As early as 2009, UNESCO classified the Bavarian dialect as an endangered language in its World Atlas for the first time. Fourteen years later, Vincennes Schwab of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences still considers her worthy of protection and still needs support.
The dialect is experiencing migration
The development of the language of the city is a special, but typical case: only every third person in Munich was born in Munich. Thus, the Bavarian language is on the decline among children, teachers and tutors in the state capital. The situation is different in the country. However, people have always been drawn to cities and there they shed their native dialect.
This phenomenon is well known in linguistics, according to Vincennes Schwab. People agreed on a common language in which they can communicate well, in urban areas this is the standard language. This change is less pronounced in rural areas.
“dark pitch” instead of “dark pitch”
In an interview with BR24, the president of the Bavarian Language Association, Sepp Obermayer, criticized discrimination against Standard South German. According to Obermayer, the northern provinces are often considered a high-level language. He cited the North German term “zappenduster” as an example. But in South German vocabulary, the correct term is “stockfinster”.
It’s the same with “packed to the brim” (North) and “Full Stuffed” or “Full Zipped” (South). According to Obermayer, other examples are “carrots,” “yellow turnips,” “beetroot,” “beetroot,” “red cabbage,” and “red cabbage.” The association, which is based in Straubing-Bogen in Lower Bavaria, fights for dialect preservation and awards the “Bairische Sprachroot” prize every year, most recently in 2022 to Ilse Aigner, the president of the state parliament.
Austria as a role model?
Bavaria should take Austria as an example, demands the linguist Obermeyer. What the head of the Bavarian Language Association means by this: In Austria, the brochure “Austrian German as a language of teaching and education” has been distributed in schools for years.
The Ministry of Education in Vienna wants to save the mother tongue from extinction. Teachers should be encouraged to use Austrian expressions in class. According to Obermayer, the Bavarian Ministry of Culture could also initiate similar publications. It is not a categorical claim for an accent, but correct written South German.
Dialect should not be excluded
Dialect should not be left out, says linguist Vincennes Schwab of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Bavarian is a learnable language, like French, Italian or English.
However, there is often the mental hurdle that Bavarian is reserved for Bavarians. According to the scientist, the Germans are very strict when it comes to pronunciation. If someone speaks good English, this will be recognised. If someone speaks Bavarian relatively well (or Franconian or Swabian), they deserve the same credit.
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