Spelling Words in Pennsylvania Dutch

If you’ve visited other Deitsh language sites or watched videos on YouTube about learning Pennsylvania Dutch, you may notice that the spelling of Pennsylvania Dutch words are completely different than on this site. Why?

Until very recently, Pennsylvania Dutch was only a spoken language. Even today, most native speakers cannot read or write the language, and are not used to seeing their own language written.

Two Styles of Writing Pennsylvania Dutch

There are 2 separate styles of writing and spelling Pennsylvania Dutch words.

1. German Spelling

This spelling is based on High German. Therefore, it requires being familiar with the German language, spelling and pronunciation.

Even so, many words are still spelled differently than they are spoken.

2. Phonetic Spelling

The phonetic style is based on a mix of English and German, but is mostly spelled as words sound. Those familiar with English will find it easy to read.

This is the spelling style used on this site — including the Words List.

Why Phonetic Spelling?

Basically for 2 reasons.

  1. All native speakers of Pennsylvania Dutch can read and write English. This style helps both native speakers and language learners to read, recognize, and pronounce words in Deitsh.
  2. A lot of reading material and grammar guides from different sources already use this spelling style — including a dictionary and the Pennsylvania Deitsh Bible.

Get Started Guide

How do I get started learning Pennsylvania Dutch? The new guide will help get you started — whether you just want to learn some phrases or start learning the language.