I have some questions about the Austro-Bavarian pronunciation of words that contain the letters "ie". I don't know proper phonetic spelling but hopefully my comments are understandable.

My understanding from living in Munich for 4 years over 30 years ago is that there are two common transformations:

  1. EE-uh: long e becomes a diphthong pronounced something like "EE-uh". For example, Das Knie ("KNEE") becomes Knia ("KNEE-uh"); Lieb ("LEEB") becomes Liab ("LEE-uhb").
  2. oo-EE: long e becomes a diphthong pronounced something like "oo-EE". For example, spielen becomes spui'n (shpoo-EEN); viel becomes vu'i ("foo-EE")

EE-EH: I recently learned of an Austro-Bavarian pronunciation of "ie" that I don't remember from my time in Munich. It sounds something like EE-eh. Some examples I found are

  • Liensberger (like the Austrian skier): "LEE-ehns-berg-er"
  • Lengries: "Len-GREE-ehs"
  • Prien: "BREE-ehn"
  • Wien: "VEE-ehn"
  • Dienten: "DEE-ehn-ten'

Please correct my understanding of any of the above.

It occurs to me that all of these examples of the EE-eh pronunciation are proper nouns. Is it possible that this EE-eh pronunciation is limited to names and places (proper nouns)?

What are some other examples of this pronunciation that are not proper nouns?

Please answer in German if easier.

  • I think, reducing a dialect to "just replace some vowels with some other vowels" over-simplifies things a bit.
    – tofro
    May 10 at 13:48
  • Kannst du bitte die Quellen für die von dir behauptete Aussprache der Beispiele von Liensberger bis Dienten angeben? Kannst du angeben, worauf sich die Wörter beziehen? "Prien" ist in Wikipedia sowohl Name eines Flusses und eines Ortes in Bayern als auch ein Familienname. Ich weiß nicht, ob ich diese Lautschrift richtig verstehe, aber ich vermute, die Aussprache "EE-eh" bedeutet, dass "i" und "e" getrennt ausgesprochen werden, etwa wie in Familie, Petersilie ... Die Beispiele stammen von hier
    – Seeberger
    May 12 at 10:49

3 Answers 3


First of all: If you want to discuss the pronunciation of words in writing, you really should familiarize yourself with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). German Wikipedia has also a list of IPA-Symbols: Liste der IPA-Zeichen

Please also note that Bavarian is not a standardized language. It is a group of dialects that can be traced back to ancient Bajuvarian languages and is spoken today mainly by people in Austria and Bavaria. Bavarian has three main branches:

  • Nordbairisch (North Bavarian), spoken only in a relatively small region of Bavaria
  • Mittel- or Donaubairisch (Middle or Danube Bavarian), spoken in Bavaria and Austria
  • Südbairisch (South Bavarian) spoken only in small parts of Bavaria but large regions of Austria and in Italy.

This map shows the regions where Upper German dialects are spoken, with different shades of blue representing the three branches of Bavarian: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bairisch#/media/Datei:Oberdeutsche_Mundarten.png
But although Munich and Vienna both are within the Middle Bavarian region, there are still significant differences between the dialect spoken in Munich and the Viennese dialect, for example, the [uɪ̯]-diphthong, that you hear very often in Munich is not used at all in Vienna.

Standard spelling Std. pronunciation Munich pron. Vienna pron.
Knie [kniː] [kniɐ̯] [kniɐ̯]
lieb [liːp] [liɐ̯b] [liɐ̯b]
spielen [ˈʃpiːlən], [ˈʃpiːln]1 [ˈʃpuɪ̯n] [ˈʃpyːn]
viel [fiːl] [fuɪ̯] [fyː]
Wien [viːn] [vɛɐ̯n] [viːn], [vɛɐ̯n]2
Liensberger3 [ˈliːɛnsˌbɛʁɡɐ] [ˈliːɛnsˌbɛʁɡɐ] [ˈliːɛnsˌbɛʁɡɐ]

1 The letter e is often silent in Standard German when it's in the last syllable of a word. Both pronunciations are correct.

2 There is more than just one dialect in Vienna. Some Viennese dialects are closer to Standard pronunciation than others.

