Home History Culture Oral History Transcribed Interviews

Interview with William Giedt (WG)

Conducted by Allen L. Spiker (AS)
2 April 1979, Danzig, ND

Transcription by Matthew Miller
Editing and Proofing by Rev. Marvin Hartmann


AS: (Note to reader: This interview was designed to highlight the Katchubish dialect which is actually Plattdeutsch originally spoken by people living on the Baltic coast from Holland to what was once Danzig, a once German territory but is now Polish, prior to WWI. Some of these people had emmigrated to south Russia, Ukarine, Bessarabia etc. Subsequently they brought the dialect to North Dakota between 1875 and 1915. I spelled the words phonetically in an effort to reconstruct the sounds as close to the expressions on the tape as possible. Since I could not use the umlauts characteristic of German spelling I resorted to dipthongs, double letters which when read in combination alter pronouncations. I make no claim regarding accuracy nor consistency. I placed a question mark after Mr. Spiker's lead in lines even though sometimes they were declarative sentences. I hoped thereby to reflect his unspoken, "How do you say....." MLH)

AS: My name’s Allen Spiker and today is April 22, 1979 and I’m near Danzig. (North Dakota) Is there a Danzig anymore?

WG: No, that, that is, well it’s, the elevators are here yet.

AS: Well, that’s the elevators here?

WG: Yeah, that’s where the town used to be.

AS: But nothing else is left.

WG: There’s hardly nothing left there. No.

AS: Okay. And your name is?

WG: William Giedt.

AS: Okay, and where were you born then?

WG: I was, I was born in Wishek, in the Wishek area.

AS: Okay.

WG: And I’ve lived here all my life now and so forth.

AS: And then what about the other Katchuba. Maybe you can just tell me something about that. This is all new so I might as well record it.

WG: [Laughter.] Well, this used to be the, the Katchuba settlement here, and from here on west, the next three, four miles, and it extended maybe a mile or two miles north and maybe a mile or two miles south of here.

AS: Were there any other Katchuba settlements like that in the state?

WG: There might have been, but I’ve only known of this one.

AS: Okay.

WG: And some of the people that, that were Katchuba, that lived around here were the Donners, and the [inaudible], and the Berndts, and the Michaelsons, and the Koths, and the Giedts, and the Stadings. This was, that consisted mostly of this area. There were others yet that lived in Wishek and in Ashley, that extend from this area, but this is actually the, the Katchuba settlement.

AS: And how many are really left now, who still speak your dialect.

WG: That I know of? Well, there is Dave Quartier that lives in Bismarck, that speaks fluently.

AS: The man you were just talking about?

WG: Yes, he speaks it fluently. And my sister, my sister that lives near Kindred speaks it fluently, that I know. That’s about the extent of it that, that are still around, that I know that speak it will. There is a Reverend Reuben Stading that lives at McLaughlin, South Dakota, that speaks it quite fluently.

AS: Is he from here originally?

WG: Yes, he grew up a mile and a quarter west of here.

AS: Uh huh.

WG: And he has a brother by the name of Ben Stading that lives in Wishek. He’s a fellow, he uhh, thirty five or forty years old.

AS: And he speaks…

WG: He speaks, he speaks it too. But I don’t know how fluently that he would speak it anymore.

AS: You can, you can talk. That’s no, yeah that’s no problem at all.

Woman: [Laughter].

WG: And that’s about the extent of it. And then…well there were others but they’ve all moved away or died.

AS: Uh huh.

WG: I have an, I have an uncle that lives in the retirement home in Wishek. He’s very senile now, but if, if, you’d have got him maybe three, four years ago, he’d have given you a history like that would have been invaluable to you.

AS: Well do you know where your people came from in Russia? Like, where your parents were born.

WG: They originally came out of Germany.

AS: Uh huh.

WG: And then, then they fled to Russia and from Russia they came over here. Now my, my Dad from my Dad’s side, he, he...they settled at Devils Lake.

AS: Uh huh.

WG: And they immigrated, or, down here in a covered wagon.

AS: Do you know about when that was?

WG: Yeah, that was about in eighteen hundred and, right around eighteen hundred, maybe a little before that.

AS: Around eighteen hundred, or nineteen hundred?

WG: Eighteen. Because, my Dad was what, wait a minute…my dad was born in 1889 and it could have been around 1890 or 1895 when they came back, because he was still, he was the, he was the oldest one and he was still wrapped in a blanket, and about two and a half or three miles west of here is where they, they settled.

AS: Uh huh.

WG: In a sod shed; shack. And my Granddad went back living north of Carrington up towards Devils Lake and picked buffalo bones, for a living during…

AS: From the rail road ties.

WG: Hmm?

AS: To sell.

WG: To sell, yeah, um hmm. And in, uhh, in uhh. When was it, in the early 20’s when the railroad came through here? Soo Line. Then my Dad was just a young man and he worked on that railroad here, coming through here, where they board that up. But that’s, that’s about the best that I can tell you. And my Mother, my Mother came from, from Russia, with her parents and their name, her maiden name was Stading.

