Which German is spoken in Austria? Part 2

German language as used in Germany

Low German (used all regions north of Benrath line) did not take part in the second vowel change in 7th and 8th century A.D. The second vowel change affected esp. German consonants (plosives and occlusives) p, t and k which were transformed to pf/f, ts/s and ch.

Low German often shares more characteristics with Dutch and English. Below you can find some examples:

English
to sit
to make
apple
water
ape
German
sitzen
machen
Apfel
Wasser
Affe
Low German (Platt)
sitten
maken
Appel
Water
Aap

'I know that' in Dutch, German and Berlin dialect:

Dutch
Dat weet ik.
German
Das weiß ich.
Low German
(Berlin dialect)
Det wet ik.

There is another isogloss in German usage, even though it is by far less drastic than Benrath line. It is known as Main line as it largely follows Main river and often referred to as 'Weißwurst' equator. (Weißwurst is a kind of sausage typical for Bavaria)

Between Main line and Benrath line Middle German is used, south of Main line in Bavaria and Austria High German is prevalent. Both usages (Middle and High German) have taken part in the second vowel change and share many characteristics.

High German as used in Bavaria and Austria

German as used in Southern Germany and Austria is very melodious and pleasant to the ear. There are few grammar variations. Some vocabulary (culinary mostly) is unique to Bavaria and Austria.

When Austria entered the European Union it was a matter of national pride to insist on a unique Austrian language being recognized by EU officials. The attempt failed as the differences between standard German in Austria and the German used in Germany south of Benrath line are largely neglectable. The result of the ensuing discussion was a list of some 80 words, most of them referring to food, cooking ingredients and plants.

The differences between the national standards of German are often exaggerated.

The language spoken in Austria is German. It is a correct and pure form of German that is melodious and pleasant to the ear.

Most Austrian dialects belong to the High German family - together with most dialects of Southern Germany and Bavaria. The differences between Middle German (as used in Central Germany) and High German (Bavaria and Austria) are often exaggerated.

German as used in Switzerland

Switzerland is a case of its own, with its local dialects of the vernacular 'Switzertütsch' (Swiss German) being hard to comprehend even to Germans and Austrians. The relation between the vernacular 'Switzertütsch' and standard German is one of diglossia.

While most Swiss are fluent in standard German, dialects are regularly used even on television (with standard German subtitles) and other media.

Map of German usage:

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.

About Austria is powered by
ActiLingua Academy, German Courses in Vienna

ActiLingua Language School
ACTILINGUA ACADEMY
"Lern German
Experience Vienna"

+43 1 877 6701 | skype: actilingua
Deutschkurse Wien
Newsletter:
  • Year-round German courses for adults:
    16+ years in Vienna
  • Summer School for young people:
    12-17 and 16-19 years
  • ActiLingua Residence with 20 standard and superior apartments
Order Free Brochure