Only in York County

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Even more strubbliness; we sure are a messy group!

One of the great things about writing about “Yorkisms” – which I define to mean things said frequently in this area, not things ONLY said in this area – is how many comments I get with every mention of one! The recent mailbag has proved no exception.

Commenter Bern Bevenour writes, regarding being strubbly, “Just to add more info from Stine’s ‘Pa. German to English Dictionary,’ schtrubbich – rough, rough-coated, tousled. Strubbly was an oft-used word in my childhood years, 60+ years ago.”

And Roy Flinchbaugh writes, “There is, indeed, a German word, strubbelig, often pronounced the same way as our PA Dutch word, and meaning, according to Cassell’s English & German Dictionary, ‘shaggy, tousled, unkempt.’ There is also an alternative spelling (pronounced a bit differently), struwwelig, which appears in the title of an old children’s book in German, Struwwelpeter. The book is about a boy who does things polite boys are not supposed to do, like neglecting to comb his hair. Das Deutsche Wort (Keysersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Heidelberg) defines strubbelig as wirrer Haarschopf (tangled hair). Neither of these resources indicates that this is a slang word or regionalism. I’m sure Mark Grubic has better credentials than I, but I was unable to find amongst my resources any material to back up his observations other than the word struppig.”

Finally, Ruthe Craley writes, “My maternal grandparents came to this country from Germany in the mid 1890s and brought very few things with them. One was a children’s book called ‘Strubbly Peter.’ I remember it well because the cover was HORRIBLE!!! It showed a boy with wild, uncombed hair and a knife poised just above his head. It was probably supposed to be used to cut his hair but it looked to me as though it was going to cut off his head. Needless to say, I always made sure my hair looked good when I went to visit Grandma!” (She points out, too, that her grandparents would not have wanted it to be identified as Pennsylvania Dutch. “They were from Lithuania and spoke real German!” she writes.)

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