What Language Do Amish Speak? (3 Languages)

Amish speak a version of German known as Pennsylvania German, or Pennsylvania Dutch. It has some similarities with dialects of German spoken in Europe today. This is their first language.

Pennsylvania Dutch, as spoken by the Amish today, includes some English words. Accents, and manners of speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, can vary between Amish communities. Besides PA Dutch, most Amish people speak two other languages – English and High German.

An Amish couple pushes strollers down a gravel road as a buggy passes
Most Amish people speak Pennsylvania Dutch as a first language. Photo: Jim Halverson

The “Amish Language”

Pennsylvania Dutch is generally not a written language. However, some attempts have been made to transcribe the language to a written form. Dictionaries have been compiled and some books written in the dialect. The language is a variety of German which also incorporates some English words – particularly for modern terms and innovations.

Road sign showing PA Dutch translation
A bilingual road sign in English and Pennsylvania Dutch. Lancaster County, PA

Additionally, the so-called “Swiss Amish”, primarily found in Indiana, speak a Swiss dialect which differs from that spoken by the majority of Amish. This can even cause difficulties in understanding between a Swiss-speaking Amishman and one from a PA Dutch language background.

Amish may refer to the Pennsylvania Dutch language in different ways. They may say that they speak “Dutch”, “Deitsch”, or even “speak Amish”. And though Pennsylvania Dutch is often referred to as the “Amish language”, in truth the Amish share it with others.

A row of Amish and Mennonite girls wearing colorful dresses at an auction
Amish and Mennonite girls at an auction in Wakarusa, Indiana. Both the Amish and Plain Mennonites speak PA Dutch. Photo: Jim Halverson

They include the Old Order Mennonites, and some non-Plain people (though that number has declined greatly). At one point in history, many non-Plain citizens of southeastern Pennsylvania spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. Over time the use of Pennsylvania Dutch dwindled among non-Plain population in favor of English.

Amish also speak English

When Amish write letters, they do so largely in English, with some occasional use of German possible. Amish use English when conversing with non-Amish individuals, and when doing business with outsiders.

It’s common that when a non-Amish person enters a conversation with Amish people, the Amish speakers will switch from Pennsylvania Dutch to English as a courtesy. As one observer noted:

My Amish friends always speak English when I’m in their presence. Some people in the community seem to have mastered the language while others obviously struggle. It seems to be directly related to how much contact they have with outsiders.

Whenever a visitor stops by and I’m there, they will always speak in English, even when they have very poor command of the language. I’ve always thought that was very kind and considerate. However, even the ones who seem to speak English perfectly will say that speaking PA Dutch is easier.

Old Order Mennonites speak Pennsylvania Dutch as well, and Amish and Old Order Mennonites will converse in the language. Amish tend to switch to English when non-Amish enter within earshot, out of respect and to involve the others.

English proficiency varies among Amish

As hinted at in the comment quoted above, just because Amish people speak English, it doesn’t mean they have the same command or comfort level with the language as non-Amish people do.

Besides distinctive accents when speaking English (in some communities in particular), this is evident in mispronunciations of common words (e.g. “favoright” for the word “favorite”) or by calques (aka loan translations) such as “it wondered me” for “I wondered”.

Though many Amish speak English without difficulty, for most Amish people it is still a second language. I once asked someone from a much “higher” Amish group whether dealing in English still “felt” like using a foreign language. She replied that it did, saying that she thinks in Pennsylvania Dutch – even though she does much work in English.

The level of English proficiency can also vary across Amish groups – sometimes greatly. Karen Johnson-Weiner, who has done extensive work on both Pennsylvania Dutch language and Old Order education, explores this topic in Train Up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools.

Johnson-Weiner notes that Swartzentruber Amish (the most traditional of Amish groups) learn “an English no longer spoken by their non-Amish neighbors” (p 59). Vocabulary taught in Swartzentruber schools, typically based in outdated school texts like McGuffey’s Readers or the circa-1919 Essentials of Spelling, is archaic (p 58).

Simple white Amish schoolhouse in a field of hay
A Swartzentruber Amish school in Tennessee. The level of education and English proficiency can vary greatly across Amish groups. Photo: Don Burke

Much of it, she notes, is “of little use” in practical matters. For example, sixth graders “memorize for spelling tests such words as “luncheon”, “telegraph”, “madam”, “trolley”, and “piano””.

Eighth graders must tackle “words no longer used by their English-speaking neighbors, including household terms such as “emetic,” “gimp,” “chiffonier,” and “poultice,”; industrial terms such as “magneto” and “adz”; urban terms such as “jitney” and “linotype”; and rural words such as “Bordeaux,” “sulky,” and “whiffle tree”” (p 58).

There are a number of reasons these texts are used, including “reinforc[ing] a sense of continuity in the community” (p 60). The net result, though, is that graduates of these schools are likely to have a weaker grasp on the English language.

On the other hand, Amish in more progressive churches often have a much more fluid command of the English language. This is in part because of their different Old Order education – and in part due to greater exposure to non-Amish people. Outsiders should not be surprised to hear some Amish people comfortably using current American slang and expressions.

Amish learn three languages

Pennsylvania Dutch is the language of the home. It is the first language an Amish child learns. Most Amish children have limited exposure to English before entering first grade.

Illustrated German alphabet on the wall of an Amish school
German alphabet in an Amish school. Amish children learn both English and High German. Photo: Don Burke

In Amish schools, instruction is in English, along with some classes in High German. Some Amish children become quite proficient at English at a young age. This phenomenon has become more common with the rise of Amish business and greater exposure to the non-Amish world.

In many cases, however, Amish children will have little command of the language before entering grade school. Parents or siblings will translate from English to Pennsylvania Dutch for the youngest ones. Since nearly all books are in English, Amish parents will translate to “Dutch” while reading.

High German

Bibles used by Amish are written in High German, and verses read in church are also in High German, as is the Amish songbook, the Ausbund. Proficiency in High German can vary among Amish.

It is safe to say that Amish are at least a bilingual people, with individuals having a varying degree of ability in High German. Some Amish people will have a better command of High German than others. High German is not the same as Pennsylvania Dutch/Pennsylvania German.

A bible showing the book of Luke in both English and German
High German is the language of Amish worship. This dual-language Bible is common in Amish homes

An anecdote of Amish language use

An Amish “taxi” driver observed the following on the use of English and Pennsylvania Dutch by her Amish customers. This anecdote nicely captures much of the dynamic of language use by the Amish:

I “taxi” for the Amish in our area and find that there is a variety of language use in my car. Some passengers chat almost exclusively in the Amish dialect except when they speak to me while others use English for the most part. One regular customer has apologized for speaking Amish in my car because she feels that it is “rude”. I have told her that I don’t consider it rude when she speaks to other Amish in front of me as long as I don’t hear my name (LOL)! Some, especially the younger women, switch back and forth, throwing in English words for which there may be no Amish (products, etc.)

I had a local bishop explain to me that the Amish word for ‘six’ sounds like ‘sex’ and he didn’t want me to think they were talking about sex. That kind of tickled me as I really don’t listen that closely to conversations. I find that children under the age of 5 don’t understand a lot of English and when I talk to them their mothers will often translate my comment to them and then translate their comments back to me. Some school age children speak English very well, and others do not.

I think one determining factor is how much contact their family has with the English, those that have shops or stores often speak better English, using idioms and slang more frequently. One teen uses “whatever” and “no way” quite a bit. I am learning a word here or there but no way can I follow conversation.

Amish language & identity

The Pennsylvania Dutch dialect is not only a means of communication but also seen as important in a symbolic sense. Along with Plain clothing and the horse-and-buggy, it is seen as a marker of the Amish and other Plain people, marking them in contrast with the outside world.

Thus the preservation of the Pennsylvania Dutch language is important to the Amish. In some communities there is concern that Pennsylvania Dutch may be falling out of use in favor of English.

Amish Language FAQ

  1. What language do the Amish speak?
  2. Why to Amish people call their dialect “Dutch”?
  3. Is the dialect Amish speak the same everywhere?
  4. When do Amish children learn English?
  5. Do Amish speak High German?
  6. Do Amish speak English with an accent?
  7. How can an outsider learn PA Dutch?

What language do the Amish speak?

Amish speak a dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsylvania German. It is a German dialect which in its everyday usage often incorporates English words. The dialect is generally not written. It’s spoken in everyday conversation as the primary language of the home, business, and social interaction.

Why do Amish people call their language “Dutch?

It’s not what they speak in Holland. 

True. Pennsylvania Dutch is not the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands, though you may have heard Amish people describing what they speak as “Dutch”.

Holland-style Windmill
Though you might see “Holland Dutch” imagery in some tourist areas, the Amish do not speak modern Dutch

The name of the dialect comes from the name given to the Pennsylvania Dutch people, a larger group of immigrants which included Amish and Mennonites but also many others of other religious persuasions. There are different theories as to why this group of people came to be known as “Dutch”.

Is the language Amish speak the same in all communities?

No. There are differences, for example, between the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken in Lancaster County and in Midwestern settlements like Holmes County, Ohio. Also, the Swiss Amish speak a different dialect which can be difficult for Pennsylvania Dutch speakers to understand.

Two Amish women traveling in an open-top buggy in autumn
Swiss Amish speak a different dialect than the majority of Amish. Adams County, Indiana. Photo: Jim Halverson

When do Amish children learn English?

Typically when they enter the first grade, Amish children will get their first formal training in English. However, some Amish children may get exposure to the English language due to their parents’ occupations (eg, jobs involving contact with English clientele) or via non-Amish neighbors and visitors.

Do Amish speak High German?

