Plautdietsch – low German

What is Plautdietch (Plattdeutsch), and do people worldwide speak that language variant? Plautdietsch or Mennonite Low German is a Low Prussian dialect. ‘Low’ refers to the plains of northern Germany, and Dietsch (Deutsch) means German. As mentioned in our previous article, Germans were invited by the Russian Empire to settle there. Amongst Germans from many areas and of many faiths, especially Mennonites left Germany due to persecution and created colonies north of the Black Sea, the today’s Russian Mennonites. Other Mennonites left for the Americas and settled in what is today Canada, the United States, but also in Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico and Belize. Plautdietsch is still widely spoken in North and South America and parts of Russia and Asia by approximately 350,000 Mennonites.

Plautdietsch is a developing language in Mexico, Paraguay and Belize. In Bolivia, Southern Brazil, the United States and Costa Rica, however, the Plautdietsch language is threatened by extinction.

In Northern Germany, low German is still spoken. It has the same roots as Mennonite Low German and shares many similarities. Still, the two dialects are not to be confused as today’s Mennonite Low German was heavily influenced by Spanish, Portuguese, English and Russian.

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