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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 398

specimens of it are to be found in “Harbaugh’s Harfe: Gedichte in Pennsylvanisch-Deutscher Mundart.” 6 That part of it which remains genuinely German shows a change of a to o, as in jor for jahr; of the diphthong ö to a long e, as in bees for böse, and of the diphthongs ei and äu to the neutral e, as in bem for bäume. Most of the German compound consonants are changed to simple consonants, and there is a general decay of inflections. But the chief mark of the dialect is its very extensive adoption of English loan words. Harbaugh, in his vocabulary, lists some characteristic examples, e. g., affis from office, altfäschen from old-fashioned, beseid from beside, boghie from buggy, bortsch from porch, diehlings from dealings, Dschäck from Jack, dscheneral-’leckschen from general-election, dschent’lleit (=gentle leut) from gentlemen, Dschim from Jim, dschuryman from juryman, ebaut from about, ennihau from anyhow, gehm from game, kunschtabler from constable, lofletters from love-letters, tornpeik from turnpike and ’xäktly from exactly. Many English words have been taken in and inflected in the German manner, e.g., gedscheest (=ge±chased), gedschumpt (ge±jumped) and gepliescht (=ge±pleased). The vulgar American pronunciation often shows itself, as in heist for hoist and krick for creek. An illuminating brief specimen of the language is to be found in the sub-title of E. H. Rauch’s “Pennsylvania Dutch Handbook”: 7“En booch for inschtructa.” Here we see the German indefinite article decayed to en, the spelling of buch made to conform to English usage, für abandoned for for, and a purely English word, instruction, boldly adopted and naturalized. Some astounding examples of Pennsylvania German are to be found in the copious humorous literature of the dialect; e.g., “Mein stallion hat über die fenz geschumpt and dem nachbar sein whiet abscheulich gedämätscht.” (My stallion jumped over the fence, and horribly damaged my neighbor’s wheat.) Such phrases as “Es giebt gar kein use” and “Ich kann es nicht ständen” are very common on Pennsylvania German lips. Of late, with the improvement in communications, the dialect shows signs of disappearing. The younger Pennsylvania Germans learn English in school, read English newspapers,