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My Heritage Languages

Official Heritage Languages

This page concerns the languages all my ancestors spoke. They are my heritage languages.

As far as I can tell, all my ancestors immigrated from about the late 1600s to the 1840s, with the exception of one family who came in 1892. The "official" languages that I am sure they spoke at the time of immigration into America are:

  • GermanThis is the language of almost all of my immigrant ancestors. They would have spoken mostly dialects of northern Alsace, southwestern Germany, or the cantons of Bern and Zrich in Switzerland.
  • ManxThey spoke the northern dialect, but that differed little from the southern.
  • EnglishEnglish speakers are of several types. One family was from the Gloucester area of England, but documentation connecting me to these possible ancestors is poor. Other English speaking ancestors were from Northern Ireland. These ancestors spoke perhaps Mid-Ulster English or Ulster Scots, but it is conceivable that they spoke Irish. It is impossible to know. Some of my Manx immigrant ancestors might have spoken some English before immigrating. Some Huguenots, but not necessarily my ancestors, were known to speak some English (and/or Dutch) before emigrating.

It is possible that a few of my immigrant ancestors spoke:

  • FrenchThey would have spoken Champenois or perhaps other dialects. But all my French ancestors were Huguenots who lived in what is now Germany for a generation or two and may have switched to German. There is a little bit more detail about this below.
  • IrishIt is impossible to know whether my Irish immigrant ancestors were English speaking, Irish speaking, or bilingual. I tend to believe they were English speaking. If they spoke Irish, more than likely they would have spoken the East Ulster dialect.
  • WelshThis is based only a possible ancestor who had a Welsh surname.
  • Flemish (Dutch)The dialect spoken would maybe have been West Flemish.

About This Page

On this page I want to use examples from a broader number of languages than the languages listed above. My ancestors spoke more languages than these before emigrating.

In doing this, I've encountered several problems:
  • Years before emigration, my ancestors sometimes lived in parts of Europe far from where they ultimately emigrated from. They did not necessarily live in the same village or even in the same region from the beginning of time. The problem is that the earliest records that are available, and only for a few ancestors, do not go farther back than the 16th or 17th centuries. (I have a feeling that many ultimately were in the same places though.)
  • Surnames are of little help for determining which language some immigrant ancestors spoke. This is especially true of the Ulster ancestors. On the other hand, there cannot be much doubt which languages the Manx and German ancestors spoke because I know more about them and the sociolinguistic situations they were living in. Americans are keenly aware that a person's surname does not indicate which language they can speak. Further, a surname obviously does not indicate the degree to which a person can speak a language. Some ancestors lived in areas that for a time would have been bilingual.
  • To illustrate what my ancestors' languages and dialects looked like, I have used the Lord's Prayer (Our Father). It is found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. This prayer has probably been translated into more languages than any other passage of any book ever, but the Lord's Prayer tends to be formal and not a good reflection of how the language was actually spoken. The (often very recent) translations of the Lord's Prayer into dialects solves this problem to an extent, but these translations are not readily available, even among the people who speak these dialects today. I find the Lord's Prayer examples from various places. Many are from the Church of the Pater Noster. The link to the Pater Noster Church no longer works. Many of these translations do not have the doxology ("For thine is the kingdom, and the power,..."). For the most part, I do not edit these examples very much even though the Pater Noster examples sometimes have problems. (It seems some of them have been simply scanned, and in some cases, somewhere along the line, someone's browser did not pick up some accent marks correctly.) I have edited the punctuation in many of these translations so that they match one another better. Generally, I've left the spelling alone.

Admittedly, much speculation is involved below. Many words indicating uncertainty are here: maybe, may, might, could have, probably.

For each language and dialect, I have included the family names of the ancestors with the Americanized versions in parentheses and a little about the language itself.

A little bit more information about my immigrant ancestors is here.


Gibson, Lemmon, Parker; Howell, Hibbs

Only the Hibbses and Howells unequivocally came from England. Documentation actually proving that they were ancestors is poor, to say the least. They were from Dean Forest near the Welsh border. The Lemmons, Gibsons, and Parkers emigrated from Northern Ireland.

Among the English dialects that my ancestors in the British Isles could have spoken are Ulster Scots, Mid-Ulster, Hiberno-English, Anglo-Manx, possibly West Country (England), and possibly West Midlands (England). American English dialects include dialects of Pennsylvania (maybe including a 'Dutchified' English), northern Indiana, and especially the North Midland of northeastern Ohio, in which we are shocked that 'cot' and 'caught' are not homophones.

Most of my immigrant ancestors spoke German. For the most part, it's not clear to me when any particular family became English-speaking in the United States. They may have been monolingual English speakers as early as the second generation. Some of the ancestors in Pennsylvaniaespecially my Mennonites in Lancaster Countyundoubtedly held onto German several generations longer.

Below is an Early Modern version of the Lord's Prayer.

Our father, who art in heaven, hollowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.*
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

* My mother's home church, originally Evangelical United Brethren, now United Methodist, always uses debts/debtors.

Middle English

Gibson?, Lemmon, Hibbs, Howell, Parker

Below is the Lord's Prayer in Middle English from Wycliffe.

Oure fadir that art in heuenes, halewid be thi name.
Thi kyngdoom come to.
Be thi wille don in erthe as in heuene.
Ȝyue to vs this dai oure breed ouer othir substaunce.
And forȝyue to vs oure dettis, as we forȝyuen to oure dettouris.
And lede vs not in to temptacioun but delyuere vs from yuel.

nglisc (Old English)

Gibson?, Lēofman (Lemmon), Hibbs, Howell, Parker

Below is a 10th century version of the Lord's Prayer. There is no doxology.

Fder ūre, ū e eart on heofonum: sī īn nama gehālgod.
Tōbecume īn rīce.
Geweore īn willa on eoran swāswā on heofonum.
Ūrne dghwāmlican hlāf sielle ūs tō dge.
And forgief ūs ūre gyltas swāswā wē forgiefa ūrum gyltendum.
And ne gelǣd ū ūs on costnunge, ac ālīes ūs of yfele.

Ulstr-Scotch (Ulster Scots)

Gibson, Lemmon, Parker

The Gibsons, Lemmons, and Parkers came from Ireland to America. They were Scotch-Irish. This term is used almost exclusively in America and is not found in Ireland or the United Kngdom generally. These ancestors can only be documented back to Ireland.

Ulster was planted mainly by people from the Scottish Lowlands, the Border(s)(the area near the Scottish-English border also formerly known as the Scottish Marches or Middle Shires), and northern England, but settlers from Wales, the Palatinate, or other places are not unknown. These settlers tended to be Calvinist (Presbyterian in Scotland) or Anglican. Settlement in Ulster happened mostly in the 1600s.

It is conceivable that none of my Scotch-Irish ancestors were Irish from time immemorial.

The wiki covering the Plantation of Ulster is very useful.

In Ireland, the Gibsons, Lemmons, and Parkers probably spoke Ulster Scots or Hiberno-English (more specifically Mid-Ulster English).

There is some debate over whether Scots is a language or just a particularly divergent English dialect. It may be better to see Scots on one end of a continuum and some English dialects on the other end with most Scots speakers being somewhere on this line; further, there are Scots speakers who may or may not define themselves as speakers of a distinct language. Mutual comprehensiblity between English and Scots can vary for a variety of reasons, even among individual speakers at different times. This situation causes problems for linguists, policy makers, and even speakers for defining where one language starts and another ends. I have a lot of difficulty in understanding Scots. There is much linguistic distance between it and almost any American dialect.

There are several dialects of Scots. I'm not sure which dialect is represented in the Lord's Prayer below. The wiki on Ulster Scots, also called Ullans, has much information on the historical, sociolinguistic, and legal status of Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland.

Faither o us aa, bidin abune, thy name be halie.
Let thy reign begin.
Thy will be dune, on the erthe, as it is in Hevin.
Gie us oor needfu fendin.
An forgie us aa oor ill-deeds ilka day, e'en as we forgie thae wha dae us ill.
As lat us no loe testit, but sauf us frae the Ill-Ane.
For the croon is thine ain, an the micht, an the glorie, for iver an iver.

Gaeilge (Irish)

Giobsin (Gibson), (Lemmon), (Parker)

Among my Scotch-Irish ancestors are the Gibsons in Loudon Twp., Carroll Co., Ohio. They were Protestant (Methodist in the United States and possibly already Methodist in Ireland) and maybe from Down or Antrimthese counties numerically had the most Gibsons in the 1890s. For me, the most likely scenario is that the Gibsons were originally from Lowland Scotland and came to Ireland in the 1600s. The Gibson name is common in Galloway in the southwest of Scotland.

