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Old 12.08.2007, 14:39
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(German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

In another thread on the language corner Gregv said this:

You'll want to learn a few things in Swiss German right away:
...


2. The six or so verbs (reden, leuegen, schmecken, losen, laufen, and one other one, that people use here in Switzerland and are not 'High German', but that the Swiss believe are 'High German'. (I once had someone 'test' my 'High German' by asking me to 'Reden'!)
...

That sounds like a great tip which could be helpful to many of us (thanks!), but I need a little more information/clarification/confirmation to put it to use. I hope someone can help here. Below I've outlined what I already know (or think I know) about these verbs based on my limited knowledge of High German (I'm in a B1 class), my trusty yellow dictionary, and the glossary in the reference book Hoi: your Swiss German survival guide. I haven't read Hoi yet because my brain is overwhelmed learning High German vocabulary (six verbs though I think I can manage).
  • leuegen/luägä/117 other spellings I understand to be a Swiss German (dialect) word meaning to watch or to look. (It's in the Hoi glossary and I have heard it from the EF linguists too).
  • reden I know as a High German word meaning to speak or to talk. Hoi lists redä meaning to speak. Is it that the Swiss often use reden (when speaking High German) in situations where Germans would use sprechen?
  • schmecken I know as a High German word meaning to taste or to taste good (in some constructions). Waiters in restaurants (speaking kind, slow High German to me, bless their hearts) have used it in what seemed to be the same way. Does it have an extra meaning or shade of meaning here? I don't see a related word in the Hoi glossary.
  • laufen I know as a High German word meaning to run. A woman at the Migros Klubschule told me that their B1 course "läuft nicht" i.e. it wasn't running which again as far as I knew seemed to be regular High German. Again, does it have extra meanings or heavier usage here? No help from Hoi.
  • losen is translated by the yellow dictionary as to draw lots, which doesn't sound like a verb that would get a lot of airtime in everyday conversation. But Hoi gives losä meaning to listen, so I am guessing that is the meaning given to losen here.
  • "one other one ...?" I've got nothing there.
Any further information would be greatly appreciated.

To me it doesn't make sense to interpret this as the Swiss not knowing High German properly. It seems more akin to the (considerable) vocabulary differences between different versions of English. Languages change and vary, and it is much more useful and interesting to learn about the changes and variations than to devote yourself solely to learning the "correct" version. Of course, part of knowing about the changes and variations is to know what is considered "correct" in any given context.
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Old 12.08.2007, 16:13
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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In another thread on the language corner Gregv said this:

You'll want to learn a few things in Swiss German right away:
...


2. The six or so verbs (reden, leuegen, schmecken, losen, laufen, and one other one, that people use here in Switzerland and are not 'High German', but that the Swiss believe are 'High German'. (I once had someone 'test' my 'High German' by asking me to 'Reden'!)
...

That sounds like a great tip which could be helpful to many of us (thanks!), but I need a little more information/clarification/confirmation to put it to use. I hope someone can help here. Below I've outlined what I already know (or think I know) about these verbs based on my limited knowledge of High German (I'm in a B1 class), my trusty yellow dictionary, and the glossary in the reference book Hoi: your Swiss German survival guide. I haven't read Hoi yet because my brain is overwhelmed learning High German vocabulary (six verbs though I think I can manage).
  • leuegen/luägä/117 other spellings I understand to be a Swiss German (dialect) word meaning to watch or to look. (It's in the Hoi glossary and I have heard it from the EF linguists too).
  • reden I know as a High German word meaning to speak or to talk. Hoi lists redä meaning to speak. Is it that the Swiss often use reden (when speaking High German) in situations where Germans would use sprechen?
  • schmecken I know as a High German word meaning to taste or to taste good (in some constructions). Waiters in restaurants (speaking kind, slow High German to me, bless their hearts) have used it in what seemed to be the same way. Does it have an extra meaning or shade of meaning here? I don't see a related word in the Hoi glossary.
  • laufen I know as a High German word meaning to run. A woman at the Migros Klubschule told me that their B1 course "läuft nicht" i.e. it wasn't running which again as far as I knew seemed to be regular High German. Again, does it have extra meanings or heavier usage here? No help from Hoi.
  • losen is translated by the yellow dictionary as to draw lots, which doesn't sound like a verb that would get a lot of airtime in everyday conversation. But Hoi gives losä meaning to listen, so I am guessing that is the meaning given to losen here.
  • "one other one ...?" I've got nothing there.
Any further information would be greatly appreciated.

