Talk:Standard German

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Pronouncing schr-[edit]

See Talk:German_phonology#Pronouncing_schr-.

Standarddeutsch instead of Hochdeutsch?[edit]

The article claims the term "Standarddeutsch" (Standard German) is increasingly used in favor of "Hochdeutsch". This claim seems unverified to me, as a native German I have never ever heard or read "Standdardeutsch" anywhere. "Hochdeutsch" (High German) is always used to refer to the standard language. Nobody in Germany cares about the fact that linguists may have a problem with this usage. Ewok (talk) 08:58, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

I don't know enough myself, but I was hoping for more of an account of how Standard German developed from the High German dialects and then spread Northward. Though clearly it did, and the article implies that it did, it is not emphasised enough, and the article dwells on how the Standard German of the North spread Southward again, much later. After all, Standard German is a standardisation of High German, not Low German. Luther's Bible can only have been a fairly small part of the story. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. I have been living in Austria and Germany for nearly three years now, while studying linguistics. I can assure you that I have not heard anyone say "Standarddeutsch" or "Standard German". It is understood that the High German Dialect is now mainstream and adopted by all German-speaking countries as a means to communicate officially e.g. in schools, newspapers, tv, etc. That is not to say that saying "Standard German" is wrong, but I feel like this article is trying to set a new standard. The term is Hochdeutsch / High German. Agentxp22 (talk) 10:28, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

You claim you studied linguistics in Germany and Austria. At the University of Vienna first year students in German Philology ("Germanistik") are taught the difference between "Hochdeutsch", "Hochsprache" and "Standardsprache" aka "Standarddeutsch". It is made very clear to them NOT to use the term "Hochdeutsch" when they refer to "Standardsprache". (talk) 18:54, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

This may be made clear to students of German Philology in Vienna. However, it has not yet been made clear to the other 90 Million speakers of German who stubbornly cling to the term Hochdeutsch. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 10:49, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

Standard German / Hochdeutsch[edit]

Sorry but thats just wrong. Standard german is NOT Hochdeutsch. Hochdeutsch is just every dialect between the Bernrather Linie and southy tyrol.

Standarddeutsch on the other hand is devided in three different groups. German Standarddeutsch, Austrian Standarddeutsch and Swiss Standarddeutsch.

Standarddeutsch is a form of the german language thats standardized in those three countries. (three different versions tho.) Only lets say "less educated" people mix Standarddeutsch and Hochdeutsch.

... two completely different things. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 15:37, 23 February 2009

As the article explains, the term Hochdeutsch is ambiguous. While German linguists use the term the way you defined it (if they use it at all; they often avoid it precisely because of its ambiguity), German laypeople very often do use it to mean standard German. —Angr 15:45, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
I would go even further and say that "Hochdeutsch" is the only standard German term for "Standard German". The Expression "Standarddeutsch" is a technical term not known to the general public.
The Upper German dialects are usually referred to as "Bairisch", "Schwäbisch", "Schweizerdeutsch", etc.Unoffensive text or character (talk) 16:11, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
Well, Upper German is called Oberdeutsch in German. Hochdeutsch (and High German) when used "geographically" covers both Oberdeutsch and Mitteldeutsch/Central German. The ambiguity of the term Hochdeutsch is explained nicely at Hochdeutsch. —Angr 16:52, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
You are right, of course, but my point was that outside linguistic circles there is no ambiguity, as the term "Standarddeutsch" is completely unknown outside linguistic circles. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 09:29, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
As is the concept of Upper/Central/Low German dialects. Non-linguist Germans have enough trouble telling the difference between traditional dialects and local accents of standard German, let alone understanding how the traditional dialects are classified. —Angr 18:06, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

Standard German = Hannover German[edit]

The article reads: "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". I am not a linguist and I may be totally wrong, but on several occasions I heard that Hannover-German was Standard German. So according to what I heard most Germans believe that dialect did not die out, it just became standard German (but none of those was a linguist and they might have been wrong).-- (talk) 16:54, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