The Lemmons are even harder to pin down. They settled in Holmes County, Ohio. They were probably Protestant as well, thus probably from Ulster. The Lemmon surname may have come about a couple of ways. It may be Norman French (from Lamont) or English (Old English Lēofman). Or it just may be related to the River Lemon in Devon, England. By the way, lemon here is related to a Celtic word meaning 'elm', not the citrus fruit. (Remarkably, there is a man in Devon who wants to revive the Celtic language in Devon. This language is little documented. I don't think he has the Lord's Prayer translated. The language [West Country Brythonic] would differ little from early forms of Cornish.)

The Parkers were from Ulster, maybe from County Tyrone.

Searching through surname frequency sites for Ireland, I find that these surnames appear frequently in the counties of Antrim and Down. These counties tended to become English speaking earlier than other areas of Ulster. Further, I used to think that my Irish ancestors may never been Irish speakers because I had always thought that Protestants in Ulster were English-speaking even before coming to Ireland.

The situation is not so clear cut. Those involved in planting Ireland did want English-speaking Protestants. From the Plantations of Ireland wiki: "[An] influence on the Plantation of Ulster was the negotiation between various interest groups on the British side. The principal landowners were to be English Undertakers, wealthy men from England and Scotland who undertook to import tenants from their own estates. They were granted around 3,000 acres (12 km) each, on condition that they settle a minimum of 48 adult males (including at least 20 families) who had to be English-speaking and Protestant." But the powers that were did not always get these settlers. Not all settlers were English-speaking. Some Presbyterians came to be Irish-speaking. There were also some Welsh and German Palatines, for example.

So, while I do think that my Scotch-Irish ancestors were probably English- or Scots-speaking at the time of immigration (18th and 19th centuries), it is possible they could have been speaking East Ulster Irishinteresting to me because it shares some features with Manx and Gaelic. East Ulster Irish has died out. A blog having to do with the dialect exists. Bella McCurdy McKenna was the last speaker of East Ulster Irish (Rathlin Island Irish). She died in 1985. Irish speakers in Northern Ireland (now numbering over 100,000 according to the 2011 census) generally speak Donegal Irish (West Ulster Irish). Unfortunately, learning Irish in Northern Ireland is somewhat politicized. Here's an interesting documentary on someone attempting to learn Irish in Northern Ireland.

In any case, here is the Lord's Prayer in Irish.

Ár nAthair, atá ar neamh, go naofar d'ainm.
Go dtaga do ríocht.
Go ndéantar do thoil ar an talamh* mar dhéantar* ar neamh.
Ár n-arán* laethúil tabhair dúinn inniu.
Agus maith dúinn ár bhfiacha, mar mhaithimid* dár bhféichiúna féin.
Agus ná lig sinn i gcathú. Ach saor sinn ó olc.
Óir is leat féin an ríocht agus an chumhacht agus an ghlóir go síoraí.

*An Episcopalian version has these differences: dtalamh, níthear, n-áran, a mhaithidne

Gidhlig ([Scottish] Gaelic)


Before Ireland, some of my Irish ancestors may have been from Scotland. If they were from the Lowlands, they may have spoken Scottish Gaelic far enough back. Gaelic in Lowland Scotland died out by the 1700s and is little documented, but it seems not to have varied greatly, if at all, from that of Highland Scotland where it is still spoken today. Some areas near the border with England were never Gaelic-speaking.

Sadly, fewer and fewer people speak Gaelicperhaps up to 87,000 out of a population of about 5.5 million. Some speakers remain in Canada (about 4.000, half of which are in Nova Scotia). Gaelic was the most common mother tongue of the Fathers of Confederation.

I should note, too, that far enough back some Scottish ancestors (if I ever had Scottish ancestors) could have been speakers of Cumbric, a language in the Brittonic (or Brythonic) branch of Celtic languages. It is closely related to Welsh. (Irish, Gaelic, and Manx are in the Goidelic branch.) It was spoken as late as the 13th century in southern Scotland and northern England. Pictish may have been another language that some ancestors spoke. It was spoken until the 9th century north of the Firth of Forth. Linguists now accept that it was a Brittonic language, but not so closely related to other Brittonic languages (Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Cumbric). Little is known of Cumbric or Pictish. It is also possible that some ancestors in Scotland were speakers of Norse.

Ar n-Athair a tha air namh: gu naomhaichear d'ainm.
Thigeadh do roghachd.
Deanar do thoil air an talamh mar a nithear air namh.
Tabhair dhuinn an diugh ar n-aran lathail.
Agus maith dhuinn ar fiachan, amhuil mar a mhaitheas sinne d'ar luchd-fiach.
Agus na leig 'am buaireach sinn, ach saor sinn o olc.
Oir is leatsa an roghachd agus an cumhachd agus a' ghlir gu sorruidh.

Gaeilge Ghall-Ghidhealaibh (Galwegian/Gallovidian Gaelic)


The Gibson surname occurs with some frequency in Galloway. People living in Galloway, which is in the southwestern part of Scotland, could have been speakers of Pictish, Cumbric, Old English, or Old Norse, depending on which time period one is referring to. By about the 1200s or so, the residents of the area would have been speaking early Gaelic. Little is known about the kind of Gaelic that was spoken in Galloway. It could have been fairly close to Manx or Ulster Irish. Only a song can be found that was written in it. Galwegian Gaelic probably died out in the late 1700s.

Deutsch (German)

Most of my ancestors were Germans, often Calvinists (German Reformed) from northern Alsace.

Maybe 100,000,000 people speak German. It is not spoken in the United States so much anymore despite tens of millions of people having ancestry from German-speaking areas in Europe.

Luthers Version (Luther's Version)

This is the version that probably all my German speaking ancestors used. They would have learned it for confirmation, if not at an earlier age. It's found in Luther's Small Catechism.

Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiliget werde dein Name.
Dein Reich komme.
Dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel, also auch auf Erden.
Unser tglich Brot gib uns heute.
Und vergib uns unsere Schuld, wie wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern.
Und fhre uns nicht in Versuchung. Sondern erlse uns von dem Uebel.
Denn dein ist das Reich und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit.

Below is a modern version from a Bible I bought in Strasbourg in 2009:

Unser Vater im Himmel! Dein Name werde geheiligt.
Dein Reich komme.
Dein Wille geschehe wie im Himmel so auf Erden.
Unser tägliches Brot gib uns heute.
Und vergib uns unsere Schuld, wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern.
Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung, sondern erlöse uns von dem Bösen.
Denn dein ist das Reich und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit.

Luthers erste Version (Luther's First Version)

Vnser vater ynn dem hymel. Deyne name sey heylig.
Deyn reych kome.
Deyne wille geschehe auff erden wie ym hymel.
Vnser teglich brod gib yvns heut.
Vnd vergib vns vnsere schulde wie wir vnser schuldigern vergebē.
Vn fure vns nicht yn versuchung sondern erlose vns vō dem vbel.
Denn deyn ist das reych vnd die krafft vnd die herligkeyt in ewigkeyt.

Sdrheinfrnkisch (9. Jh.) (South Rhine Franconian [9th cent.]) (Otfrid von Weienburg [Otfried of Wissembourg])

Franck (Franks)(maybe), Haas, Bigler, Probst (Brobst), Walther (Walters), Billman, Wedrick, Myers, Stambach (Stambaugh), König (Koenig, King), Weimar(t) (Weimer)

Otfrid von Weienburg was a ninth century monk at the Abbey of Wissembourg. There he wrote his Evangelienbuch. Essentially, the Evangelienbuch is a versified synopsis of the Gospels. Otfrid's wiki has more: "With 7104 couplets, the Evangelienbuch is the first substantial literary work and the first use of rhyme in German literature[...] Otfrid was fully aware of the novelty of his undertaking: the work starts with a section headed 'Cur scriptor hunc librum theotisce dictaverit' ('Why the author has written this book in the vernacular') explaining the reasons for writing in his native dialect rather than in the Latin one would expect for a religious work." This dialect is the South Rhine Franconian dialect of Old High German.

What's particularly amazing and fortunate for me is that my great-grandfather's village, Steinseltz (Steinselz in German), is only about two miles from the abbey! The village and surrounding land was rented by the abbey during the time Otfrid wrote. Other Alsatian families in my family tree were from neighboring villages.

While I may well have ancestors who spoke this very form of German, note that many of my Alsatian ancestors were originally Swiss. The Swiss were moved in to repopulate the area after the Thirty Years War (1618-48). This migration is remembered almost four centuries later. According to a distant Alsatian relative, some native Alsatians survived the war, but it is now no longer easy to tell who was Swiss and who was Alsatian because they have long since mixed together. A genealogical paper trail does exist for some of these families Swiss-Alsatian-American families (i.e., the Probsts).

Otfrid's version of the Lord's Prayer is not a strict translation from Greek or Latin. Otfrid's book is a lengthy poem and some poetic license has been used. This passage is found in Otfrid's second book (chapter 21). After much searching, I copied and pasted a copy from the University of Frankfurt's TITUS site.

