This dictionary is the first online, searchable dictionary for the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, also known as Pennsylvania German.
Why develop an online dictionary? It is the sincere desire of the editors to aid in the preservation of our beloved Mudderschprooch, and this is their contribution to that effort. There are many printed dictionaries, including C. Richard Beam et al.’s masterpiece, The Comprehensive Pennsylvania German Dictionary, and Eugene S. Stein’s Pennsylvania German Dictionary, both of which we strongly recommend, but students of the dialect cannot and do not carry a dictionary at all times. What nearly everyone does carry is a smart phone, and this online dictionary takes advantage of that fact.
The dialect has seen a steep decline in the number of speakers over the last one hundred years, and there is much commentary on its impending extinction. Perhaps that is an overstatement, as the dialect will continue among the plain Dutch, but its survival among the fancy Dutch is questionable. This does not bode well for our culture, as the dialect is the most important daily expression of who we are. We hope that this site serves as a springboard for greater things, including the formation of a Pennsylvania Dutch emersion preschool for children in southeastern Pennsylvania, which we believe is urgently needed.
This site is the culmination of many hours of effort involving scanning A Dictionary of the Non-English Words of the Pennsylvania-German Dialect with an Appendix by Marcus Bachman Lambert, published by the Pennsylvania-German Society in 1924, transcribing the text thereof, programmatically updating the orthography, and developing the site itself. It has been designed to work offline without a connection to the Internet. Thus, even if you do not have an Internet connection, you should be able to access the dictionary through your web browser.
This dictionary attempts to follow the Buffington-Barba-Beam (BBB) orthography, the rules of which are set forth in The Comprehensive Pennsylvania German Dictionary. There are some differences in spelling between these dictionaries, none major. Perhaps some of these differences will disappear over time. The convenience of an online dictionary is that it can be updated easily.
What follows is an adaptation of Lambert’s discussion of his phonology and orthography. We have copied verbatim most of Lambert’s discussion and have updated it to reflect the changes to the phonology and orthography used on this site. For a detailed discussion of Lambert’s system, please consult the original preface to his dictionary. While the adaptation that follows would not be appropriate in a scholarly work for obvious reasons, this site is not intended for scholarly recognition. It is intended to be a free educational tool.
Each of the vowel sounds in Pennsylvania Dutch which, in conformity with German spelling, we have represented by the characters a, e, i, o, u occurs both long and short. That is, the characters a, e, i, o, u represent either a long or a short sound. Whether the sound which each represents in a given word is long or short depends upon its position in the word, and its length is determined by the rules of length provided above.
There are six variations of the a-sound. (1) The sound of the a in E father or the long G a as in Vater. For this sound, we use the character a, which replaces the æ used by Lambert. This sound is frequent in PG, and is found almost always before an r, with several exceptions, e.g., in ah and Schpektakel. It is long. (2) The sound of the a in G satt, Masse. This sound occurs very frequently in PG but never before an r. It is also represented by an a. It is short. (3) The sound of the aw in E law. For this sound, we use aa, as proposed by Albert Buffington and Preston Barba in A Pennsylvania German Grammar published by Schlechter’s in 1954. This replaces the â used by Lambert. It is long. (4) The sound approximately of e in E bear. For this, we use ae and e, depending on what is used in the corresponding German word and its position in the stem. These replace the æ used by Lambert. This sound occurs only before r, with one exception, that of bae. It is long. (5, 6) For the remaining a-sound, that of a in E at, we also use ae. This sound occurs only short in PG words, except in the onomatopes maeh, baex, baexi, in which it is long. The ae used for this sound replaces the ą used by Lambert.
Long: like a in E father or a in G Vater. When found before r, it is always long (PG Gitar, Kar, Larm, G Gitarre, E car, G Lärm). Elsewhere it occurs in PG only in the words ah, ha (= haa), la, nach (rare), Schpektakel. Takes the place of (i) of short G o (PG Marye, sarye, G Morgen, Sorge); (ii) of long G о (PG var, Karyenner, Daredee, G vor, Koriander, Dorothea); (iii) of short G u (PG Faricht, garyele, Warscht, G Furche, gurgeln, Wurst).
Long: like aw in E law or au in E author. This sound is not in G and it takes the place in PG (1) of long G a (PG Glaas, faawle, Naahring, G Glas, fabeln, Nahrung); (2) of G au (PG Aag, Baawoll, laafe, G Auge, Baumwolle, laufen); (3) of short G a (+r) (PG Maad, Gaarde, waarde, G Magd, Garten, warten); (4) of several sounds in words from the E (PG laamaessich, Yaard).
