Accents are funny in any language. But some dialects are more likely to be the butt of humor than others. Plenty of Americans spend big money to shed those accents and avoid being the butt of jokes, or to avoid the class or ethnic discrimination they might face.
However, recent immigrants and rural residents aren’t the only groups who want to curtail their telltale accents for an easier time in social and business settings. Many Germans from Swabia, located in the state of Baden-Württemberg, are eager to ditch their characteristic way of speaking, a recent article in The Wall Street Journal revealed.
Swabians have a lot to be proud of in the economic arena. Unemployment is low and growth is high. Some of Germany’s largest and most successful businesses call the area home, like Porsche AG. After the financial crisis, Angela Merkel lauded the Swabian housewife as a model to follow.
At the same time, Swabians are known to have a strong accent, which has been described as “rustic,” “nauseated,” “annoying” or even “like Donald Duck talk.” Swabians relate episodes of being singled out for the way they speak.
Historian Gerhard Raff believes other Germans probably make fun of the Swabian accent out of jealousy towards the economic powerhouse. But malice isn’t involved in every case. Swabians also recount simply not being understood by native speakers from other regions of Germany.
It’s not just the accent’s fault; Swabian is one of the High German dialects from southern Germany. This means that some vocabulary differs from that used in Standard German.
Either way, speech therapist Ariane Willikonsky has been keen to lend a hand. Advertising her services on television, Willikonsky runs courses designed to help Swabians lose their distinctive accents.
However, not everyone in Swabia wants to shed their accent. The Supporters of the Swabian Dialect association has 1500 members and even regional sponsorships.
Of course it’s wise to remember that one way or another everyone has an accent. But readers, what are your favorite accents? The ones you’d go out of your way to listen to?