Pfälzisch: A guide to the distinct dialect of Rhineland-Palatinate

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In Rhineland-Palatinate there is a secret. The entire population is, essentially, bilingual. 

Recently, concerns have been raised about the “dying out” of local dialects in Germany. Visitors to the Rhineland could be forgiven for thinking the dialect is nothing more than a slight twang to the Hochceutsch (standardised form of German we hear and read in the media) spoken by locals. 

READ ALSO: Grüß Gott, Moin, Hallo! The complete guide to regional dialects around Germany

Out of ear-shot, however, and at the end of the winding country roads, “Pfälzisch” is still very much alive and well. It’s such a rich and colourful dialect that it can even seem like its own language. 

Norre weil du dich domols
ääfach bei mer eighenkt hoscht,
wie mer hääm sin,
do bin ich, norre weche dir,
gschdolwert iwwer mei äächene Fieß:
Un mein Knechel umgeknixt, un wie! Ganz grie-gääl-bloo!

(Just because back then,
When you just put your arm in mine,
As we were walking home,
Just because of you, I
Tripped up over my own feet:
And twisted my ankle, and how! All green-yellow-blue!) 

In truth, it’s more of an amalgamation of languages. Because of the historically fluid borders between the Rhineland and what is still colloquially known as “Lothringen” (Lorraine), there is a strong French influence. Words like “Malöör” (bad luck) from the French “Malheur”, replace the more traditional German vocab like “Unglück”. 

Other words remind of the shared germanic root of English and German, pronouncing many of German T-sounds as D-sounds, like “Daa” (day) instead of “Tag”. 

With that in mind, The Local has collated some of the most essential Pfälzer vocabulary, to give you a taste and really stun the locals as an expat living in the Rhineland, or a visitor to the beautiful, but often underappreciated, province.  

The basics: 

Aarisch: sehr – very 

Ajo: das stimmt / ich stimme dir völlig zu – that’s true/ I completely agree 

Allahop: also gut/in Ordnung – alright then/ok then 

Allemo: Ja, natürlich

Babbele: reden – speaking

Bagaasch: Verwandtschaft – relatives, from French “baggage”

Drepsele: sanfter Regen/ light rain

Due: tun / machen – to do

Ebbes: etwas – something

Elwetrittcher: a local mythical creature, described as a chicken-like figure with antlers

Fraa: Frau – woman

Gäälrieb: Karotte – carrot

Gell?: nicht wahr? / stimmts? – right?

Geworschdel: Durcheinander –  a muddle

Gosch: Mund – mouth

Guggemo do: Guck mal – look at that

Grumbeere: Kartoffel – potato

Hä?: Entschuldigung, ich habe sie nicht verstanden, können sie das bitte nochmal sagen? – excuse me, could you repeat that, I didn’t hear you the first time

This video shows conversations in Hochdeutsch (standard German) vs. Pfälzisch.

Hamma: haben wir – we have

Hasche?: hast du? – do you have? 

Isch ebbes?: ist etwas? – is something up?

Isch kennt misch uffreesche – “Ich könnte mich aufregen” – ein Ausruf der Wut / “I could get so annoyed” an exclamation of anger/frustration 

Jesses!: Ausruf des Erstaunens/exclamation of disbelief/surprise

Mänsche?: meinst du? – Do you think?

Sellemols: damals – back then

Oh her doch uff!: Ach, hör doch auf damit! – Oh, stop that! 

Uffbasse!: Pass auf! – watch out! 

Colourful expressions: 

Rutsch mer doch de Buckel nunner! – “Slide down my back!” – as much as: Go to hell / I don’t care

Die sinn en Kopp un en Arsch – “They’re one head and one arse” – they’re just like one another / just as bad as each other

Fer en Klicker un en Knopp – “For a marble and a button” – bought affordably, a real bargain

Wer lang kräxt, lebt lang – “Those that complain the most, live the longest”

Was ma hat des hat ma – “What one has, one has”

Es hellt sich uff zum wolgebruch – “It’s brightening up for a cloudburst”

Er/sie hat de hinnere in zwe haenn genomm – “He/she took his/her backside in two hands” – he/she made a swift exit / ran away quickly

Der is am deiwel aus de Pan gehubst – “He/she must have jumped out of the devil’s pan” – they’re a bad apple

Do kennt ma helle Träne forze un senkrecht in die Luft scheisse – an expression of anger

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