Pfälzisch – The Palatinate Dialect

The Palatinate dialect, also known just as „Pfälzisch“, is one of the many German dialects, which, as the name allready indicates, is used in the region of Platanite/ Pfalz. Even today the Palatinate dialect is spoken  in the Palatinate Region.

The Palatinate people are very proud of their „German Tuscany“(as the Palatinate is also known) just as they are proud of their common, characteristic language. But what is it exactly about the language?

For a start it should be mentioned that there are some significant differences within the Palatinate dialect/ „Pfälzisch“. Thus, they speak e.g. in the region around Kaiserslautern in a little bit other way than in the region of Bad Dürkheim. Every region has its own manner of speaking, like it is also usual in the other areas of Germany.

When you examine the Palatinate dialect in general, you will spot interesting deviations from the standard German. It is significant for „Pfälzisch“ to use the letter „p“ as the initial sound (at the beginning of a word). You can see it in the typical Palatinate saying: „In de Palz geht de Parre(r) mit de Peif in die Ke(r)sch.“ (In standard German it would be: “In die Pfalz geht der Pfarrer mit der Pfeiffe in die Kirche.”). As you can see they pronounce the “pf – sounds”of the standard German just like a “p”. Furthermore you can see in this dialect that voiced consonants are preferred to breathed consonants. Sometimes the Pfälzer (a man from the Palatinate) uses preferably the “b” instead of the “p”“d” instead of “t” and “g” instead of“k”. Thus, e.g. the word “Tür” (= door) is rather spoken as “Diir/ Deer” or e.g. the word “richtig” (= right) is spoken as “rischdisch”. In some words the “d” can be totally dropped like for example in “furchtbar” (=awful) which is pronounced like “forschbar/furschbar”.Moreover, you can notice that in some regions of the Palatinate certain consonants are transformed into a rolled “r”. This phenomenon is termed as rhotacism. Here the word“gudde” can be used as an example. While speaking the double “d” transforms into a rolling “r”.

The differences between vocals of the standard German and the Pfälzisch are also noticeable. In the Pfälzisch e.g. the vocals “ö”, “ü”, “eu/äu” are absent. Instead they use the vocals “e”, “i” and “ai”. The standard German word “Möbel” turns for example into “Meebel/ Meewel”, the word “Hügel” into „Hischel, Hiechel, Hiwwel“ and „Häuser“ into „Haiser“. The sound “ei” they pronounce like “ää”. So, the word “Stein” (= stone) is spoken in the Palatinate dialect like “Schdää” and the word “Kleid” (= dress) like “Klääd”. The long spoken German “i” like in the words “Wein” (= vine) and “dein” (= yours) the Pfälzer pronounce like “oi”, thus the words in the Palatinate dialect are pronounced like “Woi” and “doi”. Even the sound “au” is spoken in another way, namely like “aa”. According to that, the word “Auge” (= eye) is pronounced like “Aag”, and “Staub” (= dust) like “Schaab”. It is also typical for this dialect that the sounds in the end of the word can be omitted. Nevertheless, you will know if the word is in the singular or the plural form. As an example there are the words “Hund” (= dog) and “Affe” (= monkey). In the singular the word “Hund” reads in the Palatinate dialect also “Hund”, in the plural, however, it is “Hunn”. You notice the plural form at the long spoken “n”. In the dialect the word “Affe” is pronounced like “Aff” in the singular form, in the plural it reads “Affe”.

Another interesting aspect is that the Palatinate dialect has many French loanwords. Just to name one example, the word “Bottschamber” (French: pot de chambre = chamber pot) is such a loanword. The French influence on the Palatinate language they attribute to the geographic neighborhood and the numerous occupations by the French troops during the times of war.


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