AS: Uh huh.

WG: And they, they lived, oh a mile and a quarter west of here.

AS: Do you…you don’t know where they were from in Russia though, what the villages were?

WG: Yeah, wait a minute. No, I couldn’t tell you.

AS: Was it near Danzig? Or anything like that?

WG: Free Danzig, I guess.

AS: Free Danzig?

WG: Yeah, this is where they came from and when they came, when this group came from over there, they all, not only the Kachuba but others that came from that area, settled here and that is how they gave this town that name, Danzig.

AS: Okay, because that’s a North German town too and they speak something like you do.

WG: Um hmm.

AS: Well, it’s Polish now.

WG: Yeah.

AS: It doesn’t exist any longer.

WG: Yeah.

AS: Okay well, I could ask the words person than. You can just talk, you can say anything in Katchubish.

WG: [Laughter].

AS: How would you say, "I like that?'

WG: ''Ik gleich dat.'

AS: And, "I used to like that?"

WG: "Ik, ik gleich dat amol zaer."

AS: Okay, and would you say, "Ich hab das gegliche or geglieche?" "I used to like that?"

WG: Oh, I could say, "Ik gleich dat amol zaer."

AS: Okay, and how would you say, "I was there?"

WG: "Ik vare dur."

AS: And, "What’s wrong?"

WG: "Wat iss loas?"

AS: And then if I’d say, "Hey look," how do you say that?

WG: "Hey keekamol!"

AS: Okay, and if I were standing out on the road and a speeding truck’s coming and I don’t see it and you say, look out, or warn me.

WG: "Pass upp!"

AS: Okay. You know it’s interesting; it’s just like the North German Mennonites too…

Woman: [Laughter].

AS: …around Arena. How would you say, "He walks now and he walked yesterday?

WG: Hae yaet heeda un hae yaent yestre.

AS: Okay, this is good. How do you say, she runs now and she ran yesterday?"

WG: "Sae rann heeurun. Sae rann yestre."

AS: Okay and, "I jumped now and I jumped yesterday."

WG: "Ik hopst heeda. Un I hopst yestre."

AS: Okay, and how do you say, "He sold the plow?"

WG: " Hai verkauft der ploach."

AS: And then how do you say, "One plow, two plows?"

WG: "Plaigh, der zwae plaigh."

AS: Okay.

WG: And "ploach is aine ploach."

AS: Okay. "Aine," the one thing I noticed when I first met someone who spoke your north German dialect…

WG: Yeah.

AS: I can’t pronounce half of it because it’s so, it’s more complicated I think than the Schwaebish in that.

WG: Um hmm.

AS: How do you say, "He always smokes a pipe?"

WG: "Nae roakt ahn ana peep."

AS: And, how do you say "God" and how do you say "devil?"

WG: Now just a minute. "De deevel and Gott."

AS: Okay, and "I hear something?"

WG: "Ik haer vhat."

AS: And, "No I don’t know him."

WG: "Ik kann er nich."

AS: Okay, and "How do you say no?"

WG: "No."

AS: And, "I know that he doesn’t have any money?"

WG: "Ik vaet dae hat kaen jeld."

AS: Okay. And Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall?"

WG: "Sommer, vinter, un hoarst, un fraiyohr."

AS: Okay, and "That’s a pretty girl?"

WG: "Dat’s a schaenet maecha."

AS: Okay. And when you spoke to your parents as a child or grandparents, did you say
"du" to them or, something else?

WG: Well, that, that would depend on. We usually said "Ihr."

AS: Okay, and "One day, two days?"

WG: "Aine dach oder zwae doach."

AS: The same word for one or more.

WG: No, "aine dach oder zwae dooch." Dooch is plural.

AS: Okay, on a lot of these words I’ll ask for the singular and the plural.

WG: Okay, all right.

AS: And than how about singular and plural, "wagon, wagons?"

WG: "Voage un, un, un voages."

AS: Okay, and what do you call, like this road out here?

WG: That’s, that’s "na vagone."

AS: Is it a road?

WG: That’s "na vach," yeah. "Du kannst vach seiya oder du kannst det vagone seiya."

AS: Is there any difference?

WG: Yes. The vagone…[Laughter]. Zat bessya bieatra vach haedra, begroada yamainlicha yavach. [Laughter].

AS: Oh, okay. [Laughter].

WG: That’s the difference see, by, by a trail or, or a built up road.

AS: Oh and a built-up is a "vagone."

WG: Yeah.

AS: And a trail is a…

WG: That’s "gruttna vaech."

AS: And then…

WG: That’s "gruttna voagna vaach."

AS: Okay, that’s a wagon trail.

WG: Yeah.

[All laugh.]

AS: I’m learning, so I know what you’re doing. And how would you say the plural for paths.

WG: For paths?

AS: Yeah it’s a "vach" and then it’s…what would the plural be?

WG: For a bath?

AS: For "path."

