dialect of the Ripuarian Central German group of languages

The Colognian dialect, or Kölsch is a variety of the German language. People in and around the city of Cologne in the West of Germany use Kölsch. Nowadays most of them have High German as their primary language or secondary language.

Native toGermany
RegionCologne and environs
Native speakers
(250,000 cited 1997)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3ksh

Usage change

About 250,000 people actively speak Kölsch. More than 2,500,000 people understand Kölsch well and use some Kölsch, or a variant, somehow. An estimated 20,000,000 to 30,000,000 people understand it partially.

Pronunciation change

How to say "Kölsch"? Take the beginning from "kernel" or "colonel"; next take a real dark, long "l" as in "bold", or "ball"; then append a "sh" as in "shrimps", or "ti" as in "nation". That's the sound "Kölsch". However, the German "ö" is not exactly the same as an English "o", but a sound between "o" and "e".

Etymology change

The word 'Kölsch' comes from the Name of the City of Cologne. It is 'Köln' in native tongue, yet 'Kölle' in Kölsch. By ordinary German word building rules, 'kölnisch' means 'belonging to Cologne', 'related to Cologne', 'in Cologne', 'from Cologne'—as in 'kölnisch Wasser' (Eau de Cologne). The word 'kölnisch', or 'köllesch', shortened to 'kölsch' in local tongue, became a shorthand noun for the local beer and the local language, or dialect.

Today's name of the city stems from ancient times of the Roman occupation of Northern Germany 100 years before Christ, and later. The Romans built a fort or castle —then, approximately under the reign of Julius Caesar, turned it into a colony (Latin: colonia) with religious and city rights. Part of its Roman name stuck, 'Colonia Clavdia Ara Agrippinensivm Oppidvm Vbiorum' became 'Köln' over the centuries.

History change

Although Kölsch speakers occasionally claim that it is rooted in pre-Roman times, Kölsch developed from a mix of Lower German and Middle High German in medieval times. It learned from other languages through political and trade connections during the times of the Hansa, and from various waves of immigration. In modern times, there were:

Special properties change

Kölsch has outstanding or unique properties. Here are some:

  • Richness. There is only one language in Europe that has as many different vowels as Kölsch. There are a huge number of different sounds that sound like 'sh', but if someone gets them wrong, he will be understood as a foreigner.
  • Tolerance paired with individuality. Kölsch is not so outstanding among the many dialects around it. These are both similar and different. Kölsch integrates new variants and deviations easily and quickly. There is no concept of right or wrong, only of difference. It is all right to be different, as every individual is different somehow all the time.
  • Kölsch is unusually well documented. Some linguists of the local universities have shown great interest in Kölsch and other local dialects, and research on them. Outside the world of science, the Akademie för uns Kölsche Sproch (Academy in favour of our Kölsch language) offers regular courses, classes, excursions for everybody. They publish a dictionary, a grammar, and phrase books. It is probably the only institute of its kind in the world.

Socio-cultural change

After the Second World War, Cologne took up and integrated a huge number of former inhabitants from the former East German regions, which now are part of Poland. That has not had a big impact on the Kölsch language; but it has on the immigrants. They soon began to integrate into the social life and otherwise, they began to learn Kölsch. Naturally they were not perfect speakers at first. The Kölsch language recognized that, and quickly created a word for them: "imi" ('imitating' or 'imitated' Kölsch). As they learned Kölsch well over the years, you could hear the word 'imi' less often. It came back when the wall that separated East and West Germany was taken down.

People who speak Kölsch change

Kölsch music change

  • Willi Ostermann, (1876-1936) was a parodist, poet, composer, singer, songwriter, editor and publisher. He is extremely popular in the Kölsch Region. He created a treasury of Kölsch songs. Many of Ostermann's songs are in everybody's active memory in Cologne and about. People sing them and music groups still perform them.
  • Kölsch-Rock or Kölschrock is rock music in the language of the common people of Cologne and its surroundings.[2][3][4]
  • de Bläck Fööss (the Naked Feet) were the first publicly recognized beat band to sing in Kölsch language. The professional musicians, successful in other projects, just for fun recorded a nice Kölsch song together, in 1969. The record became a little local success. Over the years, they had a series of local top hits, occasionally well received even outside the area where people understand Kölsch. Today they draw audiences of 20,000 or 30,000 people several times a year. Their repertoire covers most styles of modern popular music, and various language variants of Kölsch.
  • BAP is a Kölsch rock group. They always have been a tour band and successfully perform throughout Germany.
  • de Höhner (the Cocks and Hens) is a group playing popular, rock, beat, dancing, and drinking songs, almost all of them use an easy Kölsch. They have had a top hit in Germany and Number One at the Oktoberfest in Munich. Munich is far away from Cologne; people in Munich have a completely different language, they usually do not understand Kölsch.
  • Can was a Kölsch rock[source?] group that got much international acclamation in the late 1960s, when they started a new style of electronic music. General public became aware of them only about 20 years later. Then other musicians had successfully adopted their style. Most of their music is instrumental. If there is voice in their compositions, it is mostly used similar to any other instrument.

References change

  1. "Ripuarian". Ethnologue.
  2. * Frank Steffan: Kölsch Rock. Köln o. J. [1981]
  3. * Kölschrock. In: Rolf Hosfeld (Hrsg.): Kulturverführer Köln. Helmut Metz Verlag, 2005 (2. akt. Aufl.), S. 48–49f.
  4. * Kölsch-Rock. In: Jürgen Raap: Köln. Marco Polo Reiseführer, Lonely Planet, 2014, S. 21–22.

Other websites change