Swabian (Schwäbisch) is one of the Alemannic
dialects of High German, spoken in the region of Swabia.
Swabia covers much of Germany's southwestern Bundesland (state) of Baden-Württemberg (including the capital Stuttgart
and the rural area known as the Swabian Alb) and the southwest of the
Bundesland Bavaria. Swabian is also spoken by part of the German
minorities in Hungary, former Yugoslavia, Romania, and the former Soviet
The dialect ranges from a 'standard' Swabian, spoken in Stuttgart, to
slightly differing and 'thicker' forms found in smaller towns in the
countryside. Older people can often tell the exact village a person comes from
merely by hearing their accent.
Swabian is difficult to understand for speakers of Standard
German (SG). It contains vocabulary that differs altogether from Standard
German (e.g. 'jam' in SG is Marmelade while in Swabian it becomes
The voiced plosives, the postaleovar fricative, and the frequent use of
diminuitives based on "l" suffixes gives the dialect a very "soft" or "mild"
feel, that is often felt to be in sharp contrast to the harder varieties of
German spoken in the North.
Many Swabians feel that other Germans associate their dialect and melodic
style of intonation with simple-mindedness. They hence sometimes try to avoid it
outside Swabia, with varying success. Conversely, the Swabian chamber of
commerce was highly praised for its advertising campaign with the slogan: "We
can do anything. Except speak High German." The campaign was clever in boosting
Swabian pride for their dialect and industrial achievements.
"Wooden Heart (Muss I Denn)"
is a song best known for featuring in the
1960 Elvis Presley film G.I. Blues. The song was a hit for
Presley in the United Kingdom, making number one for six weeks, but wasn't
released as a single in the USA until November 1964 (as B-side to "Blue
Christmas"). Presley was pipped to the post in the U.S. by Joe Dowell's cover
version, which made number one at the end of August 1961.
"Wooden Heart", created by Fred Wise, Ben Weisman, Kay
Twomey and German bandleader Bert Kaempfert, was based on a German folk song, "Muß
i' denn zum Städtele hinaus". "Wooden Heart" features several lines from the
original folk song, written in the German dialect Swabian. Bobby
Vinton recorded his version in 1975 with those lines translated into Polish.