High German is considered the language of the church. It is not spoken in everyday usage, but Bibles and other religious books are printed and read in High German. Amish children have German lessons in school.

Do Amish speak English with an accent?

Usually. But it’s not an “Old English” or heavily German accent as it may be portrayed in fictional works, television programs or movies. The Amish accent can vary across settlements.

Younger and older Amish man in the movie Witness
When speaking English, the real Amish don’t actually sound much like these guys. From the 1985 film Witness

In some communities it involves a softening of syllables, such as the word “just” being pronounced more like “chust”. Amish may pronounce certain common words in an unusual manner, such as the word “favorite” being enunciated as “favo-right”. They may also use some unusual phrasings, such as “it wondered me”, instead of “I wondered”.

Some Amish accents are stronger than others, and Amish in different communities and situations will be more and less comfortable communicating in English. Generally, businesspeople who have a lot of exposure to non-Amish people tend to have higher language skills while Amish in plainer, more isolated settlements have weaker English abilities.

Can non-Amish people learn Pennsylvania Dutch?

Yes. There are a number of resources available to help non-natives learn the language, including books, dictionaries, and at least one course. If you’re curious about the language, you can view some PA Dutch kitchen terms and similar-sounding words.

You can also hear PA Dutch being spoken by a variety of speakers at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures American Languages project.

More questions on the Amish? Get answers to 300+ questions in 41 categories at the FAQ main page.


  • Stoltzfus, Lillian. Speaking Amish. Bird-in-Hand, PA: Eckshank Publishing, 2013.
  • Kraybill, Donald B., Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt. The Amish. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.
  • “Group Identity and Language Maintenance: The Survival of Pennsylvania German in Old Order Communities”, Karen Johnson-Weiner, Diachronic Studies on the Languages of the Anabaptists, 1992
  • “Community Identity and Language Change in North American Anabaptist Communities”, Karen Johnson-Weiner, Journal of Sociolinguistics 1998 2/3: 375-394
  • “Kannst Du Deitsch Schwetza?”, David  Luthy, Family Life, July 1975

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    1. Lattice

      Oh, absolutely Valerie! I was only teasing. I am quite intrigued by the postings above. Please, carry on 🙂

    2. R. E.

      Har du hørt om ; Flammeküeche??

      Hei GreyCatz!

      kan opplyse deg at der ikke mye fransk i den elsassisch kjøkkene de har det som de kaller for “haut cuisine” kanskje på en tallerken en liten erte lit sause på, en halv sopp noe små steikte kartoffler til en dust med persil og det var det! Vi elsasser vi leker ikke med maten, vi spisser for å leve og ikke omvendt. Det som er for meg norsk-elsasser den fine en kveld en glass hvitvin en Muskat og en Flammküeche det er toppen lett og godt! Flammeküeche ??? enhver elsasser vet hva dette er. “Froske spiser” kaller det noe annet, som ofte ellers. Gjett?

      1. GreyCatz

        Flammekueche = Tarte flambée?

        Hej E R,

        Er “froske spiser” en franskmand eller en tysker?

        Jeg har set billeder af Flammekueche, og det ligner Tarte flambée. Hvis det er rigtigt, så har jeg spist det et par gange – meget velsmagende.

        Jeg kan lide din sætning, “Vi elsasser leker ikke med maten”; det svarer præcis til min forestilling om folk i Elsass.

      2. Josef Von Klarr

        I became old Order I can read and write German I have cousins in Bavaria Germany

        My Great Grandmother was 1st COUSIN to the last King of Austria Josef Von Klarr.

    3. R. E.

      Benytter Amish folkene flammeküeche??

      Hey GreyCatz!
      det vae en ny vri, E.R hvofor ikke!

      Vel den rette skrive måte er riktig f l a m m e k ü e c h e jeg er lit stiv på måte de skrive den på. Flammkuchen er på tysk (uten e og ü)men “tarte flammbèe” er en total mislykket oversettelse = flammberte torte??? Altså frukt brennvin (snapps) a 62% alkohol og så tenner de på?? Da ser du Grey hvem som er “froske spiser” i dette. Jeg har den riktige original flammeküeche resept i min hukommelse (håper ikke på Alzheimer med det første!) en må kjenne selve bakgrunn for flammküeche for å forstå hvofor den ble laget. Tror nok ikke at den fantes – sikkert er jeg ikke – da Amish folkene hold seg til i Elsass.

      1. GreyCatz


        Hej R E,

        Jeg beder om forladelse. Som lingvistiker bør jeg selvfølgelig være mere præcis 🙂

        Nuvel, det skrives ‘flammeküeche’ på elsassisk, men ‘flammkuche’ på tysk. Fint nok, men det lyder, som om man ‘tænder ild på en kage’ (flamme + kuche/küeche) – er det korrekt forstået?

        Nej, jeg tror heller ikke, at Amish-folket forbereder så ‘avancerede’ madretter, men vi kan jo kigge nærmere på Eriks fine artikler.

    4. GreyCatz

      Do You Understand A Word of This?

      If so, whether you’re Amish or not, please let us know. Our theory is that PA German/Dutch is derived directly from Elsass-German, as written below, and that Amish therefore should be able to understand people from Elsass.

      Liewer R. E.
      Du isch e bissel ebbs iwwer die Amish. Güeter Empfàng Griess vum P. un Malou

      A/ Die Sekt « Amish » wo in d’r Schwitz existiert het zitter d’r Luthrische Reform ,erschint im Elsàss ands 18te Johrhundert. Sie sinn die Wiedertäufer (dann sie erkanne d’Kindtaif nitt àn). Schun ànne 1529 mit der Ankunft vun de Tirike in Wien ware se verjoejt un verfoligt. Empfànge in Struussburi, ware se geduldt awwer ihri Predjerei g’fällt nitt im Louis XIV : nu ware viel verhàft zum Beispiel in Riquewihr. Wann d’r Napoleon d’r Militärdienscht insetzt, gehn d’meischte vun ‘ne uf Amerikà.
      Nuch 1648 lockt se d’r frànzisch Stààt in unser Lànd un verspricht ne dàss sie ken Stiire brüche bezàhle un gibt in denne Schwitzer Anabaptiste viel Faldsticker umesunscht.Viel instàlliere sich in Ohnenheim un Marienkirich mit’em Jakob Amann. 1693 hànn sich die Amish getrannt vun de Mennonite in Mariekirich (Elsàss).
      Dutch will heisse hollandisch .

      B/àwwer ‘s Pennsylvànian Dutch vu die Amish rede isch verwàndt mit Pfälzisch, Elsässisch und Schwäbisch au Schwitzerdütsch; es isch amerikànisierts Alemànnisch (wie ziemlich ‘s Elsassisch in Castroville).

      The text has been provided by R E Kronenberger from his private correspondance with Prof. Paul Adolf in Obernai, Elsass.

      R E Kronenberger and GreyCatz.

      1. Jaspar

        RE: Do You Understand A Word of This?

        My first language is English and I’m in my third year of studying High German. I know I’m a little late to the conversation, but I just wanted to comment on this post in particular. Which dialect was that again? Elsass? I could only understand a little of it. I know nothing of PA-German, either. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

        Anyway, I am very much a fan of linguistics, particularly how dialects can evolve into completely different languages. So it’s been very interesting reading your comments.


      2. Pappa Charlie

        I can understand a fair bit

        I am English. I speak (almost) fluent German. I can understand quite a lot of this. It sounds a bit like the German spoken near the border with France in Saarland and SW Germany.


      3. WiedertauferMuesse

        Jo, I’kann dat ziemlich gut Versteh! Aber, Flammekueche?MfG,WiedertauferMuesse

      4. Christine

        Do You Understand A Word of This?


        I know this is quite late but I only found thes website today and your thread is highly interesting.

        I am German and I understand the above text quite well, even probably could translate every word when putting a bit of effort into this (not the Dutch or Swedish, although I had guessed at what it might have been 🙂

        I am not entirely sure that it indeed sounds completely like a South Western Dialect, although probably people in that region might understand the spoken Amish Dutch (which i never heard).

        You might however consider another aspect also of the German language. Since the time when the above text was written and the Amish went to America a few 100 year had passed. At the time being German started to combine from various dialects into High German. Actually the time frame might fit to the so-called Frühneuhochdeutsch (Early New High German). Actually Martin Luther’s translation of the Holy Bible into German would have been an early example of that language. And indeed his translation and Gutenberg’s printing of the Bible in German helped to form and unite the later HIGH GERMAN, which means a unique German language. At the time being there still seemed to have been regional variations:

        Oberdeutsche Druckersprachen
        die bayerisch-österreichische mit Ingolstadt und Wien
        die schwäbische mit Augsburg, Ulm und Tübingen
        die alemannische mit Basel, Zürich und Straßburg
        die ostfränkische mit Nürnberg, Bamberg und Würzburg
        Mitteldeutsche Druckersprachen
        die westmitteldeutsche mit Frankfurt, Mainz, Worms und Köln
        die ostmitteldeutsche mit Wittenberg, Erfurt und Leipzig

        Upper German Print Languages
        – bavarian – austrian
        – swabian
        – alemannian (around Basel, Zurich and Strassburg)
        – east franconian
        Middle German
        – west middle German
        – east middle German

        Which means the alemannian Language part might fit with the Dutch PA


        I do not know whether this does make any sense to your or whether you think it is worth to be considered but i just learnt a lot about the origins of High German myself as well as about Amish culture in the US.

        Thanks a lot for this great website.


        1. GreyCatz

          Dispersing the fog - if slowly.

