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Title: Erzgebirgisch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Central German, Saxony, German dialects, Upper German, Ore Mountains
Collection: Culture of the Ore Mountains, Dialects, German Dialects, German Language, Language Varieties and Styles
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Native to Germany
Region Saxony, Lower Saxony
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None
Central German dialects
  Erzgebirgisch (9)

Erzgebirgisch (or Aarzgebèèrgsch, pronounced ) is a Central German dialect, spoken mainly in the central Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains). It has received relatively little academic attention. Due to the high mobility of the population and the resulting contact with Upper Saxon, the high emigration rate and last, but not least, its low mutual intelligibility with other dialects, the number of speakers is decreasing.


  • Language area and history 1
  • Subdialects 2
  • Phonology 3
    • Consonants 3.1
    • Vowels 3.2
    • Stress 3.3
  • Morphology 4
    • Nominal morphology 4.1
    • Pronouns 4.2
      • Personal pronouns 4.2.1
      • Possessive pronouns 4.2.2
    • Prepositions 4.3
    • Adjectives 4.4
      • Agreement 4.4.1
      • Comparison 4.4.2
    • Verbs 4.5
      • Infinitive and participles 4.5.1
      • Present tense 4.5.2
      • Preterite 4.5.3
      • Perfect, pluperfect 4.5.4
      • Future 4.5.5
      • Subjunctive 4.5.6
      • Imperative 4.5.7
      • Passive 4.5.8
  • A sample of Erzgebirgisch speech (Lichtenstein dialect) 5
  • Sample text 6
  • Lexicon 7
    • Nouns 7.1
    • Verbs 7.2
    • Other words 7.3
    • Interjections 7.4
  • References 8
  • Literature 9
    • Grammars and other linguistic publications 9.1
    • Other literature 9.2
  • External links 10

Language area and history

Language area
  Present distribution: Ore Mountains and Upper Harz region
  Former language area in Sudetenland

As the following sections will show, Erzgebirgisch is very close to Upper Saxon but also has commonalities with Upper German dialects.

As of today, the Erzgebirgisch area comprises roughly the districts of Mittweida (southern area), Stollberg, Central Ore Mountain District, Annaberg-Buchholz, Freiberg (South) and Aue-Schwarzenberg. Some more speakers live in the town of Lichtenstein, in the Chemnitzer Land district.

Another community live in the Upper Harz Mountains in the Clausthal-Zellerfeld region (Lower Saxony). Their ancestors were miners and emigrated in the 16th century. Here it is referred to as the Upper Harz dialect.

Up to 1929, Erzgebirgisch was also spoken in other parts of Mittweida and Freiberg, in Chemnitz, Zwickau and in the extreme West of the Weißeritzkreis, but these areas are now dominated by ThuringianUpper Saxon dialects.

Until 1945, the bordering Sudetenland also harbored some Erzgebirgisch speakers, namely in the Kaaden-Duppau area, in whose dialect an anthology of words, proverbs and anecdotes was published (see references). After World War II these speakers had to leave Czechoslovakia and settled down all over the FRG and the GDR. This meant that dialect usage was reduced to the family homes, entailing a shift to the local varieties of their new home towns.

No official attempts to create an orthography have been made, nevertheless there are countless short stories, poems and songs written in Erzgebirgisch. The Sächsischer Heimatverein guidelines to writing in Erzgebirgisch were established in 1937, but are by and large not respected by the majority of authors. This means that linguistic analysis of this dialect has to be done in a field work setting with native speakers. An additional threat to Erzgebirgisch is the popular misconception that Erzgebirgisch was a hillbilly variety of Saxonian, which does not help the conservation efforts.

Erzgebirgisch is classified as a Central German dialect in linguistics, but also includes Upper German features.

Many of these languages show a tendency to substitute the German verbal prefix er- by der- (Erzg. and Bair.) or ver- (Bair and Suabian). (e.g. westerzgeb. derschloong [tɔɰʃloːŋ] German ‚erschlagen‘, to slaughter derzeeln [tɔɰtseːln] German ‚erzählen‘ to tell, to narrate).

Extended use of the particle fei is typical for Upper German and popular in Erzgebirgisch.

Furthermore, German [o/ɔ] corresponds to [u/ʊ] in the mentioned varieties (e.g. westerzgeb. huus [huːs] ‚Hose‘), and German [a] corresponds to [A.