Fter unser gato, \ bist drhtin thu gimato
in hmilon io hher, \ wh si nmo thiner.
Biqume uns thinaz rchi, \ thaz hoha hmilrichi,
thra wir zua io gngen \ joh mmizigen thngen.
Si wllo thin hiar ndare, \ sos r ist ufin hmile;
in rdu hilf uns hare, \ so thu ngilon duist nu thre.
Thia dgalichun zhti \ gib hut uns mit ginhti,
joh fllon ouh, theist mra, \ thnes selbes lera.
Scld bilaz uns llen, \ so wr ouh duan wllen,
snta thia wir thnken \ joh mmizigen wrken.
Ni firlze unsih thin wra \ in thes wdarwerten fra,
thaz wr ni missigngen, \ thara na ni gifllen.
Lsi unsih io thnana, \ thaz wir sin thne thegana,
joh mit gindon thinen \ then wwon io bimden.

I've been able to find a more straightfoward version of the Lord's Prayer from Weissenburg at the Old High German wiki. The author of the wiki points out that this version is not necessarily idiomatic. It is included at the wiki to compare this dialect with others of the general time. I have edited the punctuation. There is no doxology.

Fater unsēr, thu in himilom bist, giuuīhit sī namo thīn.
Quaeme rīchi thīn.
Uuerdhe uuilleo thīn, sama sō in himile endi in erthu.
Brooth unseraz emezzīgaz gib uns hiutu.
Endi farlāz uns sculdhi unsero, sama sō uuir farlāzzēm scolōm unserēm.
Endi ni gileidi unsih in costunga, auh arlōsi unsih fona ubile.

Elsässisch (Alsatian)

Franck (Franks)(maybe Alsatian), Haas, Bigler, Probst (Brobst), Walther (Walters), Billman, Wedrick, Myers, Stambach (Stambaugh), König (Koenig, King), Weimar(t) (Weimer)

If you added together the blood quantum of all my immigrant ancestors, perhaps 60% or more of it would be Alsatian. But it gets a little more complicated. Most, if not all of them, were from the northernmost part of Alsace where a Franconian dialect is spoken, not Alsatian. To further complicate things, the Probsts/Brobsts jumped back and forth between Alsace and what is Germany today, and were from Switzerland before that! The Königs did the same. Additional Alsatian ancestors may have had Swiss roots.

Unfortunately, I haven't found a source with the last line in it, but what I think it might be is in brackets.

Unser Vdder wo im Himmel isch. Heilig sei dinner Nmme.
Din Reich soll komme.
Dinner Wille soll geschehn, wie im Himmel, au uf de Ard.
Unser djlich Brot gib uns hit.
Un vergib uns unseri Schulde, wie mir au denne vergebe wo uns schuldig sinn.
Un loss uns nitt in Versuchung komme wwer mch uns frei von llem ws schlecht isch.
[Denn din isch 's Reich un de Kraft un de Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit.]

Plzisch (Pflzisch) (Palatine)

Hosterman, Hamscher (Homsher), Herbach (Harbaugh)

Besides the above families, some Huguenots ended up in the Palatinate (die Pfalz/Palz) after fleeing France. Many of my Alsatian ancestors probably spoke something closer to Pflzisch/Plzisch than what is shown above under Alsatian.

Unser Vadder im Himmel, doin Name soll heilisch soi;
Doi Knnischsherrschaft soll kumme;
Doin Wille soll gschehe uf de Erd genauso wie im Himmel.
Geb uns heit das Brot, was mer de Daach brauche.
Un vergeb uns unser Schuld genauso wie mir denne vergewwe, wo an uns schuldisch worre sin.
Un fiehr uns net in Versuchung; rett uns awwer vum Beese.
Dir gheert jo die Herrschaft un die Kraft un die Herrlischkeit bis in alli Ewischkeit.

Schwäbisch (Swabian)

Schweinhardt (Swinehart), Eckert, Steinbach, Seutz

Vatr unsr im Himml, g'heiligt sei dain Nama.
Dai Reich komme.
Dai Willa g'schehe wia im Himml, so au uf Aerda.
Unsr däglichs Brod gib eis heit.
Und vrgib eis eisere Schulda wia au mir vrgeabat eisre Schuldigr.
Und fiahr eis it* in Vrsuchung sondrn erles eis vom Besa.
Denn s'dai isch s'Reich, d'Kraft und d'Harlichkait in Ewigkait.

* Should be nit for 'not'?

Hessisch (Hessian)


Babba Unser, der wo de biss im Himmel, geheilischt sei dei Naame.
Dei Reisch kimme.
Dei Will gescheh wie im Himmel, so uff Erde.
Unsern däglisches Broot gebb uns heit.
Un vergebb uns unsern Schulde, wie aach mir vergebbe unsern Schuldnern.
Un fiehr uns net in Versuuchung sonnern erlees uns vonnem Ibbel,
Denn daanes iss des Reisch unne Krafft un de Herrlischkaat in Ewwischkaat.

Bärndütsch (Bernese [German of Canton Bern, Switzerland])

Weibel, Probst, other Alsatians

Perhaps, of all my ancestors, only the Weibels were directly from Switzerland; all the others, including the Mennnonites, took a detour through Alsace or the Palatinate for as little as a few years to as long as a couple of generations and then went to America. It seems most of the Alsatians were from Bern. The Mennonites were from Zrich.

Üse Vatter im Himel! Mach, dass dy Name heilig ghalte wird.
Mach, dass dys Rych zuen is chunt.
La hie uf Ärde dy Wille gscheh, win er im Himel gscheht.
Gib is hütt üses Brot für morn.
Und erlan is üsi Schuld mir wei sen o üsne Schuldner erla.
Stell is nid uf d Prob aber bhüet is vor em Böse.
Denn dir ghört ds Rych und dir ghört d Chraft, wo alles schafft, und d Herrlechkeit in Ewigkeit.

Zrittsch (Zrich German)

Herr, Bruppacher (Brubaker), other Mennonites

This is the dialect of Hans Herr, the Mennonite bishop, and allied families that came to Lancaster County. Hans Herr was from Zrich, according to his wiki, but some sources have him born in the neighboring canton of Aargau. Due to the persecution of Mennonites in Switzerland, these families seem to have migrated to the Palatinate, lived there for some time (I'm not sure how long), and then migrated to America.

ise Vatter i de Himel, hilig ghalte sll er wrde diin Name.
Choo mues es, diis Riich.
Gschee sll er diin Wile wie im Himel soo uf der Erde.
ises Broot, wo mer jede Taag bruuched, gib s is htt.
Und vergib is isi Schuld, wie au miir isne Schulder vergnd.
Und fer is nd i bsi Preffige, ni, rett is vor em Bse.

Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch (Pennsylvania German)

Hamscher (Homsher), Schweinhardt (Swinehart), Huber (Hoover), Herr, Haas, Hostetter, Brubaker, others

These families would have probably been the speakers of Pennsylvania German though there is no family lore that tells me this is so. The Hubers and Herrs were Mennonites. The Schweinhardts lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, until about 1870. Other ancestors ending up in Pennsylvania for a few generations may have spoken it. Some third generation ancestors had German wills.

Pennsylvania German is still spoken by perhaps as many as 300,000 people in the United States and Canada. Almost all of them are Amish or Old Order Mennonites. As some of these speakers have moved to other countries, like Paraguay and Belize, the language has moved with them.

Lutherans, German Reformed, and other Protestant German denominations used the languaqe, too, and a few still do. They used to far outnumber the Amish and Mennonite speakers.

It would probably be fair to say that the main cause of decline in Pennsylvania German in non-Amish groups after (about) World War II was farm mechanization (or more broadly, urbanization). A farmer no longer needed the extra hands of all his children so they and their families often ended up in larger English speaking towns and cities.

There is some revival of the language through the Grundsau (Groundhog) Lodge, among other places.

Each Pennsylvania German writer tends to use his or her own spelling system. These systems can be divided into German based and English based systems. The first example below is in a German based spelling system. The second is in an English based one found in the Committee for Translation New Testament (Es Nei Teshtament mitt di Psaltah un Shpricha; ISBN: I can't find one; there is a 1993 edition and a 2002 revised edition) that I found in hardware stores (yes, hardware stores) catering to the Amish in Wayne and Holmes counties in Ohio.

Unser Vadder im Himmel, dei Naame loss heilich sei.
Dei Reich loss komme.
Dei Wille loss gedu sei, uff die Erde wie im Himmel.
Unser deeglich Brot gebb uns heit.
Un vergebb unser Schulde, wie mir die vergewwe wu uns schuldich sinn.
Un fiehr uns net in die Versuchung, awwer hald uns vun Ewile.
Fer dei is es Reich, die Graft, un die Hallichkeit in Ewigkeit.

