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Yesterday I was in a restaurant in Bonn, and the waiter (who sounded and looked local) asked me:

Schmeckt es Sie?

I only heard it with “Ihnen” before. Is it a local thing, did he just misspoke, or is there a third solution?

  • @DavidFoerster This is my first question here, I don't know the tags. If someone with enough reputation changes it, I am fine with that. – András Apr 26 '18 at 15:34
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    The waiter is extremely unlikely to have said that — it’s simply too outlandish, no native speaker would even think of it. It’s much more likely that they were slurring the speech and contracting words: “Schmeckt ’s Ih’n?” It’s very easy to overhear the terminal “n” in this case. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 26 '18 at 18:31
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    There might be a different reason for that seemingly ungrammatical question. Did you say anything before had the word "ihnen" at the end? And are you sure it was in Bonn and not in Bottrop? (the last question was also a hint for the elderly Germans here) – deamentiaemundi Apr 26 '18 at 18:47
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    "Looking local" doesn't mean he's local. – Eric Duminil Apr 26 '18 at 20:24
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    Any chance you were eating something like a sausage, where "schmeckt sie?" makes sense? – Robert Apr 26 '18 at 22:30
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The only correct form is

Schmeckt es Ihnen?

Another example:

Das Brötchen (Subj.) schmeckt dem Kind (Dat. Obj)
Schmeckt das Brötchen dem Kind (not das Kind)?

“Schmeckt es Sie” is grammatically wrong - even in Bonn ;-)

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    Yeah, should be "schmebickt es Sie" ;) – rackandboneman Apr 27 '18 at 21:21
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According to the rules for German grammar "Schmeckt es Sie?" ist not grammatically correct. The grammatical structure is always "noun" + schmeckt + Dative (typically referring to the person or creature who likes the taste of 'noun') in the standard sentence. Only the word order is reversed, when asking the question but the grammatical structure does not change.

Schmeckt es Ihnen?

Es schmeckt Ihnen.

Even as a native German speaker, I have never heard this before. Either this is a local dialect phrase in Bonn or the waiter was not a native German speaker and did not use the phrase correctly.

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    Nothing special about Bonn/Köln. Just plain wrong... – m8mble Apr 26 '18 at 15:05
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    @András Just guessing: Is it possible that the waiter pronounced the last word with a syllabic "n" at the end (that is, without the "e") and without a noticable glottal stop before "i", resulting in something like "Schmecktesihn", and that you misheard the final "n" and thus misinterpreted "schmecktesih" as "Schmeckt es Sie"? – Uwe Apr 26 '18 at 15:31
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    @Uwe no. He tried to speak clear Hochdeutsch to me, I have a very obvious accent – András Apr 26 '18 at 15:36
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    @András The two phenomena I mentioned (pronouncing "Ihnen" with a syllabic "n" at the end and without a noticable glottal stop at the beginning) are common even for speakers who (try to) speak Hochdeutsch. This is not restricted to the Cologne dialect. – Uwe Apr 26 '18 at 15:50
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    Maybe it was "Schmeckt sie?" or even "Schmeckte sie?" – Mafii Apr 27 '18 at 14:25
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To add to the confusion, “Schmeckt es Sie?” is valid German for asking if something is tasting you. (“Does it taste you?”)

Apart from that, as a native from the Ruhr area, this is probably dialect. Uncommon in Bonn, but who knows.

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    LOL. Top confusing and hard to catch, but valid indeed. ;-) – Thomas Apr 27 '18 at 9:19
  • Even though Duden lists this as the first meaning of the word “schmecken”, I can’t recall ever having heard or read this use. I only use “schmecken“ in the second meaning, to the point that I would consider the first dialect, or very old-fashioned. Instead, I would exclusively use “probieren” to elicit this meaning. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 27 '18 at 9:26
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    @Konrad Just out of curiosity, what verb would you use for the first example given in Duden (relating to erkennen rather than feststellen)? Granted my German is not great, but probieren sounds like a very odd word to use for the sense of ‘perceive flavour with one’s taste buds’; “Wenn man Schnupfen hat, kann man nichts probieren” doesn’t sound to me like it would have anything to do with taste at all, for example. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 27 '18 at 10:03
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Fair enough, in that very specific case I might use “erschmecken” (note the “er-” derivative!). But rather than a single word I’d be more likely to say “Wenn man Schnupfen hat, kann man keine Geschmäcker erkennen/unterscheiden.” – Konrad Rudolph Apr 27 '18 at 10:32
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    I've never heard anyone say "erschmecken", but "schmecken" in this context is super normal to me. "Schmeckst du Gewürz XY in der Suppe?" "Schmeckst du das mal ab?" "Kannst du schmecken, ob das noch gut ist?" "Probieren" is more like "try something out", i.e. when you don't know a new food and want to find out how it tastes, unlike when you know a food and want to determine if the taste is as expected. – Max Vollmer Apr 27 '18 at 10:58
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The waiter surely said "Schmeckt-es-I....[noise/swallow]?" and you did not hear the full "Ihnen" (Dativ) and interpreted the word "Sie" from the letter s of "es" and the long I of the swallowed "Ihnen".

