Bavarian language

Bavarian (also known as Bavarian Austrian or Austro-Bavarian; Boarisch [ˈbɔɑrɪʃ] or Bairisch; German: Bairisch [ˈbaɪʁɪʃ] (listen); Hungarian: bajor) is a West Germanic language[4] belonging to the Upper German group, spoken in the southeast of the German language area, much of Bavaria, most of Austria and South Tyrol in Italy, as well as Samnaun in Switzerland.[5] Before 1945, Bavarian was also prevalent in parts of the southern Czech Republic and western Hungary. It forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants.

This cluster of dialects is classified as an individual language (distinct and independent[6]) by ISO 693-3 codification.[4]

Boarisch, Bairisch
RegionAustria, Bavaria, and South Tyrol
Native speakers
14,000,000 (2016)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bar
Glottologbava1246  Bavarian proper[2]
baye1239  Bairisch[3]
Bairisches Mundartgebiet
Location map of Bavarian


The Bavarians as a group formed in the early medieval period, as the population of the Duchy of Bavaria, forming the south-eastern part of the kingdom of Germany. The Old High German documents from the area of Bavaria are identified as Altbairisch ("Old Bavarian"), even though at this early date there are few distinctive features that would divide it from Alemannic German.

The dialectal separation of Upper German into East Upper German (Bavarian) and West Upper German (Alemannic) becomes more tangible in the Middle High German period, from about the 12th century.

Geographical distribution and dialects

Dialecto austro-bávaro
Map of the distribution of Bavarian speakers in Europe.

Three main dialect groups in Bavarian are:

Differences are clearly noticeable within those three subgroups, which in Austria often coincide with the borders of the particular states. For example, each of the accents of Carinthia, Styria, and Tyrol can be easily recognised. Also, there is a marked difference between eastern and western central Bavarian, roughly coinciding with the border between Austria and Bavaria. In addition, the Viennese dialect has some characteristics distinguishing it from all other dialects. In Vienna, minor, but recognizable, variations are characteristic for distinct districts of the city.


Rottach-Egern - Kramer Lad’l - Essen ist ein Bedürfnis
Public sign combining Standard German and Bavarian.

In contrast to many other varieties of German, Bavarian differs sufficiently from Standard German to make it difficult for native speakers to adopt standard pronunciation. All educated Bavarians and Austrians, however, can read, write and understand Standard German, but may have very little opportunity to speak it, especially in rural areas. In those regions, Standard German is restricted to use as the language of writing and the media. It is therefore often referred to as Schriftdeutsch ("written German") rather than the usual term Hochdeutsch ("High German" or "Standard German").


Bavaria and Austria officially use Standard German as the primary medium of education. With the spread of universal education, the exposure of speakers of Bavarian to Standard German has been increasing, and many younger people, especially in the region's cities, and larger towns speak Standard German with only a slight accent. This accent usually only exists in families where Bavarian is spoken regularly. Families that do not use Bavarian at home usually use Standard German instead. In Austria, some parts of grammar and spelling are taught in Standard German lessons. As reading and writing in Bavarian is generally not taught at schools, almost all literate speakers of the language prefer to use Standard German for writing. Regional authors and literature may play a role in education as well, but by and large, Standard German is the lingua franca.


Although there exist grammars, vocabularies, and a translation of the Bible in Bavarian, there is no common orthographic standard. Poetry is written in various Bavarian dialects, and many pop songs use the language as well, especially ones belonging to the Austropop wave of the 1970s and 1980s.

Although Bavarian as a spoken language is in daily use in its region, Standard German, often with strong regional influence, is preferred in the mass media.

Ludwig Thoma is a noted author who wrote works such as Lausbubengeschichten in Bavarian.


There is a Bavarian Wikipedia, completely in Bavarian. Also, the official FC Bayern Munich website is available in Bavarian.[7]



  Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p b t d k ɡ ʔ
Affricate pf ts
Fricative f v s ʃ (ç) (x) h
Trill r
Approximant l j


  • The phoneme /h/ is frequently realised as [ç] or [x] word-internally and is realised as [h] word-initially.
  • Intervocalic /s/ can be voiced to [z].
  • Intervocalic /v/ or /w/ sound can be realised as [ʋ] or [β].
  • Some dialects, such as the Bavarian dialect in South Tyrol, realise /k/ as an affricate [kx] word-initially and before /m, n, l, r/, which is an extension of the High German consonant shift to velar consonants.


Vowel phonemes in parentheses occur only in diphthongs or are rare. Nasal vowels may also appear in some dialects.

