Brazilian German

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The mutually comprehensible German-based dialects spoken by German Brazilians together form a significant minority language in Brazil. They are particularly strong in the country's South and Southeast Regions. Brazilian German is strongly influenced by Portuguese and to a lesser extent by Italian dialects and indigenous languages.

German speakers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria made up the largest group of immigrants after Portuguese and Italian speakers. They tended to preserve their language longer than the speakers of Italian, which is closer to Portuguese. Consequently, German was the second most common family language in Brazil at the 1940 census. However, even in areas that are still dominated by German speakers, most are bilingual. Today, German is increasingly cultivated as a cultural heritage, and several municipalities have given co-official status with Brazilian Portuguese to one Brazilian variant of it or another recently.

Riograndenser Hunsrückisch is the most significant variant, and the term is sometimes used so as to include all forms of Brazilian German. It is particularly well represented in the two southernmost states, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. But especially in Espírito Santo there are significant pockets whose dialect is based on East Low German (Pommersch),[1] and some other dialects can be found locally due to 20th century immigration.


Brazilian Hunsrückisch is also referred to as Riograndenser Hunsrückisch after the country's southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. But it is also strongly represented in Santa Catarina, where the local variant is referred to as Katharinensisch, and in Paraná. Together, these three states form Brazil's South Region. The area attracted significant immigration from German-speaking countries. Overall, it is particularly well developed in comparison to the rest of Brazil.

German immigration to Rio Grande do Sul started in 1824.[2] The German workers and settlers came from many different regions, but especially from the poor regions Hunsrück and nearby Palatinate. The German dialects began to mix with each other, adopting elements of the languages spoken by other immigrants, to form varieties that differed from municipality to municipality, often from family to family, and which had no relation to the dialect lines in Germany.[3] However, in most places the Hunsrück dialect proved dominant.

Initially, the immigrants had to organize their own school system,[4] but this was to change. Due to lack of exposure – from 1938 till 1961, German was not even taught at higher schools.[5] – Standard German became restricted to formal contexts such as church, whereas all daily interactions happened either in dialect or in Portuguese, from which the required words for innovations were also taken.[6]

Speakers of Hunsrückisch are typically bilingual with Portuguese, but are not necessarily familiar with Standard German. The elementary school of Santa Maria do Herval, a municipality in Rio Grande do Sul with a population of roughly 6,000, teaches Hunsrückisch and uses a new orthography for this which is closer to Portuguese than to Standard German conventions.[7] In Antônio Carlos, a slightly larger town in Santa Catarina, Hunsrückisch is a co-official language.[8]


Pommersch has co-official status in the following municipalities:

Espírito Santo
Santa Catarina
Rio Grande do Sul

Other German dialects in Brazil[edit]

Dutch and Yiddish, both closely related to German, are also spoken in Brazil by Dutch Brazilians and some Brazilian Jews.


  1. ^ Projeto Pomerode Plurilíngüe
  2. ^ Altenhofen, Cléo Vilson: Hunsrückisch in Rio Grande do Sul, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1996, p. 24.
  3. ^ Altenhofen, p. 42.
  4. ^ Altenhofen, p. 69.
  5. ^ Altenhofen, p. 38.
  6. ^ Altenhofen, p. 45.
  7. ^ Brasilien: Hunsrücker Platt wird zweite Amtssprache.
  8. ^ Cooficialização da língua alemã em Antônio Carlos
  9. ^ a b c d Bost, Bodo: Pommersche Sprache erlebt Renaissance in Brasilien. VDA Globus 1/2010.
  10. ^ Pomerano!?, acessado em 21 de agosto de 2011
  11. ^ No Brasil, pomeranos buscam uma cultura que se perde, acessado em 21 de agosto de 2011
  12. ^ Lei dispõe sobre a cooficialização da língua pomerana no município de Santa maria de Jetibá, Estado do Espírito Santo
  13. ^ Vila Pavão, Uma Pomerânia no norte do Espirito Santo, acessado em 21 de agosto de 2011
  14. ^ Pomerode institui língua alemã como co-oficial no Município.
  15. ^ Vereadores propõem ensino da língua pomerana nas escolas do município, acessado em 21 de agosto de 2011
  16. ^ [1] [2]
  17. ^ Schuhplattln auf Brasilianisch
  18. ^ Fundação Cultural Suábio-Brasileira

See also[edit]