Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Being fluent in more than one language seemed normal to me my entire life. I can't remember a time when I couldn't speak two languages.

Often you hear that the Amish send their children to school where they will learn to speak English. I learned how to speak English long before I went to school, as did most of the other families in our community. I only know of one family whose children couldn't speak English when they started school and it was a very frustrating six weeks or so for both teacher and children until they started grasping it. Our schools were always strictly English speaking only, except for Wednesdays when we had our German classes, which essentially was a third language for all of us.

Since leaving the Amish we have made a gradual change to speaking almost entirely in English even in our home. It has come to the point where Buddy can't even understand what we're saying if we talk in Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish.

We don't want to lose the language, and have been trying to incorporate more of it into our daily life. Sometimes with hilarious results.

This morning when we were doing our morning chores, I asked Rosebud to sweep the kitchen floor, in Pennsylvania Dutch. After she burst out laughing, I realized for the first time that the word used for sweep is pronounced exactly the same as the word used for car. It's something we didn't really stop to think of before the language became secondary.

We're hoping with a little time and effort we'll be able to have Buddy bilingual as well.


  1. I can see where that would be extremely difficult for the school teacher.
    Hopefully Buddy picks up on the PA Dutch quickly!

  2. Buddy will be bilingual before you know it!

  3. My grandparents spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. I wish I'd learned it.

  4. I love that you're continuing the tradition of language with your children. My grandparents immigrated from Germany and would only speak English in their home as they were proud to be American. While I find that wonderful and honorable, I do wish they had taught my father and the grandchildren their native language.

  5. Children learn languages very quickly. When their brains are ready to learn to speak, they can easily master more than one language at a time. It's a narrow window, though.

    Do most Amish speak only Pennsylvania Dutch or German at home? And is PA Dutch really Dutch or is it a combination of languages (like Yiddish is a combination of Hebrew and German)?

  6. Mom and Dad never taught us PA Dutch. I really wish they would have. Thank you for keeping the language alive in your home!

  7. My mum's folks were from Germany, and we spoke German at home until after WWII, when my father put his foot down and insisted he didn't want me going to school with a German accent. As a result, I spoke "American", but with a combination Aussie-German accent.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.