WG: Oh, a "path."

AS: The plural.

WG: Um hmm.

AS: But for the trail, yeah. What would the plural be then?

WG: I couldn’t tell you.

AS: Okay. Yeah, it’s, there’s no problem. A lot of those words you never used more, I mean there’s usually not two trails together like that.

WG: Hmm uh.

AS: Okay. And how would you say "a saw?"

WG: "Na zooch."

AS: And then two of them would be?

WG: "Zwae zoogha."

AS: Okay. And how do you say "I saw wood now, and I sawed wood yesterday?"

WG: "Ik zoogt haeda, un. Ik zoog halt moriga."

AS: Okay. And how about "I sawed wood yesterday?"

WG: "Ik zoogt halt yestre."

AS: All right. And how do you say "One frog, two frogs?"

WG: "No, ik ek".

AS: "One frog, two frogs?"

WG: All right. "Ik sach na frosch, un ik sach zwae froscha."

AS: Okay. And what do you call a toad?

WG: That would be a "frosch."

AS: It’s a "frosch" too.

WG: Yeah, umm hmm.

AS: Okay. And how do you say "One horse and the plural for horses?"

WG: Oh, "payet. Payet oder paierd. Payet is one and paierd, that’s two or three."

AS: Okay. I can barely…there’s a difference, but...

WG: There is. Can you, can you…did you get the difference? "Payet und paierd." Paierd, it’s, it’s the plural.

AS: Yeah it’s…the vowels I hear and then at the ends, the consonants are a little different, right?

WG: Umm hmm.

AS: That’s what I mean. I think, you know, your language is the most complicated one I’ve run into.

WG: [Laughter].

AS: Maybe that’s why the people quit school.

Woman: I think so.

AS: It is, it’s much more complicated than we…I, I only learned High German. I’ve lived there about three years in Germany, between military and school.

WG: Oh.

AS: And I’ve never run into a dialect like that.

WG: Yes.

AS: But, I’ve only been in the south where the rest of the people come from.

Woman: I thought it sounded like a whole flock of geese when I first listened to him. You know, three forms, repeat.

AS: You still married him though, so.

Woman: Yes I did. [Laughter].

AS: And how about cattle or livestock?

WG: "Fae."

AS: And "One egg, two eggs?"

WG: "Ain ei, un eier."

AS: And "Tomato and tomatoes?"

WG: Well now wait a minute, just…

AS: If you say an English word, when you use it, it’s all right.

WG: Yeah, well…[pause]. We, all we used, well, all I know is, was a tomato.

AS: Okay. That’s…

WG: That’s the best…

AS: Okay, that’s what most people say.

WG: Yeah.

AS: Some say "bardeis ahpfel" or something, most say tomato though. And then how do you say "potato, potatoes?"

WG: "Kartoffel or der kartoffele."

AS: Okay. Kartoffele is plural.

WG: Plural, yeah.

AS: And then "oats?"

WG: "Hoever."

AS: And "cucumber?"

WG: "Gurke."

AS: And "pickle?"

WG: "Zoora gurke."

AS: Okay, and a sweet pickle would be?

WG: "Mazaetig gurk."

AS: Okay, and "beet, beets."

WG: Now we said "baete. Baete."

AS: Is that one or more?

WG: "Dat’s a mehr un a baete iss grudaene."

AS: "Beete?"

WG: "Und baete, dat’s na mehr. Dat’s na ganza bunch."

AS: Okay and what’s one again, I was trying to…

WG: "Baet."

AS: "Baet and Baete."

WG: Yeah.

AS: Okay. And then "carrot, carrots."

WG: "Yahlmaere."

AS: Is that one or more?

WG: You can use that either way.

AS: Oh it’s the same for both.

WG: Yeah. And you can say "yahlmeer," which would be one, and then you say "yahlmeer," then you would have a bunch, or whatever you…

AS: Okay. And "apple, apples?"

WG: Well that we just, the only way we knew that was by apple.

AS: You just said "apple?"

WG: Um hmm.

AS: Did you say "aeppel or…?"

WG: No.

AS: Just apple. Okay. And "tree, trees?"

WG: "Ah baehm."

AS: Is that one or more?

WG: No, that’s more. "Bome" is one tree.

AS: Okay.

WG: "Baeme" is more than one.

AS: And how do you say "one garden, two gardens?"

WG: "Aine gourda oder zwai gourda."

AS: And then was there any special name for the part of the garden where they raised cucumbers, watermelons, things with vines?

WG: No, not that we do.

AS: "Bashtahn or pashtahn."

WG: Oh. [Laughter]. That’s right. "Dat vae na bashtahn."

AS: And is that a p or a b?

WG: A b. "Bashtahn. Bashtahn."

AS: And how do you say "One shirt, two shirts?"

WG: "Ah haemd oder haemde."

AS: "Haemde?" okay. And "one candle, two candles?"

WG: Now, hmm. I don’t know.

AS: "Kaertz, kahrtz, talchlicht?"

