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Plautdietsch, or Mennonite Low German, was originally a Low Prussian variety of East Low German, with Dutch influence, that developed in the 16th and 17th Century in the Vistula delta area of Royal Prussia, today Polish territory. The word is etymologically cognate with Plattdeutsch, or Low German. Plaut is the same word as German platt or Dutch plat, meaning 'Low', but the name Dietsch = Dutch Diets, meaning 'ordinary language, language of the people'; whereas Deitsch can only refer to German Deutsch.

The language (or groups of dialects of Low German) is spoken in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Honduras, Belize, and Argentina by over 300,000 Mennonites. They are members of a religious group that originally fled from Holland and Belgium in the 1500s to escape persecution, and who eventually resettled in these areas. They introduced and developed their particular East Low German dialect, the so-called Weichselplatt, while they came to and lived in the Vistula delta area, beginning in the early-to-mid 1500s. These colonists from the Low Countries were especially welcome there because of their experience with and knowledge of land reclaiming and making polders. As Mennonites they kept their own (primarily Dutch and Low-German) identity, using their Dutch/Low German language. Their East Low German dialect is still to be classified as Low Prussian, or simply Prussian. All Mennonites including Russian Mennonites trace their roots to the Low Countries and north Germany.

Beginning in the late 1700s, the expanding Russian Empire invited Germans and many from the Kingdom of Prussia, including many Mennonites left and created new colonies north of the Black Sea in (present-day Ukraine and other countries), in an area that Russia had recently acquired in one of the Russo-Turkish Wars. Many Mennonites migrated to North America especially Canada and the United States and Latin America especially Paraguay and Mexico most of them live as rural settlers and added some Spanish and Portuguese words to their own language.

Today Plautdietsch is spoken in Paraguay, Mexico, Ukraine, Germany, Canada (particularly Manitoba and Saskatchewan), Brazil, Belize, and the United States. There are two major dialects which trace their division to Ukraine. These two dialects are split between the New Colony and Old Colony Mennonites. Many younger Russian Mennonites in Canada and the United States today speak only English. For example, Homer Groening, the father of Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), spoke Plautdietsch as a child in Saskatchewan in the 1920s, but his son Matt never learned the language.

Certain groups, like the Old Colony Mennonites of Mexico, have guarded the language better than others. However, as Old Colony Mennonites from Mexico resettle in Canada and the United States, the stability of Plautdietsch in this group may be put to the test in their new homes, especially if the current stigmatisation of Old Colony Mennonites because of their poverty continues, as is the case in some places like Ontario by more prosperous neighbours. This may ultimately lead to an abandonment of the language by this group.


There is disagreement whether Plautdietsch is a language or a dialect. Some try to classify it as a dialect of Low German (Plaatduutsch). Arguments for a dialect:

It is a spoken, not written language;

It shows similarities with other varieties of Low German;

It is intelligible to High German speakers after some acquaintance;

The grammar is much like German.

Arguments for classifying it as a language of its own:

It has many developments and sound shifts not found in any other German dialect;

It is spoken in many countries and areas outside German speaking countries;

It has many borrowings from other languages completely adapted into Plautdietsch phonetics, which would not be understood by a speaker of other dialects;

It has many idiomatic expressions of its own and usages of particular words different from German. Many idiomatic expressions of German are not used nor understood by a Plautdietsch speaker;

With the publication of a Bible translation in 2003 the argument that, since it is not written it cannot be a language, might be disputable.


As one might expect from a spoken language which traditionally lacked a consistent writing system, several regional differences have developed. However, the major differences seem to have originated in the beginning 19th century in the two Mennonite settlements in New Russia (today Ukraine), known as Chortitza or Old Colony and Molotschna (New Colony), as noted above. Some of the major differences between these two dialects are:

A few other differences sometimes related to this issue are: the exact pronunciation of the IPA c sound and words as jenau/jeneiw, but according to some studies, those might be due to education level, influence of Russian and German.

Some Plautdietsch speakers might show a mixture of both dialects. Those, for instance, who trace their origin to the Bergthal Colony in New Russia (Ukraine), a daughter colony of the Old Colony, show all the phonetic distinction of the Old Colony version, but they drop the final -n as the Molotschna speakers do.

