Riograndenser Hunsrückisch German

Riograndenser Hunsrückisch
Pronunciation [hunsɾɪk]
Native to Brazil
Native speakers
Official status
Official language in


Language codes
ISO 639-3 hrx
Glottolog riog1239[3]

Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, spoken in parts of Brazil, is a Moselle Franconian variety derived primarily from the Hunsrückisch dialect of West Central German.

Riograndenser Hunsrückisch developed from the Hunsrückisch dialect when immigrants from the Hunsrück region of Germany (Rhineland-Palatinate) settled in southern regions such as Rio Grande do Sul, starting by imperial designs in 1824 (these later became projects controlled by states and finally by private European investment enterprises).

While primarily based on the Hunsrückisch branch of the German language it has also been greatly influenced by other German dialects such as East Pomeranian and Plautdietsch and by Portuguese, the national language of Brazil and, to a lesser extent, by indigenous languages such as Kaingang and Guarani and by immigrant languages such as Italian and Talian.

Portuguese expressions and words are commonly imported into Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, particularly in reference to fauna and flora (which are different from that of Germany) and to technological innovations that did not exist when the original immigrants came to Brazil, leading to words like Aviong for airplane (Portuguese avião) instead of Flugzeug, Kamiong (Pt. caminhão, truck) instead of Lastwagen, Televisong (Pt. televisão) instead of Fernseher, etc. Daily expressions are often calques (literal translations) of Portuguese.

Also common are the use of German suffixes attached to Portuguese words, such as Canecache, "little mug", from Portuguese caneca, "mug", and German diminutive suffix chen (-che in Riograndenser Hunsrückisch); hybrid forms such as Schuhloja, "shoe shop", from German Schuh and Portuguese loja, and Germanized forms of Portuguese verbs: lembreere, "to remember"; namoreere "to flirt"; respondeere, "to answer" (Portuguese lembrar, namorar, and responder). However, regardless of these borrowings, its grammar and vocabulary are still largely German.

Although Riograndenser Hunsrückisch is the most common German dialect in south Brazil, the use of this language—particularly in the last three to four generations—continues to decrease.

Notable speakers

Recent Roman Catholic papal candidate Odilo Scherer[4] of Cerro Largo, located in the northwest of Rio Grande do Sul, like many from his native region grew up with this language, side-by-side with Portuguese, the national language.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of Montenegro, Rio Grande do Sul (in the Altkolonie region of the state), grew up speaking Portuguese together with this regional variety of German.[5]

According to the famous world model Gisele Bündchen her parents and siblings still speak this Brazilian regional variety of German, although, also according to her, she has forgotten everything herself.[6]

During an interview in 2011, renowned Brazilian writer, translator and international relations professor Aldyr Schlee talked in detail about having been an eyewitness to the repression of the German language in his native state of Rio Grande do Sul during World War II.

Approximate distribution of native speakers of German or a German variety outside Europe
(according to Ethnologue 2016[7] unless referenced otherwise)
Numbers of speakers should not be summed up per country, as they most likely overlap considerably.
Table includes varieties with disputed statuses as separate language.
Standard German Hunsrik/Hunsrückisch Low German&Plautdietsch Pennsylvania Dutch Hutterite
Costa RicaN/AN/A2,000N/AN/A
New Zealand36,000N/AN/AN/AN/A
South Africa12,000N/AN/AN/AN/A
United States1,104,354[8]N/A12,000118,00010,800



