Experiences learning the Bavarian dialect

Can a foreigner learn Bavarian and Hochdeutsch?

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Hello everyone,

I wanted to ask those of you who are also living in Bavaria about your experiences with the Bavarian dialect. For me, Bavarian is unavoidable not just because of my location, but also (and I think mainly) because I'm married to a Bavarian and therefore socialise with lots of Bavarians. My German is getting better,... I can understand quite a fair bit on TV and radio now (which is a great feeling,...finally!). But the moment I'm in a Bavarian social situation (which is nearly every social situation) my understanding drops to about 5%. It's very frustrating because it's hard to feel like my German is getting anywhere in those moments. I've asked two German teachers whether I should try learning some Bavarian, mainly so that I can be involved in conversations instead of sitting on the outskirts watching them,..but they have both said that it I should focus on my Hochdeutsh first and then give Bavarian a shot. They also told me not to get my hopes up as most German not from Bavaria find it almost impossible to understand, or learn Bavarian. This is not the best thing to hear when your future is surrounded by Bavarians, and I can't help but wonder what I hope I have then as a foreigner learning German as a second language in Bavaria.

I guess the other problem is that I have asked our friends to speak Hochdeutsch so that I can be involved and follow conversations topics, or even get jokes when they erupt over dinner,...but they either laugh and say 'No,...Bavarians don't socialise in Hochdeutscsh.' or some have tried to explained how hard it is for Bavarians not to socialise in Bavarian with each other,...for some (I'm told) it's even impossible. I was once asked to speak in English instead of Hochdeutsch because it was easier for the Bavarian I was talking to,...they found it less stressful. The good thing is that when our friends talk directly with me they do speak in Hochdeutsch, but the moment another Bavarian enters our chat the switch is instant, and at that point I stop understanding most of what's being said. This is pretty difficult social experience for a highly social girl like me to handle, mainly because it doesn't seem to get any better with time. (well, not yet anyway) So any advice from your own personal experiences of success or failure would be really helpful.

Have any of you managed over the years to learn /understand Bavarian? And if so,...how many years did it take you? Do you think my teachers are correct in their opinions? What would be a realistic expectation for me to have? (realistic for a person who doesn't have natural gift for learning languages that is)

Also, if there are any Germans out there I'd be very interested in your opinions as well. If you are German who is not Bavarian, and you now live in Bavaria, have you been able to learn to understand Bavarian? How difficult do you /did you find it?

With thanks in advance,
It depends on the kind of Bavarian that is spoken. I'd say that most native speakers have no problem understanding "moderate" Bavarian with a bit of practice. If you send them to -say- the inner parts of the Bayerischer Wald, that's an entirely different matter, though.

I'm a native speaker. Two years ago, my car had a problem in Innsbruck, and I brought it to a car workshop. It was nearly impossible for me to understand the local mechanic's Tyrolean. He had to call the manager to "translate". Apart from that, I've never had a problem understanding Austrian dialects. But apparently, there is Austrian, and there is Austrian...
To understand it, yes. Although there are still some things that I don't understand, but most conversational Bavarian. It took me a year of hanging around with Bavarians - but I spoke fluent Hochdeutsch when I came to Germany.

I still can't speak it apart from certain phrases (proper Bavarian I mean; the much easier Munich form I can speak reasonably), but I don't really aspire to as I don't tend to mix with genuine Bavarians socially that often. I'm sure it's doable if you need it and put your mind to it. But I would also say stick to Hochdeutsch first.
Hi tom a,

My husband tells me that in Simbach am Inn (which is right on the Austrian border) most people speak Niederbayerisch,...but he also says it varies from town to town. It's different to the Bavarian spoken in Munich,...I tend to be able to follow that at times. The people I / we socalise with all come from this same town and so all speak Niederbayrisch, not the Bayerisch which is spoken here in Munich.

But it's nice to hear that it's doable.
If you send them to -say- the inner parts of the Bayerischer Wald, that's an entirely different matter, though.
Woas mag n'd?

My sister-in-law is married to a Zwiesler, and they live up 'there', where grown men are still impressed by other grown men pulling tractors with nothing but their teeth. It's a little known fact, but the banjo was invented on the banks of The Regen.
I've learnt to understand Bayerisch and did so fairly rapidly, simply because I live in small village and if you want to communicate you have to understand it. When I first moved to Allershausen my neighbours father used to talk to me and I just couldn't understand a word he was saying. I used to try and smile and laugh when he did! After about 6 months I would say I got to grips with it and my neighbours have been known to use me as a good example, when explaining to non Bavarians, but still Germans, that they need to learn Bayerisch!
It's a little known fact, but the banjo was invented on the banks of The Regen.
So what's the word for Banjo in Zwieslerisch?

Some of my mum's golf buddies are from the Zwiesel area. She says she sometimes has no clue what they are saying, even though she's been playing golf with them for years. And she's a native of Straubing, which is less than 100 km away.
where grown men are still impressed by other grown men pulling tractors with nothing but their teeth.
What's to be impressed? Isn't that the commonly used method of pulling out a tractor that got stuck in the mud?
The people I / we socalise with all come from this same town and so all speak Niederbayrisch, not the Bayerisch which is spoken here in Munich.
I'm from Straubing, and I'm not sure exactly what dialect people speak in Simbach. But Straubing is as Niederbayerisch as it gets, and to me, there's not too much difference between "our" dialect and the Munich variety. Sure, it's a bit different, but it's similar enough to be easily intelligible. (Not that most people in Munich speak a lot of dialect in the first place...)
I've lived in Munich/Munich area for about 7 years now. My Hochdeutsch is fine and I understand quite a bit of Bavarian too, as long as it's not TOO thick. Bavarians from Munich and the cities generally have what I would call a clear Bavarian accent (contradiction in terms I know), but go out to the country and talk to the farmers, mensch! They slur and mumble all their words. On top of this my in-laws are from Swabia, so over the years I've learn to deal with two German dialects (but we also have relatives in Köln!).

Although Bavarian (and it's sub-dialects) are dialects, you should understand that it's mostly simple changes in pronunciation. Yes, there are some words and phrases that are strictly Bavarian (a Gaudi, zum Beispiel), but mostly it's about pronunciation.

For example:

English: I once had a cat.

Hochdeutsch: Ich habe mal eine Katze gehapt.

Boarisch: I hob ma a Katz kapt.

They will often cut off the end of their verbs, such as when hineintun becomes hi-nai-dua.

There are a few books out there for Bavarian, but as far as I've seen no real learning course material. There are some Bavarians who really do have a hard time in Hochdeutsch, especially kids who grew up on a farm out in the country.

All I can say is you'll get used to it if you keep at it. Ich drücke die Daumen!
On top of this my in-laws are from Swabia,
Oh you poor guy! I spend around 2 weeks on the Schwäbische Alb each year (flying holidays) and whilst most adults try to speak Hochdeutsch its very difficult with the younger ones & even worse over the ether...

Their tendency to add "a" at end of each noun is amusing.
I hope so,...but I wouldn't say that Niederbayrisch is easily intelligable,...well, not for me anyway. I guess only being 2 years in my Hochdeutsch development isn't enough to help me with Bavarian yet. Maybe in a few years.
Start here: http://bar.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hauptseitn
Bavarian-German dictionary ...
Thanks miwild!
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