Long: (1) like e in E bear lengthened. Takes the place in PG (1) of long G ä before r (PG Baer, baehe, saee, daet, raeche, Raridaet, G Bär, bähen, säen, tät, rächen, Rarität); (2) of long ä in G (PG Laefer, G Läufer); (3) of short G i before r (PG Faerscht, aerde, G First, irden); (4) of E a before r as in E car, cigar, charge, smart (PG Kaer, Sigaer, tschaertsche, schmaert); (5) of E e before r as in E serve, Jersey (PG saerfe, Tschaertschi); (6) of G ai (PG Leeb, Saet, G Laib, Saite); (7) of short G a before r (PG Aerwet, Daerr, haermeniere, G Arbeit, Darre, harmonieren); (8) of short G i before r (PG Waert, naeryets, Kaerich, G Wirt, nirgends, Kirche); (9) of short G о before r (PG maerde, Baerscht, G morden, Borste); (10) of short G ä before r (PG naerrisch, Daerm, Aeryer, G närrisch, Därme, Ärger); (11) of short G ö before r (PG Maerscher, Maerder, haerchle, G Mörser, Mörder, dG hörchle); (12) of the G diphthong ie before r (PG vaerzeh, vaerzich, G vierzehn, vierzig); (13) of short G ü before r (PG faerichde, Gaerdle, Baerscht, G fürchten, gürtein, Bürste); (14) of long G ü before r (PG faerich, vaeri, G für+ig, MHG vürhin); (15) of E a as in the words hardly, carpet, party (PG haerli, Kaerpet, Paerdi); (16) of the E a-sound as in yard (PG Yaerd); (17) of E u as in turpentine and Durham, and of E i as in squirrel (PG Daerm, Kschwaerl). (2) like a in E at lengthened. Occurs only in the onomatopes maeh, baex, baexi. In Lambert’s orthography, this sound is represented by the character ą, which is unfamiliar in English and has, therefore, been changed to ae in this dictionary.
In many instances, the PG aer is pronounced as the PG ar, which is essentially the unstressed pronunciation. Entries with such pronunciations link to each other. The reader is advised that the latter pronunciation is more common in use.
Short: like a in E at. Occurs only (i) in English words or words of English origin like PG Aent, gaemmle, Maetsch (from E aunt, gamble, match); (ii) in words of German origin whose pronunciation has been strongly influenced by the English as in PG naett, Maemm, Gaett (from PG Gart by dropping the r, E gad). As noted above, this letter is represented in Lambert’s orthography as the character ą, which has been changed to ae on this site.
This vowel combination is also heard in an intermediate length: PG waerklich; but for the sake of simplicity, it is marked either long or short.
Long: (1) when not before r, like a in E gate or e in G geht. Takes the place in PG (1) of long G e (PG lege, Zedre, sehne, Ehr, G legen, Zeder, sehen, Ehre); (2) of long E a in baby, PG Bewi. (2) when before r, but not in the final simple er, it is like the PG ae, e.g., like E bear. Takes the place in PG of long G e before the semi-vocalic r when initial, such as in the inseparable prefix er- or the separable prefix her- (PG Erlebnis, Erfinder, herkumme, G Erlebnis, Erfinder, herkommen).
Short: (1) when not before r, like e in E let or e in G fett. Takes the place in PG (i) of long G e (PG gewwe, nemme, Hewwel, G geben, nehmen, Hebel); (ii) of short G i in the modified second and third person singular forms of the present indicative and of the second person singular form of the imperative (PG gebt, brecht, dreff, G gibt, bricht, triff); (iii) of short G ä (PG ausschenne, Benk, meschde, G ausschänden, Bänke, mästen); (iv) of short G ö (PG Leffel, kenne, bellere, G Löffel, können, bollern); (v) of short a in E at (PG Bender, E panther). Lambert used (and we continue) the character for the flectional endings, although by some individuals the ending is pronounced more like the last a in E America: gude Bohne, die alde Lewe, die Yunge schtaerwe, denne ihre Sache. (2) when before r, like a in E what or a in G satt. It is not necessary to use a separate character for this sound + r, as the short e-sound merges into that of r.
Both the long and short forms when before r are sounded like a in E what or a in G satt when unaccented, i.e., the PG short a.