Comparison with related languages

Plautdietsch has a Low German (Low Saxon) base, and as such, it does not show the effects of the High German consonant shift, which separated the High German dialects from the Low German dialects and all other Germanic languages. The basic distinctions between High German and Low German are:

Effects of the High German consonant shift

Like Dutch, Frisian and Low German, Plautdietsch only shows the mutation of th into d.

Vowel Shifts in various Germanic languages

As shown, while Dutch, English and German have experienced similar vowel shifts, Plautdietsch has only merged the old Germanic sound with , while long is retained in the Molotschna dialect. The Old Colony variety has fronted it to the now vacant .

Unique developments

Vowel sinking

This shift is still active, as some speakers { including a few from Hague} still retain the older pronunciation.

Vowel rounding off

{| class="wikitable" |- ! ! High German ! Plautdietsch ! English |- | | grun, schon | jreen, scheen | green, beautiful {compare archaic sheen} |- | to ei [] | Heu, rein | Hei, rein | hay, clean |- | to e, a | Gotter | Jetta | gods |-


Diphthongization before g, k, ch [IPA x] and r, with possible loss of r

The deletion of r has been completed in most final positions, after front vowels and before alveolar consonants, but is still retained in the infinitive of verbs, after short vowels, and sometimes after back vowels as seen in the example Huarn, Hieena.

Various other vowel equivalences

shifted to before voiced consonants.


All words with a g and k (even where it is shifted to ch in German) preceding or following a front vowel have been shifted to j and c (the latter has been written as kj or tj), even if there is another consonant between the vowel and the consonant. An intervocalic g is platalized as , written gj or dj. . Where an e or i has been sunken to a, the palatalized sound is retained. Also where German has a c sound, Plautdietsch retains it even after lowering a front vowel.

Influences and borrowings


Most Anabaptists that settled in the Vistula Delta were of Dutch or northern German origins, and were joined by refugees from different parts of Germany and Switzerland, who influenced their developing language. After almost two centuries in West Prussia, German replaced Dutch as church, school and written language and has become a source from where words are borrowed extensively, especially for religious terms. Many of these words show the effects of the High German consonant shift, even though they are adapted into Plautdietsch phonetics. Compare:


In the first half of the 16th century was the onset of the rule of terror by the Duke of Alva in the Spanish ruled Low Countries. As a result, many Mennonites and Reformed left the country. In the Low German language area they left their language traces in particular at the lower Vistula, around Danzig and Elbing and up the river towards Torun.

The Mennonites longest maintained their old language. In Danzig, Dutch as the language of the church disappeared about 1800. As a spoken language the Mennonites took up the Vistula Low German, the vocabulary of which they themselves had already influenced. As a written language they took up High German. It was this Vistula Low German or Weichselplatt that the Mennonites took with them and kept while migrating to Russia, Canada and elsewhere.

The following (very basic) words have been claimed as exclusively from Dutch origins:

Old Prussian and Baltic languages

Mejal (from Margell), girl

Kujel (from Kuigel), a male pig

Also the female -sche ending as in Lierasche (female teacher or teacher's wife)


Russian or Ukrainian

Wherever Mennonites settled, they found new foods and other items they were not familiar with, and when that happened, they took the name that local people used for those items. Following words are claimed to be from Russian or Ukrainian origin:

Bockelzhonn; German: Tomate, English: tomato

Arbus/Erbus/Rebus; German: Wassermelone, English: watermelon

Schisnikj; German: Knoblauch, English: garlic


With the dawn of the 20th century, Mennonites slowly came into contact with technology. For those who had settled in North America in the 1870s, all new words were borrowed from English, and even though many left for South America only 50 years after their arrival, they kept and sometimes adapted these words into the Mennonite Low German Phonetics:

Particularly words for auto parts are taken from English: hood, fender, brakes (along with the more Low German form Brams), spark plugs (pluralized Ploggen), but also words like peanuts, belt, tax.

A special case is the word jleichen. It is an adaption of the English verb "to like", but taken from the German adverb gleich


Plautdietsch speakers living in Spanish speaking countries use many words of Spanish in their daily speech, especially in business and communication vocabulary. Two examples of words which are completely adapted into Mennonite Low German are Burra and Wratsch . Both have a Low German plural: Burrasch, Wratschen. The pure Low German words Asel and Schlorr are seldom used in Mexico.


