Dealing with German dialects

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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby Iversen » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:46 pm

In my opinion "Ich denk' nich' dran!" is much more emphatic than "I don't think so!". I would translate it as "No way" or "When Hell freezes over!".
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby aokoye » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:38 pm

Iversen wrote:For me the main problem with the German dialects (or whatever they are) is that I won't hear them when I visit Germany, Austria or Switzerland as a tourist - I only hear Hochdeutsch with minor regional differences. Ok, I can eavesdrop in busses and or other places, and certain kinds of TV programs (like those from the zoos) let the German speak as they do when there aren't any tourists around, but that's not quite enough for a language nerd like me. However this is not just a German problem - you could also visit Denmark without discovering that we actually have some old dialects, which are surprisingly different in their hardcore versions.

While I would be unsurprised if you have, at the very least, been to Germany more times than I have given your geographic proximity, this has not been my experience. That said, there are likely some reasons for this which I'll expand on. When I spent 9 months in Vienna the only place I heard Hochdeutsch was at the hospital (where my endocronologist worked) and in my DaF classes. That was it. Otherwise it was almost entirely the Vienna dialect (Wienerisch). As a result I have no problems understanding it and it is different from Hochdeutsch.

Last Summer I spent four or five days in Pinkafeld, which is in Burgenland. The only people who spoke to me in Wienerisch were my friend's mother, step father, and her mom's doctor (that's an odd but fun story for a different thread). Otherwise all I heard and was spoken to in was Hianzisch which I could not really make heads or tails of. The same was true most of the time when I was in Berlin, except I was spoken to in Berliner Dialekt. Note, next to no one spoke to me in English in Germany or Austria that summer.

I think there are a few reasons for all of the above.
1. Vienna is the largest city in Austria and you don't really hear Hochdeutsch outside of school settings. This includes on every TV show I've watched, including news programs.
2. My host family last summer knew that my goal was to learn German and were shocked that I spoke it as well as I did (I was the first person they had hosted who actually spoke German, out of the 12 or 16 people who came prior to me). They knew that if I didn't understand something I would say so and my host mother did some language policing with people who would come over and start speaking to me in English.
3. Pinkafeld is not a touristy area at all, at least not for tourists who don't live in Austria. The four people who didn't speak to me "in dialekt" (never mind that everyone speaks in a dialect) had spent a lot of time in Vienna, either because they worked there, lived there, or went university there.
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby Iversen » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:48 pm

On the surface it would seem that aokoye has had totally different experiences from those I have had ... but I can't really believe that we have been treated so differently by the native speakers. So what is the explanation? The most likely reason is at we have diagnosed the speech of the natives in totally different ways. I hear Standard German with some minor regional differences, where aokoye hears dialects.

Actually I spent two days in Vienna on my way back from the gathering in Bratislava. I walked in the streets, used the transportsystem, visited the Tiergarten and museums and shops and other places and watched local TV stations, so I should have heard lots of incomprehensible Wienerisch - but no, I just heard normal German with a bit of local lilt to it, and I heard and read a few words that are typical for the area - like "Jänner" for January. But no hardcore Wienerisch, and nothing I couldn't understand.

F5819a06_Pestsäule-in-Graben.jpg
F5819a06_Pestsäule-in-Graben.jpg (9.72 KiB) Viewed 249 times
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby Josquin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:56 pm

Iversen is right. You shouldn't confuse Hochdeutsch with German from Germany. What aokoye heard in Vienna was probably mostly Hochdeutsch, but Austrian Hochdeutsch. There's also Swiss Hochdeutsch besides that. Both of them have a typical regional accent, but it's not the same as the real dialects. If an Austrian or a Swiss spoke hardcore dialect, a German couldn't understand them. However, if they speak their regional varieties of Hochdeutsch, they are perfectly intelligible.

This is also true for dialects in Germany. Most people speak Hochdeutsch with a regional accent, only few still speak the actual dialects. If all Germans started speaking dialect again, they wouldn't be able to communicate with each other any more.
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby Kraut » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:34 am

Here is the contrast between Hochdeutsch and genuine Schwäbisch dialect

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2XWfeknNtE
Die Harald Schmidt Show - Sprachkurs Schwäbisch und Schwäbisches Essen
----------------------------------------------------------------
Hochdeutsch but with an accent
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTY2tTcqVnk
Peter Frankenfeld - Karte der Dialekte

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Last edited by Kraut on Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby aokoye » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:41 am

Iversen wrote:On the surface it would seem that aokoye has had totally different experiences from those I have had ... but I can't really believe that we have been treated so differently by the native speakers. So what is the explanation? The most likely reason is at we have diagnosed the speech of the natives in totally different ways. I hear Standard German with some minor regional differences, where aokoye hears dialects.

