I know Susie has been anxiously awaiting some funny words and I aim to please. before we get to the brief listing of some of my favorite terms I want to make something very clear. There are those who would assert that PA German is not truly a dialect, that it is merely a local mangling of standard English. I beg to differ. The local vernacular would be considered Dutchified English. That's not a technical term used by linguists as far as I know, but I think most locals would agree on the usage. True Pennsylvania German is a dialect entirely separate from English. It has it's own vocabulary and grammar rules. My own stepfather spoke only this dialect until he went to school. Though it is nearly impossible to find anyone under the age of 50 outside the Amish and Mennonite communities who speaks the dialect anymore there has been an effort at cultural preservation. Kutztown University of PA now offers a minor in PA German studies which includes dialect classes as well as history.
Ok, onto the fun words. Today I will just start with some of my favorite terms that I grew up hearing or still use myself. I will be using mostly phonetic spellings to try to get across the way a PA German accent sounds. I'll take some from Gary Gates' books How to Speak Dutchified English, vol 1 & 2, some from A. Monroe Aurand, Jr's Quaint Idioms and Expressions of the Pennsylvania Germans, and some from my own head.
All: finished, all gone. Can I have another piece of butter bread? No, the bread's all.
Butter bread: You never have your evening meal that bread is not on the table and bread must be buttered.
Dippy Eck: eggs sunny side up, so you can dip your toast in the yolk.
Doppick: Gates says this means dumb but when I was growing up it was used as a reference to clumsiness. I never saw sooch a doppick chilt as you!
Ferhoodled: Confused, mixed up. Vell naw, did Pappy say to come ofer on Mondee or Tuesdee? I cain't remember, I'm all ferhoodled.
Filling: What most folks call stuffing, even though a proper potato filling doesn't get stuffed into a bird but baked in a casserole. I had a very difficult time with Isaac on Thanksgiving since he insisted on calling the potato filling 'stuffing.' It ain't right, I tell you. The boy is ferikked!
Ferikked: deranged, sick in the head.
For so: just for fun. Is that new dress for a special occasion? No, it's chust for so.
Hinnerdale: hindquarters, backside. He'll get a paddling on his hinnerdale if he doesn't behafe!
Get awt (out): an expression of surprise. The dress was on sale. I only paid $20 for it. Get awt!
Grex: complain, whine, moan. Grexy is also used to describe fussy babies. Naw sit dawn and do your lessons (homework) and don't grex so.
Nix Nootz: mischeivous person. That little boy is such a nix nootz!
Outten: turn off. Outten the lights. It's time for bed.
Rhett beat ex: no this is not about Scarlett O'Hara getting her due. It's a popular recipe for eggs pickled in vinegar with red beets.
Rutch (vowel sound rhymes with that of 'foot'): squirmy, unsettled. Would you stop rutching around so!
Shnoop-dook (again, rhymes with foot): handkerchief. More or less translates as nose wipe.
Schmutz (same rhyme as above two): can mean to gunk up or to kiss. Schmutz up the axle with some grease but go wash up before you try to give me a schmutz.
Stroobly: messy, unkempt hair but really no decent English equivalent becasue it goes beyond bedhead. Such a stoobly mess! Have you ever met a comb?
Vendue (more often pronounced with an initial F sound): public sale or auction, farmer's market. Will I see you at the vendue on friday?
Dutchmen may not always speak properly and as such the term 'dumb Dutchman' is commonly heard. Most folks who hear a thick accent unfairly assume a person is lacking in intellect and education. For this reason my parents were quite strict about the language my brother and I used. No child of theirs was going to be called a dumb Dutchman. That said, here's a little joke about the situation. It illustrates several PA German values actually.
A dutchman farmer scrimped and saved to send his only child, a daughter, to Kutztown College. So after graduating high school off she goes. During her first semester she enjoys the party life a bit too much and comes to make a decision she regrets. At Christmas break she comes home and tells her father,
"Daddy, I have bad news. I'm sorry. I ain't a wirgin (virgin) anymore. Please forgive me."
He hollers, "Vot (what) dit choo say?!"
"I ain't a wirgin anymore, Daddy. I'm sorry."
"Vell, I cain't belief such a sing (thing)! This is crazy! I'm just feraikled (disgusted) by this whole sing!"
"Daddy, I know I brought shame on you since I ain't a wirgin and I'm sorry."
"I don't care you're not a wirgin, girl! I cain't belief I spend good money to send you to Kutztown and you STILL say 'ain't'!"