An [n] in the coda, following a long vowel, is regularly deleted in Erzgebirgisch (e.g. Lichtenst. Huuschdee [huːʂʈeː] ‚Hohenstein‘. Rarely, this is also found with monosyllabic words with a short vowel, which undergo compensatory vowel lengthening in the process (e.g. Lichtenst. màà [mʌː] ‚Mann‘ man).

Another typical feature of Upper German is the apocope of schwa and /ɪ/ (e.g. Lichtenst. Reedlz [ɣeːtˡl̩ts] ‚Rödlitz‘ )

The following table illustrates the similarities between Erzgebirgisch and Upper German dialects. We list Thuringian/Upper Saxon as a control parameter. An 'X' means that the feature is present in most subdialects, a 'x' means that it is only found in border areas.

Feature Erzgebirgisch East Franconian Bavarian-Austrian Alemannic Thuringian
Rendering er- as der-/ver- X X X X
fei X X X X
o/u-Pronunciation X X X x
n-apocope X X X X
Schwa-apocope X X X X x
Convergence of ch and sch x X


Eastern Erzgebirgisch dialects indicate negation with ni(ch) [nɪ(ç)] whereas nèt [nɛt] is used in the West. However, this subdialectal boundary is not clearly demarcated. Thus, both forms are found in the town of Lichtenstein, which lies on the northwestern dialect boundary (although ni is perhaps more common).

In both Eastern Erzgebirgisch and in the Lichtenstein dialect, Standard German kl... together with gl... and kn... together with gn... are realized as [tl...] and [tn...] respectively (e.g. dlee [tˡleː] "klein" small, dnuchng [tⁿnʊxŋ̍] "Knochen" bone).

It is not possible to include the Upper Harz varieties in either of these groups. Furthermore, there is a strong influence from the neighbouring non-Erzgebirgisch dialects in the region bordering Meißenisch, which makes subclassification cumbersome.

Summarizing these findings, we can list four dialects:

Dialect Area today Historic area
Eastern Erzgebirgisch Mittlerer Erzgebirgskreis, districts of Annaberg (northern half), Mittweida (south), Freiberg (south) districts of Freiberg (northwest), Mittweida (west), Dippoldiswalde (western fringe), City of Chemnitz, Sudetenland (around Katharinaberg)
Western Erzgebirgisch Districts of Aue-Schwarzenberg, Annaberg (southern half) Sudetenland (triangle from Graslitz through Schlaggenwalde to Pressnitz)
Northern Erzgebirgisch Rural districts of Chemnitzer Land (Region Lichtenstein), Stollberg City and Rural District of Zwickau
Upper Harzisch Clausthal-Zellerfeld Region and Sankt Andreasberg (Lower Saxony)  


As mentioned above, there is no unified orthography. In order to render the language data close to their actual pronunciation, we establish the following conventions:


The rendering of the consonants follows the notation commonly used for Bavarian. The following table lists the phonemes of the most important Erzgebirgisch dialects, with value and the character used in this article, if it differs from the IPA character.

labial alveolar postalveolar
/ retroflex
palatal velar uvular glottal
stops aspirated (k)
unaspirated p (b) t (d) k (g)
affricates pf ts (z) / (tsch)
fricatives voiceless f s ʃ / ʂ (sch) ç (ch) x (ch) χ (ch) h
voiced v (w) ɣ (r)
nasals m n ŋ (ng)
lateral approximant l
central approximants j ɰ (r)

No subdialect shows phonemic contrast between postalveolar ([tʃ], [ʃ]) and retroflex ([tʂ], [ʂ]; they have one or the other.

An important sound change in Erzgebirgisch is found with respect to r. When r precedes a velar consonant, a [j] is inserted between the two. As an example, Baarg (German Berg mountain) is pronounced [paːɰjk]. Since this phonological process is completely regular, it is not reflected in orthography.

The velar approximant ([ɰ]) is normally realized as a velarization of the preceding vowel. However, for the sake of clarity, this article will use [ɰ] throughout.


The writing of the vowels presented here follows in part the official Schwyzertütsch orthography. The orthographic representation of a vowel follows after the IPA characters, if different.

Front Central Back
unrounded unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
Close i u
Near-close ɪ (i) ʊ (u)
Close-mid e o
Mid ə (e)
Open-mid ɛ (è) ʌ (à) ɔ (e/o)
(Near-)open æ ~ a (a)

No subdialect has both [a] or [æ]. A schwa followed by an r is pronounced [ɔ], but still written e.

