The New International Encyclopædia/Pennsylvania Dutch

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PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH, or Pennsylvania German. The language of the Germans who emigrated to Pennsylvania between 1683 (when Pastorius settled in Germantown) and the middle of the eighteenth century. During this time some 100,000 settled principally in the southeastern counties of the State, such as Lancaster, York, Franklin, Cumberland, Berks, Schuylkill, and Lehigh. The emigration was due partly to the ravages of the armies of Louis XIV., and partly to religious persecution. The settlers came principally from the Rhenish Palatinate, Württemberg, and Switzerland, with a sprinkling from the Lower Rhine, Bavaria, Alsace, and Saxony. As most of the dialects spoken by these people belonged to the Alemannic and Franconian groups (see German Language), the idiom of the Pennsylvania Dutch is really High German, and the confusion with Dutch is due to the fact that the settlers called their language ‘Deitsch’ (German). Although a variety of dialects were originally represented, that of the Rhenish Palatinate (Rheno-Franconian) so predominated and influenced the others that the language may be regarded as fairly homogeneous. Owing to their segregation in religious communities, the emigrants clung tenaciously to their mother tongue, but were gradually compelled by force of circumstances to accept many English words, especially the names of objects in daily use, until the dialect can best be described as a fusion of Franconian and Alemannic with an admixture of English varying from one per cent. in the rural districts to a large percentage in the towns.

The language exhibits the characteristic dialectic darkening of a to o (schlof for Schlaf; jor for Jahr), further the fronting of ö to e (here for hören; bes for böse) and of ü to i (bicher for Bücher). German ei and äu generally appear as ē (del for Teil; bem for Bäume). The consonants p, pp, and d are not shifted (pund for Pfund; kloppe for klopfen; kopp for Kopf; dag for Tag; mudder for Mutter). Final vowels and inflectional n are dropped (mid for müde; bem for Bäume; finne for finden; gfunne for gefunden).

The writings of the Pennsylvania Germans have been mainly of a religious character, such as hymns and polemical pamphlets. They were written as a rule in the High-German literary dialect, with, however, a number of exceptions. Within the last forty years, however, a number of poems in the dialect have been written. Consult: Seidensticker, Bilder aus der deutsch-pennsylvanischen Geschichte (2d ed., New York, 1886); id., The First Century of German Printing in America (Philadelphia, 1893); Cobb, Story of the Palatines, an Episode in Colonial History (New York, 1897); Sachse, The German Sectarians of Provincial Pennsylvania, 1694-1800 (ib., 1895-1900); Haldeman, Pennsylvania Dutch (ib., 1872); Learned, The Pennsylvania German Dialect (Baltimore, 1889).