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While "Schmeckt es Sie?" is definitely not correct German, I am a bit surprised that nobody has so far mentioned the quirks of the Ruhr area dialect. After all, Bonn is not far away from the Ruhr area, someone from that area could easily be working in a restaurant in Bonn (or anywhere else of course).

I am not an expert on grammar, but there is at least one famous quote of such a grammatical twist, namely the "Ich verwarne Ihnen - Ich danke Sie" conversation between a referee and Willi Lippens, a football player in the 60s (see Wikipedia or a local newspaper). "Ich verwarne Ihnen", which the referee definitely meant to say like this is just like "Schmeckt es Sie".
(Correct German would be "Ich verwarne Sie - Ich danke Ihnen").

Whether the waiter was doing this on purpose because of that famous quote (the "Ich danke Sie" answer is more remembered and laughed about) or because he/she was really speaking like it is a different question.
Maybe the waiter wanted to taunt you a bit, knowing you were not a native speaker. People in Bonn are funny sometimes...!

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    This isn’t an analogous situation. Substitution of accusative by dative in lower class dialect is somewhat common. The inverse isn’t. The famous conversation you’re referring shows this: the referee’s use of incorrect grammar is colloquial. Lippens‘ reply is spoofing this in an obvious manner, since it’s not colloquial, it’s just plain wrong, and thus seen as mocking the referee’s bad grammar. If it were an acceptable colloquialism, it wouldn’t have earned Lippens a ban. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 27 '18 at 9:18
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    Lippens got the ban for saying thank you after having been warned by the ref. He might have gotten the longer ban because of the grammar he used. But besides that, you are right. It is not an analogous situation. But still, the waiter could have either quoted Lippens or his grammatical twist might have even become colloquial until today - always used with a funny connotation. I mean, there is even a restaurant by the name "Ich danke Sie"! – Sebastian Apr 27 '18 at 9:26
  • Why would he get a ban for thanking the ref? He got the ban for showing disrespect, and that was conveyed through the humorous use of grammar. And the waiter didn’t quote Lippens. At best he referenced him but without any context this would be a very far-fetched reference. So unless OP was indeed in the restaurant Ich Danke Sie, I’m pretty sure this isn’t what happened. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 27 '18 at 9:32
  • You are a bit nit-picky here. Of course I meant that he referenced him, it wasn't a literal quote. If you would noadays simply thank the ref - in correct grammar- for showing you a yellow card, this would already seem disrespectful and you would be sent off. Same in the 60s. The language Lippens used only made it worde - and funnier. Also, the waiter didn't have to reference Lippens (most likely he/she didn't), he/she could just have pciked up this humorous quote somewhere and is now using it. – Sebastian Apr 27 '18 at 9:42
  • This could possibly be the correct answer, though I think probably not the way described here. As Konrad says, substituting an accusative for a dative (as the referee did) is reasonably common. If András is correct that the waiter was local and spoke dialect normally, he may be more or less unconsciously aware of this substitution. If András is also correct that the waiter attempted to speak Hochdeutsch to him, a not altogether unlikely hypercorrection would be to ‘unswitch’ back to accusatives even in places where Hochdeutsch uses a dative as well. Stranger things have happened. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 27 '18 at 10:08
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While this is not the "correct" form –– according to standard German (Hochdeutsch) –– it is still perfectly possible to hear the exact words. For a number of possible reasons, and there are indeed at least three of them:

  1. Lower classes sometimes just have some trouble knowing the correct standard grammar, thereby committing just a mistake.

