PA Dutch interview with an Amishman and sons

This interview with a man named John Beiler, on what looks like a break from welding, is one of many featuring Pennsylvania German speakers on the Penn Deitsch website.

Even if you don’t know any Pennsylvania German you can probably follow along for the first 30 seconds or so, and at numerous parts throughout.

At about 4:20 in the video John demonstrates his craft. At 5:30 his sons Steven and Jay Amos join the interview. A female speaker (mom, I believe) chimes in at around 10 minutes in. At 15:40 the boys show off their animals and at 17:45, the scooter.

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    1. Lattice

      This is great! My PA Dutch is limited, so I enjoy an opportunity to see what I can understand.

      It’s interesting to hear him struggle with counting. I suppose that they, like the Amish I know, pretty much use English numbers.

    2. Lydia Wallace

      Pennsylvania German Language Sources

      This is very interesting, Eric. Are there any useful books or instructional websites or software for learning the spoken PA German language? What do you recommend?

      1. Unlike a major language, there are not a ton, but there are some resources out there, I am actually looking into this now and will try to provide some more info in the not too distant future 🙂 Kutztown University in SE PA has PA German programs and is doing a good bit for both the language and the cultural side, but that is probably not too convenient unless you live in the area.

        There are dictionaries and some textbooks. Some are quite old though there are some more recent ones. Here’s one that I have:

        Here is the Amazon page for “Pennsylvania Dutch Language”, fwiw:

        1. Rose Clapp

          On-Line learning to speak PA Dutch! =D

          Erik….how about an on-line classroom like what most colleges are doing?? I’d sign up to learn PA Dutch!! Just a idea!!!

        2. Andrea

          Hi Erik i found this webpage a lady called Lillian Stoltzfun, she is writing a book on PA German, its been prof read at the moment , her webpage says it will be ready in a month or two. So for people like myself we can learn PA Diestch .

        3. Lydia Wallace

          Thanks for the Helpful Comments

          Thanks, Eric, Andrea, & Rose C, for the resources & comments. The video posts are very helpful for pronunciation, and I picked up a couple of simple phrases. Think I have found a local Amish tutor willing to help, but he’s 45 minutes away, so I need some other resources as well. An online course would be perfect!

    3. Randy

      I was actually able to understand some of this from my college German (many years ago).

    4. Dessa


      I would love to learn this language as well so I can talk to the Amish that we deal with on a day to day basis.

    5. Christine


      Thank you for sharing this, Erik. It is interesting to see how long they chatted. I found it sad to see one dog in a pen and the other being ignored until the child climbed on – the boy nearly choked the poor thing. Such treatment of animals is unacceptable be it Amish or English. Working in animal cruelty for 30 years, it still amazes and saddens me by what people find as acceptable treatment of animals.

    6. Kelly Smith

      Loved it!

      Of course I recognized a few words, but didn’t understand the majority of it. But I loved it! The young boys were adorable! Loved that he was welding since my husband does that as well! Great interview, thanks for posting it, Erik!

    7. The only thing I think I caught was counting?

    8. I loved listening to PA German. I speak German (a bit) as well as my native Swedish and English and I got an idea of what they are talking about. The German is ‘weird’ to my ears, the pronounciation is not like standard German but you can often guess what they mean anyway. Like most Swedes I understand Norweigian and Danish as well and the feeling is similar to trying to understand a Danish person who speaks very fast and with no regard to me being from Sweden. It is hard and you have to focus but you get an idea of what they are saying. I understand that they count and they talk about that Amish often count in English and about school and learning English and later learning how to read the German of their Bible. At one point they talk about the weather and but I didn’t really catch everything there. I stopped about 9 minutes in but I will listen to the rest soon.

    9. Patty Tolliver

      PA Dutch interview with an Amishman and sons

      That was very interesting. I too remembered some of my high school German listening to him speak about his craft. The sons were so cute.

      Thank you for sharing this with us Erik.

    10. Andrea

      Was really intresting, i learnt german at school, some of this i could understand, counting i got and also some of the words spoken i could understand. This was cool i feel like i can understand a bit of PA Dutch, excellant loved it 🙂 may come to PA for my 50th birthday so would brush up on my German, got two years to do and could try learning PA-Dutch. 🙂

    11. Don Curtis

      Pennshylvania Deutsch

      I’ll have to get Mark to come over and listen to this. I’m sure he can understand everything that they’re saying. I surely can’t.

    12. Laurie


      Just wondered why the children and any others in the room were allowed to watch the welding without eye protection.

    13. Now with English subtitles.

    14. Laurie

      Wondered about that myself. Notice there is no brightness or shadows on the wall behind them. The reflection in their eyes looks to be constant from sunlight in the windows, not from the arc. There would be shadows on the wall behind them from anything in front of the welding bench or their own. Must not be subject to the flash. The camera doesn’t pan around the room or even show the front of the forklift or machine they are on. Probably a shield or partition between them and the fabrication bench. It only takes a curtain that isn’t shown, but doesn’t affect sound.
      You wouldn’t think they would be allowed in the shop barefoot with molten metal bits on the floor, so maybe they were told to stay on the forklift for the interview where they were protected from the flash as well. But then his feet are so tough on the pavement, walking on coals may not be a problem. Hurts my feet to watch.
      A few agencies would want that steering wheel fitted with a seat belt.

      1. I guess its bad video editing. Nobody was looking at the welding. Just the camera. I thought it would be cool to get it on video. Then the video insert of the boys looking right at the camera was a bad idea. It just goes to show how video editing can give such a false story, even unintenionally.

    15. Kathie M

      For those lucky enough to live in the Lancaster area, The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society offers Pennsylvania German classes and sells many printed and CD resources to help folks understand their Old Order Amish and Mennonite neighbors,and to help preserve the dialect. As I remember, you can order materials from them, too. For anyone who is interested, a brochure that I held onto offers the following contact information:

      Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
      2215 Millstream Road,
      Lancaster, PA 17602

      Hope this info. is useful to someone!

    16. Lydia Wallace

      Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society

      What a wonderful resource, both for PA German language learning materials and educational and cultural ressources! Thank you, Kathie M, for providing this useful info. I did not know about this organization and its activities.

    17. Pennsylvania German Internet Class

      There is a new Online Class for Pennsylvania German provided by Doug Madenford. Until today he uploaded 32 video lessons including powerpoint slides. The videos are available on … eight hours of instruction so far.

      1. Lydia Wallace

        Doug Madenford

        Very happy to have found an online resource for learning PA German. In the first lesson he mentions having taught at Penn State, which is in my neck of the woods. Wonder if he still teaches there or lives in the State College PA vicinity?

        1. Pennsylvania German Online Class

          Douglas still lives in the area. You shoould try to contact him. His website is: You might want to leave a comment there …

    18. Hard Cover Dictionary only $10 NEW

      Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society has the hard cover red 1996 Eugene S. Stine; Pennsylvania German – English and English – Pennsylvania German Dictionary for $10 plus $4.00 shipping. The web site describes them “like new”, mine looks and feels new. It has a pronunciation guide in the front giving all letters and combinations the approximate English sounds. Absolutely necessary for anyone serious about learning the language.

    19. Lydia Wallace


      Thank you for the recommendation. I purchased some language tapes and CDs, but didn’t know which dictionary I should get. I appreciate the advice!