The high back vowels ([u/ʊ]) are often rather unrounded.

Vowel length is indicated by doubling the vowel sign in writing: ii, ee, èè, aa, uu, oo and àà.

Furthermore it should be noted that all vowels (with the exception of a and schwa) are centralized, this means that the back vowels à, o, u are more front and the front vowels ee, è und i more back than in Standard German.

Short vowels preceding a stressed syllable are reduced to schwa (e.g. gremàdig [kxəˈmʌtɪk] ‚Grammatik‘ grammar).

A short vowel preceding a r is lengthened (e.g. Aarzgebèèrgsch).

In dialects spoken at higher altitudes, àà is often realized as oo. The pronunciation as àà is the default case for closed syllables. This might be due to overgeneralization of a pattern found in adjacent Saxonian dialects.


Erzgebirgisch has lexical stress. There is a tendency to stress the first syllable even in French loanwords, where Standard German stresses the final syllable (e.g. biro [ˈpiːɣo] ‚Büro‘ office), but loan words which follow the Standard German pattern are more numerous (e.g. dridewààr [txɪtəˈvʌːɰ] ‚Gehsteig‘ sidewalk (from French le trottoir)).


Nominal morphology


Erzgebirgisch numbers three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter. Most Erzgebirgisch lexemes have the same gender as their Standard German equivalents.

Gender Erzgebirgisch Standard German Gloss (sg./pl.)
masculine màà Mann (m.) man/men
gung Junge (m.) boy/boys
baam Baum (m.) tree/trees
feminine fraa Frau (f.) woman/women
sub Suppe (f.) soup/soups
dàsch Tasche (f.) bag/bags
neuter kind Kind (n.) child/children
dridewààr Gehsteig (m.) sidewalk
dunl Tunnel (m./n.) tunnel


In distinction to Standard German, the Erzgebirgisch genitive is no longer productive. Other constructions have to be used to indicate possession. For animate possessors, a construction involving the possessor in the dative and an agreeing possessive pronoun is used (dem B sein A). For inanimate possessors, a construction involving f(u)n (German von) is used. A third possibility is compounding.

examples (North Western dialect):

(1) n'Hàns seine hitsch
dem Hans seine Fußbank
the Hans his foot.bench
"Hans's foot bench"
(2) de fansder fun den haus
the windows of the house
"The windows of the house"

The only case marking available for nouns is dative plural, which is marked by -n , but can often assimilate to other consonants. Nominative and accusative are not marked in the singular on nouns, but articles, adjectives and possessive pronouns help to disambiguate in these cases. Personal pronouns also have some special forms for nominative, accusative and dative.

The following table shows some Erzgebirgisch nominal declension paradigms.

Case/Number tree (m.) bag (f.) child (n.)
Nominative singular der baam de dàsch s kind
Dative singular n baam der dàsch n kind
Accusative singular n baam de dàsch s kind
Nominative plural de beeme de dàschn de kiner
Dative plural n beemm n dàschn n kinern
Accusative plural de beeme de dàschn de kiner

For more information on articles, see below.


There are different ways to form the plural in Erzgebirgisch, a feature shared with Standard German. Next to the suffixes -e, -er, -n and -s, ablaut can also be used. Some suffixes trigger umlaut.

There are some nouns which differ in their plural marking between Erzgebirgisch and Standard German. E.g. Erzgebirgisch has -n for nouns ending in -(e)l in the singular, where Standard German most often has umlaut.

Examples (North Western dialect):

singular (Erzg.) singular (Std.G.) plural (Erzg.) plural (Std.G.) gloss
fuuchl Vogel fuuchl-n Vögel birds
nààchl Nagel nààchl-n Nägel nails
maadl Mädchen maadl-n Mädchen girls
màst Mast masd-e (along with mosd-n) Masten masts
kind Kind kin-er Kinder children
bàrg Park bààrg-s Parks parks
fuus Fuß fiis Füße feet
wààng Wagen weeng(-e) Wagen coaches


Erzgebirgisch distinguishes three kinds of articles: emphatic definite article, atonal definite article, indefinite article. The emphatic definite articles are used where Standard German would use deictics like dieser and jener. The other two types closely resemble their Standard German counterparts.

All articles agree in gender, number and case with their head noun. The emphatic articles may also occur without a head noun and often replace the rarely used third person personal pronouns.

Erzgebirgisch has a negative indefinite article just like German, but the similarity to the positive indefinite article is less obvious.

