Translate an Amish insult?
June 9, 2011 2:46 AM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out a potential Amish insult

A friend of mine grew up in Amish country. Her complaint is that when she would board the school bus, she'd frequently hear a particular phrase from the Amish kids that seemed like an insult. Nowadays, all she can remember of the occurrences when this took place are the bare phonetics. As she recalls, the kids would say (phonetically as she related it to me):

"Agupis topf."

More broken down, it's " ah-goo-pis top." I asked if it might have been "kopf," but she was adamant about the t-sound.

I'd like to suss out what she was being called in her school years in order to help her get past it. Any help is appreciated.
posted by Graygorey to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If we were talking about German (which we kind of are), I would say she heard something like "Ach du bis(t) - something" ("Oh, you are - ") Maybe even "Ach du bist doof" ("Oh you are stupid"). I don't know if Pennsylvania Dutch or whatever those particular Amish spoke has something like "doof", though. And it would depend on whether they were addressing her or talking about her among themselves. What about "taub" (deaf) for the final word?

(Again: I only know German and some other mainstream Germanic languages and dialects, not Amish dialects).
posted by lollusc at 3:07 AM on June 9, 2011

"kopf" is "head", so it might be "something-head".
posted by Evilspork at 5:24 AM on June 9, 2011

Ack, I skimmed past the part where you covered that. Sorry.
posted by Evilspork at 5:25 AM on June 9, 2011

Best answer: if it is "topf", that's "pot", as in the cooking vessel, in German. Perhaps "ach du piss topf"?
posted by dubold at 5:40 AM on June 9, 2011

Best answer: The "top" or "topf" word means "chamber pot". So "Oh you are a chamber pot".
posted by tel3path at 11:37 AM on June 9, 2011

p.s. and I speak Plautdietsch, but not the Amish kind.
posted by tel3path at 11:39 AM on June 9, 2011

Response by poster: Ugh. Not looking forward to telling my friend what the kids were probably calling her, but thanks, gang!
posted by Graygorey at 5:22 PM on June 9, 2011

Best answer: When I first saw this thread, I emailed a friend of mine who is Mennonite and of Amish background. This is what she had to say:

The “piss pot” idea is the most likely.

For what it is worth, “plautdeutsch” is actually closer to dutch than german. This site says that “plaut” or “low” refers to common but I have also heard it explained that it refers to the “low countries”. The “low countries” were what is now Netherlands/Belgium etc. And the website acknowledges the low country link. If you look at paintings by the Dutch art masters, you can see the same bone structure as many of the current Russian/ Mexican Mennonites who originally came from “the low countries” and who still speak plautdeutsch.

And the “amish” dialects are actually south-german dialects (deitsch or Bavarian) – because that is where the amish came from originally. It isn’t “unique” to amish. The area around Wellesley [Ontario] was settled by Catholics, Lutherans and Amish – all from the same area of Germany – they all spoke the same dialect and did so very commonly and publicly until World War II.

Short and not terribly interesting history.

posted by orange swan at 10:36 AM on June 10, 2011

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