A Glossary of Low German Words Used on the Daily Bonnet

So, recently I used the word Schekjbenjel and I was shocked to discover there were more than a few readers who were unfamiliar with this term! So, I have decided to make a glossary of frequently used Plautdietsch words. Now, this doesn’t include swear words. I already did an article on that. But here are some words you definitely should know if you’re going to have a conversation with Mr. Klassen from Chihuahua or Kleefeld.

If I’m missing anything, comment on Facebook/Twitter and I might add it to the list.

  • arbus/rabus – watermelon. Consumed with great enthusiasm by Russian Mennonites as soon as the temperatures reach fifteen degrees.
  • borscht – A soup that is properly made with copious amounts of cabbage, not beets!
  • brommtopp – a drum with a horse’s hair attached. Playing one is even more attractive than an electric guitar.
  • Ditsied – This side (the East side) of the Red River in Manitoba.
  • em tjalla – in the basement. Usually referring to the old Eatons store downtown.
  • fäasenja – The worship leader in church. Usually sings just a little bit out of tune.
  • faspa – a light lunch preceded by meddachschlop and succeeded by the evening service
  • fe’schlucke – when food or beverage goes down the wrong pipe. Apparently this happens so often to Mennonites that we have a special word for it.
  • formavorscht – farmer sausage. Normally made from pork, not farmers.
  • freiwilliges – an open mic during a funeral when anyone can go up and lie about how well they knew the deceased.
  • frintschauft – a relative, often a Reimer.
  • fuela – a lazy person. A person who doesn’t farm.
  • gnurpel – cartilage. Something to chew on while waiting for the pie to be served.
  • Jantsied – The other side (the West side) of the Red River.
  • jreewe – crackles. The healthiest and most delicious part of the pig.
  • knackzoat – sunflower seeds. Used as a snack or to attract a prospective spouse.
  • knipsbrat – the game of crokinole. Mennonites love to flick.
  • meddachschlop – an afternoon “nap.” Notice the quotes.
  • nah yo – “Well, yes.” A signal to the person you’re speaking with that this conversation is over.
  • Papsi – a dark sugary beverage consumed with Ravels.
  • Plautdietsch – the Mennonite dialect of Low German. Commonly believed to be the language Jesus spoke.
  • plautz – a dessert…also a currency in the MB church lobby after the service.
  • pluma moos – a cold plum soup, usually used as punishment when the grandkids are out of line.
  • roll kuchen – a fried piece of dough, eaten with Roger’s Golden Syrup and watermelon during long warm Canadian summers. ie. July.
  • schekjbenjel – a gofer, a young inexperienced worker who holds the ladder for you. Not usually suitable marriage material.
  • schinkjefleisch – ham. The part of the pig that rich Mennonites eat.
  • schmaunt fat – a white cream gravy, as essential for Mennonite survival as air and water.
  • spezeare – to gossip over coffee about the Klassens in the church lobby.
  • spott – sarcasm, mockery, the Daily Bonnet
  • tjäatjsche – a kitchen maid. Usually marries a schekjbenjel.
  • trajchtmoaka – an untrained folk  “chiropractor” who accepts payment in chickens or trays of plautz.
  • Vanapag – how Mennonites say Winnipeg.
  • Vankla – how Mennonites say Winkler. Aka Jantsied.
  • vereniki – a dumpling filled with cottage cheese and eaten in quantities of ten or more at a time.

For a far more thorough and accurate collection of Plautdietsch words, please see Jack Thiessen’s dictionary, now back in print!

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