Bavarian passwords

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Bavarian passwords are a small number of linguistic features that are used to identify the various Bavarian dialects and are not found in any other German dialect. Around 1900, these passwords were typical for all Bavarian dialects in Bavaria , Austria and South Tyrol , but have largely disappeared in modern colloquial language and urban dialects and are now only regarded as historical in some regions. The Cimbrian in Northern Italy, the origin of which has long been disputed in research, also has the Bavarian passwords and is therefore also classified as a Bavarian dialect.

Classification problem

The Bavarian dialects are a relatively heterogeneous group of language varieties , which, however, have a lot in common and historically have a common origin in the Middle Ages. However, many features that are considered typical Bavarian do not apply to all dialects of this group. Characteristics are often perceived as typical Bavarian that only apply to the Central Bavarian dialects of the Alpine foothills and the Danube region, while the dialects at the geographical edges, especially in the Alpine regions and in the north in the Upper Palatinate, partly follow different sound laws and are also differentiated through the vocabulary differ from Middle Bavarian. In addition, there are differences between the dialects in Old Bavaria and Austria in the geographically central area.

Other linguistic features that apply to all Bavarian dialects are not found exclusively there. Mutual influencing and similar linguistic developments can mean that characteristics perceived as typical Bavarian can also be found in the Alemannic dialects bordering to the west or in the East Franconian dialects bordering to the north. The influence of the New High German standard language, which affects all German dialects and regional idioms, has made it even more difficult to define clear distinctions between the dialect families.

Solution approach

Linguistics wanted to find features in this problem area that enable a scientifically exact assignment. A concept of this research was defined by the Germanist and dialectologist Eberhard Kranzmayer from Carinthia, who was able to recognize a small group of features through intensive field research that is really limited to the Bavarian dialects. In a publication from 1960 he mentioned these Bavarian passwords .

His empirical data, on which this definition is based, come on the one hand from historical texts, from the early Middle Ages to modern times, as well as from documented language samples of active dialect speakers up to the first half of the 20th century.

The Bavarian passwords

és and enk

All Bavarian basilects have pronouns for the 2nd person plural that differ from standard German, namely és and enk . Examples:

  • What does it mean? (What are you doing today?)
  • How is it enk? (How are you guys?)
  • Griaß enk God. (Hello God.)

According to linguistics, these personal pronouns go back to old Indo-European dual forms , which are also attested from the Gothic language . The original number system of singular / dual / plural has been reduced to singular and plural in other German idioms, while in Bavarian the grammatical forms of the old dual have been retained for the 2nd person plural, but were also transferred functionally to the plural .

Except in Bavarian, these forms can be found in Mittelberg ( Remscheider ) dialect (Rhineland) as chätt, jätt (nominative), önk (dative and accusative) and önker (possessive), where / ö / is rounded / e /. On the other hand, there are regional variants of Central Yiddish , originally from Poland , which inspired the linguist Dovid Katz in 2004 to come up with a new thesis on the origin of this language.

Conjugation: 2nd person plural on -ts

The conjugation of verbs in the 2nd person plural, which ends in -ts in all Bavarian dialects, has the same origin . This form has even been preserved in modern urban colloquial languages ​​influenced by standard German and is still spoken orally in all language classes. Examples are:

  • Go ts it haid to the movies? (Basilect)
  • Go ts her today to the cinema? (colloquial language close to standard)
  • Kin ts ma ned gach Höfn? (Basilect)
  • Could ts do not you help me quickly? (colloquial language close to standard)
  • It sa ts då ned there. (Basilect)
  • Your should ds not at home here. (colloquial language close to standard)

The Bavarian weekdays

In all Bavarian dialect regions, until recently, the names deviating from standard German for the days of the week Tuesday and Thursday were detectable in all native dialects . Although these are implemented differently in terms of sound regionally, they all go back to the same origin:

  • Tuesday: Ergtag, Erchtåg, Earidåg, Iadåg, Irda
  • Thursday: Whitsun, Pfinztåg, Pfingsdåg, Pfinsda

The most common theory about this deviation from all other German dialects is that these two weekday names go back to Greek. Areôs hêméra is the day of the god Ares in Greek , which in mythology corresponds to the Roman god of war Mars , from whom the weekday name in the Romance languages ​​is derived. Thursday is called pempte hêméra in Greek , "the fifth day (of the week)", whereby according to biblical tradition, Sunday was counted as the first day. The word Pentecost ( pentekostē hēmera , “the fiftieth day”) has a similar origin.

