Why you would take this class if you are interested in learning German?


            This is a good question, since you will notice that nearly nowhere in Germany the actual high-German is being spoken. Saxony, like almost all other regions in Germany, has its own characteristic dialect, which has some resemblance to the German you may have learned elsewhere before, but will surprise you by the ways in which language can be mutilated (which – by the way- is one of the reasons why the writer of this webpage is hesitant to speak German to Minnesota students – her German is actually deepest Saxon and thus not suitable to serve as a language model…)


            In order to get from High-German to Saxon, you have to become lazy with your tongue, avoid hard consonants at all costs, combine several letters into voiceless ‘sh’-sounds, turn ah sounds into uh sounds – and you are nearly there.


            But fear not, the local people want to be understood, and thus have a tendency to speak really loudly to foreigners, while reversing the above-mentioned conversions. This results not in High-German of course, but in a sort of negative Saxon. Oh well.


            To make matters worse, in the Erzgebirge, a dialect of its own has developed in each valley and village. It is possible to assign someone to a town just by language there. Real aarzgebirgsch is hard to understand even for Saxons.

            However, if you do want to practice the language, and do enjoy linguistic twists, I do believe you will find pleasure in many of these tricks, which often come together with expressions and sayings that make no sense if literally translated into English. Also, you may find the cultural experience rather interesting. The human interactions in this part of Germany are very different from the ones you find in Minnesota. There is a tendency to judge people by status as expressed by car or clothing; there is a very different opinion about what constitutes personal space; one can find ingrained mistrust against anything unknown; but also a warmth and friendliness – in particular among miners – which is hearty and down-to-earth. I also noticed differences in the male-female relationships, and a tendency toward personal insecurity in women, and some other things which you may watch out for yourself if you’ll come along.


Back to Syllabus


The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.