Like long PG e. We have adopted this digraph to take the place in PG words (1) of G ei: PG Gsundheet, Schwachheet, Harrlichkeet, Bangichkeet, G Gesundheit, Schwachheit, Herrlichkeit, Bangigkeit (although the G forms of most words which contain these suffixes are also heard); PG beed, heem, weech, G beide, heim, weich; (2) of long G ö (PG schweere, deede, eeschtlich, G schwören, töten, östlich); (3) of äu (PG Beemche, bereechere, Zeem, G Bäumchen, beräuchern, Zäume).
Short: like i in E pin or i in G Sinn. Takes the place in PG (1) of short G i (PG bin, Kinn, bidde, Lischt, G bin, Kinn, bitten, Liste); (2) of the G diphthong ie (PG siwwe, Riggel, Wiss, widder, G sieben, Riegel, Wiese, wieder); (3) of long G ü (PG iwwer, Bicher, Griggelche, G über, Bücher, Krügelchen); (4) of short G ü (PG Miller, Grick, sin(d), G Müller, Krücke, Sünde); (5) of G äu (PG Siffer, G Säufer); (6) of G ei (PG Grisch, G Kreisch); (7) of short E i, e, and y (PG Bissnis, Balli, Lickerisch).
Like ее in E meet or ie in G Miete. Takes the place in PG (1) of G ie (PG biede, niese, Brieschder, G bieten, niesen, Priester); (2) of long G ü (PG fiehle, Hiet, wiedich, G fühlen, Hüte, wütig); (3) of short G ü (PG Riesel, G Rüssel); (4) of the long E sound of e as in beat, teacher, PG biede (to excel), Tietscher.
Long: like о in E note or о in G Bote. Takes the place in PG (1) of long G о (PG Not, rot, Bohn, God, G Not, rot, Bohne, Gote); (2) of long G a (PG Mol, do, no (nooch), Noht, froge, Wog, G Mal, da, nach, Naht, fragen, Wage); (3) of G au (PG blo, gro, lo, G blau, grau, lau). Is doubled in PG Boot, Soot, Moond, nooch, Ool, (G Boot, Saat, Mond, nach, Aal) when the corresponding G word uses a double vowel or the length of the o would be unclear if it were not doubled, i.e., the long o is before a double consonant.
Short: like u in E cup or о in G Kopf. Takes the place in PG (1) of short G о (PG Rock, noch, Zoll, G Rock, noch, Zoll); (2) of long G о (PG Offe, Voggel, gezogge, Bottschaft, Hochzich, G Ofen, Vogel, gezogen, Botschaft, Hochzeit); (3) of E u and о as in the words humbug, conductor, love letter (PG Hambock, Kandokder, Loffledder).
Long: like oo in E moon or u in G tun. Takes the place in PG (1) of long G u (PG Blut, Hut, Ruhr, rufe, G Blut, Hut, Ruhr, rufen); (2) of long G о (PG wu, Munet, Buhn, G wo, Monat, Bohne); (3) of long G a (PG Sume, Rune, G Samen, dG râne); (4) of long E u as in E duty, use, cure (PG Dudi, yuse, kyure); (5) of the sound of oo in E raccoon or of о in E move (PG Raeckgun). Is doubled in PG Buuss, Fuuss, Muund (G Busse, Fuss, Mund) when the length of the u would be unclear if it were not doubled, i.e., the long u is before a double consonant.
Short: like oo in E cook or u in G gucken. Takes the place in PG (1) of short G u (PG dumm, Schtunn, gfunne, G dumm, Stunde, gefunden); (2) of short G о (PG genumme, kumme, Sunn, drucke, G genommen, gekommen, Sonne, trocken); (3) of long G о (PG Hunnich, unne, G Honig, ohne); (4) of long G ü (PG Dutt, Sudde, G Tüte, Süden); (5) of short G ü (PG luschdere, fuffzich, dupplich, G lüstern, fünfzig, tüpfelig); (6) of G au (PG uff, nuff, G auf, hinauf); (7) of G ie (PG russle, G rieseln); (8) of E u as in E jump, summon (PG tschumpe, summense); (9) of E u as in E butcher, put (PG Butscher, pudde).
A great many words in PG retain the short vowel of old German which has been displaced in modern German by a long vowel or a diphthong: PG Vadder, Gawwel, gewwe, nemme, Giwwel, Hiwwel, Howwel, huddle, for G Vater, Gabel, geben, nehmen, Giebel, Hübel, Hobel, hudeln. Lambert decided that a double consonant following a single vowel would indicate that the preceding vowel is short, with notable exceptions. Lambert found this device preferable to one which necessitated the doubling of i and u, which is entirely foreign to German.