WG: That, no, that wasn’t...

Woman: One of the weirdest ones I think, is what they call a sleeve.

AS: What do you call that?

WG: "Na mau." [Laughter].

AS: "The mau?"

WG: Yeah, "na mau."

AS: I’ve never heard that before.

WG: [Laughter].

Woman: That’s why I said it’s different.

WG: And the sleeve is the "maue."

AS: Just like of a shirt or something.

WG: Yeah, yeah. This is, it’s the "mau."

AS: Uh huh. I’ve never heard of anything like that.

Woman: And the cup and saucer is very different too I think.

WG: Yeah. "Un na kumpja un na shattilja."

AS: The "kumpchion?"

WG: No, "no kumpja."

AS: "Kumpja?"

WG: That’s, that’s a cup.

AS: Is that a little cup then?

WG: That’s just a cup. It can be a "kumpja," is a cup regardless of whether it’s big or small.

AS: And what’s a saucer?

WG: "Schattilja."

AS: Okay.

WG: "Schattilja."

AS: I’ve never heard any of those either.

WG: And a plate is "na tahler."

AS: Uh huh. Yeah, because otherwise than you’d say "teller?"

WG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay.

AS: And would you please count from one to twenty in Kachubish.

WG: "Ain, zwai, drai, faier, teef, sees, seeva, och, neea, zean, elva, zwelv, dreizehn, vierzehn, funfzehn, sechzehn, siebzehn, ochtzehn, neunzehn, un zwanzig."

AS: Okay. People should be happy that I don’t ask for a hundred or something.

[All laugh].

AS: How do you say "one stone, two stones?"

WG: "Schtaen, schtaener."

AS: And "The hill is high?"

WG: "Da pukkol iss hoch."

AS: Is that a "pukkol" with a "p?"

WG: "P," yeah.

AS: And then how would you say "two hills?"

WG: "Zwai pikel."

AS: All right and what would you call a mountain?

WG: What would we call a mountain? I suppose we would call that "na hocha heechl."

AS: Okay and what’s the difference between a "heechel" and a "pokkel?"

WG: Well, "na pukkol" that’s, that’s a hill, and a "groate heechel," that’s what they refer to as mountains. Hocha heechels, you know when my, my Granddad, when they went someplace, they’d…oh we saw some, "vi sagga var, na hochae heechel mit schnae boova im July."

[All laugh].

WG: You understand me?

AS: They saw, they saw high mountains with snow on them…

WG: With snow on them in July. And here it was…you know how it is in July here, see.

AS: Everything’s dried up.

WG: Umm hmm.

AS: And then how would you say, "The cemetery is behind the church?"

WG: Now just a minute there.

AS: Do you say "kirchof, or…"

WG: We, they used to say "doederhoef."

AS: Okay.

WG: But, but that isn’t quite right. "Kirchoef mehr," more correct. "Kirch hof."

AS: But what did they, what did they say?

WG: "Doeda hof."

AS: Okay. But did they ever say "totengarten," or anything like that?

WG: Well, they did too, but that just depends on who you talk to. But, we had a, we had a, a church out in the country here, years ago, and they always referred to that as the "kirch hof."

AS: Okay. What kind of church was that here?

WG: A Baptist church.

AS: Okay. Yeah, there’s a lot of Baptists up here towards Lehr now too.

WG: Umm hmm.

AS: Do you know if your people were Baptists in Russia or did they convert when they were here?

WG: My, my parents, my mother’s parents, came over here as Baptists.

AS: Okay. Since I think there were few Baptists there and then more of them changed once they were here.

WG: That might have been but I know that my mother often talked about…

AS: Because I think Lehr is a lot of Baptists. Isn’t it up there?

WG: Ashley’s got much more.

AS: But Danzig…I thought Ashley was more Lutheran, and Lehr was more…

Woman: Oh yes.

WG: Yeah, Ashley is more Lutheran, but there are more Baptists. And we were the second largest congregation is in Ashley in the…

Woman: Yeah of America, right?

WG: Of Baptists, yeah.

AS: Okay, I’ve only been to Ashley a couple of times, so I’m not too familiar with it.

WG: Okay.

AS: And how do you say "church?"

WG: "Kirch."

AS: And ladder, ladders?

WG: "Na ladd," oder na…just a minute. Well, maybe we can come back to that one.

AS: Okay. But do you say anything like "litre or ladre?"

WG: "Mi krahbble, macht um ah ma krahbble yeschtahl." (My crawl, makes you crawl into the barn.)

AS: "Krabble yeschtahl?"

WG: Yeah, you know, you still…gestahlt. Geschtahl. Na krabble yeschtalh.

AS: Is what you call a ladder?

WG: Yeah, yeah. You set that up see and you crawled up see. Na krabbel yeschtahl, see.

AS: Okay.

WG: [Laughter].

AS: And how do you say "One cradle, two cradles?" like you’d rock a baby in?

WG: "Na schockl."

AS: And that’s what they called it.

WG: Yeah, "aine schockl or der zwai schockle."