In this context, the research literature mostly points to an Eastern Roman influence or, through the communication of the Goths, to a possible evangelization of the early Bavarians to Christianity in the form of Arianism . These weekday names would have gotten into Bavarian through the translation of the Wulfilabibel from Greek into Gothic. However, this thesis is considered controversial.

Dult, Maut and Pfaff

The words Dult , Maut and Pfaff (e) also come from the Gothic . The former denotes a folk festival, a parish fair and is still used today as a local name, but is considered typical of the Bavarian dialects. The word Maut, which means "road toll", also comes from Gothic and has found its way into the standard language via the Bavarian dialects. The word Pfaffe comes from the Greek (πάππας, pappas ) and it is assumed that, like the weekday names, it came from Gothic to Bavarian. From there it migrated further north. In the Bavarian dialects, this word was considered a completely neutral term for a priest ; it was only in the 19th century that it got a negative connotation based on Prussia (see Kulturkampf ) and is therefore perceived as an unfriendly word in the dialect today.


The word Pfoad (Pfeid, Pfeit) in its meaning for shirt or outer garment can also only be found in the Bavarian dialects. An example from Unternberg im Lungau :

  • The rotatable path should be paid out. (You definitely want to take off your dirty shirt.)


The juniper berries were called Kranewitten in all Bavarian dialects around 1900 . This designation was also used in high-language works from Bavaria and Austria at this time, which is why it was partly known beyond this area. It can partly be found in old cookbooks. Examples of dialectal pronunciation in Bavarian:

  • Kranewitt, Kranawitt, Khrånebitt, Khramatpee, Krowent and Krowentbirl

Light a

The umlaut of the etymologically long â ( normalized Middle High German spelling ), which becomes ä in modern standard German , is a light a in all Bavarian dialects. This is particularly noticeable when forming diminutive forms (diminutive forms). Since this phenomenon does not exist in the neighboring Alemannic and East Franconian dialects, there are some additional Bavarian passwords, such as:

  • Kaas, Khaas (cheese)
  • Fassl (little barrel)
  • Katzl (kitten)
  • Radl (small wheel, bicycle)
  • Madl (girl, girl)
  • Glasl (glass, glass)

The primary umlaut already present in Old High German (or Old Bavarian ) is, however, the same as Standard German in the Bavarian dialects (e.g. guest, guests ).


  • Institute for Austrian Dialect and Name Lexicons: Bavarian .
  • Walter Tauber: Dialect and written language in Bavaria (1450–1800) , de Gruyter, New York, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-11-013556-6 .
  • Hubert Klausmann: Chapter: Bavarian and Alemannic word geography in comparison . In: Elvira Glaser, Peter Ott, Rudolf Schwarzenbach: Alemannisch im Sprachvergleich. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-515-08536-X .
  • Rosemarie Spannbauer-Pollmann: The situation of Bavarian passwords in the Upper German-speaking area . In: The Bavarian language . Studies on their geography, grammar, lexicon and pragmatics. Festschrift Ludwig Zehetner . Edited by Albrecht Greule / Rupert Hochholzer / Alfred Wildfeuer with the assistance of Ulrich Kanz. Regensburg 2004, 291-303.
  • Dovid Katz: Words on Fire. The Unfinished Story of Yiddish , Basic Books, 2004, ISBN 978-0465037285 .
  • Eberhard Kranzmayer: The Bavarian passwords and their history (with 5 sketches). In: Studies on Austrian-Bavarian dialect studies (Volume 2), Böhlau Verlag, Graz a. Vienna, 1960.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Georg Wenker (1852–1911): Das Rheinische Platt 1877; in original orthography
  2. Velberter Platt: Christmas story from the Gospel according to Luke - Jesus' birth ( Memento from January 14, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  3. ^ See Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry, Volume II.