The North-Western dialect has the following forms:

Form masculine feminine neuter
indefinite article
Nominative singular e ne e
Dative singular n ner n
Accusative singular n ne e
non-stressed definite article
Nominative singular der de s
Dative singular (de)n der (de)n
Accusative singular (de)n de s
Nominative plural de
Dative plural n
Accusative plural de
stressed definite article
Nominative singular daar dii dàs
Dative singular daan/dèèn daar daan/dèèn
Accusative singular daan/dèèn dii dàs
Nominative plural dii
Dative plural daann/dèènn
Accusative plural dii
negative article
Nominative singular kee keene kee
Dative singular keen keener keen
Accusative singular keen keene kee
Nominative plural keene
Dative plural keenn
Accusative plural keene

The article n assimilates in place of articulation to the preceding consonant. It is m before p, pf, f, w and m and ng before k, g, ch ([x] or [χ]) and ng.


(3) S kind hàd s n Hàns gesààd
[skʰɪnt] [hʌtsn̩] [hʌns] [kəsʌːt]
Das Kind hat es/dieses einem Hans gesagt.
The child has it/that to a Hans said.
(4) Der Hàns hàd dàs buuch ng màà gaam
[tɔɰ] [hʌns] [hʌt] [tʌs] [puːxŋ̍] [mʌː] [kæːm]
Der Hans hat dieses Buch einem Mann gegeben.
The Hans has this book to a man given.
(5) E schiins dleedl hàd dii àà
[ə] [ʂiːns] [tˡleːtˡl̩] [hʌt] [tiː] [ʌː]
Ein schönes Kleidchen hat sie/diese an.
A beautiful dress.DIM has she/this one on.
(6) Ch hàb m kinern kee gald gaam
[ʂhʌpm̩] [kʰɪnɔɰn] [kʰeː] [kælt] [kæːm]
Ich habe den Kindern kein Geld gegeben.
I have the children no money given.


Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns distinguish emphatic and atonal forms, just like articles. The emphatic forms are used to highlight a participant. They are free words, whereas the atonal forms are phonologically reduced clitics.

There is no emphatic form for third person personal pronouns. The emphatic forms of the definite article have to be used instead. To outsiders this may often come across as impolite.

Unlike nouns, personal pronouns distinguish both number and case.

Person/Number/Gender Nominative Dative Accusative
emphatic personal pronouns
1. Person singular iich miir miich
2. Person singular duu diir diich
3. Person singular m. daar daan/dèèn dann/dèèn
3. Person singular f. dii daar dii
3. Person singular n. dàs daan/dèèn dàs
1. Person plural miir uns uns
2. Person plural iir eich eich
3. Person plural dii daann/dèènn dii
Polite sii iinn sii
atonal personal pronouns
1. Person singular (i)ch mer mich
2. Person singular de/du der dich/tsch
3. Person singular m. er n n
3. Person singular f. se er se
3. Person singular n. s n s
1. Person plural mer uns uns
2. Person plural er eich eich
3. Person plural se n se
Polite se iin(n) se

Pronouns with ch have sch in the Northwestern dialect. The atonal second person singular pronoun is de when it precedes a verb, and du when following. There are extra pronouns to express politeness, unlike German, which uses third person plural for this function.


(7) Hàd -er -s -n schuu gesààd
[hʌtɔɰsn̩] [ʂuː] [kəsʌːt]
Hat er es ihm schon gesagt?
Has he it to him already said?
(8) Ch hàb dèènn nischd gaam
[ʂhʌp] [tɛːnn̩] [nɪʂt] [kæːm]
Ich habe denen/ihnen nichts gegeben.
I have those ones/them nothing given.

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns agree in case, number and gender with their head noun.

Person/Genus singular plural
1. Person mei(n)- un(s)(e)r-
2. Person dei(n)- ei(e)r-
3. Person masc.. sei(n)- iir-
3. Person fem. iir- iir-
3. Person neut. sei(n)- iir-

singular pronouns lose the n before another n or a -suffix.

First person plural loses the s everywhere but in the North Western dialect. First and second person plural lose the e before a suffix starting with a vowel.

Form masculine feminine neuter
Nominative singular -e
Dative singular -n -er -n
Accusative singular -n -e
Nominative plural -e
Dative plural -n
Accusative plural -e

This paradigm makes use of only three letters e, n and r.


