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Hutterite German

Hutterite German
Region Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, Canada; Washington, Montana, North and South Dakota.
Native speakers
40,000 (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 geh
Glottolog hutt1235[2]

Hutterite German (Hutterisch) is an Upper German dialect of the Austro-Bavarian variety of the German language, which is spoken by Hutterite communities in Canada and the United States. Hutterite is also called Tirolean, but this is an anachronism.


  • Distribution and literacy 1
  • History and related languages 2
  • See also 3
  • External links 4
  • References 5

Distribution and literacy

Hutterite is spoken in the US states of Washington, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Oregon; and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Its speakers belong to the Schmiedleit, Lehrerleit, and Dariusleit Hutterite groups, but there are also speakers among the older generations of Prairieleit (the descendants of those Hutterites who chose not to settle in colonies). Hutterite children who grow up in the colonies learn and speak first Hutterite German before learning English, the standard language of the surrounding areas.

As of 2003, there are about 34,000 speakers in the world, 85% of them living in 333 communities in Canada and the remaining 15% in 123 communities in the USA. Canadian adults are generally literate in Biblical German (Martin Luther's predecessor to Standard German) that they employ as the written form for Scriptures while Standard German is used in the USA for religious activities. Children learn English at school; Canadian Hutterites have a functional knowledge of English. Hutterite is for the most part an unwritten language, though in August 2006 Hutterite author Linda Maendel released a children's story titled Lindas Glücklicher Tag (Linda's Happy Day) in which all the dialogue is written in the dialect. Maendel is also working on a series of biblical stories with Wycliff Bible translators.

Approximate distribution of L1 speakers of German or a German variety outside Europe(according to Ethnologue 2015[3] unless referenced otherwise)
Note: Numbers of speakers should not be summed up per country, as they most likely overlap considerably; table includes varieties with disputed statuses as separate language.
Argentina Australia Belize Bolivia Brazil Canada Chile Israel Kazakhstan Mexico Namibia New Zealand Paraguay Russia South Africa Uruguay United States Sum
Standard German 400,000 79,000 N/A 160,000 1,500,000 430,000 35,000 200,000 178,000 N/A 22,500 36,000 166,000 394,138[4] 12,000 28,000 1,104,354[5] 4,744,922
Hunsrik/Hunsrückisch N/A N/A N/A N/A 3,000,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3,000,000
Yiddish 200,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 215,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 150,000 565,000
Low German/Plautdietsch 4,000 N/A 6,900 60,000 8,000 80,000 N/A N/A 50,000 40,000 N/A N/A 40,000 N/A N/A 2,000 12,000 302,900
Pennsylvania Dutch N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 15,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 118,000 133,000
Hutterite N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 23,200 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 10,800 40,000

History and related languages

Hutterite German is descended from the German which was spoken in Tyrol and Carinthia, in Austria, in the mid-18th century, a Bavarian-Austrian language. It is only 50% intelligible to a speaker of Pennsylvania German,[6] as the latter variant is based on dialects spoken around the Electorate of the Palatinate. Hutterite German is more closely related to Austro-Bavarian (Bavaria and Austria), Cimbrian and Mócheno (the latter two are dialects spoken in Italy).

Although the Hutterites once spoke Tirolean German, they no longer do. The switch among Hutterites from Tirolean German to Carinthian German occurred during years of severe persecution in Europe when Hutterite communities were devastated and survival depended on the conversion of many Austrian Protestant refugees to Hutterite anabaptism.

The language has since adopted some Slavic as well as English loan words, which are the result of Hutterite migrations into eastern Europe and now North America.

See also

External links

  • Lindas Glücklicher Tag
  • Hutterischa Bibl Tschichtlen 1


  1. ^ Hutterite German at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Hutterite German".  
  3. ^ Ethnologue 18th Edition (2015)
  4. ^ Ethnic groups in Russia
  5. ^ U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration - Language Use in the United States: 2007
  6. ^ The Ethnologue, 16th ed
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