Sunday, July 06, 2008

Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary

Since Pennsylvania Dutch was just talked about on this blog, it might be worth noting this piece. Dick Beam, who's spent a lifetime writing in and describing the language, has finished his massive (11 volume!) Comprehensive Pennsylvania German Dictionary. I've seen numerous references to the early volumes, but didn't know it was now done. Wow, what an accomplishment.

The title of the article — "Pennsylvania Dutch Dictionary for a Vanishing Dialect" is off the mark, as the body of the piece shows: The language is indeed rapidly dying out among secular speakers, but thriving nationwide among Old Order Amish and Mennonites, rapidly growing populations. I guess you could say that the non-sectarian variant is vanishing.

Image from here, a bit dated but with a nice bio.


Anonymous said...

I always enjoyed that he insisted on calling it a "comprehensive" dictionary project... never complete or unabridged, regardless of the thoroughness of the project...

it figures... I just came across a great word last week not in the dictionary... but who knew there was a term for "serving bread and wine before guests view the deceased at an Amish funeral" ?

and, yeah, that picture is mighty dated... haha

Joe said...

Wait, you gotta tell us the word!

Anonymous said...

oh whoops... "rumdraage" --- which I guess makes sense, if they're passing around the bread and wine... but there's some fun folkloristic things behind the practice.. I'll keep you updated on what I find out.

Mr. Verb said...

Excellent, thanks. Something for the second edition of the comprehensive dictionary, I guess.

maniot said...

Dick Beam, what a great man he was?
Pennsylvania Drug Addiction

Carol Jo Pettit said...

Anyone know what "spisboo" means? It seems to be the opposite of Snickelfritz, a term of endearment.
thank you,
Carol Jo Pettit
(Hoffman/Cramer lineage)

Mr. Verb said...

Gotta be related to German Spitzbube, which means something like 'rascal' applied to a kid.