(9) mei hund
[maɪ] [hʊnt]
mein Hund
my dog
(10) eirer schwasder
[aɪɣɔɰ] [ʂvastɔɰ]
eurer Schwester
to y'all's sister

Third person pronouns make heavy use of the dative construction (see above), just like nouns.

(11) daar iire dàsch
[taːɰ] [iːɣə] [tʌʂ]
dieser/ihr ihre Tasche
this one/her her bag
"her bag"


(12) daar fraa iire dàsch
"die Tasche dieser Frau"
"The woman's bag"


The following construction is found mainly in Western dialects, but also in Lichtenstein:

(13) nei (n) der schdàd
hinein in der Stadt
inwards in the town
"in die Stadt (hinein)"
"inwards in the town"

The canonic preposition n (in) is never deleted in Lichtenstein, but almost always in the western dialects due to the more widespread dropping of n. This leads to the impression that nei is the preposition. One should also notice that goal of motion is encoded by the dative, and not by the accusative as in Standard German. The motion component is expressed by nei. This construction is also found with many other prepositions: dràà der kèrch ("an der Kirche", "bei der Kirche" at the church).



Adjectives agree with their head word in case, number, gender and definiteness. A difference to Standard German is the non-distinction of forms with indefinite article and forms without any article.

Standard German Erzgebirgisch English
teur-em Schmuck deier-n schmuk for expensive jewels
einem teur-en Ring n'deier-n ring for an expensive ring

The following table lists all agreement suffixes for adjectives:

Form masculine feminine neuter
without article/with indefinite article
Nominative singular -er -e -(e)s
Dative singular -n -er -n
Accusative singular -n -e -(e)s
Nominative plural -e
Dative plural -n
Accusative plural -e
with definite article
Nominative singular -e -e -e
Dative singular -n -n -n
Accusative singular -n -e -e
Nominative plural -n
Dative plural -n
Accusative plural -n

More examples

(14) e gruus-er màà
[ə] [kxuːsɔɰ] [mʌː]
ein großer Mann
a big man
(15) daar schiin-n fraa
[taːɰ] [ʂiːnn̩] [fxaː]
dieser schönen Frau
this beautiful woman
to this beautiful woman


The comparative is formed with the suffix -er. The standard of comparison is marked with the preposition wii (wie).
The superlative is obtained by adding -(e)sd. Agreement suffixes come after these suffixes.


(16) e grès-(e)r-er màà wii daar
[ə] [kxɛsɔɣɔɰ] [mʌː] [viː] [taːɰ]
ein größ-er-er Mann als er/dieser
a bigger man than he/this one
(17) der schèn-sd-n fraa
[tɔɰ] [ʂɛnstn̩] [fxaː]
der schönsten Frau
to the prettiest woman


The verb agrees in person and number with the subject of the sentence. This is true of both full verbs and auxiliaries.

Two tense/aspects are morphologically distinguished, present tense and preterite. Use of the preterite is found almost exclusively with strong verbs, i.e. verbs involving ablaut.

The other tenses are formed with auxiliaries: Perfect, Pluperfect, Futur I and Futur II. Perfect and preterite are used interchangeably. Pluperfect expresses anteriority in the past. Futur II is mainly used for epistemic statements about past events (cf. German: Er wird wohl wieder nicht da gewesen sein. He has probably not attended again.)

Infinitive and participles

The infinitive and the present participle and the past participle are formed with the following affixes:

Form schbiil- gii- sei- hàb- wèèr-
class weak strong irregular irregular irregular
Std.G. spiel- geh- sei- hab- werd-
Engl. play go be have become
Infinitive schbiil-n gii-n sei(-n) -m wèèr-n
participle I schbiil-end gii-end sei-end hàà-md wèèr-nd
participle II ge-schbiil-d (ge-)gàng-ng ge-waas-n ge--d ge-wur-n

Present tense

Erzgebirgisch distinguishes strong verbs, involving ablaut, and weak verbs, without ablaut. Both classes take the same suffixes. The present tense can be used to refer to events in the present or future.

Form schbiil- gii- sei- hàb- wèèr-
class weak strong irregular irregular irregular
Std.G. spiel- geh- sei- hab- werd-
Engl. play go be have become
1. Person singular schbiil-∅ gii-∅ bii-∅ hàb-∅ wèèr-∅
2. Person singular schbiil-sd gi(i)-sd bi-sd -sd wèr-sd
3. Person singular schbiil-d gi(i)-d is -d wèr-d
1. Person plural schbiil-n gii-n sei-∅ -m wèèr-n
2. Person plural schbiil-d gii-d sei-d hàb-d wèèr-d
3. Person plural schbiil-n gii-n sei-∅ -m wèèr-n

The suffixes are sometimes assimilated to the stem, as can be seen from hàm, `to have'.


