How the Ex-Amish Say It

One of the endearing things about the Swartzentruber Amish I know is their accent. My son-in-law Harvey tries to hide his but, the language is entrenched in his brain now. He won't shake an accent any more than a person who daily spoke Chinese the first 18 years of his life then tries to speak English.

We chuckled when Harvey talked about "cubons." We had no clue what he was talking about . . . until he described the little pieces of paper I use to save money at the store. Recognize the word now?

Thought you'd enjoy knowing some of the nuances of Amish language - or Deutch - coming out in their English. Here are other words or expressions of speech:

Gut or goot = good

Sex = six

Lavin = eleven (my personal fave)

Aforenoon = before noon

Thursday next or Thursday a week = next Thursday

jurcj = church

Kits = kids

I don't care to = I don't care if.

The first time my daughter heard Harvey say, "I don't care to go to that restaurant," she thought he didn't want to go. The opposite was true. Harvey meant he didn't care if they went there to eat.

Last week, Sarah said to me, "I don't care to do your laundry." Was she was refusing? Fortunately, I knew Sarah meant she didn't mind doing my laundry. Wish she'd offer on a morning I have loads to do.

The "th" combination isn't a part of their native tongue. A name like Heather is pronounced Hedder.

Sometimes ex-Amish try to spell words phonetically but, their phonics has a German origin so the word isn't correctly spelled. They also have difficulty with similar words such as, right, write, and rite.  My daughter, who is teaching English in Azerbaijan, says English is the most difficult language to learn and I believe it.

Ex-Amish who study and earn their GED have improved speech and spelling. And then, the rare few like author Ira Wagler, who went on to college, exceed in language skills.

See ya next week.  ~ Brenda

(c)Copyright 2013, Brenda Nixon.


  1. I also enjoy their accent and word usage. One of my favorites is "would be glad for." Example: "Would you be glad for me to give you some strawberry plants?" or "Would you be glad for a glass of tea?" or "I would be glad for glass of tea."

    Between their accents and our idioms and similes, some of the conversations I have with my Amish friends are quite amusing. "That's par for the course." We understand what that means. They don't. "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." My Amish friend looked at me quizzically and said 'what's a hand grenade?' Ahhh.....a small hand-held bomb that you throw. She was dumb-founded about that. First that there is such a thing, and second that we make light of it!

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  3. Being a lifelong English language learner, I so can relate! I still have trouble with some idioms, words, & even what is humorous to most, I'm totally lost. And, being a teacher to English language learners completely solidifies my agreement with your daughter. English is definitely a one of the most difficult to learn.
    Really enjoyed the article, Brenda!

    1. Thanks Blue Eyes & Dali for your comments. Don't know what happened to ya2sabe's comment.
      I just thought of another word they say that, to me, is endearing; the word favorite. They pronounce it accenting a long 'i' so it sounds favRITE.

  4. This makes me smile as I recall trying to look up giggers in the dictionary. Some days later I was told it was spelled and pronounced chiggers! I was so set on it that I even argued the point.
    Malinda Borntreger Meeks

    1. Well, truth be told Malinda, even us English can be poor spellers. haha Thanks for reading & leaving your comment. I'm glad you got a smile out of my post. And by the way, I hate those pesky, itchy chiggers.

  5. Schwartzentruber Amish seem to have a lesser degree of English education than we had. :-)