Skip to content


WPA_poster_1938_smallThese pages contain many of the texts referenced in Pennsylvania Dutch: The Story of an American Language, as well as additional ones. The texts are divided into three groups according to the years in which they originally appeared:




Most texts are in one of three varieties: Pennsylvania Dutch, Pennsylvania High German, or Dutchified German. There are also texts in nonstandard English, either Dutchified English or Dutch Dialect.

Pennsylvania High German refers to the form(s) of standard German used by native speakers of Pennsylvania Dutch. It resembles European (standard) German quite a bit, but unlike European German, Pennsylvania High German has generally not been subject to prescriptive norms of “correctness.” That means that there is often considerable grammatical, lexical, and orthographic variation across and even within texts written in Pennsylvania High German. The overall absence of normativity for Pennsylvania High German is due to how it has been used and taught. Most Pennsylvania Dutch speakers have never had the need (or inclination) to converse spontaneously or to produce original writings in Pennsylvania High German; their knowledge of the language has been largely limited to receptive skills, that is, being able to read a limited number of texts (typically, the Bible, prayer books, and hymnals) and to recite or sing from those texts. The way Pennsylvania High German is still taught in Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite parochial schools reinforces these receptive skills: the emphasis is on developing the ability to read and recite, but nothing more.

On those exceptional occasions when native speakers of Pennsylvania Dutch have written in German, the result is often a heavily “Dutchified” form of German, that is, German with very strong grammatical and lexical influences from Pennsylvania Dutch. To be sure, Pennsylvania High German also shows some interference from Pennsylvania Dutch, yet texts written in Dutchified German follow Pennsylvania Dutch so closely as to be almost direct translations from Pennsylvania Dutch.

Each text on this Web site is presented in two (original and translated) or three (original, transliterated, and translated) versions. If the original is in Pennsylvania Dutch and was written more or less according to the Buffington-Barba-Beam system of spelling it will not be transliterated according to BBB rules.

The texts in each chronological section are grouped according to three genre categories: prose, poetry, and dialog/drama.