The word stock of this dictionary was compiled from oral and written information obtained from a host of sources: Low German writers, speakers, friends and acquaintances met on the street, coffee shops, malls and other sources but still the well from which these words have been drawn has not yet run dry.
With the increased interest in Plautdietsch drama, prose and verse, there is also increased promise of the survival of this language which is so dear to the hearts of many who learned it at their mother's knee.
Since lexical information has been kept to a minimum the user will be required to draw the necessary references for some of the more difficult words on his own.
It is hoped that there will be continued interest in Plautdietsch including its origin, its history and its development.
Although I cannot claim to be an expert in the study of orthography or linguistics, it seems to me only logical that many words find their way from one language to another. In this day of the information highway, air travel, computers and its internets, satellite contributions, many languages exchange and accept terminology from another language; Low German is no exception.
New and strange words find their way into every language and in a relatively short time and with frequent usage they are accepted and become part of the language and Low German is no exception here either.
I want to thank the literally hundreds of contributors to this edition with special acknowledgment to the well-known Low German writer and promoter, Reuben Epp. He has been generous and supportive toward this project.
Herman Rempel 1995
Mennonites fled the the Netherlands in the 1500s to settle in the Vistula River delta between the present-day Polish cities of Gdansk, Malbork and Elbing, where dialects of Prussian Low German (Nether Prussian) were spoken. The Netherlandic Nether-Saxon Low German spoken by Mennonites moving into the Vistula Delta subsequently gave way to the local dialect(s), as the Mennonites adopted words and pronunciations somewhat new to them but native to Prussia. However, they retained some of their Netherlandic vocabulary. Despite having left the Netherlands in the 1500s, the Low German of Mennonites today, wherever it is heard, still contains Netherlandic words not usually heard in other dialects. Following are a few examples:
klautre, klautere, klauterern (to climb, clamber)Among Nether Prussian words adopted into Mennonite Low German from their neighbors of the Vistula are the following:
krakjt, kraikt, krek (exactly, tidy)
ladijch, ladig, ledig (empty)
mausse, massa (in mass, many)
porre(n), porren (to urge, to prod)
tachentijch, tachentig, tachtig (eighty)
tüss, t'hüs, thuis (at home)
Eatschocke, Eadschocke, Erdschocke (potatoes)In 1789 Mennonites from the Vistula began migrating to New Russia on invitation of Catherine the Great. In two major migrations out of Prussia during a period of some 15 to 20 years they established settlements and villages in territories newly conquered by Russia later to become part of the Ukraine. The mix of peoples of Frisian, Flemish, Dutch and Lower Saxon in Mennonite settlements in Russia, plus more than two centuries of immersion in various dialects of Nether Prussian, resulted in variations in manner of speech among them, especially in differences between the older Chortitz colony and the newer Molotschna colony.
Kodda, Kodder (rag)
Kjlemp, Klemp (cow)
Klopps (meatballs, patties)
Schrug, Scharrugge (old horse)
Ssoagel, Tsoagel, Zoagel (tail)
Inevitably, as Mennonites came into contact with their new Russian and Ukrainian neighbors, they picked up and adopted a number of their terms and expressions. Then, in the 1870s one third of the Mennonites in Russia left for the United States and Canada after some 70 to 85 years of exposure to the Russian language. Others are still leaving there after 200 years. As might be expected, those whose forefathers remained longest in Russia now use more Russian and Ukrainian words and expressions in their daily speech. The following are examples of words adopted in Russia:
Arbüs, Rebus, Herbus russ. arbüs (watermelon) Bockelschan, Bockelzhonn russ. bakalzan (tomato) Borscht, Borsch, Borschtsch russ. borsc (beet soup) Lauftje, Laufkje russ. lavka (a store) Schemmedaun russ. cemodan (large suitecase) Schissnikj, Schissnik russ/ukr. cesnok (garlic)Despite such word adoptions, the overall stability of Plautdietsch is such that Mennonites who still speak it in the Americas, descendants of those who settled here in the 1870s, can readily converse with arrivals from Russia in the 1990s.