There has been a lot of controversy, too, about the spelling of Plautdietsch. The main criteria have been:

Spelling should be as phonetic as possible

German spelling rules should be applied whenever possible.

One problematic area has been what letters to use for sounds that do not exist in German. For instance, the palatal and sounds. These phonemes are both pronounced and spelled differently in various dialects of Plautdietsch. Old Colony speakers pronounce these sounds by striking the middle of the tongue against the palate. Others, especially speakers of the Molotschna dialect, who instead strike the tongue against the alveolar ridge and spell them and . Most Plautdietsch speakers' ears are not accustomed to realize these subtle, if not trivial, differences, and will often confuse one with the other.

Other problematic areas: use or not of v for some words with f sound, use or not of Dehnungs-h, when to double consonants or when not.

When comparing different writers, one must take into account the dialect of that writer. The most famous Plautdietsch writer, Arnold Dyck, wrote in the Molotschna dialect, though his origins were from the Old Colony. During his life he made many changes in his spelling system. His developments are the basis for the various spellings used today. In the following table, only his final system is taken into account, as used in his famous Koop enn Bua series, along with Herman Rempel (Kjennn Jie noch Plautdietsch?), Reuben Epp (Plautdietsche Schreftsteckja), J. Thiessen (Mennonite Low German Dictionary), J. J. Neufeld (Daut niehe Tastament) and Ed Zacharias (De Bibel). The latter two claim to write in the Old Colony dialect, as seen by the verb endings, while the other three use the Plautdietsch as spoken by the descenders of the Bergthal Colony, i. e. the Old Colony dialect but with loss of -n endings.


Mennonite Low German has many sounds, including a few not found in any other related language.


Where symbols for consonants occur in pairs, the left represents the voiceless consonant and the right represents the voiced consonant. Observations: According to the spelling system of De Bibel these sounds are spelled as follows:

and as in Kjoakj ('church') and Brigj ('bridge')

no letter, but has to be used if a word that begins with a vowel or a prefix is added to a word which by itself starts with a vowel: ve'achten (to despise)

as in Kjinja ('children') as in Hunga ('hunger')

could be written or : Fada ('male cousin'), Voda ('father'). The only criteria is the spelling of these words in German. is spelled as in German: Wota ('water')

at the beginning of a word and between vowels is written : sajen ('to say'), lasen ('to read'). The sound is written at the beginning of a word (where some speakers pronounce it ), between vowels and final after a short vowel: Zocka ('sugar'), waussen ('to grow'), Oss ('ox'). At the end of a word after a long vowel or consonant both are written , the reader has to know the word to pronounce the correct sound: Hos ('rabbit'), Os ('carrion'). The combination of a short and a voiced adds still more confusion to this, as in the word Kos ('goat').

and as in School ('school') and ruzhen ('rush'). and represent and at the beginning of a word and if a prefix is attached to a word starting with or : spalen ('to play') bestalen ('to order'). as in Joa ('year'). The sound is written after consonants, , and : Erfolch ('success'), Jesecht ('face'), Jewicht ('weight'), laach ('low'). After , it is written to differentiate it from : rajcht ('right')

is written , only occurs after back vowels: Dach ('day'), Loch ('hole'). (an allophone of ) is represented by between vowels and final: froagen ('to ask'), vondoag ('today'). At the beginning of a word and before consonants, g has the sound.

is a flap (like the Spanish r), or depending on the person, even a trill (like Spanish rr), before vowels: root ('red'), groot ('big'), Liera ('teacher'); pronounced as an approximant (English r) before a consonant, at the end and in the -ren endings of Old Colony speakers: kort ('short'), ar ('her'), hieren ('to hear'). The uvular German r is not heard in Plautdietsch.

is an allophone of that occurs after vowels in words like Baul and well.


The vowel inventory of Plautdietsch is large, with 13 simple vowels, 10 diphthongs and 1 thriphthong.

is rounded and is heard only in the Old Colony and Bergthal groups.

is an allophone of preceding an or a palatal consonant.

