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Do you know your German dialects?

Apr 26, 2020


Is it a bread roll, cob, bap or breadcake? Do you say alleyway, ginnel, jitty or twitchel? In the UK we all speak various dialects of the English language. Although we all read and write in standard English, the words and phrases we use day-to-day can often differ, depending on where we come from.

And guess what? Germany is no exception!

There is estimated to be around 250 distinct dialects in Germany! Just like in England, German school students learn to read and write in ‘Hochdeutsch’ (Standard German) and we also learn Hochdeutsch in German lessons here in the UK. But the words and phrases that many Germans speak with friends and family can sometimes be quite different!

Bayrisch (dialect spoken in Bavaria)

The South Eastern Bundesland of Bavaria, home of Bayern Munich football team and Oktoberfest, is also home to some interesting language! When visiting the towns of Munich or Nuremburg why not try these phrases out?

Bayrisch
Hochdeutsch (standard German)
English
Servus, Gruss Gott Hallo Hello
An Guadn Guten Appetit Enjoy your food!
Dank schee Danke schön Thank you

And to test if you are a true Bayer or Bayerin, there’s a shibboleth (a word or phrase used to determine where someone is from!)

Bayrisch
Hochdeutsch (standard German)
English
Oachkatzlschwoaf Eichhörnchen Squirrel

 

Berlinisch (dialect spoken in Berlin)

Want to speak like a true Berliner? Here’s some key phrases:

Berlinisch
Hochdeutsch (standard German)
English
Juten Tag Guten Tag Hello
Tschö Tschüss Bye
Dank schee Danke schön Thank you
Ick liebe dir! Ich liebe dich! I love you!

There is even a word for ‘to speak in the Berlin dialect’ – berlinern!

 

Schwäbisch (South West German dialect)

Spoken in the southern Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg, home to the Black Forest, and parts of western Bavaria, this dialect looks very different to standard German!

Schwäbisch
Hochdeutsch (standard German)
English
Adee Auf Wiedersehen Goodbye
Deesch mr abr arrg! Es tut mir leid! I am sorry!
Die Schwaba schwätza oi luschdig Schbrache! Die Schwaben sprechen eine lustige Sprache! The Swabians speak a funny language!

 

Kölsch (dialect spoken in Cologne)

Cologne has many things: the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, the impressive looking Hohenzollern Bridge over the River Rhine and even its own chocolate museum. But did you know it also has its own dialect?

Kölsch
Hochdeutsch (standard German)
English
Et es wie et es Es ist was es ist It is what it is
Dat is jot su Das ist gut so It’s a good thing
Et hätt noch immer jot jejange Es ist immer noch gut gegangen It’s gone well so far

With around 250 dialects in Germany, there’s plenty more to discover! Why not see which other ones you can find?