Fortunately for Rempel's readers, the author lives in an area where there are speakers of Plautdietsch representing various groups of early and late immigrants to Canada from the Chortitzer and Molotschna colonies and their later daughter colonies. Their speech variations consist not only of differences in pronunciation but also in vocabulary and sentence construction. Rempel's diligence in pursuing words and their meanings through interviews with these various speakers has enabled him to update and expand the contents of his newly revised dictionary for the benefit of its readers.
Variations in spoken Plautdietsch inhibit consistency in representing all pronunciational nuances in written form. On the other hand, it is not so important to spell out the articulation of each word as it is to present it in a familiar configuration. Once recognized, the word is spoken by its reader in his/her accustomed manner, with scant regard to how it happens to be spelled.
Although Rempel's writing system differs from others, it embodies a number of improvements over those of most. Perhaps it is time for writers of Plautdietsch to strive towards greater harmony betweem written Plautdietsch and Low German as written among more than seven million speakers of other dialects. Understandably, there are differences between dialects as spoken and as written. On the other hand it seems logical and desirable to stress similarities between our mother tongue and the sister dialects rather than their differences. Active recognition of their resemblances would augment harmony in their written form. Rempel takes encouraging steps in that direction when he writes Kjinja, Kjnee, Kjoakj and Kjäakjsche rather than Tjinja, Tjnee, Tjoatj and Täatsche. Widely accepted forms of these words in other Low German dialects are: Kinner, Knee, Kark and Kööksch.
Rempel's Kjenn Jie Noch Plautdietsch of 1984 has proven to be a mine of information for lay people and scholars interested in Plautdietsch. The Plautdietsch-English/English-Plautdietsch dictionary is repeatedly quoted in Preussisches Wörterbuch currently being compiled at the University of Kiel, Germany, which includes Mennonite Plautdietsch (Mennonitisch Niederdeutsch). Rempel's new and expanded revision of 1995, the culmination of eleven additional years of diligent research and writing in his mother tongue, promises to extend the accumulated additional information to readers in an understandable and easy-to-read written form.
Diminutives are formed by the addition of the suffix kje and are always neuter. If the noun ends in t or k then the diminutive is formed by adding the suffix je. Examples are: Schwienkje, Me'jalkje, Kautje, Krietje, Büakje.
A married woman is designated by adding the suffix sche to the married surname. Examples are: Pannasche, Wiebsche.
Most adjectives have three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative and superlative. The comparative is formed by adding a to the positive word and the superlative is formed by adding ste to the postive word. Examples are: heet, heeta, heetste.
dee Grope es heet dee Grope es heeta dee Grope es aum heetsteFollowing are example of changes that occur in comparing adjectives in the different genders:
Masculine Feminine neuter en schmocka Jung ne schmocke Me'jal en schmocket Bilt en schmockra Jung ne schmockre Me'jal en schmockret Bilt en schmocksta Jung ne schmockste Me'jal en schmockstet BiltPersonal pronouns and their related possessive adjectives:
ekj mien dü dien hee sien see äa wie ons jie jün see (M) äaOrdinal numbers designate the rank of an item in a series; fractions are used as adjectives or nouns:
cardinal ordinal fraction eent easchta twee tweeda haulf (de halft) dree dredda en dreddel fea feada en feadel fiew (fief) fefta en feftel sass sassta en sasstel säwen säwenda en säwendel acht achta en achtel näajen näajenda en näajendel tian tianda en tiendelThe ordinals listed are masculine; substituting an e for the last a changes these ordinals to the feminine; substituting et for the last a makes them neuter. The cardinal numbers are all feminine.
pers. pron. = personal pronoun.
poss. adj. = possessive adjective.
pl. = plural.
