The gothic Dom cathedral, its medieval old town, the heart of the city that’s shaped like a half crescent, its fifth season ‘Karneval’ (the city’s most anticipated carnival where people party for six straight days), the thirst-quenching Kölsch beer, the jolly good people who are always in good spirits, the romantic Rhein river meandering through, Schlagermusik (folk party music) from Black Föös and Die Höhner, and its ‘Gemütlichkeit’ (cosy ambience – these are just some characteristics that gives Cologne its flair as one of the most attractive cities in Germany to live and play.
Another distinctive trait that makes this metropolis special is its dialect – Kölsch. While Kölsch is not taught in schools, it’s commonly used in the Schlagermusik and among the older folks who desire to retain the proud tradition. I wished it would have been easier to learn Kölsch than the standard German but after a Kölsch session with my in-laws during our recent roadtrip, the dialect proved to be harder than dancing to PSY.
The easiest part of learning Kölsch for me is probably its focus on articulating the ‘sch’, for example standard German (SG): ‘ich’, Kölsch: ‘isch’ and replacing the ‘pf’ with ‘p’, example SG: ‘Apfel’, Kölsch: ‘Appel’. It’s like Singlish in Singapore where the language is simplified and all extra consonant or vowels can be dropped. That said, I’ve picked up some Kölsch from Papa and Mama cool, and here’s a recap:
– Suffkopp: drunkard (‘suff’ comes from ‘saufen’ in SG which means to get wasted)
– Wie jeht et dir: how are you (wie geht es dir in SG)
– Jooden Morje: good morning (Guten Morgen in SG)
– Jooden Oovend: good evening (Guten Abend in SG)
– Jooden Daach: good day (Guten Tag in SG)
– Lecker Mätche: attractive gal (lecker Mädchen in SG)
– Isch wäis nit: i don’ know (ich weisse nicht in SG)
– Er hät en Eck aff: he’s silly (er ist bekloppt in SG)
– Isch han Doosch: i’ve thirst (ich habe Durst in SG)
– Kualmann: peeled and cooked potato (Pellkartoffeln in SG but still omigod, in a land where potato is THE staple, there is a word and name for every type of potato)
– Äadappel: potato (Kartoffel in SG)
– Hey wirste apfferzockt: you have been cheated (Du bist übers Ohr gehauen, du bist betrogen in SG)
– der Köbes: there isn’t a suitable English translation although in SG it is ‘Kellner’ and means waitor. In a Cologne pub or brewery, these are waitors with an attitude and you don’t get a drink until they serve you.
Kölsch is certainly a dialect with its own attitude and charm. Although it’s going to be an uphill task to grasp the language, I hope to retain some of these words in my limited mental hard disk for the next family gathering in Germany! If you have any Kölsch words to share, just leave me a comment. Nix bliev wie et wor!