LearnGermanwith Us!

Start Learning!

German Language Blog

Reading Pennsylvania German Posted by on Aug 19, 2015 in Intercultural, Language

With any language, being aware of its different dialects and variations is just as important (and interesting!) as learning the standard language. Recently I did a post on Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch (Pennsylvania German) and how it has developed from standard German. In that post, I focused on key words, and gave you two videos of people speaking PA German to listen to.

Pennsylvania German Sticker.svg

“We still speak the mother tongue” “Pennsylvania German Sticker” by Alex Great – Own work This file was derived from: PD Sticker s.gif. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

This time, I’m giving you an extract written in PA German. The following extract is from the PA German newspaper Hiwwe Wie Driwwe, which I recommend if you’d like to learn more about, or read more of, the Pennsylvania German language.

Here is the extract:

Waart dihr seilewes in en Amish Gmee? Waart dihr net? ‘S nemmt drei bis vier Schtunne. Die Gmee schtaert frieh mariyets um acht Uhr. Erscht watt gsunge, noht gebt’s die Breddich, un am End watt gebeet. Wann alles faddich iss, gebt’s en guud Iems, eb die Leit abschtaerte fer heem in ihre Buggies. Sie henn Gmee alle zwee Woche. Der Sunndaag, wu kenn Gmee iss, heesst der “Zwischenei-Sunndaag”. Seller Daag fahre deel Amish zu en anner Paert vum Amish Country un gehn zu en anner Gmee.

This might be difficult to read on first appearances, but it’s not as alien as you think! To prove it, here’s a breakdown of the highlighted vocabulary, and its similarities to standard German:

Schtunne – Hour. From the German Stunde.

Erscht – First. From the German Erst.

Faddich – Finished/over with. From the German Fertig.

Sunndaag – Sunday. From the German Sonntag.

Anner – Other/Another. From the German andere/r/s.

Zwee – Two. From the German Zwei.

Un – And. From the German Und.

Gmee – This one’s a little trickier! On first appearance, this word has no similarity to German. It means ‘church’ (which is Kirche in German), but more specifically it refers to a church service – not necessarily one held in a church itself. It is linked to the PA German word gemeen, which is very similar to the German word Gemeinschaft, meaning community. So the link is: Gmee, gemeen, Gemeinschaft, community. (Danke to Roland from Hiwwe Wie Driwwe for explaining this one to me!)

Now you’ve got a feel for the way PA German is written, can you make out a little more of the extract? Here it is again:

Waart dihr seilewes in en Amish Gmee? Waart dihr net? ‘S nemmt drei bis vier Schtunne. Die Gmee schtaert frieh mariyets um acht Uhr. Erscht watt gsunge, noht gebt’s die Breddich, un am End watt gebeet. Wann alles faddich iss, gebt’s en guud Iems, eb die Leit abschtaerte fer heem in ihre Buggies. Sie henn Gmee alle zwee Woche. Der Sunndaag, wu kenn Gmee iss, heesst der “Zwischenei-Sunndaag”. Seller Daag fahre deel Amish zu en anner Paert vum Amish Country un gehn zu en anner Gmee.

Leave me your translation in the comments, or read on to see what it is in English!

 

 

English translation
Let me start by saying that I’m by no means an expert in PA German, but as a German/Bavarian speaker I’m able to make out enough of it to write a rough translation (so my ability to do so, in a way, represents the level of similarity that PA German has to standard German). The words with the ??? next to them are ones I’m not sure of at all, so PLEASE feel free to translate them if you know what they mean, and to make any corrections to what I have written. 🙂

Here is the gist of it:

Have you ever been to an Amish Church service? Have you not? It takes three to four hours. The service starts at eight o’clock. First you sing, then after that you get <Breddich???>, and at the end you pray. When everything is finished, there’s a good <lems???>, and people drive home in their buggies (carts). There is a service every two weeks. The Sundays on which there are no services are called the “in-between Sundays”. On these Sundays, the Amish drive to another part of Amish Country to attend a different service there.

Read more, and hear the language being spoken: My first post on Pennsylvania German.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor.


Comments:

  1. Windigstadt:

    I know next to nothing about PA Deitsch (sorry Great Grandmother Henschel!) but my first thought was maybe “Breddich” a corruption of bread/Brot and refers to communion?

  2. Damian:

    Breddich = Predigt?

  3. Tina:

    Breddich would be Praedigt, the word for sermon, I believe! I would say, “First is the singing, then comes the sermon, and at the end they pray.”

    • Constanze:

      @Tina Thanks Tina, it seems so obvious now! x

  4. Allan Mahnke:

    I was interested to see that the same words that stumped me, also stumped you. I think Breddich is probably just Predigt – (sermon). And another very minor point, I think Gmee probably comes simply from Gemeinde (Kirchengemeinde) rather than the fuller Gemeinschaft. In my experience people frequently refer to the congregation this way.

    This is such great fun! Many thanks!

    Allan

    • Constanze:

      @Allan Mahnke Good point about the word Gemeinde, Allan! And I think you’re right – Breddich probably is Predigt! Thanks for your helpful comment. 🙂 🙂
      Constanze x

  5. irene:

    hi, it looks a lot helpfull 4 me 2 learn German if u send duplicates of German-English texts.

    hope u send some more this way.

    Obliged,
    Irene

    • Constanze:

      @irene Thanks Irene, I will keep this in mind. Good luck with your studies. 🙂

  6. Jenna:

    Hi. There is a street sign in my town that I’ve been trying to translate. It seems German, but that’s not quite right. It is in PA, so I was wondering if you could help me. The sign reads Geuetauct• Shas Gebt . The a in Shas has two dots over it. I’m just kind of curious as to what it might say. Thank you

    • Jenna:

      @Jenna * Gevetauct

    • Constanze:

      @Jenna Hi Jenna! That’s interesting! These aren’t words I’m familiar with, I’m afraid. Maybe the guys here can help you: https://hiwwewiedriwwe.wordpress.com/ They answered one of my questions once about PA German! Let me know if you find out! 🙂

      • Debi:

        @Constanze Hi Jenna, that wouldn’t be in Warren Co, PA would it? Lol, I just saw that road sign and am looking for answers myself.