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Accent-ally sounding Thüringenese

I have a lot of feelings about my accent, especially since someone in my home town laughed at it. (A jerk genuinely called across a pub to ask a friend what my accent was and then laughed. Ruined the end of the story I was telling.) Essentially, my accent is a huge mash up, featuring Geordie, Yam-yam and the southern influences of my university friends. This mean I get the mick taken by my home friends and university friends. Phrases like “you sounded so southern then!” and “I’m sorry, try that word again?” regularly make an appearance in my life.

Sadly this heightened awareness of my accent only happens in English. I have no idea how I sound when I speak German. Actually, that’s not true. I made the mistake of asking a German if I sounded English when I spoke German. Yes. Yes I do, is the answer. So rather than get bogged down in how my accent is, I’d like to point out three Thuringien dialect features. Or possibly just three Ilmenauese features. (Either way, the title of this blog is misleading because I’m gonna look at dialect. But I couldn’t pass up the terrible terrible pun.)

1. ‘Ge?’

Ge or geh or however it’s spelt is the Ilmenau equivalent of ‘oder?’, which when added at the end of a sentence with a questioning tone is the German version of ‘right?’. Can be used for seeking clarification or affirmation.

Personally, I can’t stop saying it. I keep nearly saying it in English. I say it more than native Ilmenauers. It’s a compulsion, like talking about the weather with the only other person at the bus top at 7.20 and telling the kids to sit properly on their chairs otherwise they’ll crack their heads open.

2. Drei viertel…

Bear with me, because I can’t quite get my head round this one without serious thought. Drei viertel zehn (three quarter ten) means quarter to ten. Not quarter to eleven. It’s like an extension of the whole German ‘yes, when we mean 8.30 we’ll say half 9’. Whatever the reasoning or twisted logic behind it, it’s one feature I am not going to use. I’m paranoid enough about messing up times in German thanks to the aforementioned cack-handed way of dealing with 30 minutes past the hour – there’s no way I’m going to attempt drei viertel…

3. Pfannkuchen

As anyone who was my friend on Facebook during second year of uni will know, I am insanely proud of being able to order pancakes in Arabic. Seriously, that was the highlight of learning Arabic for me. Managed to get it into every oral exam. So my claim was that I could order pancakes in three languages – Arabic, English and German. Yeah, about that…

So here in Ilmenau, Pfannkuchen does not mean pancakes. It means doughnuts. Everywhere else in Germany* Pfannkuchen means pancakes and Berliner means doughnut. Berliner was one of the first pieces of German I learnt outside of class, thanks to this video. (Yes, it’s more Eddie Izzard, yes, there’s some swearing.) And this crucial piece of vocab is now redundant. I think I might have to go eat a Pfannkuchen or three to cheer myself up.

* possibly a slight exaggeration. Or just plain wrong. I did not fact check.