To me it doesn't make sense to interpret this as the Swiss not knowing High German properly. It seems more akin to the (considerable) vocabulary differences between different versions of English. Languages change and vary, and it is much more useful and interesting to learn about the changes and variations than to devote yourself solely to learning the "correct" version. Of course, part of knowing about the changes and variations is to know what is considered "correct" in any given context.
I was in the midst of moving when I wrote that. I plan to make a sticky post of this subject, probably named something like: "Should I learn High German or Swiss German first?". And since I was moving my materials from my Swiss-German class were packed away.

The six major differing verbs in Swiss German:

1. Löse (to listen, someone might say "Löse mol!" or listen here!)
2. Schmegge (to smell, gets laughs out of germans when one says "meine füesse schmegge gar schlecht", My feet SMELL really bad).
3. Luege (to look)
4. Gärn ha (to like, or want "Y hatti gärra eis Rüggeli", I would like a medium beer, in a mug)
5. Schwätze/rede (instead of sprechen, "Mir rede Düütsch")
6. Schaffe (work, "Y gang go schaffe" I go to work)

Laufen is used by the swiss to mean walk instead of run. "Y gang go Laufä".

By the way grammar changes dramatically from High German to Swiss German. There's the "gang go" and "chumm cho" constructions. Which are much more like the "gonna go" and "come over to" constructions in english.

The differences between High German and Swiss German almost like those between High German and Dutch (or the Scandinavian languages), or like the differences between English and Friesian. It's quite different.

Hoi's not a bad place to start on Swiss German, and I have a copy myself, but there are a lot of other books on Swiss German, written in German. "Schwizerdeutch fuer Alles" is a good introductory text. There is also a multi-volume set I've seen about Basel dialect.

Last edited by gregv; 12.08.2007 at 19:20. Reason: fixed glaring spelling error.
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Old 12.08.2007, 17:59
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

Many thanks Greg, that's a usefully sized chunk of useful information.
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Old 13.08.2007, 02:31
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

There are many verbs that are only used in Swiss German. Others are in use in both High and Swiss German, but have a different meaning.

Schmöcke or schmegge means to smell or to taste in Swiss German. In High German schmecken only means to taste, to smell translates to riechen, which doesn't exist in Swiss German. So if somebody tells a German "meine Füsse schmecken schlecht", he will look funny because he thinks that the person has bitten himself in his feet.

There is a blog dedicated to the differences between Swiss and High German that is well-known among German expats, blogwiese.ch.
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Old 13.08.2007, 08:33
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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There are many verbs that are only used in Swiss German. Others are in use in both High and Swiss German, but have a different meaning.

Schmöcke or schmegge means to smell or to taste in Swiss German. In High German schmecken only means to taste, to smell translates to riechen, which doesn't exist in Swiss German. So if somebody tells a German "meine Füsse schmecken schlecht", he will look funny because he thinks that the person has bitten himself in his feet.

There is a blog dedicated to the differences between Swiss and High German that is well-known among German expats, blogwiese.ch.
The six or so above are the main ones for us trying to learn a Swiss-German dialect. There are all sorts of other differences, both in vocabulary and grammar between the two. And, thanks for the link, that sounds like a great resource.

One interesting thing is that in my Swiss German class we had four Germans (three from Germany and one from Kazakhstan) and four French-speaking Swiss. Our teacher mentioned that usually the class is about 90% Germans.

And to be honest, schmegge really only means to taste, as in food. So my foot example is incorrect, and only funny to Germans. The Swiss just give you a confused look, but the Germans think it's really quite funny. ;-)
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Old 16.08.2007, 21:46
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

Hi all!
Greg linked me here. Sorry for spelling-errors and other mistakes.

About the word-list you mentioned: only people with a very bad education would uses this swiss-german words in high-german. I can not remember to have ever heard someone to say something like that...

At the moment a lot of Swiss people are not very keen about the Germans to put it mildly
What many Germans don't know, there's not only Swiss German (which is mainly spoken) and High German (who is here mainly written). No. The language we write in is actually a modified form of the written High German (eg in the newspaper) . So the Germans can laugh when they want to, but the Duden rules still state that we are allowed to write our modified Swiss High German.

The easiest thing to recognize the difference, is that we don't use the ß... (we use ss)

But there are other differences: funny enoug Swiss people who are writing High German tend to write it more conservative, with more old fashioned words and they tend to use words which are not used in Swiss German. The try to be overcorrect

So Swiss Germans use "welcher, welche, welches" much more in relative causes than Germans (instead of "der,die, das") but "welcher etc" are not existing in Swiss German!!!

Or we tend to use for "to begin, to start" "beginnen" and not "anfangen", although both are allowed, but "anfangen" sounds more similar to the SwissGerman word, so many Swiss think it's dialect.

