Baden Language and Languages

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The German speaking area, which includes Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Luxemburg, and a few other areas, is rich in dialects. So different are the dialects from each other that people from one area cannot understand speakers from other dialect areas. For example, a northern German could not understand a Swissman if the latter is speaking in his dialect. However, in the last century or so, standardization through the media and educational systems has eroded much of the traditional dialects or, at least, imposed to some degree a standard dialect onto the population.

In Baden two traditional dialects are spoken: Frankish (also called Franconian) in the north and Alemannic in the south.  It is beyond the scope of this short article to outline all the features of these two dialects. However, we may mention a few items, especially those that might appear in old records. In the realm of pronunciation, we find [sh] in some words where Standard German has [s], e.g. fescht for fest. We also find the ich-sound [ç] at the beginning of words where Standard German has only [k]. Therefore, the researcher might see in a record Kind spelled as Khind. Although this spelling is indicative of Switzerland today, in the past it was found much further north, i.e. in Baden. In morphology, the southern German dialects have very distinctive features that are still common today. The diminutive suffix –l, -le, -li is common, such as in Häusli, 'little/dear house.' This suffix can also be attached to names, e.g. Hänsel and Gretel, and Stückl as a surname. This is one of the most indicative features of southern German and the researcher should be aware of this. Another feature of southern German dialects in that the suffix –in is often attached to the surname of females, e.g. Meyerin. This is not part of the name and should be disregarded when entering the name into a family group sheet or pedigree chart.

Although the linked article is not dedicated to any dialect in particular, it does contain some variant spellings that the researcher might encounter in Baden research. 


For further reading
Noble. C.A.M. Modern German Dialects. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. 1983.
König, Werner. dtv-Atlas zur deutschen Sprache. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. 1989.
Russ, Charles V.J. The Dialects of Modern German. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1989.
Keller, R. E. German Dialects. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 1961.