Palatine dialect – Uffgepasst!

Palatine wine in dialect
Palatine wine in dialect

A common motto in the Palatinate is “Weck, Worscht un Woi” [in English: Roll, sausage and wine]. Don’t be desperate if you can’t find those words in your German dictionary. They all are dialect. If translated to proper German, you would say “Brötchen, Wurst und Wein”. The first word has entirely changed, the second and the last one still show some common roots. The motto perfectly illustrates the Palatine way of life. As much as food and wine shape the Palatine spirit, it is incomplete without its dialect.

Like Bavarian, the Palatine dialect is part of the people’s cultural identity. The younger generation continues to speak dialect – in particular at home. Sometimes, you hear a mix of standard German and dialect. There are many variations of the Palatine dialect. Certain sounds or words help locals to identify someone’s home town or home village. You may also recognize some French words as a results of the French occupation in the past. For example, a buggy is called a “Schees” which comes from the French word “chaise” [in English: chair].

Sweet Chestnut Spot - Keschde Plätzel
Sweet Chestnut Spot – Keschde Plätzel

The Palatine dialect is predominately used in the Palatinate and neighboring regions. One major exception is the Pennsylvania German (or Pennsylvania Dutch) which is a derived from the Palatine dialect. In the 19th century, thousands of Palatine people immigrated to the USA and continued to speak their language. According to Wikipedia, today, there are still about 250,000 speakers of Pennsylvania German – most of them are Amish and Mennonites.

A common phonetic sample is the following sentence: In de Palz geht de Parre(r) mit de Peif in die Ker(s)ch [in English: In the Palatinate the pastor goes with the pipe inside the church]. This sentence also illustrates that the Palatine dialect is more rhythmic as the standard German. Some other characteristics are that the “h” is not pronounced when it is in the middle of the word. So, the town of Deidesheim changes into “Deisem”. Another typical aspect is a great dominance of “sh” and “d” sounds. For example, Weinstraße [Wine route] turns into “Woischdroos”.

More samples of the Palatine dialect.