Front Central Back
unrounded rounded
Close ɪ i ʏ y ʊ u
Close-mid e ø (ə) o
Open-mid ɛ œ ɐ ɔ
Open æ a ɑ ɒ

Bavarian has an extensive vowel inventory, like most Germanic languages. Vowels can be grouped as back rounded, front unrounded and front rounded. They are also traditionally distinguished by length or tenseness.


The commonly accepted grammar and spelling system for Bavarian has been documented by A. Schmeller;[8] see more details at the German Wikipedia page for Bairische Dialekte.

  • Bavarian usually has case inflection only for the article. With very few exceptions, nouns are not inflected for case.
  • The simple past tense is very rare in Bavarian and has been retained for only a few verbs, including 'to be' and 'to want'. In general, the perfect is used to express past time.
  • Bavarian features verbal inflection for several moods such as indicative, subjunctive and imperative. See the table below for inflection of the Bavarian verb måcha, 'make; do':
måcha Indicative Imperative Subjunctive Optative
1. Sg i måch i måchad måchadi
2. Sg (informal) du måchst måch! du måchast måchast
3. Sg er måcht er måch! er måchad måchada
1. Pl mia måchan* måchma! mia måchadn måchadma
2. Pl eß måchts måchts! eß måchats måchats
3. Pl se måchan(t) se måchadn måchadns
2. Sg (formal) Si måchan måchan’S! Si måchadn måchadn’S


Personal pronouns

Singular Plural
1st person 2nd person informal 2nd person formal 3rd person 1st person 2nd person 3rd person
Nominative i du Si ea, se/de, des mia eß/öß / ia* se
Unstressed i -- -'S -a, -'s, -'s -ma -'s -'s
Dative mia dia Eana eam, eara/iara, dem uns, ins enk / eich* ea, eana
Unstressed -ma -da
Accusative -mi -di Eana eam, eara/iara, des uns, ins enk / eich* ea, eana
Unstressed Si -'n, …, -'s -'s

* These are typically used in the very northern dialects of Bavarian.

Possessive pronouns

Predicative Attributive
Masculine singular Feminine singular Neuter singular Plural (any gender) Masculine singular Feminine singular Neuter singular Plural (any gender)
Nominative mei mei mei meine meina meine mei(n)s meine
Dative meim meina meim meine meim meina meim meine
Accusative mein mei mei meine mein meine mei(n)s meine

The possessive pronouns Deina and Seina inflect in the same manner. Oftentimes, nige is added to the nominative to form the adjective form of the possessive pronoun, like mei(nige), dei(nige), and the like.

Indefinite pronouns

Just like the possessive pronouns listed above, the indefinite pronouns koana, "none", and oana, "one" are inflected the same way.

There is also the indefinite pronoun ebba(d), "someone" with its impersonal form ebb(a)s, "something". It is inflected in the following way:

Personal Impersonal
Nominative ebba ebbs
Dative ebbam ebbam
Accusative ebban ebbs

Interrogative pronouns

The interrogative pronouns wea, "who", and wås, "what" are inflected the same way the indefinite pronoun ebba is inflected.

Personal Impersonal
Nominative wea wås
Dative wem wem
Accusative wen wås


Bavarians produce a variety of nicknames for those who bear traditional Bavarian or German names like Josef, Theresa or Georg (becoming Sepp'l or more commonly Sepp, Resi and Schorsch, respectively). Bavarians often refer to names with the family name coming first (like da Stoiber Ede instead of Edmund Stoiber). The use of the article is considered mandatory when using this linguistic variation. In addition, nicknames different from the family name exist for almost all families, especially in small villages. They consist largely of their profession, names or professions of deceased inhabitants of their homes or the site where their homes are located. This nickname is called Hausname (en: name of the house) and is seldom used to name the person, but more to state where they come from or live or to whom they are related. Examples of this are:

  • Mohler (e.g. Maler - painter)
  • Bachbauer (farmer who lives near a brook)
  • Moosrees (Resi who lives near a brook)
  • Schreiner (joiner)