However, this scheme still leaves the length of o and u unclear in words in which they are followed by two consonants. Lambert noted this issue with u and decided not to double it, as it is not doubled in German. (As an aside, Lambert in fact did double the u in one word, PG Muund.) Despite Lambert's admonition, we decided to double the u when long and before two consonants, as done in the BBB orthography. In cases in which an o in a word is long but its length is not apparent from its position, we have also doubled it. (Compare Schpot to Schtrooss.) We decided on this orthography, consistent with BBB, as it will be easier to those with less familiarity with German to understand how to pronounce relevant words from their spelling alone. No words double i in this dictionary.
Like i in E pine or ei in G Pein. Takes the place in PG (1) of G ei (PG Keim, Seit, leicht, G Keim, Seite, leicht); (2) of G äu (PG Meis, verseime, feischdle, G Mäuse, versäumen, fäusteln); (3) of G eu (PG Leit, heit, Zigeiner, G Leute, heute, Zigeuner); (4) is frequently retained in the suffixes -heit and -keit; (5) of long E i as in E pine, sign, mind, PG Beind, seine, meinde.
Like oy in E boy. Takes the place in PG (1) of G ei (PG Roi, Woi, Fischroiyer, G Reihe, Weihe, Fischreiher); (2) of G eu (PG Hoi, G Heu); (3) of G ai (PG Moi, G Mai); (4) of E long i as in E pie, crier, PG Boi, Groiyer; (5) of E oy as in E enjoy, PG entschoiye; (6) of E aw in E lawyer, PG Loiyer. In proper names it is written oy (but = oiy): Boyer, Moyer, Schloyer.
The list above differs from what was presented by Lambert as being diphthongs. Lambert identified ae, ai, au, ee, ei, ie, and oi as diphthongs. With utmost humility, we believe that only ai, au, ei, and oi are diphthongs and have moved the other vowel combinations to The Vowels.
The labials b and p are pronounced like b and p in E or G, except that the lips are not pressed together as tightly, nor is the expulsion of the breath after the lips are separated as explosive, as in pronouncing the corresponding letter in E or G. They are, therefore, pronounced more nearly alike than in E or G, and one frequently finds b written for p, especially after initial sch. Final b in PG is pronounced like PG p, e.g., Schtubb.
b takes the place in PG (i) of initial b in G (PG binne, bohre, Bank, G binden, bohren, Bank); (2) of initial p in G (PG Bapier, Baschtnaad, Barick, G Papier, Pastinake, Perücke); (3) of final b in G (PG ab, Graab, ob, G ab, Grab, ob); (4) of medial b in G before the ending e which is dropped in PG (PG Naab, Daub, Reb, Schtubb, G Nabe, Taube, Rebe, Stube); (5) of initial pf in G (PG blicke, Blaschder, G pflücken, Pflaster); (6) of initial b in E as in E baby, bother, beef, PG Bewi, Badder, Bief; (7) of initial p in E as in E Polly, pence, pocketbook, PG Balli, Bens, Backebuch; (8) of initial p before l in G (PG blindere, blumpe, G plündern, plumpen); (9) of initial p before r in G (PG Bracht, Braahlhans, brobaat, G Pracht, Prahlhans, probat).
p takes the place in PG (1) of initial p in G, except when before an l or r (PG Pock, Paar, Pulwer, G Pocke, Paar, Pulver); (2) of initial pf in G (PG Poschde, Peif, Pund, G Pfosten, Pfeife, Pfund); (3) of initial p in E as in E party, picture, pencil, PG Pardi, Pikder, Pensil); (4) of medial p in G (PG Bappegoi, Aschpe, Lumpe, G Papegei, Aspe, Lumpen); (5) of final G pf (PG Sump, Dropp, Damp, G Sumpf, Tropf, Dampf); (6) when doubled of medial G pf (PG gloppe, Zappe, keppe, G klopfen, Zapfen, köpfen); (7) when doubled of double (and single) E p as in E slapping, sloppy, copybook, PG schlaeppens, schlappich, Kappibuch.
Does not occur initially. It is found in PG only in the combinations ch, chs, ck. In words from E, s takes its place.