Unsah Faddah im Himmel, dei nohma loss heilich sei.
Dei Reich loss kumma.
Dei villa loss gedu sei, uf di eaht vi im Himmel.
Unsah tayklich broht gebb uns heit.
un fagebb unsah shulda, vi miah dee fagevva vo uns shuldich sinn.
Un fiah uns naett in di fasuchung, avvah hald uns fu'm eevila.
Fa dei is es Reich, di graft, un di hallichkeit in ayvichkeit.

Gaelg (Manx)

Crellin, Christian, Kaneen

There is no direct evidence that my ancestors were Manx speaking. But if one considers the time period that they arrived (early 1820s) and that contemporary immigrants wrote home in Manx, then it seems highly likely that they were speakers. R.H. Kinvig says in his Manx Settlement of the United States of America: "Knowledge of English was very limited amongst these pioneers, Manx being used almost exclusively in their intercourse with each other as well as in their religious services."

However, Manx began to die on the island throughout the 19th century. For all practical purposes it had died out as a community language by the 1930s, though the last native speaker, usually regarded as Ned Maddrell, didn't die until 1974.

On the other hand, throughout the 20th century, there were enthusiasts learning Manx from the last speakers. Some of them became quite fluent. Now perhaps some 1,5000-2,000 people on the island have at least have some knowledge of the languageat least enough to carry on a simple conversation. Some children are being raised in Manx. The version below is from the Manx Bible.

Ayr ain, t'ayns niau: casherick dy row dty ennym.
Dy jig dty reeriaght.
Dty aigney dy row jeant er y thalloo, myr te ayns niau.
Cur dooin nyn arran jiu as gagh laa.
As leih dooin nyn loghtyn, myr ta shin leih dauesyn ta jannoo loghtyn nyn 'o.
As ny leeid shin ayns miolagh, agh livrey shin veih olk.
Son lhiat's y reeriaght as y phooar as y ghloyr son dy bragh as dy bragh.

Middle and Old Irish

MacNiallain or Niallan (Crellin), O Coinin or MacCianain (Kaneen)

Before the Manx, Scottish Gaelic, and Irish languages developed into languages in their own right, these languages formed a more or less unified language called Middle Irish spoken from the 10th to the 12th centuries. Manx and Gaelic split from Irish in the 13th century. Gaelic and Manx later split from one another in the 15th century.

I can't find the Lord's Prayer in Middle Irish, but I did find a sample of Old Irish spoken in the 9th century below.

A athair fil hi nimib, Noemthat thainm.
Tost do flaithius.
Did do toil i talmain amail ata in nim.
Tabair dun indiu ar sasad lathi.
Ocus log dun ar fiachu amail logmaitre diar fhechemnaib.
Ocus nis lecea sind i n-amus n-dolulachtai. Acht non soer o cech ulc.

Norrnt Ml ([Old West] Norse)

Kristin (Christian), Rgnvaldr (Crellin)

Manx historians believe that the surname Christian was originally Kristin centuries ago when the Vikings controlled the Isle of Man; Isle of Man historian A.W. Moore says the name is directly from Iceland. Crellin can come from Rgnvaldr but the name also can have a Celtic origin (Niallan). There is no documentary evidence that will lead a genealogist from my ancestors to specific Norsemen.

A genealogy project on the Isle of Man began a few years ago. It found that ancestors with the Crellin surname originated in Ireland. The Christian surname came from Scotland. The Kaneen surname is not listed in the genetic report but Kneen is. The origin of the Kneens is unknown but part of the DNA is associated with the House of Bourbon.

My Scotch-Irish, English, and even Huguenot ancestors may have had Norse ancestry if one could go far enough back. The Vikings were all over the areas that these ancestors came from.

Norse seems to have been spoken on the Isle of Man, but the extent to which it was spoken is not clear. Norse words (personal names, place names, and a few other words) were borrowed into the Manx language. But the (pre-)Manx language was not displaced. It may be better to see the Vikings as Norse-Gaels, Norsemen who quickly became Gaelicized and Christian.

The language was also called the Dǫnsk (or Dansk) Tunga, the Danish tongue, even though these Norsemen were from Norway. Old Norse is a North Germanic language. Old West Norse eventually developed into Icelandic, Faroese, and Norwegian. Norwegian itself is a group of dialects. Norwegian uses two written standards, Nynorsk and Bokml. Bokml is influenced by Danish. Old East Norse became Swedish and Danish. English, Scots (if one wants to consider it a separate language), German, Dutch-Flemish, and the Frisian languages are the West Germanic languages.

Physical evidence of Norse settlement on the Isle of Man comes by way of runestones. They were erected mostly in the 9th century on the Isle of Man. There are almost as many stones on the Isle of Man as there are in Norway. A few of the stones on the island are in Andreas, the parish my great-great-great-grandmother was from.

As an aside, the Church of England diocese covering the Isle of Man is still known as the 'Diocese of Sodor and Man'. The word 'Sodor' is from the Norse Sureyjar meaning the 'Southern Isles', which in some documents refers to the Hebrides and the Isle of Man or sometimes only to the Hebrides. The Northern Isles were the Orkney and Shetland islands. Sodor and Man was a suffragan diocese under the archdiocese of Trondheim in Norway up to the mid-13th century. Also, the Tynvald (Manx Tinvaal, from Norse Þingvǫllr), a kind of parliament on the island, is thought to have its origin with the Vikings. Islanders believe it has been meeting since the year 976.

Here is a version I found in a question answered at Quora. It replaces one from the Convent of the Pater Noster.

Fair vor, s er ert himnum, helgist nafn itt.
Til komi rki itt
Veri vilji inn svo sem himni svo og jru.
Brau vort hversdagslegt gef oss dag.
Og fyrgef oss skuldir rar, svo sem vr fyrgefum skuldurum rum.
Og eigi leiir oss freistni, heldur leystu oss fr illu.

Íslensk (Icelandic)

Kristin (Christian)

Icelandic is the language of Iceland. There are about 300,000 speakers. The modern language has not changed much from Norsebut it has changed. Below is a modern Icelandic version of the Lord's prayer.

Faðir vor, þú sem ert á himnum, helgist þitt nafn.
Til komi þitt ríki.
Verði þinn vilji, svo á jörðu sem á himni.
Gef oss í dag vort daglegt brauð.
Fyrirgef oss vorar skuldir, svo sem vér og fyrirgefum vorum skuldunautum.
Og eigi leið þú oss í freistni, heldur frelsa oss frá illu.
Því að þitt er ríkið, mátturinn og dyrðin að eilífu.

Orkney Norn

Norn is what Norse became in the Shetland and Orkney Islands. It is not that distant geographically (nor linguistically?) from Faeroese. Perhaps, if Norse would have survived on the Isle of Man, it would have resembled Norn, but little is known of Norn and less about Norse on the Isle of Man.

Norn died a slow death. It may have been possible to find speakers into the 1800s in the Shetlands. Certainly it was possible to glean Norn words and phrases at that time from Orkney and (especially) Shetland islanders. There is now a website with all sorts of information about Norn. There is enough known about the language that it can be reconstructed. Examples of Norn are written in an English or Scots orthography and are often a couple of centuries old. The Nynorn ("New Norn") version looks more like the West Norse and Icelandic examples above.

Favor i ir i chimrie, helleur ir i nam thite.
Gilla cosdum thite cumma.
Veya thine mota vara gort o yurn sinna gort i chimrie.
Ga vus da on da dalight brow vora.
Firgive vus sinna vora sin vee firgive sindara mutha vus.
Lyv vus ye i tumtation, min delivera vus fro olt ilt.

This version with the Nynorn orthography has shown up on the Norn forum:

Fair vr i ir i hjimerige, hellegt viri namn itt.
Go la kongsdum(i) itt kuma.
Vilji in mtti vara gort jrin sin han er gort i hjimerige.
Gav vus dag on dag daglight brou vrt.
Fyrgive vus syndir vra sin vi fyrgiva syndara mui vus.
Lai vus ai(gje) i tumtation, min delivera vus fr lt ilt, Amen.

*Or: Og s mtti* a veri. (*confusion whether to use the ending -i or -e)

Franais (French)

Cordier, Grosjean, Vieillard, Le Fvre, de la Fire/La Verre (Ferree)all were Huguenots. Parquer, Parchier (Parker); Lamont, Le Mont (Lemmon)

Due to religious persecution, my Huguenot ancestors fled to Germany before coming to America. It's not clear if they gave up the French language completely and switched to German before emigrating to America. They did marry into German families in Pennsylvania and their names were often Germanized before coming to America (Cordier>Gorder, Vieillard>Willard).

There are two groups of Huguenots in my family tree. One group is the Le Fevres, but records of a connection with them and my ancestor Anna Barbara Le Fevre, who lived in the same village (Strasburg, Pennsylvania) at the same time do not exist as far I can tell. The LeFevres seem to have held onto French: Isaac LeFevre brought his French Bible (printed in Geneva, Switzerland in 1608) to America with him. Birth entries were still being written in French in the Bible. French language baptisms were also done at the First Reformed Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a few decades after my ancestors' immigration. Le Fevre and Ferree descendants were members of this church. Rev. Charles Louis Boehm may have given sermons in French during the period 1771-1775.

