Austrian, Swiss & Southern German Dialects

You may at some point go to Austria, or watch a film or TV program made in Southern Germany, or read an article that is written in Swiss German. Let's talk today — all difficulties in understanding the accents aside — about some words in Austrian, Swiss, and Southern German dialects that are different from words used in Standard German. Such dialects are occasionally found on Yabla German too!

 

In der Früh ist er ganz stolz gewesen wieder.    
In the morning he was very proud again.
Caption 81, Oktoberfest München: Auf der Wiesn

 

Die Früh is a standard Austrian and Southern German expression for "morning," which is der Morgen in Standard German.

 

Ich wurde eben von meinen Freunden da so 'n bisserl inspiriert.    
I was just inspired a little bit by my friends.
Caption 8, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Börsen-Gewinnspiel 

 

Wird 'n bissel später heute.
It will be a little bit later today.
Caption 9, Mama arbeitet wieder: Alle haben sich lieb

 

Bissel and bisserl are typical dialect for the Standard German bisschen.

 

Als besonderes Zuckerl für die Rider zum Training…
As a special treat for the riders to train on…
Caption 8, Wintersport: 7th Austrian Freeski Open

 

Das Zuckerl is Bavarian dialect for a "candy," "sweet," or "treat," rendered as der (or das) Bonbon in Standard German.

 

Patrick Hollaus zählt auch heuer wieder zu den heißen Favoriten.
Patrick Hollaus is counted among the hot favourites again this year.
Caption 34, Wintersport: 7th Austrian Freeski Open

 

Heuer is Southern German, Austrian, and Swiss dialect for "this year," or dieses Jahr in Standard German.

 

Ist der Brief im Kuvert? Ist eine Marke drauf?
Is the letter in the envelope? Is there a stamp on it?
Caption 22, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger

 

The word das Kuvert is indeed acceptable Standard German, but is primarily used instead of der Briefumschlag for "envelope" in Austria and Switzerland.

 

Further Learning
Some other very typical Southern German dialects are found in names of food. Here are a few examples, with the first word as dialect in bold, followed by the English word and the Standard German word in parentheses: der Erdapfel (potato, die Kartoffel); der Kukuruz (corn, maize, der Mais); die Marille (apricot, die Aprikose); der Paradieser (tomato, die Tomate); die Ribisel (currants, die Johannisbeere); das Schwammerl (mushroom, der Pilz); die Semmel (bread roll, das Brötchen); die Zwetschge / die Zwetschke (plum, die Pflaume). Now that you are prepared, you can watch this three-part video series on Yabla German to hear some real-life Austrians in action!

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German Interjections

According to the third edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, an interjection is a grammatical term "expressing emotion, viewed as a Part of Speech." Wikipedia describes an interjection as "a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling or reaction" that furthermore "partly overlaps with categories like profanities, discourse markers and fillers."

 

In German too, some interjections are also standard nouns, but most are basically sounds that express emotion. Here are some examples of German interjections that are nearly identical to English: 

 

Jetzt weiß ich, warum wir verschlafen haben. -Aha, warum denn?
Now I know why we overslept. -Aha, why then?
Caption 53, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing

 

The next one is pretty easy, because even though it's spelled differently, it sounds the same:

 

Sonst gibt es keine Krone. -Autsch!    
Otherwise there won't be any crown. -Ouch!
Caption 8, JoNaLu: Prinz Dreckspatz

 

The more common expression of pain in German, however, is aua, which is similar in sound to the English "ow."

 

Bingo, wir sind im Geschäft!
Bingo, we're in business! 
Caption 61, Rücksicht im Verkehr: Christophorus

 

Es ist schön, dass wir in Deutschland sind. -Bravo.
It is nice that we are in Germany. -Bravo.
Caption 29, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Die Konjunktion "dass"

 

There are also many German interjections that sound entirely different from their English counterparts: 

 

Ach, ich bin klein!
Oh, I am small!
Caption 15, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Obwohl

 

Na ja, wer's glaubt, wird selig.
Well, he who has faith shall be blessed. 
Caption 12, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

 

Mensch, wo bleibt sie denn?
Man, where is she then?
Caption 25, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

 

Further Learning
See this list of German interjections and find some of them used in a real-world context on Yabla German.

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Discussing Politics in German

The results of the recent national elections in the United States have been making headlines around the world this week. Regardless of your opinion of the outcome, politics will remain a major topic of discussion in the upcoming months and probably in the foreseeable future. As a means of brushing up on German political expressions and dialogs, here is a selection of Yabla German videos with historical and contemporary political themes.

