Jack Thiessen


An Educator, Philologist, and Writer, with advanced credentials in the humanities and many years experience in universities specializing in Germanic studies, complemented by leadership of organizations sponsoring music and the arts.

Major accomplishments in the areas of:
planning and directing university programs in Germanic Studies;
department administration;
lecturing in German language, literature and history;
teaching English as a second language.
advanced studies in philology, etymology and the cultural and historical influences on language and literature;
Mennonite studies
compiling, writing and/or editing dictionaries, texts and schola
Fluent in English, High German, Low German, all Germanic dialects including Dutch and Yiddish;
use of French (guest professor in Strasbourg 1968-69) and Russian.


Grade XII, Mennonite Collegiate Institute, Gretna, Manitoba.
B.A. United College (U. Of M.) with majors in German, History and English.
Teacher's Certificate, Kassel, German.
Credentials for teaching secondary school (gymnasium).
Ph.D., University of Marburg/Lahn, Federal Republic of Germany.
Postgraduate studies specializing in Germanic Philology and Dialectology with additional studies in Comparative Religion.
Published thesis: Studien zum deutschsprachigen Wortschatz der kanadischen Mennoniten, N.G. Elwert Verlag, Marburg/Lahn, 1963.
Post-doctoral fellow of the Humanities, 1976.


1988-1991 1992-1995, self-employed Freelance Writer, Translator, Researcher: Full-time writing for academic and general interest publishers.
1994 Translated Bernd Längin's Die Amischen: Vom Geheimnis des einfachen Lebens, as Plain and Amish: An Alternative to Modern Pessimism.
As a senior member of the department, served as a resource for faculty and students, contributed to program planning and standards, sustained the department's search and publication output, and undertook special appointments and projects, e.g. Guest Professor at the University of Kiel (biennial appointment, subsequent to Aritha van Herk and Rudy Wiebe) and the first Canadian Senior Professor to teach English Language Canadian and American literature in the former East Bloc, ie. at the University of Jena, Germany, (formerly G.D.R.) 1991-1992.
Chairman, 1961-76: Directed the German Department during an era of development and change, including the transition from United College status as an affiliate of the University of Manitoba to full accreditation in 1976.
In the United College phase, worked closely with colleagues at the University of Manitoba to co-ordinate programs, facilities, academic standards, and schedules.
For the University of Winnipeg, organized the new German Department; directed staffing, programming and academic standards; advised on the integration of the Mennoni
capacity translated in excess of 42,000 legal documents for the Crown Prosecutors Roy Gallagher, Q.C. and Alvin McGregor Q.C.
Advised Manitoba officials on interpretation of German and Swedish legal codes.
(I am currently translating the New Testament into Mennonite Low German for the University of Heidelberg.)
I was Canadian 4-H Dairy Club Champion in the early fifties and subsequently worked as a Dairy Herd Improvement Supervisor in south-eastern Manitoba for three years.
I grew up on a farm and we now live on a 100 acre farm, where, until recently, we raised wild boar.
1956-1961 Board of Education, Marburg/Lahn, Germany Teacher: Full-time and concurrent with own graduate studies, taught English language and literature for high school classes.
1957-1959 summers Various European shipping lines Program Director: In charge of 7-8 assistants conducting cross-cultural orientation on ships (42 crossings), carrying European emigrants to Canada and North American students to Europe, including language training and other educational, social and recreational progra
Manitoba Arts Council, member 1971-76, Chairman 1974-76.


Scholarly Monographs
Yiddish in Canada, Schuster, 1974.
A Sackful of Plautdietsch, Low German and English, Hyperion Press, Winnipeg, 1983.
Mennonite Family Names, Elwert Verlag, Marburg/Lahn, 1987. Co-authored with Victor Peters.
Mennonitische Geschichten, Elwert Verlag, Marburg/Lahn, 1990. Co-authored with Victor Peters.
Mennonitisches Plattdeutsches Wörterbuch/Dictionary of Mennonite Low German, (comprehensive dictionary of the Mennonite dialect) published by the Hanover Steinbach Historical Society (518 pages), October, 1999.
Mennonite Dictionary: English-Low German-English dictionary published 2003 by the University of Wisconsin Press (Madison). 642 pages, hard cover and soft cover; bestseller.

Literary Monographs
Predicht fier Haite Buske Verlag 1984 (21 short stories).
Articles for Mennonite Encyclopedia.
"Max und Moritz," Wilhelm Busch Anniversary Edition, Helmut Buske Verlag, Hamburg. 1982
"De tjliena Prinz opp Plautdietsch," (Le Petit Prince) published by Naumann, Heidelberg, 2003.
"Max enn Moritz opp Plautdietsch," Tintenfass Verlag, Heidelberg 2003.
"Die Mennoniten-Kolonie Volendam in Ostparaguay" "Ein Indianer aus dem Chaco erz hlt in plattdeutscher Mundart" Zeitschrift für osteuropische Volkskunde, Kiel University, 1984. Also as a brochure, Das Mennonitische Museum in Steinbach.
"A New Look at an Old Problem - Variations in Mennonite Low German" Mennonite Quarterly Review, summer 1989, Goshen, Indiana
In May, 1999, I presented a paper on The Mennonite Dialect - The Mirror of the Mortal Soul in Zaporozhje, Ukraine, the first academic symposium since the fall of Communism.
All papers presented will subsequently be published in book form b Linguistics.