Missingsch (German pronunciation: [ˈmɪsɪŋʃ]) is a type of Low-German-coloured dialect or sociolect of German. It is characterised by Low-German-type structures and the presence of numerous calques and loanwords from Low German in High German.
Missingsch is not a dialect of Low German. Furthermore, it is also not simply High German with a Low German accent, as it is often described. Its Low German/Low Saxon influences are not restricted to its phonology but involve morphological and syntactic structures (sentence construction) and its lexicon (vocabulary) as well. It is a type of German variety with the minimally qualifying characteristic of a clearly noticeable Low German/Low Saxon substratum.
Perhaps the best-known remaining domain of Missingsch is that of "Klein Erna jokes" — usually told entirely in Missingsch — in which laconic humour glorifies low-class wit and comments on working class conditions; e.g.
Mamma aus’n Fenster: "Klein Erna, muscha die Katze nich immer an Schwanz ziehn!" Klein Erna: "Tu ich scha auch gaa nich. Die Katze zieht immer, ich halt ihr bloß fest!" (Mum callin‘ down from the window: "Li’l Erna, stop pullin‘ the cat’s tail, will ya?!" Li’l Erna: "But it ain’t me doin‘ it! The cat keeps pullin‘. I’m jus‘ holdin‘ ‚er.")
Mamma: "Klein Erna, komm ra-auf, Füße waschen, Mamma braucht die Kumme gleich zu Sala-at!" (Mum: "Li’l Erna, come on upstai-airs! Time to wash yer fee-eet! Mum needs the bowl for saaalad!")
Klein Erna geht mit ihr’n Heini in Dunkeln spazieren. Und wie sie inne Gegend von Bismarckdenkmal sind und ‚n büschen rumknutschen, sagt Klein Erna mit’n mal: "Heini, wis ma sehn, wo ich an Blinddaam opariert bin?" "O ja, Klein Erna, zeig mal her!" "Kuck mal, da unten, wo die vielen Lichter brennen, da is das Hafenkrankenhaus. Da bin ich an Blinddaam opariert!" (Li’l Erna’s walkin‘ with ‚er Ricky in the dark. An‘ as they’re by the Bismarck Memorial an‘ are doin‘ a bit o‘ knoodlin‘, says Erna, "Say, Ricky, d’ya wanna see where I had my appendix out?" "Oh, yes, Li’l Erna. Come on! Show me!" "Look, down there, where all the lights are, that’s where the Harbour Hospital is. That’s where I had my appendix out.")
The name Missingsch refers to the city of Meissen (Meißen), which lies outside the traditional Saxon-speaking region (although the state in which it is situated at one time acquired the misleading name Saxony, originally the name of what is now Northern Germany). Meissen’s Central German dialect was considered exemplary and was highly influential between the fifteenth century and the establishment of Modern Standard German. The name Missingsch is the Low Saxon equivalent of what in German is Meißnerisch, rather than, as often stated, derived from the German name Meißnerisch.