          Greetings, Christine:

          Thanks for your very illuminating response. I think we’re all beginning to understand a bit more of the submitted text and so about the Amish linguistic origins.

          The first part of our theory is that PA Dutch is very close to Elsass/Alemannic, and now you’ve provided more precise information to support this theory. As I recall, Jakob Amman came from the Basel/Zürich region, and the Amish later settled in and around Strassbourg. Therefore, they would have spoken Alemannic.

          The next part of the theory is whether present-day Amish can in fact understand Alemannic. So far, the evidence seems sporadic if encouraging.

          Nice to get a German, academic view on this topic – as you’ve noticed there are many languages involved in this thread. 🙂

      5. Glenda Yoder

        Pennsylvania Dutch

        I was born Amish so Pennsylvania Dutch is my first language. A few years ago I worked at a furniture store in Anush country, Ohio and some tourists from Germany visited the store. When my coworker and I found out where they were from we started speaking to them in PA Dutch and to our great surprise we could understand each other pretty much word for word! Of course, PA Dutch has a lot of English words mixed in now but we could communicate very well. Unfortunately I can’t remember what dialect they spoke…I do believe it was either Schwaebish (sp?) or Platt Duetsch (sp?).

      6. Dody

        I get the gist of it and I never studied any languages. They are talking about the history of the Amish.

    5. R. E.

      Den original flammeküeche bakes i steinovne.

      Hei Grey!

      Det er en lang historik bak flammeküeche, men ingridiensene burde være de samme som i begynnelse : løk og cottage cheese først og fremst (cottage chees) eller quark = bibelekaas på elsassisk) tynn meget tynn og Flat brøddeigbunn rulles ut massen på strykes utover , steikes i steinovnen der det brenner ennå ved, og de tree glødene er samlet i en halv sirkel og en skyver med en bred tresleiv en firkant (som pizza) inn i ovnen og steiker flammeküech på ettervarme på den ovnsteinplate. Franskmennene fornekter seg ikke og kom med masse tilleggs krims-krams at det ligner mer i en pizza en flammeküeche. Jeg er konservativ også i mat veien.

    6. R. E.

      Hvorfor flammeküeche ?

      Hei Grey!

      hvorfor skriver jeg om denne flammeküeche? vel for å kunne stadsfeste omtrend + – hvor gamel denne matreten kunne værer! Allrede når Amish folkene var bosatt i Elsass? Eller kom den matretten senere? Cottage Cheese eller bibelekaas fantes lenge (surnettmelk som blir presset ut i en stoffk \ lin luten)de laget hvitoster av denne utpresset surmelken, den resterende væske drakk de eller ga den til kalvene. Flammeküeche bli laget av restdeigen etter brøden var ferdig bakt, ofte bakte de lørdagene fem til 6 7 brød som kalles for Leibbrod (på norsk leivbrød) da enhver familien hadde opp til 8 til 13 børn eller mer (som tidl. refer.) så de hadde en ny-Leibbrød hver dag og som uke har 7 dager så! Etter baking ble når brøden var kalde pakket inn i lin dykk eller strisekk og lagret på en planke som henger ned fra vinkjellertaket (grunn mus-rotter) . Brødene muglet ikke (surdeig av surnethvitvin) og hardnet ikke. I vinkjellerne er antall % fuktighet konstant.

    7. Ernie Yoder

      Hey, I’m not sure what to make of several of these posts above.

      I taught all subjects including German in an Amish Parochial school for about 10 years and I never needed to decipher anything like some of the posts in the conversation above. WOW.. looks like Greek to me.LOL

      I had a teacher friend in Fort Wayne, Indiana who spoke ‘schweitzer’ as their everyday langusage. When a group of Amish teachers from several communities got together one night we had to speak English so we could all understand each other. Otherwise, we got ‘alles verhodelt’. We had fun with our differences in dialects. The English language was the common language that everyone could speak and understand.

      1. GreyCatz

        Greetings, Ernie:

        Thanks for comment. As mentioned in the post “Do You Understand…” this is a theory about Elsass-German we’re testing, and we may have to accept that it isn’t working.

        Several languages are used in this thread, including Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish, and at times it does look ‘verhodelt’. However, we have yet to introduce actual Greek, as spoken in Greece, but who knows… 🙂

    8. R. E.

      So Ernie Yoder ! Wenn Du (Hoch)deutsch gelernt hast wie Du es Schreibst, kannst Du mir hier mit Antworten, da sollte es Du auch dir bewusst sein das A L L E N deutsche dialekten gesamelt sin im Hoch-Deutsche! Das ist Goethe sein Werk, das die bayern mit den nord-deutsche Sprechn können, da die Talk op Plat haben. Die schweizer die elasser\alemanne innbegriffen die schwaben und franken(Rheinland-Pfalz) sprechen sozusagen ein gemeinsamen dialekt, mit underschiedliche Wörter beteutung doch verständlich im grosse ganze.
      Da wass die Amish sprechen steht unter andere lenger oben folgende : Pennsylvania German is generally not a written language! Wass erzählt uns das? Das Du alemannisch oder schwizer-dutsch damit auch nicht Lesen kannst da Ihr wie Du schreibst auf verschiedene dialekter gesprochen haben unter Euch! Ernie Yoder! Geografisch fehlschlag, Griechenland liegt am Mittelmeer, aber richtich geraten dort sprechen die grieschisch!

      1. GreyCatz


        Hej R E,

        Det engelske udtryk “it’s Greek to me” betyder ‘det rene volapyk eller nonsens’. Det kan lyde som en fornærmelse mod grækere, men bruges udelukkende humoristisk.

      2. Valerie

        It Seems R.E. is Excited!

        Ernie, I believe you riled up our friend R.E.!
        A+ for effort-at least the mystery is solved. We’ve
        been waiting for you to check it out!

    9. R. E.

      God morgen Grey !!

      Hei Grey ! ja jeg forstå dette men satt det på “spissen” jeg er og klar over at amerikaner stor sett ikke er så sterk i geografi, så derfor en liten leksen. Han tok en “spanske” der!! Når jeg skriver, vis han kan høy-tysk som han skrev kan han svare til meg. Han skriver selv at de “bare snakket forkjellige dialekter mellom seg” og som det står lenger opp Pennsylvania German is generally not a written language!. De begynnte så langsam å skrive på dialekt i sammeheng med teater og skuespill ikke før og mange som snakker dialekt kan ikke lese det. Reiser du i min landsby Dauendorf i Elsass og til neste landsby, Uhlwiller 3 km (1,87 US mi) lenger øst snakker de ord og eller utrykk som er ganske forskjellige. Han kan umulig kunne lese dialekt untatt hvis han er en språk nerd derfor griper de til engelsk. Så i Texas der bruker de to-språklig til og med offisiel ; spansk og engelsk!

    10. GreyCatz

      It's 100!

      I’m just writing this in order to hit the 100-post mark on this thread 🙂

    11. R. E.


      Hei Grey!
      Jeg trekker meg fra denne side jeg for allikevel ingen svar på høy-tysk, som vis, jeg har forstått det riktig han har lært! Skal jeg skal skaffe meg noe reel mening med mine teser, så må jeg nok reise “over der” og snakke og spørre med\ut folkene på stedet. Forresten jeg har min røtter å gå tilbake på, men har Amish folkene det? Dette spørsmål ligger i “tåkehavet”! Mening min er å knytte dem opp til deres språklige røtter! Da som jeg skrev tidligere, at dialektene ikke ble brukt som skriftspråk (det skrev Erik \ Amish America selv) og at alle i Tyskand dengang, alle tysk talende fra sør til nord og øst til vest, skulle forstå hverandre, laget Goethe et felles talle-og skriftspråk. Mens som Prof. Paul Adolf sa til meg at dialektene er eldre en høy-tysk.

      1. GreyCatz

        Slaget er ikke tabt endnu.

        Hej R E,

        Jeg tror ikke, at Ernie Yoder forstår elsassisk, og hans hoch-deutsch er måske ikke godt nok til at skrive tekster.

        Men som Valerie skriver, kan der stadig findes folk på denne hjemmeside, som kan hjælpe. Så fortvivl ikke! Kom tilbage med jævne mellemrum.

        Det største problem er, som du skriver, at PA-German ikke er blevet dokumenteret i skrift på ordentlig, akademisk vis. Men prøv dette link, som jeg fik fra Lance:


        Der findes f.eks. gamle ordbøger.

    12. R. E.


      Ja da Grey1
      jeg fortviler ikke, men det virker som om at Amish selv ikke ønsker “på en ordentlig akademisk vis” å få det dokumentert, da de i er utgangspunkt mot fremskritt, i alle fall tilsynelatende. Det var et forsøk vert men som skrevet jeg skal stille og rolig med min kone tas oss en tur “over dammen” når vet jeg ikke, og likke stille snakket \ spørre komme i kontakt med de som snakker språket. At en sier “jeg ikke forstår…!” Betyr egentlig liten, 1-en svale gjør ikke våren! Det trengs som du skrev en akademisk vurdering men tviler at Amish folk er berette. Ha en hyggelig (og solrik helg) fra Lysefjord sør fra Bergen.
      R. E. K.

    13. Ernie Yoder

      Ich musz lachen uber unsere poste die nicht miteinander reden konnte.
      Mein hoch Deutsch ist nicht gut… as ihr alle sehen konnen.

      The Amish read the Bible in high German.. but are unable to speak high German. Therefore much of the Bible is not understood in depth… except for those that study their Bible in English.

    14. R. E.

      Ernie Yoder!

