Ritual Language, Sacred Space: The Pennsylvania Dutch Ecology of Healing Traditions


Patrick J. Donmoyer (Kutztown University of Pennsylvania)

Although the oldest generations of non-sectarian native speakers of Pennsylvania Dutch language are in their twilight years, their heritage language continues to play a performative and ceremonial role through secular and sacred celebrations in Berks and Lehigh counties. New generations have also demonstrated interest in the language as a means to explore alternative spiritual modalities and ancestral connections to the ritual healing traditions and arts of the region. This presentation will explore the intersection of these motivations to reveal a common interest in the language as a means to navigate cultural identity, sacred landscapes, and narratives of healing and reconciliation.

Part of 43-01 Pennsylvania Dutch Linguistic, Ritual, and Political Environments, Thursday, October 21, 1:00 pm–2:30 pm