The Info List - Standard German

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Austria Belgium Germany South Tyrol
South Tyrol
(Italy) Liechtenstein Luxembourg Switzerland

Minority/Cultural/National language in various other countries/dependencies

Regulated by

No official regulation ( German orthography
German orthography
regulated by the Council for German Orthography[2]).

Language codes

ISO 639-3 deu

Glottolog stan1295[3]

Standard German
Standard German
(German: Standarddeutsch, Hochdeutsch, or Schriftdeutsch) is the standardized variety of the German language used in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas. It is a pluricentric Dachsprache with three codified (or "standardized") specific regional variants: German Standard German, Austrian Standard German, and Swiss Standard German. Regarding the spelling and punctuation, a recommended standard is published by the Council for German Orthography
Council for German Orthography
which represents the governments of all majority and minority German-speaking countries and dependencies. Adherence is obligatory not for everyday use but for government institutions including schools. For pronunciation, there is no official standards body but there is a long-standing de facto standard pronunciation ("Bühnendeutsch"), most commonly used in formal speech and teaching materials; it is similar to the formal German spoken in and around Hanover. Adherence to those standards by private individuals and companies, including the print and audio-visual media, is voluntary but widespread.


1 Origins 2 Terminology 3 Pluricentricity 4 Continuum between standard German and German dialects 5 Phonology 6 Grammar 7 Orthography 8 See also 9 Notes 10 References

Origins[edit] Standard German
Standard German
originated not as a traditional dialect of a specific region, but as a written language, developed over a process of several hundred years, in which writers tried to write in a way that was understood in the largest area. Until about 1800, Standard German
Standard German
was almost entirely a written language. In this time, people in Northern Germany
who mainly spoke Low Saxon languages
Low Saxon languages
very different from Standard German
Standard German
learned it as a foreign language. However, later the Northern pronunciation (of Standard German) was considered standard and spread southward; in some regions (such as around Hanover) the local dialect has completely died out with the exception of small communities of Low German
Low German
speakers. It is thus the spread of Standard German as a language taught at school that defines the German Sprachraum, i.e. a political decision rather than a direct consequence of dialect geography, allowing areas with dialects of very limited mutual comprehensibility to participate in the same cultural sphere. Currently, local dialects are used mainly in informal situations or at home and also in dialect literature, and more recently a resurgence of German dialects
German dialects
has appeared in mass media. Terminology[edit] In German linguistics, only the traditional regional varieties of German are called dialects, not the different varieties of standard German. The latter are known as Umgangssprachen and in the territory of Germany
began to replace the traditional dialects beginning in the nineteenth century. They constitute a mixture of old dialectal elements with Standard German. In German, Standard German
Standard German
is often called Hochdeutsch, a somewhat misleading term since it conflicts with the linguistic term High German. High German of the southern uplands and the Alps (including Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein
and parts of northern Italy
as well as southern Germany) contrasts with Low German
Low German
spoken in the lowlands stretching towards the North Sea. To avoid this confusion, some refer to Standard German
Standard German
as Standarddeutsch ("standard German"), deutsche Standardsprache ("German standard language"), or if the context of the German language
German language
is clear, simply Standardsprache ("standard language"). However, the word "standard" downgrades the linguistic position of the daily language spoken in Switzerland
and Austria, and people there often prefer "Hochdeutsch" or "High German" as it is less aggressive towards Swiss German
Swiss German
and Austrian German. Pluricentricity[edit]

The national and regional standard varieties of the German language.[4]

Standard German
Standard German
differs regionally. The most accepted distinction is between different national varieties of standard German: Austrian Standard German, Germany
Standard German
Standard German
and Swiss Standard German. Additionally, there are linguists who posit that there are different varieties of standard German within Germany. Linguistic research of the different varieties of standard German began for the most part only in the 1990s, especially in Austria
and Switzerland. During the existence of the German Democratic Republic, there were occasional studies about whether there were differences between the standard varieties of the German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
and the Federal Republic. The German federal state of Bavaria has promoted language diversity in the past in an effort to preserve its distinct culture. The different varieties of standard German (Austrian, Swiss, and Germany
Standard) differ only in a few features, especially in vocabulary and pronunciation, but even in some instances of grammar and orthography. In the written language, it may be hard or even impossible to tell what variety of standard German has been used, though in the spoken language, the different varieties of standard German are easily recognized by most speakers. The variation of the standard German varieties must not be confused with the variation of the local German dialects. Even though the standard German varieties are to a certain degree influenced by the local dialects, they are very distinct. All varieties of standard German are based on the common tradition of the written German language, whereas the local dialects have their own historical roots that go further back than the unification of the written language and in the case of Low German
Low German
belong to a different language entirely. Continuum between standard German and German dialects[edit] In most regions, the speakers use a continuum of mixtures from more dialectical varieties to more standard varieties according to situation. However, there are two (or three) exceptions:

