Pennsylvania Dutch, the popular name for Pennsylvania Germans, their dialect, style of art and architecture, and regional cookery. They acquired the name “Dutch” from Deutsch , the German word for “German.” The Pennsylvania Dutch dialect combines German and English words, and often follows the sentence structure found in German. Pennsylvania Dutch buildings are typically of stone, at least in part. The barns are often painted with traditional designs (mistakenly called “hex signs") that were formerly also used to decorate furniture, pottery, and formal documents.
The greatest concentration of Pennsylvania Dutch is in the fertile farmlands between Philadelphia and the Allegheny Mountains. Lancaster and York are major market centers. In this area the German population is largely of the Protestant sects known as “plain people"—Mennonites, Amish, and Dunkers. The Pennsylvania Dutch, however, originally included more members of the Lutheran, German Reformed, and Moravian churches than “plain people.”
Germans began settling in Pennsylvania in 1683, two years after the colony was founded. At the time of the Revolutionary War, it was estimated that one-third of the state's population was of German origin.