Actually I spent two days in Vienna on my way back from the gathering in Bratislava. I walked in the streets, used the transportsystem, visited the Tiergarten and museums and shops and other places and watched local TV stations, so I should have heard lots of incomprehensible Wienerisch - but no, I just heard normal German with a bit of local lilt to it, and I heard and read a few words that are typical for the area - like "Jänner" for January. But no hardcore Wienerisch, and nothing I couldn't understand.

F5819a06_Pestsäule-in-Graben.jpg

I think there are two things going on. The first is what you more or less said - what you're calling Standard German with minor regional differences I'm calling dialects. I'm talking about it the same way you would if you were discussing linguistics. Note, I don't consider Wienerisch incomprehensible at all - even when spoken by young children. It's not all that different, to my ears, than Hochdeutsch - which is to say, the German version of Received Pronunciation. The german that is is essentially closest to the German dialect spoken in Hannover. I think a lot of my ability to understand Wienerisch has to do with having lived in Vienna for 9 months. That said, Wienerisch (which is not Hochdeutsch) is very different to Hianzisch which was spoken around/to me and which I can't really understand very well.

I think the second thing that's going on is that most of the conversations I've had in Austria and Germany, especially last summer, haven't been in the context of tourism. The most touristy trip I had was my most recent trip to Austria but even then I was treated more like a friend of the family than anything else. In Berlin I was treated like family and I know that everyone in that house as well as their friends (who visited often) were relieved that they could "speak like normal" around me as opposed to simplifying their German or switching to English.

I should also note that in service encounters people almost never tried to switch to English with me. Including when I was clearly stressed because I had missed my flight due to weather related delays as well as every time I went through customs and passport control in Germany and Austria last year. This was true when I wasn't a particularly good speaker of German and first living in Vienna as well as this past summer.
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby aokoye » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:58 am

Josquin wrote:Iversen is right. You shouldn't confuse Hochdeutsch with German from Germany. What aokoye heard in Vienna was probably mostly Hochdeutsch, but Austrian Hochdeutsch. There's also Swiss Hochdeutsch besides that. Both of them have a typical regional accent, but it's not the same as the real dialects. If an Austrian or a Swiss spoke hardcore dialect, a German couldn't understand them. However, if they speak their regional varieties of Hochdeutsch, they are perfectly intelligible.

No, that isn't correct. What I heard was Wienerisch, Berliner Dialekt, and Hianzisch. Also I'm not sure what you're definition of a "real dialect" is, but I suspect we probably have different definitions. Either that or you just weren't believing me - or both.

There are definitions for dialects, accents, and idiolects that are used in linguistics. Those definitions are what I'm referring to when I say "dialect/dialekt" save for my refering to "sprechen im dialekt" as that is an example of people not knowing the definition of dialect and not realizing that all languages are made up of dialects. That we all speak in at least one dialect (though I suspect the norm is that one is bidialectal), that we all speak in accents, and that we all have an idiolect (though I don't think most people know that term, which is fair). There are accurate linguistic definitions for all of those in the first page of this PDF.
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby aokoye » Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:02 am

Note - I do agree that Hochdeutsch is more of a construct than anything, but again, it's more like Received Pronunciation. That said, there isn't a Austrian Hochdeutsch or a Swiss Hochdeutsch.
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby Saim » Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:29 am

aokoye wrote:Also I'm not sure what you're definition of a "real dialect" is, but I suspect we probably have different definitions. Either that or you just weren't believing me - or both.


"Real dialect" - a variety of one of the traditional vernaculars of continental West Germanic (Austro-Bavarian, Alemannic, Rhine Franconian, Lower Silesian, etc.).

Not "real dialect" - a vernacularised form of literary German, often influenced by one of the aforementioned "real dialects".
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Re: Dealing with German dialects

Postby zenmonkey » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:20 am

aokoye wrote:Note - I do agree that Hochdeutsch is more of a construct than anything, but again, it's more like Received Pronunciation. That said, there isn't a Austrian Hochdeutsch or a Swiss Hochdeutsch.


It's my understanding that there is Swiss Standard German often called by the Swiss as Schriftdeutsch or Schweizer Hochdeutsch. You'll see it in a variety of references to language variants in the country research.

http://www.snf.ch/SiteCollectionDocumen ... risten.pdf (in German)
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