 

1933, als der Reichstag brennt, beginnt eine Zeit, die man Drittes Reich nennt.
In 1933, when the Reichstag burned, a period called the Third Reich began.
Captions 33-34, Rapucation: Lernen durch Rapmusik

 

Der wurde im Oktober 1941 als Sammelplatz zur Deportation der rund zehntausend Juden aus Frankfurt bestimmt.    
It was, in October 1941, assigned as a collection point for the deportation of about ten thousand Jews from Frankfurt.
Captions 4-5, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Neue Gedenkstätte an der EZB

 

Das 21. Jahrhundert ist noch ziemlich jung und vorrangig von den Anschlägen des 11. September geprägt, die schließlich zum Ausbruch des dritten Irak-Kriegs führten.
The 21st century is still pretty young and largely shaped by the attacks of September 11th, which ultimately led to the outbreak of the third Iraq War.
Captions 14-16, Zeit: Die Vergangenheit und Zukunft von allem

 

Nicht, dass wir heute keinen Rassismus mehr haben,aber er lebt sich oft subtiler aus.
Not that we don't have racism anymore today, but it is often lived out more subtly.
Captions 43-44, LUCAS-Kinder-Filmfestival: Tom Sawyer

 

Max Brauer gibt seine amerikanische Bürgerschaft auf, um wieder deutscher Staatsangehöriger zu werden.
Max Brauer relinquishes his American citizenship to become a German citizen again.
Captions 5-6, Hamburg 1946/47: Wiederaufbau

 

Flüchtlinge können bei ihrer Ankunft oft nur wenige Worte oder gar kein Deutsch.
Refugees can, upon their arrival, often speak only a few words of German or none at all.
Caption 3, Flüchtlingskrise: Deutschkurse für Flüchtlinge

 

Further Learning
You, however, have one advantage that many refugees do not: Watch the above videos to improve your German political conversation abilities and search on Yabla German for more videos related to the topic. 

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Freedom of Choice

If you are fortunate enough to live in a constitutional democracy, I'd like to remind those of you who are eligible voters to be sure and make your voices heard. If you are too young to vote, please encourage your friends and family to make their votes count! Here are some examples of references to democracy in Yabla videos.

 

In einer Demokratie ist eine Funktion von regelmäßigen Wahlen… nach dem Willen der Wählermehrheit den Wechsel der Regierung zu ermöglichen.
In a democracy a function of regular elections is… to allow the change of the government according to the will of the majority of voters.
Captions 10-11, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

 

Weil es hier um Freiheit und Demokratie geht, die tagtäglich gefährdet sind, und wir müssen dafür kämpfen, dass Freiheit und Demokratie uns erhalten bleiben. 
Because it is about freedom and democracy here, which are in danger on a daily basis, and we have to fight to ensure that freedom and democracy are preserved for us.
Captions 17-19, 25 Jahre Wiedervereinigung: Ampelmännchen wird Einheitsmännchen

 

Es hat uns über ein halbes Jahrhundert Frieden, Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit, Menschenrechte und Demokratie gebracht.
It has brought us more than a half century of peace, freedom, justice, human rights and democracy.
Captions 15-16, Angela Merkel: Neujahrsansprache

 

Ein Ort lebendiger Demokratie soll es werden, ein Haus für jeden, der Politik hautnah erleben will.
It should become a place of living democracy, a building for everyone who wants to experience politics up close.
Captions 16-17, Berlin: Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

 

Was ist kein Merkmal unserer Demokratie? Pressezensur. Warum gibt es in einer Demokratie mehr als eine Partei? Weil dadurch die unterschiedlichen Meinungen der Bürger und Bürgerinnen vertreten werden.
What is not a characteristic of our democracy? Censorship of the press. Why is there more than one party in a democracy? Because the various opinions of the citizens [male] and citizens [female] are thus represented.
Captions 3-15, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

 

Ja, das ist ein krasser Einschnitt in unsere Demokratie, Marktdiktatur kann entstehen, ganz viele Sachen, die einfach sehr negativ sind für uns.
Yes, this is a crass break in our democracy, a market dictatorship can arise, quite a lot of things that are just very negative for us.
Captions 10-11, DW-Nachrichten: Massenprotest gegen TTIP

 

Further Learning
Watch the above videos in their entirety on Yabla German and learn more German words related to politics. And don't forget to vote in the elections tomorrow and to remind your friends and family to do so too!

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Das Halloween in Deutschland

Halloween in Germany is not the major celebration that it often is in the United States, but it has definitely gotten more popular in recent decades, with kids' costumes showing up in the shops and people having costume parties. This latter tradition is, of course, already a part of German culture as found in the ancient carnival or Fasching customs. You can brush up on some of your spooky German with examples from the following videos.

