Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Bavarian Dialect--
Survival in East German Towns

I have so many things to write about that my plate is full. I can only briefly deal with these two stories from Germany.
  • Here is an amusing article about pronunciation/dialect in Bavaria.
    Bavarians simply don't like to say "ü," a sound that can be approximated by saying a German "i" (as in fit, hit) with a pouted mouth, Erl wrote. "At most, a Bavarian puckers his mouth to drink or to canoodle, but never to pronounce an 'ü,'" according to Erl, who added that Bavarians preferred to say "i" instead.

    The "i" vs. "ü" debate has provoked a flood of reader letters to Bavarian newspapers, with some people pointing out that Bavarians most certainly know how to say their umlaut. Hans Triebel, who heads a club devoted to the promotion of Bavarian dialects, agreed that his countrymen have the ability to say an "ü." "Kinna deama scho, grod meng deama ned," he told dpa newsagency in his best Bavarian, which can be translated as: "We can do it, but we just don't want to."

    But the dialect lover also pointed out that the pure Bavarian makes do without the "ü." After all, Munich, which is München in conventional German, is called Minga among the natives.

  • The NY Times has an article on a town in (former) east Germany and its attempt to survive.
    Old maps of East Germany bear the names of hundreds of villages that were bulldozed during Communist times to make way for strip mines. Heuersdorf, however, was one of the first to be marked for destruction after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the German government sold state-owned mines to American investors with a promise that they could expand the digging ...

    To entice people into selling their houses, the company is offering them a bonus of more than $90,000 beyond the market price. Since 1995, about half the town's population has moved, leaving rows of empty houses, their windows hung with lace curtains to keep away vandals ...

    Everywhere, there are symbols of defiance. Near the upside-down flag stands a David and Goliath sculpture in stone and tin of two mismatched warriors facing off. A street sign declares, "We're staying here," while a billboard laments, "700 years of history would go up in smoke." ...

    Among the town's proudest historical artifacts is the Emmaus Church, built in 1297 and the first fortified church in Saxony. The company has offered to move the church, steeple and all, but Mr. Günther, pointing to the crumbling stonework, says it would never survive.


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