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LEARNING GERMAN

German word of the day: Die Mundart

Today’s word of the day can lead to many misunderstandings throughout Germany.

German word of the day: Die Mundart
Photo: depositphotos

Even though in Germany, most people German, there still can be large differences in the ways people from different parts of the country speak.

That is because of the different Mundarten.

SEE ALSO: Grüß Gott, Moin, Hallo: The complete guide to regional dialects around Germany

Mundart means “dialect”, but directly translates to “mouth type” or “mouth manner.” Hence, it is a word for different regional manners of speaking German.

The word has been around for a while: First reports date back to the 17th century. Who exactly used the word first isn’t quite clear, but two of the earliest sources are from the German poet Philipp von Zesen.

It is said that von Zesen translated the Greek word for dialect (diálektos) directly into German – its previous German equivalent was Mundart.

Nowadays, the word Mundart isn’t all that common anymore, though. Most people just say Dialekt.

This video quiz asks “How good do you know the dialects (or Mundarten) of Germany”?

Examples:

In der Bayerischen Mundart sagt man nicht “Hallo”, sondern “Servus.”

In the Bavarian dialect you don’t say Hallo, but Servus.

Die Sächsische Mundart ist für Nicht-Sachsen schwer zu verstehen.

The Saxon dialect is hard to understand for non-Saxons.

Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Umstritten

Not everyone agrees on everything - and there are some things almost nobody can agree on. If you find yourself dealing with the latter, you may need to make use of this German word.

German word of the day: Umstritten

Why do I need to know umstritten?

Because umstritten is a handy word that can be applied to multiple situations, but is especially useful when chatting about current affairs or the big social issues of our day. 

You’ll likely come across it while reading articles in German newspapers, or hear your German friends use it while setting the world to rights in the pub. 

What does it mean?

Umstritten is best translated as “controversial” or “disputed” in English. As usual in German, you can easily work out – and remember – what it means by breaking it down into smaller components. 

The first is the prefix um, which tends to mean “around”. Think of German words like umkehren, which means to turn around or reverse, or umarmen, which means to put your arms around someone (or hug them in other words!). 

The second component is the verb streiten, which means to argue. So something that’s umstritten is something that there are lots of arguments around, like a controversial new law, a social debate or a public figure. 

Use it like this: 

Die Pläne der Regierung waren hoch umstritten.

The government’s plans were highly controversial. 

Sein Erbe als Fußballtrainer ist immer noch umstritten.

His legacy as football manager is still disputed today. 

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