  2. Some dialects lack some grammatical distinctions necessary for standard German, leaving a slightly naive speaker to guesses when trying to speak standard German.

  3. Some dialects actively switch around those things considered "correct" in standard German. It is not uncommon for such local dialectal variants to spill over into (attempted) usage of otherwise standard German.
    One such example is Leipziger Mundart, where "Sie statt Ihnen" was/is "the old normal":

    Sie, statt Ihnen, s. Se und Gramm. drüben. § 190.
    Vgl.: Karl Albrecht: "Leipziger Mundart. Grammatik und Wörterbuch der leipziger Volkssprache. Zugleich ein Beitrag zur Schilderung der Volkssprache im Allgemeinen." Arnoldische Buchhandlung: Leipzig, 1881, p 212.

This was/is very likely not only typical for east-thuringian dialects ("Sächsisch"), but a possibly widespread phenomenon. Please note that it remains a bit peculiar for 'educated' listeners even in the situation and locality described.

To assess how common this perceived 'mistake' seems to be, compare:

Hier werden Sie geholfen!
Man darf den Einfluss einer Frau Feldbusch aber nicht überschätzen. Wenn die deutsche Sprache im Fall eines dritten oder vierten Falles gelegentlich ins Schwanken gerät, so liegt dies vor allem an der Tatsache, dass wir Deutschen ein Volk von Dialektsprechern sind. Und jede Mundart hat ihre eigenen Regeln, gerade was den Gebrauch der Fälle angeht. Der Berliner zum Beispiel kann mit dem Akkusativ nicht viel anfangen. So lautet die schönste Erklärung, die ein Mensch einem anderen machen kann, auf Berlinerisch: "Ick liebe dir."[…]
Auch der Kölner lehnt die Existenz von mehr als zwei Fällen hartnäckig ab. Man sagt "dat Mensch" im Nominativ und im Akkusativ, und "demm Mensch" im Dativ und im Genitiv. In Köln kommt man damit wunderbar zurecht. Dass sich, je nach Region, bei bestimmten Wendungen ein unterschiedlicher Kasusgebrauch eingebürgert hat, ist weder ungewöhnlich noch unerklärlich. Es ist historisch so gewachsen.[…]
Bei meinem Besuch in Aachen berichtete mir eine fidele Aachenerin von einem amüsanten Erlebnis in einer Modeboutique. Sie wollte einen Bademantel kaufen, den sie im Schaufenster gesehen hatte. "Das ist ein Markenartikel", sagte ihr die Verkäuferin und tat dabei etwas wichtiger, als es dem Anlass gebührte, denn der Bademantel war immerhin herabgesetzt. Und erklärend setzte sie nach: "Das ist von Tschiwentschi, aber das wird Sie nix sagen."

And as always, keep in mind: "Das mir und mich verwechslichnich. Das kommt bei mich nicht vor."

If the speaker of the recorded utterance was a local to Bonn it is therefor not 'correct' that he used "schmeckt es Sie", but only if measured against standard German. If the dialect is taken into account, this phrase might be considered somewhat normal or usual, and not "incorrect". Especially in a gastronomical setting – in addition to the above reasons – it is also possible that the speaker just tried to be funny.
This does not imply that anyone trying to employ standard German should be advised to use this construction.

Inspired by comments that either denied the existence of lower classes or the regional variations:

WP: Rheinischer Regiolekt:
Benachteiligung
Die sehr negative, teilweise destruktive Einstellung der deutschen Obrigkeiten und teilweise der Ober- und Mittelschicht gegenüber den Regionalsprachen (→ Linguizismus) zeigt sich abgeschwächt auch gegenüber dem Regiolekt. Dies geschieht sowohl da, wo er verstanden wird, als auch dort, wo er nicht verstanden wird.
Die Verwendung des Regiolekts in der Schriftsprache ist weitgehend verpönt und wird in Schulen als Fehler gewertet.

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  • Lower classes? wtf – Carsten S Apr 27 '18 at 15:52
  • @CarstenS What's the problem with that? – LаngLаngС Apr 27 '18 at 17:45
  • The words "Unterschicht" and "Prekariat" are rather loaded..... and that is what "lower class" would translate to to a german in that context. The first is a plain dysphemism (almost like "dregs" or "white trash" in English), the latter a minced dysphemism. And there is a current of class issues in current news topics. – rackandboneman Apr 27 '18 at 21:37
  • @rackandboneman Ah! But huh? Given this is intended as a primarly sociolinguistic description that is quite sympathetic compared to most posts on this I do not really see how this could be. But I am quite open for a suggestion that does not compromise on precision and raises pleasantness… – LаngLаngС Apr 27 '18 at 21:50
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My guess is he could have said:

Schmeckt's? or Schmeckt es?

