Akademie för uns kölsche Sproch (Kölsch Language Academy)

The Akademie för uns kölsche Sproch (Kölsch Language Academy) is committed to the preservation and the cultivation of an up-to-date Cologne regional language that is connected to the history and culture of the city of Cologne as well as to the varied ways of life of their residents.

Many books on a table
Photo: Susanne Fern

At the time that the Academy was founded, in 1983, it was already a matter of "maintaining the continued existence of one of the most distinctive, robust, and rich dialects". As such, the founding of the Academy was the result of a concern that the Kölsch language could eventually become extinct. Therefor the Academy wants to maintain and promote the Cologne regional language and . The institution uses this term because "Kölsch", in comparison to other dialects is easily learned by means of an authoritative standardization of grammar and orthography that the Academy has published. 

The Academy strives to continuously develop their programs in order to be of continual interest to the citizens of Cologne, and to remain as such in the future.

The Programs and Kölsch-AGs

The diverse programs at the Akademie för uns kölsche Sproch (Kölsch Language Academy) appeals to Cologners and non-Cologners alike, from primary school to seniors. 

Two men and two women are sitting at a table writing
The Kölsch programs are very popular with it's participants. Photo: Janet Sinica

Many adult participants begin the program with the morning introductory course, "E Häppche Kölsch", which stylishly concludes with a "Kölsch and Halven Hahn" (a Kölsch beer and a slice of rye bread, topped with aged Gouda cheese) and is always continually fully booked.

Every year, there are about 600 program participants, and between 90 and 100 people take the Kölsch language exam each year. For several years, it has been noted that younger people are increasingly signing up for the language program, many of which hail from around the world. So far, almost 100 students have reached the highest level of Kölsch studies, which is the Kölsch-Diplom (the Kölsch diploma). 

In the Kölsch-AGs, which the Academy holds at selected Cologne primary schools, children have the opportunity to learn a "new" language, namely Kölsch. There is a tremendous demand for this program. The school vacation programs, which draw on the "hometown" theme, originally developed from the idea of the Kölsch-AGs, and include themes such as Kölsch cuisine, an exploration of the Cologne Trail, a float-building competition for Cologne's Rose Monday Parade, or child-friendly city tours that playfully introduce children to the history of Cologne.

Linguistics and Publications

The core task of the Academy’s linguistics department is to standardize Kölsch vocabulary and grammar. The research undertaken by qualified German linguists has led to numerous publications that demonstrate a dedicated standardization of Kölsch and permit us today to speak of a distinct regional language rather than simply of a regional dialect.

Many books on a table
There are a variety of books about the Cologne regional language.

"Standard works" are the Kölsch Wörterbuch (Kölsch Dictionary) which provides spelling and grammar rules with explanations and the pronunciation according to the international phonetic alphabet, a concise grammar, the rules for written Kölsch, and two textbooks with accompanying CDs. In the late 1990s Alles Kölsch was published, representing the first modern language documentation based on tape recordings that offered an authentic insight into the life and linguistic realities of Cologners. In cooperation with Dabbelju Verlag the Academy realized the project Op Kölsch gesaht, which analysed the actual situation of the Kölsch language.

In addition to the linguistic publications, there are a variety of children's picture books, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books - all written in Kölsch, of course. The Academy also publishes the magazine Klaaf twice a year, which highlights current Cologne topics and important dates.

The Academy is continually looking for new digital publication platforms that appeal to younger and broader audiences. At the moment there are the highly successful software Navi op kölsch, the Kölsche Online-Wörterbuch (Kölsch Online Dictionary) and the Kölsche Lieder-Sammlung (Kölsche Song Collection) which includes over 13,000 texts, available on the Internet.

Library

The library serves as an excellent resource for anyone interested in Cologne, the Kölsch language, traditions, and regional history. The library boasts an impressive collection of nearly 20,000 books, over 900 films and 3,000 audiotapes. Since its founding the Academy has ensured that everyone is able to easily borrow books, CDs or DVDs - without registration and free of charge. Just come by the opening hours to rummage, browse, and borrow. The current library inventory is available in the online catalogue.

At the library of the Akademie för uns kölsche Sproch, everyone is able to easily borrow books, CDs or DVDs - without registration and free of charge. Photo: Susanne Fern

Events

In addition to the seminars, the events program further provides the Academy’s students additional opportunities.
The series Klaaf em Mediapark is very popular. Up to five times a year, authors, musicians and dialect actors present a varied program exclusively in the Kölsch language. At the Kölner Abend (Cologne Evening), Prof. Hans-Georg Bögner invites, together with radio presenter Monika Salchert, interesting Cologne personalities for discussions.

A man and a woman sitting on a red sofa and talk to each other
Prof. Hans-Georg Bögner talking to actress Annette Frier on the red, plush "comfy sofa".

Friends of the Kölsch Language Academy

The association Fründe vun der Akademie för uns kölsche Sproch e.V. (Friends of the Kölsch Language Academy) offers an attractive program with myriad activities such as choral singing, theater, Kölsch cuisine, as well as group trips and excursions for all those interested in the above!