The sound has been shifted to in the Old Colony dialect, leaving the sound only as part of the ua diphthong. However, in certain areas and age groups, there is a heavy tendency to shift sound up to .

Pronunciation of certain vowels and diphthongs vary from some speakers to others; the diphthong represented by ee for instances is pronounced or even by some. Likewise the long vowels represented by au and ei might have a diphthong glide into and , respectively.

English sound equivalents are approximate. Long vowels a and o do not have a diphthong glide.


Low German grammar resembles High German, as the syntax and morphology is nearly the same as High German's. Over the years, Low German has lost many inflections, resulting in a greatly simplified Mennonite Low German. It is still moderately inflectional, having two numbers, three genders, two cases, two tenses, three persons, two moods, two voices, and two degrees of comparison.


Even though Low German has three genders, in the Nominative case it has only two definite articles (like Dutch and Low Saxon); masculine and feminine articles are homophonous. However, masculine and feminine indefinite articles are still different (like German) and thus, the three genders can still be perfectly established. In the Objective case, the masculine has a special definite article, making it once more different from the feminine, which, like the neuter, does not change. In the plural number, all gender identification is lost ; all plural determiners and adjective endings are homophonous with the feminine singular.

In colloquial speech the indefinite article is reduced practically to a "n", or "ne" if feminine. If used so, there is no case distinction. However, when used as a numeral, meaning "one", the diphthong "ee" is heavily stressed and the objective of the masculine gender is used. There is no indefinite plural article; een has no plural.

Some Plautdietsch writers try to use a three case system with the definite articles, without much consistency. The system looks somewhat like this, some might use the dative neuter articles, others might not:


All possessives (see under pronouns) are declined like in this way. With the form aa (her/their) an r has to be reinserted before adding endings .


Like High German, Mennonite Low German nouns inflect into two numbers: singular and plural, three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter, but only two cases, nominative, and objective. The historical dative and accusative have merged, even though some writers try to maintain a three cases distinction, which has been lost for most speakers, perhaps centuries ago. The objective case is distinct from the nominative only in 1) personal pronouns: ekj froag am, hee auntwuat mie 2) articles and demonstrative and possessive adjectives in the singular masculine gender: de Voda halpt dan San (the father helps the son) and 3) proper names, i. e. traditional Mennonite names: Peeta frajcht Marie-en, Marie auntwuat Peetren


The forming of plurals is complicated. Three major procedures can be established: 1) through an ending, -a, -en, -s, -sch or none at all; 2) voicing the final devoiced consonant and 3) fronting (and maybe sinking) a back vowel, which might require palatalization of a velar consonant. A given word could have one or two, all or none of these characteristics.


No ending, no devoicing, no vowel fronting: de Fesch de Fesch, daut Schop, de Schop, daut Been, det Been

Devoicing, no ending, no vowel fronting: Frint, Frind; Boajch, Boaj

No ending, no devoicing, vowel fronting: Foot, Feet

Devoicing and vowel fronting, no ending: Hoot, Heed (hat/s)

-a ending:

only: Licht, Lichta (light/s)

with devoicing: Bilt, Bilda (picture/s)

with vowel fronting: Maun Mana

with devoicing, vowel fronting and palatalization: Kaulf, Kjalwa

-en ending

only: Nas Nasen, (nose/s)

with devoicing: Tiet, Tieden, Erfoarunk, Erfoarungen

Words where a historical r is dropped require it to be reinserted: Daa, Daaren (door/s)

Polysyllabic words with a vocalized r drop the final a: Sesta, Sestren (sister/s)

An unstressed schwae also is dropped: Gaufel, Gauflen (fork/s)

-s ending

This class consists mainly of 1) short masculine and neuter nouns: Baul -s, Oarm -s

2) words related with family members: San -s, Fru -es,

and 3) masculine and neuter nouns ending in -el and -en (the latter may drop the n): de Lapel, de Lapels; de Goaden, de Goades

-sch ending

This class consists of masculine and neuter polysyllabic nouns ending with -a: Voda, de Vodasch; daut Massa, de Massasch

For someone knowing (High) German, pluralizing is a fairly predictable process, with some exceptions: the -en ending covers pretty much the same words in both languages; the -a ending is the equivalent for the German -er plural, where German has Umlaut, Plautdietsch will have vowel fronting in most cases. The -s and -sch groups are made almost entirely of polysyllabic nouns which in German have no plural ending.