 

In der Nacht vor Allerheiligen sind die Monster los.
In the night before All Hallow's Eve, the monsters are on the loose.
Captions 1-2, Halloween: Gruselvergnügen auf Burg Frankenstein

 

Geister, Untote, paranormale Phänomene... 
Spirits, zombies, paranormal phenomena... 
Caption 1, Paranormal?: Auf Geisterjagd in Ludwigsburg

 

Da reiben sich die Hexen mit Flugsalbe ein und fahren auf ihren Besen.
Then the witches rub on flying ointment and ride on their brooms.
Captions 23-24, Geschichte: Hexenverbrennung im Odenwald

 

Das Grauen ist hier real!
The horror is real here!
Caption 22, Halloween: Gruselvergnügen auf Burg Frankenstein

 

Vermutlich geht Halloween auf eine Tradition der alten Kelten zurück.
Supposedly Halloween goes back to a tradition of the ancient Celts.
Caption 4, Cettina erklärt: Halloween

 

Further Learning
Watch the above videos to get into the Halloween spirit and search on Yabla German for more videos related to the topic. Most important of all, we wish you a happy and safe Halloween!

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Sayings with Scriptural Backgrounds

When the Old Testament was translated from clerical Latin into the common spoken languages in the 16th century, it had a profound effect on European spoken languages and literature. Many of the phrases derived from this work are so common that people are often not even aware of the source. Here are some examples of phrases with a scriptural background that German and English languages use in everyday speech.

 

Und 1995 hatte ich dann die erste Ausstellung zu diesem Thema. Es werde Licht.
And in 1995 I then had the first exhibition on this theme. Let there be light.
Captions 17-18, Malerei: Benno Treiber

 

Essen kann er auch in Ruh'. Vater drückt ein Auge zu.
He can eat in peace. Father turns a blind eye.
Caption 4, Der Struwwelpeter: Ausschnitte

 

Selbstverständlich, wie auf meinen eigenen Augapfel.
Of course, like the apple of my eye.
Caption 11, Abenteuer und Sport: Fallschirmspringen

 

Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall.
Pride comes before the fall.

Caption 24, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter

 

Worte zu Asche und Staub zu Staub.
Words to ashes and dust to dust.
Caption 46, Luxuslärm: Interview

 

The above is a play on the usual saying "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

 

Further Learning
Be sure and see the latest Yabla video Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter for a selection of more German phrases on Yabla German

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Speaking German in Brazil

The German language is not nearly as widely spoken as some other languages, like Mandarin Chinese or Spanish, for instance. According to a list of languages spoken around the world on Wikipedia, German is the 11th most-spoken language on the planet, with 89 million speakers or about 1.27% of the world population. Still, many people are surprised to hear that German is an official main language in six countries. Let's start with the obvious: 

 

Deutschland geht es gut, auch wenn das nächste Jahr ohne Zweifel schwieriger wird als dieses.
Germany is doing well, even if next year will undoubtedly be more difficult than this year.
Captions 44-45, Angela Merkel: Neujahrsansprache

 

And in second place, Austria:

 

Am nächsten Wochenende werde ich in Österreich sein.
Next weekend I will be in Austria.
Caption 49, Konjugation: Das Verb „sein“

 

Followed by Switzerland: 

 

Der Rhein entspringt in den Alpen, in der Schweiz.    
The Rhine has its source in the alps, in Switzerland.
Caption 12, Unterwegs mit Cettina: an der Rheinfähre

 

So far, so good. Most people know that German is spoken in the three countries listed above, but have no idea where to go from there. Let's start with the small country of Liechtenstein: 

 

Die Schweiz, Deutschland, Liechtenstein, Österreich und die Niederlande.
Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, and the Netherlands.
Caption 15, Unterwegs mit Cettina: an der Rheinfähre

 

And in place number five:

 

Ein scharfer Abschluss einer überraschend interessanten Reise durchs unbekannte Luxemburg.
A spicy ending to a surprisingly interesting journey through unknown Luxembourg.
Caption 62, Reisebericht: Luxemburg

 

The national language of Luxembourg is Luxembourgish, but German is also an officially recognized language. And the last country where German is, surprisingly for some, considered a nationwide, co-official language: 

 

Vor allem aus Belgien… kommen immer mehr Campingfans.
Above all from Belgium… more and more camping fans are coming.
Captions 38-39, Reisebericht: Luxemburg

 

French and Flemish are the dominant languages in Belgium, but some districts near its eastern border with Germany speak predominantly German. German is also a co-official language in provinces of some other countries, including South Tyrol in Italy, the Opole and Silesian districts of Poland, and the Espírito Santo, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul districts in Brazil

 

Further Learning
Read this article on Wikipedia about places where German is spoken throughout the world, and look for further examples of where these countries appear on Yabla German.

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A Fraction of the Time

This week we are going to review one aspect of telling the time in German that should be easy for intermediate and advanced German speakers, but a bit tricky for beginners. The telling of time in German uses quarterly divisions: Viertel (quarter), halb (half), and in some German dialects, drei viertel (three-quarters). 

