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Typical Saxon

Dialect & Vernacular

The Saxon poet Lene Voigt

The Saxon poet Lene Voigt
(© Lene-Voigt-Gesellschaft)

Even a linguistic layman can tell the difference between different national and regional languages. The Saxon too, is readily identified by his dialect - often accompanied by biting mockery. And yet: the Saxon vernacular is one of the historical verbal forms - the highly acclaimed written language of Meissen, much praised by linguists of the 14th-18th centuries - and provided the basics for the later high German written and standard language, to which Luther's Bible translation was a huge contribution.

To describe the Saxon dialect, the softening of sounds is the first aspect to come to mind, for example a soft »B« sound replaces the sharper »P« sound, and a »D« sound replaces the »T«. The Saxon also doesn't much like word endings (an English equivalent: »no« instead of »not«), and vowels are changed and stretched. And then there are words that only another Saxon will know, e.g. »Huddelei« for »being in trouble«, or »Dämmse« for »extreme heat«. Saxon is a vernacular with strong regional influences (»regiolect«). The various dialects in particular provide a close connection to the upkeep of musical folk culture, which has survived in current culture.

An important linguistic component of the area of Saxony is the Sorb language, subdivided into Upper and Lower Sorb, as an individual Slavic language. In eastern Saxony, the bilingualism (Sorb and German) of the locals can be deduced from more than just the street signs (e.g. Bautzen – Budysin). About 1400 years ago, Slavic was the main language in almost all regions of today's Saxony, and in the Lausitz region, Sorb is still to this day an autonomous, living language.

Saxon Cuisine

Saxon cuisine offers a lot of variety and regional peculiarities. In the 18th century, the potatoe became the main staple for the people. Boiled, fried, deep fried, mashed, as dumplings, in soups or as French fries - potatoes in countless recipes and variations enrich the Saxon menu. Green dumplings or the »Bambes« (potatoe pancake), served in the Vogtland region with meat dishes, are a must for festive Saxon tables. The »Leipziger Allerlei« (Leipzig Potpourri) is a delicious vegetable side dish. Native herbs are often used to refine local dishes.

And a good wine from the Elbe Valley rounds off many a great Saxon meal. The smallest wine area of Germany, located between Meissen and Dresden, produces mostly white wines of the Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Burgundy, and Bacchus varieties. A regional speciality is the Golden Riesling. The winery Schloss Proschwitz is is an award winning producer of quality wines with the VDP seal, but also Schloss Wackerbarth and some small wineries have collected numerous awards for excellence. A great ice-breaker for sociable sit-downs are the many great Saxon beers, more often than not washed down with one of the popular local herb liqueurs. Radeberger beer, the first to be produced according to the Pilsener brewing method in Germany, even catered to Saxon royalty from 1905 onwards.

Fishery has a long-standing tradition in Saxony. The numerous managed ponds built around Moritzburg Castle over the centuries (from 1480 onwards), produce carp, tench, eel, and pike. More large-scale pond areas can be found in the Lausitz region, and around Wermsdorf. The annual surplus fishing at the ponds during autumn is celebrated in large folk festivals.

Since the culinary is always closely related to life style in general, table manners, and eating habits, Saxon cuisine can easily be categorised as »comfortably convivial«. The Saxons love their cup of »Heessen« (hot coffee), accompanied by a slice of Dresden »Eierschnecke« (cheesecake) or »Lerchen« the marzipan pastry, which is a favourite of Leipzig. Seasonal Christmas fruit cake is also very popular, and has conquered the world as the Dresdner Christstollen®, as did the spicy gingerbread from Pulsnitz.

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