Ten Terms No One Knows the Plautdietsch Word For

After a year-and-a-half of writing the Daily Bonnet, my knowledge of Mennonite Low German continues to grow. I’ve got Herman Rempel’s dictionary, I’ve consulted various online resources, and I constantly pester my Plautdietsch-speaking friends for translation help. (Thanks Mark, Sam and Steve!) Still, even with all these resources at my disposal, there are a few words I’ve been unable to find a Plautdietsch translation for. Here are ten of them. Any help?

  • bellybutton – How do you scold your 20-year-old niece or your 60-year-old uncle for exposing their bellybuttons if you don’t know the word for it? I’d also like to know the words for “innie” and “outie.” Also: “beer belly.”
  • chopsticks – Personally I know of only about seven Mennonites who know how to use chopsticks and all them were missionaries. Mennonites are the only people left on the planet who eat Chinese food with a fork and knife. How embarrassing! It’s time we learned how to use chopsticks…and the Plautdietsch word for them.
  • curling – The winter sport of curling is popular among Mennonites. It’s the only time you’ll see the Loewen brothers sweeping. But what is the Low German word for it? Knips-freare?
  • dinosaur – The only animal names that Mennonites care about are ones we can eat. Plus the elders are always telling us that dinosaurs never existed. There might be some censorship going on here. Also mysteriously absent is the word for “fossil.”
  • feminism – Oba! I can see why Herman Rempel kept this out of his dictionary. He probably would have been shunned had he included it. It’s time we had a Plautdietsch word for this. Fight the power! Smash the patriarchy!
  • hipster – As has been pointed out on a number of occasions, Mennonites and hipsters have a lot in common. I suppose the term “hipster” is somewhat of a neologism, so the dictionary-makers can’t be blamed for not including it. Usually my grandma just called them “Schwäa!” Let’s go with that.
  • make-up – I couldn’t find the word for make-up or cosmetics…I guess this is because you have to leave the faith before using any. Still, there should be a word for it.
  • social media – Another relatively new word. Jesejcht-Büak might work…but that’s a brand name….
  • teenager – We’ve got a word for child (Kjint), adult (Utjewossna(e)), and senior (elsta(e)), but for some reason we just skipped over the years between 13 and 19. The most famous Mennonite teenager, Nomi Nikkel, would not be impressed!
  • television – It figures. Mennonites are always behind the times. If we don’t have a word for television, I can’t imagine we’ve got one for Netflix.
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