The most problematic words are those with an -e plural ending in German. Although the entire class with no ending is made out of them, many other words are threated differently. For example, the plurals for Stool and Stock (chair and stick) are Steela and Stakja . Since they have their vowels fronted there seems to be no reason for the -a ending. Many others have been moved into the -en class: Jeboot, Jebooten . With some not so common words, there is no certainty about the correct plural, different speakers create them in different ways: the plural of Jesaz (law) could be Jesaza or Jesazen .


The classical genitive is no longer used except in a few relic expressions. Instead, possession is expressed as in many German dialects with the his genitive, i. e. naming the possessor in the objective case with the possessive adjective and the possessed object: Dan Maun sien Hus (the man's house). With proper nouns, and when the possessor is determined by a possessive adjective, the possessor is in the nominative case instead: Peeta sien Hus (Peter's house); mien Voda sien Hus (my father's house). Very long possessive clauses can be created: Mien Voda seine Mutta aare Mutta es miene Uagrootmutta (my father's mother's mother is my great grandmother).

For inanimate or generalized constructions, the preposition von or a composition are used instead: De Lichta von de Staut/ de Stautslichta (the lights of the city).


The diminutive is formed adding by -kje to the noun: de Jung, daut Jungkje; de Mejal, daut Mejalkje . All diminutive nouns take the neuter gender, with two exceptions: de Oomkje, de Mumkje, two forms used very commonly for mister/man/husband and mistress/woman/wife. These seem to have been created originally as diminutive forms of, respectively, Oom and Mumm (uncle and aunt). Today they are no longer seen as diminutives, and therefore retain their respective masculine and feminine genders.

With nouns ending in t or k, only -je is added; a few nouns ending in kj, an additional s is inserted: de Staut, daut Stautje, daut Buak, daut Buakje; daut Stekj, daut Stekjsje (the (little) city, the (little) book, the (little) piece).

Plural diminished nouns take -s ending: Jungkjes, Mejalkjes; however, if the original plural requires fronting of a back vowel or has an -a ending, these features are retained before adding the diminutive suffix: de Stool, de Steela --> daut Stoolkje, de Steelakjes


Personal pronouns

Some pronouns have two forms, different persons may use one or other form, or even alternate between them. Daut is used at the beginning of a sentence, but may be replaced for et in other positions.

Possessive adjectives of the masculine (nominative case) or neuter gender. Otherwise they are declined like the indefinite article and determiners (see under article section).

Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are frequently used instead of the personal pronouns. When used so, some people use special objective forms for feminine and plural. When used strictly demonstrative, only the singular masculine has a special objective form.


Mennonite Low German verbs have six tenses. The present and first past tenses are inflected, while the second and third past and both future tenses are different words marked by auxiliary verbs. Verbs can have two moods: Declarative and Imperative, two voices: active and passive, and three persons:1st pers. sing., 2nd pers. sing., 3rd pers. sing., and plural.

Weak verbs

The basic conjugation pattern is as follows:

To determine the stem, take the infinitive and drop the -en ending.

There are a few modifications to this basic pattern: 1) If the stem ends with a plosive or fricative voiced consonant , that consonant is devoiced in the 2nd and 3d persons of the present, since voiceless t and st automatically force the preceding consonant (compare the sound of the letter d in English lived and liked). 2) If the stem ends with a voiceless consonant that consonants devoices the d, sd, d, den endings of the past tense for the same reason. 3) If the stem ends with two consonants, the second one being a nasal or lateral, a schwa e is inserted to ease pronunciation. 4)Verbs with a diphthong and r have a special treatment, the r is dropped before endings are attached, and the st/sd of the second person is replaced by scht/zhd.

Examples of a regular verbs: spalen (to play), lachen (to laugh), lawen (to live), odmen (to breath) and roaren (to cry). The first one follows strictly the basic pattern, the others show the various adjustments needed as described above.

If the inverted word order is used, the -en ending of the plural wie, jie (but not see) form is dropped, and a root-only form, identical to the 1st person singular, is used.

