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Thread: Is Saarland actually German?

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    Is Saarland actually German?

    I was reading this blog article written by a German originally from Saarland with a little bit info about the distinctive region:

    Is Saarland actually German?

    I’m super German, so much that sometimes I’m being complimented on my fantastic German. “Thank you”, I think when it happens, “It only took me three decades to become that good.”

    Surprisingly, the compliments don’t come from foreigners but from other Germans because they seem to think that people living in Saarland must not be from Germany.

    But Saarland is indeed part of Germany.

    And it has been since 1957, this time continuously.

    Germany after WW2 devided into 4 zones (+ Saarland)

    Before rejoining Germany, the Saar region was ping-ponged back and forth between Germany and France during and in between the two World Wars, and was also independent right after WWII. But the people, Saarländers, have always had strong ties to the other Germanic tribes and remained German-speaking, no matter whether Germany or France happened to administer the region.

    And here is a fun fact: my grandparents made it through six currencies in their lifetime without moving once:

    • Mark (until 1923)
    • French Franc (1920-1935)
    • Reichsmark (1935-1947)
    • Saar-Mark (June – Nov 1947)
    • French Franc (Nov 1947 – 1959)
    • Deutsche Mark (1959-2002)
    • Euro (2002 – current)

    Even though we’re part of Germany, we Saarländers would totally agree that we’re the most French of all Germans.

    What is Saarland like?

    There are numerous ways to make your way into Saarland and one of my favourites is taking the train. Even if you happen to be on an ICE, Germany’s fasted train, the closer you get to Saarland, the slower the trains will get. It certainly indicates how life is lived in Saarland.

    It’s not that time has stopped but it certainly goes by slower than you’d expect it coming from a bigger city. After all, Saarland is located in the outskirts of Germany in the German countryside.
    It’s a retreat from a hectic city life.

    Apart from a de-stressed nature, Saarländers tend to gravitate less to sticking to rules compared to Germans from other parts of Germany.

    Sights you don’t want to miss are certainly the Saarschleife (the bend of the river Saar):

    Die Saarschleife (bend of the river Saar) in Mettlach, Orscholz (Wikipedia)

    Having been an industrial and mining region, Saarland offers a beautiful and down to earth industrial heritage called Völklinger Hütte (Völklingen Ironsworks), now a UNESCO Word heritage site and former ironwork factory that was operating from 1873 to 1986:

    Völklinger Hütte (Völklingen Ironworks) in Völklingen, Saarland, UNESCO world heritage site.
    On the other side, you’ll also find an amazing amount of Michelin star awarded chefs in this tiny piece of land (currently 6):

    As you might expect in the countryside, you’ll come across many amateur chefs as well, called der Schwenker. The word der Schwenker is not only used for the meat that is sizzling on the BBQ but also the BBQ itself. And now guess what the activity is called? As a hint read this word backwards: neknewhcs.

    In Saarland dialect the BBQ, the grillables as well as the person grilling is called ‘Schwenker’. And now guess what the activity is called? (backwards: neknewhcs)

    Distinctive features of Saarländisch

    Speaking of language, there are two dialects in Saarland, the Moselle Franconian dialect in the northwest and the Rhine Franconian dialect in the south east.

    The two separate dialects in Saarland are not caused by the river Saar that meanders through the West part of this beautiful piece of land but are dictated by the different pronunciation of the word das (the).
    Saarländers, the people, refer to the linguistic division as the Das-Dat-Grenze (das-dat-isogloss). The southern part pronounces the word similar to the standardised standard German das, while northern Saarland prefers to say dat.

    French influence

    The French administration of the region has left positive marks on theSaarland dialect with several French words and structures turned into a hilarious Saarland version.

    For example

    • Saarländers don’t walk on the sidewalk (Fußgängerweg) but on the “Trottoir”, (pronounced “Trottva”),
    • Get out their “Portemonnaie” (pronounced “Portmonnä”), and
    • Tell everyone that they HAVE cold (Isch hann kalt) instead of they ARE cold (Mir ist kalt), similar to the French construction J’ai froid.

    The French language has had a less great impact on the German spoken in the region than it has had the other way. Parts of the French dialect up until about 30 kilometers into France is easily understandable by Saarländers and almost sounds like a copy of the Saarland dialect.

    1. Holen is better than nehmen

    Ich hole mir das Leben in standard German (I’m going to commit suicide).Holen (to go get something), here we go again! For the words we add to the German language, we got rid of one special verb: nehmen (to take).

    The Saarland dialect, no matter if Rhine or Moselle Franconian, simply uses holen (to get/fetch) exclusively instead, which can cause some confusion among non-Saarländers.

    Consequently, Saarländers don’t take the bus, they go and get the bus:

    Isch hol’ de Bus. (Ich nehme den Bus)
    They also don’t take their medicine, they go and get their medicine:
    Isch hol’ die Tabletten. (Ich nehme die Tabletten)
    They don’t commit suicide, they go and get their suicide:
    Ich hol’ mir das Leben. (Ich nehme mir das Leben)

    2. Es Claudia

    Claudia in Saarland dialect

    We also add another little word that makes the Saarland dialect so distinctive. A little rude sounding to other Germans, Saarländers don’t blink an eye when referring to a woman using ‘it’ (not only a girl or baby), even together with her name:

    Es (Et) Claudia lo hinnen.
    It Claudia over there.

    3. Less cases and the love for the ‘sch’ sound

    Ich mache die Tür auf in Saarland dialect (I’m opening the door). Similar to other parts of Germany, the genitive case is almost non-existent and every now and again we get rid of the accusative as well (it’s paradise, I know!).

    Also make sure to get rid of every single ‘ch’ sound like in ich and pronounce it like ‘sch’ instead
    Instead of saying
    Ich mache die Tür des Autos auf. Das habe ich dir doch gesagt.
    Saarländers will say
    Isch mach de Dür vom Audo uff. Das (Dat) hann isch da doch gesaaht.

    Example sentences

    If you want to try it out yourself, you could give the following sentences a try. They are taken from a Saarland dialect course I found on Memrise (there’s also more on Deutsche Welle):

    die Freck – the cold, the flu
    dabba – fast
    es Kannel – rain gutter
    gugg emool do – look there
    lehne – to borrow, to lend
    joo – yes
    nee / nää – no
    hä? – excuse me? (when you didn’t understood)
    fawas? – what for?
    Unn? – What’s up? / How are you?
    Grumbeere – potatoes
    die Flemm hann – don’t feeling like doing something

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    Borderland German is often mixed up with foreign words and phrases. It does not matter for language always cleans itself over time.
    "Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht, dann bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht. Ich kann die Augen nicht mehr schließen und meine heißen Tränen fließen!" (Heinrich Heine, "Nachtgedanken")

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