Why do you keep calling me that? I’ve never even been to Britain!

‘English’ is what many Amish call non-Amish people.

‘Yankee’ is another term.

The Amish also use phrases–‘your people’, ‘those kinds of people’–which may sound somewhat derogatory to our ears.

But no harm intended.

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Identity matters in Amish America.  Customs, clothes, language make dividing lines clear.

At the same time, many Amish are surprisingly open to the world, and even have good friends among the English.

I recall one visit in an Amish home.  A shy two-year-old quickly hid his face, unused to English folks.

The mother smiled and reassured her boy in Pennsylvania Dutch:  ‘don’t worry…he just looks different from us, but he’s good too.’

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    6 Comments

    1. It’s interesting because I attended a farm auction last summer in Ohio Amish country. I thought, at first glance, that all the Amish (particularly the men) looked alike. Then when I really looked, I realized that was not true.

    2. If you look close enough, you can tell, can’t you? Especially in Holmes county–very diverse when it comes to Amish congregations.

      There is an interesting place in PA called Big Valley, where the various Amish groups drive brown, white, black, and yellow-topped buggies. The dress varies greatly as well. I have not been yet but would love to go there.

      By the way, any luck with subscribing? I am tech-impaired as the phrase goes so don’t know if I was able to fix it, though I know some people were able to subscribe.

      cheers!

      Erik

    3. I was finally able to subscribe a couple of days ago!

    4. Great! glad to hear! have been enjoying the Boomer Chronicles–especially your valentine’s candy post. The stuff is vile!

    5. Don Curtis

      English

      Mark tells me that among themselves the Amish don’t use the terms English and Yankee. That is what they use when referring to English to other English. Among themselves they refer to English people as “Hoch Leut.” Pronounced “Hoe-hee Lite” It means the high people. If someone leaves the Amish and joins mainstream American culture they’ll say “so and so has gone hoch.” The Amish consider themselves as the Plain People “Plainee Leut.” To be considered hoch by the Amish is not a compliment.

    6. The other night i had to call AOL to help with my computer. I spoke to a very very nce young man who said he was in New Delhi, India We ended up talking about our home cities and i learned so much and we actually didnt want to say goodbye I am 72 years old i know what you are thinking. No it was just a interesting conversation of how the various people live but he did say this to me and i thought of it the moment i read your article title: English? Why do you keep calling me that? I’ve never been to britain.

      The young man in India told me that in India they refer to the United Kingdom citizens as English because they speak English but in the United States they refer to citizens as American English.. When an Amish refers to you as an English he is not discussing the country but the Language.