Strong verbs

As in English and Dutch, some verbs have a vowel change in past tense and past participle. As in German, some verbs might have a vowel change in second and third person of the singular in present tense as well. A few verbs that are strong in German are weak in Plautdietsch, but many German weak verbs are strong in Plautdietsch, however, when compared with Dutch and English, those are strong, too.

{| class="wikitable" |- ! ! ekj ! du ! hee, see, daut ! wie, jie, see ! ____ wie, jie |- ! colspan="6" | finjen, to find |- | present | finj | finjst | finjt | finjen | finj |- | past | funk | fungst | funk | fungen | fung |- | Imperative | | finj (du) | | finjt (jie) |- ! colspan="6" | sieekjen, to seek |- | present | sieekj | sieekjst | sieekjt | sieekjen | sieekj |- | past | socht | sochst | socht | sochten | socht |- | Imperative | | sieekj (du) | | sieekjt (jie) |- ! colspan="6" | sajen, to say |- | present | saj | sajchst | sajcht | sajen | saj |- | past | sad | satst | sad | saden | sad |- | Imperative | | saj (du) | | sajcht (jie) |- ! colspan="6" | jawen, to give |- | present | jaw | jefst | jeft | jawen | jaw |- | past | jeef | jeefst | jeef | jeewen | jeew |- | Imperative | | jeff (du) | | jaft (jie)


! colspan="6" | schriewen, to write |- | present | schriew | schrifst | schrift | schriewen | schriew |- | past | schreef | schreefst | schreef | schreewen | schreew |- | Imperative | | schriew (du) | | schrieft (jie) |- ! colspan="6" | moaken, to make |- | present | moak | moakst | moakt | moaken |- | past | muak | muakst | muak | muaken |- |Imperative | | moak{du} | | moakt{jie} |}

GENERALITIES: Vowel changes in present tense are somewhat predictable: long ie and u change into short i; long a/o change into e or a; diphthongs aa and oa are simplified to a.

The first and third person of the past tense are identical (as in weak verbs).

With only a few exceptions (like the verb sajen), all voiced consonants are devoiced in the three persons of the singular past, the nasal ng and nj are retained in second person, but devoiced in first and third person.

The past tense has the same vowel through all persons.

If there is a vowel change from a to e or a in the present tense, that feature is retained in the singular imperative.

The plural form for wie/jie in the inverted word order keep the final consonant voiced.

Auxiliary, Modal and Anomalous Verbs

A small groups of verbs are more irregular: the auxiliaries sennen and haben, the modal verbs, and a few verbs that originally where monosylabic and with time a -nen ending has evolved:


The present participle, formed of the infinitive plus a -t ending, is not often used. It appears in idiomatic expressions like aunhoolent bliewen (to persist), and in a few adjective forms, which have to be inflected for number, gender and case, the -t is voiced into -d: koaken, koakendet Wota .

The past participle of weak verbs is formed with je- plus the stem of the verb plus -t. A voiced consonant is devoiced to go along with t, the inserted e between double consonant is retained, the r after a long vowel is dropped. For the weak verbs given above the past participles are: jespalt, jelacht, jejaft, jeodemt, jeroat.

The past participle for strong and anomalous verbs is hard to predict, they could be formed in five or six different ways:

some are like the weak verbs: jejaft, jesajcht ;

others are formed of je- plus infinitive: jestonen (stood);

some, including modal verbs, of je- plus first person past tense: jehaut; jesocht, jekunt ;

others of je- plus plural past: jefungen (found);

Those with an ee or oo in past tense are simplified to a/o: jeschrawen, jedonen

the past participle of sennen is jewast (been)

Adjectives are frequently made from the past participle by attaching an adjective inflection ending and voicing the final t; if the preceding consonant is voiced, with -en participles the e is dropped:

molen, jemolt, een jemoldet Bilt

koaken, jekoakt, eene jekoakte Ieedschock

stalen, jestolen, een jestolna Hunt

Compound tenses

Except for the present and simple past, all other tenses are constructed with the aid of the auxiliary verbs sennen, haben, woaren:

Some intransitive verbs take sennen instead of haben as auxiliary verbs if they: 1) indicate a motion from one place to another, or 2) indicate a change of condition, or 3) the verbs sennen (to be) and bliewen . Example: ekj sie jekomen, ekj sie oolt jeworden, ekj sie jewast .