Spelling (Altenhofen et al.) [10]AOOEIAUEE, EE, EHEEEII, IEOO, OHEUUU, UH


Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Plosive ⟨ph⟩ ⟨p⟩ /pʰ/, ⟨p⟩ ⟨b⟩ /p/ ⟨th⟩ ⟨t⟩ /tʰ/, ⟨t⟩ ⟨d⟩ /t/ ⟨kh⟩ ⟨k⟩ /kʰ/, ⟨k⟩ ⟨g⟩ /k/
Affricate ⟨ts⟩ ⟨z, tz⟩ /ts/ ⟨tx⟩ ⟨tsch⟩ /tʃ/
Fricative ⟨f⟩ ⟨f, v⟩ /f/, ⟨w⟩ ⟨w⟩ /v/ ⟨s⟩ ⟨s, ss⟩ /s/ ⟨x⟩ ⟨sch⟩ /ʃ/ ⟨c⟩ ⟨ch⟩ /ç/ ⟨ch⟩ ⟨ch⟩ /χ~x/ ⟨h⟩ ⟨h⟩ /h/
Nasal ⟨m⟩ ⟨m⟩ /m/ ⟨n⟩ ⟨m⟩ /n/ ⟨ng, n⟩ ⟨ng, n⟩ /ŋ/
Approximant ⟨l⟩ ⟨l⟩ /l/ ⟨y⟩ ⟨j⟩ /j/
Rhotic ⟨r⟩ ⟨r⟩ /ɾ/

Orthography between plain angle brackets follows Wiesemann's[9] orthography and between italic angle brackets follows Altenhofen et al.'s[10] orthography.

The contrast between plosives is not of voice, but of articulatory force, a phenomenon observed in some other dialects of German.


Chapter 23, 1–5 of Luke's Gospel in Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, according to Dr. Ursula Wiesemann's[9] orthography:

Yeesus un Pilatos

23 Too sin ti kanse layt uf kextii, hon Yeesus pis Pilatos kenom un hon aan kefang aan se këwe un saare: 2 Mëyer hon too te man aan ketrof unser folek am uf hëtse. Tee is te keeche em khayser xtayer petsaale un saat wëyer te Mësiias un Kheenich. 3 Too hot te Pilatos kefroot: Pixt tu te Yute sayne Kheenich? Is woer, hot Yeesus keantwort. 4 Too hot Pilatos fer te hooche priister un tsum folek kesaat: Ich khan khee xult an tëm man fine! 5 Awer tii hon aan kehal un hon kesaat: Tee tuut unortnung aan richte unich em folek mit sayn untricht iweraal in Yuteeya. In Kalileeya hot er aan kefang, un yëts is er too pay uns.

The same text in Standard German:

23 Und die ganze Versammlung stand auf, und sie führten ihn vor Pilatus. 2 Sie fingen aber an, ihn zu verklagen und sprachen: Wir haben gefunden, dass dieser das Volk verführt und es davon abhalten will, dem Kaiser die Steuern zu zahlen. Er behauptet, er sei Christus, der König. 3 Da fragte ihn Pilatus und sprach: Bist du der König der Juden? Er antwortete ihm und sprach: Du sagst es! 4 Da sprach Pilatus zu den obersten Priestern und der Volksmenge: Ich finde keine Schuld an diesem Menschen! 5 Sie aber bestanden darauf und sprachen: Er wiegelt das Volk auf, indem er in ganz Judäa lehrt, angefangen in Galiläa bis hierher![11]

(23 Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king." 3 And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." 4 And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, "I find no crime in this man." 5 But they were urgent, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.")

See also


  1. Hunsrik, Ethnologue (2016).
  2. Instituto de Investigação e Desenvolvimento em Política Linguística - List of Brazilian municipalities with co-official languages, including Standard German as well as its dialects Hunsrückisch & Pomeranian
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Riograndenser Hunsrückisch". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. BBC BRASIL: Aldeira de antepassados alemães torce para Scherer ser papa March 11, 2013.
  5. Kardinal Hummes kehrt in den Hunsrück zurück. Newspaper Rhein-Zeitung: Buch, Hunsrück, 07/05/2012
  6. "Gisele Bündchen: "Brazil Should Become World Champion"". Deutsche Welle. 27 May 2006. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  7. Ethnologue 19th Edition (2016)
  8. U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration - Language Use in the United States: 2007
  9. 1 2 3 Wiesemann, U. 2008. Contribuição ao desenvolvimento de uma ortografia da língua Hunsrik falada na América do Sul. Associação Internacional de Linguística—SIL Brasil, Cuiabá.
  10. 1 2 Altenhofen, C. V.; Frey, J.; Käfer, M. L.; Klassmann, M. S.; Neumann, G. R.; Spinassé, K. P. 2007. Fundamentos para uma escrita do Hunsrückisch falado no Brasil. Revista Contingentia, 2: 73-87.
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