YOU CAN FIND ANYTHING…

It is a principle of all large collections of books that you can find anything as long as you are not looking for it. As example and sufficient proof of the principle, here is Shakespeare in Pennsylvania Dutch:

Gloster. — Now is der winter fun unser unru
Glorreich g’maucht by der sun fun Yorrick;
Un all de wulka os ivver unserm house waura.
Sin deef in de sæ ni fergrawa.…

Was anyone looking for that? No; but once it is found (in “Rauch’s Pennsylvania Dutch Hand-Book,” published in 1879), it becomes clear that it needed to be found.

In an alternate universe where the Articles of Confederation failed, and the English colonies became a string of independent republics along the Atlantic, Pennsylvania Dutch occupies almost exactly the same place in Pennsylvania that Afrikaans occupies in South Africa. We have just described the least successful alternate-history novel ever. Although, curiously enough, in an alternate universe where everyone is thoroughly sick of reading about alternate universes in which the Nazis won the Second World War, that book is a big seller.