A correspondent writes:

In a recent discussion on a economics and culture blog to which I contribute, a commentator noted:
> The Amish example is the “one-gallus Schwenkfelders”, the sect that broke off from the orthodox Schwenkfelders because two overall straps were considered to be unneeded to hold the overalls up and therefore “vain ornamentation”.
Would anyone amongst your readers and contributors know what the Pennsilfaanisch-Deitsch phraseology would be for “vain ornamentation”?

I’m sure one of you learned folks knows the answer; share the info and James, my correspondent, will be grateful. Me, I’m grateful to him, for bringing the Schwenkfelders and their founder, Kaspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig, to my attention. He and they will go up there with Lodowicke Muggleton and the Muggletonians in my personal pantheon of pleasing religious eponyms.


  1. Siganus Sutor says

    Sorry, I know nothing about Pennsilfaanisch-Deitsch and I haven’t witnessed many men wearing single-strapped overalls. But I am wondering whether a hat, in some circumstances, would be considered a “vain ornamentation”.

  2. Hats are necessary, especially out in the fields under the sun. Straw for summer, black felt for winter.
    – Ms. Born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio
    (try to pronounce THAT!)

  3. I would think even having one strap on would be unacceptable to the Amish.

  4. michael farris says

    I would think that purposely limiting oneself to one strap (given humans bilaterally symetrical makeup) would be an example of ostentatious humility.
    I’m reminded of the early Almodovar movie Entre Tinieblas and the order of nuns that gave themselves humiliating names (Sister Street Rat, Sister Viper and the like) and are criticised for showing off by an unimpressed higher up.

  5. Richard Hershberger says

    I can’t comment on Pennsylvania German, but as to the Schwenkfelders, it looks to me like there is an misapprehension that they are Amish. I am no expert on the various Anabaptist sects, but so far as I know the Amish and the Schwenkfelders are at most distantly connected. “Anabaptist” is to a certain extent a catch-all “everything else” category. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some connection going back four centuries or so, but in recent centuries, as I understand it, they are distinct groups (as contrasted with the Amish and the Menonnites, who are subsets of a discrete, comparatively recent group).

  6. I see orthography has probably confounded my pun: Spoken, the relevant phrase is ambiguous; written, a dash would be required to represent the ribald interpretation.
    Further exegesis would be…impolite (not to mention vain).

  7. Well, Q, you have to admit that two strap-ons would be unneeded to “hold the overalls up,” as the old Amish euphemism goes.

  8. Wolfgang Kuhl says

    I don’t know of a specific term for “vain ornamentation” in Pennsylfaanisch-Deitsh. “Eidelkeit” is definitely common (as an Amish High Germanism), often in connection with “hochprächtiges Wesen” (quoted from Scripture). In general, when something, including clothing, is unnecessarily fancy, people will say “fei” or “fratzich”.
    It might be of some interest to the readers and contributors of this blog that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous children’s book “Le Petit Prince” (The Little Prince) was translated into Pennsylfaanish-Deitsh last year entitled “Der glee Prins”.

  9. Many thanks, Wolfgang!

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