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The Lernen to Talk Show: Episode 40 – Badisch auf der Höri!

September 18, 2012

Der gute Maibaum!

One of the  coolest things about Germany is the fact that wherever you go, you will hear a different kind of German being spoken. During my time in Cologne I was often pleasantly surprised to walk into a shop and be greeted unintelligibly, only to think, “oh no! I’ve forgotten how to speak German!” before finally realizing, “ohh they’re just speaking Kölsch.” When I was living in Radolfzell in August and September, my German was still too poor to really appreciate the dialect being spoken in those parts. Luckily, I was able to pay a visit to my old stomping grounds for the last weekend in April, just in time for May Day! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to film an episode in the particular brand of Badisch spoken am Bodensee. Specifically on the wonderful peninsula called die Höri. Please join me and Manu and Christian for a conversation about the May Day traditions, and see if you can keep up better than I could with their awesome dialect. I do apologize for how dark the video is… stay tuned to the end for a brief segment in broad daylight.

0:13 – Again, sorry about the weird quality. I had to adjust the contrast to make the faces somewhat visible, and now it’s got this graininess going on.

0:49 – Episode 17, to be exact!

1:31 – Christian points out that Manu is simplifying things when he says Fasnacht is Karneval in Badisch. While the festivals do take place at the same time, and celebrate similar things, the two traditions are in fact very different.

1:59 – The word for “pinecones” in German is Tannenzapfe, which is also the name of a particular delicious beer often imbibed in Baden-Württemberg. Actually, the beer is called Tannenzäpfle, which is a sort of diminutive form of Tannenzapfe. Down by Radolfzell, in order to make something sound small and cute, you add ¨s to a vowel and an “-le” to the end of the word. The train I rode every day from Wahlwies to Radolfzell was called the Seehäsle, which means “little rabbit of the sea”.

2:19 – It’ll be cut down by hand with a two-person saw (eine Zweimannsäge).

2:20 – ZAK BUM! You can read more about the May Tree tradition here! Just like Karneval, May Day is celebrated differently depending on the region. In and around Cologne, for example, the Maibaum isn’t a community-wide event. Instead, smaller Maibäume appear all over town at the doorsteps of damsels for whom young men pine. Secret suitors steal trees from neighboring villages and place them in front of the girls they like, hoping to win their hearts.

2:39 – As you can see, I have no idea what is going on at this point.

2:49 – “Oder Büschle. Büschle ist noch besser.” Here’s an example of what appears to be a Büschle-making competition. These bundles were used as fuel for the Kachelofen.

2:56 – “Und denn schaltest ihn in de offe inni”. Christian was good enough to transcribe the conversation for me, but I suspect speech like this isn’t often actually written down. Here’s an example of what he provided.

3:15 – I’d better change the subject, quick.

3:23 – I should have said sonstSonst means “else”, or “otherwise”, and has proven to be one of the German words that tries hardest to make its way into my day-to-day vocabulary when I’m speaking English. It’s just so efficient!

3:38 – Sprechen means “to talk” in German. But one doesn’t spricht Badisch. Badisch is schwetzt. Unfortunately in my attempt to be cool and conjugate the verb schwetzen, I said schwitzt, which actually means “sweat”. Hence, “I understand you when you sweat like that”.

3:40 – They were kind to not have pointed that out while I celebrate here.

3:53 – I don’t know what I’m talking about here… am I trying to make some kind of joke? It’s not working.

4:11 – “Das sind keine gescheiten Holzer” – A Holzer is a person responsible for the mounting of the tree. Apparently some villages just don’t have what it takes.

5:33 – The next day I asked Christian to explain just how those Holzer get that Maibaum standing. Everybody was in a hurry during this video because the May Day festivities were about to start! Trolleys were filled with beer and food and the whole Höri came alive with merrymaking. I joined Manu and his friends for a stroll over the hills and through the woods to a barbecue. It was an awesome weekend. I’m so happy I got to take part in such a cool tradition.

A view of the Bodensee

Durch den Wald


Rothaus ist die beste Haus.

What a Landschaft!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Avital permalink
    September 24, 2012 14:53

    I couldn’t help notice that you were outside a Sparkasse in the daylight scene! Subtle advertising…?

  2. September 26, 2013 07:49

    Everywhere in Germany one is no further than 54 metres away from a Sparkasse.

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