Swabian German

Last updated
Schwäbisch [1]
Native to Germany [1]
Native speakers
820,000 (2006) [2]
Latin (German alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 swg
Glottolog swab1242 [3]
IETF swg [4]
Areas where Alemannic dialects are spoken
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Swabian ( Loudspeaker.svg Schwäbisch  ) is one of the dialect groups of Alemannic German that belong to the High German dialect continuum. It is mainly spoken in Swabia which is located in central and southeastern Baden-Württemberg (including its capital Stuttgart and the Swabian Jura region) and the southwest of Bavaria (Bavarian Swabia). Furthermore, Swabian German dialects are spoken by Caucasus Germans in Transcaucasia. [5] The dialects of the Danube Swabian population of Hungary, the former Yugoslavia and Romania are only nominally Swabian and can be traced back not only to Swabian but also to Frankonian, Bavarian and Hessian German dialects, with locally varying degrees of influence of the initial dialects. [6]



Swabian can be difficult to understand for speakers of Standard German due to its pronunciation and partly differing grammar and vocabulary. For example, the Standard German term for "strawberry jam" is Erdbeermarmelade, whereas in Swabian it is called Bräschdlingsgsälz. [7]

In 2009, the word Muggeseggele (a Swabian idiom), meaning the scrotum of a housefly, 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. [7] 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. [8]


"t" to "d""p" to "b"
Tasche (bag)Daschputzen (to clean)butza
Tag (day)DagPapa (dad)Baba
Zug (train)Zigle
Haus (house)Heisle
Kerl (guy)Kerle
Mädchen (girl)Mädle
Baum (tree)Baimle
(German = Swabian)
short a[ a ][ a ]machen = macha
long a[ ][ ɔː ]schlafen = schlofa
short e[ ɛ ][ e ]Mensch, fest = Mentsch, fescht
[ ɛ ]Fest = Fäscht
long e[ ][ɛa̯]leben = läaba
short o[ ɔ ][ ɔ ]Kopf = Kopf
long o[ ][aʊ̯]hoch, schon = hau, schau
short ö[ œ ][ e ]können, Köpfe = kenna, Kepf
long ö[ øː ][ ]schön = schee
short i[ ɪ ][ e ]in = en
long i (ie)[ ][ia̯]nie = nia
short ü[ ʏ ][ ɪ ]über = iber
long ü[ ][ia̯]müde = miad
short u[ ʊ ][ ɔ ]und = ond
long u[ ][ua̯]gut = guat
ei[aɪ̯][ɔa̯], [ɔɪ̯] [lower-alpha 1] Stein = Schdoa/Schdoi
[a̯i] [lower-alpha 2] mein = mei
au[aʊ̯][aʊ̯] [lower-alpha 3] laufen = laofa
[a̯u] [lower-alpha 4] Haus = Hous
eu[ɔʏ̯][a̯i], [ui̯]Feuer = Feijer/Fuijer

In many regions, the Swabian dialect is spoken with a unique intonation that is also present when native speakers speak in Standard German. Similarly, there is only one alveolar fricative phoneme /s/, which is shared with most other southern dialects. Most Swabian-speakers are unaware of the difference between /s/ and /z/ and do not attempt to make it when they speak Standard German.

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.



Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal/
Stop pbtdkɡ
Affricate b̥fd̥s(d̥ʃ)
Nasal mnŋ
Fricative fvsʃ(ç)x (ɣ)ʁ(ʕ) h
Approximant lj


Front Central Back
Close ɪ~iu
Close-mid eəo
Open-mid ɛɛː(ɐ)ɔɔː
Open a
Front Central Back
Close , ui
Mid əiəu, ɔe
Open aeao

Classification and variation

Swabian is categorized as an Alemannic dialect, which in turn is one of the two types of Upper German dialects (the other being Bavarian). The ISO 639-3 language code for Swabian is swg. [11]

A sticker that translates as: "We can do everything. Except [speak] standard German." Wirkoennenalles.jpg
A sticker that translates as: "We can do everything. Except [speak] standard German."

