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Local dialect for newbies

Now that you’ve arrived in Germany, are you finding it difficult to keep up with the local way of talking? No problem, that’s just one of our regional dialects you’re hearing. With a little practice, you’ll get used to it in no time. We have a few pointers to help you get started.

When studying at Lake Constance, you’ll encounter different languages and dialects, including Swiss German and Alemannic (Illustration: Pixabay / OpenClipart-Vectors).

Swiss German (“Schwizerdütsch”)

In Kreuzlingen itself, as well as in Germany, you will meet up with plenty of Swiss people. And even though Switzerland has “high German” as one of its official languages, the Swiss German dialect people actually speak is (sometimes) even difficult for native German speakers to understand at first. But a few basics are easy to grasp, and you will even hear local German students using the expressions “Grüezi” (hello), “Merci, vielmals” (thanks a lot) and “Velo” (bicycle).

The culinary solution that brings everyone together

You probably have noticed one thing already: You are studying in “Konschdanz” (local pronunciation of Konstanz). This “sch” sound [⁠ ʃ ⁠] is one key aspect of the local dialects that differentiates them from standard German. You will hear this sound often, but most commonly in words ending with “st”. For example: “Du bisch” instead of “du bist” (you are), “es isch” instead of “es ist” (it is) or “du kannsch” instead of “du kannst” (you can) – basically anywhere a verb form ends in “st”. Another peculiarity is the “le” ending people love to add to words, for example “Mädle” instead of “Mädchen” (girl), “Brödle” instead of “Brötchen” (bread roll) or “Würstle” instead of “Wurst” (sausages).

In addition to the different pronunciation, local dialects also include certain unique words and phrases. Thankfully, good food brings everyone together, and we encourage you to try out the region’s culinary specialities! Let’s start off with the term “Veschper”. You’ll definitely hear it during an outing or picknick with friends, and it refers to any small meal or snack: from a sandwich to leftovers from your last meal.

“Dünnele” (also known as “Dinnele”), is a local treat. It is a kind of pizza with a sour cream sauce and toppings that could include cheese, bacon bits, onions, spinach, apples and much more. It is particularly popular at the Christmas market and wine festivals. With their “Dünnele”, locals like to drink “Suser” (new wine) or “Moschd” (apple cider), which is sold at the weekly farmer’s markets in large canisters.

Then there are the “Buebespitzle” or “Schupfnudeln”, finger-shaped potato dumplings, and the classic “Mauldasche” or “Maultaschen”, filled pasta squares. You’ll find these last ones in any kitchen in the region. But, not to worry: You’ll also find other traditional German foods like “Schnitzel” and “Bratwurst” as well.


Other expressions

Here are a few additional expressions and particularities that could help you navigate the local dialects:

…Locals love to use the word “wie” (like) anywhere standard German speakers have learned to use the word “als” (as/than). For example: “Etwas ist großer WIE etwas Anderes”. (Something is bigger than something else).

…The term “Teppich” can be used for both a carpet (as in standard German) and a blanket!

…If locals talk about the weather being “kebelig”, they mean it is cold outside.

…If, on a summer night at the lake, your friends complain about all the “Schnaken”, they are talking about mosquitoes.

…If someone asks you to “heben” something for him/her, then he/she would like you to hold it for him/her (and not lift it up).

…You will often hear “I” instead of the standard German “ich” (I) or “itt”/”itte” instead of “nicht” (not).

And the most local of local expressions is “Mir schaffet jetzat” (let’s get some work done). We wish you the best of luck and plenty of laughs as you learn more about how to understand and connect with local residents.