As Steinbach has grown, it has become more diverse, and some might even say, “metropolitan.” Long gone are the days when elderly Mennonite men would greet young women at the Clearspring Mall with, “Hia es een frescha Schnetje fe’ di vun miene Mutta, Aganetha.” Today, such tactics would be greeted with shrugs.
In fact, a new study has shown that Plautdietsch has slipped out of the top ten most spoken languages in Steinbach homes after English, French, High German, Russian, Tagalog, Cebuano, Spanish, Korean, Icelandic, and, surprisingly, Pig Latin.
“The sign welcoming visitors to town is in English and French, not English and Plautdietsch,” notes linguistic environmentalist Peter Plett. “Decades ago this would never have been tolerated. I mean, sign-making was a sin in those days, but that’s not the point.”
As a result of this decline, Plautdietsch has been added to the list of Canada’s endangered species alongside the Peary Caribou and the Lake Erie Water Snake.
“We need to do everything we can to preserve the remaining Plautdietsch population,” said Plett. “We need to be teaching our kjinja to greet each other in the morning with ‘Waut es met die?’ rather than the usual ‘Yo, what’s up?’ that seems so popular these days.”
In order to maintain the Plautdietsch population, all signage in town will be required to be in the two new official languages, Plautdietsch and English.
“We will also be playing romantic Plautdietsch songs on loudspeakers throughout town in order to increase the natural population growth,” said Plett. “Nine months from now, I’m expecting tremendous results.”