Bavarian Dialect

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Who hasn't heard of Bavaria? It is such a popular travel destination, offering everything from the fairy tale Neuschwannstein castle to the not-to-miss yearly Oktoberfest. As a tourist, Bavaria is fairly easy to explore and travel in, but as a German learner, not so if you want to really immerse in their culture. The barrier for any German learner or even Germans from other parts of Germany is das baierische Dialekt.

True, Bavarians do speak Hochdeutsch as well since it is taught in schools, but as the bavarian dialect  is the daily language of choice among Bavarians, you need to know some Bavarian in order to get by.

But of course to complicate things further for the German language learner, there are several bavarian dialects! There are three main ones: northern bavarian (mainly spoken in upper Palatinate), central bavarian (spoken mostly along the main rivers Isar and Danube, and in upper Bavaria including Munich) and southern bavarian (mostly in Tyrol region). The Baierisch that you hear on the bavarian tv channel is mostly the central bavarian dialect coming from Munich.

There is hardly any bavarian literature out there. Bavarian is considered to be a spoken language rather than a written one, even though the bible was translated into Bavarian as well. 

So how different is Bavarian from standard German?

See if you can understand the following Bavarian tongue twister:

Oa Zwetschgn im Batz dadatscht und oa im Batz dadatschte Zwetschgn gaabatn zwoa batzige dadatschte Zwetschgn und an batzign Zwetschgndatschi!

???

Exactly!

Now for something easier. Here's a silly Bavarian poem:

 

Da Jackl und sei Fackl

Da Jackl, der Lackl,
backts Fackl am Krogn,
duads Fackl in a Sackl,
mechts mim Hackl daschlogn.

Aba as Fackl, so a Prackl,
is koa Dackl im Frack,
beißt an Jackl, den Lackl,
durchs Sackl ins Gnack!

                                                 - Barbara Lexa

Better, nicht wahr?

In standard German, the poem would read as follows:

Jakob, dieser Flegel,
packt das Ferkel am Kragen,
steckt das Ferkel in ein Säckchen,
möchte es mit der Axt erschlagen.

Aber das Ferkel, so ein Ungetüm,
ist kein Dachshund mit Frack,
beißt den Jakob, diesen Flegel,
durch’s Säckchen hindurch ins Genick.

 

 And finally here's the English translation:

Jakob, dieser Flegel,
packt das Ferkel am Kragen,
steckt das Ferkel in ein Säckchen,
möchte es mit der Axt erschlagen.

Aber das Ferkel, so ein Ungetüm,
ist kein Dachshund mit Frack,
beißt den Jakob, diesen Flegel,
durch’s Säckchen hindurch ins Genick.

 

Hopefully, I haven't discouraged you from visiting the Bavarian state, but please do not go there without learning  at least some common Bavarian phrases and words. Bavarians will be flattered that you have made the effort to learn a bit of their language and you won't feel completely lost either when somebody addresses you  or uses some of the following phrases:

  • To greet someone: Gruss Gott
  • When leaving: Pfiat eich! Until next time!
  • Also very popular: Servus

     This word can be used informally  either as "hi" or as "goodbye" with somebody with whom you are on familiar terms with.

    • "Sapperlot" »It is used to express surprise or enthusiasm in the same sort of way as more modern terms such as "Alle Achtung!" and "Respekt!" but it is also used in the same way as swear words to express frustration or outrage.

    These are just a few words and phrases. For more Bavarian vocabulary and expressions, read here.

     

    There is one final point about the bavarian dialect that I want that will gladden the heart of any German language learner: The bavarian grammar is a little simpler from the standard German one:  only articles are declined, PLUS, the simple past is hardly ever used!

    That's one more reason to learn some Bavarian. Now go and visit Bavaria! Pfiat eich!

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    Bauer, Ingrid. "Bavarian Dialect." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/about-the-bavarian-dialect-1444357. Bauer, Ingrid. (2017, February 28). Bavarian Dialect. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/about-the-bavarian-dialect-1444357 Bauer, Ingrid. "Bavarian Dialect." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/about-the-bavarian-dialect-1444357 (accessed November 17, 2017).