Where Ihnen is omitted as in an ellipse. You could have misheard this as:

Schmeckt's Sie

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  • It was very distictly 3 words – András Apr 26 '18 at 18:13
  • Maybe he mumbled "Schmeckt es Ihn'n?" and pronounced the final n weak. – Uli Gerhardt Apr 27 '18 at 6:12
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I would guess

Similar to some of the already given answers, that:

  • you heard right
  • the waiter was speaking a native tongue, as it is not unusual in Western- to South-Western Germany
  • the problem the most that answered have to identify this, could be the spelling you used in your question.

Let me explain

the reasoning behind my thought:


To circumvent the use of phonetic symbols, which could/would complicate understanding, let me define the most necessary syllables of that german question for a rewrite of it to the sounding you may be used to.


Using your writing

Schmeckt es Sie?

I (as a native speaker of the german language) would pronounce and atone it like:

Shmackt' as Zee?

I hope you can follow, assuming regular speech for "sh" + "mack" + "t'"; the "t" stopped hardly as in "fact" (at the end) or in "terror" (at the beginning).


What i can think of

Is that you typed "Sie", because you assumed, that it has to be "Sie"

As a replacement for "Ihnen"; but "Sie" is spoken like "Zee" with a "Z" as in "Zone".*


Now let that be the case, then it might have been, that the waiter said:

Shmackt'asz' 'Eeeh?

And for the topping, let me further assume, that you have had the luck to meet a true "Bönnsch'h" (as in "Benn'j'h" with a soft "j" as in french "Journal" or "Jardin" - try "jealous"="djeahlyss" but without the "d" astart);


Well, if all that could have truly possibly been so

Then you have been hearing the angel-like voice, the god-like atone of one of the few sole survivors, that was born in Bonn, 'before' it became the capitol, or a son of such a phenomenon, which was born 'after' the capitol-move from Bonn to Berlin.


I envy you ...

Okay, joking aside:

Bönnsch Dialect - is (one of) the native tongue of that very region.

The dialect you (i am sure about that) 'heard' was a form of "Schwäbisch", if you are willed to go back in time to the point of no return, as known as the (pre-)dark-ages (800~1250 A.D.), but do yourself a favor and do not ask him, if he is a "Schwabe".


Try to touch that problem like the UK-British do, when US-Americans tell 'em they can't even speak english ... Well, Bönsch may forgive you, for assuming some 'Schwäbsch' in'em. Kölsch? Do - not - try - this . Anything else is fine. Well, most of it.


Furthermore do not try to find any reason to believe (other than reading really really old handwritten books and talking to 'the natives and their narratives') that Bönnsch is somewhat equal to Schwäbsch. Reason is, the region was for ages known as the centre of hardest impact, for any smaller and bigger war that has happened since medieval knights have been invented. Look at it as comparable to the japanese insulas and the clans that defined them and their selfs by the way of the warrior. (1600~1750)


Bonn as being part of the 'calming' centre of the surrounding ever-war was such an area, in terms of joyful feudal full-armoured battles; But due to that, people from hundreds of kilometers around found their way as 'Leibeigene' or as the poorest left-overs of smashed clans with no rights and no territory and not just even their own body to possess, but having no identity at all. They fought for the very existence, none more, none less.


Linguists wouldn't dare to say it loud


This mixture of folks and languages lead on one hand to the mockup of dialects, which find their origins in the ever-circulating merge and meltdown of the people, fighting and surviving, and those that lead them into fight. In the end it is one simple rule: Orders must be understood.


On the other hand, the poors have to tell each other at least the necessities to see the end of the day. That, in turn lead to what seems to have been manifested in the people of that region:

  • Carpe diem. Use your days before nightfall darkens finally.
  • Be yourself a friend and proud of your kind, even if you're no friend of your own, have some.
  • Have pride in your roots, no matter where you come from. You are here, you are now. You were then, you will be.
  • Be nice, so that others can be nice to you. It adds up, soon you'll see even enemies become comrades.