      Das Lese ich, das Du nicht sehr gut Deutsch Schreibe kannst, aber Lese kannst Du!…aber bitte gibt nicht auf Du hast das ganze Leben vor Dir, und immerhin ein gutes Lachen … verlengert das Leben! Verstehe das die Amish Hoch-Deutsch benutzen da die Bibel auf Gotisch und Hoch-deutsch geschrieben ist. Doch was GreyCatz und ich selbst (mit viele andere) feststellen wollte oder möchten, ist die umgangssprache zwischen Amish…nicht mehr oder weniger!! Wenn Du Ernie Yoder, bei diese gelebt hast da weiss Du auch wie die Sprechen.Englisch so klar aber das ist nicht die Antwort! Elsassisch,Schwizer-Dütsch (Schwizerisch) Schwäbisch,Alemannisch, oder Frankisch? Die Frage zu Sprachwurzel das ist für mich interessant!!

    15. R. E.

      To Jaspar

      Hey Jaspar !

      Du schreibst dass Du Hochdeutsch lernst OK es ist ein wenig schwierig Dir als amrkaner zu erklären, da solltes Du zuerst die Landkarte über Europa vor Dich nehmen! Oder auf Google Earth gehen!

      So wenn Du Europa ansiehst, da siehst Du Deutschland und die Schweiz und Frankreich. Da stehn Stadt Namen wie Basel, Freiburg im Breisgau, und Strasbourg, auch Mannheim und Stuttgart und der Fluss Rhein!

      Vielleicht steht auch der Namen Alsace wenn Du, Strasbourg siehst! Das ist die Grenz Region wie seit 1648, altso in 400 Jahre die 5-funf mal die “seite” wechsel musste: Bis 1648 war dieses Landteil mit Namen ELSASS, ein teil des Heiliges Römisches Reich war die offizielle Bezeichnung für den Herrschaftsbereich der römisch-deutschen Kaiser vom Mittelalter bis zum Jahre 1806. Der Name des Reiches leitet sich vom Anspruch der mittelalterlichen Herrscher ab, die Tradition des antiken Römischen Reiches fortzusetzen. Das Heilige Römische Reich ist der Ursprung der heutigen Nationalstaaten Deutschland und Österreich. Zur Unterscheidung von dem 1871 gegründeten Deutschen Reich bezeichnet die moderne historische Forschung es auch als „Altes Reich.”

      Das Reich bildete sich im 10. Jahrhundert unter der Dynastie der Ottonen aus dem ehemals karolingischen Ostfrankenreich heraus. Der Name „Sacrum Imperium” ist für 1157 und der Titel „Sacrum Romanum Imperium” für 1254 erstmals urkundlich belegt. Seit dem 15. Jahrhundert setzte sich allmählich der Zusatz „Deutscher Nation” durch.Aufgrund seines vor- und übernationalen Charakters entwickelte es sich nie zu einem Nationalstaat moderner Prägung, sondern blieb ein monarchisch geführtes, ständisch geprägtes Gebilde aus Kaiser und Reichsständen mit nur wenigen gemeinsamen Reichsinstitutionen.

      Die Einwohner im (Alsace) Elsass hatten ein gemeinsame Sprache (oder dialekt) ; Alemanisch wie auch in der deutsche Schweiz gesprochen wird und in Baden Württemberg. Es ist sozusagen kein Schriftsprache. Noch nicht!!
      Kein Schrift Sprache wie die Sprache der Amish!
      Professor E. Zeidler gibt bald ein Leksikon raus darüber. Und Professor Paul Adolf hat ein Sprach Leksikon herausgegeben ; Englisch-Elsassisch-Englisch.
      Doch ist dieser alemannische dialekt viel viel Älter, als das Hochdeutsch wie Du Lernst!
      Es gibt; plus + minus -, ca 300 dialekten in ganz Deutschland.

      Jaspar Hey!
      You write that you learn standard German OK, there’s a little difficult to explain to you as american, because you should first have the European map in front of you! (Google Earth).
      So, if you look at Europe, in the area of Germany, Switzerland and France. Take a look at city names such as Basel, Freiburg im Breisgau  and Strasbourg, and Stuttgart and Mannheim and the river, the Rhine!

      Now find the city Strasbourg (its the capital of Alsace)! This area is the border region as since 1648, all so in 400 years, they have changed nationality five times. Until 1648 the country was part called ELSASS, apart of the Holy Roman Empire was the official name for the dominion of the Roman German emperor from the Middle Ages to 1806. The name of the empire derives from the claim from the medieval rulers to continue the tradition of the ancient Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire is the origin of today’s nation states Germany and Austria. To distinguish between the German Reich, founded in 1871 is the modern historical research, it also as the “Old Empire.”
      The kingdom was formed in the 10th Century during the dynasty of the Ottomans from the former Carolingian Ostfrankenreich. The name “Sacrum Imperium” is for 1157 and the title “Sacrum Romanum Imperium” was for first time in 1254 documented. Since the 15th Century saw the gradual addition of the “German Nation”. Because of this its strong national character 
      before and it never developed into a modern nation-statecharacter, but remained a monarchy run, corporatist 
      structure of embossed Emperor and Diet, with only a few common 
      imperial institutions.

      The population in (Alsace), Elsass had a common language (or dialect); Aleman spoke German as well as in Switzerland, and in Baden Wuerttemberg. There is no written language, so to speak. Not yet!
      No written language as the language of the Amish!
      Professor E. Zeidler is writing a dictonary about the Alsatian writing and its getting published soon. And Professor Paul Adolf, has published a speech Leksikon, English- Elsassisch (Alsatian) English.
      But this is Alemannic dialect much much older than the standard German as you learn!
      There are ; plus minus + -, about 300 dialects in Germany.

    16. R. E.

      And : Pappa Charlie

      Pappa Charlie
      ” I can understand a fair bit

      I am English. I speak (almost) fluent German. I can understand quite a lot of this. It sounds a bit like the German spoken near the border with France in Saarland and SW Germany.”

      Correct! That’s what we’re trying to convey Dad Charlie, both GreyCatz and myself!

      A dialect that is much older than high-German, it has the name – alemansk – that they speak, in the German-speaking Swiss and clear in Baden-Wurttemberg – Schwab Country – perhaps Amish people speak it, and (?), Partly in Bavaria, also in Alsace and partly Lorraine which is the dialect of the Fränkische as in Rhineland-Palatinate, where they talk Fränkische.(Franfurt – Hessen)
      Hope you can read what I write using a translation program and it is far from perfect! .

      Translated in German :

      Dass ist richtig Pappa Charlie, dass haben wir beiden GreyCatz und ich selbst versucht zu erklären. ‘

      Ein Dialekt, der viel, viel älter ist das das Hoch-Deutsche, der Namen diesen dialekt ist – alemannisch -, ​​diesen sprecht man, in der deutsch-sprachigen Schweiz und klar in Baden-Württemberg – Schwabenland – vielleicht sprechen die Amish Leute diesen dialekt oder nur teilweise(?) Das ist eben die Frage!!

      Dieser dialekt wird auch teils in Bayern auch noch im Elsass und in Lothringen gesproschen, da geht aber das alemannische rüber auf dan frankische dialekt zu. wie im Saarland und in Rheinland-Pfalz, wo es ein rein fränkische dialøekt ist (Frankfurt – Hessen)

    17. Jasmine Mitchell

      The Amish language "Pennsylvania Dutch"

      I found a great website that has a list of Amish words. It tells you how to pronounce them etc…. They are just basic words but it will help you to learn some of the words the Amish speak. Here is the link http://www.wandabrunstetter.com/amish-life/amish-words. I hope this helps.


    18. R. E.

      To Jasmine Mitchell

      Merry Christmas and many thanks to you I shall first look at the page you sent, all of us who have linguistic interest in the Amish speak and how they speak it.

      with best regards Jasmine Mitchell

      R. E. K.

    19. Sean Greene

      Hallo, wie es gehend ist?

      So the Amish speak a dialect of German and Dutch hmm interesting?

      Also in my opinion if a person is going to write a book on a German or Dutch dialect when it comes to telling that person that does not know about the dialects at all when wanting to learn about it and possibly wanting to try to speak to others by showing respect to the Amish when it comes to there own culture.

      It should be none other then the Amish or the native speaker that should be writing these books so that every little details such as the alphabet to when it comes to constituents and vowels.

      How you pronounce the word and the meaning of the word and using them in sentences and phrases when by talking and greeting each other and when it comes to everyday things.

      Things like that if you know what I mean by?

      In my opinion that’s how these books should be made.

      You all have a great time. Bye, Aufwidersehen.

      1. Ernie Yoder

        Which book would be considered correct??

        There are many different Amish communities and some have accents and verbage that is hard for Amish of another community to understand.

        For an example; The Amish in Illinois have a hard time understanding some of the Amish in Daviess County, IN. The only way to get around that is to speak a common language,’English’.

        Then there is also the Schweitzer speaking Amish. I have attended many Amish schoolteacher meetings. After the meeting some of the teachers from various states get together and have a social get-together and discuss ‘teacher challenges’. I noticed that when the group laughed, there was one Amish teacher that continuously nudged his wife and whispered, “what was that?” ‘What did he say?” Needless to say, after that we Amish teachers spoke ‘English’ so we could all understand each other. (That was the common language in the classroom- and most school subjects are in English.

        My point is this… Writing one book explaining the Amish language will not be correct for ALL Amish communities.The Amish language is very complex because each community will practice their own version or dialect of the Amish language, and pass that down from one generation to the next generation. Overall, most communities are still able to understand each other- but there are exceptions.

        The only reason for th

        1. GreyCatz

          The End of the Road?