In Northern Germany, there is no continuum in the strict sense between the local indigenous languages and dialects of Low German ("Plattdeutsch") on the one hand, and standard German on the other. Since the former have not undergone the High German consonant shift, they are too different from the standard for a continuum to emerge. High German and Low German
Low German
can be considered to be separate languages, since they are so different, but because High, Middle and Low German form a dialect continuum and Standard German
Standard German
serves as dachsprache for all forms of German, they are mostly seen as dialects of German. Under a socio-linguistic approach to the problem, even if Low German dialects are Abstandsprachen (linguistically quite different), they are dialects of German, because they lack Ausbau. However, Low German did influence the standard-based vernaculars spoken today in Northern Germany
by language transfer (in pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and syntax), and it continues to do so to a limited degree. High German heavily influenced by Low German
Low German
has been known as Missingsch, but most contemporary Northern Germans exhibit only an intermediate Low German
Low German
substratum in their speech. In German-speaking Switzerland, there is no such continuum between the Swiss German
Swiss German
varieties and Swiss Standard German, and the use of standard German is almost entirely restricted to the written language. Therefore, this situation has been called a medial diglossia. Standard German is rather rarely spoken among native Swiss,[note 1][5] and even then the accent and vocabulary is very much Swiss, except for instance when speaking with people who do not understand the Swiss German dialects at all, and it is expected to be used in school. Standard German has, however, left a clear imprint on the contemporary variants of Swiss German, regional expressions and vocabulary having been replaced with material assimilated from the standard language. Of all the German-speaking countries Switzerland
has however the most retained its ability to use dialect in everyday situations, also a commonplace phenomenon in southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Alsace, and South Tyrol. The fairly common aspect of dialect use in Swiss media (both radio, internet, and television), which ranges from uncommon to rare in the media of Austria, Germany, East Belgium, South Tyrol, and Liechtenstein, makes Switzerland
a special case. Although Luxembourgish
is no longer considered a German dialect today but a language, the situation can be compared to that of Switzerland. Standard German
Standard German
is also taught in schools in Luxembourg
and close to 90% of the population can speak it.[6]

Phonology[edit] Main article: German phonology While there is no officially recommended standard, and multiple regional variants are considered correct, there does exist a standardised accent which is generally used in radio and television as well as in German learning materials for non-natives, and to varying degrees by language teachers. This accent is documented in reference works such as Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch (German Pronunciation Dictionary) by Eva-Maria Krech et al.,[note 2] Duden
6 Das Aussprachewörterbuch ( Duden
volume 6, The Pronunciation
Dictionary) by Max Mangold and the training materials at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (West German Broadcasting) and Deutschlandfunk
(Radio Germany). It is an invented accent rather than radiating from any particular German-speaking city, but it is closest to the German spoken in Hanover. Grammar[edit] Main article: German grammar Orthography[edit] Main article: German orthography A first standardization, although non-prescriptive, of Early Modern High German was introduced by the Luther Bible
Luther Bible
of 1534. In consequence, the written language of the chancery of Saxony-Wittenberg rose in importance in the course of the 17th century, and the 1665 revision of the Zürich Bible
Zürich Bible
abandoned its Alemannic idiom in favour of this standard. The First Orthographical Conference (I. Orthographische Konferenz) was called in 1876 by the government of Prussia. Since Prussia
was by far the largest state in the German Empire, its regulations also influenced spelling elsewhere. Konrad Duden
published the first edition of his dictionary, later simply known as the Duden, in 1880. The first spelling reform, based on Duden's work, came into effect in 1901. The orthographical standards predating 1901 are now known as "classical orthography" (Klassische deutsche Rechtschreibung), while the conventions in effect from 1901 to 1998 are summarized as "old orthography" (Alte deutsche Rechtschreibung). In 1944 there was a failed attempt at another reform; this was delayed on the order of Hitler and not taken up again after the end of World War II. In the following decades German spelling was essentially decided de facto by the editors of the Duden dictionaries. After the war, this tradition was followed with two different centers: Mannheim
in West Germany
and Leipzig
in East Germany. By the early 1950s, a few other publishing houses had begun to attack the Duden
monopoly in the West by publishing their own dictionaries, which did not always conform to the "official" spellings prescribed by Duden. In response, the Ministers of Culture of the federal states in West Germany
officially declared the Duden
spellings to be binding as of November 1955. The 1996 spelling reform was based on an international agreement signed by the governments of the German-speaking countries Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland; but acceptance of the reform was limited. While, as of 2004[update], most German print media followed the reform, some newspapers, such as Die Zeit, Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung, created their own in-house orthographies. In 2006, there was a further revision of the spelling reform because there were disagreements about capitalisation and splitting of German words. Also revised were the rules governing punctuation marks.[citation needed] See also[edit]

portal Switzerland
portal Austria
portal Language portal

History of the German language Standard language


^ Though about 10%, or 830,000 Swiss residents speak High German a.k.a. Standard German
Standard German
at home. ^ On pages 1-2, Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch discusses die Standardaussprache, die Gegenstand dieses Wörterbuches ist (the standard pronunciation which is the topic of this dictionary). It also mentions Da sich das Deutsche zu einer plurizentrischen Sprache entwickelt hat, bildeten sich jeweils eigene Standardvarietäten (und damit Standardaussprachen) (German has developed into a pluricentric language separate standard varieties (and hence standard pronunciations)) but refers to the standards as regionale und soziolektale Varianten (regional and sociolectal variants).


