|Latin (German alphabet)|
Areas where Alemannic dialects are spoken
Swabian ( Schwäbisch ) is one of the Alemannic dialects of High German. It is spoken in Swabia, which covers much of the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg, including its capital, Stuttgart. It is also spoken in the rural area known as the Swabian Alb, and in the southwest of Bavarian Swabia. Swabian is also nominally spoken by the Danube Swabian population of Hungary, the former Yugoslavia and Romania and by the Caucasus Germans.
Swabian is difficult to understand for speakers of Standard German, not just because of its pronunciation but because it contains vocabulary that differs from Standard German. For example, "strawberry jam" in Standard German is Erdbeermarmelade while in Swabian it is Bräschdlingsgsälz.
In 2009, the word "Muggeseggele" (a Swabian idiom), meaning the dirt a housefly leaves on surfaces, was voted in a readers' survey by Stuttgarter Nachrichten, the largest newspaper in Stuttgart, as the most beautiful Swabian word, well ahead of any other term. The expression is used in an ironic way to describe a small unit of measure and is deemed appropriate to use in front of small children (compare Bubenspitzle). German broadcaster SWR's children's website, Kindernetz, explained the meaning of Muggeseggele in their Swabian dictionary in the Swabian-based TV series Ein Fall für B.A.R.Z.
- The ending "-at" is used for verbs in the first person plural. (For example, "we go" is mir gangat instead of Standard German's wir gehen.)
- As in other Alemannic dialects, the pronunciation of "s" before "t" and "p" is [ʃ] (For example, Fest ("party"), is pronounced as Fescht.)
- The voice-onset time for plosives is about halfway between where it would be expected for a clear contrast between voiced and unvoiced-aspirated stops. This difference is most noticeable on the unvoiced stops, rendering them extremely similar to or indistinguishable from voiced stops:
"t" to "d" Tasche (bag) becomes Dasch Tag (day) becomes Dag
"p" to "b" putzen (to clean) becomes butza Papa (dad) becomes Baba
- One simple thing to look for is the addition of the diminutive "-le" suffix on many words in the German language. With the addition of this "-le" (pronounced /lə/), the article of the noun automatically becomes "das" in the German language, as in Standard German. The Swabian "-le" is the same as standard German "-lein" or "-chen", but is used, arguably, more often in Swabian. A small house (German: Haus) is a Häuschen in Standard German, a Heisle in Swabian.
Zug (train) becomes Zigle Haus (house) becomes Heisle Kerl (guy) becomes Kerle Mädchen (girl) becomes Mädle Baum (tree) becomes Baimle In some regions "-la" for plural is used. (For example, Heisle may become Heisla, Spätzle becomes Spätzla.) Many surnames in Swabia are also made to end in "-le".
- Articles (der, die and das) are often pronounced as "dr", "d" and "s" ("s Haus" instead of "das Haus").
- The "ch" is sometimes omitted or replaced.
"ich" becomes i "dich" becomes di "mich" becomes mi
(German = Swabian)
|short a [a]||[a]||machen = macha|
|long a [aː]||[oː]||schlafen = schlofa|
|short e [ɛ]||[e]||Mensch = Mentsch|
|[ɛ]||fest = fäscht|
|long e [eː]||[ɛa̯]||leben = läaba|
|short o [ɔ]||[ɔ]||Kopf = Kopf|
|long o [oː]||[aʊ̯]||hoch, schon = hau, schau|
|short ö [œ]||[e]||können, Köpfe = kenna, Kepf|
|long ö [øː]||[eː]||schön = schee|
|short i [ɪ]||[e]||in = en|
|long i (ie) [iː]||[ia̯]||nie = nia|
|short ü [ʏ]||[ɪ]||über = iber|
|long ü [yː]||[ia̯]||müde = miad|
|short u [ʊ]||[ɔ]||und = ond|
|long u [uː]||[ua̯]||gut = guat|
|ei [aɪ̯]||[ɔa̯], [ɔɪ̯]||Stein = Stoa/Stoi|
|[ei̯]||mein = mei|
|au [aʊ̯]||[ou̯]||Haus = Hous|
|eu [ɔʏ̯]||[ei̯], [ui̯]||Feuer = Feijer/Fuijer|
In many regions, the Swabian dialect is spoken with a unique intonation that is also present when Swabian native speakers talk in Standard German. Similarly, a subtle but very prominent cue carrying over is the fact that the letter s is always pronounced voiceless - there is no voiced s in Swabian (or most southern dialects in general). While this should be very obvious to northern Germans, Swabian speakers are most often very unaware about this even while tending to speak perfect standard German in all other aspects.
The voiced plosives, the post-alveolar fricative, and the frequent use of diminutives based on "l" suffixes gives the dialect a very "soft" or "mild" feel, often felt to be in sharp contrast to the harder varieties of German spoken in the North.
Classification and variation
The Swabian dialect is composed of numerous sub-dialects, each of which has its own variations. These sub-dialects can be categorized by the difference in the formation of the past participle of 'sein' (to be) into gwäa and gsei. The Gsei group is nearer to other Alemannic dialects, such as Swiss German. It can be divided into South-East Swabian, West Swabian and Central Swabian.
Recognition in mass media
The Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Commerce was praised for its advertising campaign with the slogan "Wir können alles. Außer Hochdeutsch." which means "We can [do] everything. Except [speak] Standard German." The campaign wanted to boost Swabian pride for their dialect and industrial achievements. It however failed to impress Northern Germans and neighboring Baden. Dominik Kuhn (Dodokay) became famous in Germany with schwäbisch fandub videos, dubbing among others Barack Obama with German dialect vocals and revised text.
Swabian dialect writers
- Sebastian Sailer (1714–1777)
- August Lämmle (de) (1876-1962)
- Josef Eberle (as Sebastian Blau) (de) (1901-1986)
- Thaddäus Troll (1914–1980)
- Hellmut G. Haasis (born 1942)
- Peter Schlack (de) (born 1943)
- Ethnologue entry
- Swabian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Swabian". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Schönstes schwäbisches Wort, Großer Vorsprung für Schwabens kleinste Einheit, Jan Sellner 09.03.2009, Stuttgarter Nachrichten
- Swabian dictionary at website of Südwestrundfunk Ein Fall für B.A.R.Z.
- Code for Swabian German (swg)
- Noble, Cecil A. M. (1983). Modern German dialects New York [u.a.], Lang, p. 63.
- Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Commerce
- Diskriminiteer Dialekt Armes Süddeutsch FAZ 2013
- Star Wars dub sends jobbing ad man into orbit, By Dave Graham Reuters STUTTGART, Germany Thu Oct 14, 2010
- Barack Obama Schwäbisch - Rede Berlin 2013 - dodokay
|For a list of words relating to Swabian language, see the Swabian language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- The Swabian-English dictionary
- Die Welt auf Schwäbisch - Best of Obama - Vollversammlung der Eigentümer Wilhelmstr. 48
- "Harald Schmidt Sprachkurs Schwäbisch" Parody