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. [12]

Recognition in mass media

Dominik Kuhn (2012) D Kuhn 2012 8tiesbaby.jpg
Dominik Kuhn (2012)

The Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Commerce launched an advertising campaign with the slogan "Wir können alles. Außer Hochdeutsch." which means "We can [do] everything. Except [speak] Standard German" to boost Swabian pride for their dialect and industrial achievements. [13] However, it failed to impress Northern Germans [14] and neighboring Baden. Dominik Kuhn (Dodokay) became famous in Germany with schwäbisch fandub videos, [15] dubbing among others Barack Obama with German dialect vocals and revised text. [16]

Swabian dialect writers

See also


  1. From MHG [ei̯]
  2. From MHG [ ]
  3. From MHG â, ô or ou
  4. From MHG û

Related Research Articles

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The German language is most similar to other languages within the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. It also contains close similarities in vocabulary to Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although they belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

The High German languages or High German dialects comprise the varieties of German spoken south of the Benrath and Uerdingen isoglosses in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, as well as in neighbouring portions of France, Italy, the Czech Republic (Bohemia), and Poland. They are also spoken in diaspora in Romania, Russia, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Namibia.

Baden-Württemberg State in Germany

Baden-Württemberg is a state in southwest Germany, east of the Rhine, which forms the border with France. It is Germany's third-largest state, with an area of 35,751 km2 (13,804 sq mi) and 11 million inhabitants. Baden-Württemberg is a parliamentary republic and partly sovereign, federated state which was formed in 1952 by a merger of the states of Württemberg-Baden, South Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. The largest city in Baden-Württemberg is the state capital of Stuttgart, followed by Karlsruhe and Mannheim. Other cities are Freiburg im Breisgau, Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Pforzheim, Reutlingen, Tübingen and Ulm.

Swabian may refer to:

Middle High German is the term for the form of German spoken in the High Middle Ages. It is conventionally dated between 1050 and 1350, developing from Old High German and into Early New High German. High German is defined as those varieties of German which were affected by the Second Sound Shift; the Middle Low German and Middle Dutch languages spoken to the North and North West, which did not participate in this sound change, are not part of MHG.

Early New High German (ENHG) is a term for the period in the history of the German language, generally defined, following Wilhelm Scherer, as the period 1350 to 1650.

Alemannic German Group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family

Alemannic, or rarely Alemannish, is a group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family. The name derives from the ancient Germanic tribe known as the Alemanni.

Swabia Cultural, historic and linguistic region of Germany

Swabia is a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany. The name is ultimately derived from the medieval Duchy of Swabia, one of the German stem duchies, representing the territory of Alemannia, whose inhabitants interchangeably were called Alemanni or Suebi.

High German consonant shift linguistics phenomenon

In historical linguistics, the High German consonant shift or second Germanic consonant shift is a phonological development that took place in the southern parts of the West Germanic dialect continuum in several phases. It probably began between the third and fifth centuries and was almost complete before the earliest written records in High German were produced in the eighth century. The resulting language, Old High German, can be neatly contrasted with the other continental West Germanic languages, which for the most part did not experience the shift, and with Old English, which remained completely unaffected.

High Alemannic German dialect

High Alemannic is a dialect of Alemannic German spoken in the westernmost Austrian state of Vorarlberg, on the border with Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Low Alemannic German dialect

Low Alemannic German is a branch of Alemannic German, which is part of Upper German. Its varieties are only partly intelligible to non-Alemannic speakers.

Swabians Germanic people who are native to the ethnocultural and linguistic region of Swabia

Swabians are Germanic people who are native to the ethnocultural and linguistic region of Swabia, which is now mostly divided between the modern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, in southwestern Germany.