          Hello, Ernie:

          I think you’re absolutely right. Anyone attempting a comprehensive study of the Amish language would have to deal with these initial issues:

          A) Given the significant dialectal variety that you experienced first-hand, is it even possible to talk of “an Amish language”, or would it be more correct to view e.g. PA/German and IN/German as distinct languages? (Entailing several small books.)

          B) Would it be academically viable to presume that the Amish do in fact speak one language originating from PA/German, or Alemannic, and consequently view the prevalent dialects merely as variations thereof? (Entailing one large book.)

          C) Can we even use “Amish” as a linguistic delimiter, or will we have to consider the language spoken among Mennonites and Hutterites as well? (Entailing who knows what.)

          Judging from the material available today (e.g. through helpful links on this site), it seems that people, scholars and non-scholars alike, go by A). The discussion that Kronenberger and I opened earlier largely presumed B).

          Personally, I don’t believe a single, comprehensive study is going to be undertaken any time soon – and that’s OK with me. I guess it merely adds to the mythical aura of the Amish.

    20. Sean Greene

      I meant Aufwiedersehen just a miss spelling that’s all.

    21. Sean Greene

      Auf WiederSehen

      Sorry just trying to get the spelling right.

    22. Gisa

      Auf Wiedersehen, lieber Sean!

    23. Sean Greene

      Sorry I thought European German would be okay gotta think what I’m saying bye.

    24. Yoder

      Has anyone mentioned the Pennsylvania Dutch New Testament? It was published by The Bible League, South Holland, Ill., 60473. The first edition was published in 1993, and the second edition in 2002. It can be ordered from:
      Committee for Translation
      3864 Twp. Rd. 162
      Sugarcreek, OH 44681

      The work was done under the auspices of the Wycliffe Bible Translators. The title is: ES NEI TESHTAMENT: Pennsylvania Deitsh un English Mitt di Psaltah un Shpricha. The New Testament has both Pennsylvania Deitsh and English; the Psalms and Proverbs are in English only. Maybe Pennsylvania Dutch is finally becoming a written language.

      In Montezuma, Georgia, a restaurant owned by the Beachy Amish is named Yoder’s Deitsch Haus.

      THE BUDGET newspaper has a column, “Es Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Eck” with editor C. Richard Beam of Millersville, Pa.

      It seems like I heard that the Hutterite language was also in the process of being written into a New Testament.

      1. Linda


        In ES NEI TESHTAMENT, the Psalms and Proverbs are in Pennsylvania Deitsh only, without the English.

    25. George

      Die Sprache der Amishen Leute

      Was for eine kaulterwechslende Sprache durcheinander. I’ bin yo halb Pennsylvania Deitsch – auf der Seite meiner Mutter. Die Familie meines Vaters kam auf Ulster-Irland, Derry County. Er is abver in eineim halb deutsch-sprenchende, Katolisch und nicht Amish Haushalt. Er koennte so view deutsch wie meine Mutter (nicht sehr viel). Das Ostteil Pennsylvanias ist eine religoese Mischmasch weil es in kolonie Pennsylvania veiel mehr religose Toleranz gab, und dennoch hat William Penn eine Art Fremdenverkehrsbuero in Dem Palz getrieben um moeglice Emigranten nach Pennsylvania zu locken. Die Amish und Mennoniten hat shon eine Art Diaspsora erfahren. Sie kamen nach Poland, Frankreich, in dem Palz, Holland und andere Gebieten. She haben Ihr Allemanishe/Sueddeutsche Dialekt mitgebracht auch mit die verschiedene Einflusse von der verschiende Gebiete. Spaeter kam auch viele Deutschen nack Pennsylvania von Bayern, Schwabia, GHz Baden und Rheinland. Pennsylvania Deutsch war/ist eine gemischte Sprache von dieser(und vielleicht Andere) Dialketen.

      Mer interessant her er de mange kommentarer paa dansk og norsk. Vi er ogsaa glad for unser danser og normaend her in Pennsylvania, og vi lade et par svenker ind ogsaa. Dom har vi inte saa mange af, men vi har en Wasa Viking Klub, och daer sammlas vore svenske pojke og flicker.

      I can more easily read platdeutsch than Pennsylvania German, but with an effort I can read it. Buchstabierung ist aber peinlich.

    26. Catherine

      Another PA dialect option

      Another printed guide to what some call Pennsylvania German/Dutch or what grandma used to call Pennsylfannie Deitsch is the book by Allan M. Buehler entitled The Pennsylvania German Dialect and the Life of an Old Order Mennonite. It was printed in 1977 and the author is deceased but there are copies of it around, including the archives at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario.

      As a child, I understood PA Dutch to be the language that my grandfather spoke– even though he was a Mennonite from Waterloo County and wasn’t from PA. I understood “Deitsch” to be all German dialects spoken in the melting-pot of the Waterloo region. I think Ernie Yoder is correct, that there isn’t any one book that can teach someone to speak what the Amish speak. My grandmother, whose Amish Mennonite lines came through PA from Switzerland, had a different pronounciation for the same words. My husband’s family were Amish who came directly to Canada from Alsace, pronounced things another way. All of these families experienced the same religious persecution, in varying ways, and had very different journeys, eventually ending up here. They can all understand each other quite well even though they sound slightly different. For myself, platdeutsch is not well understood.

      From the perspective of Anabaptist historical origins, it has come to be understood that Anabaptism is more of a spectrum than a single origin. The Amish are simply one of the many streams of Anabaptism, flowing specifically from the Swiss-German stream, having separated in 1693 from the Swiss-German Mennonites. Most of my/our ancestors have been to the same places. Having worked for years, on a genealogical study of my/our family, it became apparent that there were several places in Alsace where various of our ancestor had lived for signifciant lengths of time– between persecutions etc. One of those places was Ban de La Roche, in Alsace. This episode added a French element to our language mix. It is evident in many records of the early immigrants here that they spoke and wrote French as well as German. They were very literate indeed. Unfortunately, the efforts of pioneer living soon limited those activities and the struggle to learn yet another language– English– resulted in French being dropped in favour of the German that was spoken by the near-by Mennonites, German Lutherans and German Catholics.

      My understanding is that the most common dialect/patois used in the Ban de La Roche region is known as “welsches”. The main characteristic seems to be that it has a whole lot more vowels. You can still see that around here in the way in which dialect-speakers love to draw out those vowels! For example– the village of Wellesley is pronounced Wells-ley by many peole while dialect speakers always call it Well-les-ley. A small difference but noticible to many.

      All the best in your study.
      By the way Dale wagler– here is Shakespeare we call the 20 points of crokinole — a dookey!

    27. Frederik

      A Language is just a Dialect with an Army


      It was interesting to read some of these posts.
      To illustrate this posts title (Language = Dialect with an Army), let me talk about my language (or dialect)

      I speak Flemish, which is considered a part of the Dutch language. The story about the High German coming into existence only after the Amish left was quite convincing for me. Certainly when you also consider that not all Amish ancestors left for America from the same region and time.

      Today in every-day life, we percieve Flemish as a region-wide dialect, consisting of sub-dialects. And Flemish itself a dialect of the standard Dutch. However, this is not quite true.
      In historic times there were several dialects in the region we know today as Flanders+Netherlands. Standard Dutch was ‘created’ by Vondel, and is based on the dialect of Amsterdam. A version of this Standard Dutch is used in the national media and in our schools. If it wasn’t for this, speakers from different regions would not be able to understand each other very well. Since all our dialects are Germanic, people don’t consider themselves to be speaking 2 languages. (the dialect + standard Dutch) But I’ll illustrate: I could easily find two persons, living only 100km apart, who wouldn’t understand a word when only using their dialects. (they HAVE to know standard dutch)

      On a dayly base, I meet people who live only 40km away. Me, I speak not the real dialect, but a broader dialectic version of Dutch. I have no real problems talking to those people, since they try to clean their language when they speak to me. (I mean, try using only standard dutch words) However, even then I sometimes have to stop them, and ask to rephrase what they’ve said. (I’m very used to speak the mixture of dialect and standard dutch. When foreign people who have learned standard dutch, hear me, they allways have a hard time understanding my accent)

      I think I’ve illustrated that even close dialects, (lets say within a 50kmx100km region) could have big trouble understanding each-other.
      Then there’s a second thing: the writing. I don’t think it’s easy to say if “you can understand” a piece of text written in a foreign language.

      For example, do you make any sence of this: “Aai hef toe bieheef”
      Would you think this is a dialect close to American English? I’m not sure, since I can read this. It would be the result if you would give a 7-year old Flemish kid a recording of an American saying the sentence “I have to behave”, and ask the kid to write this down. I’m guessing here, but I think the writing “Aai hef toe bieheef” would seem pretty foreign, even to an English speaker.
      Since both Pensylvenia Dutch and the Elzas dialect have no standard writing, only showing pieces of text to each other will be problematic, even if they’re closely related. Since probably the Elzas-speakers will write some phonetic form of they’re dialect, with High German in mind. (or maybe French) Where the Amish who try to write pensylvania german, would probably base their phonetic writings on the English way of writing.

      But there’s light. Me, as a speaker of Flemish, I got a 60 hours cours (probably even less) of the High German. I can say I can read it pretty well now. Although I would not be able to write consistenly, nor speak. When High German is spoken to me very slow, I can make some good sense of it. (basically, if really needed, I could get around in Germany, I hope)
      But when I read the Elzas dialect, it is difficult to me. (and I assume I base on the same writing systems + I can read French)

      I first thought you would need to test it with an Elzas and an Amish dialect speaker. And let them both use the High German writing system, to write. However to do this, they would both have to be fluent in High German. Which is a strong bias. (like the Flemish dialect speakers understanding eachother, not because of their dialects being close, but because of the standard dutch bias)

      So the best way to test this would be to put an Elzas dialect speaker in an Pensylvania Dutch setting (or the other way around). If they say they can understand eachother pretty fluently by the end of the day (maybe 2), I would think it’s safe to say their dialects are very close.

