The Info List - Austrian German

--- Advertisement ---

Austrian German[2] (German: Österreichisches Deutsch), Austrian Standard German,[3][4] Standard Austrian German[5] (German: Österreichisches Standarddeutsch) or Austrian High German[2][6] (German: Österreichisches Hochdeutsch), is the variety of Standard German written and spoken in Austria. It has the highest sociolinguistic prestige locally, as it is the variation used in the media and for other formal situations. In Germany, however, Standard Austrian German
Austrian German
is still confused with some regional standard that is not considered "pure".[7][8]. This despite sound evidence that 80% of Austrian high school students and 90% of Austrian high school teachers consider German a pluricentric language, with more than one standard variety.[9] In less formal situations, Austrians tend to use forms closer to or identical with the Bavarian and Alemannic dialects, traditionally spoken – but rarely written – in Austria.


1 History 2 General situation of German 3 Standard German
Standard German
in Austria

3.1 Former spoken standard 3.2 Special
written forms 3.3 European Union 3.4 Grammar

3.4.1 Verbs

3.5 Vocabulary

4 Dialects

4.1 Classification 4.2 Regional accents

5 See also 6 References 7 Sources

History[edit] Austrian German
Austrian German
has its beginning in the mid-18th century, when empress Maria Theresa
Maria Theresa
and her son Joseph II introduced compulsory schooling (in 1774) and several reforms of administration in their multilingual Habsburg empire. At the time, the written standard was Oberdeutsche Schreibsprache, which was highly influenced by the Bavarian and Alemannic dialects
Alemannic dialects
of Austria. Another option was to create a new standard based on the Southern German dialects, as proposed by the linguist Johann Siegmund Popowitsch. Instead they decided for pragmatic reasons to adopt the already standardized Chancellery language of Saxony (Sächsische Kanzleisprache or Meißner Kanzleideutsch), which was based on the administrative language of the non-Austrian area of Meißen
and Dresden. Thus Standard Austrian German has the same geographic origin as the Standard German
Standard German
of Germany
(Bundesdeutsches Hochdeutsch, also Deutschländisches Deutsch) and Swiss High German (Schweizer Hochdeutsch, not to be confused with the Alemannic Swiss German
Swiss German
dialects). The process of introducing the new written standard was led by Joseph von Sonnenfels. Since 1951 the standardized form of Austrian German for official texts and schools is defined by the Austrian Dictionary (Österreichisches Wörterbuch), published under the authority of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture. General situation of German[edit] As German is a pluricentric language, Austrian German
Austrian German
is merely one among several varieties of Standard German. Much like the relationship between British English
British English
and American English, the German varieties differ in minor respects (e.g., spelling, word usage and grammar) but are recognizably equivalent and largely mutually intelligible. Standard German
Standard German
in Austria[edit] The official Austrian dictionary, das Österreichische Wörterbuch, prescribes grammatical and spelling rules defining the official language. Austrian delegates participated in the international working group that drafted the German spelling reform of 1996—several conferences leading up to the reform were hosted in Vienna
at the invitation of the Austrian federal government—and adopted it as a signatory, along with Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, of an international memorandum of understanding (Wiener Absichtserklärung) signed in Vienna
in 1996. The "sharp s" (ß) is used in Austria, as in Germany.

«Schulschrift 1995», one of Austria's elementary school handwriting programs

A street sign in Vienna: Fußgeher ("pedestrian") is normally Fußgänger in Germany. Capital ẞ
Capital ẞ
is traditionally wrong in both countries and has to be replaced by SS when in all caps - as ß is a fusion of two different -sz- characters)

