Swabian in the US – a linguistics anecdote not climbing related

Swabian in the US – a linguistics anecdote not climbing related

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Living im Schwabenland or im Ländle, and having taken numerous linguistics classes in college, I always enjoy a good history/language related story. From The Language Log, here’s a story about Swabian in the US in the early 1900s. In short, Swabian was apparently common enough for non-Germans to have picked up on the street. The gentlemen in the anecdote below was able to use it while stationed in Germany after the war.


However, getting down to the garage there was only one car left and an American Colonel ahead of me.  Being a very considerate gentleman he inquired about my need of a car and said, since he was not having far to go, we should share it.  In exchange I was trying to be helpful by translating to the German driver where he needed to go.  Instead of responding to my attempt, the man began rattling off where he needed to go and which route to follow — in the thickest Schwaebisch dialect!

I was absolutely astounded because up until then I had always found Americans bewildered in dealing with the German language, and this chap did not appear to have been German-born. In response to my surprise he quipped:

“ha no, da muss ma halt ma a bis-cha schwaetza kenna”

Read the whole thing.

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