 

For 15 minutes past the hour, you use Viertel nach

 

Heute morgen um Viertel nach sechs ist die Nationalmannschaft in Frankfurt gelandet.
This morning at a quarter past six, the national team landed in Frankfurt.
Caption 16, Umfragen: Nach der WM

 

For a 15 minutes before the hour, you use Viertel vor

 

Es ist Viertel vor acht.
It is a quarter till eight.
Caption 22, Lydia erklärt: die Uhrzeit

 

In American English, when the clock reads 1:30, it is called "one thirty", but the informal British English equivalent is "half one." For native British English speakers, the German rendering of 1:30 can be especially confusing: 

 

Es ist jetzt halb eins.    
It is now twelve thirty.
Caption 23, Jenny zeigt uns: Das Heidelberger Schloss

 

So as you see, the British English "half one" is 1:30, but the German halb eins is 12:30. You just have to remember that when halb is used in telling time, it is always going a half hour back in time.

 

In some German dialects, instead of saying Viertel vor, they say drei viertel or "three quarters." In dialect, 12:45 could be drei viertel eins instead of Viertel vor eins

 

Note too that for grammatical reasons, Viertel nach and Viertel vor are capitalized, but halb and drei viertel are not. It is also important to note that the word Uhr, in this context the equivalent of "o'clock," is not used when telling the time with time divisions. At 10 o'clock you say it is zehn Uhr, but at 10:15 you simply say it is Viertel nach zehn, omitting the word Uhr.

 

Further Learning
Watch the video Lydia erklärt die Uhrzeit on Yabla German to review the proper telling of time in German.

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In the Bucket

We've all heard the English idiom "to kick the bucket," which means "to die." There are various theories about where the phrase originated from, the Oxford English Dictionary mentioning that the Old French word buquet was a beam on which animals were hung by the feet after being slaughtered, hence "kicking the bucket." The closest to this idiom in German is probably ins Gras beißen, or literally "to bite into the grass," which itself is a close parallel to the English idiom "to bite the dust," again meaning "to die." 

 

There is, however, a German idiom relating to the word "bucket" with negative connotations:

 

Dann ist das ganze Lied im Eimer.
Then the whole song is in the bucket.
Caption 29, Monsters of Liedermaching: Kleiner Zeh mit Ansage

 

Wenn Thorsten beim HSV nicht genommen wird, ist seine Karriere im Eimer.
If Thorsten is not accepted at the HSV his career will be in the bucket.
Captions 18-19, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

 

If someone or a situation is im Eimer, it means he or she or the situation is completely ruined. According to the Duden Dictionary, Eimer in this case is alluding to der Abfalleimer, or trash can. Der Eimer is also German slang for an old ship or an old car. This has English parallels in the slang expression "rust bucket" for an old boat or an old car.

 

Further Learning
Look for further examples of Eimer on Yabla German and see more examples of how this word is used in a real world context. 

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Are you crazy?

You probably fall well within the standard psychological definitions of a sane person, but it's possible nevertheless that, at some point, somebody might accuse you in German of being bonkers, nuts, whack, cuckoo, psycho, mad, cracked, bonkers, potty, barmy, mental, unhinged, or just plain crazy. If you are familiar with a few of the German adjectives on the topic, you will be better prepared to react calmly and rationally, belying the accusation by the very coolness of your manner. 

 

Sag mal, spinnst du?
Tell me, are you crazy
Caption 58, Mama arbeitet wieder: Papa ist weg

 

The verb spinnen in formal usage is the spinning of wool, but  "are you spinning?" is a slang idiom for "are you crazy?"

 

Bei euch piept's wohl! 
It's really chirping with you!
Caption 41, JoNaLu: Prinz Dreckspatz

 

The verb piepen in its standard usage means to make a high, whistling sound like a bird, but bei jemandem piept es is a slang idiom for suggesting they are crazy. 

 

Hast du eine Macke oder was? 
Do you have a defect or something?
Caption 6, Einsatz für Christophorus: Gehwegradler

 

The noun die Macke in formal usage is "defect," but in casual use eine Macke haben means to be crazy, to "have a screw loose" so to speak.

 

Further Learning
Some formal German adjectives referring to a loss of sanity include irrsinnig, psychotisch, geistig behindert, and geistig gestört. The term geisteskrank was a formal term in decades past, but is now considered outdated. As in English, there are very many informal or slang adjectives, including verrückt, wahnsinnig, irre, blödsinnigblöd, and bescheuert, to name a few. Go to Yabla German and see how they are used in a real world context, but be careful how you use these words out there. The person you are accusing might really be crazy, after all!

 

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