As mentioned above, the preterite form is only used with strong verbs. Weak verbs use the perfect instead. This is also gaining ground with strong verbs. Formation of the preterite does not always follow the same pattern as in Standard German e.g. schmecken `to taste' is a weak verb in Standard German (preterit schmeckte), but a strong verb is Erzgebirgisch (present tense: schmègng preterite:schmoog with ablaut. Another verb which is weak in Standard German but strong in Erzgebirgisch is frààn (Standard German fragen to ask), preterite fruuch (Standard German fragte, asked).

Agreement with the subject is indicated as follows:

Form gii- sei- hàb- wèèr-
class strong irregular irregular irregular
Stg.G. geh- sei- hab- werd-
Engl. go be have become
1. Person singular ging-∅ wààr-∅ hàd-∅ wurd-∅
2. Person singular ging-sd wààr-sd hàd-sd wurd-sd
3. Person singular ging-∅ wààr-∅ hàd-e wurd-e
1. Person plural ging-ng wààr-n hàd-n wurd-n
2. Person plural ging-d wààr-d hàd-ed wurd-ed
3. Person plural ging-ng wààr-n hàd-n wurd-n

Perfect, pluperfect

Perfect and pluperfect are construed with a finite form of the auxiliaries sei- and hàb- and the past participle of the full verb.


(18) Miir sei gasdern (a)f der kèèrms gàngng
[miːɰ] [saɪ] [kæstɔɰn] [(a/ə)f] [tɔɰ] [kʰɛːɰms] [kʌŋŋ̍]
Wir sind gestern auf der Kirmes gegangen.
We are yesterday on the funfair gone.
(19) Ch hàd -s -n ààwer gesààd
[ʂhʌtsn̩] [ʌːvɔɰ] [kəsʌːt]
Ich hatte es ihm aber gesagt.
I had it him nevertheless said.


Two future tenses are distinguished. Future I is used for any reference time in the future, Future II has the meaning of future anterior. Future is formed with the auxiliary wèèr- (Standard German werden). Future I adds the infinitive of the full verb, future II the auxiliary sei or hab in the infinitive and the past participle of the full verb.


(20) Murng wèrd der Hàns nààch Kams fààrn
[moːɰjŋ] [vɛɰt] [tɔɰ] [hʌns] [nʌːχ] [kʰæms] [fʌːɰn]
Morgen wird der Hans nach Chemnitz fahren.
Tomorrow will the Hans to Chemnitz go.
(21) Er wèrd wuu wiider nèd doo gewaasn sei
[ɔɰ] [vɛɰt] [vuː] [viːtɔɰ] [nɛt] [toː] [kəvaːsn̩] [saɪ]
Er wird wohl wieder nicht da gewesen sein.
He will rather again not there been be.


Erzgebirgisch has a productive subjunctive for most of the auxiliaries and some other frequently used verbs. The form is derived from the preterite by ablaut. Other verbs have to use duun support in order to appear in the subjunctive.

Form gii- sei- hàb- wèèr-
class strong irregular irregular irregular
Std.G. geh- sei- hab- werd-
Engl. go be have become
1. Person singular gèng-∅ waar-∅ hèd-∅ daad-∅
2. Person singular gèng-sd waar-sd hèd-sd daad-sd
3. Person singular gèng-∅ waar-∅ hèd-e daad-∅
1. Person plural gèng-ng waar-n hèd-n daad-n
2. Person plural gèng-d waar-d hèd-ed daad-ed
3. Person plural gèng-ng waar-n hèd-n daad-n


The imperative is identical to first person present tense indicative. In order to obtain the plural imperative, -d is suffixed to the singular form.


(22) Bii nur màà ruich!
[piː] [nəɰ] [mʌː] [ɣʊɪʂ]
Sei endlich ruhig!
Be finally quiet!


The passive is formed with the auxiliary wèèr- (German werden) and the past participle of the full verb.


(23) Wii wèrd dèè dàs gemàchd
[viː] [vɛɰt] [tɛː] [tʌs] [kəmʌχt]
Wie wird denn das gemacht?
How is now this made?

