A language lesson

November 20th, 2008

Well I’m exhausted and I’ve got nothing today. Luckily for me, Trish asked in comments to this post how one pronounces Chlyni. Yay, a topic for today’s post! Thanks, Trish!

Chlyni Ma is Swiss for kleiner Mann, which is German for little man. The German klein is pronounced like Calvin Klein, or Kevin Kline. The Swiss is pronounced like clean. Or sometimes drop the final -n. The Swiss also drop the final -n in Mann and just say Ma . Actually that last sentence should read “The Bernese Swiss also drop the final -n in Mann” because┬áthere are, depending on who you listen to a few dozen Swiss-German dialects or almost one-hundred of them. Anything I say about “Swiss” should be taken to mean “Swiss as spoken by German-speaking Swiss born and raised in the Canton of Bern (but not coming from a small mountain village or valley because they kind of have their own dialects too) and I can’t be held responsible for how people in Zurich or Basel or heaven forbid the Wallis might pronounce this.”

(Yeah, this is why I speak what is called written German – the German learned in school, the German as spoken by (most) Germans in Germany and not Swiss. Though I do understand Swiss.)

So Happy Birthday Chlyni Ma translates to Happy Birthday, Little Man and is pronounced Happy Birthday klee-knee ma.

One Response to “A language lesson”

  1. Trish on November 21, 2008 10:02 am

    Thank you for that little lesson! I had no idea there were so many different Swiss-German dialects. There’s a reason I want to spend some time living in Europe – cure me of my ignorance.

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