The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Going Dutch

February 26, 2014

To be? That is the question ... Part 2

Now that I think of it, it’s probably a little bewildering to outsiders, especially when talking about things that need washed. I wasn’t going to mention this, but … a lot of people around here say, “warshed.” I don’t know why. But it makes things just a little weirder when you hear someone say, “My hairs need warshed” or “The table needs warshed.” Of course, instead of simply warshing something, we usually redd things up while we’re at it. “Redd up” is another little Pennsylvania Dutch expression that, loosely translated, means, “clean it up, ship-shape.”

And believe me, when it’s time for spring cleaning, lots of things need redd up. And, OK, as long as we’re airing our dirty laundry, I’ll just come clean here and let it all out: A lot of us have a funny way of saying “clothes,” too. For some reason, we drop the “s” and call them “clothe,” as in, “The clothe need to be washed.” Only we would say, “The clothe need warshed.”

It’s funny that we call clothes “clothe,” when we say bath instead of “bathe.” You may think you’ve heard wrong when your Central Pennsylvania neighbor says, “I just bath’d the baby,” but you didn’t. They said “bath’d.” And they meant “bathed.” It’s all just part of the joy of growing up — and talking — here.

I think one thing is very obvious, however, and that’s the importance Central Pennsylvanians put on cleanliness, what with all this warshing and bath’ing going on. Sure, we may have a few wacky ways of “sprechen sie-ing,” but we’re good and clean, our houses are swept and scrubbed, and when our lawns need mowed, we get right to work. And we don’t waste time worrying about whether they need “to be” or not.

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