An online version of Herman Rempel’s Kjenn Jie Noch Plautdietsch? A Mennonite Low German Dictionary; the introduction goes into the history of the language, and the guide to use gives some basic grammar and pronunciation, highlighting the differences between the Old Colony and Molotschna Mennonites. A useful resource for a little-known dialect. (Via Scott Martens, whose ancestors spoke it.)


  1. I’m glad Rempel stuck to the Old Colony spelling since that’s the version my parents spoke. The “kj” spellings are a lot more obvious to me than the “tj” ones.
    Actually, maybe you can help me with something Grandpa and I could never figure out: The etymological origin of the word “uzhent”, meaning “especially”. We figured it must have been an imported Slavic word. None of the words with the “zh” sound in them seem very Germanic. “Bezhuj”, for example, clearly comes from the French “bourgeois”, and “düzhe” from “douche.” “Prazhnikj” for “party” certainly sounds slavic, although I have never identified the source language. I have only been able to identify “Kruzhel”, which must come from the Russian “kruzhevo” or its Ukranian counterpart.
    But “uzhent” is a fairly common word, not a substantive that might have been borrowed from a contact language. It’s unlike any Germanic cognate I can think of. I’ve never managed to identify a Russian, Ukranian or Polish word that it might have come from. The only other Slavic language they might have had any contact with was Old Prussian.

  2. Prazhnikj is clearly Russian prazdnik ‘holiday, feast, festival; festive occasion.’ Uzhent sounds like it might be connected with Russian uzhe ‘already’ and uzh ‘to be sure, indeed, &c.’ (emphatic particle), but the -ent part sounds Polish; alas, I don’t know Polish, so can’t be of help there. (By the way, Old Prussian was a Baltic, not a Slavic, language.)

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