Mittwoch, 26. September 2012

Wilkum: Why not say that here?


By JACK BRUBAKER, The Scribbler (New Era)
Several years ago, a group of Pennsylvania Dutch enthusiasts suggested that towns and townships in the Cocalico Valley begin posting bilingual signs on roads and at other places.
One of those signs might designate Hans Jakob's Orchard also as Hansyaricks Baamgaard, the Pennsylvania German equivalent.
Hans Jakob's Orchard is on Texter Mountain, not far from Lancaster County's high point in the nearby meadow featured in the Sept. 21 Scribbler column.
The bilingual sign idea never moved forward here (except in West Earl Township, which already had marked several roads with bilingual signs before the German-Pennsylvanian Society suggested a more general application).
But now comes news that Kutztown, Berks County, has leapt in front of Lancaster by erecting the first "Wilkum" signs in Pennsylvania at entrances to that town.
The "Wilkum Zu Kutzeschtettel" signs are part of larger signposts "welcoming" visitors in English.
Kutzeschtettel added its Pennsylvania Dutch designation after much lobbying by several members of the German-Pennsylvanian Society, including Frank Kessler, of Brussels, Belgium.
"We hope that other townships in Pennsylvania will soon follow this encouraging example," Frank writes to this column.
Well, why not?
For decades, visitors to the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau on Greenfield Road passed a sign held up by two giant fiberglass Amish figures.
"Wilkum," the sign said.
Let's bring it back.
Bilingual road signs may be too controversial or too expensive, or whatever, but why not place "Wilkum" signs at major entrances to the county?
Everyone understands what "Wilkum" means.
It means Lancastrians are friendly.
It also means that Lancaster County's heritage is different from the heritage of Hanover, N.H., or Danville, Va.
It means that some bilingual people who live here speak both English and Pennsylvania Dutch, just as some speak both English and Spanish or both English and Vietnamese.
But the "Dutch" were here first and that tradition deserves recognition.
If Kutzeschtettel can do it, why can't we?

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