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Thread: A Short History of the German Language / Questions and Answers About German Dialects

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    Post A Short History of the German Language / Questions and Answers About German Dialects

    A Short History of the German Language:

    http://www.lrz-muenchen.de/~hr/lang/dt-hist.html

    Excerpt:
    The name "German" (deutsch) denotes at the same time a language and a country. These two notions do not coincide, which leads to some inconsistencies. The Low German areas are said to speak a variety of German because they belong to Germany, and because they have adopted High German as their standard language gradually since the 15th century. Even earlier, High German had occasionally been used in Low Germany as a means of communication across whole Germany, as Berthold of Regensburg (~1210-1272) states: "Also stêt ez umbe di niderlender und umbe oberlender, daz manic niderlender ist, der sich der oberlender sprâche annimet. (It is so with the lowlanders and the highlanders that there are quite some lowlanders using the language of the highlanders.)" In the days of the Hanse, Low German gained much importance in the area of the Baltic sea and in the coastal regions of Germany, but with the decline of the Hanse at the end of the 15th century, High German became increasingly important in the big cities in Germany's North, a tendency which was intensified by Luther's High German Bible in the 16th century. [...]

    While the orthography followed a compromise between Northern and Southern language, this was not the case for the pronunciation. In 1898, Theodor Siebs (1862-1941) fixed rules for the "Deutsche Bühnenaussprache" (German stage pronunciation) which are still regarded as binding until today. In his work, Siebs declared more or less exclusive Northern pronunciation to be the German standard: voiced s (like English z) and labiodental w (like English v) in syllable-initial positions; long vowels in words like Städte or Husten; initial st less consistently spoken as scht; Honig pronounced as if it were written with -ich; voiced b, d, g; the Schwa (unstressed e) spoken a bit more rounded than in the South. More examples are given here Siebs always favoured the more distinctive pronunciation, e.g. Fliesen distinct from fließen, Städte distinct from Stätte (spoken alike in the South) or Ehre distinct from Ähre (spoken alike in the North).

    To sum up: today's standard German is the language of the Southerners in the pronunciation of the Northerners - in principle a reasonably fair compromise. The effect is, however, that North German language is often nearer to the standard (because it does not so easily mix with the dialect, and because of Siebs's preference of Northern pronunciation), and we observe a tendency that Northern regionalisms are often regarded as "more standard" than Southern ones.


    Questions and Answers About German Dialects:

    http://www.lrz-muenchen.de/~hr/lang/dt-dial.html

    Excerpt:
    Are German dialects mutually intelligible?

    The short answer is "No". Had people from different German-speaking regions not all learnt a common standard German, they would have a hard time understanding each other.

    Each of the dialects contains some typical words that aren't cognates of standard German words and are thus hardly understood elsewhere, but in none of the dialects these words account for a large percentage of the vocabulary. Mutual intelligibility should therefore not be measured by the knowledge of such words but rather by the ability to understand the flow of language consisting of cognates of standard German.

    In general, we have a dialect continuum in the German-speaking countries: normally, the dialect of neighbouring regions is easily understood even when it is clearly recognised as distinct from one's own. Only in the Alps, the range where a dialect is understood outside the region where it is spoken can be rather small: so there are Swiss dialects not understood in all of Switzerland (contrary to the remark in another section that Swiss dialects are mutually intelligible which is in general true). Perhaps, distance should not be measured in kilometres or miles but in walking days; then one valley in the Alps can be quite "far" away from a neighbouring one.

    The Low German dialects in Germany's North are mutually intelligible but not understood elsewhere. Of the remaining dialects, those of Switzerland, of Southern Bavaria and Austria, and of the West bank of the Rhine are particularly difficult to understand outside the regions where they are spoken whereas the Central and Eastern German dialects have much better chances to be understood everywhere.

    When Swiss TV contributions are broadcasted in the whole of the German-speaking countries, they are usually equipped with German subtitles in order to be understood. Folkloristic theater from Bavaria or the North Sea coast is usually not subtitled, but for Germany-wide dissemination, a watered-down version of the dialect is often employed.
    Man ſei Held oder Heiliger. In der Mitte liegt nicht die Weisheit, ſondern die Alltäglichkeit.

    SPENGLER

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    Thumbs Up Excellent Post!

    Thank you for the post, Thorburnulf, it's excellent, and I appreciate it very much!

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    Yeah I've read all about the german dialects before and German is a lot like Dutch. I have also noticed in Austro-German and Swiss-German there are words with i's on the end which I am assuming was derived from Italian or Romance languages. An example would be Spaezi - A coke and sprite mixture that they actually sell in a can or did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MVSSOLINI MIT VNS
    Yeah I've read all about the german dialects before and German is a lot like Dutch. I have also noticed in Austro-German and Swiss-German there are words with i's on the end which I am assuming was derived from Italian or Romance languages. An example would be Spaezi - A coke and sprite mixture that they actually sell in a can or did.
    Unless some one far more knowledgable on this topic can correct me, these words with suffixes you take note of in Allemanic/Swabian & Bavarian deutsch ending in '-i' are of Germanic derivation. I do know this to be a fact within Swiss-German--there are alternates to these '-i' suffixes such as '-ie','-y', '-ey', and others I suppose. This Spaezi you cite is probably derived ultimately from Germanic. Take note of famous Swiss-German surname 'Zwingli' also. There are A LOT of Swiss German surnames which in end with this '-i' suffix--I know, mine is one of them, I'm paternally Swiss-German. I know for a fact that mine is Germanically derived.

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    Another interesting topic to see is the fate of low german spoken in the norther parts of german.

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    One semester of college German and I'm more confused now than I was before.

    Norwegian is so-ho much easier. :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MVSSOLINI MIT VNS
    An example would be Spaezi - A coke and sprite mixture that they actually sell in a can or did.
    Actually it is called Spezi and it is Coke with Fanta (orange), not Sprite (lemon).
    And all my youth passed by sad-hearted,
    the joy of Spring was never mine;
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    and my heart dreams and longs to die.

    - Nikolaus Lenau (1802-1850)

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    - Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837)

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    .....................

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    Do I misread that on the second map of that book, or is Berlin in Portuguese (?) really "Berlim"?

    East-Franconian (Ostfränkisch), spoken in Bavarian-Franconia, the southern stripe of Thuringia and north-eastern parts of Baden-Württemberg, is sometimes counted to the Upper German dialects and sometimes to the Middle German:



    Man ſei Held oder Heiliger. In der Mitte liegt nicht die Weisheit, ſondern die Alltäglichkeit.

    SPENGLER

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    Here are more maps and the excellent Exeter University list with many links on German dialect issues:

    http://www.ex.ac.uk/~pjoyce/dialects/








    The Rhenish fan:

    Man ſei Held oder Heiliger. In der Mitte liegt nicht die Weisheit, ſondern die Alltäglichkeit.

    SPENGLER

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