Vun Hochditsch nooch Elsässisch

Lang StrossMy first introduction to Elsässisch (Alsatian German) came in the form of bilingual street signs in Strasbourg, where the main street through Grand Île in the heart of the old city is named both Grand’Rue and Lang Stross. (A street of the same name in Pfalzgrafenweiler on the German side of the border was labeled only in High German, Lange Strasse, even though the locals speak an Alemannic dialect similar to Alsatian.)

Later I found a useful little Werterbüechel Elsässisch–Hochditsch / Wörterbüchlein Hochdeutsch–Elsässisch, by Serge Kornmann (Yoran Embanner, 2005). So I thought I’d share a few gleanings from that tiny source, focusing on how to get from High German to Alsatian, since the former is likely to be more familiar to most readers. For people who want to go in the other direction, there is already a very comprehensive online dictionary of Alsatian in High German, based on the 2-volume Wörterbuch der elsässischen Mundarten by Ernst Martin und Hans Lienhart (Straßburg, 1899-1907).

Hoorgaessel street nameThe little dictionary spelling of Alsatian is based on that of High German, but uses a grave à, as in Nàme ‘name’ or Wàsser ‘water’, to mark the very back Alsatian a, which Kornmann renders phonetically as [ɔ] and Martin and Lienhart render as [ɒ]. (In Strasbourg, the unmarked a is apparently fronted to [æ].) The Alsatian spelling of Strasbourg’s Grand’Rue would be Làng Stroos. French street signs do not use the same spellings.

French vocabulary

Since Alsatians live in France and are bilingual in French, they also use French equivalents of many German expressions. Here is a sample:

  • Auf Wiedersehen = Àdje, Orwoar
  • Badeanzug = Maillo [majo] (‘swimsuit’)
  • Brieftasche = Portföj (‘billfold’)
  • Computer = Ordi
  • entschuldigen = entschuldige, exküsiere (‘excuse’)
  • Fahrrad = Velo (‘bicycle’)
  • Flieger = Aviatör
  • Frau = Frau, Màdàm
  • Fräulein = Màmsel
  • Gute Nacht = Güetnààcht, Busuar
  • Guten Tag = Buschur, Güdedàà
  • Herr = Herr, Mussje
  • Konditorei = Patisserie
  • Nachspeise = Dessär (‘dessert’)
  • Rathaus = Mairie (‘city hall’)
  • Reisegepäck = Bagaasch (‘luggage’)
  • Strassenbahn = Tram
  • Vielen Dank = Merci vielmools

Some vowel correspondences

  • Haar = Hoor ‘hair’, Nase = Nààs ‘nose’, Paar = Pààr ‘pair’
  • Haus = Hüüs ‘house’, Maus~Mäuse = Müs~Miis ‘mouse~mice’, Sauerkraut = Sürkrüt
  • Eule = Ill ‘owl’, heute = hitt ‘today’, Leute = Litt ‘people’, neun = nin ‘nine’
  • Eis = Is ‘ice’, Rhein = Rhin ‘Rhine’, Seite = Sitt ‘side’, Wein = Win ‘wine’, Zweifel = Zwiefel ‘doubt’
  • Höhe = Heh ‘height’, Hölle = Hell ‘hell’, hören = heere ‘hear’, schön = scheen ‘beautiful’
  • Glück = Glick ‘luck’, Lügner = Liejer ‘liar’, Mühle = Mihl ‘mill’, Übel = Iwwel [ivl] ‘evil’

Roejeboejegass

Some consonant correspondences

  • Arbeit = Àrweit ‘work’, Knoblauch = Gnowli ‘garlic’, Grab~Graben = Grààb~Grààwe ‘grave(s), Nabel = Nàwwel ‘navel’, Weib~Weiber = Wieb~Wiewer ‘wife~wives’
  • Leder = Ledder ‘leather’, Nadel = Noodl ‘needle’, Ruder = Rüeder ‘rudder’
  • Auge(n) = Au(e) ‘eye’, Regenbogen = Räjeböje ‘rainbow’, Straßburg = Stroosburi ‘Strasbourg’, Tag = Dàà ‘day’, Vogel = Vöjel ‘bird’
  • ängstlich = ängschtlisch ‘anxious’, künstlerisch = kinschtlerisch ‘artistic’, lustig = luschtisch ‘merry’, richtig = rischtisch ‘right’
  • essen = esse ‘eat’, leben = läwe ‘live’, lieben = liewe ‘love’, schlafen = schloofe ‘sleep’, raten = roode ‘advise’

As a bonus, here are two final Hochditsch = Elsässisch terms for musical instruments: Mundharmonika = Schnuffelrutsch (lit. ‘sniff-slide’) ‘mouth organ’, Schifferklavier (‘sailor-piano’) = Knetsch ‘concertina, accordion’. These two are especially for Dumneazu.

For much more on Elsässisch, see Nathanael’s language resource page on Europe Endless.

2 Comments

Filed under France, Germany, language

2 responses to “Vun Hochditsch nooch Elsässisch

  1. Pingback: Ole Politics « Europe Endless

  2. Pingback: Bilingual Blues | etnobofin

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