Berlinerisch

I am keenly listening to people speak (German) around me. In part, I’m trying to point out dialect and accents to the girls, but I’m also fascinated by the extent to which (I imagine) Berlin dialect has changed.

In part because we moved to Berlin from West Germany, my childhood had very little Berlin dialect in it. Now, I hear it everywhere. It’s very hard to peg this to anything, but it seems that Berlinerisch is spoken more now than it was in the 1980s in West Berlin.

Of course, there is a clear dialect gradient from Western districts of the city to the East, especially the outlying Eastern areas where Berlinerisch is much more prevalent.

It’s also a different kind of Berlinerisch, I think.

The Berlin melody is much more prevalent, but some of the very noticeable, almost cliche markers are if not absent then pretty rare. I don’t hear much “ick” or “icke” for “ich” (I), and also few sentences ending in “wa?” (the Berliners’ “eh?”).

Grammar

Grammatical peculiarities seem to persist. For example, Berliners tend to overuse the past perfect constructions. Instead of the past perfect signalling a retelling of a past event in the past, the past perfect in Berlin is often substituted for a simple past tense.

Examples

Th. Fontane (author of Der Stechlin, among many others, cf. the namesake lake of Ingm’s school) would call these Berolinisms.

Some snippets I’ve picked up on the bus or elsewhere.

“Okay Trinchen, denn nochn juten Tach”

“Na, jeht doch!”

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