Talk:Pennsylvania Dutch

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/Archive 1


this page was to long so it has been archived --gdaly7 (talk) 13:30, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Religions of the Pennsylvania Dutch[edit]

While I am certainly in camp with the other religions mentions as being Pennsylvania Dutch I am not so certain "Roman Catholic" would fit the bill for the mainstream Anabaptists which are the predominant group associated with the culture. The Pennsylvania Dutch fled from the church as a matter of religious persecution, even from some more mainstream protestant denominations from europe into Quaker Pennsylvania, I suggest you begin by reading the Martyrs Mirror.

Surprise! I am of Pa Dutch ancestry and a Roman Catholic-not alone, I have quite a number of kinfolk that claim Pa Dutch ancestry-being German-and Roman Catholic.This includes Dormers and Kappens and Fryes. This is not a small number of people to be ignored and omitted from the article. When I have an exact number and cite, it will be added to the article. --Brattysoul — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:45, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Complete information[edit]

Maybe you guys could work together with the people of the "Pennsylvania German language"-page ? (talk) 11:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree. As a Pennsylvania (German) Dutch, Roman Catholic individual, I have been offended by much of what's been written in the article and reviewed in the 'talk' section. There is a lively verbal history that has been handed down in my own family of those of German descent, and up to the 1960s, only married other Pa (German) Dutch folk. This being the case, I can say that what I have read here shows most 'educated' people forget that there is much, much more going on than what they have been taught in a classroom, or what some arrogant 'scholar' believes or claims about any ethnic group. It's sad how little is understood about any verbal history.

I know that many Pa. Dutch from the Second World War Era, and their children,(born prior to 1950) who claim Pa Dutch heritage, and are actually of German descent, are VEHEMENT in their denials of being German, that they are in fact, Pennsylvania Dutch, and they will tell you so, in no uncertain terms. It's about being ashamed of their heritage. However, that has changed since the 90s, with the inception of all ancestry in this country becoming "Insert Ancestry Here-American", for instance German-American Day celebrated on Oct 6th, in of all places, the Germantown Section of Philadelphia.

As to the entire etymology of the title "Pennsylvania Dutch", that also has a verbal history, and what has been taught in many elementary schools here, relates to how the immigrants spoke in their language--"sprechen Deutsch" for the German peoples and "sprechen niederländisch" for the Dutch peoples. Asking if anyone spoke the German language, not Dutch; though we see many similarities in words, they are not the same when related to their own languages: One being German and the other Dutch-from the Netherlands.

Then there is the individual who cited Quakers and Mennonites that founded Germantown in Philadelphia, while partly true, he/she did not include the ancestry. Yes they were of those Religions, but they were of German descent!! Hence the namesake of that town; Germantown! Anyone can reference the Wiki page and review it their self.

As soon as I have the time, I will collect all references that back up all that I have written here, and the changes shall be made in relation to how some things have come about and have been related throughout our own families for many generations. (talk) 03:34, 9 February 2014 (UTC) BrattySoul

Massive Undercount[edit]

The populations figures must be a massive undercount. It lists 200,000 as the largest figure, when the population figures for the Amish and the Pennsylvania German speakers both surpass that number. This number not only does not take into account the "Fancy Dutch" who assimilated and stopped speaking the language, the population of which was always larger than the "Plain People", it also appears to miss a large portion of the Plain Dutch as well.

In addition, over a quarter of the populations of Pennsylvania and Ohio and nearly a quarter of the population of Indiana claim German heritage as well. That's in addition to the many other people in other parts of the US and Canada who have Pennsylvania Dutch roots (Dwight Eisenhower is one of the most famous, and I have a friend in Kansas who does as well). I think it is likely the same case as the Americans of British Isles ancestry... People don't consider themselves part of it because they aren't aware or because they've abandoned the identity. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:42, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Amish and Mennonites are Only a Fraction of PA Dutch[edit]