As in G there are two of these guttural sounds: (1) after a front vowel as in PG ich, Blech, (2) after a back vowel, as in PG mache, boche, suche. The first one is not in E, the second is heard in the pronunciation of the Scotch loch, e.g., Loch Ness. It takes the place in PG (1) of medial ch in G (PG Woche, Kichelche, Zucht, G Wochen, Küchelchen, Zucht); (2) of g in the noun and adjective ending in G -ig (PG Kewwich, Essich, schteenich, wessrich, G Käfig, Essig, steinig, wässerig); (3) of the endings -e, -en, -er in a number of G prepositions (PG unnich, newich, zwischich, hinnich, G ohne, neben, zwischen, hinter); (4) of a spirant h no longer in G (PG naecher, heecher, G näher, höher) and of the ending –e in G Karre, PG Karrich.
Like x in E ax or x in G Axt. Takes the place in PG of chs in G (PG Achsel, wachse, Buchs, Ochs, G Achsel, wachsen, Buchs, Ochs). But when ch and s are in different syllables, as in , they are pronounced separately.
Like f in E fin or f in G finden. Takes the place in PG (i) of initial, medial, and final f in G (PG Fackel, faahre, Haufe, hoffe, Schof, G Fackel, fahren, Haufen, hoffen, Schaf); (2) of f in words in PG adopted from the E: PG Frallick, fixe, Affis.
In pronouncing the PG dentals d and t the tongue is not pressed as firmly against the teeth as it is in forming E or G d and t. Nor, as also in the case of the labials, is the expulsion of the breath as explosive as in E or G d and t. The enunciation of the South German dialects is sluggish and slovenly as compared with the enunciation of E or of North German. For this reason we find that the more difficult of the two labials is replaced largely by the less difficult one, but nowhere does p take the place of b. This is even more marked with the dentals, where initial t has been replaced almost completely by the less difficult d; there are only 122 words in the dictionary beginning with t.
Most of the few words in PG which begin with t are rather uncommon, some of them being of non-German origin. The popular pronunciation here follows the pronunciation of the educated who most frequently use these words. Finally, the t of G is not so frequently represented in PG by d (PG Blaatt, hot, G Blatt, hat). However, this dictionary applies Lambert’s rule (2) below more vigorously, specifically in instances in which Lambert’s orthography or the German equivalent presents a single or double t followed by an e or an i (Lambert: PG ratte, hette, bete, achting; This dictionary: PG Radde, hedde, bede, Achding). We have used t after initial sch when, even when followed by an e or i, and after final sch, but d after medial sch (PG Schtaab, Meeschder, Mischt, G Staub, Meister, Mist). There seems to be sufficient impetus after initial sch to form t fairly distinctly, but the tongue does not rebound sufficiently from forming a vowel + medial sch to form t + a vowel, and so stops at the easier d. Final d is usually pronounced like t. Hence, the t is used finally.
d takes the place in PG (1) of initial G t (PG Dar, Dor, Daal, G Teer, Tor, Tal); (2) of medial G t when followed by a vowel (PG needich, gerode, Bloder, G nötig, geraten, Blatter); (3) of initial, medial and final G d (PG Ding, darich, odder, scheede, Raad, Dod, G Ding, durch, oder, scheiden, Rad, Tod); (4) of medial G d before an ending which is dropped in PG (PG graad, Laad, beed, G gerade, Lade, beide); (5) of E voiced th as in E bother, rather, either, PG Badder, redder, eider. Note that the application of rule (2) above results in the final t in a noun changing to a d in the plural, e.g., Zeit, Zeide. Conversely, the d preceding the final e in an infinitive changes to a tt in the past participle, e.g., antwadde, geantwatt.
g and k are found in all portions of a PG word: initially, medially, and finally. The voiced g occurs in PG initially only (PG Gold, Grischt, gucke, Daag, Weg, G Gold, Christ, gucken, Tag, Weg), except in a few words of Latin origin (PG Regine, Regischder, regiere, Regiering) and in PG Igel, schmuggle. When found initially, g is sounded like g in E get or g in G Geld. When found finally, g is sounded like k in E kind or G Kind. In all locations, k is sounded like k in E kind or k in G Kind; except that the expulsion of the breath is not as forcible as in the pronunciation of the corresponding letter in E or G.
g appears medially singly and doubled and replaces Lambert’s j when the corresponding German word has a respective g and the j is preceded and succeeded by a vowel. The doubled g appears only medially. Pronunciation of the medial g follows that laid out by Buffington and Barba. To paraphrase Buffington and Barba, when preceded by a front vowel (e.g., ae, e, ee, eh, ie, ieh, ei), the g or gg is a very soft glide sound, approximately like the glide sound heard between the i and e of English orient (PG ziege, Regge). After the back vowels (e.g., a, o, u, aa, oo, uh, au), the g and gg represents represent an even softer, almost inaudible glide sound (Aage, bloge, bluge).
