Mennonite Heritage Village

Language Fun

by Gary Dyck

Plautdietsch (Low German) sounds like a fun language. I don’t speak it, but when I hear it, I do sense a lightheartedness to it. In this edition of the Mennonite Heritage Village’s (MHV), I hope to bring some of that to all our readers. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and we need more encouragement. At MHV we like to challenge our visitors with what the Mennonites have experienced the past five centuries, but we also know that some of our visitors are needing a positive experience to reduce their own anxiety and lack of stability.

Let’s start by enjoying an English translation of a Mennonite riddle (from Victor Carl Friesen’s The Windmill Turning):

Jingle-man and clatter-man, both up the hill began;

Clatter-man went twice as fast, but jingle-man still came in first.

Answer: Jingle-man represents horses and their harness, while clatter-man represents the wagon. The wagon’s wheels go much faster in their turning than do the horses themselves and yet they always stay ahead of the wagon and reach the destination first.

With language comes cultural wisdom. Now a few wise sayings for those who expect more during this current pandemic. Even if you don’t read Plautdietsch I encourage you to read the original language aloud also:

Fonn hoate enn jenode – fief kjieltje enn sass mode.

From hearts and compassion – five noodles and six maggots.

(Compassion will bring you goodness in this life, but it will also still bring hardship. Do not expect to be rewarded for a good deed in this life).

Fonn nuscht ess nuscht.

From nothing comes nothing.

And finally,

Et ess kjeene Schaund dol too faule, oba ligje bliewe ess.

It is no shame to fall down, only to stay down.

De näwel blifft opp de ead, bott dee sonn et opptraikt.

The fog stays on the ground, until the sun pulls it up.

Did you know that at the Mennonite Heritage Village in addition to a well-stocked gift shop and bookstore, we also have a small library on historical books? It includes copies of Friesen’s intriguing book on Plautdietsch idioms and rhymes, books on the history of a variety of families (Penner, Goertzen, etc) and regions (Grunthal, Blumenort, Russia, etc) as well as interesting topics such as the early Anabaptists, Hutterites, Windmills and much more. Come in today and refresh your reading supply for the cold winter ahead!

Upcoming Events

  • MHV gift shop and galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday.
  • Treasures of the Archives: Recently Discovered Tsarist Maps and the Mennonites, Saturday, October 30, 2pm – 4:30 pm. A cartographic presentation including maps from the Russian State Military History Archives by Brent Wiebe from Stettler, Alberta. Admission is free. All those attending must show proof of vaccination. Masks are required. The event is sponsored by the EastMenn Historical Committee and Mennonite Heritage Village.
  • MHV Christmas Market, Saturday, November 13, 10am – 4pm. Get your Christmas shopping done at our annual Christmas Market. Browse through our many vendors and find that unique gift. Admission is a tin for the bin in support of Steinbach Community Christmas. Hot lunch will be available from 11:30am – 2pm. Sleigh rides will be available from 10:30am – 3:30pm.