A sample of Erzgebirgisch speech (Lichtenstein dialect)

(24) Wuu kimsd dee duu ize haar?
[vuː] [kʰɪmst] [teː] [tuː] [ɪtsə] [haːɰ]
Where comest then thou now from?
Where on earth are you coming from right now?
(25) Dàs kàà (i)ch der fei ni sààn.
[tʌs] [kʰʌː] [(ɪ)ʂ] [tɔɰ] [faɪ] [nɪ] [sʌːn]
That can I thee at.all not say
I cannot tell you at all.

Sample text

Clock showing the time of day in the Hormersdorfer dialect

The following snippet contains the introduction and the first stanza of a wedding poem from Clausthal (1759) and is written in the Oberharz dialect:[1]

Aß t'r Niemeyer seine Schustern in de Kerch zur Trau keführt prengt ae Vugelsteller Vugel un hot Baeden kratelirt; is k' schaen den 25. Oktober 1759. Clasthol, kedrueckt bey den Buchdruecker Wendeborn.

Klick auf mit enanner ihr statlig'n Harrn!
Do stellt sich d'r Toffel aach ein aus der Farrn,
Hahr hot sich ju kraets schunt de Fraehaet kenumme,
Su iß'r aach diesmohl mit reiner kekumme.
Se hahn ne ju suest wos ze luesenA kekahn:
Ich hoh schiene Vugel, wolln sie se besahn?


When Niemeyer lead his bride to the church to marry her, a bird trapper brought birds and congratulated them; This happened on October 25 in 1759. Clausthal, printed at the Wendeborn Printing House.

Hello you all, you honorable men!
Here comes the lad from far away,
He has already taken the liberty,
So he came in this time again.
They have sometimes given him something to earn:
I have nice birds, do you want to have a look on them?

A luesen seems to be a loanword from Low German. According to Borchers 1929 it was pronounced [liːsən] – Erzg. doesn't have the ue sound [y] – and it means "to earn, to get money".


Like all dialects, Erzgebirgisch has some words which are difficult to grasp for outsiders. These include contractions of long words, but also some words unknown to other dialects or even other subdialects of the same lineage.


Lexeme pronunciation
(NW dialect)
Standard German English Notes
aarb werzg. [ˈaːɰp] Arbeit work only in the western dialect
aardabl [ˈaːɰtæpl̩] Kartoffel potato literal: earth apple
ààziizeich [ˈʌːˌtsiːtsaɪ̯ʂ] Kleidung clothing literal: Anziehzeug
àbort [ˈʌpɔɰt] Toilette loo (toilet)
bèg [ˈpɛk] Bäcker baker
bèremèd [ˌpɛɣəˈmɛt] Weihnachtspyramide Christmas pyramid
bèrschd [ˈpɛɰʂʈ] Bürste brush
burschdwich [ˈpʊɰʂʈvɪʂ] Besen broom
dibl [ˈtɪpl̩] Tasse cup literal: Töpfchen
dridewààr [ˌtxɪtəˈvʌːɰ] Gehsteig sidewalk derived from French trottoir
fauns [ˈfaʊ̯ns] Ohrfeige slap
feier [ ˈfaɪ̯ɔ] Feuer fire
fuuchlbaarbaam [ˈfuːxl̩ˌpaːɰpaːm] Eberesche rowan literal: bird berry tree (rowanberry tree)
gaacher [ˈkæːχɔɰ] Jäger hunter
gudsàger [ˈkʊtsʌkɔɰ] Friedhof cemetery literal: God's acre
hèm [ˈhɛm] Hemd shirt
hiidrààbradl [ˈhiːˌtxʌːpxætl̩] Serviertablett tray literal: little bring here tray
hitsch [ˈhɪtʂ] Fußbank footbench
huchtsch [ˈhʊxtʂ] Hochzeit wedding
lader [ˈlætɔɰ] Leiter ladder
nààmitsch [ˈnʌːmɪtʂ] Nachmittag afternoon
pfaar [ˈpfaːɰ] Pferd horse
reeng [ˈɣeːŋ] Regen rain
schdagng [ˈʂʈækŋ̍] Stecken, Stock stick
schduub [ˈʂʈuːp] Wohnzimmer, Stube living room
(scheier)hààder [ˈʂaɪ̯ɔɰhʌːtɔɰ] Wischtuch cloth for wiping
schmiich [ˈʂmiːʂ] Zollstock yardstick
zemitschasn [tsəˈmɪtʂasn̩] Mittagessen lunch literal: midday meal
zèrwànsd [ˈtsɛɰvʌnst] Akkordeon accordion


Erzgebirgisch has many onomatopoetic verbs (see also I. Susanka). Due to the high precipitation in the Ore Mountains, many different verbs for different kinds of rain or drizzle exist.