The second group (the Vieillards, Grosjeans, and Cordiers) lived in the Palatinate for a couple of generations before coming to America. I have less confidence that they were French-speaking when they arrived.

The earliest that the Lemmons can be found is in Ireland. The Parkers may have been from Ireland, too. These surnames are included because they may have been Norman French centuries ago.

Notre pre, qui es aux cieux: que ton nom soit sanctifi;
Que ton rgne vienne;
Que ta volont soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel.
Donne-nous aujourd'hui notre pain quotidien.
Et pardonne-nous nos offenses, comme nous pardonnons ceux qui nous ont offenss.
Et ne nous induis point en tentation, mais dlivre-nous du mal.
Car c'est toi qu'appartiennent le rgne et la puissance et la gloire aux sicles des sicles.

Picard (Picard, Chtimi)

Some researchers believed the Fires/Verres (Ferrees) and the Warembourg/Warambourg (Warembuer) were from Picardy in northern France. Although the name Warembourg is found mostly in the dpartment of Pas-de-Calais, there is no documention that leads researchers there. Here is the Lord's Prayer in Picard anyway.

Unfortunately, I don't have the last line.

Vous no Pa, qu' vos tes Cil, qu' vo nom sunche sanctifieu;
Qu' vo rin.gne ariviche;
Qu' tout ch qu' vos voleuz sunche ft dchi, come t.
Douneuz-nous jordw el pin qu' nos d' avons danjeu tous ls jos.
Pardouneuz-nous ch qu' nos avons ft d' m d l' min.me manire qu nos pardounons ls ciuns qui nos ont ft du trt.
t ftes qu nos n' sunche gneu ratireus p djle, ms dlbreuz-nous dou m.

Jrriais (Jersey French)

De la Fire (Ferree), Parker, Lemmon

No ancestor is from the Channel Islands, but some may be Norman French far enough back. The languages spoken in the Channel Islands are descendants of Norman French.

Daniel (John) Ferree may have been a descendant of a certain knight named Robert Ferr, probably from the small town of Torchamp (or Torchamps, not Forchamps) in the canton of Passais (also known as Passais-la-Conception), in the arrondissement of Alenon, in the dpartement of Orne, in the rgion of Normandie. Even if the de la Fires have no connection with this knight, they may been from Normandy.

The Parker and Lemmon surnames may be ultimately Norman French but the ancestors themselves can only be traced back to Ireland.

I can't find the Lord's Prayer in Norman French. Below is the Jersey (Jrriais) version.

Nouot' Pthe qu'es au ciel, qu'Tan nom sait sanctifi;
qu'Tan rgne veinge;
qu'Ta volant sait faite sus la trre coumme au ciel.
Baille-nouos aniet not' pain d'la journe.
Et nouos pardonne nouos offenses coumme nou pardonne les cheins tchi nouos ont offens.
Et n'nouos mne pon dans la tenttion mais dlivre-nouos du ma.
Car T est l regne, l'pouver et la glouaithe au sicl'ye des sicl'yes.

Arpetan (Arpitan)/Francoprovenl (Francoprovenal)

La Verre (Ferree)

Another location that the Ferree family may have been from is in or around Lyon, France.

The Latin spoken in the area where Swizerland, Italy, and France meet developed into a group of dialects called Arpitan. It is also called Franco-Provenal. In Switzerland it is sometimes called Romand.

Only very recently have speakers attempted to form a unified language. Arpitan is not French. Very few people speak it todayprobably fewer than 330,000. Its stronghold is the Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy.

As an aside, the word Warembourg shows up as the name of a hamlet near Bourguignon, France. This is just outside of the Arptian speaking region in France. Marie Warembourg was the wife of Daniel Ferree.

Below is a translation in Arpitan that I found in the Arpitan Wikipedia. It is written in a standardised form called Arpetan Supradialèctâl. There is no doxology.

Nouhtron Pre, qu's u cil, que ton niom st (seye) sanctifi;
Que ton rgno vegnsse;
Que ta volontt st (seye) fta sur la trra coment u cil.
Balye-nos hou nouhtron pan de ceti jorn.
Pardona-nos nouhtres ofenses coment nos pardonens d'tot (asse ben, avouc) a celos que nos ant ofenss.
Et nos somts pas a la tentacion mas dlivre-nos du ml (crouyo).

Latina (Latin)

Cordier, Grosjean, Vieillard, Le Fevre, La Verre (Ferree)

Perhaps Latin was the mother tongue of no ancestors. I envision my ancestors, centuries ago, speaking a form of Celtic found on the European continent (Gaulish). If some ancestors were Roman soldiers or other Romans, their Latin (Vulgar Latin, Late Latin) would have not been a standard kind of Latin. To a small degree, this "people's" Latin (sermo vulgi) can be reconstructed by linguists looking at the French that developed centuries ago through comparative linguistics and even through Roman writers (solecisms, prescriptive grammars) who were dismayed by the poor Latin that had developed in the last centuries of the Roman Empire.

In more recent centuries, my ancestors' exposure to Latin would be limited to city records (wills and so on) and the Church. This would be Medieval and Renaissance Latin. It's difficult to know how much of the mass they would have understood. I am not clear on how much education any of my ancestors would have had. If they had some education in this period, the classics would have been a part of that education. After the Reformation, the presence of Latin would have slowly diminished. Part of the popularity of Luther's German Bible was that it was in a language that people could understand. One ancestor, Wendel Hieronymus, who lived in the 1500s, perhaps knew Latin well. He was a judge, it seems, or had some kind of legal background.

Here in the United States, a lot of people had Latin in school, of course. My grandmother took a couple of years of it.

Pater noster, qui es in clis, sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in clo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne nos inducas in temptationem, sed libera nos a malo.
Quoniam tibi et regnum et potestas et gloria in scula.

Continental Celtic

The Continental Celtic languages, as opposed to the Insular Celtic languages (Irish, Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton) were spoken over a broad area from Spain to Hungary and from the Lowlands to northern Italy. There may have been dozens of these languages. Only a few are known through Roman and Greek historians and through artifacts found in archeological digs. (Ultimately, only a few words of these languages are known.) One of the known languages, to the extent that it is known, is Gaulish. Some Gaulish words have found their way into the French language. I imagine that many of my ancestors, especially from what later became France (or even Switzerland), were speakers of Gaulish.

Oddly enough, a Gaulish version of the Lord's Prayer just may have existed. Gauls invaded the Balkans in 281 BC. Some of these people later migrated to Asia Minor and moved into the northern part of what became the Roman province of Galatia. The Galatian language is Gaulish (or a dialect of it). A couple of centuries later, the Apostle Paul wrote to churches in Galatia, and there were still Galatian speakers at that time. Many think Galatians was written about 50-60 AD or maybe even earlier and was addressed to the Celtic Galatians in the province. Paul also traveled through the area twice. What's more, the Gospels almost certainly would have been circulating through the area at about the same time as well. Luke and Matthew, the Gospels in which the Lord's Prayer is found, were written down as early as the year 80 or 85.

There must have been a Galatian speaking community even centuries later. Note that there is a reference of a person speaking Galatian (a Christian monk, no less) as late as the 6th century. From the Galatian language wiki: "Cyril of Scythopolis suggests that the language was still being spoken in his own day when he related a story that a monk from Galatia was temporarily possessed by Satan and unable to speak; when he recovered from the 'possession', he could respond to the questioning of others only in his native Galatian tongue." I would suggest the monk suffered a stroke and had foreign accent syndrome. If the monk was a Galatian speaker, Galatian may have not died out completely as late as the 7th or 8th century. Languages tend to linger in this way. See Manx above. Thus, I think it is just possible that the Galatians had the Lord's Prayer or other Biblical passages translated for their own use.

Further, we do know that liturgies have included the Lord's Prayer from a very early time. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, used by Orthodox Christians today, is from the 5th century and includes the Lord's Prayer in the part called the Liturgy of the Faithful. St. John Chrysostom was the Archbishop of Constantinople.

Cymraeg (Welsh)

Madoc (Mattox, Mattix, Maddox); Heuel, Hywel (Howell)?

I may not have any Welsh ancestry. There is little to no documentation of these ancestors. Because the documentation is basically nonexistent, it is entirely possible that they weren't even ancestors.

The closest possible Welsh ancestor I have is Benjamin Mattix. But I have come to the conclusion that my great-great-great-grandmother Sarah Ann Rex was a step-daughter, not a daughter, of Benjamin Mattix. She was probably the daughter of someone with the surname Worline. She was raised by Benjamin Mattix, however. Ironically, Benjamin may have had more German ancestry than Welsh.