As the entry of "Massive Undercount" points out this article seems to make the classic mistake in positing that only the "quaint folk" such as the Amish and Mennonites are the PA Dutch which is not the case at all. My own family line is one of the families that immigrated to the Tulpehocken Valley in PA from New York in 1723 being my 6th. great-grandfather, Johan Nicholas Schäfer with his family consisting of his wife, Maria Suder and their five sons. Johan Nicholas is believed to have immigrated with two of his brothers and genealogists estimate that this family alone has over one million descendants in the US today. (talk) 23:10, 28 April 2011 (UTC) Mike Shafer

Pennsylvania German movement comment[edit]

The Pennsylvania German movement is not to be confused with the Anabaptist movement during the 1600s to 1700s. The Pennsylvania German movement was a result of Napolean Bonaparte liberating d'Alcase and the French area of Switzerland from the late 1790s to 1815. It was enough that Napolean accomplished his conquests, but then a phenomenon in 1815 occurred called the "Year without a Summer" in Europe where the summer temperature never exceeded 50 degrees affecting crop production. As a result of this many Europeans in d'Alcase left for America. The Pennsylvania German movement essentially occurred between 1800-1820 and was comprised of three people groups: Germans, French and Jews, many of them entering through Philadelphia. These were the Pennsylvania Germans.

This comment appeared at the end of the page, but should be elsewhere. --DThomsen8 (talk) 12:55, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Where did they emigrate from?[edit]

right now the article says "Germanic peoples who emigrated to the U.S. (primarily to Pennsylvania), from Germany, Switzerland and The Low Countries prior to 1800" Germany did not exist as a country in 1800, so shouldn't the article say where they actually came from? also "The Low Countries" is a completely ridiculous term to use. (talk) 21:11, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

The "Pennsylvania Dutch" are fundamentalist Mennonites from Switzerland. There are virtually NO Amish or Mennonites from what is now Germany. People like to make things up and find explanations where there are none, so every article I've ever read talks about the Pennsylvania Dutch having "German" roots. Keep in mind that German-speaking Mennonite people generally refer to themselves as "Deutsch," which is an ethno-liguistic group to them, not a "nationality" in the modern nation-state sense. Most of this article is speculation and other nonsense, and the entire article should be deleted in favor of a "stub." (talk) 16:12, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
they do include the Mennonites -- but most were Lutherans, as typified bhy Frederick Muhlenberg. See A. G. Roeber, Palatines, Liberty, and Property: German Lutherans in Colonial British America (1998) . Rjensen (talk) 01:54, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
The Pennsylvania Dutch consist almost entirely of people who emigrated from the German Palatinate, along with some Hessian soldiers who spoke an almost identical dialect. Only a small minority of them were Anabaptists (such as Mennonites and Amish) and even those tended to have migrated from Switzerland to the Palatinate and then on to Pennsylvania. To say that the Pennsylvania Dutch were not German is just not accurate; they were almost all German and even the ones who were from Switzerland or Alsace would have spoken a Germanic language and considered themselves German. (Remember that Germany was in those days an assortment of principalities and such and therefore being German described one's ethnicity and not one's nationality. At the time, they would have had no way of knowing whose homeland would eventually be incorporated into present-day Germany and whose would not so they would not have drawn a distinction between Germans and German-speaking Swiss or Austrians or German speaking Alsatians from what is now a part of France.) Dave (djkernen)|Talk to me|Please help! 18:51, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
Since the Holy Roman Empire (yeah I know neither holy nor roman nor an empire) renamed it self in the early 1500 into Holy Roman Emprie of the German Nation - one might argue that there was a Germany as some kind of a country (talk) 20:16, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

I am descended from Northern Indiana Pennsylvania Dutch. My family history indicates that while a large chunk of us came from Switzerland, there were also significant numbers from Alsace-Lorraine in what is now France.Dyscard (talk) 17:27, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Origin of "Pennsylvania Dutch" -- Truly a Corruption of "Deutsch"?[edit]