Word Pronunciation
(Northwest dialect)
Standard German English Comments
besuudln [pəˈsuːtl̩n] beschmutzen (get) dirty
blààtschn [ˈplʌːtʂn̩] stark regnen (Platzregen) heavy shower
blèègng [ˈplɛːkŋ̍] laut schreien scream
deebern [ˈteːpɔɰn] toben, schimpfen be angry
derlaam werzg. [tɔɰˈlaːm] erleben experience not in northwest dialect
drààschn [ˈtxʌːʂn̩] stark regnen (Dauerregen) continuous heavy rain
eisàgng [ˈaɪ̯sʌkŋ̍] einfüllen, einpacken take, put in Literal: einsacken
gwèstern [ˈkvɛstɔɰn] immer wieder rein und raus gehen repeatedly getting in and out
kambln [ˈkʰæmpl̩n] sich prügeln beat each other
siifern [ˈsiːfɔɰn] leicht nieseln light drizzle

Other words

Like many other German dialects, Erzgebirgisch is rich in adverbs, like the notorious fei, whose use is extremely complex and needs further research. It appears in commands (Gii fei wag!, Go away!), but also in affirmations (S´reengd fei, It's raining, by the way.).

Lexeme Pronunciation
Standard German English Notes
dingenauf [ˌtɪŋəˈnaʊ̯f] bergauf, nach oben uphill, upward  
emènde [əˈmɛndə] möglicherweise possibly literal: at the end
feeder [ˈfeːtɔɰ] vorwärts, weiter further from English
fei [ˈfaɪ̯] aber, nämlich, endlich, ziemlich but, indeed, finally, quite
fiir [ˈfiːɰ] vor for also in expressions
gaaling [ˈɡæːlɪŋ] heftig vehement
heier [ˈhaɪ̯ɔɰ] dieses Jahr this year
hèm [ˈhɛm] nach Hause at home literal: home
hiimundriim [ˌhiːmʊnˈtxiːm] auf beiden Seiten on both sides literal: hüben und drüben
hinewiider [ˌhɪnəˈviːtɔɰ] hin und her here and there
ize [ˈɪtsə] jetzt now
nààchert [ˈnʌːxɔɰt] nachher to here
zàm [ˈtsʌm] zusammen together


The interjections used in Erzgebirgisch differ considerably from the Standard German ones. The language area being dominated by mining, some linguistic patterns peculiar to this business have attained general usage, like the salute Glig auf! (dt. "Glück auf").

English does not have a specialized form to affirm negative questions, unlike French (si), Dutch (jawel) or German (doch). Erzgebirgisch uses Ujuu! [ˈʊjuː], or sometimes Ajuu! [ˈajuː], (dt. "Doch!") in these contexts. For the negation of a question expecting a positive answer È(schà)! [ˈɛ(ʂʌ)] (dt. "Nein!") is used. This interjection is also used to express surprise, albeit with a different intonation.


  1. ^ Cited in Erich Borchers: Sprach- und Gründungsgeschichte der erzgebirgischen Kolonie im Oberharz. Marburg, 1929. pp. 135–136. Original orthography but ae, oe and ue have a superscript e in the original instead of the e following as used in this article.


Grammars and other linguistic publications

  • Oswin Böttger: Der Satzbau der erzgebirgischen Mundart. Leipzig 1904. – An analysis of the syntax.
  • Erich Borchers: Sprach- und Gründungsgeschichte der erzgebirgischen Kolonie im Oberharz. Marburg 1929. – Grammar of the Upper Harz variety.

Other literature

  • Irmtraud Susanka: Wie mir drham geredt homm. Unsere Mundart im Bezirke Kaaden-Duppau. Verlag des Kaadener Heimatbriefs, Bayreuth (no year, no ISBN). – Collection of words, phrases, poems and short stories of the southern variety formerly spoken in the Sudetenland.

External links

  • A western Erzg. wordlist and some further literature
  • A wordlist of the variety in Thalheim
  • Some poems in Erzg.
  • Some short stories in Erzg.
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