Although the Howell surname is usually Welsh, my Howells may not be Welsh. My Howell married an Englishman (William Hibbs) from Dean Forest. Dean Forest is on the Welsh border. I suppose it's conceivable that the Howells and Hibbses may have had some Welsh ancestry further in the past.

If Sarah Ann's father was actually Benjamin Mattix, at the very most my Welsh blood quantum would be less than 0.8%! What may be there is way back in the 1700s or even the 1600s.

I note here too that any Lowland Scottish ancestors that I may have had may have spoken Cumbric, a language closely related to Welsh. Cumbric may have died out as late as the 13th century. Pictish, another Brythonic language not quite as closely related to Welsh as Cumbric, may have been a heritage language for me, too. Further, the people on the Isle of Man spoke a Brythonic Celtic language (early Welsh?) before they spoke an early Goidelic Celtic language, which eventually evolved into Manx, Gaelic, and Irish.

Welsh is now being revived and has made something of a comeback. At least 500,000 can speak Welsh now. You can even watch Welsh soap operas on the Welsh language channel.

Below is a 1988 version.

Ein Tad yn y nefoedd, sancteiddier dy enw.
Deled dy deyrnas.
Gwneler dy ewyllas, ar y ddaear, fel yn y nef.
Dyro inni heddiw ein bara beunyddiol,
a maddau inni ein troseddau, fel yr ym ni wedi maddau i'r rhai a droseddodd yn ein herbyn;
a phaid 'n dwyn i brawf, ond gwared ni rhag yn Un drwg.
Oherwydd eiddot ti yw'r deyrnas a'r gallu a'r gogoniant am byth.

Here's a slightly older version that current Welsh speakers may be little more familiar with:

Ein Tad, yr hwn wyt yn y nefoedd, sancteiddier dy enw;
deled dy deyrnas;
gwneler dy ewyllas, megis yn y nef, felly ar y ddaear hefyd.
Dyro i ni heddyw ein bara beunyddiol,
a maddeu* i ni ein dyledion, fel y maddeuwn ninnau i'n dyledwyr.
Ac nac arwain ni i brofedigaeth, eithr gwared ni rhag drwg.
Canys eiddot ti yw y** deyrnas, a'r nerth, a'r gogoniant, yn oes oesoedd.

*or: maddau
**or: ti yw'r

Here's a 1713 version that my Welsh ancestors (if I have any) may have been more familiar with:

Ein Td yr hwn wytl yn y nefoedd, sancteiddier dy enw.
Deued dy deyrnas.
Bid dy ewyllys aryddaiar, megis y mae yn y nefoed.
Dyro i ni heddyw ein bara beunyddiol,
amaddeu i ni ein dyledion, fel a maddeuwn ni in dyledwyr.
Ac nar arwain ni i brofe digaeth, eithr gwared ni rhag drwg.
Canys eiddot ti yw'r deyrnas a'r gallu a'r gogoniant yn oes oesoedd.

West Slavic

Bohnacy? Panewić? von Pannwitz? Bonowicz? Boniewicz? (Bonawitz, Bonnawitz, Bonewitz, Bonewits, Bonawit), Branibor (Brandenburg)

German surnames sometimes are actually Slavic in origin. The process of Germanization of Slavic peoples has been going on for centuries in eastern Germany. Germans had also been moving east for centuries forming communities in Slavic countries as well as Romania and Hungary. This migration stopped by the 20th century. After World War II, many Germans were moved west. The German population has been greatly reduced in all of these countries.

One of my ancestors is a Bonnawitz. There are many spellings for this name. The name Bonnawitz seems to be a German spelling of a (probably West) Slavic name. The West Slavic languages are Polish, Czech, Slovak, Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian, Polabian (extinct by the 19th century), and Pomeranian (which more or less came to be Kashubian and the extinct Slovincian). Silesian is considered by some to be another West Slavic language. Some consider it a dialect of Polish. The Bonnawitzes were apparently German speaking when they arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1700s.

There are several ways my ancestors could have ended up with the name Bonnawitz although it is impossible to say anything definitive about it. Various surname dictionaries disagree.

  • It may have had to do with bohna. This is Sorbian for 'swamp'. That is, my Bonnawitzes were from a swampy place.
  • Or it may be related to the name Panewicz (or Panewić?), who was a knight centuries ago. The surnames Panewicz, Panowicz, Panewic, and Panowic do exist.
  • The name may be related to a village name. There is a town called Bonnewitz near Dresden. They may or may not be from there. I can't tell when that town ceased to be Sorbian speaking but in a nearby town to the east, Stolpen, it was necessary for the German aristocracy to hire Sorbian speaking foremen in the 1580s to speak to the workers. Sorbian was spoken only a few miles farther east than Stolpen until the 1850s. There are other towns in (formerly) Sorbian speaking areas with similar names: Binnowitz, Bennowitz, Bannowitz. The village of Pannewitz is still Sorbian speaking. Its Sorbian name is Banecy.
  • It may be that my ancestors were German but took the name of the town they settled in or lorded over as a surname. But then I would expect it would be 'Bonnawitzer'. Or it could be von Pannwitz. This name also exists.
  • Or it could be short for Rabinowitz. The first syllable is sometimes dropped when the stress isn't on the first syllable as in Bastian (<Sebastian). This would be very interesting to me. Although the Bonnawitzes were Lutheran, Jewish immigrants are not unknown among the Pennsylvania Germans.
  • Bonewitz family historians have found the name in Coburg in the 1800s, but Coburg isn't particularly close to even formerly Sorbian speaking areas. If they are ever located in Germany, I have a feeling they will be found emigrating from the usual suspectsthe Palatinate, Alsace, or Wrttemberg. In fact, there is this guy. He is from Mainz. And...
  • The first archbishop of Mainz, patron saint of Germany, and "Apostle to the Germans" is St. Boniface, who died in the year 754. In Germany, this name shows up as Bonifatius (Latin) or Bonifaz (German). Further, the Dictionary of American Family Names says that 'Bonewitz' is a Germanized spelling of Polish Bonifacy (Boniface). 'Bonawitz' in the dictionary is from Polish Bonowiczsomeone from the very small town of Boniowice, which they say is in Galicia, but it looks more like it is in Silesia. In either case, it is in southern Poland. It seems strange to me that the editors went through Poland for the etymologies. Bonnawitz from St. Bonifaz (archbishop of southwestern German city) seems simpler and more logical. By the way, Boniface in Czech is Bonifc. And I suppose they could have just as easily been from what is now the Czech Republic.

Hornjoserbšćina (Upper Sorbian)

The Sorbian languages are spoken in what was southeastern East Germany. There are two written standardsUpper Sorbian (centered around Bautzen/Budyšin) and Lower Sorbian (centered around Cottbus/Chóśebuz). There are transitional dialects between the two languages. They were spoken over a much wider area and had many more speakers even into the 19th and early 20th centuries. That they are still spoken today is amazing. The Sorbs suffered much persecution under the Nazi dictatorship.

The people of Bonnewitz (the village mentioned above) would have spoken some form of Upper Sorbian. Only about 15,000-40,000 people speak Upper Sorbian today.

Naš wtče, kiž sy ty w njebjesach, swjećene budź twoje mjeno.
Přińdź k nam twoje kralestwo.
Twoja wola so stań, kaž na njebju, tak tež na zemi.
Naš wšědny chlěb daj nam dźensa.
A wodaj nam naše winy, jako my wodawamy našim winikam.
A njewjedź nas do spytowanja, ale wumož nas wot teho złeho.
Přetož twoje je to kralestwo a ta mc a ta česć haš do wěčnosće.

Dolnoserbšćina (Lower Sorbian)

Only about 7,000-15,000 people speak Lower Sorbian.

Wosć naś, kenž sy na njebju, huswěśone buźi twojo mě.
Twojo kralejstwo pśiźi.
Twoja wola se stani, ako na njebju tak tež na zemi.
Naš wšedny klěb daj nam źěnsa.
A wodaj nam naše winy, ako my wodawamy našym winikam.
A njewjeź nas do spytowanja, ale humož nas wot togo złego.
Pśeto twojo jo to kralejstwo a ta moc a ta cesć do nimjernosći.

Polabane? (Polabian)

Bohnacy? (Bonewitz), Branibor (Brandenburg, Brandeberry)

It's interesting, genealogically speaking, that many Germanized Polabian place names end in -(e)witz. So the Bonewitzes could just as easily have been Polabian, I suppose. And I just learned that Brandenburg, a name of a city and a state in Germany, was originally branibor ('guard[man]'s wood/forest') from Polabian. So maybe ancestor Alexander Brandenburg had Polabian ancestors. Yes, that's quite a stretch.

Polabian was spoken up to the 1750s southeast of Hamburg in a couple of small villages. For the most part it had died out centuries ago. A partial speaker could be found in the early 19th century. Polabian is the descendant of what was spoken by Slavic tribes to the northwest of the Sorbs. Many dead or dying languages in Europe have revival movements, but Polabian doesn't seem to have any organized supporters.