Samples of Bavarian and Austrian

Spoken Bavarian
Austrian 's Bóarische is a Grubbm fő Dialektt im Siin vam daitschn Shproochraum.
Bavarian 's Bóarische is a Grubbm fő Dialektt im Siin vom daitschn Shproochram.
Yiddish (Southeastern) Bairish iz a grupe fin dialektn in durem fin daitshish shprakh-kontinuum.
Standard German Das Bairische ist eine Gruppe von Dialekten im Süden des deutschen Sprachraums.
English Bavarian is a group of dialects in the south of the German Sprachraum.
Austrian Séawas*/Zéas/D'Éare/Griass Di/Griass Gód, i bĩ da Beder und kumm/kimm fõ Minchn/Minicha.
Bavarian Séawus/Habedéare/Griass Di/Griass Gód, i bin/bĩ da Peder und kimm fő Minga/Minka.
Yiddish (SE) Shulem aleikhm, akh bin Piter in kim oys Minkhn.
Standard German Hallo/Servus/Grüß dich, ich heiße Peter und komme aus München.
English Hello, I am Peter and I come from Munich.
Austrian D' Lisa/'s-Liasl hod si an Haxn bróchn/brócha.
Bavarian D'Lisa/As Liasal hod sé an Hax brócha.
Yiddish (SE) Lise/Lisl hot zakh ir/dus/a beyn gebrukhn.
Standard German Lisa hat sich das Bein gebrochen.
English Lisa broke/has broken her leg.
Austrian I ho(b)/hã/hoo a Göd/Goid gfundn/gfunna.
Bavarian I ho(b) a Gejd/Goid/Göld gfuna.
Yiddish (SE) Akh hob (epes (a bisl)) gelt gefinen
Standard German Ich habe Geld gefunden.
English I (have) found money.

The dialects can be seen to share a number of features with Yiddish[9]

See also


  1. ^ Bavarian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bavarian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bairisch". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ a b "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: bar".
  5. ^ "Bavarian". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  6. ^ "Scope of denotation for language identifiers - Individual languages".
  7. ^
  8. ^ Schmeller, Johann Andreas; edited by Frommann, Georg Carl (1872). Bayerisches Wörterbuch. München, Oldenbourg 2002. ISBN 3-486-52603-0.
  9. ^ Weinreich

Further reading

  • Hietsch, Otto (2015), Wörterbuch Bairisch-Englisch, Von Apfelbutzen bis Zwickerbusserl, Regenstauf: SüdOst Verlag, ISBN 978-3-86646-307-3

External links

Central Bavarian

Central Bavarian, also known as Central Austro-Bavarian, form a subgroup of Bavarian dialects in large parts of Austria and the German state of Bavaria along the Danube river, on the northern side of the Eastern Alps. They are spoken in the 'Old Bavarian' regions of Upper Bavaria (with Munich), Lower Bavaria and in the adjacent parts of the Upper Palatinate region around Regensburg, in Upper and Lower Austria, in Vienna (see Viennese German), in the state of Salzburg, as well as in the northern and eastern parts of Styria and Burgenland.

Cimbrian language

Cimbrian (Cimbrian: Zimbar, IPA: [ˈt͡simbɐr]; German: Zimbrisch; Italian: Cimbro) refers to any of several local Upper German varieties spoken in northeastern Italy. The speakers of the language are known as Zimbern.

Cimbrian is a Germanic language related to Bavarian most probably deriving from a Southern Bavarian dialect. It is also related to the Mòcheno language. Its many essential differences in grammar as well as in vocabulary and pronunciation make it practically unintelligible for people speaking Standard German or Bavarian. The use of Italian throughout the country and the influence of nearby Venetian have both had large effects on the number of speakers of Cimbrian throughout past centuries. This effect has been large enough to cause Cimbrian to be deemed by some as an endangered language.


Comeglians (Friulian: Comelians; Sappada Austro-Bavarian: Komerion) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Udine in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) northwest of Trieste and about 60 kilometres (37 mi) northwest of Udine. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 615 and an area of 19.5 square kilometres (7.5 sq mi).Comeglians borders the following municipalities: Ovaro, Paluzza, Prato Carnico, Ravascletto, Rigolato.

Erding (district)

Erding (German: Erding, Austro-Bavarian: Arrdeng) is a Landkreis (district) in Bavaria, Germany. It is bounded by (from the north and clockwise) the districts of Landshut, Mühldorf, Ebersberg, Munich and Freising.

Hutterite German

Hutterite German (German: Hutterisch) is an Upper German dialect of the Bavarian variety of the German language, which is spoken by Hutterite communities in Canada and the United States. Hutterite is also called Tirolean, but this is an anachronism.

Lower Bavaria

Lower Bavaria (German: Niederbayern, Austro-Bavarian: Niadabayern) is one of the seven administrative regions of Bavaria, Germany, located in the east of the state.

Lower Franconia

Lower Franconia (German: Unterfranken, Austro-Bavarian: Untafrankn) is one of seven districts of Bavaria, Germany. The districts of Lower, Middle and Upper Franconia make up the region of Franconia.