The final placement of g deviates from Lambert’s orthography, which uses ck and k to designate the sound. In this dictionary, Lambert’s final k is changed to g if the German word contains a g in the same position and the preceding vowel is long (Lambert: dâk, wek, frok, bluk, Herein: Daag, Weg, Frog, Blug) or if the preceding letter is a consonant (Lambert: Felk, Herein: Felg). Otherwise, the k or ck from Lambert’s orthography remains.
k takes the place in PG (I) of initial or medial G k (PG koche, Kalb, Hoke, Balke, G kochen, Kalb, Haken, Balken); (2) of E k and с (like k) (PG Koort, Kandi, Kammen, schpankich from E court, candy, common, spunky). Medial and final k after a short vowel is written ck in PG (PG packe, hocke, Mick, Fluck, Barick, yuckere (E to euchre)) to identify that the preceding vowel is short.
In Lambert’s dictionary, there is more variation in the use of these gutturals initially than of any other two letters, especially in words which begin with the consonantal combinations kl, kn and kr in G (G Klinge, knabbern, Krach, Lambert’s Dictionary: PG gling or kling, gnawwere or knawwere, grach or krach). Herein, we simplify the use of g and k such that kl, kn, and kr are consistently represented as gl, gn, and gr.
The influence of E has developed a vowel between k and n of initial kn in a few proper names in a way that resembles the development of a vowel between l, r, or n and a following consonant: Kanouse, Kaniper for Knauss, Kneiper.
Like h in E hat or h in G Hut (when it is sounded). It is used in G to indicate that the preceding vowel is long and to keep two vowels apart. When so used it is not sounded. It is written in PG for the same purpose when the corresponding G word contains it, and when so used it is silent also in PG: Uhr, Kehl, maehe, G Uhr, Kehle, mähen. It is used initially and sounded as in G (PG hasse, Hols, G hassen, Holz).
This letter is not used.
Like l in E like or 1 in G leicht. Takes the place in PG initially, medially, and finally (i) of G l (PG Lob, mole, Middel, G Lob, malen, Mittel); (2) of 1 in words borrowed from the E (PG Leikness, lewwele, leiwli). One of the most interesting phenomena in PG phonology is the development of a vowel between an l and the following consonant (PG Kellich, Millich, Schellem, sollich, Blosballick, Kallick, gfollickt, Schellicks, Schallack, G Kelch, Milch, Schelm, solch, Blasbalge, Kalk, gefolgt, Schalk). This phenomenon is, however, not unique in PG, as it exists in the Palatinate dialects of today. It is much more frequent after r, and there are a few cases of it after n. Note the necessity of doubling the l, r, and n in such words.
Like n in E not or n in G Not. Takes the place in PG initially, medially, and finally (i) of G n (PG nix, meene, bin, G nichts, meinen, bin); (2) of n in words borrowed from the E (PG nosse, Insch, Kossin). nn takes the place in PG (1) of nn in G (PG Brunne, rinne, wann, G Brunnen, rinnen, wann); (2) of nd in G (PG Kinner, binne, nanner, G Kinder, binden, einander); (3) of nt in G (PG hinner, runner, drunner, G hinter, herunter, darunter). The inflectional ending n of G is wanting in most places in PG (G wir trinken, die guten Kuchen, gieb ihnen etwas, er hat nur einen gesehen, PG mer drinke, die gude Kuche, geb ne eppes, er hot yuscht eener gsehne). Final n in sin mer, in me, an me is assimilated to m: PG simmer, imme, amme. Final nn in PG wann mer and kann mer is assimilated to m: PG wammer, kammer. A few words containing an n insert a vowel between it and a following consonant (PG Fennichel, finnif, Hannef, G Fenchel, fünf, Hanf).
