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Alsatian Expressions, Expressions of the Alsatian Dialect...
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Alsatian, an often untranslatable dialect...
Alsace, a region located in eastern France, has a rich linguistic tradition that goes back several centuries. The Alsatian dialect is a regional language that has been influenced by French, German and Latin.
Although less and less used in everyday life, the Alsatian dialect retains a unique charm and colourful expressions that are often used in conversation.
The Alsatian dialect is a Germanic language. It has a multitude of variants from the south (Haut-Rhin) to the north (Bas-Rhin) of Alsace. But it is also, at least since the Revolution, the language of the enemy, subject to particular historical conditions.
In Alsace, the recent changes in national affiliation and, consequently, in the official language, have led to changes in the status of the dialect and its strong involvement in political struggles.
The dialect, still widely practised, represents the major element of Alsatian culture and identity, which is manifested in many forms.
It is both a culture lived in everyday life through the use of the language, and its scholarly expression through various literary manifestations.
Finally, the dialect is also, and more than ever, the main support for the demands for political autonomy and the guarantee of their sincerity.
As you have probably already noticed when talking to a French person from another region, there are words or expressions that are specific to Alsatians, which strangely enough others do not understand !
Often these are expressions translated from the dialect that remain in our everyday French.
Here are some examples:
Here are some other common Alsatian expressions:
- "E Hàmmer" - literally, "a hammer". This expression is used to describe someone who is clumsy or lacks finesse.
- "E gueter Rutsch" - literally, "a good slip". This expression is used to wish someone a good year or good luck.
- "Wàs hàn d'r Kàtz dém ùff em dàche g'sààt?" - literally, "what did the cat say on the roof?". This expression is used to express ignorance or misunderstanding.
- "Schlàft de Kàtz ùff em Rüschtig, schlàft's ganzi Hüschtig" - literally, "if the cat sleeps on the pillow, it sleeps all night". This expression is used to express the idea that habits tend to be perpetuated.
- "Ùn de Kàtz' hàn àll Hoor üssser de Làtz" - literally, "and the cat has all the hair but the tail". This expression is used to describe someone who is late or missing something.
- "E réchter Elsàsser schlàft net, er ruht sich" - literally, "a true Alsatian does not sleep, he rests". This expression is used to describe the hard work of Alsatians and their habit of taking naps rather than sleeping at night.
- "E Màhlesse" - literally, "a meal". This expression is used to describe a big meal or a party.
- "Ùn de kàtz hàn d'r Réjewäjer àus em Hals" - literally, "and the cat has sauerkraut in its throat". This expression is used to describe someone who has eaten too much sauerkraut.
- "S'esch net alles Wàrschd" - literally, "it's not all sausage". This expression is used to say that one should not take everything at face value, that one should look beyond the obvious.
- "Gànk àlsàssisch esch àls lùtere Himmelblà" - literally, "speaking Alsatian is like a clear blue sky". This expression is used to describe the beauty and purity of the Alsatian language.
What is the difference between a language and a dialect ?
A language is a system of vocal signs specific to members of the same community, so from a strict linguistic point of view, there is no difference between a language and a dialect.
However, a language is a means of communication defined and imposed by a State, whereas a dialect is a spoken language that has not been codified and is the result of a community's desire to perpetuate an ancestral tradition.
In conclusion, Alsatian expressions are an important part of Alsatian culture and reflect the history and traditions of this unique region.
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