Each month, we’re featuring reader questions about the Amish and having Linda Byler, who grew up Amish and now writes fiction, answer them. Read more about Linda below. Have a question for Linda? Ask it either in the comment section below or via our social media!
I would so want to know what the Amish think of our fascination with them—are they OK with books written about them? What about book covers with Amish characters’ faces shown?
I think people are fascinated with us largely because of our different style of living. They wonder how we can be happy. They’re curious about how we stay the way we are.
We are taught love, caring, sharing, obedience, and the value of doing things that are worthwhile (which sometimes you don’t necessarily want to do!). But these are ground rules I believe will always prevail among us. Not every Amish person likes having books written about our culture, but most of our people accept it. Book covers with Amish characters are blamed on the book publisher, so that, too, is tolerated.
I’ve noticed from reading Amish books that there are different words for father/dad, such as Dat, Datt, and Daed (and probably the same for mother/mom). Are they different with each Amish community and does each community have their own Amish language?
I know of no other word in Pennsylvania Dutch for “Father” and “Mother” other than “Dat” and “Mam,” but I’m from the East—my roots are Lancaster County Amish. In the western states, where the Amish also speak Pennsylvania Dutch, they vary the words slightly and say “Daddy” and “Mom,” pronounced with a sort of flat, long, drawn out “Dae-addy,” and “Mom” with a long, flat short “o” sound.
The different spellings in books are very likely what either the publisher, editor, or writer thought was the proper spelling. Pennsylvania Dutch is not a written language.
Bestselling author Linda Byler grew up Amish and is active in the Amish Church today. Her work includes the popular trilogy Lizzie Searches for Love, an annual Christmas novel, and her latest series, Lancaster Burning.
*Photo c/o stock.xchng