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Grammar

Vowels

Here are the vowels of Pennsylvania Dutch along with their etymological equivalents in standard German. The glosses in single quotes give the English translations for the Pennsylvania Dutch words, which in most—but not all—cases will be the same for the cognate German words. For clarification purposes I have indicated the Middle High German (MHG) sources for some vowels.

PA DutchGermanExamples
i: i:
y:
ʏ
ziege [tsi:ə] (ziehen, 'to pull'), schiesse (schiessen, 'to shoot')
Hiet (Hüte, 'hats'), mied (müde, 'tired')
fiedre (füttern, 'to feed')
ɪɪ
i:
ʏ
bin (bin, '[I] am'), dick (dick, 'thick, fat')
siwwe (sieben, 'seven'), widder (wieder, 'again')
dinn (dünn, 'thin'), Brick (Brücke, 'bridge')
e:e:
aɪ (< MHG ei)
ø:
ɔɪ (< MHG öu)
meh (mehr, 'more'), hewe (heben, 'to lift')
Deel (Teil, 'part'), breet (breit, 'broad')
bees (böse, 'angry'), heeher (höher, 'higher')
Freed (Freude, 'joy')
ɛɛ
e:
œ
ø:
esse (essen, 'to eat'), Schtedt (Städte, 'cities')
gewwe (geben, 'to give'), Glesser (Gläser, 'glasses')
Leffel (Löffel, 'spoon')
schenner (schöner, 'nicer, prettier')
æ: e: /_rwer [wæ:ɐ] (wer, 'who'), haer [hæ:ɐ] (her, 'from [directional particle]')
a: aʊ (< MHG u:)Haus [ha:s] (Haus, 'house'), laut [la:t] (laut, 'loud')
aa
a:
ɪ,ʏ,ɛ,œ,ɔ,ʊ /_r
Nacht (Nacht, 'night'), Stadt (Stadt, 'town, city')
Gawwel (Gabel, 'fork'), Vadder (Vater, 'father')
Hasch (Hirsch, 'deer'), Bascht (Bürste, 'brush'), lanne (lernen, 'to learn'), kannich (körnig, 'grainy'), Watt (Wort, 'word'), darrich (durch, 'through')
ɔ:a:
aʊ (< MHG ou)
baade (baden, 'to wade'), Daag (Tag, 'day')
Aag (Auge, 'eye'), Fraa (Frau, 'wife')
ɔɔ
a
o:
Kopp (Kopf, 'head'), Loch (Loch, 'hole')
hot (hat, '[s/he] has'), Mann [mɔn] (Mann, 'husband')
Bodde (Boden, 'floor, ground'), Offe (Ofen, 'oven')
o:o:
a: (< MHG a:)
aʊ (< MHG ou)
rot (rot, 'red'), Hof (Hof, 'yard')
schloofe (schlafen, 'to sleep'), do (da, 'here')
bloo (blau, 'blue'), groo (grau, 'gray')
u:u:
o:
aʊ (< MHG u:)
gut (gut, 'good'), Bu (Bube, 'boy, son')
wu (wo, 'where'), wuhne (wohnen, 'to reside')
uf (auf, 'on [top of]')
ʊʊ
ɔ
o:
dumm (dumm, 'dumb'), Budder (Butter, 'butter')
kumme (kommen, 'to come'), drucke (trocken, 'dry')
Hunnich (Honig, 'honey')
aɪ (< MHG i:)
ɔɪ (< MHG iu)
drei (drei, 'three'), Zeit (Zeit, 'time')
hait (heute, 'today'), Feier (Feuer, 'fire')
Note: Midwestern Amish pronounce this vowel as [ɛ:] except before the unstressed vowel [ɐ].
ɔɪaɪ (< MHG ei) Moi (Mai, 'May')
ə, ɐə, ɐschwetze (schwätzen, 'to talk'), Schwetzer (Schwätzer, 'talker')
These vowels, called schwa and dark schwa, occur in unstressed final position within a word or syllable.