Language Map of the Volga German Mother Colonies
by Georg Dinges, 1923

Instructions for Using the Map:

Dinges identifies the dialect features of Volga German Mother Colonies by using complex symbols and color to describe how key words are pronounced. To understand the dialect features of a particular village, you have to deconstruct the symbol.

Dinges builds his complex map symbols for describing Volga German dialect features through combinations of the following pieces:

Red Place NameLow German initial "p" (pund, peper) is pronounced "f" (funt, feffer).
Blue Place NameLow German initial "p" (pund, peper) is also pronounced "p" (punt, peffer).
Blue/Red Place NameWhere Low German has an initial "p" (pund, peper) some words begin with "p" and some with "f" (funt, peffer).
Where Middle High German has an initial "e-i" (se-ife, ke-in), this is pronounced "ee" or "ei" (seef, kee)
Where Middle High German has an initial "e-i" (se-ife, ke-in), this is pronounced "ai" and "ee" (saif, kee)
Where Middle High German has an initial "e-i" (se-ife, ke-in) äi, this is pronounced "aa" (saaf, kaa'). Stahl on the Tarlyk [river] has hoas for "heiß" [hot], aaeir "Eier", tswaa "zwei", kloader "Kleider" , hoam "heim".
Middle High German "ou" (koufen) is pronounced "ou" (koufe, goufn)
Middle High German "ou" (koufen) is pronounced "au" (kaufe)
Middle High German ou (koufen) is pronounced "aa" (kaafe)
Word-final "n" in unstressed syllables is retained only after "r" (fahrn, "fahren" Ohrn "Ohren").
In all other villages for which there is information, -n is lost. That is: fahre, ohre, hole
Word-final "n" is retained (goufn fohrn "fahren" gohlen "Kohlen"
Word-final "en" is lost on past participle verb forms (i.e Dinges' "Mittelworte der Vergangenheit") gebroch "gebrochen" geschtol "gestohlen"
-d- or -t- is still pronounced like -r- boren "Boden" ruure "rote" hore "hat er". This characteristic is not consistently observed in the indicated locations.
Middle High German "oo" (groos, doot) is pronounced "uu" (gruus, duut). For Müller and Preuß groos and doot have been observed. In all other High German villages groos, doot.
Middle High German "ee" (wee, schnee) is pronounced "ii" (wih, schnii). For Müller, Kraft, Kutkus weh, schnee have been observed. In all other High German villages weh, Schnee.
Middle High German "öö" (bööse, schööne) is pronounced "ii" (biis, schii'). For Kraft and Bangert only bees "böse" is known. For Huck just bees, schee' but for that hiicher, griißer. Räb just knows schee' "schön". In all other High German villages bees, schee'.
___________Middle High German uo, ie, üe (guot, bruoder; li-eb, bri-ef; müede, küe) is pronounced ou (au) e-i (äi), oi (gout, brouder, brourer; läib, bräif, moid, koih). In all other High German villages lieb, brief, guut, miid.
___ ___ ___Middle High German iu (from uu in hiuser and from iu in liuti) is pronounced oi (hoiser, loit). In all other High German villages lait, haiser.
___________ -st-, -st is pronounced scht (gehscht de "gehst du"; du bischt "du bist".)
___________ k- is pronounced g- (Gind "Kind" goufen "kaufen".)
Wachsen is pronounced wokse.     Wachsen is pronounced woose, wose.
  In all other High German villages wachsen is pronounced waksen, wakse.

Low German (Mennonite) Villages

Dinges' key words (from Wenker sentences) in standard German and English:

Pfund "pound"
Pfeffer "pepper"
Seife "soap"
kein "no one, none"
heiß "hot"
Eier "eggs"
zwei "two"
Kleider "clothing"
heim "home"
kaufen "to buy"
fahren "to go, travel"
Ohren "ears"
Kohlen "coals"
gebrochen "broken"
gestohlen "stolen"
Boden "ground"
rot(e) "red"
hat er "he has" (word order used in a question)
groß "big"
tot "dead"
weh "sore"
Schnee "snow"
böse "angry"
schön "nice, pretty"
gut "good"
Bruder "brother"
lieb "dear"
Brief "letter"
müde "tired"
Kühe "cows"
Leute "people"
Häuser "houses"
gehst du "you go"(word order used in a question)
du bist "you are"
Kind"child"


An example:

Schönchen is among the northernmost group of villages along the Volga on the Wiesenseite (meadow side) south of Wolsk. The symbol shows a completely-filled blue circle with a black "x" behind it. The village name is in blue.
A left-filled blue semicircle means Seife "soap" is pronounced "saaf" and kein "no, none" is pronounce kaa'(i.e. with nasalization on the final vowel in Dinges' example).
The right semicircle is also blue. This means koufen "to buy" is pronounced kaafe. The final -n is lost.
The black "x", however, behind the circle means that there is an exception to when word final -n is lost. When word-final -n follows r, it is not lost, for example: fahrn "to go, travel", Ohrn "ears".
The blue village name means that the speakers in Schönchen pronounce the initial p in Pfund "pound" and Pfeffer "pepper" like Low German 'p' Pund, Peffer and not like 'f'. The lack of an arc on the left side of the blue circle means gross "big" is pronounced groos ['oo' like the vowel in goat] and tot "dead" is pronounced doot.
The lack of an arc on the right side of the blue circle means weh "woe" is pronounced wee ['ee' like the vowel in date] and Schnee "snow" is pronounced schnee.
The lack of an arc at the bottom of the circle means the vowel in böse "angry, mean" is pronounced ee ['ee' like the vowel in date] and schön "nice" is pronounced schee' (i.e with nasalization on the final vowel in Dinges' example).
The village name is not underlined at all. This means gut "good" is pronounced gut, lieb "dear" is pronounced lieb [presumably liib], Brief "letter" is pronounced Brief [presumably Briif], müde "tired" is pronounced miid, Leute "people" is pronounced Lait, Häuser "houses" is pronounced Haiser. The 's' in du bist "you are" is pronounced like 's' and not like 'sh'. Similarly word-initial k- in a word like kaufen "to buy" remains a k-, koufen, and not a g-.
There is no small black circle above the main blue circle, so wachsen "to grow" is pronounced wachse (remember, word final -n is lost if no 'r' precedes it).

In Dinges' accompanying map of German dialects, Schönchen's dialect characteristics show them to fall within the blue-outlined area of the German homeland which is identified as West Middle German, Rhenish-Franconian.

This page was last updated on April 16, 2007