Languages of Liechtenstein languages of a geographic region

Liechtenstein's official language is German, and the principality is the smallest of the four countries in Europe populated by a majority of German speakers. Other languages are also spoken by the foreign-born population, which makes up about 14% of the country.

Alemannic separatism historical movement

Alemannic Separatism is a historical movement of separatism of the Alemannic-German-speaking areas of Germany, France and Austria, aiming at a unification with the Swiss Confederacy. The historic origins of the movement lay in the Napoleonic era and it was briefly revived both after the end of World War I (1919) and after the end of World War II (1946–1952).

Gerhard Raff is a German historian, editor and publisher, well known around Swabia for his writings on history in the Swabian dialect of German, e.g. in a weekly column for the Stuttgarter Zeitung.

Alemannic Wikipedia Alemannic language edition of Wikipedia

The Alemannic Wikipedia is the Alemannic language edition of the Web-based free-content encyclopedia Wikipedia. The project was started on November 13, 2003 as an Alsatian language edition. A year later it was expanded to encompass all Alemannic dialects because of low activity in the first year. Since 2004 all Alemannic dialects are accepted on als:wp.

Ländle is sometimes used in German as a colloquial sobriquet for any of the following territories:

Upper German Family of High German languages

Upper German is a family of High German languages spoken primarily in the southern German-speaking area.

Muggeseggele Idiom for a small unit of length

A Muggeseggele or Muckenseckel is a humorous Alemannic German idiom used in Swabia to designate a nonspecific very small length; it refers to a housefly's ball sack. It has been called the smallest Swabian unit of measurement and plays a similar role in northern Baden-Württemberg and Franconia.

Swabian-Franconian Forest upland region in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

The Swabian-Franconian Forest is a mainly forested, deeply incised upland region, 1,187 km² in area and up to 586.4 m above sea level (NHN), in the northeast of Baden-Württemberg. It forms natural region major unit number 108 within the Swabian Keuper-Lias Land. Its name is derived from the fact that, in medieval times, the border between the duchies of Franconia and Swabia ran through this forested region. In addition, the Swabian dialect in the south transitions to the East Franconian dialect in the north here.


  1. 1 2 3 "Swabian". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  2. Swabian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Swabian". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. "Swabian". IANA language subtag registry. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  5. [http://www.goethe.de/ins/ge/prj/dig/his/lig/deindex.htm%22Geschichte+der+deutschen+Siedler+im+Kaukasus+-+Leben+in+Georgien+-+Goethe-Institut+2019%22.+www.goethe.de.+Retrieved+30+January+2019.
  6. Gehl, Hans. "Donauschwäbische Dialekte, 2014". www.sulinet.hu (in German). Sulinet Program Office (Hungary) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  7. 1 2 Schönstes schwäbisches Wort, Großer Vorsprung für Schwabens kleinste Einheit Archived 2013-09-27 at the Wayback Machine , Jan Sellner 09.03.2009, Stuttgarter Nachrichten
  8. Swabian dictionary Archived 2015-06-03 at the Wayback Machine at website of Südwestrundfunk Ein Fall für B.A.R.Z.
  9. Russ, Charles V. J. (1990). Swabian. The Dialects of Modern German: a Linguistic Survey: Routledge. pp. 337–363.
  10. Frey, Eberhard (1975). Stuttgarter Schwäbisch: Laut- und Formenlehre eines Stuttgarter Idiolekts. Deutsche Dialektgeographie, 101: Marburg: Elwert. pp. 8–45.CS1 maint: location (link)
  11. Code for Swabian German (swg)
  12. Noble, Cecil A. M. (1983). Modern German dialects New York [u.a.], Lang, p. 63.
  13. Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Commerce Archived 2007-11-10 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Diskriminiteer Dialekt Armes Süddeutsch FAZ 2013
  15. Graham, Dave (2010-10-14). "Star Wars dub sends jobbing ad man into orbit". Reuters.
  16. Barack Obama Schwäbisch - Rede Berlin 2013 - dodokay


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