AS: Okay, they didn’t call it a "veaghe," or anything like that?

WG: No. We never did.

AS: Okay, and then "One fly, two flies?"

WG: "Na flaegh, oder flaeghe."

AS: Okay. And "One coffin, two coffins?"

WG: "A zargh oder zwei zarke."

AS: And then what do you call a funeral service?

WG: "Begraphness."

AS: That would be the burial itself.

WG: "Begraphness…" wait just a minute. Just a minute.

Woman: You should have had those words last night.

WG: "Begraphness.." oh what did they call that?

AS: Did they call it "liecht" or anything like that?

WG: No. "Die begraphnes schtund" is what the, the Katchubish used. "The liecht," that was a German word that was brought in.

AS: Okay. And then for you the "begraphness stunde," that had the service, right?

WG: That, that was the service in the church, you see.

AS: Then what did they call the burial outside?

WG: Well that, that went with it. I don’t know what they…

AS: That was all one?

WG: Um hmm.

AS: I guess like we say "funeral" too now.

WG: Um hmm, um hmmm.

AS: And then how do you say "One chair, two chairs?"

WG: "Na schtoal oder schtale."

AS: Okay. How do you say, "I’m sitting in the chair now?"

WG: "Du zetzt in na schtoal."

AS: And how would you say…do you ever use "hokken?"

WG: What?

AS: "Hokken."

WG: "Hokk, hokken," that’s a German word.

AS: Okay.

WG: "Zetta" is the word that Katchubish use. "Gezett."

AS: Well yours is German too.

WG: [Laughter]. All right. Okay, different dialect though.

AS: Yeah, different dialect. You, you’d be surprised even village to village in Germany today, especially the older people still. I can even hear differences.

WG: Yeah.

AS: And just a few miles apart.

WG: Yeah.

AS: And how would you say, "I want to drink a cup of coffee with cream and sugar?"

WG: "Ik vann kumpja for koffee nee zoakker und, und schmant."

AS: Okay. And "One haystack, two haystacks?"

WG: "Aine hi hoopa, zwai hi hoopes."

AS: And "One house, two houses?"

WG: "A hoos un zwai heaser."

AS: And what would you call a small house?

WG: "A kleinet hoosja."

AS: Okay. And how do you say "meat?"

WG: "Flaisch."

AS: "Flesh?"

WG: "Flaisch, flaisch."

AS: How do you say "That smells good?"

WG: That, oh "dat reecht goat."

AS: And how do you say "That tastes good?"

AS: "Dat schmackt goat."

AS: And how do you say "fog?"

WG: "Da zaer doofdich."

AS: "Doofdich." Do you ever say "naebl?"

WG: "Naebl?" Yeah we used to use that word too. You could say…"sehr naeblich."

AS: Okay. And how do you say, "I wash clothes?"

WG: "Ik vasched, ik vasched klaider."

AS: You say "vasched?"

WG: Um hmm.

AS: And "She sweeps the floor with a broom?"

WG: "Sae fircht da mit dem bahsem."

AS: Okay. And "I’m going home now?"

WG: "Ik go nu na hoos."

AS: And then how do you say "home," with a sense of your hometown or something. "Gehet heim or hame, or…"

WG: No, we just said "Ik for nu na hoos."

AS: Okay.

WG: "Ik for nu na hoos."

AS: Oh, what I was gonna say is that there’s not much left of this and if you have a few minutes I’ve got a Mennonite, a little bit of tape from him. If you’d like to hear that and see if you can understand it.

WG: All right.

AS: Because I don’t understand that way. How do you say "One foot, two feet?"

WG: "Faet, na foat oder twai faet."

AS: And if I would call you and say, "Habe mir den foos gebroacha," how high could that go? If I just called you and I didn’t tell you anymore. I mean would it be down here, could it be to the knee, or could it be to the hip.

WG: "When du die foat g’broak, es iss da foat."

AS: Only down here.

WG: Uh huh.

AS: Because for you, [addressing wife] your people it could be all the way to the hip. Couldn’t it? If I just said "foos," it could be all the way, anywhere?

Woman: Yep, yep. I think so.

WG: And if it’s broke here, it would be the "schenken." "Ik hab mir da schenkel jebroaka." That would be this part.

AS: All right. And what do you call your heel of the foot?

WG: The "haacke."

AS: "Haacke?" And then what do you call your ankle?

WG: [Laughter]. Just a minute. "Der hoodae."

AS: That’s this part?

WG: That’s this part here. Yeah.

AS: What would you call the end of it?

WG: I can’t tell you. I don’t know.

AS: Yeah. I’ve never, I’ve never found a word in most German dialects, in Germany, don’t have a word for ankle.

WG: Is that…

AS: Because, "foos" goes up that high.

WG: Um hmm.

AS: And…What do you call a toe?

Woman: The "tae."

WG: "Na tae."

AS: The "tae," okay. And you [addressing the wife}said "zae?"

Woman: "Tzaeba."

