English Dialects | German Dialects | Links | Searchable Database | Home

Amish Swiss German

Male speaker interviewed by J??rgen Eichhoff, May 1984, Allen County, Indiana

County: Allen
State: IN

The majority of the roughly 200,000 Old Order Amish in North America speak Pennsylvania Dutch, a language that developed in eighteenth-century Pennsylvania. However, there is a small minority among the Amish whose ancestors emigrated to the United States from the Berne area of Switzerland in the mid-nineteenth century and who continue to speak Bernese Swiss German (alongside English). Known as the "Swiss Amish," most live in southern Indiana and maintain other distinctively Swiss cultural practices, including yodeling.
[Tell us about threshing and other summer farm work.]

Well, usually we hitch four horses to the binder, what we call the binder, that cuts [the stalks] and binds them. Then we put those up in shocks. Then, when it's time for threshing ... of course at some point we need to spread manure ... after making hay we usually spread manure where the stalks were. Then, when it's time for threshing, then we cut down the stalks again. After threshing there's usually a little time, and if we have tomatoes, then we're busy with that. Then of course it's time to sow wheat and plowing the fields, so about the beginning of October we sow wheat. And with the tomatoes that we had last year we were pretty busy in September and October.

Back to US German Map
back to American Languages home