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My German grandmother used to say "Yokas en Himmel" which she said meant "my god in heaven". I can find the word Himmel but not yokas - would like to know the correct spelling and translation of this saying.

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    Welcome to the German Language Stack. Can you please provide info about in which language context you were brought up and interacted with your grandmother? Jul 24 '17 at 21:50
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    Sounds like she speaks somekind of german dialect. "en" is in some german dialects the word used for "in" (same in both english and german). "Himmel" indeed seems to mean heaven here, as it is also used in standard german. I guess Yokas will be the name of here god (in the dialect used). Jul 24 '17 at 22:47
  • I think it's Jokus im Himmel. It's not God nor Jesus because you shouldn't swear in his name. Jokas may be a misprounounciation of the u, and German leading J sounds like English leading Y.
    – Janka
    Jul 25 '17 at 5:12
  • May also be related to a TV show broadcast 20 years ago: imdb.com/title/tt2193761
    – Takkat
    Jul 25 '17 at 8:28
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    What region/city did your Grandma come from? Jul 26 '17 at 11:19
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In Swabian dialect, especially in rural regions, it is still today quite common to call

Jesses em Hemmel!

(both "e" are short) or

Jeeses em Hemmel!

(long "e", and sonant first "s") which would be "Jesus im Himmel" (Jesus in Heaven) in standard German.

(For alternative pronuncation Jekkes see below.)

Other common expressions are

Jesses nai!

Jeeses Maria!

Jesses Maari!

Jesses Maria em Hemmel!

Jesses Maari ond Josef!

Not to speak of

Herrgott em Hemmel!

Herrgottsack!

Herrgott Sack Zement!

Herkules!

where the last three are disguised forms of saying

Herrgott Sakrament!

I would suppose your Yokas en Himmel is related to Jeeses em Hemmel.

Jekkes is a form of pronouncing Jesses or Jesus that can be heard in some regions. I remember people saying Jekkes Maari, too.

All these exclamations are used to express surprise, either joyful or distressed, or anger.

As for spelling: German dialects (including Swabian) are not usually written. There is no convention on how to spell. Whoever decides to write dialect anyway (usually for humoristic reasons) chooses spelling as he or she thinks fits best. Note however, that "y" in German is never used as you do in English. The letter used for that palatal i-like transition sound is "j".

As for translation: this should be answered by a native speaker of English. Perhaps

Holy crap!

is appropriate?

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    For me, the missing k sound is what makes Jesses seem highly improbable. Jul 25 '17 at 9:15
  • @hiergilt - As I said, you can hear both "Jesses" and "Jekkes" even in today's Swabia. Jul 25 '17 at 9:36
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It could be "Lukas im Himmel", which is something my great-grandma used to say on occasion, talking about the apostle, though, not god. It seems to be a pretty rare saying, I haven't heard anyone else ever use it.

My great-grandma lived in Saxony as an adult, but I do not know where she was born or grew up.

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    Would you add information on the geographical and linguistical provenience of your great-grandmother? For me (as a German) "Lukas im Himmel" is something I never heard, even when living with people who are used to maintain close relationship with all kinds of (catholic) saints in heaven and where not and refering to them often in all kinds of everyday situations. This of course is not to mean that your relatives didn't say this anyway. Jul 25 '17 at 12:22
  • As I said, it's nothing if heard from anyone else either. She lived in Saxon as an adult, but I don't know where she was born or grew up.
    – Sakura
    Jul 25 '17 at 13:03

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