AS: "Tzaeba."

Woman: Yeah.

AS: Okay. And what do you call "One hand, two hands?"

WG: "Na hahnt und meana hend."

AS: Okay. And how high would your hand go?

WG: "Bit hier, bit dur."

AS: Okay. And then what do you call the wrist?

WG: "Dit iss da dur, und dit’s da elbow und dit’s da achs.

AS: And what do you call mouth?

WG: "Mool."

AS: And how about for an animal? Do you have another word for like an animal?

WG: No.

AS: And how did you tell someone to shut up when you were kids and fighting and then…

WG: "Sen doch schtell."

AS: Okay. And you’d probably would say "goasch" or something like that? [Laughter]. When you’re mad.

Woman: Yeah. [Laughter]. I heard you had another word when you were mad. And not such a kind word, was it?

WG: Yeah, well, moocht doch der vier tal. [Laughter]. (Unclear what "vier tal" refers to if, indeed, it was clear on tape.)

Woman: That’s more like it.

WG: You like that one, huh?

AS: I’m trying to get the differences. You know like in English we really don’t have certain words like the German’s do.

WG: Yeah.

AS: And how do you say "One lip, two lips?"

WG: "Da unta iss da lep or der da oora iss da leppa."

AS: "Lep…?"

WG: Yeah.

AS: And "zwoe…?"

WG: "Dat’s iss det moul. Dat iss in da leppa."

AS: "Leppa," is the plural form.

WG: Plural form.

AS: And then how do you say "chin?"

WG: "Da kien."

AS: And "forehead?"

WG: The, the "schtaern."

AS: And what do you call a star, one star?

WG: Same thing, the "schtaern."

AS: Okay.

WG: It’s the "schtaern."

AS: Okay. And how would you say, how would you say "many stars?"

WG: "Schtaerne."

AS: "Schtaerne." But for forehead and one star it’s the same.

WG: That’s right.

AS: Okay. It’s interesting too, anyplace you go; you probably say the same word for forehead and star too.

Woman: Yeah. Right.

AS: Except you say it differently.

Woman: Schtern.

AS: There. I’ve got to try to find out why that’s like that. And how do you say…when a man’s bald, what do you call that?

WG: "Bloot."

AS: Okay. And how do you say "blood?"

WG: "Bloat."

AS: "Bloat." Okay. And what do you call a beard?

WG: "Na bourt."

AS: Okay. And a mustache?

WG: "Schnautzer."

AS: Okay. And then how do you say, "I eat?"

WG: "Ik aeyet."

AS: And then how about someone, if I came here and was eating, and just piling it in and making a mess, how would you say that?

WG: "Dae fraesst ya goot." [Laughter].

AS: Okay. How about, "I drink?"

WG: "I, I, I droonk woater."

AS: Okay. And what about the guy who sits in the bar all day and drinks?

WG: "Ohhh. Dat’s a schlimmer, dey drinkt immer."

AS: Would you say drinkt oder…

WG: Yeah. Yeah.

AS: Could you say "sauft" or anything?

WG: No, that’s a German word.

AS: You don’t say that then?

WG: No no. The only thing that you can relate to that would be like if you took a horse to the well or a cow or anything you would say, "dae sucht."

AS: Okay. But you wouldn’t say that…

WG: And you could say that many times if you wanted to be disrespectful for someone that was doing that, see. "Das ya fersoaktner hont."

[All laugh].

WG: You know, you know relating that, his, his act, to the animal act.

AS: Yep. Like I guess in English all you’d say is he eats like a pig or something. You know, I don’t think it’s as effective as when you say "der fresst" or something.

Woman: No.

WG: "Der sauft vir ah schteer." Now that was a lot of times. "Dey zukt ya gud vie a schteer," they asked us. [Laughter].

AS: And how do you say "in-laws?"

WG: We don’t have a word for that.

AS: Okay. And what would you have said, just "in-laws?"

WG: Well no, that "vaer der schweegerfutter und the schweegermutter."

AS: Okay. And did you [addressing wife] have any word for "in-laws," like…

Woman: Same thing, "schwiegervatter und schwiegermutter."

AS: Okay. And how would you say "son-in-law?"

WG: "Schwiegesehn."

AS: Is that one or more?

WG: That’s just one, "schwiegesehns."

AS: And the plural would be?

WG: "Schwiegesehns."

AS: Okay.

WG: "Dat sinn meana schwiegesehns." If you had two or three, see.

AS: Okay.

WG: I don’t have any.

AS: Oh, okay.

WG: [Laughter].

AS: Did you have all girls, or all…

WG: We have two girls.

AS: …all boys.

WG: We have two girls.

AS: Oh, but they’re not married though.

WG: No. [Laughter].

AS: Oh. Well then that’s coming. And then how do you say "daughter-in-law?"

WG: "Schweigerdochter."

AS: Like a d, dochter?

WG: Um hmm.

AS: And two would be?

WG: "Schweigedachter."

AS: And "brother-in-law?"

