Learning To Speak Like The Amish
Since we have a little more time on our hands, we thought it would be fun to learn a few Pennsylvania Dutch words. Each day we will post a new PA Dutch word of the day! Scroll down to see our full list.
Pennsylvania Dutch is the language used by the Amish population here in Lancaster County. It is considered to be their first and native language. The Amish learn to read, write and speak in English, allowing them to communicate with the ‘outside world’. This language is also spoken by Amish who live all over the USA and in Canada. Even though each community speaks it differently, they all understand each other.
Important: PA Dutch is a spoken language with very few grammar rules. We created this list of words with help from our Amish friends. We have tried our best to provide you with phonetic spelling when possible.
Today’s PA Dutch word of the day:
“Er iss mei Nochber” = He is my neighbor
Try pronouncing it like ‘na-bear’
Many visitors believe that Amish people live in an isolated town all by themselves, but that is not true. The Amish do not live in a village! They live all throughout Lancaster County, side by side with non-Amish people. (or as they say “English people) We are blessed to have the Amish community as neighbors!
During these trying times, please remember to love thy neighbor.
“Muddershof”= ewe, a female sheep
To say this word we suggest you over pronounce “mud” and end the word as if the ‘o’ made an ‘a’ sound, like so “mud-der-shaf”.
“Lamm” = lamb The ‘a’ in this word is a long vowel.
The arrival of spring in Amish Country brings a lot of rain and newborn baby animals! We are currently on baby watch for lambs and baby goats. When we have newborns on the farm, we will share the cuteness with all of you!
Amish girls and women wear dresses every day. Each Amish community has its own set of rules pertaining to clothing, but one thing always remains the same, their attire is plain and simple. In Lancaster, Amish women must have a solid-colored long dress, without patterns or designs. She is not permitted to wear jewelry or makeup. Her hair must always be tied up and covered by either a prayer cap or bonnet.
If you live near an Amish community, how do the women dress?
“Geh grik die Kie” = ‘Go get the cows’
The word ‘kie’ is pronounced like ‘key’.
This is something you’d hear frequently if you lived on a dairy farm in Amish Country. Agriculture is so important in this are that many farmers have decided to preserve their farms from development and commercialization. Today, Lancaster County has the strongest farmland preservation program in the United States with well over 1,000 farms preserved. 99% of all farms in Lancaster are family owned!
“Mei Maem schafft in der Gaarde.” – My mom works in the garden.
Try pronouncing ‘Gaarde’ like “Gaw-dah” (heavy on the aw, tip from Amish friend)
Almost every Amish family has some type of garden, whether it’s a vegetable or a flower garden. Vegetable gardens are often large because they need to feed the entire family! (And we all know Amish families can be very large.) Excess vegetables will either be canned for next year or sold at roadside stands. Over the summer months it is also common to come across roadside stands that sells bouquets of flowers. We cannot wait for fresh vegetables and flowers.
“Scooter” = scooter
“Schtor” = store
“Ich geh zu die Schtor mit mie Scooter.” = I go to the store with my scooter.
How many have you seen Amish children riding scooters in Lancaster? Children ride their scooters to school and to visit their friends. Many children in Lancaster use scooters because bicycles are “too worldly”. Parents also feel that a bicycle would take their children too far away from home! Our farm museum is the only place in Lancaster where you can ride an Amish scooter. Next time you’re in Lancaster come over to take a spin!
“Blumme” = flowers
“Ich gleich Blumme.” = I like flowers
If you drive through the Amish countryside over the spring and summer months, you’ll be sure to find flowers. Amish families always have vegetable gardens and they are often bordered with flowers. It’s very common to see large flower beds bordering their houses and around the barns. Many visitors are in awe after seeing how neat and tidy the Amish keep their yards.
In PA Dutch the “w” makes a “v” sound. When you pronounce this word make sure you have a lot of “v” in it! (advice from our Amish friend)
As most of you know, Amish women are the best at quilting! Quilting by hand has been a tradition in the Amish community since the 1880’s. Quilting is an important part of the social and family life of Amish women. It is common for Amish women to gather in a large circle after church and quilt together. These handmade quilts are mostly given as gifts while others are sold in gift shops around the country. Quilts are also auctioned off every year at mud sales to raise money for local fire stations. We have a wide selection of handmade Amish quilts on our online store. Check them out!
“Er iss en Shmit”= He is a farrier
In this video is Elam, a local Amish farrier, who specializes in horse hoof care. Elam incorporates both blacksmith’s skills and veterinarian’s skills to care for horses’ feet. A farrier has many responsibilities when it comes to providing hoof care. Elam does a lot of cleaning, trimming, and balancing of horse’s hooves. He will also remove and replace their shoes, if necessary. In addition to working with the horses on our farm, occasionally Elam gives demonstrations on how to make horseshoes on our farm. You can watch a video of Elam here.
P.S. Elam is also helping us with some of these PA Dutch words, thanks Elam! He also is a talented artist, he creates beautiful artwork from horseshoes. Check out his crafts on our online gift shop.
“Ich hab en Kivvel” = I have a bucket.
Learn more: The picture below shows a sign posted at the end of an Amishman’s driveway. The family who lives here makes wooden buckets for a living. Many people believe that all Amish are farmers but because of the decline in the agriculture industry, many Amish have turned to nonfarm jobs. Only about 25% of the Amish in Lancaster are farmers. You might find Amish men working in construction, craftsmanship, and landscaping while women might work in retail, tourism or restaurants.
Many Amish even own small businesses, just like this small bucket shop!
- “Schul”= school
- “Buch” = book
Sie leest ihre Buch in die Schul.= She reads her book in school.
Learn more: Amish children attend one-room schools in Lancaster County. The Amish have their own schools because they want to educate their children in the way they feel best. Students study the basic subjects: reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, health and earth science. They also learn to speak English at school. Formal education stops after eighth grade and each young adult has an additional two years of vocational training.
- “Gaul” = horse
- “Dachweggeli” = buggy
The “w” in PA Dutch is pronounced like a “v”
“Ich hab en Gaul un Dachweggeli” = I have a horse and buggy
The ‘gg’ in the middle of the word sounds like a ‘y’
Learn more: The Amish use horse and buggies instead of driving cars. The buggies allow them to keep their family and community close. The Amish rejected the car because they felt cars were “too worldly”. Amish people are allowed to be passengers in cars, but they may not drive them.
- “Bauwer” = farmer
“Mei Daett iss en Bauwer” = My dad is a farmer
Remember, the ‘w’ makes a ‘v’ sound in PA Dutch.
Learn more: We have the richest, non-irrigated soil in the world. Agriculture is our biggest industry. Because agriculture is so important in this area, many farmers have decided to preserve their farms from development and commercialization. Today, Lancaster County has the strongest farmland preservation program in the United States with well over 1,000 farms preserved. 99% of all farms in Lancaster are family owned. Lancaster also has the largest number of organic farms in the state of Pennsylvania.