected by the dominant English accent in the regions they live in. In this video I share a piece of a visit to an Amish patio furniture maker named Enos in North Carolina (Enos has been mentioned here before), who has a great Southern accent.
I grew up in the South so I can appreciate a Southern manner of speaking (and even slip more into it myself when I’m back home or “Down East” as they call Eastern North Carolina, the region where my father grew up). It’s like music to my ears and as I say in the video, feels like home.
I share this video to give another example of how Amish, despite the things that unite them, can vary quite a bit when it comes to their local culture and ways of living (just like the rest of us!). And just like the rest of us, the way they speak English is part of that. Enos lives in the Ellenboro, NC community, which has roots in the Ethridge, Tennessee Amish settlement. The Ethridge community is where I’ve noticed the most heavy Southern accents among Amish.
And it makes sense when you consider that Amish have lived in that area since the mid-1940s (originally coming, in part, from the Holmes County, Ohio area and in part from a now-defunct settlement in Mississippi), meaning they’ve had 4+ generations to absorb local ways of speaking.
The thick southern accents you hear there and in their daughter settlements like Ellenboro and Pontotoc County, MS are delightful to these ears. When you hear Enos’ accent in this video, you can also pick up some Pennsylvania Dutch flowing through (beneath?) the Southern lathered on top. I could listen to Enos all day. Runtime: 3:10.