WG: "Meen schwoager."

AS: And then two of them would be?

WG: "Meena schwaiger."

AS: And then how about "sister-in-law, sisters-in-law?"

WG: Well, "dat iss meana schweigedochter."

AS: "Sister-in-law."

WG: Oh. Just a minute here.

AS: You’d say what, "geschwei" or something like that?

WG: No, that would be father-in, or mother-in-law.

Woman: No.

WG: We better come back to that.

AS: Yes. And how do you say "one uncle, two uncles?"

WG: "Dat vaer mean, meana…" just a minute. That would be my…that "vaer mien footer, mien foot..."

Woman: No.

AS: Uncle.

WG: "Mein fetter."

AS and Woman: "Fetter."

AS: Okay and then, two would....

WG: "Dat vaer…ya."

AS: And two would be?

WG: The same thing.

AS: Okay. And how would you say "one aunt, two aunts?"

WG: "Meana tante oder meana tantes."

AS: Okay. Did you use "fetter and tante" for anyone besides your real aunt and uncle?

WG: Huh ah, huh ah.

AS: Some German-Russians did.

WG: Yeah, yeah.

AS: You know any adult friend would be…

Woman: Huh ah.

AS: "…fetter" or the aunts, or something like that.

WG: A "tante or a…no, huh ah, huh ah."

AS: Okay. And how do you say "godfather?"

Woman: I don’t think we had a word like that.

WG: Yeah.

Woman: The Baptist’s didn’t use that.

AS: Oh, don’t you have a godfather in Baptist. Okay, well then, yeah, you wouldn’t, like the Mennonites have no word for it either.

WG: Yeah.

AS: See I was Lutheran, and we had it. I didn’t know the Baptists didn’t have that. I have some Baptist relatives too.

[All laugh]

AS: I just never, you know, I’ve gone to church with them sometimes but there’s never been a baptism or anything.

Woman: Right. I’m sure.

AS: Then no one has "godmother" either. How do you say "one orphan, two orphans?"

WG: A "veiss, a veissekind oder veissekinder."

AS: Okay. And "one widow, two widows?"

WG: "Na vittfroo or der vitveeber."

AS: And a "widower, and two widowers?"

WG: "Vittmann or der vittmaenner."

AS: Okay was there, what would you call the bridesmaid in the…for a wedding. Did you have any term for that?

WG: Nope we didn’t. We didn’t.

AS: Okay. Some of today’s…

WG: The only thing you would used to say for the…

Woman: Sure you did. Just translate the bride-groom.

WG: Yeah.

Woman: Say it in your language.

WG: The "breedagomm." That was the man, and the "breeda…"

AS: "Braut" or something?

WG: "Breed, the braut" was the, was what we used for the, for the…

Woman: The bride.

WG: …the bride.

AS: Okay.

Woman: How about the attendant now?

WG: Well, there was a word for that but…

AS: Yeah, I suppose, you know, if you’re not having weddings with those people now days you don’t usually…

Woman: Yeah.

WG: You know, you gotta figure that this has been a long time.

AS: I know.

WG: All right.

AS: Well, that’s why we’re doing it now. It’s not too late, but this should have been started thirty, forty years ago. It’s just too bad no one was interested.

Woman: Because he doesn’t use it, you know, now that much but for when his sister would come.

AS: Yep. This is kind of just salvaging what little is left of it. How would you say "Most people in town are Germans?"

WG: "Da moashte leed in da stadt sinn Deetsch."

AS: Okay. And how would you say, "I can see him?"

WG: "Ik kann ehm sehne."

AS: And "He can see me?"

WG: "Un hai kann mich sehna."

AS: And "We can see her?"

WG: "Vi sehn ihr."

AS: And "She can see us?"

WG: "Un sae kann uns sehna."

AS: And if you were speaking just to your wife, you would ask, "You can see them, can’t you?"

WG: "Kannst du sie sehna?"

AS: And if you were speaking to your wife and me how would you say, "You can see them, can’t you?"

WG: You can see…

AS: To both of us.

WG: Oh. "You sehen sie doach, sehnet nich?"

AS: Would you say you or…

WG: Yeah. "Ik seit. You sehen sie doach, you two."

AS: Okay. And that means you two.

WG: Yeah.

AS: Do you ever use "dey, gadies" or something like that? Oh wait, that’s not right. Okay.

WG: Yeah, "dach." We call a day a "dach."

AS: No, they say "dae" for two you. When you’re talking to two people and you say "you?"

WG: Oh, "dey?" Yeah, than when you’re referring to somebody, like maybe those people over there, you’d say, "dey, dey dedat haeda."

AS: Okay. Yeah, that would be different. I was thinking it was up in Arena dialect. And now if you were speaking only to your wife and said "They can see you."

WG: "Deyt konne mir sehne."

AS: "They can see you," speaking to your wife.

WG: Huh ah.

AS: They "konne," not me, but…

WG: Yeah, they "konne mie sehnen."

Woman: No.

