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The speaker is a 74-year-old White man with a college education from New Ulm, Minnesota; he was recorded in 1968.
0:23-4:46


County: Brown
State: MN

Commentary:
New Ulm, on the Minnesota River about seventy miles southwest of Minneapolis, was a planned community, started by a group of German immigrants called the Chicago Land Society in 1854. Even today it is known as a city with strong German heritage. This speaker, of German heritage, talks of expressions and words borrowed from German, in original or translated form, used in the English of New Ulm.
FW: You've got some uh, notes there. Some uh, interesting expressions and things that, that you'd liked and uh, wrote down for me.

Inf: Well, these are German-American expressions. Uh first place, there's the expression of gella. It's still used by uh, high school and young people. And at one time, they even tried to have a day in which gella was to be banned [clears throat]. But I guess they didn't succeed . Uhm, I think it's from the Old Swabian expression of gelt meaning "not so."

[FW: Mm-hmm.]

And they, they still use that.

Then there's another expression I think is used all over German-American, in all German-American communities. "Ich gleich dich." Uh, 'course, in English, we'd say, "I like you" and "I am like you," but in German uh, gleich means something else. In German it means "I am like you," but if I want to say, "I like you" uh, and what do you say for "I like you?" Ich mage dich or something like that. So that's all wrong. If you say "ich gleich dich," uh, "I like you," why, that's wrong.

FW: Mm-hmm. But still it's a common uh German expression.

Inf: Yeah it shows how the, when the mistake is made.

[FW: Mm-hmm.]

Because uh-

FW: Now with this gella, I didn't quite understand it. Would you use that in a sentence for me?

Inf: Well you say something and then you say gella. You say uh-

FW: Would it be like "Do you want- Do you agree with me?"

Inf: Yeah.

FW: "Not so."

Inf: "Not so." That's about what it is.

FW: It like means "isn't that so?"

Inf: "Isn't that-." At the end of a sentence, you see, you'd say something and then you say gella?

[FW: Gella.]

And I think in German it would be gelt, gelt.

[FW: Aaah.]

But I know uh, an old aunt of mine would write gell sometimes in her letters, so they use it in Germany, too.

[FW: Not so.]

Yeah. Uh, and then there are other New Ulm expressions that I, that always amused me. There's the expression of schtedy wech, coming from the English word sh-steady and uh weck, uh, I, it means "all the time.' You have to do a little studying to figure out just where they got that. Then, of course, there are the, the other expressions where they'll translate, where they translate like come good home. You know what that means. You can figure that out easy enough. Or grease the folks uh, using the German word "Gr??sse die, die, deine Eldern." Grease the folks.

And this is one that I like the best. We had uh, a, a boy in my grade school days. And he was very freckled and had red hair, and one time the teacher caught him throwing rocks at uh, other boys and she called him in and started to jump on him. And he said, "The boys always necks me. They say I've got the pockens." Well, necks is the German word for "tease." "The boys always tease me. They say I have the smallpox." The Pockens, that's the German word, pockens, the German word for "smallpox."

Uh, and then there's the one my mother told. One time she went past the Lutheran school and somebody with a car was making a racket. And the Lutheran teacher stuck his head out of the winder an-, window and said uh, "Mister, here is a school." [Laughs.] And then this is another one my mother told. In the olden days, when they had uhm, this uh, public school at Turner Hall. And Turner Hall of course was the community center in those days. And uh, the teachers couldn't speak English either and how could they expect the, the kids to pick up English when the teacher couldn't teach it. So, they told this story about one teacher. He said uh, to the child, "Tell you me dot [that]." And the child said, "I know it not." And he says, "What, you know it not? You schteh [stay] me an hour after in the noon dee."

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