Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way.

From: markodegard@...
Message: 7685
Date: 2001-06-18

Torsten writes:
> I just thought of another irritating fact. Upstate New York was
> colonized by the Dutch (note the spelling and pronounciation of (the
> originally Native?) Schenectady). The main entry route for
> was up the Hudson river and along the canal from Albany
> (Rensselaersburg) to Lake Erie.

This is the Erie Canal. Making use of natural waterways, it runs from
Albany to Buffalo. It enters Lake Erie just above Niagara Falls. It
opened in 1825, and lead to a hemorrhage of people and goods moving
west. The natural spot for this traffic to come inland was at
Cleveland, where the Appalacians ended.

The people these immigrants first met were those of the old Western
Reserve, by then a part of the state of Ohio. This is also where the
'Midlands' or 'General American' accent really begins.

The Dutch had little to do with American English.

The other great path to the west was via the Cumberland Gap, where
Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee come together. This
opened the way to the Ohio River valley. Even today, you hear
'southern' accents north of the Ohio. The southern part of the Old
Northwest was settled this way. The northern half came from
Cleveland. Note Abraham Lincoln's vector: born in KY but finally
settled in Springfield, IL.

The borders of the dialect maps begin to make sense, don't they? The
advent of railroads really changed the way people moved west, but not
really until after 1850.

> And there are a few things about Pennsylvania Dutch that puzzle me.
> Of course I know it's supposed to be German, not Dutch. But some of
> the samples I've seen were not High German but Low German, which is
> very close to Dutch. Pennsylvania Dutch was studied very early by
> German linguist, who were happy to find some Deutschtum in the New
> World. Would they have classified it as "probably a Dutch dialect"?

Pennsylvania Dutch has been here a long time, before Independence. I
gather it is Low German too.

Low German was very well known in the US clear into the last century.
When kids learned this at home and English at school (and NO High
German at all), you get the messasge that Low German really is a
separate language. Even here in NE Iowa, there were LG speakers who
preserved their language at Church, clear into 1930s.