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Friday, December 24, 2010

Pennsylvania Dutch English

Do you know that even though there are many English dialects in USA, one of them stands out and would be recognized easily how different it is from other dialects. Pennsylvania Dutch English is dialect located in Pennsylvania where it is significantly influenced by contact with English language and is unrecognizable to most Americans. It is known for “attempting to speak English as a literal translation of the German Idiom and known for its unique Pronunciation” (Wilson 1). Approximately 250,000 people in North America speak this language and it is derived from descendent of 17th and 18th century US immigrants from Germany and its surroundings. “It has reached the popular magazine article, where its oddities of vocabulary match the social characteristics of its people in affording amusement to the casual reader” (Page 203). Additionally, even though Pennsylvania Dutch is unique in its own way, it is gradually disappearing from print.
As mentioned, Pennsylvania Dutch speakers tries to speak English in term of German’s set of phrase. Each part of Pennsylvania Dutch speakers have small differentiation in the way they speak. For example, Snyder County, instead of saying ‘drinking glasses’, they will say‘drink glasses’; or ‘drink water’ instead of ‘drinking water’. They would also say ‘He saw me yesterday’ as in he did not see me until yesterday. There are also other examples, where they use sentences without a true subject. For example, if a Pennsylvania Dutch wife had a sudden pain in her back while working on something, they would probably say ‘my wife she was sweeping the bed from in under out, and it flew her in the back’. This might seems confusing to you, but it is perfectly understandable by Pennsylvania Dutch speakers.
There are also some words that are often used in unusual way in this dialect. For example, the verb ‘make’ is a verb that is generally used in Pennsylvania Dutch. They would say sentences or phrases such as ‘it makes down’ as in it is raining; or ‘this pig of my own make’ as it is of my own butchering; or ‘it is getting ready to make’ as in to rain. Another verb that is often used as well is ‘want in’ and ‘want out’ where the verbs ‘to go’ and ‘to come’ are absent. ‘Want in’ means go and ‘want out’ means come. You could say ‘you want out’ as in ‘you go’ or ‘the dog want in’ as in ‘the dog come’ where “ the preposition seems to take on the activating force of the verb” (Wilson 3). There are all different kinds of examples about different words Pennsylvanian Germans take for granted, but that is not all, there are also different ways of how different groups among them talk, depending if they are educated or not.
` Among Pennsylvania Dutch speakers, there are levels of speech. Educated people such as doctors, lawyers, or professors, would use words like, ‘machine’ (automobile), ‘pike’ (highway), ‘sledding’, ‘sidewalk’, gravy ‘dressing’, and ‘outing’ (picnic). They also often use “present for the past tense and of the perfect or the past for the past perfect tense” (Page 204). For example, they might say ‘He said he came three week ago’ or ‘I wasn’t here five minute when he came’ or ‘I asked him did he do it’. These kinds of examples are highly used by educated people in Pennsylvania more than anywhere else. On the other hand, average speakers share some common characteristics with educated people’s speech, but there are additional characteristics that distinguish both speeches. For example, they use the verb or noun ‘blutz’ instead of bounce or bump, and the noun ‘tut’ for paper bag. They also have a different ways of spelling some words. For example, if you ask average person to spell Smith, he “will spell it mechanically with equal stress and spacing from letter to letter” (Page 205). Instead of spelling it S M I T H, instead he will say SM I Th. SM and TH will be quickly pronounced while I will be the slowest. This is the way the average person spells most of the words.
Pennsylvania Dutch speakers also include a unique way of writing their newspaper. They often write in a tone that we usually never use while writing a formal article. They usually use words and sentences such as ‘spritz’, or ‘I will a few lines to you about the work’, or ‘Why it’s to far to work’, or ‘I have no machine to go’ or ‘blutz’ or ‘outen the light’. For example, “ ‘Rutchie’ appears regularly in print, as in this tipical headline from Reading Times: ‘City Police to Patrol Eight Rutchie’(Streets for the use of sleds); put the verb ‘rutch’(to slide) only occur in speech (Page 205). Unfortunately today, this unique way of writing is decreasing, and instead “Reading Times” irregularly publish an article in Pennsylvania German often for the purpose of laughter.
In conclusion, Pennsylvania Dutch is a very unique American English dialect since for one reason; you can distinguish easily how different it is from other English dialects. It is only spoken by a small portion of Pennsylvanians and its surroundings. It is influenced by both English and German’s rules of speech. Pennsylvania Dutch will probably continue to be spoken in it regions, proven by these examples shown above. Perhaps, it might yield to standard American English but there is no sign that it will yield to it quickly.

Work Cited

Page, Eugene R. "ENGLISH IN THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN AREA." American Speech 12.3 (1937): 203. Communication & Mass Media Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 Dec. 2010.

Wilson, Arthur Herman. "ENGLISH SPOKEN BY PENNSYLVANIA GERMANS IN SNYDER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA." American Speech 23.3/4 (1948): 236. Communication & Mass Media Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 Dec. 2010.

busygirl thanks indeed

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