I have been searching for an answer to this old dialect of German but to no avail. Has anyone ever heard an older generation say:

“Soli soli soli Meiner liebe drolli“

My grandmother used to gently pat out foreheads when we were hurt and say this. I believe what she was saying was “there there there little one it’s okay” but a literal translation doesn’t work. My mother was born in Germany and my fiancé was too, but neither know the real translation. Has anyone heard?

We are all from the Black Forest (Baden Baden) if that helps with dialects!

  • 2
    Could you add information when (what year, approximately) your ancestors left the Black Forest region, and where they went? - Also, does your mentioning of the town of Baden Baden mean that they came from there, or a village nearby? Mar 21 '18 at 15:16
  • 1
    Maybe you can also find out where your grandmother originally came from (many Sudeten Germans settled in this area)
    – RoyPJ
    Mar 21 '18 at 15:18
  • DWDS links to a Grimm entry for droll. Not sure, whether it is relevant for drolli, but in case someone wants to do more research here: dwds.de/wb/dwb/droll
    – Arsak
    Mar 22 '18 at 13:07
  • Related: Heile, heile Gänsje
    – Pollitzer
    Mar 22 '18 at 20:38
  • Vom Anlaut würde es als Kinderreim plausibler klingen, wenn es nicht "Soli, soli, meiner Liebe drolli" sondern "Solli, solli, meiner Liebe drolli" (evtl. "Soll i, soll i (soll ich)) oder "Soli, soli, meiner Liebe droli" hieße. Jun 15 '18 at 20:56

I don't know if it helps, but a common - and not unsimilar - phrase (or verse) used in such situations is

Heile, heile Segen
drei Tage Regen
drei Tage Sonnenschein
's wird bald wieder besser sein.

Note that this is positively used in South and South-West Germany, so covering the area you mentioned.

Some ideas contributed in comments

This answer (or non-answer) received valuable feedback from commenters, partly with new creative attempts to explain the wording. I summarize and comment the thoughts refering to the enigmatic word "soli":

1) Soli = Segen?

Marzipanherz asked: Is there a south/southwest German form of Segen that sounds similar to Soli? My answer: I do not see a lexical relation between Segen and soli in German or a German dialect.

2) Soli = solacium?

One thing I was pondering is if soli here could be derived from Latin solacium (= Trost = comfort, solace), as Latin was broadly used in catholic churches up to the 1960s. But that's a very far-fetched idea. Villagers did not usually integrate Latin terms they heard in church into their everyday vocabulary. Famous exceptions are sacramentum and crucifixum which both are used as curse words (Sakrament! Kruzifix! Zefix!). But I have never met such a Latin church derivative in nursing rhymes.

3) Soli = sodele?

Beta said: Could soli be a diminutive form of "so" (as in södele or sodele), which would fit perfectly in a comforting situation. My answer: I am not sure about this idea. Having grown up in the Swabian South-West (with part of my family being farmers and active users of dialect) I first thought: no, seeing "soli" as representation of "sodele" does not make sense. On second thought, however, one could indeed imagine that there once was a verse like "Sodele, sodele, sodele" which got distorted over time by users of the language detached from the area (emigrant-settlers to Eastern Europe in 18th century?).

Or perhaps the grandmother said actually "sodele", but Emma (who asked) just wrote it down as "soli" because she is not aware of a word "sodele"?

4) Soli = soll ich?

Somebody suggested that soli could stand for soll ich (shall I / should I) . My opinion: the words taken isolated, yes, this makes sense. Written soli would be pronounced quite similar to what speakers of South-West German dialects say for "soll ich". However, I struggle to fit "soll ich" into the context of the nursery rhyme.

PS: A short search with one of our preferred look-stuff-up machines brought this variant of the same nursery rhyme:

Heile, heile Segen
sieben Tage Regen,
sieben Tage Sonnenschein,
wird alles wieder heile sein.
Heile, heile Segen,
sieben Tage Regen,
sieben Tage Schnee,
tut dem Kind schon nicht mehr weh.

  • Are you aware of a south/southwest German form of Segen that sounds similar to Soli?
    – Arsak
    Mar 21 '18 at 18:16
  • ... but solacium did not make it into everyday language, as far as I could observe. Mar 22 '18 at 10:04
  • The solacium part is interesting. However, I'm a bit lost now about the connection between the question and your answer, since it didn't ask for comforting rhymes in general, but about a specific one.
    – Arsak
    Mar 22 '18 at 10:05
  • 2
    Couldn't "soli" be a diminutive form of "so" (as in "södele"), which would fit perfectly in a comforting situation.
    – Beta
    Mar 22 '18 at 10:42
  • 1
    Mein erster Gedanke zu "Meiner liebe drolli" war, dass es eine falsch verstanden Version von "Mein lieber Scholli" ist, was ja im Badischen hinlänglich bekannt ist. Das reimt sich zwar auf "soli", was auch immer das dann sein soll. Aber vielleicht muss sich "Sodele, sodele, mein lieber Scholli" auch gar nicht reimen?
    – IQV
    Mar 22 '18 at 12:41

This must be something local... never heared something like that.

Soli = Usually used as acronym for "Solidaritätszuschlag" (a special reunion tax) I guess its something else, becasue the Soli exists only since 1990.

If "drolli" is a name it must be "Meine liebe" (if drolli is female) or "Mein lieber" (if drolli is male)

edit: "Soli" could be a short version of "Soll ich" -> should I.

This would make sense... its a question "Should I, Schould I, should I my dear drolli"

  • 4
    A bit meager for an answer, if you leave out all the speculation...
    – Robert
    Mar 21 '18 at 16:52
  • 8
    Although it is technically correct that "Soli" is a word used for a certain tax officially called Solidaritätszuschlag, it would not come to my mind to mention this with regard to a grandmotherly nursery rhyme. Mar 22 '18 at 12:28
  • @Robert I dont think that anybody can answer this question correct, it sounds like an ancient local dialect and propably it is written wrong. So I would be thankful for any hint in what direction it could go. Mar 22 '18 at 19:56

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