AS: Not me, speaking to your wife saying, "They can see you."

WG: "Kannst du dee sehne?"

AS: Okay, "dich?"

WG: "Kanne sie dee sehne? Dee."

AS: No. But how would you say "They can see you," to your wife? Would you say…

WG: "Sae kanne dee sehne."

AS: "Dich," for your wife?
(It is clear from the foregoing exchanges the interviewee was confused about what phrase the interviewer expected.)
WG: Yeah, yeah.

Woman: "Dee."

AS: "Dee," just "dee."

WG: Yeah.

AS: And how, if you were speaking to your wife and me how would you say, "They can see you?"

WG: "They kaenne yuch sehne."

AS: "Yuch?"

WG: "Yuch."

AS: Okay. How would you say, "He gave me the bucket?"

WG: "Hai jocht mi de aemer."

AS: And "He gave him the bucket?"

WG: "Un hai jocht ahm de aemer."

AS: And "He gave her the bucket?"

WG: "Un hai jocht ihr de aemer?"

AS: Oh. I didn’t know that meant something when I wrote this stuff was taxing. It was just innocent mistake. And "He gave them the bucket?"

WG: "Hai jocht aehn deh aemer."

AS: And "He gave you (only to your wife,) the bucket?"

WG: "Hai jocht grut dee deh aemer."

AS: "Grut?"

WG: "Hai jocht grut dee deh aemer."

AS: But what’s the "grut" mean? Oh he "just, just…!"

Woman: "Only to your wife."

WG: "Just, just."

AS: Okay. And how would you say, he gave you, (meaning your wife) amd two buckets?"

WG: "Hai jocht euch alle zwai na aemer."

AS: Okay. And "He gave us two buckets?"

WG: "Hai jocht euch jede zwai aemersh."

AS: Okay. "He gave us........?"

WG: "Hai jocht euch jeder zwai emersh."

AS: Oh, you’d say…no, us. "Uns," would you say "uns?"

WG: No, you. "Jeder," that would be the two of you.

AS: But if you were saying.... you’re telling me if he gave your wife and me buckets he’d say "us?" He gave "us" the bucket?

WG: What? "Hai jocht uns der emersh."

AS: Okay. "Aemersh?"

WG: "Amersh."

AS: This is the end of it now, so...."His dog barks too much?"

WG: "Saen hund baelt zu feal."

AS: And "Her husband drinks too much?"

WG: "Ihr mann drinkt zu fiel."

AS: And "My hand hurts?"

WG: "Meane hahnd deat vae."

AS: And our T.V. is broken. You don’t have to give a German word for T.V. Our T.V. is broken.

WG: Unser…

AS: T.V.’s fine.

Woman: Just say T.V.

WG: "T.V. iss kaput."

AS: Okay. And speaking to your wife only, say, "Your apron is new?"

WG: "Ihna schaat iss neach."

AS: Okay. And if you were speaking to your wife and your daughters, and each had a new apron, you’d say "Your aprons are new, aren’t they?"

WG: "Euna schatta sinn nur ganz neach."

AS: Okay. And how do you say, "One apron, two aprons?"

WG: "Dat’s na schat or der schatta."

AS: Okay. And "Their house is new?"

WG: "Der…der leet ihr hoos iss neach."

AS: And then "John’s brother is her husband?"

WG: "Johann iss dae ihr mann."

AS: And "Frieda’s sister is his wife?"

WG: Say that again.

AS: "Frieda’s sister is his wife?"

WG: "Frieda iss jahnem seena. Jahne…"

AS: "Frieda, Frieda’s sister is his wife?"

WG: "Frieda, ihra schwahshter iss ihr mann."

AS: Okay. The last two. "They’ve been married for twenty-five years?"

WG: " They habe yafreet fur funf und zwanzig juhr."

AS: And…"yefriet?"

WG: "Yafreet."

AS: "Ga" or "ya."

WG: 'Yafreet, yafreet."

AS: Okay, I have problems hearing the…

Woman: That’s married. Married.

AS: Okay. And how about they’re divorced.

WG: "They sinn gescheaden."

AS: Okay. Yeah, that’s the end of the word list. Could I get you to just say something, you know just tell me something.

WG: Vaerst du vetscha fraeig yekomma, haetscht ya koonta ya hava kaffee yatroonka mit don svet em komptja. Venn u besta bet schpoatya yakomma. Vehn du hunger haest, denn duet miena froo de mooka meite. [Free translation: “Had you come earlier we could have drunk some coffee when you arrived. But you came late. If you are hungry my wife will prepare something for you.”

AS: Oh. Danke. Ich habe schoan etwasda bei… [O thank you, I have had some by…] I only understood words though…

WG: [Laughter]. You do it more remarkably now.

AS: Oh. I’ve been listening to a lot of Mennonites when they talk, so I’ve picked up on that. Is it getting too late now, it’s getting close to seven. What I was gonna say is, if you…[end of interview].

 

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Library North Dakota State University North Dakota State University GRHC Home