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Lancaster Readers Want Stoffel Ehrlich (1804)

This short item, which appeared in the November 16, 1804, issue of the Lancaster, PA, newspaper Der Wahre Amerikaner (The True American; click here for original text), set the stage for the debut one week later of “Stoffel Ehrlich,” the pseudonymous everyman whose views were typical of those held by rural Pennsylvania Dutch. The text is written in Pennsylvania High German, with a handful of Dutchified German words. The “various subscribers” to whom this piece is attributed identified themselves as living in Hempfield Township, which is located just west of Lancaster City.

Stoffel_WA_intro_11-16-1804_exc 

Meister Drucker, Wir haben in Hempfield eure Zeitung kriegt, und sobald wir in die Stadt kommen, wollen wir das Einschreib-Geld bezahlen. … Da ihr jezt doch die Zeitung alle Woche druckt, so gebt uns auch dann und wann etwas Spaßiges. … Vielleicht könnet ihr mit dem alten Stoffel Ehrlich, nicht weit von der Canostogo-Kriek, bekant werden, euch Stücker zuzuschicken. Wir haben als pommerisch über sein Schreibens gelacht, besonders wie er die Großhansen abgenommen hat. In unserer Nachbarschaft sind einige bös über ihn worden, und gesagt daß er zu viel Englische Wörter vorbringe, und es auch nicht besser verstünde. Aber sie waren nicht auf zu seinen Tricks. Wir gleichen ein wenig von allerhand in der Zeitung zu lesen.

Verschiedene Subscribenten.

Mister Editors, We have gotten your newspaper in Hempfield and as soon as we come into town we will pay the subscription fee. … Since you are now printing the newspaper every week, why don’t you give us something fun every now and then. … Maybe you could make the acquaintance of old Stoffel Ehrlich, from near the Conestoga Creek, and get him to send you letters. We’ve always howled with laughter over his writing, especially when he’s taken the big mouths down a notch. In our area some people have gotten mad at him and said that he uses too many English words without really understanding the language all that well. But they didn’t understand what he was up to [lit., ‘they weren’t up to his tricks’]. We like to read a little bit of everything in the newspaper.

Various Subscribers.