There is an interesting discussion going on about the word for rabbit, Kaninchen which looks like a diminutive but (probably) isn't. The question arose in that thread over whether there are other examples of words which are problematic in this way: e.g. how do you have a “little rabbit”?

Of course in Yiddish it’s not a problem because we have the double diminutive +ele. I’m wondering if they have the same in the dialects e.g. Bavarian where they use the same +el ending for diminutives. An interesting situation arises when a normal word ending in -el looks the same as another word that is a diminutive. For example, a little goat (Ziegel) looks like a normal-size brick (Ziegel). It almost even looks like a small train (Zügel) – actually, in Yiddish the correspondence is exact because the U-umlaut is not distinguished from long-i (ie).

And does it sound funny in Bavarian to call a big bird like an Ostrich a Vögel? Does anyone hyper-correct this to ein Vog?

In Yiddish, noodles are lokshin, as in lockshin kugel. But I’ve never figured out where this comes from. I have a theory that it’s actually Lockchen/Löckchen (little curls). Of course, the Yiddish plural diminutive would be Löckellach. Any ideas?

  • 1
    Just some minor corrections: (1) it's a "Vogel" (plural: "Vögel"), (2) "Löckchen" (both singular and plural, the diminutive for "Locken"), (3) "Zügel" means "rein" and isn't a diminutive for "Zug"; a small train would be a "Züglein".
    – Guido
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 21:34
  • 1
    Regarding the diminutive for "Zug" in Bavaria, I'm only aware of "Zügerl". I've never heard "Zügel".
    – Guido
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 21:42
  • oh dear yes of course you're right about Vogel...but then is the diminutive the same as the plural (in Bavarian)? Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 23:42
  • 4
    @MartyGreen There is no such thing as a standard diminutive -el in Bavarian (I am from Bavaria). Bavarians tend to end nouns with -erl, which is the dialect form of "-chen" or "-lein". For example, there's "Häuserl" (Häuschen) or "Vögerl" (Vögelchen) or "Zügerl" (Züglein). Like -le in Schwaben: "Häusle", "Vögele", "Zügle". Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 6:58
  • 1
    @ThorstenDittmar Although I don’t quite get what the OP’s question really is, you should probably elaborate a bit and promote your comment to an answer. If you do so, please also cover cases like Hendl and Dirndl.
    – Crissov
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 7:54

2 Answers 2


There is no such thing as a standard diminutive -el in Bavarian. Even though I'm from Bavaria I'm not an expert in all Bavarian dialects. However, in the Bavarian dialect you usually hear in the Regensburg area, the endings -chen and -lein are replaced by -erl.


Häuserl (Häuschen)
Vogerl (Vögelchen)
Zügerl (Züglein)

As there are many Bavarian dialects (sometimes strongly varying even between villages) there are further shortened forms (for example in Munich) like Hendl, Dirndl, Madl which of course derive from the long form Henderl, Dirnderl or Maderl, which are also in use.

In the Franconian area around Nürnberg for example, -lä is common:


And does it sound funny in Bavarian to call a big bird like an Ostrich a Vögel? Does anyone hyper-correct this to ein Vog?

First of all, an Ostrich would be called Vogel, not Vögel, as Vögel is the plural. It would sound funny if you called it Vögelchen/Vogerl, but people sometimes do this intentionally to make a joke:

Ein Strauß ist definitiv mal ein flottes Vögelchen.

There is no such thing as a Vog in German. The word is Vogel, so no, nobody calls an Ostrich Vog. As Vogel in German is not a diminutive form, it would rather not be understood.


I don't know about dialects but in standard German, a small rabbit would be das kleine Kaninchen. Same goes for das kleine Mädchen etc. The German Wikipedia article on diminutives has a section that lists just the examples you are talking about.

As for lokshen, Merriam-Webster lists the origin as Russian but I don't know enough about Russian grammar to say if it's a diminutive or not. :)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.