A word or two about the Erzgebirge dialect. Not only do all corners of Germany have different accents, corners of corners even have different words, or pronounce words so differently that they sound like different words. I said before how Friedrichsgrün becomes da Grük to the locals in that part of the Erzgebirge section of Saxony; what I didn’t mention was that no one I asked knew why or how it became that, or even what it means.

After visiting St. Anne’s Church in Annaberg-Buchholz, I walked back up to the car, which we’d parked at a meter, drove down the hill to pick up Jackie and Fred, and continued down to the square, the Marktplatz at the center of all towns. We could easily have walked the three or four blocks down, but then it would’ve meant walking all the way back up. The road is that steep.

We parked in a garage under the square (parking is cheap throughout Germany; a couple hours parking for lunch ran about $3.50). In the square, we crossed over to a Ratskeller, scanned the menu posted outside, and went in. I wasn’t all that hungry and ordered the homemade potato soup with little carrot strips (Mörchchen, not Karotten—had to ask) and green onions. Delicious.

I asked, also, what was that traditional Neinerlaa, and Fred, who is from this area, laughed, because this was as Erzgebirgisch as you get. In Hochdeutsch it’d be Neunerlei, nine-fold. This was (the photo on the menu, below, shows it) duck with nine side dishes. Neinerlaa.

The rest room signs show another example. Instead of Damen and Herren or Frauen and Männer it’s Weibl and Mannl. Old-fashioned and off-beat. Singular and plural are the same, so wife or wives, man or men. Also, the ending is interesting. Words often have diminutive endings, –chen or –lein, making them dearer, so a girl, Mädel, could be Mädchen or Mädelein. Some places abbreviate the –lein to –le: Mädele. The Erzgebirge shortens even that: Weibl, Mannl. (I don’t know, do they have a Mädl?) One friendly aspect of the dialect to non-German speakers struggling with remembering the gender of articles (der, die, or das) is that they turn every article into a da. I could get used to that.

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