I'm skeptical. I know this is the most common explanation, but.... Basically, in the USA, during the period that the people we're talking about "took root" as immigrants, "Dutch" was -- correct me if I'm wrong -- a common term for anyone haling from the various parts of Europe that would later become the Germany, the Netherlands, and probably a couple of other modern-day nation-states. I don't have any cites handy (consarnit), but I'm certain I've read, multiple times, that "Dutch" was a generic term, applied to any German-speaker, residingin the United States (or the Colonies, before the Revolution), circa...the late 18th century to German unification. I know there are countless sources claiming that "Pennsylvania Dutch" came about because "people heard 'Deutsch', and said, 'Oh, Dutch!'"...but presuming that my conjecture (that "Dutch" was, you know, per above, common), I don't think there's any reason to resort to a the "mishearing Deutsch" thing. The "group mishears another group, and it becomes the term" thing is extremely common in folk etymology (I can list a bunch of examples -- "kangaroo" means "I don't know", for one), and this also makes me skeptical. Anyone got any concrete evidence? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Occlusian (talkcontribs) 09:13, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

It seems somewhat naive to try to compare the modern English word Dutch (not used in Dutch) with the modern German word "deutsch". Historically, Dutch might have been used in the English language for all Germans, and it would be a very strange coincident that it is almost identical to the word Germans use for themselves, deutsch, especially as the German standard language and spelling was finally fixed in its current form in 1902. The country Germany was not formed before 1871 and it was clearly at the time not seen as unification of all but only of some German states. Now almost extinct northern German dialects are essentially the same than Dutch, so that it would seem strange that the people living in the Netherlands (=low lands; the low lands of what?) would have not considered themselves deutsch 300 years ago. I do not know how 'deutsch' was spelled and pronounced 300 years ago in various parts of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation, of which the current territory of the Netherlands were clearly part, but an pretty sure it was not uniformly the current modern pronunciation and spelling. If the Dutch nowadays do not identify as being German is that more a result of the recent Nazi history of the country of Germany and is not indicative that they would not have considered themselves "deutsch" 300 years ago. I, consequently, must assume that the coining of the term German and the restriction of the term Dutch to the Netherlands is a recent development in the English language, likely not older than the creation of the Second Reich in 1871. (Wbuchmaier (talk) 22:33, 3 November 2011 (UTC))

You can assume but you would be wrong. Or you could quickly read History of the Netherlands. Rmhermen (talk) 19:24, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
Actually the history of the Netherlands won't help with the etymology of the English word Dutch but you are right, it was used to refer to any Germanic person south of Scandinavia and gradually narrowed its meaning to just Netherlanders. But your timing is off because the meaning narrowed beginning in the 17th century. However the process was gradual and there are a number of place names in the USA that use the word "Dutch" in the Germanic sense. (It's likely that the meaning changed first in England but took longer to change in the USA.)
Dave (djkernen)|Talk to me|Please help! 19:15, 24 December 2011 (UTC)
Wbuchmaier "the low lands of what?" - the "low lands" refers to the fact that much of Holland (the country where people are known as Dutch) is at or below sea level, with much of the land below sea level having been reclaimed from the sea by the use of dikes. You might be familiar with the popular story about the Dutch boy who plugged a hole in a dike with his finger, thereby saving Holland from being flooded. There is also an old saying that "God created the world, except for Holland" because so much of the country was in fact reclaimed from the sea using dikes. Finally, another name for Holland is "The Netherlands" ("Niederland" in German), "nether" coming from the same root as the word beneath, i.e. beneath sea level. Technically speaking not all of Holland is actually "The Netherlands" (or is it the other way around? I don't remember) but in popular usage, they are one and the same. Andrew S. (talk) 02:47, 10 March 2016 (UTC)

