This is a brief introduction into the German language and one of the most commonly known dialects. Hopefully, this will take some of the scare out of encountering a foreign language.

Austria and Germany most probably have more dialects than most Americans can conceive possible. Remember, a true dialect is not slang. The Bavarian dialect is just one among many. However, it is one of the more difficult dialects to comprehend. Most Germans, as well as the Austrians, would be totally lost if the Bavarians switched to using their pure dialect.

But, don’t feel lost. You will find that the Bavarians will understand both the high and low German language. In fact, you will probably do just fine if your only language is English. For many years, English has been taught as the second language, starting in grammar school. So, don’t fret about attempting to learn Bavarian. Many years ago, English surpassed French as the world’s second language.

Just to illustrate a point, which demonstrates the difference between a dialect and slang, below are listed a few common words with the English, Austrian (German) and Bavarian equivalents. Pay particular attention to the second and third columns. The word differences are tremendous. It is quite often difficult to say where slang leaves off and a dialect starts. This demonstrates a true dialect.

 

ENGLISH

AUSTRIAN

BAVARIAN

Kiss

Kuß

Busserl

Red Cabbage Rotkohl Blaukraut
Girl

Mädchen

Deandl

Maid

Magd

Dirn

Potatoes

Kartoffeln

Erdäpfe

Dance

Tanz

Frasä

Lemonade

Limonade

Gracherl

Cheerio

Tschüss

Hawedere!

Tuesday

Dienstag

Irda

Milk Mug

Milchkanne

Maß

Old wife

Alte Frau

Oide Schäsn

Folkdance

Volkstanz

Zwiefacher

Disappear

Verschwinde!

Zupf de

Small piece

Kleines Stückchen

Batzerl

Cooked beef

Gekochtes Rindfleisch

Dellafleisch

Luck

Glück

Dusl

Marriage day

Hochzeitstag

Ehrdog

Autumn

Herbst

Eiwärts

Young House Pig

Junges Hausschwein

Facke

 

A Word To The Wise

If you choose to learn some of the “dialect” words, and you use them in the area where they are generally spoken, you may be in for quite a surprise. It will probably be taken for granted that you speak much more, and better, German than you are capable of understanding. As a result, you may find yourself having real troubles in attempting to communicate. Unless you are fairly fluent in German, stay away from the dialect.

But, never fear, the German language isn’t as difficult as some people portray it. There are many so-called “experts” that will tell you that the English language has its source from Latin. I don’t know who they think they are spoofing but, the lesser, and far more believable, experts will tell you that both German and English have the same source language — “Germanic.” Germanic should normally be pronounced with a hard “G”, as in garage. It is amazing just how close the two languages are to each other. Are we going to say: “German comes from English?” Of course not. So, in the table below, we will see some of the similarities between the two languages.

The most widely spoken Germanic languages are English and German, with approximately 300–400 million native speakers respectively. They belong to the West Germanic family. The West Germanic group also includes other major languages, such as Dutch, with 23 million, and Afrikaans, with over 6 million native speakers;. The North Germanic languages include Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese, which have a combined total of about 20 million speakers. The SIL Ethnologue lists 53 different Germanic languages.

The only difficulty encountered in learning German is that to properly create a complete sentence, you MUST learn the gender of the word. Unlike Spanish, the word ending, or shape, will not tell you the gender. Most German words will fall into either the masculine or feminine gender while most English words fall into the neuter gender. However, if you know the word, you will still be able to get by in any German speaking country. The people are very friendly and will work with you to make sure that you are understanding each other. Below is a table of some of the German and English common words that demonstrate the similarity of the two languages.

 

ENGLISH
SPELLING
GERMAN
SPELLING
NEAREST
PRONUNCIATION
Auto Auto Ow-tow
Beer Bier Beer
Boat Boot Boat
Brother Bruder Broo-dare
Cousin Kusine Coo-see-nay
Cow Kuh Coo
Dance Tanz Tah-nts
Daughter Tochter Toke-tear
Father Vater Fah-tear
Fresh Frisch Frish
Find Finde Feen-day
Hair Haar Like “hard” without the “d”
Hand Hand With an ‘ah’ for the A
Hen Huhn Hewn
Here Hier Here
House Haus House
Leather Leder Lay-dare
Lemonade Limonade Lee-mow-nah-day
Milk Milch Milk with a soft “k”
My Mein Mine
Mother Mutter Moo-tear
Mouse Maus Mouse
No Nein Nine
Night Nacht Nacket

Okay

Okay

Okay

Salad

Salat

Sah-lot

Open

Offen

Offen

Over über You-bear

Shoe

Schuh

Shoe

Sister

Schwester

Sh-vase-tear

Son

Sohn

Sone

Swine

Schwein

Sh-vine

Tomato

Tomate

Tow-mah-tay

Water

Wasser

Vah-ser

Wine

Wein

Vine

Yes

Ja

Yah

You Du Do