Why Do the Amish Call Outsiders English?

The Amish are a traditional, closed community but friendly and kind to outsiders. Non-Amish people are still referred to as English, regardless of their background, but this is merely a cultural term.

The Amish call outsiders English because they speak the English language, while the Amish speak a dialect of German called Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch.

Amish have called outsiders English since colonial times. As the ancestors of the Amish were Swiss German, to them, all non-Amish people were English as they spoke the English language. Read on to learn more about the Amish and how they relate with outsiders.

Also see Do Amish People Use Electricity? to learn more.

English outsiders
Can Amish be friends with English? See below

Can Amish Be Friends With English?

Amish cannot be friends with English in the way of spending time together without a reason and keeping in constant communication. However, the Amish are generally friendly, and outsiders can form cordial and mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Amish people have an established way of life that is much different from most Americans. As a result, there are many things they do not do that are common among outsiders. For instance, they usually do not use smartphones, so they cannot be expected to keep in constant contact.

They also do not go to the movies and generally do not drive cars. They seldom go places that aren’t within walking distance or are easy to reach by horse and buggy. The Amish work hard and then enjoy leisure activities at their homes. However, the Amish value connections and devote every other Sunday to visiting family, friends, and neighbors.

Amish are incredibly nice people, as their values and upbringing foster compassion and respect for others. They do not resent outsiders and are generally quite friendly toward them.

What the Amish call outsiders depend on the community and location. Additionally, not all Amish use the term “English.” For instance, in a community in Ohio, the Amish call outsiders “Yankees.” [1]

Amish people rely on the English in many ways and form business relationships with them. For example, the English buy their crops and craft goods. The Amish sometimes need the help of the English to take them on long distances, as they usually do not drive. They are not entirely alien to outsiders and often value having good relationships with them.

Amish people take the biblical teaching of loving and respecting their neighbors very seriously. They will be happy to help out if they can in exchange for a helping hand or another future favor. Amish are kind people, and one is most likely to get along with them well.

Still, the Amish do not marry outside their community and don’t make close friendships with the English. The extent to which outsiders can form a friendly relationship with them depends on the person, as all people are different.

Some of them might let their kids play with English kids, as it is the easiest way for Amish children to learn the English language. However, others will prohibit it, fearing that such communication might negatively influence them.

The Amish are a closed community because they believe that the modern way of life fosters wrong values and qualities, such as pride and selfishness. To what extent they are ready to communicate with the world outside the Amish community is a personal choice for each individual.

Also see Why Do Amish Drive Black Buggies? to learn more.

Amish outsiders
What do Amish think of the English? See below

What Do Amish Think of the English?

Amish are generally friendly towards the English and treat them with respect and kindness. The Amish do not judge outsiders or resent them because they have a different lifestyle or do not share Amish beliefs.

The Amish are very peaceful people who are taught from a young age the values of modesty, kindness, respect, and consideration for others. Therefore, all the restrictions on their lifestyle protect them from pride or being ungenerous to others.

Thus, it is not in the Amish character to judge somebody and put themselves above everyone else. Of course, people differ, but Amish people are generally not resentful of other ways of life and avoid thinking negatively of people following different beliefs and lifestyles.

One thing that says more about their approach to outsiders is that most Amish do not evangelize. Some churches do it, but as a rule, the Amish do not try to promote their faith and convert others to it.

Instead, they like to inspire others to grow in their faith by serving as an example but do not aim to make others Amish. Many feel that seeking to acquire new followers in their church is prideful and, therefore, not virtuous. They do not suppose everyone must be Amish and do not think ill of non-Amish people.

Also see Is It Okay To Take Pictures of the Amish? to learn more.

Amish buggy
Do Amish people welcome outsiders? See below

Do Amish People Welcome Outsiders?

While the Amish are generally friendly to outsiders, they do not welcome them in the community. Amish are a closed religious group and are not eager to accept people of different upbringings. However, Amish communities vary in openness, and some welcome outsiders more than others.

As mentioned, the Amish do not evangelize and convert others to their faith. One reason is that for someone not brought up in the Amish community and used to their way of life, giving up modern conveniences can be challenging. Such a conversion entails giving up using electricity, the Internet, and cars, a drastic change and sacrifice that’s not easy to make.

For the Amish, the best way to show one’s faith and genuinely grow in it is through one’s deeds. Therefore, only full acceptance of their lifestyle can be a way to a relationship with God. Generally, the Amish do not believe outsiders are capable of such a change in their habits and nature.

However, Amish churches differ in their openness to outsiders. New Order Amish are known for being more accepting of new members and for their efforts to spread and raise awareness of their faith. They create pamphlets and brochures and sometimes preach to outsiders in order to invite them to a relationship with Jesus Christ through church membership. [2]

New Order Amish and some other communities are more open and welcoming towards outsiders [3]. As a result, there are cases of non-Amish people being baptized and joining the community. While this is not common, it does happen. However, it requires a lot of work and determination.


Amish call outsiders English because they speak the English language. They are friendly with the English, but they don’t encourage them to join their community.

Also see Are Amish Friendly to Outsiders? to learn more.

[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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