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Counties in "Pennsylvania Dutch Country
", one of several regions in which Pennsylvania German and "Pennsylvania Dutch English" have traditionally been spoken.
Pennsylvania Dutch English is a dialect of English that has been influenced by Pennsylvania German. It is largely spoken in the South Central area of Pennsylvania, both by people who are monolingual (in English) and bilingual (in Pennsylvania German and English). The dialect has been dying out, as non-Amish younger Pennsylvania Germans tend to speak modern General American English (Midwestern Accent). Very few non-Amish members of these people can speak the Pennsylvania Dutch language, although most know some words and phrases. The WWII Generation was the last generation in which Pennsylvania Dutch was widely spoken, outside of the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities.
Features of Pennsylvania German Influence
Pennsylvania Dutch English differs from standard American English in various ways. Some of its hallmark features include the following:
- Widespread devoicing of obstruents.
- The use of certain vowel variants in specific phonological contexts.
- The use of Pennsylvania German verb and noun stems in word construction.
- Specific intonation patterns for questions.
- Special placement of prepositional phrases in sentences (so that "Throw the horse some hay over the fence" might be rendered "Throw the horse over the fence some hay").
- The use of "ain't" and "not" or "say" as question tags.
- The use of "still" as a habitual verbal marker.
- Use of the word "yet" to mean "still," such as "do you work at the store yet?" to mean "do you still work at the store?"
- Use of terms such as "doncha know" and "so I do" or "so he does" at the end of declaratory sentences.
- Use of the word "awhile" at the end of sentences proposing simultaneous actions (e.g. "Go get the tea out of the pantry; I'll start boiling the water awhile.").
- The use of "tree" instead of "three" to describe the number "3".
Other calques and idioms include:
|Pennsylvania Dutch English
||Is it going to rain?
||Wird es regnen?
|Outen the lights.
||Turn off the lights.
||Mach das Licht aus.
|The candy is all.
||There is no more candy.
||Die Süßigkeiten sind alle.
|Don't eat yourself full.
||Don't fill yourself up.
||Iss dich nicht voll.
|There's cake back yet.
||There is cake to come.
||Es gibt da noch Kuchen.
|Red up the room.
||Clean the room.
||Räum das Zimmer auf.
|It wonders me.
||It makes me wonder.
||Das wundert mich.
||auf dem Bauch rutschen
||Clumsy with things usually due to hurrying
||Clumsy with self
||Whatever, or It makes no difference
||Pig (when someone eats a lot)
|Kutz / kutzing
||Vomit / vomiting
||die Kotze / kotzen
||A polite way of saying "None of your business"
||Uncombed or stringy
||for a second/real quick
||Ein Moment / mal
||over easy, soft-boiled eggs
||Das macht nichts OR Macht nichts.
|Nix nootz/Nix nootzie
||Misbehaving(usually referring to a little kid)
||troublemaker(usually referring to a little kid)
||None left/All gone
||alle / leer
||exactly the same as