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Bavarian Folktales/Bayerische Volksmärchen

Hello German learners,

While not studying German myself, I have a book in my library that I figured of possible interest to you too, if it suits your taste. In the 1850's a man called Franz Xaver von Schönwerth started to collect folktales from his native region of Oberpfalz, a part of Bavaria. Some of the material was published at the time, most of it wasn't. Some years ago his vast collection (thousands of pages of notes in thirty boxes) was rediscovered in an archive, which caused quite some excitement, because although folklore gained a lot of interest in the romantic nationalism of the first 2/3rds of the 19th century, the Grimm brothers (with their at times highly romanticised and polished versions) took center stage with their publications, so it's a treasure to find another wealth of stories collected just a couple of 100 kilometres from where the Grimms were based.

In 2014, M. Charlotte Wolf published 150 stories from the collection in a dual-language book, called "Original Bavarian Folktales, a Schönwerth selection / Original Bayerische Volksmärchen, ausgewählte Schönwerth-Geschichten". The left page contains the german text, while the right page contains the same text in english. Because they are folktales, the texts are often short and the language used not too complicated.

I thought it might make an interesting read for some of you, as it combines the language with some of the old folk beliefs and stories from a part of Germany, in easy accessible form.

One note though: while it contains a lot of lovely stories (imaginative and closely-linked to beliefs and folktales from other parts of Europe like Scandinavia and the Netherlands), most of the material does not fall in the "rosey fairy tale" category, these are folktales, rough and at times small-minded, hateful and prejudiced (there are for example several stories about the evil of witches).

There are btw. several other publications made by the publisher in this dual-language format, like "Selected Folktales" from Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, and several poetry collections. But I don't own those, so I can't comment on their contents.

May 12, 2017



You seem like you're quite knowledgeable about German when you're not even studying it. Impressive! Thank you for the recommendation.


Thank you! I have an interest in and done some research on Scandinavian/German/Dutch folk tales and beliefs. My brief years of having German lessons in High school and being a native Dutch speaker gave me just enough familiarity with German to plough through some of the material I was looking at.

(The harder my German teacher emphasised that German is just like Dutch, the harder my grades dropped. But having a Dutch basis actually does help in understanding German, especially when for example the Grimms use some words in Low German, which is related to Dutch.)

Anyway, if you're going to read read Original Bavarian Folktales, enjoy!


Thank you for the recommendation - it will be a boon to dunderheads like myself who keep studying but not getting very far. :(


I hope you'll find it helpful and that it gives you a bit of a feeling you are actually getting somewhere. If not, don't give up, there are so many types and levels of sources available to familiarise yourself with the language.

Maybe you're not a fluent speaker and understander of German (yet), but learning a language takes time and a lot of submersion. At level 23, you might not feel you're getting very far, but you've already have more grasp of the basics than you had at level 1. That's something to build on.

Good luck with your study!


I appreciate your encouragement - just wish my memory would not let me down. Italian is so much easier ... I think German is a language one should learn as a child - like my granddaughter who is bilingual.


Ah yes, it can be very disheartening to try to learn when your memory lets you down. It means it goes sloooow, with many mistakes. In my experience, patience is key (patience with the learning speed and patience with yourself and your brain), together with repeating stuff in a fun and non-pressured way.

I've had italian lessons for several weeks once, and the language just refused to stick in my brain then. So I'm actually impressed that you are finding it "so much easier" than German.


for absolutely no reason everyone gets a lingot



And thank you too other lingot-givers. It gave me the opportunity to get the how-to-be-awkward-in-French expansion (aka "flirting").

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