What Does Swabia Mean? About Swabian German

What Does Swabia Mean?

We have many German ancestors from Swabia, so I have often wondered what Swabia means? Or where was Swabia?

Swabia is a region in southern Germany; the people in this region speak Swabian German. Though the region is today part of modern-day Germany, historically and culturally, it was different. The name Swabia came from the Duchy of Swabia.

The Meaning Of Swabia

Swabia or Schwaben is a historic cultural region in southwestern Germany that today includes mainly the former German State of Württemberg and Bavarian parts. The people in the Swabia region speak a German dialect that is known as Swabian German.

Swabia comes from Suebi, a Germanic people who occupied the Rhine and upper Danube region in the 3rd Century; eventually, they spread to Lake Constance and east to the Lech River. Since the 11th century, this area was known as Swabia.

Like most things in Europe, the name Swabia is rich within Europe’s history. Swabia’s name comes from the name of the Duchy of Swabia, which was one of the five great Stamm or tribes of Germany in medieval times. The Swabian name has been used since medieval times.

Here are some facts about Swabia:

  • Duchy of Swabia – The name Swabia comes from the Duchy of Swabia, one of the German medieval tribes.
  • Capital – The capital of Swabia is considered Stuttgart; Stuttgart is also in the heart of the modern-day Swabian Region.
  • Baden- Württemberg – Only the former Württemberg part of Germany is actually in Swabia and not Baden. To find out more about the history of Württemberg, you can read A History of The Kingdom of Württemberg – Germany by clicking here.
  • Swabian League of Cities – In 1331, the Swabian League of Cities was formed. This league had 22 imperial cities that band together as allies.
  • Swabian Kreis – The Swabian Kreis (Circle or administration district) was one of the German-speaking districts divided from the 16th Century. This Swabian Kreis lasted until 1806, when the Holy Roman Empire dissolved.
  • Swabian German – Even today, the people in this region will speak a dialect of Swabian German.

The Swabian Culture

The Swabians are conscientious, persistent, careful, tidy, hard-working, thrifty, prudent, inventive, and well organized. In fact, even in Germany today, many will use the word “miserly” to describe the Swabians.

Here are somethings to understand about Swabia:

  • About 54% of all Swabians greet each other in German with “Grüss Gott” or “meaning God to be with you.”
  • Many Swabians belong to a church and believe there is a life after death and heaven and hell.
  • More children learn a musical instrument in Swabia than in other parts of Germany.
  • 8 million Swabians are living in Germany.
  • Swabians are very proud of their Swabian heritage. There was an advertising campaign with a slogan that said “Wir können allies. Außer Hochdeutsch,” which means we can do anything but speak standard German.
  • Swabians claim to have invented the car, the newspaper, bras. 
  • Albert Einstein was Swabian.
  • Mercedes and Porsche are both Swabian companies.
  • The Swabians have what is called “Kehrwoche,” a Swabian law from 1492 about people being responsible for keeping all public areas clean and tidy.
  • The Swabians are considered to be thrifty and hardworking. One of the Swabian mottos is “schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue” which means “work, work, build a house.”

The Hummels have ancestors who are from outside Stuttgart, Germany. In his personal history, my grandfather Arthur William Hummel spoke about his Swabian grandmother Maria Strecker.

“I remember Grandmother Hummel (Maria Strecker Hummel) very well, during the first twelve years of my life. Most of all, I remember her distinct Schwabian accent which had the lilt and the faithfulness of characteristics of spoken German in the Stuttgart area. Southern and northern branches of my German ancestry represented quite different types of mind and temper. My brother and I learned to accommodate ourselves to both types.

The Swabians of Stuttgart have in their natures what the Germans call “gemuetlichkeit,” an easy-going disposition, a freedom from too much care, marked by patience and cheerfulness.

Another word for this German word “gelassenheit”, is letting things be, which is not far removed from the philosophy which I later came to know in China, and which there is called Taoism. Taoism is a philosophy of laissez-faire or letting alone. One aspect of it may be summed up under the words ‘ride on whatever you meet.’

This easy-going way of life my brother and I always met when, during the first eighteen years of our lives we went on Saturday and other days, too, to the Hummel farm in Truesdale, Missouri, which is one mile from the town of Warrenton, where my mother lived.

Dr. Arthur William Hummel, Sr

The Swabian Language

Like many people, I assumed that German was just one language and everyone could easily understand each other, but the truth is there are many different dialects of German.

Swabian German can be difficult for speakers of standard German to understand. This is because the Swabian and German’s pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary are different.

The chart below illustrates some of these differences:

English WordGermanSwabian
Strawberry JamErdbeermarmeladeBräschdlingsgsälz
TrainZugZigle
HouseHausHäusle
GuyKerlKerle
GirlMädchenMädle
TreeBaumBaimle
German Vs Swabian German

To further illustrate this, below is a really great video that shows some of the different German dialects including Swabian:

Different German Dialects

Swabia is a part of Germany that has a rich culture and heritage. It is a culture that has been around for thousands of years, and we are proud to have many members of the Hummel Family from this region of Germany.

Related Questions

How Can I Discover My Family History?

Finding your family history is quite easy if you follow eight basic tips as 1) get yourself organized, 2) start with your immediate family, 3) talk to your oldest living relative, 4) consult a Family History expert, 5) put your family tree online, 6) check online sources, 7) get an Ancestry DNA test and the 8) join family history groups on social media. Discovering your family history can help you discover a lot about yourself and your own family; it is a journey of discovery that is both fun and exciting.

You can learn more by reading 8 Tips to Help You Discover Your Family History by clicking here.

What Are The Benefits From Knowing Your Family History?

Some of the benefits of researching your family history include 1) it helps give you a self-identit3y, 2) you discover your cultural heritage, 3) will increase your overall happiness, 4) teaches resilience, 5) helps us understand what it means to be human, 6) helps you connect with your family and 7) helps you understand more about your family’s history of health issues.

You can discover more by reading What Are The Benefits From Knowing Your Family History? by clicking here.

Anita Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Hummel. I live in Hanoi, Vietnam. I love to share with you about my family history and the many parts of the world our ancestors have lived.

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What Does Swabia Mean?