      1. Frederik

        A Language is just a Dialect with an Army

        Previous post got longer than I intended.

        About the title: it’s probable that, if the Netherlands wouldn’t have been politically seperate from the Holy Roman Empire, Flemish would now be considered a German dialect, as would Dutch. (instead of Dutch being a seperate language)

        Another great example is Norwegian and Swedish. Which as I understood it, only became known as seperate languages instead of dialects, after the separation of Norway and Sweden into 2 different countries.

      2. Frederik, thanks for this fascinating post. I had no idea that there was such variation in spoken languages in your region. An interesting way of thinking about what comes out of our mouths.

    28. Don Curtis

      Mark's experience

      My son, Mark, just returned from a three week trip to Germany with three other Amish visiting some friends. In the German village where they were staying they were asked to participate in a church service in the village Catholic church by the priest. I think they sang some Amish hymns and I don’t know what all. But, afterwards Mark said this old man came up to him and said that when the Amish were speaking it was like he could hear his old grandmother speaking. His grandmother had been an old farm wife from the Pfaltz area of Germany. This man was in his 80’s and his grandmother was probably born sometime in the 1870’s I would guess. Mark says this old man was just fascinated about how the
      Amish accent, vocabulary, idioms, etc. were just like what his grandmother had used who lived all her life in the Pfaltz. He said he hadn’t heard some of the words Mark and the other Amish had used since his grandmother had died mamy years before.

    29. Don Curtis

      Also, Mark visited the Alsace region of France last year. He said that Alsatian German is somewhat similar to Pennsylvania Dutch but that he really had to listen hard. Also, the Alsatian speakers had a hard time understanding him and his Amish friend who were visiting there.

    30. Janice Hill

      German roots

      I have this thread with fascination. I have interests in all the aspects of the discussion. I have ancestry in Germany, two different parts, and training in Linguistics and I have a Bible that came into my possession that is quite interesting. I also grew up in northern Indiana, near Amish settlement areas of Goshen in particular. My relatives from two areas, both the Mecklinburg-Scherwin, and the Hesse Cassel area. I have a native speaker of German that has seen this Bible and I agree from my research on several things. Yes,the dialects are very specific to the area of Germany that the area’s native speakers hailed from. It also comes into play how long ago they migrated. My “May” lineage (Bible passed down) my German friend can barely make out 50% of it. It was printed in 1781 in Hesse Cassel, it is somewhat High German she says, but she suspected by some things she saw that the language of this was quite ancient. It is a Bible * I’ll describe; 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. It is from what I have gleaned from research possibly even of a Saxony language – and Martin Luther tried to reach a large audience with use of different variations of German; times of religious argument and strife were of course influences as “new” Christianity ideas were controversial.I’m curious if anyone is familiar with Saxony. Back to family, some of the other threads of the family were surnames; “Ahlgrim”,(Mecklinburg) “Wittner” (Witchdorf) * Dairy partners “Suabedissen -Wittner” “May” -Hesse Cassel, where the Bible was printed. They came to the US in 1857.I am unsure of how they would have defined themselves. (Lutheran?,Protestant? Amish?)What did their parents parents speak? A curiosity, the Bible tells a tale of what they could read. There are still little bookmarks of paper printed in some form of German in the book! They lived in an area north of Lancaster County and outside of Allentown as first coming to America.Later coming to the South Bend Indiana area. IF anyone has comments about this, I’d love to hear!

      1. Catherine

        Not Amish but maybe Mennonite

        I suspect that you might have more success if you were to search Lutheran records. Mecklinburg Schwerin and Hesse Cassel both had significant Lutheran populations that then went to the US. There is a very slight possibility that the Ahlgrim and Wittner–likely Wittmer– names had a Mennonite connection. You would have to be family-specific on that one.
        One cannot arbitrarily decide that a name is Amish. Since it’s official inception as a distinct sect in 1693, Amish surnames have been very specific to very specific progenitors. I have noticed a trend towards calling all Anabaptist-related names Amish when in reality, they are not. Ahlgrim exisits today among the Mennonites in the US and so does Wittmer, however, Wittmer also exisits among the Evangelical Brethren in Christ, the Brethren in Christ and in the Missionary Church as well as many other Protestant denominations.
        The Amish from Hesse Cassel are even more name-specific and none of the names you mentioned are found among them. This is the only group that I know of that would even remotely consider having a “Luther” bible with an inscription in it from a Lutheran pastor and I suspect it would be a rare occurrance since there were so many other bible-versions available, most from Mennonite and Anabaptist-related printers. So– not saying it couldn’t happen, just saying it would be odd.
        Hope that helps,

      2. Lloyd

        Janice, It sounds like you describe Berks County, Pa (West of Allentown north of Lancaster. That is an area with some Pa Dutch Speaking non-Amish groups. Many of the people in and around the Oley Valley, where I grew up, still speak the language, most are Lutherans or “Reformed” but there are other religious groups represented too. These are the people locally sometimes called the Fancy Dutch, as opposed to Plain Dutch (Amish and Mennonites). These people are the ones with hex signs on their barns, which all of the Amish that I know tend to discourage. I guess what I am pointing out is that just because you are finding Pennsylvania Dutch speakers in your research, it does not mean that there must be an Amish connection.

        1. Janice Hill

          response to Lloyd and area near Allentown

          Lloyd, Yes you are correct that I am not certain of an Amish connection and have been looking for clues to define what they might have called themselves if not Amish or Mennonite.I love that you name some reformed Lutherans there and the term fancy Dutch. I’d like to throw out some names of towns etc..if these are places you think might be of the fancy Dutch population? I am pulling these off the genealogy sheets in front of me. Some of my Wittner descendants are born or christened in the following towns; Gamaque,Foglesville,and Stockertown PA. Listed; Rev. Sceindel and Rev. Hoffenbricks. 1850’s…Is this an area that lends itself to the ‘fancy Dutch” you mentioned? I continue to be so intrigued that there seems to be no trace of the language they spoke and there were numerous relatives that lived into their late 80’s and early 90’s. With no trace of any kind of German or variety of PA Dutch.

          1. Lloyd Baker

            Pa Dutch near Allentown Pa

            Janice, Foglesville and Stockertown are near Allentown but I think perhaps the third town may actually be Tamaqua. These would all be in the same general area in Eastern Pa. Tamaqua is a little farther North in the Coal Regions, Stockertown is up near Nazareth and Fogelsville is West of Allentown, heading toward Kutztown. Try the links page on the Pennsylvania German Society web site for a wealth of resources regarding Pa Dutch Language, geneology and culture. There is even a page dedicated specifically to Pa German Headstones. Here is the Links page: http://www.pgs.org/links.asp

    31. Janice Hill

      Catherine, (question on a word in this post)
      Thanks, it all helps. I have considered several scenarios in regards to my German heritage. I am an amateur genealogy person. Have always found the situation of there having been so little language clues – remnants being passed down or any evidence EXCEPT for the Bible; a bit strange. And a headstone inscription,.one mystery if anyone knows..please fill me in – on the nearly eroded headstone for the family,.over what is a female’s stone; Catherine Anna May’s stone (dod 1886)it says, “Gahah” Does anyone know what that means? Yes, I believe the May’s were Lutheran, the Ahlgrims, not sure. The Alhlgrim Patriarch buried in a St. Paul’s cemetery.(Laporte IN) The Wittner’s I am not sure of, but all little pieces,.give me more to look at. I will look closer at the Mennonite connection for them! * Ironies in life,.my Dad worked for years for a Mennonite architect/engineering firm. Next I’ll find out they are related or something.;-) Thanks again Catherine!

    32. Catherine

      eroded headstone

      Janice, If you can send a picture of the headstone or could give a complete (as complete as you can) transcription, maybe someone could help you. One word doesn’t give much in the way of context. The words “gebornen”– meaning born– and “gestorben”– meaning death, are very often included on German headstones. It also occurs in shortened versions of those words and depends on the literacy level of the headstone carver as to how they were spelled. I am aware that eroded headstones can be difficult to read and so sometimes a little moisture makes the leters stand out. Another option is to take a rubbing of the stone which would be soft charcoal rubbed over newsprint placed tightly against the face of the stone. A word of caution here– ask before doing this because an eroded headstone is already damaged and you don’t want to damage it more. Sometimes, the keeper of the graveyard may have access or know where you should look for an actual transcription done at a time while the headstone was still readable. If all else fails take a straight-on photo of the stone with a digital camera. Take the picture home and play with the contrast. You may be able to read it that way.
      Hope it helps,

    33. Yoder


      Janice, the word Gahah may be a Hebrew word meaning “to depart.” The word for “go” in German is “gehen.” The Pennsylvania Dutch New Testament, ES NEI TESHTAMENT, uses the word “ganga” for “went.” (“Ganga” is pronounced like the English “a” as in “what”). Another way to say “went” in Pennsylvania Dutch is something like “gaw-ah.” So maybe your word “Gahah” means she departed or went.

      Erik, most Amish are taught to read the Bible in High German. The Amish in America also read English. The Pennsylvania Deitsch used in ES NEI TESHTAMENT (The New Testament) has a spelling system with features of both the German and English languages.