Mennonite Low German also shows a rich inflectional system in its adjectives. Although once even richer, simplification has done its work here too, leaving Mennonite Low German with only three genders: feminine, masculine and neuter, and two comparison degrees: Comparative and Superlative.

The plural of all genders is identical to the feminine singular.

Strong and weak neuter declension: after the definite article daut or the demonstratives daut and dit the t is dropped and a form identical to the feminine and plural is used. In other situations, as with indefinite articles, possessive adjectives or without article, the strong form is used.

The objective is used only in the masculine singular. However, if a preposition-article compound is used with a neuter noun, then the objective would be used. Example: em grooten Hus, but:en daut groote Hus, en een grootet Hus.

There is no predicate form for the superlative, a preposition-article compound with the objective or weak neuter is used: aum woamsten, or: oppet woamste, or newly just the neuter form without preposition: daut woamste: Zemorjes es et woam, opp Meddach woat et woama, no Meddach es et aum woamsten/ oppet woamste/ daut woamste

The predicate form is used in predicate sentences for all genders: De Maun es oolt, de Fru es oolt, daut Hus es oolt


Plautdietsch preposition inventory is rich. Some of the most common:

aun, on, in: de Klock henjt aun de Waunt (he watch is hanging on the wall)

awa, over, about

besied, beside, next to

bie, by, at

bowa, over

buta, except, besides

derch, through

en, in

fa, for


hinjaraun (placed at the end)

jaajen, against

mank, among

met, with

no, to, after

onen, without

opp, on

to, to

tweschen, between

unja, under




Observation: the numeral eent (one) is declined like the indefinite article or a demonstrative or possessive pronoun ; when counting, the neuter pronoun form eent is used.

Instead of fiew, alw, twalw, some speakers say fief, alf, twalf .

The ordinal for 11th and 12th are: alfta, twalfta; from 13-19 use the ordinal + da: drettieenda (13th) ; from 20-99 use the ordinal + sta: fiew un twintichsta (25th). All ordinal numbers are declined like an adjective, the forms given here are masculine nominative.

The partitive numbers for 1/10, 1/11, 1/12 are een Tieedel, een Alftel, een Twalftel, for 13-19 add -del to the ordinal number, for 20-99 add -stel.


Mennonite Low German shows similarity with High German in the word order. The basic word order is subject-verb-object as English. Indirect objects precede direct objects as in English John gives Mary a present. But that is where similarities end. A dependent verb, i. e. an infinitive or past participle comes at the end of the sentence where an Englishman would place it immediately after the main verb, as shown in the following:

Mennonite Low German word order: Jehaun haft dan Desch jemoakt (John has the table made).

English word order: John has made the table.

Mennonite Low German, like High German has been referred to as verb-second (V2) word order. In embedded clauses, words relating to time or space, can be placed at the sentence's beginning, but then the subject has to move after the main verb to keep that verb in second position. This pattern is demonstrated here:

Mennonite Low German word order: Nu sie ekj schaftich. More Examples: Dan jeef de Kjennich seine Deena eenen Befal. (Then the king gave his servants an order)

Also, effects tend to be placed last in the sentence. Example: En daut Kuffel wia soo val Wota, daut et awarand .

Mennonite Low German has syntactic patterns not found in High German, or at least not as often, such as the repetition of a subject, by a pronoun.

Example: Mien Hoot dee haft dree Akjen. My hat it has three corners.

Questons, orders and exclamations have a verb first word order: Hast du daut oole Hus aun de fefte Gauss jeseenen? (have you seen the old house on fifth street?). All questions are arranged like this. There is no auxiliary verb to form questions. If there is a question word, that word precedes the verb: Wua es dien Voda jebuaren (where is your father born?). As in English, when using verbs in the imperative mood, it is not necessary to specify the person addressed, but it can be added for emphasis: brinj (du) mie emol dan Homa (please, bring the hammer to me). The word emol is frequently asked to soften the order as a word for please. Example of an exclamation: Es daut vondoag oba kolt! (is it cold today!).