Yeah, this needs to be rectified. At the time the Pennsylvania Dutch arrived in America, the terms "German" and "High Dutch" were still interchangeable among English speakers. "Low Dutch" is what we now know as "Dutch", while "High Dutch" became known as German as those two languages drifted apart. In Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, there are frequent mentions of "High Dutch" and "Low Dutch", though by the mid-1700s, "German" had supplanted the term "High Dutch" as the norm. There are many, many sources from the 1600s and 1700s that back this up, as well as more recent scholarship confirming this. Right now in this wiki article, all but one of the cited sources asserting that "Dutch" is a corruption of "Deutsch" are written in 2004 or later, and they all make the assertion without offering any evidence in their texts that it's true. The one earlier source cited is the 1872 book Pennsylvania Dutch: A Dialect of South German with an Infusion of English by Samuel Stehman Haldeman, which doesn't really go into any detail on the etymology. It asserts on page 4 of that book that Pennsylvania Dutch is "so called because Germans call themselves Deutsch" but that assertion is footnoted with the explanation: "The mistake has arisen from the popular confusion between the terms Dutch and German, which are synonymous with many. In Albany (New York) they speak of the Double Dutch Church, which seems to have been formed by the fusion of a German Reformed with a Dutch Reformed congregation." When I have time, I will try to update this section of this article with more authoritative sources on the matter, unless someone beats me to it. Mayor of awesometown (talk) 18:14, 16 December 2016 (UTC)

Reengineering of Lede[edit]

I would like to place an "Etymology" heading above the second paragraph, thus moving it out of the lede and making it the first section after the lede. I would also like to then expand the lede to make it a summary of the article rather then a section on etymology. Is anyone against this? Dave (djkernen)|Talk to me|Please help! 23:58, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

yes: very good idea. Rjensen (talk) 04:13, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I made an initial pass at it. I am not entirely happy with the result but since I still prefer it to the old abbreviated lede I have moved it onto the live page. Please feel free to contribute to improving this section! Dave (djkernen)|Talk to me|Please help! 20:22, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

Some of those who originally founded/settled Germantown were indeed largely of Dutch ancestry. Dutch authorities persecuted Mennonites in the 17th century, burning several at the stake in Amsterdam. Many Dutch Mennonites escaped Holland and traveled via Dollendorf to the area around Kriegsheim in the Palatinate,arriving there in the mid 17th century. John Ames, a Quaker missionary visited Kriegheim and converted several of the Dutch Mennonite families to Quakers. William Penn himself visited these Quakers in the late 1670's according to entries in his journal. The government already levied a special tax on Mennonites and Quakers because they were not of the "official" state religion. It also levied a tax on the people to pay the expenses of a war with Turkey. Many Mennonites and most Quakers refused to pay the tax or to serve their turn as a town guard. As a result, the local magistrate (Hochmal Schmal)was forced to begin taking property for past due taxes. The Dutch Quaker families became very unpopular with the locals and requested permission to leave for America. These families were Umstatt, Hendricks, Schumacher, Kolb and others. Two of Gerhart Hendrick's grandsons served as early Mayor's of Philadelphia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:34, 7 February 2013 (UTC)


Recently there has been a bit of an edit war over the 2nd paragraph of the Etymology section. After reverting the edits several times I've finally given in and decided to try to work with the changes. My main objections to the changes so far have been a) the original version represented the "mispronunciation of Dietsch" theory as the only viable theory even though the cited source lists five possible reasons why this groups uses "Dutch" as their English-language endonym (although many now do use "German" or "Pennsylvania Dutch" or "Pennsylvania German"). Also, the wording claimed that the name Dutch was onomatopoeic, which is clearly not the case and appears to represent a misunderstanding of the word onomatopoeic. Finally, the new wording claims that Pennsylvania German bears only a superficial resemblance to Dutch, which is nonsense because the language is a dialect of German and German and Dutch have a deep and fundamental relationship that renders the two languages very very similar (as are by extension their respective dialects and offshoot languages).

However, do we even need that 2nd paragraph at all? It seems to contradict the first to some extent and doesn't flow well from the 1st paragraph at all. Also, the etymology of the English word "Dutch" demonstrates a far more compelling explanation for the current label of the Pennsylvania Dutch people (who BTW still prefer to be called Dutch even though they are totally aware of their relationship to German and have historically used Standard German and not Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands in their church services).

Thanks for your input, Dusty|💬|You can help! 16:02, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Occupation skills of immigrants[edit]

I remember in college US history class the assertion that many of those from the Palatinate were encouraged to come because of their metal-working skills. The article at present mentions only their excellent farming skills. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:36, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

I recall learning this also-from the building of the Bryn Athyn Cathedral-many of the various artesians,from several European countries, including many Germans-remained in this country-- Brattysoul — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:40, 9 February 2014 (UTC)