German "dialects": mutual intelligibility

vince

Senior Member
English
Keeping with the theme of the previous Scandinavian, Turkic, and Romance mutual intelligibility threads, I'd like to inquire about the intelligibility of the German "dialects"

e.g. Low Saxon, West Frankish, Rhine Frankish, Thuringian-High Saxon, Swabian-Alemannish, Bavaro-Austrian, etc.

e.g. If someone who was only fluent in Standard High German, how much Swiss German (Alemannish) or Viennese (Bavaro-Austrian) could they understand?

How about with the written forms?

Bonus question: How do you say "Alemannisch" in Romance languages, since their word for German is *alemano?

Thanks,
Vince
 
  • vince

    Senior Member
    English
    Are there significant grammatical and lexical differences between the German "dialects"?

    Using Mandarin and Cantonese as inspiration for examples of which aspects can related "dialects" be completely different in, how do German "dialects" differ in their:
    - copula "to be"
    - basic negations
    - imperative / negative imperative
    - demonstratives
    - comparatives
    - verbal aspects and tenses, as well as their formation
    - personal pronouns
    - T-V distinction (or lack of)
    - possessives
    - word order
    - make/do distinction (or lack of)
    - interrogative words (who, what, where, why, how)

    By different, I mean are they totally different in etymology and construction.

    e.g. Totally different: the English and German ways of forming questions: "Do you have my book?" (addition of "do") vs. "Hast du mein Buch?" (inversion). Same: (differing only in pronunciation evolved over the past few centuries) Standard German vs. Alemannic to say "I have been .." : "Ich bin ... gewesen" vs. "I bi ... gsi."
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    The problem with dialects:

    Dialect speaker usually do not speak their dialect when they are speaking with people from other area. The switch to the standard language with accent and some modifications related to the dialect.

    I came from a dialect area speaking "itzgründisch". They have a lot of differences, and if you do not know the dialect, you will only understand parts of the contents.

    There are differences in

    grammar,
    pronunciations,
    words

    There are vowel shifts. Hasen (rabbits) -> Hosen (trousers), Hosen (trousers) -> Husen, heißen (mean) -> haßen

    Simple past is replaced by present perfect.

    "Wo", spoken somehow like "wu" (English like woo) (where) is used in many nonstandard meanings. (It can refer as well to persons as to time, der Mann, wo hier war. 1954, wo ich in Frankreich gewesen war ... - this is wrong in standard German.)

    A lot of endings are omitted.

    Unfortunately, I cannot speak it very well anymore.

    But when I moved to Dresden when I was three years old, nobody understood me.

    A lot of words are different.

    Zamet = Kartoffelbrei
    Öwaschicharuhm = Kohlrabi
    Millichstök = Löwenzahn
    Schwammabrüh = Pilzsuppe
    Gemää = Gemeindehaus
    ...

    But when they speak to me now, they do not use the dialect. They use it when speaking to each other.

    Source in the German Wikipedia
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itzgründisch

    Wenn da kää Gald niä host, kaas da de fei nex gekeaf.
    Umgesetzt in standarddeutsche Bezeichnungen (transformed to standard German words)
    Wenn du kein Geld nicht hast, kannst du dir (gewiss) nichts kaufen.

    Standarddeutsch: (standard German)
    Wenn du kein Geld hast, kannst Du dir nichts kaufen.

    (If you do not have money, you cannot buy anything.)

    Note: For the most of the dialects, there is no standard of the written form. If you find written forms and read them, it does not sound like the dialect, because in the dialect, the vowels and consonants may sound very differnt to the standard. For example, "ä" and "e" may sound different in the dialect, but not in the standard language.

    There was a standard for Low German some centuries ago, and they had a lot of own literature, but they changed to High German.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Nu. :)

    (This is from the Dresden dialect, and it means: "ja" - "Yes" or, in this case: "klar" - "of course")

    You see, even if you think you understand, many speakers of standard German would understand "no".
     

    heidita

    Banned
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    e.g. If someone who was only fluent in Standard High German, how much Swiss German (Alemannish) or Viennese (Bavaro-Austrian) could they understand?
    As suggested by Who, do read the other threads about this topic.

    I would hardly understand anything at all. Depending on how fast and how strictly the dialect is spoken.
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    I've read the other threads

    but I'd like to see grammatical comparisons as to how similar/different they are.

    Basically, I want to see how much they differ compared to Chinese "dialects". That is, do they have differences on the magnitude of the ones in my previous post:

    - copula "to be"
    - basic negations
    - imperative / negative imperative
    - demonstratives
    - comparatives
    - verbal aspects and tenses, as well as their formation
    - personal pronouns
    - T-V distinction (or lack of)
    - possessives
    - word order
    - make/do distinction (or lack of)
    - interrogative words (who, what, where, why, how)

    Wu vs. Wo or Da vs. Du don't count as a "large differences" because they are etymologically the same. I mean, it may impede comprehension, but it doesn't show a difference in structure. Compare the word for "wo"/"wu" in Chinese "dialects": Cantonese: "bindou", Mandarin: "nali".

    However, gekeaf vs. kaufen does count, because although etymologically related (from a root meaning "to buy"), the function of the word is different in the other language/dialect.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Here you can find ecplanations to "Itzgründisch" in the German Wikipedia.
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itzgründisch
    They give a lot of such explanations.

    This may help you, if you know the standard German language.

    Here is one example from the text:

    Sätze werden oft mit den Hilfsverben "tun" oder "können" und dem Partizip Perfekt formuliert. (Das Kind schreit. - "Des Kindla tut schrein." oder "Des Kindla ka fei g´schrei.")
    Das Kind schreit. (Standard)
    "Des Kindla tut schrein." or "Des Kindla ka fei g´schrei." (Dialect)

    "Kindla" has the diminutive ending "la"
    "fei" is a kind of grammatical particle without own meaning. It is similar to "indeed". The child cries loud, indeed. It is used in very many sentenses in this dialect.

    g´schrei
    instead of "schreien" (standard) - they use "geschrei" as Partizip but the "e" is omitted usually at this position. (I do not know, if "participle" is exactly the same as German "Partizip"). This form does not exist in the standard language. "Geschrei" as noun exists in standard and as "G'schrei" in the dialect.

    You should note, that the writing is just a kind of approximation to render the pronunciation.
     
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