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Swabian German


updated 11th of May 2021


Swabian German


Swabian (Schwäbisch) is one of the Alemannic dialects of High German, spoken in the region of Swabia. Swabia covers much of Germany's southwestern Bundesland (state) of Baden-Württemberg (including the capital Stuttgart and the rural area known as the Swabian Alb) and the southwest of the Bundesland Bavaria. Swabian is also spoken by part of the German minorities in Hungary, former Yugoslavia, Romania, and the former Soviet Union.

The dialect ranges from a 'standard' Swabian, spoken in Stuttgart, to slightly differing and 'thicker' forms found in smaller towns in the countryside. Older people can often tell the exact village a person comes from merely by hearing their accent.

Swabian is difficult to understand for speakers of Standard German (SG). It contains vocabulary that differs altogether from Standard German (e.g. 'jam' in SG is Marmelade while in Swabian it becomes Gsälz).


The voiced plosives, the postaleovar fricative, and the frequent use of diminuitives based on "l" suffixes gives the dialect a very "soft" or "mild" feel, that is often felt to be in sharp contrast to the harder varieties of German spoken in the North.

Many Swabians feel that other Germans associate their dialect and melodic style of intonation with simple-mindedness. They hence sometimes try to avoid it outside Swabia, with varying success. Conversely, the Swabian chamber of commerce was highly praised for its advertising campaign with the slogan: "We can do anything. Except speak High German." The campaign was clever in boosting Swabian pride for their dialect and industrial achievements.


"Wooden Heart (Muss I Denn)"

is a song best known for featuring in the 1960 Elvis Presley film G.I. Blues. The song was a hit for Presley in the United Kingdom, making number one for six weeks, but wasn't released as a single in the USA until November 1964 (as B-side to "Blue Christmas"). Presley was pipped to the post in the U.S. by Joe Dowell's cover version, which made number one at the end of August 1961.

"Wooden Heart", created by Fred Wise, Ben Weisman, Kay Twomey and German bandleader Bert Kaempfert, was based on a German folk song, "Muß i' denn zum Städtele hinaus". "Wooden Heart" features several lines from the original folk song, written in the German dialect Swabian. Bobby Vinton recorded his version in 1975 with those lines translated into Polish.



















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