German Language Remained with Newcomer.--Of the language and literature of the Pennsylvania Germans we had at best be brief--the students and scholars are still trying to define and settle the matter.
The remarkable thing about the "dialect" as it is called, is that there should remain so much of it in use today in sections where there is likewise an abundant use of English. Two hundred years ago there was every reason for them to continue using the only language they knew. With all the intermarriages of these people with English, Scotch and Irish families, the "Dutch" will "out."
From the days of their residence in Europe, until comparatively modern times they have been without the benefit of any grammar or book of guidance for the use of the "dialect" conversation on the street or in the home.
Early Printers.--The Pennsylvania Germans had printing shops in operation in larger centers of population almost as soon as they could get the material to set up shop.
Thus the press of Christopher Sauer had printed three editions of the Bible, complete, in little Germantown, before there was one edition of the same book printed in Philadelphia in English. A few years before his first Bible Sauer had printed a large hymn-book entitled "Zionitischer Wayrauchshugel," containing 654 hymns in 33 divisions.
Conrad Beissel and his Ephrata "Breuderschaft" were responsible for the publishing of a number of remarkable books for those times, including a complete translation of Van Bragts "Blutige Schauplatz oder Martyrer Spiegel" in German from the Holland Dutch, at the Cloisters, at Ephrata. Fifteen men worked for three years to complete translations, make the paper and print and bind this massive work, up to that time about the largest single book published in the New World.
Education was at first frowned on by the farmers who thought their children needed little more than to be able to read and write and figure a little bit. In later years they found that education was the best bet, and with the exception of the Amish, most other denominations and sects have gone over to college education.
The German language, or dialect as it is more familiarly known, gave way in part to English as the official language of the Commonwealth in 1836. But it did not "give way" in many homes, and towns!