Back to Index

Germanic language problems



Philip Terzian reports: "I was in Munich last week: The taxi drivers speak Bavarian (to one another) and the radiologists speak High German". [I imagine that all Bavarians engaged in science speak High German.RH]. Cameron Sawyer agrees with George Sassoon on the linguistic skills of Swiss bankers:

"George Sassoon is absolutely right: Swiss bankers are likely to understand even Swahili, if money is involved. But ich werde bei Ihnen etwas Geld ausgeben , which means I will spend some money with you , is High German, not Swiss German, and furthermore a form not likely to be encountered in spoken language. Also, who spends money with bankers? Usually you just give it to them, or take it from them (the latter only in case you don t really need it).

Literate Bavarians, naturally, can speak and understand High German (as do educated Swiss as well), often with the lovely, lilting Bavarian accent. School is taught in High German. Bavarian and Swiss German are dialects with no widespread written form (despite nationalistic attempts to revive Bavarian as a real language). In Bayreuth, Ronald, you would not have heard Bavarian in any case, because that is Franconia, which has its own yet again rather distinct dialect (to me wholly unintelligible). The Franconians disdain the Bavarian beer and are great wine growers (and drinkers). Franconia was one of the five main duchies of Germany, but declined and was broken up, with the largest parts being absorbed into the Kingdon of Bavaria between 1803 and 1815. Bayreuth is part of Bavaria only politically, not culturally or linguistically. [Well Wagner made his home there, but he, like Bach, spoke Leipzig/Dresden German. I suppose he and Ludwig II of Bavaria spoke High German. RH].

To Knowlton I say: Ich soll leben means I am supposed to live; not I shall live. Sollen is a modal auxiliary, and that phrase is not future (the Germans don t have our shall/will mess). But Germanic languages, including English, do form a future, using an auxiliary verb will , werden , etc. and the infinitive. What's not future about it?"

Ronald Hilton - 10/5/02


Webmaster