As popularity for my books grow, I'm getting this question a lot. Just today I answered this on Facebook and decided it was time for a blog post.
Who are the Swiss Amish? Well, you have to sit through a little history lesson if you want to know. When
the Amish and Mennonites first settled here, they came in two waves.
The first wave settled in Pennsylvania and along with other German
speaking immigrants at the time they eventually formed their own
language, Pennsylvania Dutch, a mixture of their German and English.
(The other immigrants eventually dropped it and today it's only the
Amish that speak it.) They eventually moved to different places,
Then there was a second wave of immigrants from
Switzerland and other places. They moved directly to Indiana and named
their settlement Berne (with an E) after their native homeland of Bern,
Switzerland. The two groups didn't intermingle. Some time had passed,
maybe 100 years or more, but there's a mutual respect between them. They
speak different languages and have different customs.
The Swiss Amish
speak a Swiss German dialect so different than that of the Pennsylvania
Dutch that when they do get together they speak English to understand
one another. The Swiss Amish drive only open top buggies and don't use
headstones to mark graves. They also yodel like in the Swiss Alps. Most
are more closed off to the world than the Pennsylvania Dutch, and so
less is known about them.
Many authors who write about the Amish of
Seymour (a Swiss Amish settlement in Missouri, where I'm from) and other
Swiss Amish settlements, they write as if they are Pennsylvania Dutch
living in Missouri. Completely false. Some states like Indiana have both
I worked for over two months to find the exact dialect they speak. It's not a written language, only a spoken one, and there is no Swiss Amish to English dictionary you can order from Amazon. The only way is to form friendships with someone who speaks it.
I've learned so much about the Swiss Amish this year and I share a lot of that knowledge in my newest book, A Christmas Courtship, where three generations of Swiss Amish courtship practices come together to make a touching, yet humorous romance. It's only $0.99 for Kindle, free with Kindle Unlimited, and also available in paperback.