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December 23, 2008

I found your name at random on the internet and are hoping that you can help me. I am 55 years old and can speak and understand Plautdietch but an not write it. I am looking for information on a home made musical instrument called a " brum tup". I remember my parents talk about this instrument I believe was made out of a barrel with hair from a horses tail coming out of it. Rosin was applied to the hair which was then pulled between thumb and forefinger causing it to create a sound. I think it was played at house gathering between Christmas and New Years. Have you or your friends ever heard of such a thing. I don't know if this was a Plautdietch tradition or not. I am trying to find out what it was and possibly make one. Hoping you can help or give me information as to where I could obtain this info. Thank you in advance for you help. Merry Christmas

Martin Klassen


I have heard of this, but I have no practical experience or information except that I read or heard that the membrane over the barrel was made from a pig's bladder. Perhaps visitors to the site can provide better information? Merry Christmas and good luck!

February 6, 2008

Dear Jim,

The comments re. the Holdemann Low German are erroneous, in part simply because the Holdemanns around here are all formerly Kleingmeindler and as such all speak the Molotschna veriety of Mennonite Low German.

Since the three universities, Marburg, Kiel and Madison which all conduct serious and respected research on MLG, and are the authorities in the field and since I have interacted with them on a scholarly basis all my life, you are welcome to contact me if you have serious and academic interests.

Dr. Jack T.


I'm very pleased you have visited the site. I appreciate your interest and correction. All the Holdemann people I know also speak Plautdietsch. I was probably misled by the early history of the Holdemann (Church of God in Christ) Faith among the Swiss-American (Pennsylvania Dutch) Mennonites. I cannot and do not claim serious, or unserious, academic interest. Seriously warm regards,


January 31, 2008

I've got a question about word 'haupsen'. What does it mean in Plautdietsch ? Please explain it to me in English because I don't understand that language and I need to know what 'haupsen" means.

Big thx



Jack Thiessen's Dictionary (see: ) defines "haupse", probably a dialectic variation of "haupsen", as "to take a greedy bite." Thank you. Regards,


January 31, 2008

Thx for that,
I found here: definition of a word "aufhaupsen":

"aufhaupsen (schw.T.; sp: haupsen auf) haustich waut vom Läpel haupsen ooda em Mul nämen"

But I've no idea what it means :) I don't undetstand all the words in definition. Maybe you can translate the definition to English?

Thanx again



Very loosely translated, this is "to take something into the mouth or from a spoon with haste." I hope this is of some help. Thank you. Regards,


January 22, 2008

Dear Mr. Derksen,

I am just curious to know if you are a Holdeman Mennonite or if you are familiar with this branch of Mennonites???
Do you know if this language is the one spoken by the Holdeman's??? We called it "Dutch" in my family but I did not learn to speak it so I'm not sure if this is it. I think I recognize a few words.

I appreciate your web site very much and have found it most enlightening!!!


Sheryl Tinkler


The Holdeman Mennonites arose among the Swiss-German (Pennsylvania-Dutch speaking) Mennonites of America in the mid-19th century. In the mid-1870s many Plautdietsch-speaking immigrants coming from the old world to Kansas, U.S.A. and to Manitoba, Canada converted to this faith. In short, some Holdeman Mennonite's do speak Plautdietsch, others speak Pennsylvania Dutch. More history is summarised at

June 16, 2007

Greetings Jim,

I've just learned about another Plautdietsch dictionary. It's written entirely in Plautdietsch (as opposed to being English<->Plautdietsch), looks to be extremely thorough and comprehensive, although using a spelling-system that is slightly different yet again, compared to Herman Rempel's, Reuben Epp's, or Jack Thiessen's. I've only given it a quick look so far, but think it looks promising, and intend to study it further. See

You may want to add this dictionary to your webpage on Plautdietsch dictionaries?

PS: I was wondering why I'd failed to find this one during my supposedly thorough googling for Plautdietsch dictionaries & spell-checkers; the answer is that it only describes itself as "Wieedabuak", and until reading this dictionary that was not one of the ways I spelt that word -- shows how badly we need a spelling-system we agree on:-)


June 16, 2007

Hi Jim,

I came across another resource that may be useful to those trying to master the spoken form of Plautdietsch. A fellow named Elmer Reimer has produced a Plautdietsch New Testament in both written and spoken form, and both are available on the internet.

Not as entertaining as Koop en Bua, but it may be more to some people's taste. In case you're wondering which form of spoken Dietsch this Reimer uses, here's a post by Reuben Epp on the subject, which is also of interest for its explanation of the KJ vs TJ differences:

I have learned that this Elmer is not the same person as Al Reimer. (I wondered because Al's given-name happens to be Elmer.) Although both come from the same linguistic sub-group of Dietsch-speakers, both being descended from Kleine-gemeinders who left the Molotschna in the 1870's, although Elmer spent much of his life in Mexico. That also means that both are likely related to me - I know Al is.



June 16, 2007

Jim Derksen,

Brooda, du hast eenen schmocken Boat!! Wua kaun ekj uk soonen kjeepen?