Not pronounced like either E or G r. Unlike E r it is trilled slightly, but not as much as is G r. It takes the place in PG initially, medially, and finally (1) of G r (PG Rick, Narde, gaar, G Rücken, Norden, gar); (2) initially in words which have dropped he- of the G prefix her- (PG riwwer, raus, ruff, G herüber, heraus, herauf); (3) of r in words borrowed from the E (PG rule, kyure, Peddler). Owing to its trilled character many words containing an r insert a vowel between the r and a following b, ch, f, j, k, m, p, or w sound (PG Kareb, Fareb, farichde, ariger, schnarickse, Waref, Naerev, Garick, Marick, arem, Warem, Arewet, G Korb, Farbe, fürchten, ärger, schnarchen, dG worf, G Nerv, Kork, Markt, arm, Wurm, Arbeit). After an a-sound and before a sound beginning with a t or before n, r is frequently scarcely audible and sometimes is dropped altogether (PG dann, vanne, Gatt, datt, fatt, schwatz for darn, varne, Gart, dart, fart, schwarz). The orthography herein differs from Lambert’s in that the r is only doubled herein when the corresponding High German word uses a corresponding double r (PG darich, darr, G durch, dürr.
Like s in E sit or s in G bis. It takes the place in PG (1) of s in G words which contain the voiceless spirant s (PG kisse, wisst, aus, G Kissen, wisset, aus); (2) of s in G words which contain the voiced spirant s (PG Seel, Naas, siwwe, G Seele, Nase, sieben); (3) of G z in -lz and -nz (PG Mils, Schtols, Wans, Runsel, G Milz, stolz, Wanze, Runzel); (4) of s and с (like s) in words borrowed from the E (PG Sigaer, Sissdern, sober). It is only rarely that one hears the buzzing G sound of s before a vowel. Harvey Miller occasionally noted this sound and expressed it by E z in his writings.
Not like G w. It is made with the lips in the position in which they are at the beginning of making E w, but the lips are not rounded as in making E w. Takes the place in PG (1) of initial G w (PG waar, Wille, Wunsch, G war, Wille, Wunsch); (2) of G w in the initial consonantal combinations schw and zw (PG schwinge, schwelle, zwinge, G schwingen, schwellen, zwingen); (3) of G b, both singly and doubled, (PG selwer, dowe, Hawwer, Zuwwer, G selber, toben, Haber, Zuber); (4) of initial E wh and initial and medial E w and v in words borrowed from the E (PG Wiski, Wipp, waere, Watsch, Welwet, wuewwer).
Like x in E ax or x in G Axt. Takes the place in PG (i) of x in G words (PG Hex, Faxe, yuxe, G Hexe, Faxen, juxen); (2) of the x sound and similar sounds in E words and hybrid compounds (PG Bax, Haxet, Mixelfuder, exkyuse).
When initial like y in E yes or j in G jetzt. When medial it is not sounded quite as open as when initial, but more like y in E "many a" in a sentence. It takes the place in PG (i) of initial j in G (PG Yaahr, yung, Yoch, G Jahr, jung, Joch); (2) of initial y in words adopted from the E: PG Yaard, Yaenki.
This is a dictionary of English and non-English words of the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, providing Pennsylvania Dutch words and their English meanings as well as English words and phrases and their equivalents in Pennsylvania Dutch. It contains 20,607 Pennsylvania Dutch entries and 20,040 English entries.
Included herein are Pennsylvania Dutch words that have the same or a similar stem in both English and German, e.g., Ferri. In the case of most of these words it would be possible to determine only after long investigation whether they are of German origin, or whether they came into the dialect from the English. As noted by Lambert, to arrive at a reasonable certainty as to the origin of even one such word would require an amount of research that is beyond the scope of this work. There is also a language border line along which there is a considerable number of words for which it is difficult to assign definitely to High German only, or to both High German and the dialect. This is particularly true of religious nomenclature.
Also included are compound words that are German in form, although they are a literal translation from the English and so are not used in German, e.g., Riggelweg, groossfiehlich. For special reasons a few hundred words evidently of English origin and a few more of doubtful origin have been included. The exclusion, in general, of words wholly or partly of English origin leaves some unsatisfactory gaps, but there is no rule of usage or authority by which it can be determined what English words should be included in a Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary.
At the end of many—if not most—entries, there is provided the etymology of the Pennsylvania Dutch entry word. The etymologies may be German, dialectic German, French, Latin, or Indian, and they do not always have the same meaning as the Pennsylvania Dutch words. There is but one word in the dialect of Dutch origin, and that may have come in through the English. Although Lambert contends that this shows the absurdity of calling the dialect "Pennsylvania Dutch," we follow the hundreds of years of tradition among the speakers and call the dialect by its rightful name, "Pennsylvania Dutch."