Because of the German language's pluricentric nature, German dialects in Austria
should not be confused with the variety of Standard German spoken by most Austrians, which is distinct from that of Germany
or Switzerland. Distinctions in vocabulary persist, for example, in culinary terms, where communication with Germans is frequently difficult, and administrative and legal language, which is due to Austria's exclusion from the development of a German nation-state in the late 19th century and its manifold particular traditions. A comprehensive collection of Austrian-German legal, administrative and economic terms is offered in Markhardt, Heidemarie: Wörterbuch der österreichischen Rechts-, Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungsterminologie (Peter Lang, 2006). Former spoken standard[edit] The "former standard", used for about 300 years or more in speech in refined language, was the Schönbrunner Deutsch, a sociolect spoken by the imperial Habsburg family
Habsburg family
and the nobility of Austria-Hungary. It differed from other dialects in vocabulary and pronunciation; it appears to have been spoken with a slight degree of nasality. This was not a standard in a modern technical sense, as it was just the social standard of upper-class speech.[10] Special
written forms[edit] For many years, Austria
had a special form of the language for official government documents. This form is known as Österreichische Kanzleisprache, or "Austrian chancellery language". It is a very traditional form of the language, probably derived from medieval deeds and documents, and has a very complicated structure and vocabulary generally reserved for such documents. For most speakers (even native speakers), this form of the language is generally difficult to understand, as it contains many highly specialised terms for diplomatic, internal, official, and military matters. There are no regional variations, because this special written form has mainly been used by a government that has now for centuries been based in Vienna. Österreichische Kanzleisprache is now used less and less, thanks to various administrative reforms that reduced the number of traditional civil servants (Beamter). As a result, Standard German
Standard German
is replacing it in government and administrative texts. European Union[edit] When Austria
became a member of the European Union, the Austrian variety of the German language
German language
— limited to 23 agricultural terms — was "protected" in Protocol no. 10, regarding the use of Austrian-specific terms in the framework of the European Union, which forms part of the Austrian EU accession treaty.[11] Austrian German
Austrian German
is the only variety of a pluricentric language recognized under international law or EU primary law. All facts concerning “Protocol no. 10” are documented in Markhardt's Das österreichische Deutsch im Rahmen der EU, Peter Lang, 2005. Grammar[edit] Verbs[edit] In Austria, as in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland
and in southern Germany, verbs that express a state tend to use sein as the auxiliary verb in the perfect, as well as verbs of movement. Verbs which fall into this category include sitzen (to sit), liegen (to lie) and, in parts of Carinthia, schlafen (to sleep). Therefore, the perfect of these verbs would be ich bin gesessen, ich bin gelegen and ich bin geschlafen respectively (note: ich bin geschlafen is a rarely used form, more commonly ich habe geschlafen is used). In Germany, the words stehen (to stand) and gestehen (to confess) are identical in the present perfect: habe gestanden. The Austrian variant avoids this potential ambiguity (bin gestanden from stehen, "to stand"; and habe gestanden from gestehen, "to confess", e.g. "der Verbrecher ist vor dem Richter gestanden und hat gestanden"). In addition, the preterite (simple past) is very rarely used in Austria, especially in the spoken language, with the exception of some modal verbs (i.e. ich sollte, ich wollte). Vocabulary[edit] There are many official terms that differ in Austrian German
Austrian German
from their usage in most parts of Germany. Words primarily used in Austria are Jänner (January) rather than Januar, Feber (February) rather than Februar, heuer (this year) rather than dieses Jahr, Stiege (stairs) instead of Treppe, Rauchfang (chimney) instead of Schornstein, many administrative, legal and political terms – and a whole series of foods such as: Erdäpfel (potatoes) German Kartoffeln (but Dutch aardappel), Schlagobers (whipped cream) German Schlagsahne, Faschiertes (ground beef) German Hackfleisch (but Hungarian fasírt, Croatian and Slovenian informal faširano), Fisolen (green beans) German Gartenbohnen (but Czech fazole, Italian fagioli, Croatian (regional) fažol, Slovenian fižol, Hungarian folkish paszuly), Karfiol (cauliflower) German Blumenkohl (but Croatian, Hungarian and Slovak karfiol, Italian cavolfiore), Kohlsprossen (Brussels sprouts) German Rosenkohl, Marillen (apricots) German Aprikosen (but Slovak marhuľa, Polish morela, Slovenian marelice, Croatian marelica), Paradeiser ["Paradiesapfel"] (tomatoes) German Tomaten (but Hungarian paradicsom, Slovak paradajka, Slovenian paradižnik, Serbian paradajz), Palatschinken (pancakes) German Pfannkuchen (but Czech palačinky, Hungarian palacsinta, Croatian and Slovenian palačinke), Topfen (a semi-sweet cottage cheese) German Quark and Kren (horseradish) German Meerrettich (but Czech křen, Slovak chren, Croatian and Slovenian hren, etc.).[12] There are, however, some false friends between the two regional varieties:

Kasten (wardrobe) instead of Schrank, as opposed to Kiste (box) instead of Kasten. Kiste in Germany
means both "box" and "chest". Sessel (chair) instead of Stuhl. Sessel means "easy chair" in Germany and Stuhl means "stool (faeces)" in both varieties. Vorzimmer (hall[way]) instead of Diele. Vorzimmer means "antechamber" in Germany Ofen (oven) instead of Kamin. Kamin is Schornstein (chimney) in Germany Polster (pillow) instead of Kissen. Topfen (quark) instead of Quark.

