Graduates celebrate learning Pa. Dutch dialect
After completing a 13-week course studying the Pennsylvania Deutsch dialect, 29 students received their Fraktur-style diplomas from instructors Dave and Jean Adam.
The graduation ceremony took place April 30 in the social room of Jordan Lutheran Church, Orefield.
Graduates, family, friends and instructors celebrated their accomplishments and culture with a potluck dinner featuring Pennsylvania Dutch comfort food such as meat pies, scrapple, hot bacon dressing over lettuce, potato filling, graut spaetzle (cabbage and noodles), chow chow (pickled vegetables), hog maw (stuffed pig stomach), and shoofly pie.
Of the older students, many have been married for decades and attended classes with their spouses.
Clarence and Sandy Hoffman from Schnecksville have been married for 59 years.
Their youngest adult daughter, Terrie Weidman, accompanied them to class.
Clarence Hoffman can trace his side of the family back to the Germans who settled the commonwealth in the 1730s.
He grew up in a family where the only language was Pennsylvania Dutch.
“The first two years in school, I had a heck of a time,” Hoffman said regarding the lessons being taught in English.
This was second time Dave and Jean Adam have offered the course at the church.
“It’s a very enjoyable thing for my wife and I,” Dave Adam said. “We know most of these people for years.”
Now living in Orefield, they have been married 58 years.
Pennsylvania Dutch was Dave Adam’s first language and he remained fluent in it as an older child, while spending summers on his grandparents’ farm.
“I spoke Dutch all the time. I knew I had it made,” Dave Adam said when he realized he could keep up in conversations with his future in-laws, who spoke Pennsylvania Dutch.
Dave Adam serves as president of Grundsau Lodsch Nummer 16.
“I’m also the president of the ‘Big Daddy’ lodge,” he said.
“That consists of all the Groundhog Lodges.”
Another course is scheduled for September through December.
There are already 29 students signed up for it, Dave Adam grinned.