There are several versions of the Lord's Prayer recorded. The orthography I'm using is more or less what Vladislav Knoll uses. He seems to be one of the few doing anything in or about Polabian.

It is interesting to see how much German shows up even in the Lord's Prayer: 'fader' < Vater, 'wiľa' < Wille, 'rik' < Reich, 'koma' < kommen, 'farskońe' < Versuchung.

Nos fader, t ti jis w nĕbiśai, sjąta wrda tji jaima.
Tja rik koma.
Tja wiľa šińot, kok w nĕbiśai, tok kak no zime.
Nosj wsedanesna sťaibe doj-nam dans.
Un witedoj-nam nos grech, kak moi witedojime nosem gresnarm.
Un ni brinďoj nos k farskońe, ti lzoj nos wit wsokag ch’audag.

Here's another version from Wikipedia. Its orthography is a little problematicespecially the final ą's and ę's. I left those alone. They seem to be used for nasals in some places but reduced vowels in others. I did change all the â's to å's to conform to the spelling above.

Aita nos, t toi jis w nebesai, sjęt wordoj tji jaimą;
tji rik komaj;
tja wľa mo są ťńot kok w nebesai tok no zemi;
nosę wisedanesnę sťaibę doj nam dns;
a wtdoj nam nose greche, kok moi wtdojeme nosim gresnarem;
ni bringoj nos w warskongę; toi losoj nos wt wisokag chaudag.
Prit tje ją t ťenądztw un mc un cåst, warchni Bzac, nekąda in nekędisa.

Polski (Polish)

Bonifacy? (Bonewitz), Bonowicz? (Bonawitz)

Polish is spoken by millions of people. Not surprisingly, they mostly live in Poland, but there are speakers in Lithuania and Belarus, too. Many speakers have migrated to the United States, Canada, and Australia.

I am not clear why the Dictionary of American Family Names picked Polish as the origin of the Bonnawitz name. On purely linguistic grounds, I think the case for any specific West Slavic language is weak. These languages are closely related.

Ojcze nasz, ktryś jest w niebie, święć się imię Twoje.
Przyjdź krlestwo Twoje.
Bądź wola Twoja jako w niebie tak i na ziemi.
Chleba naszego powszedniego daj nam dzisiaj.
I odpuść nam nasze winy, jako i my odpuszczamy naszym winowajcom.
I nie wdź nas na pokuszenie, ale zbaw nas ode złego.

Ślůnski (Silesian)

Bonowicz? (Bonawitz)

The Dictionary of American Family Names says 'Bonawitz' is from Bonowicz, someone who is a resident of Boniowice, Poland. Today the town only has about 100 residents. It is in the Silesian speaking area of Poland.

Depending on which linguist or Silesian one asks, Silesian may be a language in its own right or dialect of Polish. The Silesian wiki has more: "There is no consensus on whether Silesian is a separate language or a somewhat divergent dialect of Polish. The issue is largely unanswerable based on linguistic criteria, due to the existence of a dialect continuum between Polish and Czech formed by the Silesian and Lach varieties. The issue of whether language forms like Silesian and Lach represent minority languages in their own right is generally quite contentious in Europe due to the increased linguistic and political rights generally enjoyed by speakers of recognized minority languages, and Silesian is no exception. In this instance, local Silesians tend to advocate in favor of language status, while Poles and Czechs from other regions tend to advocate against this. International linguists tend toward giving it dialect status."

Silesian is now often written in an alphabet called Ślabikŏrzowy szrajbōnek. It is the one used in the Silesian Wikipedia. Other alphabets have been used in the past. According to the 2011 census in Poland, there are 510,000 speakers of Silesian. This may be an undercount as many Silesians may consider themselves speakers of Polish.

There are speakers of Silesian in Texas. Their Silesian varies a little from European Silesian.

The Silesian Lord's Prayer below is from the Silesian wiki. It is in the Steuer spelling not in Ślabikŏrzowy szrajbōnek.

Uojcze nasz, kery jeżeś we ńebje, bydź pośwjyncůne mjano Twoje.
Przińdź krůlestwo Twoje.
Bydź wola Twoja, jako we ńebje, tak tyż na źymji.
Chlyb nasz kożdodźynny dej nům dźiśej.
A uodpuść nům nasze winy, jako a my uodpuszczůmy naszym wińńikům.
A ńy wůdź nos na pokuszyńy, nale zbow nos uode złygo.

Vlaamsch (Flemish) or Nederlands (Dutch)

Warembourg, van IJsselstein, ?Herbach (Harbaugh), ?Hickmann (Hickman)

No ancestor, who is proven to be an ancestor through genealogical research, can be traced to Netherlandic speaking areas (Flanders and most of the Netherlands). This is similar to situation I have with Welsh.

Marie de la Warembourg (Warembuer, Warembere, other spellings) seems not to be from Picardy, a region in northern France. She is associated with French Huguenots. Intermarriage between Huguenots and Dutch speakers was not at all uncommon. Warembourg is clearly not French. On the other hand, the surname Warambourg/Warembourg found in the area of Saint-Omer, France. Today this area is just outside of the Flemish speaking part of France. They speak a dialect of West Flemmish. When my ancestors left France, this area was Flemish speaking.

Warembourg shows up in a couple of other places. There is a town and (formerly) a river called the Waremme in French (Walloon) Belgium. In Flemish the river was called the Worm. (Now it's called the Jeker.) It is very interesting to note that the Flemish version of the name of the town is Borgwormmaybe meaning the fortress on the Waremme River. Borgworm is just "Waremmeborg" backwards. Borworm very near the Flemish-Walloon linguistic border. Also, a section of Bourguignon, France, is called Combe de Warembourg. Bourguignon is just outside of the Arpitan speaking area of France.

The Harbaughs are also problematic. Although they migrated from Germany to America, they earlier seem to be from someplace else. They may have been from Switzerland. One source says they were from the Netherlands. But it's not clear what is meant by the Netherlands. It can mean the areas near the North Sea which are low in elevation and are politically part of Germany today. No one really seems to know for sure.

Another ancestor named Charles Hickman (possibly originally Heckmann) may have been from Holland. A Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) descendant said he was. The problem here is that Hickmans usually show up as English and end up in the (American) South on Ancestry.com's Worldconnect and on Google. But Hickmann is inevitably northern German in databasesmostly from East Frisia, Schleswig-Holstein, and Lower Saxony. The name Hackmann is found almost exclusively in East Frisia. If he was Mennonite (and I think some descendants married into Mennonite families) then he may very well have been from North Holland, communities near the IJssel River, or Friesland. At least, these are the areas Dutch Mennonites live today. On the other hand, this ancestor's father may have been from the Saarland.

One ancestor, Margaret Cuppy, had the surname of Parker or Devore. I believe it was Parker. But if it was Devore, then her grandmother would have been a Jannetje van Isselsteyn (van IJsselstein).

Below is the Lord's Prayer in standard Dutch.

Onze vader, die in de hemelen zijt; Uw naam worde geheiligd.
Uw koninkrijk kome.
Uw wil geschiede in den hemel alzoo ook op de aarde.
Geef ons heden onze dagelijks brood.
En vergeef ons onze schulden, gelijk ook wij vergeven onzen schuldenaren.
En leid ons niet in verzoeking; maar verlos ons van de booze.
Want uw is het koninkrijk en de kracht en de heerlijkheid in der eeuwigheid.

Fransch vlaemsch (French Flemish)


The Warembourg surname is clearly not French, but it does occur in France, almost exclusively in the dpartments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. These areas were West Flemish speaking.

Although there are some one million people who speak West Flemish, fewer and fewer in France canonly about 20,000-50,000. It is under much pressure from French, as are all the regional languages in France.

Uze Vader die in den hemel zyt, da Jou name illig es.
Da Je keuninkryk komt.
En da Je wille meuge gebeurn up d'erde lik in den hemel.
Gif uus vandage uus dageliks brood.
En vergif uus uze schuldn lik da me ook vergeevn an uze schuldenaars.
En briengd uus nie in bekorienge moa red uus van 't kwoade.
Van va Joun es 't keuninkryk, en de kracht, en de glorie toe an den uwigheid.

Frysk (Westlauwersk Frysk) (West Frisian)

Herbach (Harbaugh)?

The Harbaughs may have been something other than Lutheran or Reformed. If they were Mennonite and from the Netherlands, they were then probably from Friesland. That's where many Mennonites were from.

(West) Frisian (also "Friesian") is spoken in Friesland in the Netherlands (north of Amsterdam). Although there are some people in Friesland who speak a Dutch dialect heavily influenced by Frisian ("Town Frisian"), Frisian itself is an independent language. It has about 600,000 speakers. Friesian is the language that is most closely related to English, if one doesn't include Scots as a separate language. It may be fair to say that Frisian is what English would have become if it were not for the Norman Invasion into England in 1066. The Normans brought in many French words with them when they invaded. I don't know Frisian at all but I took a stab at a word-for-word translation below. Some words don't have an English equivalent. Some have one but are different in meaning today (krêft=craft). The Norman influence in English is probably best seen in the last line.