Dependant clauses

As in High German, in dependent clauses, the verb goes at the end:

Ekj well morjen miene Mutta besieekjen, wan ekj Tiet hab. . Observe the construction of: if I have time.

However, when a dependent clause has an infinitive or past participle, this rule is no longer strictly applied; there is a strong tendency to move the finite (main) verb before the infinitive or participle, the direct object (or even a long circunstancial complement):

Example: German word order requires a sentence structure like: hee fruach mie, auf ekj miene Mutta jistren daut Jelt jejaft haud. Even though that sounds right and perfectly understandable, most speakers would rearrange these same words as follows: hee fruach mie, auf ekj miene Mutta jistren haud daut Jelt jejaft. Another example: hee sajcht, daut sien Brooda jrod no de Staut jefoaren es/ hee sajcht, daut sien Brooda jrod es no de Staut jefoaren (hee says that his brother has just gone to the city). Observe: the verb precedes a prepositional phrase, but an adverb is still placed before it.

Text sample

The Lord's Prayer in Dutch and two Low German dialects, Plautdietsch and Low German.


Low German


Ons Voda em Himmel, Uns Vader, in Himmel. Onze Vader, die in de hemel zijt,
lot dien Nome jeheilicht woare; Heiliget is dien Naam. Uw naam worde geheiligd,
lot dien Rikjdom kome; Dien Riek sall komen. Uw (konink)rijk kome.
lot dien Welle jedone woare, Dien Will doch doon, Uw wil geschiede,
uck hia oppe Ead,
soo aus em Himmel;
up Welt as dat is in Himmel. op aarde zoals in de hemel.
jeff ons Dach fe Dach
daut Broot, daut ons fehlt;
Gav uns dis Dag, uns dagliks Brod. Geef ons heden ons dagelijks brood,
en vejeff ons onse Schult, Un vergav uns uns Schuld, en vergeef ons onze schuld,
soo aus wie den vejewe, dee sich
jeajen ons veschuldicht ha;
as wi vergaven uns Schuldners. zoals ook wij vergeven onze schuldenaars /
zoals ook wij aan anderen hun schuld vergeven;
en brinj ons nich en Vesekjunk nenn, Un bring uns nich in Versuchung. En leid ons niet in verzoeking / in bekoring,
oba rad ons von Beeset. Aber spaar uns van de Ubel. maar verlos ons van de boze / het kwade.
wiels die jehet daut Rikj,

en dee Krauft
en dee Harlichtjeit

en Eewichtjeit.


Want van U is het koninkrijk,

en de krachten de heerlijkheid

in eeuwigheid.


See also

East Low German

Low Prussian


Pennsylvania German

Hutterite German

Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, a Low German Mennonite Church, Kansas, USA


De Bibel, Kindred Productions, 2003. ISBN 0-921788-97-5

De Smet, Gilbert. "Niederlandische Einflusse im Niederdeutschen" in: Gerhard Cordes and Dieter Mohn (eds.), Handbuch zur niederdeutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft, Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-503-01645-7, pp. 730 - 761.

Epp, Reuben. The Story of Low German & Plautdietsch, Reader's Press, 1996. ISBN 0-9638494-0-9.

Epp, Reuben. The Spelling of Low German and Plautdietsch, Reader's Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-9638494-1-0.

Rempel, Herman Kjenn Jie Noch Plautdietsch? A Mennonite Low German Dictionary, PrairieView Press, 1995. ISBN 1-896199-13-5.

Thiessen, Jack Mennonite Low German Dictionary / Mennonitisch-Plattdeutsches Worterbuch, University of Wisconsin, 2003. ISBN 0-924119-09-8.

Welschen, Ad (2000-2005): Course Dutch Society and Culture, International School for Humanities and Social Studies ISHSS, University of Amsterdam.

External links

Was ist Plautdietsch (in German)

Plautdietsch-Freunde e.V.

Opplautdietsch.de - Plautdietsch Radio e.V. Detmold, Germany

Plautdietsch.ca - written and audio resources

Dialect Literature and Speech, Low German from the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia

Pennsylvania German vs Plautdietsch among Mennonites

Plautdietsch online Dictionary and grammar guide

Peter Wiens - a German Plautdietsch blogger

Plautdietsch course (project)

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Plautdietsch