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Spoken in Germany[1]
Total speakers 819,000 (2006)[1]
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Latin (German variant)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 swg

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).




Characteristics (in comparison to Standard German) include:

  • The Middle High German monophthongs î and û have become [e͡i] and [o͡u], not [a͡ɪ] and [a͡ʊ].
  • the ending "-et" for verbs in the first person plural (e.g. "mir ganget" instead of SG. "wir gehen" ("we go")
  • as in other Alemannic dialects, the pronunciation of "s" before consonants as [ʃ] (e.g. Fest 'party' is pronounced as Fescht)
  • All plosives are pronounced in a voiced fashion, removing the distinction between the consonants 'b' and 'p' as well as 'd' and 't', which is made in Standard German.
  • the diminutive ending "-le" (e.g. Haus may become Häusle, Bisschen may become Bissle) and "-la" for plurals (e.g. Spätzle becomes Spätzla)
  • In many regions the Swabian dialect is spoken with a unique intonation that is also present when Swabian native speakers talk in Standard German.

The voiced plosives, the post-alveolar fricative, and the frequent use of diminutives 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.

The Baden-Württemberg chamber of commerce was highly praised for its advertising campaign with the slogan:"Wir können alles. Außer Hochdeutsch." which means "We can do anything. Except speak Standard German." The campaign was clever in boosting Swabian pride for their dialect and industrial achievements.[2]


Swabian is categorized as an Alemannic dialect, which in turn is one of the two types of Upper German dialects (the other being Bavarian). The ISO 639-3 language code for Swabian is "swg".

A sticker that translates as: "We can do anything except [speak] standard German." This is a light-hearted allusion to the fact that Baden-Württemberg is one of the principal centres for innovation in Germany and also for its distinctive dialects.


The Swabian dialect is composed of numerous sub-dialects, each of which has its own variations. These sub-dialects can be categorized by the difference in the formation of the past participle of 'sein' (to be) into gwä and gsi. The Gsi group is nearer to other Alemannic dialects, such as Swiss German.

Swabian dialect writers

See also


External links


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