Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 18. Pennsylvania German

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXXI. Non-English Writings I

§ 18. Pennsylvania German

The so-called Pennsylvania German (or Dutch) dialect is a speech-form based upon South-German dialects of the eighteenth century, upon which English speech-forms were grafted. Since the German immigrants of the eighteenth century came mostly from the Palatinate and the Upper Rhine country, the dialect of those sections prevailed in their daily intercourse among the Germans of Pennsylvania and neighbouring provinces. Being in constant contact also with English-speaking people, an English word-stock, especially of objects and affairs new to them, was imposed upon their dialect, while contact with modern literary German of the nineteenth century practically ceased. Pennsylvania German, being isolated, had an independent growth, which is exceedingly interesting to the philologist. Its tendency, as time goes on, is to come nearer and nearer the English language until German disappears. Though the Pennsylvania German dialect undoubtedly assumed definite form much earlier, written records of it did not appear before the last half of the nineteenth century.