Us Heit yn 'e himel, lit jo namme hillige wurde.
Our Father in the heaven, let your name holy be.

Lit jo keninkryk komme.
Let your kingdom come.

Lit jo wil dien wurde op ierde likegoed as yn 'e himel.
Let your will done be on earth as in the heaven.

Jou ús deistich brea
Give us daily bread

en ferjou ús ús skulden sa't wy ús skuldners ek ferjûn hawwe;
and forgive us our (debts?) as we our (debtors?) forgiven have;

en lit ús net yn fersiking komme, mar ferlos ús fan 'e kweade,
and let us not in(to) temptation come, but (deliver?) us from the evil,

want jowes is it keninkryk en de krêft en de hearlikheid oant yn ivichkeid.
for/because yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory [?] in(to) the "everness" (eternity).

Yiddisch (Yiddish)

Frank, Schwartz, Bernhardt, Bonnawitz, Fischer, Hoffman, Meyer, others

As far as I know, I have no Jewish roots. In fact, I only know about some of my ancestors through Lutheran or German Reformed records. Still, there are some names that seem to be (if stereotypically) Jewish. Some have married one another. I can envision the possibility of Jewish ancestors who had converted for any number of social or economic reasons to Christianity generations before ever deciding to emigrate. During the Middle Ages, pogroms against Jews were not unknown in Alsace. But, if I limit myself to the extant records, I have no Jewish ancestors.

Yiddish may be spoken by as many as 11,000,000 people. Because Yiddish is closely related to German, many in Israel now speak Hebrew for obvious historical reasons.

From a genealogical perspective, it is interesting to note that Yiddish comes from a basis of German dialects around the Rhine (and then moved east picking up Slavic words). Western Yiddish died out a couple of centuries ago. Judeo-Alsatian was a Western Yiddish dialect.

Yiddish is normally written with Hebrew characters, but I haven't (yet) figured out how to incorporate them into this page.

Undzer voter, vos bist im himl. Geheylikt zol vern dayn nomen.
Zol kumen dayn malkhes.
Zol dayn rotsn geton vern oyf der erd, azy vi in himl.
Gib undz haynt undzer teglekh broyt.
Un zay undz moykhl undzere shuldikeytn, vi mir zenen oykh moykhl undzere bale-khoyves.
Un breng undz nit tsu keyn nisoyen, nayert zoy undz matsil fun dem shlekhtn.
Vorn dir gehert di melukhe un di gvure un der koved oyf eybik.

Italiano (Italian)

Kufeler, Visconti

Links to any Italian ancestry are pretty tenuous. One ancestor, Felix Kufeler, seems like any other of the many German Swiss ancestors I have except that he seems to have been born and baptized in Lugano about the year 1500. He later married someone (Dora Frey) from Zrich and his daughter was born in Zrich. Lugano is in the Italian part of Switzerland. Of course, Kufeler is not exactly an Italian name. I speculate that the reason Felix was born there was that his father was a soldier from northern Switzerland who came south to fight in battles which resulted eventually in adding what later became the Canton of Ticino to the Swiss Confederation in the early 1500s. Maybe his mother was a local woman from Lugano. Nothing else is truly known about Felix, though.

If one counts Ulrich V of Wrttemberg as an ancestor (through one of his many bastard children), then one of my ancestors is an Antonia Visconti of Milan, one of Ulrich V's grandmothers. She lived in the late 1300s. Ulrich's ancestry is otherwise mostly German.

Padre nostro che sei nei cielo sia santificato il tuo nome.
Venga il tuo regno.
Sia fatta la tua volunt anche in terra come fatta in cielo.
Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano.
Rimettici i nostri debiti come anche noi li abbiamo rimessi ai nostri debitori.
E non ci esporre alla tentazione ma liberaci dal maligno.
Perch a te appartengono il regno, la potenza, e la gloria in eterno.

Lumbaart (Lombard)

Kufeler, Visconti

Felix Kufeler and Antonia Visconti lived in areas that were actually Lombard speaking. Like almost all regional languages in Europe today, Lombard is spoken less and less by younger people, but perhaps some three million people can still speak it. Lugano and Milan are in the Western Lombard dialect area.

The example below is in Milanese.

Pader nster che te seet in ciel, sia santificaa el t nmm.
Vegna el t regn.
Sia fada la toa volont come in ciel anca in terra.
Damm incoeu el nster pan d'ogni d.
E rimttom i nster dbit come numm je rimttom ai nster debitor.
E trom n in tentazion, ma liberom del mal.

Dansk (Danish)

Thrine (wife of Johannes Friederich Wenzels)(Catherine), Kppe (Kppe), Mller (Moeller) (Miller), Venzel (Wenzel)

I have a group of ancestors who seemed to have lived in the northernmost part of Germany. One was apparently born in Vipperow, a town located well north of Berlin. They seemed to have migrated to southwest Germany and from there to America. I don't know that they were Danish. They were probably speakers of northern German dialects. But I had never come across the name 'Thrine'. 'Thrine' (more likely to be spelled 'Trine' now) is common to northern Germany but especially to Denmark. The name is short for Catherine. 'Kppe' and 'Venzel' can be found in Denmark. 'Moeller' (as it is spelled in the record) is the form for 'Mller' in northern Germany. On the other had, it is the 19th most common name in Denmark.

A large part of the ancestry of the Norman French was Danish. Some Huguenots would have had Norman ancestry. Descendant languages of Norman French exist in the Channel Islands. Norman French greatly influenced English, especially through thousands of words that came into English.

Danish is spoken by 5.5 million peoplemostly in Denmark, of course. There are also speakers in Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Schleswig in Germany.

I still have not found a Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch dialect translation, the version that my ancestors probably spoke. Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch is a northern German dialect.

Here is the Lord's Prayer in Modern Danish:

Vor Fader, du som er i himlene! Helligt blive dit navn.
Komme dit rige.
Ske din vilje som i himlen sledes ogs p jorden.
Giv os i dag vort daglige brd.
Og forlad os vor skyld, som ogs vi forlader vore skyldnere
Og led os ikke ind i fristelse, men fri os fra det onde.
For dit er Riget og magten og ren i evighed!


About a millennium or so before my ancestors show up in any kind of church or government documents, various invaders came through areas of Europe in which my ancestors might have lived (Alsace, the Palatinate, northern France, north central Switzerland). The Alans, Vandals, and Huns came through these areas. The Alans originally spoke an Iranian language, and the Vandals spoke an East Germanic language. It's not entirely clear which language the Huns spoke. A Turkic language seems a good possibility, but historians have proposed other languages. The Huns ended up being a multi-ethnic confederacy.

Ирон взаг (Ossetian)

The Alans were an Iranian group who spoke a Scythian language and were originally from an area in southern Russia and western Kazakhstan. Scythian is in the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. German and English are in the Germanic branch. The Alans ended up in various parts of Europe. In what became France, the Alans often ended up around Orlans and Toulouse. But some settled in northern France in the (very) general area from which my Huguenot ancestors can be found. The Alans mixed with the local populations and lost their identity. Some names of villages in France still carry 'Alan' in their names: Alaincourt, Alland'huy, Allaines, and others. There are not many (or any) references to the Alans after the sixth century.

All the Scythian languages have died out except for one: Ossetian. It is spoken in north central Georgia in South Ossetia. South Ossetia is part of Georgia, but for all practical purposes, South Ossetia is independent and a few countries recognize it as independent. Ossetian is also spoken in southern Russia in a region called North Ossetia-Alania. About 570,000 people speak the language. There were three dialects including one called Jassic, which was spoken in Hungary. Jassic did not die out until perhaps the 15th century though they did keep their identity as late as 1876. The other two dialects are Iron and Digor. Ossetian has been written in various scripts, but since the 1930s it has been written in Cyrillic. It can be easily recognized because it is the only language using Cyrillic which has the letter ӕ.

Here is the Lord's Prayer in Ossetian. There are several versions at the Convent of the Pater Noster, and they seem to vary quite a bit from one another. This is the most recent one.

Нӕ Уӕларвон Фыд, сыгъдӕг уӕд Дӕ ном.
Ӕрцӕуӕд Дӕ Паддзахад.
Уӕларвы куыд у, афтӕ зӕххыл дӕр уӕд Дӕ фӕндон.
Абон дӕр нын ратт цӕрынваг къӕбӕр.
Ныббар нын нӕ хӕстӕ, мах нӕ хӕсджынтӕн куыд барӕм, афтӕ.
Ма нӕ бафтау фӕлварӕны, фыдбылызӕй нӕ бахиз.
Уымӕн ӕмӕ Паддзахад, тых ӕмӕ намыс мыггагмӕ Дӕу сты.