    34. Catherine

      Interesting theory

      Janice and Mr. Yoder,
      While that is an interesting theory as to what the word could be on the eroded tombstone, it is unusual. I have personally never seen it on a tombstone so would be interested to know if Mr. Yoder has. And if so– is it local to a specific area? I would certainly like to see that. In the almost 200 years that Amish have been in Canada, I have not seen that and I have seen most of the graveyards, right down to the Old Order Cemetery near Steicher Line that has wooden tombstones with no other markings other than the initials of the deceased shaped from horse-shoe nails.
      For the most part, German tombstone inscription tends to fall into 2 categories. The first being very plain, basic with minimal information such as name and death date. Sometimes a birth date is included. The other type is a more formal arrangement with old script, name–often maiden name for women, birth date, death date and often spouse’s name. Sometimes it is indicated if they were a church leader, sometimes not. In some cases a foreign birthplace might be indicated. Just because I have not seen dialect on a tombstone doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, so now I’m curious.

    35. Janice Hill

      headstone words and such,,,

      I am pulling out my stuff! 😉 YES this word has plagued me,.it was Gahah..not hard to read at the time. Now impossible. I have indeed researched it, the Hebrew and all. Nothing sounds normal.
      I would be happy to post what I have, the erosion when I took the photo was not good but I’ll post it anyway,. but with the naked eye I could read it – (this was about 8 yrs ago) Since then, it has eroded much further. I took notes years ago thank goodness..(I am 2 hours from South Bend) It says, on the sort of half moon part shape,for Wilhelm *went by Henry, says {Henry May} – under it says {Gahah May} His wife was Catherine * She went by both Elizabeth and Katerina. She died 2nd and the “May” monument was bought when she died: and further plots by her daughter and son-in -law,.so it was added after Henry died 1877,(Catherine 1885)- so it, in my mind MUST refer to her. The son in law was also German,surname Krueger. So I considered what they would have “decided to put on it as well”..but back to the sort of obelisk, So Henry on the top portion, and underneath in another matching half moon sort of shape is “Gahah” – Bible pics; as I’ve got them out too. It was Catherine’s family Bible – came with her to America.Maiden Surname; Gilbert. Octava size with calf or goat hide with crude tin hinges.Described in prev. post.Possible Lutheran family. Will post pics shortly.THANKS!

      1. GreyCatz


        Greetings, Janice:

        a) What type of letters is used on the stone? Latin (‘modern’ letters) or Fraktur (‘Gothic’ letters)?

        b) I mean no offense, but are you absolutely sure that the word spells out “G a h a h”?

        In addition to the interesting suggestions put forth by other posters above, my best guess, at this point, is that the word is “Gattin”, which is German for ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

        If the surface of the stone has suffered erosion, individual letters may be difficult to distinguish. Especially so if Fraktur letters were used.

        Fraktur is not used anymore, except in some newspaper mastheads.

        My wildest guess is that “Gahah” might be an affectionate nickname for Henry’s wife, perhaps used only by him.

    36. Janice Hill


      Catherine, Can’t post pics to this page..tried, unless you have a suggestion..maybe your e-mail? Mine JHillEnglish@aol.com

    37. Yoder

      Catherine, sorry, no, I have never seen the word gahah anywhere except in a google search, where it said, “to depart, be cured or healed.” It was just a guess. Are there any other languages with a similar word?

      Was the person sick? The YOUNG’S CONCORDANCE translates “gahah”, “to remove, cure.” It refers to Hosea 5:13 “… yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.”

      1. Janice Hill

        Gahah and a gravemarker

        Greetings Catherine and Mr. Yoder,
        I will both update and extend my appreciation for your focus on this mystery. Catherine communicated in e-mail thanks so much!
        To make the thread cohesive,,I am curious, and have been presented several things to mull in relation to my german ancestor’s grave marker with the word “Gahah” upon it. As there have been gray area also as to what they would have defined themselves as.(ancient Bible printed in 1781 – with a Lutheran fwd) But,you both have given me insights. I am now (with all info out on the floor for this branch of the family) Having not looked at it in some time. Sometimes “assumptions” as I have learned with geneology research are the brick walls. I will put this idea in my possibilities. Yes..Mr Yoder – the Biblical reference you bring up does spark a possible thing here. HENRY MAY – a German Stone worker – doing work on a huge bridge that still exists today in Mishawaka IN..he severly injured his eye with a flying stone. This required him to go to Chicago in 1875 to have *as stated in his obit,,”removal of the orb” “He never rallied much since the accident and died 1877” One can only suspect that he didn’t do well after this and no cause of death (age 53) is stated. Perhaps this is a clue that his “wound” never healed. Per the Hosea verse? I am a bit perplexed as to why his wife’s grave was not specifically marked (6 stones in front of MAY monument) if this is not in reference to her. I had thought it a possible term of endearment of her (per your thoughts Catherine) This had been my assumption. (Gahah) appearing with his name and surname. As discussed with Catherine..yes it is Gahah..actually saw the 150 + yr old ledger at the cemetery;saw the original entry. The son-in -law bought the other plots – no date when. AND, a last little piece I hold onto..yes the word is Hebrew,.and is it an irony or not; where they hailed from in Hesse,Kassel (Cassel) and just southwest in Wichdorf,..was one of the most high density Jewish populations in Germany in the 18-19th century. Mmmm,..Love the hunt thanks all..I am going to try to pull the Hosea 3:15 out of this ancient Bible and the way it is written..(which is not discernable by a native German speaker) and hold that thought and passage as in the “Maybe” category!!!

    38. Catherine


      I have also not seen the words “Gattin” used on a German headstone, Gothic script or otherwise. The word consistantly used for wife is “ehefrau”. It hasn’t seemed to make a difference whether the stone was for a Mennonite, Amish, German Baptist or Lutheran burial.

      1. GreyCatz

        Gattin or Ehefrau.

        Greetings, Catherine:

        You’re right about ‘Ehefrau’ used for ‘wife’, but Germans do use ‘Gattin’ as well. If you Google “Grabstein”, you’ll find pictures of German headstones with, admittedly, a predominant use of ‘Ehefrau’, but ‘Gattin’ was widely used earlier and is still seen on old stones. (I’m talking about Germans in Germany).

        If the stone we’re talking about here is so old that is has signs of erosion, it would have to be quite old indeed.

        Anyway, it was just a guess, and I’m looking forward to hearing the answer when it emerges.

    39. Catherine

      Gattin or ehefrau

      Yes– I should have specified that I meant I had not seen it here in North America. I have seen it in Europe. Also, here in North America, errosion on a headstone does not mean that it is particularly old. The condition sometimes referred to as “acid rain” has done significant damage to even modern headstones. One also has to take into account the age of the country and the immigration patterns. Here in this part of Canada, there are very few headstones dated before the 1780’s. Very few of these are German– most are in english or french, depending on which part of the country you are in. In the United States, there is about 100-150 years more of recorded immigration history and much more language variation.

      I had joined the conversation because originally Janice had wondered about an Amish connection to her search. Having been the “church Amish” representative to the Mennonite Historical Society based here in Ontario for over 20 years before retiring about 4 years ago, I wanted to let her know that I doubted an Amish connection and why. I also wanted to give some possible options as to where to go next in her search. It sounds as if Janice has now got much to think about from many of you. No one likes a brick wall!

      So now my curiosity has been raised. I will be making note if I find the word “gattin” in an Amish, Mennonite or related cemetery. Mr. Yoder– please alert me if you find it in the U.S. and I will try to go and see it. I am not saying it wasn’t used, I’m just saying I haven’t personally seen it used.

      FYI Greycatz– “Google search” is not particularly helpful in finding the headstones of Anabaptist (Amish and Mennonite) ancestors in Europe where is places such as Langnau, there is the custom of interrment of the body for 5 years before removing the bones to a repository. One must rely on archival records to locate– where possible– their place of burial. Therefore, we really don’t know which word they used for wife.

      1. GreyCatz

        "My Bad"

        Hello, Catherine:

        I now realize that I didn’t pay enough attention when reading Janice’s initial posting – I mistakenly thought that the stone was in Kassel, Germany.

        My suggestion to use Google was not to find Anabaptist headstones, but to find examples of headstones in Germany. A misunderstanding on my part since you already knew about ‘Gattin’ being used on German stones.

        And you’re right about Google not being of much use in this respect. Amish and Mennonites, as I’ve learnt, are wary of photographs and are therefore unlikely to flood the Internet with headstone pictures.

        1. Catherine

          Not a problem GreyCatz,

          Cassel is a little hamlet just down the road from here. If you blink, you will miss it and yes– the headstones are on the internet, however, most of Google’s work in our area is on main roads and Cassel is definitely not!

          If I might ask– what is your interest in what language the Amish speak? I am assuming you mean Old Order but be aware that there are more groups of Amish than just that. It is more of a spectrum. I live in the second oldest Amish community here is Canada and we all can communicate quite well. Actually, there are very few families that don’t include several persuasions of the Amish faith. Even the local Lutherans speak the same “Deitsch” because they are also from the same areas in Germany and Switzerland. Genealogically speaking they have some of the same roots. They just made different life choices.

          It might interest you to know that we just marked the 175th year of having an organized faith community here and the langauage is still spoken daily. I have noticed that many of our older people, towards the end of their life, tend to loose their English and only speak “Deitsch”. I suspect this is because English is their second language. This will probably change in the future since most children, including my own, now have English as their first language.


    40. Yoder

      If you are interested in hearing someone speaking in Pennsylvania Dutch, here are links to several audio clips:

      1. Thanks to Virgil for http://penndeitsch.wordpress.com/

      2. A tongue twister with Mose Gingerich 1:27 minute


      3. Thanks to Valerie for http://www.plainnewlife.org. At this site, on the drop down menu under Home, click on Web Links; on the new page select Amish Language. If you then select Pennsylvania Dutch, you can hear an audio clip of people speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, with a reasonable translation written in English. This audio has to do with the University of Wisconsin, German dialects.
      Or the direct link for the audio in Pennsylvania Dutch is http://csumc.wisc.edu/AmericanLanguages/search_clip_type.php?clip_type=PennDutch

      4. http://globalrecordings.net/en/language/3367 (Pennsylvania Dutch dialect Bible story audio.)

