“Roti Rösli – Red Roses” – A Swiss Song with it’s English Translation

Julie Steiner has been kind enough to answer the request I posted a few days ago for the Swiss song Roti Rösli (Red Roses). Here it is in the original language, with an English translation…

Roti Rösli
(Swiss German Dialect)

Roti Rösli im Garte,
Maieriesli im Wald
Wänn de Wind chunt choge blase
so verwelked si bald

Chlini Fischli im Wasser,
grossi Fische im Meer
Hei lueg wie si gumped
und schwümed juhee

Liebi Sunne chum füre,
liebi Sune chum bald
Das mir chönd go spaziere
über Wiese und Wald

Red Roses

Red roses in the garden,
Lilies of the valley in the wood
When the wind comes blowing
They’ll fade soon.

Small fishes in the lake,
Big fishes in the sea
Hey look how they jump
And swim, yuhee!

Dear sun come forth,
Dear sun come soon
That we can go walking
Over meadow and wood.

Julie sent me the English translation. Here’s what she wrote about the dialect…

The dialect printed here is from Zurich, but it actually exists in all dialects (the words vary a little).

I know this because my mum and dad are originally from Bern and so my brother and I spoke the Bernese dialect until we went to school. As we lived in Zurich, we obviously learned the other dialect as well.

Normally there is no difficulty in understanding the different dialects (besides the ones they speak in the mountain regions, these are difficult to understand (even for Swiss people!). I don’t know exactly how many dialects of Swiss German exist, there are 21 cantons* in which German is spoken, but the dialects can differ even within one canton.

*Cantons are states or political divisions in Switzerland.

Many thanks to Julie for the translation and the interesting commentary!


Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World Switzerland Page for more Swiss Songs.

This article was posted on Wednesday, March 8th, 2006 at 5:47 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, German, Languages, Questions, Roti Rösli - Red Roses, Swiss Children's Songs, Swiss German Dialects, Switzerland. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

7 Responses to ““Roti Rösli – Red Roses” – A Swiss Song with it’s English Translation”

  1. Kerrie Harwood Says:

    I was reading about the Bernese dialect. My family came from the Bern section of Switzerland. My grandfather wasn’t allowed to learn the language as his mother was afraid it would confuse her children’s studies. In America. But, the rest of the relatives who came from Switzerland later, kept the language at home. Cousins tried to teach it to me from my youth, but without maintaineince on my part, I can barely pick through it. I can’t speak it. So, with that back ground, I find it interesting that the rose poem uses the word wold for wood. wold is wood in Old English. I did have to learn Old English in college and have been able to speak it for literary purposes. I’m told that there were some Vikings who settled in the Bernese area, how much of thier language filtered into the German, I wonder.

  2. Robin Bannister Says:

    The tune corresponds roughly to
    “Kommt ein Vöglein geflogen”

  3. Claudia Reymond Says:

    I am looking for the sountrack of Roti Roesli im Garten…can anyone help me ???

  4. Natascha Franco Says:

    Just found this website and I am grateful. It brings me back to the songs my mother and family used to sing to me in my youth. Rote Roesi is one that I am told I used to sing over and over and over again while playing in my grandfather’s yard in Olten. That Solothurner dialect would say “blohse” instead of “blase.” Like the post from 2006, I, too, have found some Swiss words in Old English texts, and, specifically, the words, “maun” (we must, we have to, “mir moen”) and “ufe” (“upstairs,” “up”). I noticed the same connection and guess that Swiss dialects mingled with that of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Further it’s evidence of just how far the dialect goes back. I’m trying to find a link between Old English and Swiss with the Swiss word for butter (ahnke or ahnkuh). German, English, and Dutch say “Butter,” but only Swiss says “ahnkuh.” It must be part of the old Swiss language. If anyone knows more of its etymology, then please post.

  5. MaFer Says:

    Hi! I’m doing a school project on children’s songs around the world, and I would be delighted if I could add this song, but I can’t find a recording :( is there anyone that could help me find one please? Thank you, have a good day :)

  6. Monique Says:

    You’ll find it all on Mama Lisa’s World’s Roti Rösli page

  7. Susan Says:

    My grandmother used to sing this song with a little bit different words. In the first verse, the last two lines were “in Sommer es is lustig, in der Winter, so kalt.”
    Then her second verse had something about the snow and spring.

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