The symbols,˘, ˉ, and ˊ, following an entry identify (1) the number of syllables in the word, (2) the length of the vowel or diphthong in each syllable, and (3) on which syllable(s) the primary accent is placed. The symbol, ˘, denotes a short vowel. The symbol, ˉ, denotes a long vowel. Accent is indicated by ˊ.
As an example, the pronunciation field for Handelwese is ˘ˊ ˘ ˉ ˘, which indicates that: (1) Handelwese has four syllables; (2) that the "a" in the first syllable is short, that the "e" in the second syllable is short, that the "e" in the third syllable is long, and that the "e" in the last syllable is short; and (3) that the first syllable is accented.
Long: like a in E father or a in G Vater, except for onomatopes, in which case it is like a in E at lengthened.
Short: like a in E what or a in G satt, except for words of English origin, in which case it is like a in E at.
Like aw in E law or au in E author.
Approximately like a in E gate.
Like ai in E aisle.
Like ow in E cow or au in G laut.
Long: like a in E gate or e in G geht.
Short: like e in E let or e in G fett.
Like a in E gate or e in G geht.
Like i in E pine or ei in G Pein.
Long: like i in E machine or i in G ihn.
Short: like i in E pin or i in G Sinn.
Like ее in E meet or ie in G Miete.
Long: like о in E note or о in G Bote.
Short: like u in E cup or о in G Kopf.
Like oy in E boy.
Long: like oo in E moon or u in G tun.
Short: like oo in E cook or u in G gucken.
Like i in E pin or i in G Sinn.
Nearly like E or G b.
Like ch in G ich or Loch.
Like x in E ax or x in G Axt.
Nearly like E or G d.
Like f in E for or f in G Fach.
Like g in E get or g in G Geld when initial. Like k in E kind or k in G Kind when final. Like sound heard between the i and e of E orient or softer when medial.
When sounded, like h in E hat or h in G Hut. It is sometimes silent.
Like E or G k.
Like E or G l.
Like E or G m.
Like E or G n.
Like ng in E sing or ng in G singen.
Like nk in E sink or nk in G sinken.
Nearly like E or G p.
Like E r slightly trilled. When preceded by an e, the r is vocalized and sounds like E a in ah.
Like s in E sit or s in G bis.
Like sh in E shun or sch in G schon.
Nearly like E or G t.
Like f in E for or v in G vergessen.
Like E w, but made without rounding the lips.
Like x in E ax or x in G Axt.
When initial, like y in E yes or j in G jetzt. When medial, like y in E "many a."
Like ts in E hats or z in G zanken.
Searching for portions of words, e.g., beginnings of words, ends of words, and words containing specified beginnings and endings may be performed using the wildcard character *. The * character matches no letters or any letters. Thus, a search for "aus*" dictates to the search engine to look for all words beginning with "aus" followed by any series of letters including no letters. A search for "*keit" dictates to the search engine to look for all words ending with "keit" preceded by any series of letters including no letters. A search for "a*mache" dictates to the search engine to look for all words beginning with "a" followed by any series of letters including no letters and ending with "mache."
Below are links to these examples:
The * character may also be used when searching for English words.
Lambert provides a lengthy acknowledgement of the sources he consulted when preparing his dictionary. We do not repeat those here, as we did not consult the sources that he used. Instead, we express our sincerest gratitude for the extraordinary work of Mr. Lambert culminating in his 1924 publication. As the result of a possible oversight, the copyright in his dictionary expired in 1953 upon failure to renew it. Through this fortunate event, we are able to use this dictionary as the source for this site.
We also would like to offer our sincere thanks to Elizabeth L. Kyger, the wife of the late Dr. M. Ellsworth Kyger, for granting us permission to consult her husband's expansive An English-Pennsylvania German dictionary and to supplement this online dictionary with information from Dr. Kyger's dictionary. We have, namely, consulted Dr. Kyger's dictionary to supplement entries for nouns with plurals and genders where not provided by Lambert. Dr. Kyger's dictionary is the most expansive English-to-Pennsylvania German dictionary in existence but is difficult to find on account of its limited publication. It is a worthy addition to any student's and speaker's library.
During our efforts, we consulted with several additional sources, namely Albert F. Buffington and Preston A. Barba A Pennsylvania German Grammar, C. Richard Beam et al. The Comprehensive Pennsylvania German Dictionary, dict.cc Deutsch-Englisch-Wörterbuch at http://www.dict.cc/, Duden Online-Wörterbuch at http://www.duden.de/, and Pfälzisches Wörterbuch at http://woerterbuchnetz.de/PfWB/.