Instructor and Pennsylvania Dutch expert Alice Spayd will teach weekly classes on the dialect beginning in late April.

The Pennsylvania Dutch dialect is directly descended from the language of German, French, and Swiss immigrants to the region in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Over time, the newcomers’ traditional German language morphed into a distinct variant interspersed with American English words and phrases (e.g. “outen the lights,” meaning turn off the lights).

It is estimated that there are several hundred thousand current speakers of the language, concentrated heavily in Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities. The Pennsylvania Dutch, as the group is often called, do not have any direct relation to the people of the Netherlands.

Spayd will be conducting the classes in the Lebanon County Historical Society’s auditorium at 924 Cumberland Street.

The dialect’s influence has spread outside of the Amish and Mennonite communities. Spayd, a native of Schuylkill County, has been speaking Pennsylvania Dutch since childhood and is known for her expertise on the subject.

For Society members, the cost of the course is $35, while non-Society members pay $40. Children ages 8-16 can attend for $5.

Each class will be held on Saturday from 11:30am to 1:30pm in the Society Auditorium. The five-week course begins April 27. Contact the Society for questions or information at 717-272-1473, or email the office.

Josh Groh is a Cornwall native and writer who began reporting for LebTown in 2019. He continued to regularly contribute to LebTown while earning a degree in environmental science at Lebanon Valley College, graduating in 2021. Since then, he has lead conservation crews in Colorado and taken on additional...


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