So you see, it's a bit more complicated. And unfortunatetly not that funny
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Old 20.08.2007, 17:01
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

Hello learners of German!
I am German, from the blessed parts where we only speak High German, and I am a (High) German teacher, so here's my two pennies on your 6 words:
- "Gaern ha": in the form of "gern haben" widely used in Germany, especially in phrases like "Ich haette gern ein Bier!"
- "rede": As far as I know "reden" and "sprechen" are 100% interchangeable. "schwaetze" is typical for the South of Germany (Schwaben). So is "schaffe", famous example "Ich schaff' beim Daimler".
IMHO the Swiss have an inferiority complex about speaking a "dialect" of German. What I learned at University is that the German language works more like the holy trinity - it is made up equally of the varieties German, Swiss and Austrian. Anybody feel enlightened yet?
swisskat
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Old 20.08.2007, 17:57
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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Hello learners of German!
I am German, from the blessed parts where we only speak High German, and I am a (High) German teacher, so here's my two pennies on your 6 words:
- "Gaern ha": in the form of "gern haben" widely used in Germany, especially in phrases like "Ich haette gern ein Bier!"
- "rede": As far as I know "reden" and "sprechen" are 100% interchangeable. "schwaetze" is typical for the South of Germany (Schwaben). So is "schaffe", famous example "Ich schaff' beim Daimler".
IMHO the Swiss have an inferiority complex about speaking a "dialect" of German. What I learned at University is that the German language works more like the holy trinity - it is made up equally of the varieties German, Swiss and Austrian. Anybody feel enlightened yet?
swisskat
Thanks for the comments! Language is pretty much a guideline isn't it?

So, you're from around Hannover? :-)

Indeed a lot of 'Swiss German words' are spoken in Germany. Though it tends to be in the Allemanisch and Schwaebisch areas. From what I understand, the Bavarian German dialect is much different than that from northern Germany (or at least that's what a friend who is from Munich mentioned).

One thing that always amuses me is that the Swiss almost always pronounce German placenames in perfect High German. For example, Weil am Rhein, just north of Basel is pronounced Wyyl am Rhyy by many of the local Germans, but not by the Swiss.

BTW, in the Basel dialect it's
"Y hatti garra äs Bier". ;-)
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Old 13.04.2008, 13:23
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

.............

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Old 13.04.2008, 13:42
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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Old 13.04.2008, 16:23
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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Gern haben ist perfectly standard German.
This is true, but the in Swiss-German you get a "y haetti garra" instead of "Ich moechte gern". Which is really what I was pointing out.
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Old 13.04.2008, 16:39
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

It all comes down to "zweite Lautverschiebung", doesn't it? The one that took place in the standard High German of today but didn't take place in most of the German dialects, such as Plattdeutsch, Allemanisch, Swiss German etc, etc. Nor did it take place in any of the other Germanic languages such as Dutch, Danish, Swedish etc. Thus, in many ways, Swedish and Swiss German is more similar than Swiss German and High German. Once you break the code, Swiss German is therefore not that difficult to learn and to understand. They are quite regular in their irregularities :-)
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Old 13.04.2008, 16:55
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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Old 13.04.2008, 23:02
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

For a comparison between Swiss German, High German and English, take a look at the lyrics to "Ewige Liebi", written by Mash. A friend from another forum translated the lyrics.

Quote

Ewigi Liebi was a hit song by Swiss soft-rock group mash. It was adapted for Yodelling choir by the head of Jodelchörli Wiesenberg. Here are the original version and my attemps of translation into standard German and English:

Original text (pasted from mash's website)

nimm mich i arm & drück mich fescht a dich & la mi nummä los
ich tanke mich grad a dier uf, will’s eifach so guet tued
ich ha di gärn, ich bruchä dich, ja ich bi süchtig nach diär
doch garantiä chan ich diär keini gä, dass es für immer so wird si

ewigi liäbi - das wünsch ich diär
ewigi liäbi - das wünsch ich miär
ewigi liäbi - numä für üs zwei
ewigi liäbi - fühl mich bi dier dehäi

säg nid für immer & säg nid niä, ich gibä alles für dich uf
di blick hed igschlagä i mis härz, hesch mich zum brännä bracht
troffä vo dem stromstoss, wo so guet tued, würdi alles machä,
alles gä, alles für dich tuä, ich la dich nümmä los

ewigi liäbi ...

ich weiss, liäbi chunnt & gad, wiene cherzä schmelzt sie wäg
ja, wienäs lied hört sie eifach uf oder sie haut eifach ab
niemmer seid, es sigi liecht, es isch es einzigs gäh & näh
s’git kei verlüürer oder gwünner i dem würfelschpiel...

ewigi liäbi ...

standard German:

Nimm mich in den Arm und drücke mich fest an Dich und lasse mich nicht mehr los
Ich tanke mich geradezu an Dir auf weil es einfach so gut tut
Ich habe Dich gern, ich brauche Dich, ja ich bin süchtig nach Dir
Doch kann ich Dir keine Garantien geben, dass es für mich immer so sein wird

Ewige Liebe - das wünsche ich Dir
Ewige Liebe - das wünsche ich mir
Ewige Liebe - nur für uns zwei
Ewige Liebe - ich fühle mich bei dir zuhause

Sag nicht "für immer" und sage nicht "nie", ich gebe für Dich alles auf
Dein Blick hat in mein Herz eingschlagen Du hast mich zum Brennen gebracht
Getroffen vom Stromschlag, der so wohl tut, würde ich alles machen,
Alles geben, alles für Dich tun, ich lasse Dich nicht mehr los.

