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rhymes, sayings, tongue twisters, dialect, Pennsylvania Dutchman, John Yerger, Bally, Bechtelsville
A handwritten letter from Esther Moser addressed to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dated September 14, 1953. Within, Moser provides a number of old sayings, rhymes and tongue twisters from Bally township in Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. She also suggests that Shoemaker visit John Yerger in Bechtelsville.
Alfred L. Shoemaker
Packet 410-16 to 410-17
September 14, 1953.
Here is some more material for your Folklore Center. I don’t know if you already know and have some but I'll sent you what we know.
First I’ll start with a rhyme which I had sent once before. It was the time the Pennsylvania Dutchman had stopped coming and you got such terrible letters about it, and I feel you misslayed it through that. I never heard you mention it or have it in the paper.
Rolly rolly raw
Ich wod ich het en fraw
No kent ich by dar mommy schlofa
Grawd we dar dawdi aw
Now the English people have tongue and thought twisters, and so do we Penna. Dutch and first I’ll give you one that we always said: drei mol recht starrick, and the second one is to be said once whether you can say it after the other person said it.
1. Grummy, grawdy, sheppy suppa-schissel
2. So fiel dawg in dem yohr, os dar fux um schwontz hut hoar.
The last time that I heard you mention about the different ways in saying: “your slip is showing”, you had eight different ways. Now last week we happened to hear two more ways. Here they are if they are knew again:
1. Du denksht ma fum diam dawdi, os we fum di mommy.
2. Dei mon is um wottshouse dehame.
You mentioned the turkey bussert in your sayings on Sunday, and we call it the (Ludder foggel) instead of the names you mentioned. We also have some more (olda sawga) I think you called them so Sunday, to add to your list. They are as follows:
1. When people are finished eating, and someone drops in who hasn’t eaten we say: Wos met kumt tsu dar rechta tsweit mus nemma wos ivverich bleibt.
2. When a person is poor and just about has nothing we say: So orm os en karrich mous.
3. When a person speaks about someone and the someone drops in right then, we say: Mon mer dar essel nemmt kumt er garrent.
4. When a young woman is painted and dolled up quiet unusual we think it might not be so underneath we say: Ovva hooya un unna fooya.
5. When a child doesn’t listen by words and must be spanked we say: Wawr met heera will mus feela.
6. When men have eaten their meal, and sit down to retire or go back to work they always take a chew tobacco who have that habit then we say: Noch dem essa en kauderpock, doss schtaid in de bivvel.
7. When a person does something or is doing something and another person comes along he is surprised to see him doing it, and thought he couldn’t, we say: Ich bin met so dum we doppich, un aw met so dreickich we sloppich.
8. When a person asks what he shall do we often say just to tease him: Dei hem-ousebotsola un druf rum du.
When you were a little boy and you left a fork, knife, or spoon fall at the table what did your mother say that would happen that day? When I was a little girl I was told: Won en messer falt kumt noch en weibsmensch heit. Won en govvel falt kumt noch en monskal heit. Won en leffel falt kumt noch en braidmoul heit. Then when the dishes were done and the dish rag or (speellumba) fell down for you I was told: es archt os kumt heit is en schlop, un mon nemont kumt bischt du se selwert. Now how many different ways are there of saying that in the counties.
Now I want to ask you another thing. You have talked with so many old people in different counties. Have any ever said anything about snow blooming a certain time in the year? I have heard it once but I haven’t heard it since. It is supposed to be in August and September. What do you know about it, if you know anything. Lets hear it over the air some Sunday dinner.
Helen has mentioned in her last letter to you, that you could get a lot of Penna. Dutch lore from Mr. John Yerger from Bechtelsville P. D. I don’t want you to forget that. I don’t know how well you are acquainted in that region. If you know where the Washington House is on the Schultzville Road it will be fine. When you are coming in from Boyertown and passing it, it is the first black road that’s on your right sight, and the first place on the right. It is a very small farm only a few acres where he lives.
I think I will come to a close. I told you a number of things which were in my mind. Now I must do some listing again for more. So long.
English and Pennsylvania German
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Moser, Esther, "Letter From Esther Moser to Alfred L. Shoemaker, September 14, 1953" (1953). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 19.
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Rhymes and sayings provided are recounted in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.