Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lessons of Baseldütsch - Talking Food

Welcome to yet another instalment of my Baseldütsch series - which is actually a weird thing to say, given that I know close to nothing of this funny language. In case you're new around here, Baseldütsch is the German dialect spoken in the Swiss region of Basel and though I refer specifically to Baseldütsch, many of these expressions are probably useful for most dialects found in Switzerland. You can check the previous posts here and here.

Last weekend we had a friend staying over and did some sightseeing around town. She's fluent in German and has even lived in several German cities for a while. But as you might already suspect, being able to understand and speak German will not warrant you smooth conversation in Switzerland. Ah, the dialects, that's a totally different matter and she was perplexed when she heard it on the radio and in the streets and found it so hard to decode a whole meaningful sentence.

She was trying to find her way among the melodic accent and curious words and while sitting on a café waiting for the snow to come to a halt, our conversation focused on food. Swiss food is delicious for sure but it can also sound very funny when written and pronounced like the Swiss do. Just check the examples below - Swiss German words are in bold with the standard German between brackets and the translation to English.

Poulet (Hänchen) - chicken, you probably guessed that one if you know some French. That's not a particularly odd one, Swiss just took the French word for chicken. However, when the chicken is grilled and bought in one those street vans around town it is called, Güggeli, which is a much weirder word. And a funny one!

Schoggi (Schokolade) - that's another easy-peasy, chocolate. It sounds like children's talk to me but it's the way to go. Heissi Schoggi, a hot chocolate, is a very popular drink during the winter months.

Gipfeli (Croissant) - I think some German people also use the word Gipfel to refer to a croissant. But as Basel people like to use diminutives for everything, they will have a Gipfeli instead of a Gipfel. A chocolate croissant would be a Schoggigipfeli and as funny as it sounds, this is something delicious.

Rüebli (Karotte) - again, I'm not so sure but this word may be used in some regions of Germany for a certain type of carrots. However, while Germans may distinguish between different sorts of carrots, Swiss call all of them Rüebli. And they make a very tasty cake with them called Rüeblitorte, which is a speciality of the Aargau canton, just on the border with Basel.

Chäs (Käse) - cheese and now we're talking. Switzerland is known for many things and cheese is surely one of them. I'm sure you've all heard of Emmentaler cheese and that's only the top of the iceberg. Chäsfondue is probably one of the most typical meals you could have in Switzerland, especially on a cold and dark winter day.

Wii (Wein) - wine, which speaking of cheese fondue was absolutely necessary on this list. All you have to do is to choose between Wiiswii (Weisswin) or Rotwii (Rotwein). White wine or red, that's it.

Brot (Brot) - bread. Finally a word that's the same in Germany and Switzerland but as Basel people like their diminutives, they would rather buy a Zöpfli (Butterzopf) when buying one of these braided breads or asking for a Silserli (Silserbrot) when looking for one of these. Truth is, bread in Switzerland deserves a post of its own so I will stop right now.

While writing this post I though for a minute that I should do some videos lessons, like when Sheldon Cooper does his 'Fun with Flags' course (if you don't know what I'm talking about just check this video) but then I thought again and realised that was one of the silliest ideas I've ever had and I'll never be as cool as Sheldon, anyway. Instead, just check this song by Swiss singer Bligg. It was a huge hit last year and it still airs regularly on the radio. He does a language tour around almost every region in Switzerland just changing his accent.

Have a lovely Thursday!

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