Middle Franconia

Middle Franconia (German: Mittelfranken, Austro-Bavarian: Middlfrankn) is one of the three administrative regions of Franconia in Bavaria, Germany. It is located in the west of Bavaria and borders the state of Baden-Württemberg. The administrative seat is Ansbach, however the most populous city is Nuremberg.

Mòcheno language

Mòcheno (German: Fersentalerisch; Austro-Bavarian: Bersntolerisch) is an Upper German variety spoken in three towns of the Bersntol (German: Fersental, Italian: Valle del Fersina), in Trentino, northeastern Italy.

Mòcheno is closely related to Bavarian and is variously classified either as a Southern Bavarian dialect or a separate language of its own. It has also been posited that it may be descended from Lombardic. Mòcheno speakers reportedly partially understand Bavarian, Cimbrian, or Standard German. However, many essential differences in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation render it difficult for speakers of standard German to understand.

Sant'Orsola Terme

Sant'Orsola Terme (German: Eichberg or St. Urschl; Mòcheno: Oachpergh) is a comune (municipality) in Trentino in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 15 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Trento. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 933 and an area of 15.4 square kilometres (5.9 sq mi).Sant'Orsola Terme borders the following municipalities: Bedollo, Baselga di Pinè, Palù del Fersina, Fierozzo, Frassilongo and Pergine Valsugana.


Schladming (Austro-Bavarian: Schlaming) is a small former mining town in the northwest of the Austrian state of Styria that is now a popular tourist destination. It has become a large winter-sports resort and has held various skiing competitions, including most notably the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 1982 and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2013. The shopping area has many cafes and restaurants, and a variety of shops that cater to tourists.

Southern Bavarian

Southern Bavarian, or Southern Austro-Bavarian, is a cluster of Upper German dialects of the Bavarian group. They are primarily spoken in Tyrol (i.e. the Austrian federal state of Tyrol and the Italian province of South Tyrol), in Carinthia and in the western parts of Upper Styria. Due to the geographic isolation of these Alpine regions, many features of the Old Bavarian language from the Middle High German period have been preserved. On the other hand, the Southern Bavarian dialect area is influenced by Slovene, Italian Greek and Ladin minority languages.

The speech area historically included the former linguistic enclaves in Carniola (present-day Slovenia) around Kočevje in the Gottschee region (Gottscheerish), Sorica (Zarz) and Nemški Rovt (Deutsch Ruth). The Cimbrian language still spoken in several language-islands in north-eastern Italy (Friuli, Veneto and Trentino) mostly counts as a separate Bavarian language variant. Southern Bavarian is also spoken in the Werdenfelser Land region around Mittenwald and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in German Upper Bavaria.

The Tyrolean Unterland, the Alpine regions of Salzburg (Pinzgau, Pongau and Lungau), as well as the adjacent parts of Styria and southern Burgenland form the dialect continuum with the Central Bavarian language area in the north.

Strammer Max

Strammer Max (English: roughly "Strapping Max") is a traditional name applied to various sandwich dishes in German cuisine.

Swabia (Bavaria)

Swabia (German: Schwaben, Austro-Bavarian: Schwobm) is one of the seven administrative regions of Bavaria, Germany.

Upper Bavaria

Upper Bavaria (German: Oberbayern, Austro-Bavarian: Obabayern) is one of the seven administrative districts of Bavaria, Germany.

Upper Franconia

Upper Franconia (German: Oberfranken, Austro-Bavarian: Obafrankn) is a Regierungsbezirk (administrative [Regierungs] region [bezirk]) of the state of Bavaria, southern Germany. It forms part of the historically significant region of Franconia (See also: Middle Franconia and Lower Franconia), all now part of the German Federal State of Bayern (Bavaria).

With more than 200 independent breweries which brew approximately 1000 different types of beer, Upper Franconia has the worlds highest brewery-density per capita. A special Franconian beer route (Fränkische Brauereistraße) leads along popular breweries.

Upper German

Upper German (German: Oberdeutsch ) is a family of High German languages spoken primarily in the southern German-speaking area (Sprachraum).

Upper Palatinate

The Upper Palatinate (German: Oberpfalz, Austro-Bavarian: Obapfoiz, Owerpfolz) is one of the seven administrative districts of Bavaria, Germany, located in the east of Bavaria.

Viennese German

Viennese German (Austro-Bavarian: Weanarisch, Weanerisch, German: Wienerisch) is the city dialect spoken in Vienna, the capital of Austria, and is counted among the Bavarian dialects. It is distinct from written Standard German in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Even in Lower Austria, the state surrounding the city, many of its expressions are not used, while farther to the west they are often not even understood.

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