Hi, I am Ed Zacharias. I have been one of the translators of De Bibel. We of course developed our own spelling system (orthography) basing it somewhat on the J J Neufeld New Testament, and further on comments we had received from colony Mennonites about what was difficult about it.
We have also developed a spellchecker, which we have been sharing.
We have a written set of gramatical rules that we used. Beyond that I have collected and printed a "Plautdietsche Leeda" book and continue to write a column for the Mennonitische Post. (Audio CDs of the songs have been recorded by Gospel Light Singers, and available through Mennonitische Post.) Mr Jacob Fehr, who also writes for Mennonitische Post kindly has allowed me to spell check all of his writings, hopefully before they appear in the MPost. I wonder how set you are on your way of writing, and whether how mucht you have done to develop rationale and rules for it. I would be very interested in comparing that with what we have done. I am also willing to share our resources with you, if you are interested, with a view of finding common ground. I must admit I have a strong bias for what we did when we wrote De Bibel, and continue to use in Mennonitische Post and other writing.Perhaps it would help me to know how far you are in preparing a dictionary. I had tentative plans of refining and printing what currently is on '' but that may need to be reconsidered, now that I know you are also working on something like that. Well I don't know whether you will want to respond to all of these thoughts, but I do invite a response and dialogue with you on our interest in
Plautdietsch literacy.

Ed Zacharias, 204 325 8705, Winkler

June 8, 2007

Hi Jim,

I find your site interesting and I am pleased that there are people that work at preserving this rich treasure we have in Plautdietsch.

We have set up a Low German ethnic radio station here in Aylmer, Ontario. We set it up to help Low German newcomers find their way a little easier in a new country and have been operating under the banner “integration and inclusion through information and education”. Lately I have been thinking that we should include another aim of advancing or preserving Low German.

Thanks for your work in this.

Abe Harms

Regional Manager - MCC Aylmer Resource Centre, E.D - Aylmer & Area Inter-Mennonite Community Council, 16 Talbot St E., Aylmer ON N5H 1H4 Tel: 519-765-3020 email:

May 16, 2007

Hello Jim

I'm interested to know where the spelling of the word Plautdietsch comes from. My mother spoke a low German and pronounced Deutsch as Deitsch. So I would have spelled it Plautdeitsch.

Donna Dilschneider

March 8, 2007

Dear Jim Derksen,

By my last name you no doubt realize I am Russian/German Mennonite, but my first name probably tells you that I don't know the low german language. The reason I am contacting you is because of my unique situation. I grew up in Winkler but have since travelled the world and settled in Taber AB with my wife. I work for Lethbridge Family Services - Immigrant Services with a new office in Taber. The majority of immigrants in Taber are Mexican Mennonite, much like Winkler. However, the majority of them here have come recently (90's and continuing) and my being able to speak Plautdietsch would be an endless resource here. As you no doubt know, many Low German Mennonites are suspicious of 'outsiders' and I am nearly one of them except that my last name reveals my background to them so they will talk with me in English (those able to do so) and they like my being able to help them. I am working towards helping them by offering settlement services and a program both being funded by CIC through my Lethbridge office. I know that if I were to remain here long term, speaking their native language would be a tremendous asset. If I were to speak the language I could better help these people.

Now, there are many in Taber (business people, community workers) who want to learn the Plautdietsch/Low German language but none are willing to teach. Primarily, as you know the language is essentially an oral only language (save their KJV translation of the Bible) and resources are difficult to come by to help others to learn it. Your site encourages people to continue on in its language, but I fear that that is a shear impossibility unless a way to learn it can be established, other than being born into it, which is becoming increasingly left aside. Perhaps you have some information to help me and others or some resources? The LGM population in Taber is only growing steadily and I because I am the only govt funded individual in town my need to speak their language is strong.

Please consider my request. Information or some resources would be a tremendous help and I will find a way to repay the favour.

Good luck in your work, I will be using your website as a resource for myself, co-workers, and volunteers in the community, thank you!


Cory Giesbrecht

March 7, 2007

Good afternoon Jim,

I just saw your site and it’s great, I was wondering if you knew where I could find any Plautdietsch music that I could either download or buy.

Thanks a bunch!

Maurice P LaBorde

Please pardon my delay in answering your question. The best general source of recorded Plautdietsch music (in Manitoba) is probably:
Die Mennonitische Post
383 Main Street
Steinbach, MB
Canada R5G 1Z4
Telephone: 204-326-6790
FAX: 204-326-6302

You may also contact a local Winnipeg song writer/singer at

December 11, 2006

(In regard to the December 5, 2006 comment from Fred below)

For Fred and others seeking help with the pronunciation of Plautdietsch: there used to be available a set of audio tapes with the spoken words from Herman Rempel's dictionary; see

Unfortunately, the author announced in 2005-January that he was no longer producing those tapes (see, so obtaining them may be difficult. Given that Mr Rempel has made the text of his dictionary freely available on the internet, perhaps he would permit these audio recordings to be made available in like manner?