3 In the surname Liensberger the parts Li and ens are two separate syllables, so the letters i and e are pronounced separately. (The letter e is here not a length-marker for the previous i.) Also in the name of the Austrian city Lienz i and e belong to different syllables and are therefore pronounced separately. (Not to be confused with Linz or Liezen.)

Is it possible that this EE-eh pronunciation is limited to names and places (proper nouns)? What are some other examples of this pronunciation that are not proper nouns?
The adjective lieb (meaning: lovely, nice) that was one of your examples, is not a proper noun. It is an adjective. Another example is the adverb nie (meaning: never). Standard pronunciation: [niː] Munich and Viennese pronunciation: [niɐ̯]


First, we need to clarify a few things: "Bavarian" ("Bairisch") is not a language. It is a continuum of (closely related) different dialects. So, while there are some rules about how some vowels are treated there are also exceptions from these rules.

For example: Bavarian dialects tend to replace monophtongs by diphtongs. "ei" (more on that later) is spoken "o-a" in most bavarian dialects, e.g "eins" -> "oa[n]s", "zwei" -> "zwoa". In Viennese, though, it is "a:ns" and "zwa:". The reason being that in the twelfth and thirteenth century many Franks migrated to Vienna and their dialect has the tendency to build monophtongs from diphtongs (unlike the other bavarian dialects, which do it exactly the other way round: "spielen" -> "spuin", but in Viennese "spü:n"; the same with "viel" -> "vui", but in Viennese "vü:").

Another thing: What we call Old High German and Middle High German was basically the way "normal" German was spoken in the southern part of the German-speaking area (see -> "Benrather Linie" and "Rheinischer Fächer" for more on that, if you can understand it read the German article, the English one is a stub). What is "High German" today was historically developed in the writing offices of Munich, Vienna, Prague and a few other metropoles. The dialects north of that "Benrath Linie" became less and less influential for the development of High German and the "Benrath Linie" moved gradually north up to the shore.

I spoke about the "ei" before. Notice that "ei" were originally (in Middle High German) two different vowels, which "converged" into one. One of them is spoken "oa" (see above, in most Bavarian dialects), the other is not. This is the reason for:

eins -> oa[n]s
zwei -> zwoa
heißen -> hoaß'n


drei -> drei
scheißen -> scheiß'n

About "Liensberger" and similar words: you need to differentiate between the vowel "ie" (spoken as a long "i", what you meant with "eeh") and places where "i" and "e" just come together from adjacent syllables. In "Liensberger" it is the latter. The name looks like it is derived from a (not existing any more) place "Liensberg". There is a city in Austria (Tyrol), Lienz, which is also pronounced "Li-enz" (two syllables), not "Li:nz".

"Wien" is pronounced "Wi:n" in most parts (including Vienna itself), but in other parts "Wea-an" (IPA:[Wɛ̃ɐ̃n], again, the "diphtongification" at work).

"Lenggries" (I suppose you meant this village by "Lengries") is in fact spoken "Leng-grias", the "gries" means "rubble" or "river bank with lots of sand" (see here, see also the Viennese street Salzgries), although the word "Grieß" (notice the difference in writing) is nowadays mostly used for "semolina".

If by "Dienten" you mean Dienten am Hochkönig, a village in Salzburg, it is pronounced "Deant'n" (IPA: [d̥ɛ̃ɐ̃ntn̩]) in the local (Pinzgau-) dialect. Here the "i" and the "e" just come together from different syllables.


"spuin" and "vui" aren't transformations of "ie" at all, they are transformation of "il"/"iel". They only occur if there is an "L" sound in the Standard German equivalent. In my native Vienna dialect, this is an "ü" sound instead, they are pronounced "spüün", "vüü". Here are two examples of Viennese dialectal singers pronouncing these kinds of words: bei dir is vü zvü Gfüü im Spüü (= bei dir ist viel zu viel Gefühl im Spiel), jo jo in Ziwü, do woara ned vü (= ja ja in Zivil, da war er nicht viel). A Bavarian person would pronounce these sentences as "bei dir is vui zvui Gfui im Spui" and "jo jo in Ziwui, do woara ned vui"; notice that the Standard German has "L" sounds in all these words.

I am not completely sure what you're referring to with your "EE-eh" example, but "Wien" is pronounced the same way in dialect as in Standard German except by rural (i.e. not Viennese) speakers who may pronounce it "Wean".

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