Infobox Language
region=Bavaria (Germany), Austria, Bolzano-Bozen (Italy)
speakers=12 million
fam3=West Germanic
fam4=High German
fam5=Upper German

Austro-Bavarian or Bavarian is a major group of Upper German varieties. Like standard German, Austro-Bavarian is a High German language, but they are not the same language. However, Austro-Bavarian and Standard German have influenced each other and the vast majority of Austro-Bavarian speakers speak Standard German as well.

Austro-Bavarian is also used to refer to the dialect group which includes the Austro-Bavarian dialect discussed here, as well as the Cimbrian, Hutterite German, and Mócheno dialects of German.

History and origin

The Austro-Bavarian language has its origins in the Germanic tribe known as the Bavarii, who established a tribal duchy, which covered much of what is today Bavaria and some of Austria in the early Middle Ages and was eventually subdued by Charlemagne. However, they gradually migrated down the Danube and into the Alps to all those areas where Austro-Bavarian dialects are spoken.

In German, there is usually a difference made between "bairisch" (referring to the language) and "bayerisch" (referring to the state of Bavaria and used in the name of BMW). Because of King Ludwig I's passion for everything Hellenic, the German name for Bavaria today is spelled "Bayern", while the language spoken there has retained its original spelling "Bairisch"—note the "I" versus the "Hellenic" "Y."


The SIL code for Bavarian language is BAR. It has no ISO 639 code of its own, but is classified under the "Germanic (Other)" collective language code "gem". Genetically, Bavarian is part of the Upper German family along with Alemannic (which includes Swabian and Swiss German), whereas Standard German is part of the Middle German family, closer to Saxon.

Regions where Austro-Bavarian is spoken

*in Bavaria:
**in Upper Bavaria
**in Lower Bavaria
**in the Upper Palatinate
*in Austria:
**in all parts of the country with the exception of the state of Vorarlberg and parts of the Reutte district in Tirol, where an Alemannic dialect is spoken.
*in Switzerland:
**in the village of Samnaun, in Graubünden.
*in Italy:
**in the province of Bolzano-Bozen (South Tyrol)


There are three main dialect groups in Austro-Bavarian:
* Northern Austro-Bavarian, also spoken in the Upper Franconian district of Wunsiedel);
* Central Austro-Bavarian (along the main rivers Isar and Danube, spoken in Munich (by 20% of the People), Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, southern Upper Palatinate, the Swabian district of Aichach, the northern parts of the State of Salzburg, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Vienna ("see Viennese German") and the Northern Burgenland)
* Southern Austro-Bavarian (in Tyrol, Bolzano-Bozen, Carinthia, Styria, and the southern parts of Salzburg and Burgenland).

There are clearly noticeable differences within those three subgroups, which in Austria often coincide with the borders of the particular states. For example, each of the accents of Carinthia, Styria and Tyrol can be easily recognised. Also there is a marked difference between Eastern and Western Central Austro-Bavarian, roughly coinciding with the border between Austria and Bavaria. In addition, the Viennese dialect has some characteristics distinguishing it from all other dialects.

However, the various Austro-Bavarian dialects are normally mutually intelligible, with the possible exception of some versions of Tyrolean.


All Bavarians and Austrians can read, write and understand standard German but, as a phenomenon, many people, especially in rural areas, have little opportunity to speak it at all. In those regions standard German is the "written language". Often even referred to as "Schriftdeutsch" (written German) instead of "Hochdeutsch" (High German resp. standard German) while Bavarian is the commonly spoken language.Note that students have to write standard German at school. Since many students are from other parts of Germany and therefore speak other dialects, most younger people in Munich, Vienna and other larger towns speak standard German with only a slight accent (if at all).

Although there exist grammars, vocabularies, and a translation of the Bible, there is no common standard for how to write the language. There is poetry written in various Austro-Bavarian dialects, and many pop songs use the language as well, especially ones belonging to the Austropop wave of the 1970s and 1980s.

Although Austro-Bavarian as a spoken language is in daily use in its region, standard German is preferred in the mass media. However the variety of standard German used in the media and in education is strongly influenced by Austro-Bavarian.

On the use of Austro-Bavarian and standard German in Austria "see" Austrian German.

There exist only very few forms of the simple past in Austro-Bavarian (e.g. "i war" = I was; "i wuit" = I wanted), most of the verbs are used only in the perfect when a past tense is required.

Bavarians usually cultivate a large variety of nicknames for those who bear traditional Bavarian or German names like Joseph, Theresa or Edmund (becoming "Sepp'l" or more common "Sepp", "Resi" and "Ede" respectively). Note that Bavarians often refer to names with the family name coming first (like "Stoiber Ede" instead of Edmund Stoiber).

In most cases, it is difficult for strangers to distinguish between Austrians and Bavarians by language since they have common ancestry.

Written Bavarian and Austrian

ee also

* Austrian German
* Viennese German

External links

* [ Ethnologue report for Austro-Bavarian] The statement »News broadcasts in German are understood poorly by some of the [Austrian] population« is plain wrong.
* [ Bavarian - English Dictionary] from [ Webster's Online Dictionary] - the Rosetta Edition

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