German Language Overview

With more than 120 million people speaking the German language in more than 8 countries of the world, it is hardly surprising that the actual usage of German language varies.

What is Standard German?

Standard German is the "pure, dialect-free pronunciation of German" (Brockhaus).

The development of Standard German:

Standard German did not develop out of one regional dialect but was artificially created by poets, philosophers and scholars. In the 16th century Martin Luther translated the ‘The Holy Bible’ into a German language as devoid as possible of regional features by consciously merging dialects. He wanted as many people as possible to understand the text of the German Bible. The 18th century with Goethe and Schiller at their zenith brought about a further standardization of the German langage.

Which German is spoken in Austria?

The language spoken in Austria is German. It is a correct and pure form of German that is melodious and pleasant to the ear. German as used in Austria strongly resembles the German as used in Southern Germany. The differences are often exaggerated and are considerably less than the linguistic divergence of Germany's North. (See map) recommends:

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Map of German usage:

Deutsche Varietäten, Dialekte, Hochdeutsch, Benrath Linie

Low German (Northern Germany): This region did not take part in the second sound shift. It strongly derivates from the German as used below the Benrath line (marked red)! Middle German (Central Germany) and High German (Southern Germany, Bavaria and Austria) strongly resemble each other and have been the foundation of standard German. Switzerland's vernacular is Swiss German (Switzertütsch) and derivates strongly from standard German.

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