Polyglot Speaks Pennsylvania Dutch to Surprised Amish and Mennonite Residents in Holmes County Ohio

New York City polyglot Xiaomanyc visited a Mennonite family in Holmes County Ohio and spoke to them in the Pennsylvania Dutch language. The family was not only surprised but delighted by his knowledge. Xiaoma explained that the language was very similar to that of Yiddish. Also present were several Haitian refugees whom the family was hosting and whom he greeted in Haitian Creole, much to their delight.

…If you go to Holmes County Ohio where despite having been in this country for centuries hundreds of thousands of Mennonite and Amish people …speak as their first language a dialect of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch. This language is actually surprisingly similar to my own ancestral Jewish language of Yiddish so I didn’t find it too hard to learn

As they sat around the dinner table Xiaoma was able to ask questions about the Amish religion and lifestyle while sharing his own amusing tales. In fact, he brought handmade matzoh from New York City to the dinner as a gift. The family was thrilled to accept the unleavened bread and learn more about its history.

I was visiting Josh’s family the week of Easter and Jesus’s last supper which this year also happened to be the Jewish Passover. Jesus’s last supper, which involved him eating at a Passover seder unleavened bread. So I brought you some handmade matzoh from New York unleavened bread… miraculously it has not cracked so I think you might you might like it.

They also discussed the different factions of the Amish religion, those who are more traditional and forego modern conveniences to those who participate within their own comfort level, much like Judaism. He was also struck by the incredible sense of responsibility to one another within the community. How they offer their own health insurance, help people buy homes, do repairs, and much more.

For me at least one of the most interesting and beautiful things that I’ve learned is how close-knit the the community is here. 

He also visited local businesses in town, where he had the chance to speak Pennsylvania Dutch again. He was a little more challenged to keep up with the conversation at the Amish market but was really surprised when an Amish girl at the store told him that she watched at least one of his videos.

Why do you have a camera on you?….I’ve seen your videos. One. This is the one I saw

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.