Dialects[edit] Classification[edit]

Dialects of the Austro-Bavarian
group, which also comprises the dialects of German Bavaria

Central Austro-Bavarian
Central Austro-Bavarian
(along the main rivers Isar
and Danube, spoken in the northern parts of the State of Salzburg, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, and northern Burgenland)

Viennese German

Southern Austro-Bavarian
Southern Austro-Bavarian
(in Tyrol, South Tyrol, Carinthia, Styria, and the southern parts of Salzburg and Burgenland)

Vorarlbergerisch, spoken in Vorarlberg, is a High Alemannic
High Alemannic

Regional accents[edit] In addition to the standard variety, in everyday life most Austrians speak one of a number of Upper German dialects. While strong forms of the various dialects are not fully mutually intelligible to northern Germans, communication is much easier in Bavaria, especially rural areas, where the Bavarian dialect still predominates as the mother tongue. The Central Austro-Bavarian dialects are more intelligible to speakers of Standard German
Standard German
than the Southern Austro-Bavarian
Southern Austro-Bavarian
dialects of Tyrol. Viennese, the Austro-Bavarian
dialect of Vienna, is seen for many in Germany
as quintessentially Austrian. The people of Graz, the capital of Styria, speak yet another dialect which is not very Styrian and more easily understood by people from other parts of Austria
than other Styrian dialects, for example from western Styria. Simple words in the various dialects are very similar, but pronunciation is distinct for each and, after listening to a few spoken words, it may be possible for an Austrian to realise which dialect is being spoken. However, in regard to the dialects of the deeper valleys of the Tirol, other Tyroleans are often unable to understand them. Speakers from the different states of Austria
can easily be distinguished from each other by their particular accents (probably more so than Bavarians), those of Carinthia, Styria, Vienna, Upper Austria, and the Tyrol being very characteristic. Speakers from those regions, even those speaking Standard German, can usually be easily identified by their accent, even by an untrained listener. Several of the dialects have been influenced by contact with non-Germanic linguistic groups, such as the dialect of Carinthia, where in the past many speakers were bilingual with Slovene, and the dialect of Vienna, which has been influenced by immigration during the Austro-Hungarian period, particularly from what is today the Czech Republic. The German dialects of South Tyrol
South Tyrol
have been influenced by local Romance languages, particularly noticeable with the many loanwords from Italian and Ladin. Interestingly, the geographic borderlines between the different accents (isoglosses) coincide strongly with the borders of the states and also with the border with Bavaria, with Bavarians having a markedly different rhythm of speech in spite of the linguistic similarities. See also[edit]

Bavarian language German language


^ de-AT is an IETF language tag that conforms with the current specification BCP 47 Language Tags (where de-AT happens to be mentioned explicitly). It is often used, for instance in major operating systems (e.g. [1], [2]) ^ a b "The problems of Austrian German
Austrian German
in Europe". eurotopics. 16 March 2006. Retrieved 2015-05-13.  ^ Russ (1994:7, 61–65, 69, 70) ^ Sanders, Ruth H. (2010), German: Biography of a Language: Biography of a Language, New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., pp. 197–198, ISBN 978-0-19-538845-9  ^ Moosmüller, Sylvia (2007), Vowels in Standard Austrian German: An Acoustic-Phonetic and Phonological Analysis (PDF), retrieved May 13, 2015  ^ Perfetti, Charles A.; Rieben, Laurence; Fayol, Michel, eds. (1997), Learning to Spell: Research, Theory, and Practice Across Languages, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, p. 88, ISBN 1-4106-0458-6  ^ Muhr, Rudolf (2013): Zur sprachenpolitischen Situation des Österreichischen Deutsch 2000-2012. In: de Cillia, Rudolf/ Vetter, Eva (Hg.): Sprachenpolitik in Österreich. Bestandsaufnahme 2011. Frankfurt u.a.: Peter Lang, 257-305. ^ de Cillia, Rudolf (2016): Verwendung von Austriazismen und Deutschlandismen bei österreichischen Lehrer_innen und Schüler_innen. In: Schweiger, Hannes/ Ahamer, Vera/ Tonsern, Clemens/ Welke, Tina/ Zuzok, Nadja (Hg.): In die Welt hinaus. Festschrift für Renate Faistauer zum 65. Geburtstag. Wien: Praesens, 331-342. ^ De Cillia, Rudolf. 2015. Deutsche Sprache und österreichische Identität/en. In: In: Lenz, Alexandra N./Glauninger, Manfred M. (Hg.): Standarddeutsch im 21. Jahrhundert – Theoretische und empirische Ansätze mit einem Fokus auf Österreich. Wien: Vienna University Press, 149-64. ^ Here are some examples of Schönbrunner Deutsch:

Otto von Habsburg
Otto von Habsburg
(2004), former crown prince: Otto von Habsburg
Otto von Habsburg
- Quo vadis Integration - Festvortrag Eggenberg Emperor Charles I of Austria
(1916–1918): Recording (1.5 min) Emperor Franz Joseph
Franz Joseph
(1848–1916): Recording of a speech for a military fund (30 sec)

^ "Documents concerning the accession of the Republic of Austria, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Norway to the European Union". European Commission. 29 August 1994. p. 370. Retrieved 24 October 2015. The specific Austrian terms of the German language
German language
contained in the Austrian legal order and listed in the Annex to this Protocol shall have the same status and may be used with the same legal effect as the corresponding terms used in Germany
listed in that Annex.  ^ Otto Back, Erich Benedikt, Karl Blüml, et al.: Österreichisches Wörterbuch (neue Rechtschreibung). Herausgegeben im Auftrag des Bundesministeriums für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur. Auf der Grundlage des amtlichen Regelwerks. 41. circulation, Österreichischer Bundesverlag, Wien 2009, ISBN 978-3-209-06875-0


Ammon, Ulrich: Die deutsche Sprache in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz: Das Problem der nationalen Varietäten. de Gruyter, Berlin/New York 1995. Ammon, Ulrich
/ Hans Bickel, Jakob Ebner u. a.: Variantenwörterbuch des Deutschen. Die Standardsprache in Österreich, der Schweiz und Deutschland sowie in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Ostbelgien und Südtirol. Berlin/New York 2004, ISBN 3-11-016574-0. Grzega, Joachim: „Deutschländisch und Österreichisches Deutsch: Mehr Unterschiede als nur in Wortschatz und Aussprache.“ In: Joachim Grzega: Sprachwissenschaft ohne Fachchinesisch. Shaker, Aachen 2001, S. 7-26. ISBN 3-8265-8826-6. Grzega, Joachim: “On the Description of National Varieties: Examples from (German and Austrian) German and (English and American) English.” In: Linguistik Online 7 (2000). Grzega, Joachim: “Nonchalance als Merkmal des Österreichischen Deutsch.” In: Muttersprache 113 (2003): 242-254. Krech, Eva Maria; Stock, Eberhard; Hirschfeld, Ursula; Anders, Lutz-Christian (2009), "Die Standardaussprache in Österreich", Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch, Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-018202-6  Muhr, Rudolf / Schrodt, Richard: Österreichisches Deutsch und andere nationale Varietäten plurizentrischer Sprachen in Europa. Wien, 1997 Muhr, Rudolf/Schrodt, Richard/Wiesinger, Peter (eds.): Österreichisches Deutsch: Linguistische, sozialpsychologische und sprachpolitische Aspekte einer nationalen Variante des Deutschen. Wien, 1995. Pohl, Heinz Dieter: „Österreichische Identität und österreichisches Deutsch“ aus dem „Kärntner Jahrbuch für Politik 1999“ Russ, Charles (1994), The German Language Today: A Linguistic Introduction, London: Routledge, ISBN 0-203-42577-4  Wiesinger, Peter: Die deutsche Sprache in Österreich. Eine Einführung, In: Wiesinger (Hg.): Das österreichische Deutsch. Schriften zur deutschen Sprache. Band 12. (Wien, Köln, Graz, 1988, Verlag, Böhlau)

v t e

Languages of Austria

Official language

Austrian German
Austrian German
(see also German)

Regional languages

Croatian Czech Hungarian Romani Slovak Slovene

Unofficial dialects

Alemannic Austro-Bavarian

Sign languages

Austrian Sign Language

See Also: Minority languages of Austria

Authority control