Note: Cunnin' linguists dare to name it; an ages long ongoing of building a 'pidgeons pidgin pinyin' which refractured into 'cornerstone creoles'. I dare to say it; I am not a linguist .. on paper.


The rural moral


These are no rules at all, just a mentality, depending on the region, one weighs more, one is left out. But if you compare these regions of regions, to what surrounds them it becomes distinctively clear even with unsharpened senses.


To sum that wishy-washy historical excourse up:

Do not mix origins up, by vaguely guessing what these people speak, or why or how. It is an heir, they would die for, at least it sounds alike, when you made that mistake.


That ends in civil-war, seriously.


In fact, the "Bönnsche Mensche"

(Bonns' Humans) The elders (that care for their lingo and the roots of it), are often stating (when you are allowed to take place in their allday everyday as a friend) that they think they invented the speak of Rheensch [spoken like "range" or "range'sh"] 'High German': Rheinisch = Rhine-ish; means: along the river Rhine).


And just for example, one of the dominant origins, over centuries notable parts of their lingo was imported from, is the "Schwabenland". But these are (according to overall propagated consensus of the 'Rheensch') just simpletons, in comparison.


In terms of performing the in lifetimes and generations ongoing honoring of a literally vocally literally eazy-going way of life (reflected in speaking perfectioned e.g. "Bönnsch" and living it) has to be lived to the extent; No matter how hard it is or ever will be in real life, it is a must; Take it with a bright smile and a happily hot and spicy sarcasmic outcry.


Some say, Schwaben are happily greedy and be seemingly lazy is a luxury you should live and present your guests like a gift.


Some say, Bönnsch (or Kölsch, as the best known example of these people of kind) love to love others as they love themselves and to laugh is an existential right, no matter the cost, coz' they all laugh. [ think of 'Karneval' = carnival ; just dig to the roots of this word and you will understand the 'lifestyle' lived ]


You want to decide which side you're on? Well, 'dis i agree to disagree, agreed? - It is 'complicated' ...


You are in luck

The Wikipedia has an article about these rare individuals, here you go: "Bönnsch"


To point out the mistake

I am guessing letting you believe it must be "Sie" as in "Zee", is that a "Bönnsch" most probably would ask:

"Schmeckt'es Iieh?"

Whereas right in that very moment you should have seen a friendly smile and a respectful heartwarming nodding of the waiter, in part to you, in part to himself.


Because the 'Bönnsch' is earthed to the very core and wants nothing more then seeing you in pleasure, even if it is just a thought of a meal you want to eat, or a microcosm of a sip of white wine, sweet like the devil herself ...


All in all, it's just a guess; I admit!

But if you make a visit one more time, just try to listen very, very, carefully and very try to very stay on par. Very.


Caught in the act of 'germangling'

That word doesn't exist, yet - i made it up, but i think it could be descriptive enough for this corner-case;


.. So it may lastly be used all around the very geographical center of germany.


Because that is in fact the only location besides the mass-media, where 'german' is actually spoken as the 'high german' one can read in general-, or let's say: generic- -publishing.


No harm intended!

Even if my assumption was totally and inacceptibly wrong, hope y'all had some fun reading; Not easy, being Sherlock and Holmes .. And Watson, at once.


None the less

I surely had the bespoken fun, by writing and thinking of that 'germangling'. Which can be to the max intrusive and times hazardously obfuscating.


These dialects are times so such hard to grasp, that it (for real) can became nearly impossible communicating, one to the other.


When?

Whenever, so-to-say counterparts of borderliners, (ooh i am sooo sorry) i meant: the people born and|or living in the ( V E R Y ) opposite direction of the border-zones of germany are clashing into each other.


No joking.


Oh, by the way

If you need to stay longer in a region you are 'not used to', don't forget to 'relearn' 'high german' at minimum any other day.


You may get lost in jumbo-mumble-mambo if you don't.


Hope, it helped!


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    Willkommen auf dem Stack Exchange zur deutschen Sprache. In ihrem jetzigen Zustand wird Deine Frage dem Fragesteller und anderen Besuchern wenig nutzen, da sie: 1) im Bewusstseinsstrom geschrieben ist und kaum Struktur aufweist 2) die eigentliche Antwort in für die Frage irrelevanten Beiwerk untergeht. Bitte editiere Deine Antwort entsprechend. – Wrzlprmft Apr 28 '18 at 12:41

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