      5. http://www.pgs.org/dialect_audio.asp (from the Pennsylvania German Society, if you have the required audio codec.)

      1. GreyCatz

        Greetings, Yoder:

        Thanks for your links – I’ve been through most of them, except No. 5 (the one with special codecs), and they were all very interesting indeed.

        Thanks also to Valerie.

    41. Yoder

      In case you didn’t read it, Dr. Jim Schumacher raised a question at


      Dr. Schumacher asked, “How helpful do today’s Amish church members find the Luther Bible?” “On the very few occasions I’ve had the chance to try High German with the Amish, I’ve rarely felt that I was understood.” “I’ve begun introducing myself to the Ausbund. There, I discover a fascinating combination og High German & Dialekt.” (Dr. Schumacher wrote much more, too.)

      And a reply: Dr. Schumacher, my understanding is that the Luther Bible is the only High German Bible the Amish have used for close to 200 years. Before that, the Froschauer Bible was used. Even though High German is used in church services for singing, reading, and somewhat in preaching, it is hardly used in daily life for conversational talking. Sometimes the German will bring out something in a Bible verse that is not as plain in the English.

      1. Catherine

        in reply to Dr. Schumacher

        Mr. Yoder,
        I agree totally with your assessment regarding high german usage. I would also add that “Deitsch” is not taught as a written language in Amish parochial schools. Whatever high German is taught there, is often only as good as the teacher teaching it– no offense intended. There had been a move to try to improve the quality of high german taught in parochial schools but I have not noticed a difference locally. A dialect-speaker will still pronounce high German words in the dialect manner if they have been taught that way. The chances of someone schooled in high german as it is used outside of the Amish community, having a conversation in high German with an Amish person, I think, are very slim.

        Also, I have noticed that when spoken to in German of any form, an Amish person will very quickly turn the conversation into English because they– the other party– is still “auser Leit”. It is a very different case when the other person is known to them. I think it goes the same for those requesting contact or penpals from the Amish. It could happen– but likely not.

        On a side note– My great aunt Bena always carried a New Testamnet that had the German beside the English because if she didn’t understand something in one language she could look it up in the other.


    42. Yoder


      Mennonite Low German is called “Plautdietsch.” Plautdietsch is spoken by the Russian Mennonites, Kleine Gemeinde, and Old Colony Mennonites, in Bolivia, Paraguay, Belize, Mexico, Canada, and Kansas. Is it spoken anywhere else? It seems there are two language codes for Plautdietsch. The ISO 639-2 language code for Low German (Low Saxon) has been nds (NeDerSaksisch) since May 2000. The other three-letter language code for Plautdietsch is ISO 639-3: pdt. Why would there be two codes, nds and pdt? Does Pennsylvania German have a code, too?

      http://www.mennolink.org/doc/lg/. A Mennonite Low German dictionary, “Kjenn Jie Noch Plautdietsch?”, by Rempel, can be used online to find a word in Plautdietsch to English, or from English to Plautdietsch.

      http://www.biblegateway.com/, has the Low German Reimer 2001 version of the Bible online in Plautdietsch (NDS), both in print and in audio. This is John 3:16:
      Jehaun 3:16, Reimer 2001 (REIMER), “Dan Gott haft dise Welt so Leef jehaut, daut hee sien eentsje Saen jeef, daut aula, dee aun am jleewe, nich feloare gone, oba daut eewje Laewe habe.”

      http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/audio/?source=9&aid=33, has the Plautdietsch Bible in audio!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plautdietsch_language, says that a film, Stellet Lijcht (Silent Light), was set in a Mennonite community in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 2007. Most of the film’s dialogue is in Plautdietsch. Wikipedia also gives a text sample of The Lord’s Prayer in Plautdietsch.

      This information will also be posted at

    43. Bible Pa DutchTranslation

      Years ago I was given a New Testament that was translated to PA Dutch, see: http://wycliffeusa.wordpress.com/tag/pennsylvania-dutch/

      It say’s it’s PA Dutch, however for us it is quite obvious it had been translated using the Mid-West dialect.

    44. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Toward Don Curtis

      Don, just out of curiosity; do you and your Amish son Mark have German background/heritage? Does your family have a working history of the German language within your lifetime?

      I wonder if that made it easier for him to convert to the Amish faith with a German heritage.

      1. Don Curtis

        Mark's German

        Well, I can tell you for sure that Mark didn’t learn German at home. My side of the family was English and Scottish. My wife’s side had some German Baptist roots way, way back. No, we didn’t speak any German at all. Mark took French in high school and college. He’s alway thought that was a complete waste of time. He’s never used it even once.
        No, Mark just picked up the Pennsylvania Dutch on his own by being around his Amish friends.

    45. R. E.

      George (March 13th, 2012 at 21:23)

      Very well written that you put forward George (March 13th, 2012 at 21:23) I understand all that you wrote in German dialect and partly in Swedish \ Danish \ Norwegian, when I write and speak Norwegian as well. Very good thank you. Regards R. E. K.

      Meget bra skrevet det du la fram George (March 13th, 2012 at 21:23) jeg forstår alt det du skrev på tysk dialekt delvis og på svensk\dansk\norsk, da jeg skriver og snakker norsk også. Meget bra takk. hilsen R. E. K.

    46. R. E.

      Don Curtis May 21st, 2012 at 3:05 p.m.)

      May 21st, 2012 at 3:05 p.m.) wrote Don Curtis that Mark visited Elsass \ Alsace Region and he and those inhabitants did not understand each other, it is quite possible then Elsasser-German alsatian dialect was colossal “diluted” by the French. View one wants to hear talk like they did 150 to 180 years ago so they may contact the Chamber of Commerce in Castroville Texas and ask for Justin, he’s one of the best exponents who still speak a dialect Elsassische great! Regards R. E. K.

    47. R. E.

      Don Curtis (May 21st, 2012 at 15:01)

      Don curtis where in Rhineland-Palatinate your son and his friends have been? what is called the village? I wrote dialects are “diluted” particularly in Elsass Alsace of franskmenne that after the second world war it was forbidden to speak elsasssik \ alsatian at school. Before, it was part of the Palatinate part of Elsass this for a long long back, they have the same folkloric tracts yet.
      Regards R. E. K.

      1. Don Curtis

        Well, I called Mark and asked him about his trips. On his trip to Europe the spring of 2011 he visited friends, French citizens, orignally from Alsace with roots that go back in Alsace for a long time. Presently, they still have a home in Strasbourg but live most of the year near Zurich, Switzerland. They also have a home in Provence near Grasse, France.
        He visited all over Switzerland to tour Anabaptist heritage sites. He also was in Strasbourg and went with his friends to their home in Provence. He didn’t make it to Germany. While in Alsace Mark said they went to visit his friend’s cousin. He had a traditional farm home in a village on the Rue de Vin. Mark couldn’t remember the name of the village.
        The spring of 2012 Mark went to Europe to visit some other friends. They live in the village of Winterstettendorf in Baden-Wurtemburg. On that trip they went all through the Upper Swabian region. He also went to the Swiss Alps. And they took a day trip to Bavaria. He never made it to the Palatinate area. I don’t even know where that is, actually. But, Mark did talk to a retired classical languages professor who’s grandmother was from the Pfaltz region. He said that Mark’s German and that of the Amish boys with him was just the way his grandmother used to talk German. Mark said that this professor just couldn’t get over the Amish German. He said that when he closed his eyes he could hear his grandmother talking. The accent and vocabulary of the Amish were what he termed “Old Pfaltsich.” The one of the words Mark used that excited the fellow was the word “allegebot”. I don’t know the correct spelling. Mark says it means “every once in a while.” Mark said this man said he hadn’t heard that word since his grandmother had passed away. Anyway, I wish you could talk to Mark, personally, rather than through me.

    48. R. E.

      Don Curtis : November 12th, 2012 at 13:58

      Thank you so much for your reply Don Curtis, if you wish, you can easily put Mark in connection with me! The very interesting to read what you wrote, I have a question for your son Mark, he speaks high German? he speaks the dialect alemannsk? which is much older than high German. All dialect in Germany will in time influence of “Central language” groups, such as English and French (for Elsass \ Alsace) Therefore, it was amazing to hear in 1996 when Justin Castroville Tx, hear him talking in the phone. to me that was here in Norway, hearing he spoke the dialect they spoke for more than 172 years ago … they went cold down over my back … but it was wonderful! Imagine hearing this language is so wonderful preserved?
      Regards, R. E. K.

    49. Matthew


      Language just fascinates me sometimes.I put one of the norwiegen comments here through a danish translator and it still made some sense.I took hoch deutschin school for one year and i have been doing a lot of private since then. I thought the only two dialects were high german and low german.now im realizing i could not have been more wrong.theres just dialects within dialects within dialects and some can understand eachother and some cant.its just incredible.

    50. Janice Hill

      Just FYI,.since I first posed a few questions on here awhile back I still get the notifications for this forum when there are new comments. I just wanted to say I have found so much of this just wonderfully informative and I enjoy your contributions. I wish I could copy a page or so of this ancient Bible I’ve mentioned on here – so I could know what form of German it is,..IF I I can find a way to put some of it on here,.I will or link it or something. But anyway just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas! Janice