M= Molotschna dialect variant.
conj. = conjunction.
pref. = prefix.
suff. = suffix.
sep. = separable.
insep. = inseparable
lit. = literally.
vulg. = vulgar.
adv. = adverb
comp. = comparative.
sup. = superlative.
refl. = reflexive.
coll. = colloquial.
letters in brackets () can be used optionally.
As pronounced and heard As pronounced and heard by the Old Colony Mennonites by the Molotschna Mennonites Winkjla Winkler Wintjla Kjoasch cherry Tjoasch Kjikjel chick(s) Tjitjel kjnette to knit tjnette Migj mosquito Midj trigj back tridj Pligj (shoe) tack Plidj Frü wife, woman Fru Lüss louse Luss jün your jun je'neiw fussy, particular je'nau Meiw sleeve Mau moake* to make moake* foake* often foake* Loake* (bed) sheet Loake* Ssoll inch Tsoll Ssoagel* tail Tsoagel* ssettre tremble tsettre ssinjre vibrate tsinjre Sselt tent Tselt* The pronunciation of the diphthong oa is quite different between the Old Colony Mennnites and the Molotschna Mennonites. This difference in the pronunciation is extremely difficult to explain and practically impossible to put into type. It must be heard to get the full significance of this difference. It is close to the diphthong in the English word roar or boar when pronounced by the Molotschna Mennnites. The Old Colony Mennonites bring the tongue forward in the mouth when they pronounce this diphthong. Another somewhat controversial consonant is the hard s. The Old Colony Mennonites pronounced a number of words beginning with the hard s such as Ssoagel, Ssoll, while the same words are pronounced as Tsoagel, Tsoll by the Molotschna Mennonites. This dictionary will use the ss where words begin with the hard s.
As pronounced by the As pronounced by the Old Colony Mennonites Molotschna Mennonites Ssoll inch Tsoll Ssoagel tail Tsoagel ssettre tremble tsettre ssinjre vibrate tsinjre Sselt tent tselt
short i is like i in it e.g. Schilt ie is like ie in field e.g. hiele, Biel long i is like i in machine e.g. Tia short e is like e in met e.g. Dell, stell long ee is like ey in they e.g. hee, breet long a is like a in father e.g. Fater, hab ä is like a in gate e.g. bäde, fäl äa is like ai in air e.g. äajde, mäajlijch au is like ow in gown e.g. Faut, Launt short o is like o in top e.g. Spott, bott long o is like o in open e.g. op, Rot oo is like ou in out e.g. Hoot, Foot short u is like u in put e.g. mucht, Luck ü is like u in Yule e.g. Tün, jün** The ü, as shown in the above example, relates to the Molotschna pronunciation. The Old Colony Mennonites push their tongue forward when pronouncing this vowel.
In some Mennonite communities verbs and nouns that end in e are closed with a final n. In general terms the Old Colony Mennonites, on which style this dictionary is based, do not use the n after these words. Examples are: scheete(n), rane(n), Woage(n). Letters in brackets can be used optionally.
The following words belong in a class of their own because they do not conform to the general rules that apply to the o and the s:
Bos, Hos, Blos are examples where we have the long o like in pole; the s remains soft.
Drosel, Schosel, tose, Kos, Fos are examples where we have a short o like in pot; the s remains soft.
Fros, Os, Oshacka, Osodla, Nätklos are examples where we have the long o like in pole but here we have the hard s like the s in boss.
regular expression English contraction woat daut will it woat't kaun ekj can I kaun'kj met däm with the met'm woa ekj will I woa'kjThere are many others and it may take some time before writers in LG accept the above in written form. The duplication of information contained in parts of this section is deliberate.
A federal public servant from 1946 until his retirement in 1979, Mr. Rempel has in the past several years done extensive reference work in Plautdietsch and its vocabulary, pronunciation and orthography. The first edition of his dictionary in Plautdietsch appeared in 1979.