^ a b Standard German
Standard German
at Ethnologue
(19th ed., 2016) ^ "Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung – Über den Rat". Rechtschreibrat.ids-mannheim.de. Retrieved 11 October 2010.  ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "German". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Ulrich Ammon, Hans Bickel, Jakob Ebner, et al.: Variantenwörterbuch des Deutschen. Die Standardsprache in Österreich, der Schweiz und Deutschland sowie in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Ostbelgien und Südtirol. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2004. ^ "Sprachen, Religionen – Daten, Indikatoren: Sprachen – Üblicherweise zu Hause gesprochene Sprachen" (official site) (in German, French, and Italian). Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Statistical Office. 2015. Retrieved 2016-01-13. Zu Hause oder mit den Angehörigen sprechen 60,1% der betrachteten Bevölkerung hauptsächlich Schweizerdeutsch, 23,4% Französisch, 8,4% Italienisch, 10,1% Hochdeutsch und 4,6% Englisch  ^ Europeans and their Languages – Eurobarometer, p. 13

v t e

Languages of Germany

Official langage

Standard German

Regional/Minority languages


Danish Frisian

North Saterland

Low German Romani Sorbian

Upper Lower


Alemannic Bavarian German Sign Language Limburgish Low Rhenish Luxembourgish Ripuarian

v t e

Germanic languages
Germanic languages
and dialects

West Germanic

Anglo- Frisian



dialects Yola Fingallian



East Frisian

Saterland Frisian Wangerooge Frisian Wursten Frisian

North Frisian

Söl'ring Fering Öömrang Heligolandic Mooring Halligen Frisian Strand Frisian Eiderstedt Frisian

West Frisian

Clay Frisian Wood Frisian

Low German

East Low German

Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian

Mecklenburgish West Pomeranian

Brandenburgisch East Pomeranian-West Prussian

Western East Pomeranian Eastern East Pomeranian Bublitzisch Pommerellisch

Central Pomeranian

West Central Pomeranian

Low Prussian

Mennonite Low German

West Low German

Dutch Low Saxon

Stellingwarfs Tweants Gronings Drèents Gelders-Overijssels

Achterhooks Sallaans Urkers


Northern Low Saxon

East Frisian Low Saxon Schleswigsch Holsteinisch Hamburgisch Ollnborger North Hanoveranian Dithmarsch Emsländisch

Westphalian Eastphalian

Low Franconian

Standard variants

Dutch Afrikaans

West Low Franconian

Hollandic West Flemish

French Flemish

Zeelandic East Flemish Brabantian Surinamese Dutch Jersey Dutch Mohawk Dutch Stadsfries Bildts Yiddish

East Low Franconian



Southeast Limburgish

South Guelderish


Low Dietsch

High German



Namibian German Namibian Black German Brazilian German Unserdeutsch Barossa German Belgranodeutsch Parana Volga German


Eastern Western Litvish Poylish Ukrainish Galitzish Scots Yiddish Alsatian Yiddish Klezmer-loshn Ganovim Balagole Katsoves Lachoudisch

Yenish Rotwelsch


Central German

West Central German

Central Franconian



Moselle Franconian

Luxembourgish Transylvanian Saxon Hunsrückisch

Rhine Franconian

Lorraine Franconian Palatine

Volga German Pennsylvania German



East Central German

Thuringian Upper Saxon Lusatian-Neumarkish


Silesian High Prussian Wymysorys Pragerisch

High Franconian

South Franconian East Franconian

Main Franconian Vogtlandian

Upper German


Low Alemannic

Alsatian Coloniero

High Alemannic

Swiss German

Highest Alemannic

Walser German



Northern Bavarian Central Bavarian

Viennese German

Southern Bavarian

South Tyrolean Cimbrian Mòcheno Hutterite German


Standard German

German Standard German Austrian Standard German Swiss Standard German

North Germanic

West Scandinavian



Bergensk Kebabnorsk Sognamål Trøndersk Valdris Vestlandsk Vikværsk


Elfdalian Insular Scandinavian

Faroese Icelandic Gronlandsk Norn

East Scandinavian


Åland Estonian Finlandic Gotlandic Jamtlandic Kalix Kiruna Luleå Norrland Ostrobothnian Småländska South Swedish


Stockholm Rinkeby Uppländska Västgötska Westrobothnian


Bornholmsk Gøtudanskt Insular Danish Jutlandic South Jutlandic Perkerdansk


East Germanic


Crimean Gothic

Burgundian Vandalic

Italics indicate extinct languages Bold indicates languages with more than 3 million speakers Languages between parentheses are varieties of the langu