Ewige Liebe...

Ich weiss, Liebe kommt und geht, wie eine Kerze schmilzt sie weg
Ja, sie hört einfach auf wie ein Lied oder sie haut einfach ab
Niemand sagt, es sei einfach, es ist ein einziges Geben und Nehmen
Es gibt weder Verlierer noch Sieger in diesem Würfelspiel

Ewige Liebe...


English:

Take me in your arm and squeeze me tightly and don't let me go
I fill up on you, because it feels so good
I love you, I need you, I am even addicted to you
But I can't give any guarantee that it will stay this way forever

Eternal love - this is what I wish you
Eternal love - this is waht I wish me
Eternal love - only for the two of us
Eternal love - I feel at home with you

Don't say "forever" and don't say "never", I give up everything for you
Your glance has hit my heart, you have set me on fire
Hit by that impulse, which feels so good, I would do anything,
Give everything, do any thing for you, I won't let go of you.

Eternal love...

I know, love comes and goes, melts away like a candle
Yes, it simply ends like a song or simply beats off
Nobody claims it to be easy, it is all a matter of give and take
There are no losers and no winners in this game of dice

Eternal love...

Unquote

Ewige Liebi: The original video clip with Mash:

Ewige Liebi: I believe it's a "Hopp d Bäse" video of the Wiesenberg Yodel Choir
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Old 16.05.2010, 23:31
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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It all comes down to "zweite Lautverschiebung", doesn't it? The one that took place in the standard High German of today but didn't take place in most of the German dialects, such as Plattdeutsch, Allemanisch, Swiss German etc, etc. Nor did it take place in any of the other Germanic languages such as Dutch, Danish, Swedish etc. Thus, in many ways, Swedish and Swiss German is more similar than Swiss German and High German. Once you break the code, Swiss German is therefore not that difficult to learn and to understand. They are quite regular in their irregularities :-)
The second sound shift (zweite Lautverschiebung) affected all German dialects to various degrees except Dutch and Low German (as well as Low German derived colonial dialects east of the Oder-Neisse). The most fully affected are Bavarian (including Austrian) and Alemanic (the Allemanisch you mention). Swiss German happens to be nothing else but the varieties of Alemanic spoken in what is today politically "Switzerland". Alemanic is also spoken in Alsace and Vorarlberg. The oldest known texts in Alemannic are three short Elder Futhark inscriptions dating back to the 6th century. Alemanic is thus the earliest attested variety of High German. High German, incidentally, refers to dialects and languages of German that were subject to the second sound shift (referred to as "Oberdeutsch" in German). The German "Hochdeutsch" or "Hochsprache" (or even "Bühnensprache") should be properly translated into English as "Standard German", not "High German". Other standardized varieties of High German are Luxemburgish and Yiddish.
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Old 17.05.2010, 20:39
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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The German "Hochdeutsch" or "Hochsprache" (or even "Bühnensprache") should be properly translated into English as "Standard German", not "High German".
I have no idea for English translation (it is not my language), but Hochdeutsch is not the same as Oberdeutsch. Confusion is common. On top of it, Hochdeutsch is ambiguous in German.

EDIT: Stictly speaking, Lützebuergisch is Mitteldeutsch. But south of Benrath-Line, so why not Hochdeutsch (but not Oberdeutsch). Hence the ambiguity. Sorry if I am messing up with the reader's mind :-)
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Old 17.05.2010, 21:00
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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The second sound shift (zweite Lautverschiebung)
...
Other standardized varieties of High German are Luxemburgish and Yiddish.
Hello and welcome to the English Forum

It can sometimes pay dividends to check the date of a post before replying to it - for example, similar topics have reemerged many times in the intervening two years since the post you replied to
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Old 17.05.2010, 21:12
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Re: (German) Six verbs the Swiss regard as High German?

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Hello and welcome to the English Forum

It can sometimes pay dividends to check the date of a post before replying to it - for example, similar topics have reemerged many times in the intervening two years since the post you replied to
Quite right you are, but I have to say this one is worth a bump - I've learnt something from it - and isn't that what this place is about
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