Verdammt Bayern!

Language is a weird thing.  One cannot, for example, “learn German.”  The problem is that there are wayyy too many dialects.  When I attend degrees at Aurora Lodge (whose ritual and business is in German), I hear (and somewhat speak) Hochdeutsch, which is “High German,” or what the Northerners speak.  When I read de.wikipedia.org or listen to German language audio, most of the time they’re speaking Standard German, which is a compromise language not unlike what the British call “BBC English.”  And then there’re the varying degrees of Bavarian.

Bavaria is a part of Germany the same way that Texas is part of the U.S.  The land belongs to Germany by the outcome of World War II.  By a flip of the coin, it could have been part of Austria.  Many Bavarians consider themselves Austrian and likewise many consider themselves to be uniquely Bavarian and neither Austrian nor German.  A minority consider themselves genuine Deutschen.

The people of Bavaria officially speak “Bavarian.”  In German, the language is called “Bairisch.”  In Bavarian, it’s called “boarisch.”  It can be thought of as varying degrees of German and Austrian, generally from North to South – the North being more German and the South being more Austrian (and the west being more Swiss).

All this comes into play for me when trying to sing German drinking songs with a mixed crowd of German-speaking Americans-born-and-raised, native northern Germans, and native Bavarians.  There may be a Hofbräuhaus but whether it’s in München (German and northern Bavarian), Minga (Austrian and southern Bavarian), or Munich (English) is anyone’s guess.  Thankfully, one can order bier (auf Deutsch), bia (aa boarisch), or beer (in English) and get a glass of awesomeness!

The lead signer is signing in Bavarian.  Notice the trilled initial and medial R but hard English-like R when final.  This differs from standard German.  Also, the numerals are different – “Oans, Zwoa, g’suffa!” instead of “Eins, Zwei, g’suffa!”  Also, the pronunciation of “Fäßchen” (kegs) is different.  In Standard German, this would be like “face-hyen.”  But in Bavarian, it’s “fah-sen.”  Likewise, “g’suffa” (let’s quaff) in German is “g’zuf-fa” and in Bavarian is “shoof-fa.”  The background singers are singing Standard German but they only sing the chorus.

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  1. #1 by Joshua on June 4, 2010 - 12:08 PM

    Here are the lyrics in German but the ones printed on the wall of the Hofbräuhaus are in Bavarian so…

  2. #2 by Chadwick on June 4, 2010 - 12:12 PM

    From your pronunciation guides, I’d much rather learn Bavarian, as it apparently is pronounced exactly how I would do so based on the spellings. Except for g’suffa, but the Bavarian is far closer.

    • #3 by Joshua on June 4, 2010 - 12:18 PM

      That’s very true. It does seem a lot more intuitive than German and the sounds are much closer to Western European languages than Standard German or Hochdeutsch. The wikipedia page has a very good side-by-side comparison of English, Standard German, Bavarian and Austrian toward the bottom of the page.

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