Eugene Reimer

December 11, 2006

Hello Jim,
I've just been perusing your wonderful website. I applaud your fine work! And I offer a few minor corrections, etc:

On the page the phrase "by Klohsis Teeoh (G.A. Peters) and Peetasch Jiehit (T.G. Klassen)" would read better were the two English parenthesized names interchanged.

Ditto on the's%20New.html page.

The page has a broken link "See also Other Audio Resources" -- it is to which gets "page not found"; probably ought be to

Your version of "Schockel, Schockle scheia", as Armin Wiebe's, contains the line "Pinjste, ät wie wittet Broot" -- whereas I learnt it with that line as "Pinjste, ät wie Roggebroot"; Jack Thiessen's version has further variations from the way I learnt it, but also involves white bread, so we in Blumenhof (Bloomenhoff) Manitoba appear to be in a minority, with our fondness for rye-bread. I also thought the word was either Pinkstre or Pinjstre (but with an "r") and yet everyone else seemingly says it as Pinjste - so what do I know. Plautdietsch is my mother-tongue, and yet having spent almost my entire life in an English-speaking environment... One correction: I believe the 2nd word ought to be Schockel, just like the first?

I applaud your efforts in putting up and almost hesitate to mention that such things become much more useful if converted to text (rather than being pictures). I recently mentioned to you (and the other Plautdietsch-L-Lesa) my experiments with the best free OCR-program I've been able to find, namely tesseract. The results were promising, but some correcting was still needed. Its main weaknesses are things that wouldn't even be all that much work to fix: it is only designed to handle English, so it hasn't the recognition features for umlauts; also for this project it would be extremely useful for it to have access to a Plautdietsch dictionary (using dictionary the way spell-checking programs do, for something that's really just a list of words). That gets us into rather a can of worms, there being roughly as many spelling systems as there are plautdietsch writers; however Herman Rempel's seems the clear winner, simply because it is freely available in machine-readable form, and as far as I know the only one that is. One of these days I intend to take a stab at converting Rempel's dictionary into a form that can be used in spell-checkers, OCR-programs, etc.

Eugene Reimer

I appreciate very much this proof-checking, and hope I have been able to make the necessary corrections!

December 5, 2006

Dear Jim,

Thanks for your reply. I received 4 books a week ago that will help me get back on the road to learning Plautdietsch:

Plautdietsch Grammar by Eldo Neufeld
The Spelling of Low German and Plautdietsch by Reuben Epp
Kjenn Jie Noch Plautdietsch by Herman Rempel
Wie raden en lasen Plautdietsch by Peter Fast

The only thing I'm missing is pronunciation. The books are helpful with providing english words that have similar sounds but I know that these are approximations to the sounds in Plautdietsch.

It would be nice to have a basic audio program to help with this.

Thanks again,



(If anyone knows of such a resource, let me know and I will forward the information to Fred. Jim Derksen )

December 4, 2006

I am born in the Netherlands 1928, more then forty years in Penna. I speak fluently "Holland Dutch", and German as a foreign language. I would enjoy using these skills.
I find with some difficulty I can communicate with the Amish living in this area.

Do you have any Sinterklaas songs in Plautdietsch?

Colina Seeley
Bellefonte Pa (Close to Penn State University.)

(If anyone knows of any Sinterklaas songs in Plautdietsch, let me know and I will forward the information to Colina. Jim Derksen )


November 28, 2006

Hey there,
I was wondering if you know of any guides to learning plautdietsch in existence or in development? I'm trying to learn the language but am having trouble getting started.

(If anyone knows of such a resource, let me know and I will forward the information to Tim. Jim Derksen )


November 26, 2006

Hello Mr. Derksen,

My name is Carola Moran, i am 24, peruvian, south america.
Yesterday i watched on National Geographic a documentary about the mennonites in Mexico and some in Bolivia. I have to be honest, eventhough i like to read and learn from other places and cultures, i never heard of the mennonites before yesterday. i found very interesting the culture, the way of living and specially the language. i must admit that at first i was little confused because i didnt watched the docummentary from the very first part, i didnt understand what they were speaking, then i found out it was plautdietsch, its very interesting they way these people i saw were trying to keep their culture so live eventhough they were in other place, where there was other culture, language, etc etc. Anyway, today i was searching on the web and i found your website, which help me to understand the origin and history of mennonites.

I just wanted to say thanks to let people know a little of your culture.

October 24, 2006

Dear Jim,

I am interested in finding out if anyone has created a self study program on learning the Low German language.

I am in the same boat as many of my contemporaries that heard Low German as youngsters but never learned to speak.

Fred Fast
Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

(If anyone knows of such a resource, let me know and I will forward the information to Fred. Jim Derksen )

March 4, 2006

Great website. Wilmer Penner


February 19, 2006

Leewa Jim (Yash) en aundre,

dit es eene GOODE Norecht, Dankscheen! Afens tjitjd
etj mie dee Sied em WWW aun -- schen, daut et nu uck
wada eene plautdietsche Website jefft, woone en Kanada
jemoakt woat en aules soo meea opp Enjlisch ertjleat.
Etj woa een Link no opp dee Siede
vonne Plautdietsch-Frind en Dietschlaunt moake.

Aulet Baste
Peeta Wiens

Jim Derksen