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I know, that there is a dialect called „Hessisch“, and as someone speaking German in that region, I really did not realize, that something like an accent or different wordings exist here (yeah maybe I‘m lost), specially in someone’s own word usage. It always sounded the same as the language spoken in German television. So my question: What exactly is different in „Hessisch“ German and are there also specific words, only used in Hessen?

I was confused, whether to ask this question in Englisch or German, because I‘m new here. It‘s like taking the stairs instead of the elevator to get to your apartment above. But for all, it is maybe required.

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    Different varieties English use different vocabulary as well, for example the British say 'holiday' where Americans say 'vacation'. In German the situation is similar but more extreme. – RDBury Oct 21 at 3:11
  • Most German dialects have their own words for some things, it's not only Hessisch. See for example the words in different regions for "attic": atlas-alltagssprache.de/dachboden/?child=runde – Sentry Oct 21 at 16:23
  • Beware that all the answers given so far refer to southern/mid Hessen dialect. In the North of Hessen (Kassel and surrounding area), a rather completely different dialect is used, which is more related to dialects in the south of Lower Saxony and western regions of Thuringia or saxony-Anhalt. – jkalden Oct 21 at 19:54
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It started as a comment, but it grew into an answer instead.

Typical for the Hessian dialect (not accent) is the shift from /ʃ/ and /ç/ to /ʒ/ as illustrated in Martin Schneider's Aschenbecher example.

Within the Hessian dialect, it's also quite common to skip the n in an -en ending and put more emphasis on the (now) final e. Again, this can be heard in the Aschenbecher example above and also be observerd in the examples below

Numerous examples are listed in this German online dictionary, where some heuristic rules can already be derived.

auf tends to become uff

uffgeblase (aufgeblasen)

p tends to become b

Babba (Papa), uffbasse (aufpassen)

-ig tends to become -isch

hibbelisch (hibbelig), ferdisch (fertig)

ck tends to become gg

aijereggisch (eiereckig), hogge (hocken), Schnuggelsche (Schnuckelchen)

In summary, a lot of hard sounds become softer.

What are specific words, only used in Hessen

Iconic Hessian words are

Aijereggisch, Riwwekuche (Streuselkuchen), babbeln, Bembel, Gude (Begrüßung), (Hut-)simbel, ...

Meeting older people from Hesse or people who live/grew up in smaller villages are still speaking the dialect, especially towards the south around the Taunus area.

This is mainly based on my observations as a North-German living in Hessen and noticing the differences with regard to my own dialect.

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    From someone, who lived more a city life, most of this is really unfamiliar to me (in my own environment). Other people could have a deeper experience on this. I only know „babbeln“ or „Gude“. And that -ig becomes -isch. To that I think I can relate, I thought -isch would be the Standard German pronounciation, such as lebendisch, so people are also using lebendig as how it is really written. – FromAnatolia Oct 21 at 3:07
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    Typo: Apfelwein instead of Apfelbein. – Harald Lichtenstein Oct 21 at 8:03
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    @FromAnatolia, standard pronunciation of -ig is -ich, not -isch. – Carsten S Oct 21 at 8:51
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    I wouldn’t include Äbbelwoi as a word characteristic of Hessia. Yes, it describes a product that is associated with and usually found in Hessia but the word, in its standard form Apfelwein is the only reasonable German word to describe the product. It’s merely a dialectal pronunciation. Likewise, I wouldn’t say Weißwurscht be a word characteristic of Bavarian but Schmarrn certainly would be. – Jan Oct 21 at 10:41
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    First time I have read or heard "aijereggisch". Are you sure that it isn't a distinct Hessian vocable and should be in the "iconic words" section? – I'm with Monica Oct 21 at 12:09
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To go a bit into the weeds, there's not the Hessian dialect. There's a group of dialects that are spoken in Hesse (but also in parts of Franconia, Rheinland-Pfalz and Westfalia) that are sometimes summarized as "Hessian dialect". What you hear in the media sometimes, with people like Martin Schneider or Bodo Bach, is mostly a Regiolekt from the Frankfurt-Rhine-Main area. This Neuhessisch is much closer to Standard German than to the "classic" Hessian dialects. You might say, it's basically Standard German colored with some bits of southern Hessian dialects.

Regarding lists of "Hessian" words, maybe you can get your hands on the dialect versions of Asterix. As of now, there are ten books translated to Neuhessisch, and most (all?) of them include a short "vocabulary list". And the comics are fun to read, too ;)

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What are some words only used in Hessen?

This must not be confused with a question concerning the Hessian pronunciation of commonly known words (for example "Äbbelwoi" for "Apfelwein").

I do not believe that there are many words used exclusively in Hesse. Perhaps

Bembel

is one of them, but this is certainly known outside Hesse ("Zum Blauen Bock" was a popular TV-show).

A nice word is

Kolter

which denotes a woollen blanket. I have never heard it outside Hesse, but perhaps some friendly commenters will correct me.

Also

Babbelwasser

could be genuine Hessian ("Hast du Babbelwasser gesoffe?").

A nice word used in Frankfurt is

Wasserhäuschen

which is a synonym for Trinkhalle or Kiosk.

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  • where I grew up it was more "kolder" and having lived in an english speaking country and seeing some similarities between hessisch and english I wonder if it even comes from "colder" – jdog Oct 21 at 19:16
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This page has a number of words that are not in high German (page is in German) https://www.deine-woerter.de/lexikon/hessen/

Here are some that I know from growing up:

"aijereggisch" - egg-shaped, literally: egg-corner-ish

"babbele" - to talk, chat

"beleidischd Lebberworscht" - someone being/ playing being sad, literally: offended liver pate

"Dabbes" - someone ditzy or a fool

"Deetz" - your head

"Gell" - appendix to sentences asking for affirmation, like the Kiwi "ey"

"Kaff" - village

"Kamelle" - old story

"Kneipsche" - kitchen knife

"plaerre" - to cry or be upset, ie the sound a baby makes at times

"Simbel" - simple person/ idiot (again you wonder if this was imported from english)

"Tranfunzel" unmotivated person

A LOT of the other words on that page are simply differently pronounced words from high German, or local colloquialisms made of high german word and pronounced differently. I would not strictly call them words that only exist in hessisch

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  • This page is already linked in my answer. – infinitezero Oct 21 at 22:44
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    "babbeln", "beleidigte Leberwurst", "gelt" (in Hessian gell), "Kaff", "Kamelle", "plärren", "Simpel" and "Tranfunzel" are well-known throughout Germany. Also "Deetz" is known dwds.de/wb/Dez. – Paul Frost Oct 21 at 23:23
  • @infinitezero apologies, I hadn't noticed. The rest is shared from my own upbringing. – jdog Oct 22 at 4:12

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