OBERKALBACH, HESSEN, GERMANY
Village of My Berthold & Ullrich Ancestors
Dialects were spoken in Germany. Although Oberkalbach was only about 60 kilometers from where I was born and raised, the dialect spoken there was drastically different. We also spoke a dialect in Frankfurt am Main, but it was more easily understood by other Germans than the dialect spoken in the Rhoen. Dialect was not a written language, only a variation in how the German language was spoken, although some words were unique to specific areas.
For the first few days of visits with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Oberkalbach, it was difficult for me to understand their speech. Today the older folks there still use it among themselves, but the young people are taught high German (hoch Deutsch) in school and use it consistently.
In fact, the old dialect is becoming so rare, that there is an active effort being made to preserve it as an art called Mundart. In 1989, a writer named Walter Heller from the Rhoen collected humerous stories from that area and recorded them in a book entitled: "Rhoener Humor", subtitled "Es Haadd au Nuch Schlemmer Koennd Gewaar". In hoch Deutsch that would be: "Es Haette Auch Noch Schlimmer
Werden Koennen" In English that means: "It Could Have Gotten Worse." He
recorded them in such a way that one could read them to sound like the Rhoener dialect and again as hoch Deutsch.
The following is one of the humerous anecdotes in his book. I will write it first as it would have been spoken in dialect, then in high German, and then in English.
De Konneroad un de Looraaenz oengerhalle sich bei~em Gloas Biir, uewer Godd un di Waalt, zelazzt au nuch uewesch Schdaarwe. "Es ess joa nueschd droo ze mache, mir mosse hald oll~emoa glaai, seaad de Konneroad, "ewer e koomisch Gefuuel moss hald doch sei!"
"Doa well ich~dr raaechd gaa," seaad de anner, "baaenn ich emoa morrits am Baaedd looeg u weaaenn doot, ich glaaei waaellich, ich wueen~Noarr!"
Der Konrad und der Lorenz unterhalten sich bei einem Glas Bier ueber Gott und die Welt, zuletzt auch ueber das Sterben. "Es ist ja nichts dran zu aendern, wir muessen eben alle einmal dran glauben," sagt der Konrad, "aber ein komisches Gefuehl muss es doch sein!"
"Da will ich dir recht geben," sagte der andere. " Wenn ich einmal morgens frueh im Bett laege und waere tot, ich glaube ich wuerde ueberschnappen!"
Konrad and Lorenz were conversing over a glass of beer about God and the world, and lastly about death. "Nothing we can do about it. We all have to die," said Konrad. "But it must be a strange feeling."
"Yes, you are right," said the other. "If I were lying dead in my bed early one morning, I would have a nervous breakdown!"
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Copyright 2000-2008 by Sue Foster. Please contact me for permission to copy.
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