It's true that the everyday speech of Hanover and nearby areas is very close to the ideal of Standard German, but Standard German didn't start out as the local speech of Hanover, as Hanover was originally a Plattdeutsch-speaking area. Rather, what happened was that when people were giving up their local dialects for Standard German, the people in that region did a more thorough job of eliminating most traces of the local dialect than people in other regions of Germany did. But that refers mostly to pronunciation; Hanover German still contains non-standard constructions such as Peter sein Hut for "Peter's hat" and wie instead of als both in the meaning "than" and in the meaning "when (past)". +Angr 17:40, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
Standard German did not originate in Hannover, but the Hannover Low German region adopted the Standard language more readily than other areas. So the statement that is now in the leader of article gives a wrong impression: "... there is a long-standing de facto standard pronunciation most commonly used in formal speech and teaching materials which is similar to the formal German spoken in Hanover." As a native speaker, I can clearly hear traces of Low German accent and even grammar when Hanoverans speak. If you want to hear "the best Standard German" you need to watch Tagesschau on ARD TV or heute-journal on ZDF TV. The presenters are from all over Germany, but people will be hard pressed to localize them by their pronunciation.
I propose the removal of the last part. Further down, a reference to Siebs is made. I think his work is more relevant, since it has influenced stage work, TV shows and radio presenting for the last 100 years and thus set a certain standard. Will look for references backing that up. Zipor haNefesch (talk) 19:41, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
Quite true, Hanover “Standard” German can easily be placed within Germany, if only roughly. — It should also be noted that the speech of anchorpersons on ARD TV and on ZDF TV (as well as on Deutschlandradio) is not regarded as the neutral pronunciation in Austria and South Tyrol (where the standard propagated by Rudolf Muhr is now widely accepted; he even published an Austrian pronunciation dictionary), nor in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. —LiliCharlie (talk) 20:30, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
LiliCharlie, is there also a non-localizable standard pronunciation in Austria, that is accepted by all, like the Tagesschau-Deutsch in Germany? That would be an interesting addition to the article if we could reference it.--Zipor haNefesch (talk) 17:58, 2 January 2016 (UTC)
I have found an interview in the HAZ (newspaper)[1] with Michael Elmtaler[2], professor of linguistics at Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel. The last four questions touch upon the "Hannover = Hochdeutsch" myth:
"Aber auch wenn kein perfektes Hochdeutsch existiert, können Wissenschaftler doch bestimmt sagen, wer dem Ideal am nächsten kommt?
--Ja, es gibt unterschiedliche Grade der Annäherung. Der höchste Grad der Annäherung ist der des Nachrichtensprechers in der Tagesschau. Man hat mal berechnet, dass diesen ausgebildeten Sprechern nur in etwa jedem 40. Wort eine Abweichung von der Norm unterläuft. Diesen Wert erreicht in der Sprachwirklichkeit sonst niemand.
So ganz müssen wir uns in Hannover nicht von unserem Image als Stadt mit dem besten Hochdeutsch verabschieden, oder?
--Doch. In Hannover wird zweifellos ein Deutsch gesprochen, das sehr nah an der nationalen Aussprachenorm liegt. Aber das gilt auch für andere norddeutsche Städte wie Kiel, Münster oder Rostock. Hannover hat da keine Sonderstellung."
Is this sufficient as a source to remove the Hannover mention in the introductory paragraph of the article, and update it with the Tagesschau presenters? If anyone can find a similar English-language source, even better. I am just a linguistic layperson with no access to scientific sources.--Zipor haNefesch (talk) 13:53, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
@Zipor haNefesch: As far as I'm concerned it is certainly sufficient to remove Hanover German as being the purest of German speech forms. To me the statement that Hanover German is nearly identical with Standard German seems complete nonsense, based on neither historical not empirical facts. Just consider its phonology: typically speakers from Hanover don't even observe the /eː~ɛː/ distinction that's present in the standard language. — I am not sure though if the Hanover myth should be replaced with the Tagesschau myth unless there are very reputable and widely accepted scientific sources for doing so. As far as I can tell it remains to be proven that Tagesschau people display a German that is superior to, or as good as, that of stage and movie actors, for instance. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 14:47, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
@LiliCharlie: Well, I would say that well-trained actors and Tagesschau presenters are almost on par. Although actors have a lot of leeway these days, whereas Tagesschau presenters do not, so the presenters will be a bit more exact than the actors. Both are trained to use a Standardsprache pronunciation/enunciation based on various pronunciation sources (starting with Duden Aussprachewörterbuch). I have been snooping around a bit in Google Books.
I have found one source which reported that the GDAW (Großes Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch 1982) was based in part on an empirical study of the way Tagesschau presenters pronounced words ("Sprachverfall?: Dynamik – Wandel – Variation", ed. Albrecht Plewnia, Andreas Witt, Berlin/Boston 2014[3])
Source for the statement about Tagessschau presenters "in etwa jedem 40. Wort eine Abweichung" are chapters 6.1 and 6.2 in "Standard und Substandard: Regionalismen im diachronen Längsschnitt" by Alfred Lameli, Marburg 2004, describing the study/analysis and methods used[4]. Their conclusion: "Es darf in Anbetracht dessen behauptet werden, dass der kodifizierte Standard der Aussprachewörterbücher von den beiden Sprechern praktisch umgesetzt wird (...)."
Anecdata: I was at the local theatre last week to see Götz von Berlichingen on stage. Apart from the "language" used ;-), I noticed that one older actress kept distinguishing /eː~ɛː/ all evening --very hard to do for a Northern German (we use only /e:). --Zipor haNefesch (talk) 22:14, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
Equating the speech of well-trained actors with evening news speakers can only hold true for Germany German. In Switzerland, for instance, actors (aspire to) use the Northern German standard pronunciation, while news speakers use a Swiss Standard German pronunciation. Thing are similar in Austria, as far as I know.
We should mention the Hannover myth, only to say that it is a myth. German is a pluricentric language and the best standard pronunciation varies accordingly. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 05:25, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: I have no problem with marking the info "Germany only". We should also mention the various standard pronounciations in the other German-speaking regions. @LiliCharlie: mentioned Rudolf Muhr for Austria. Do you know any quotable sources for Switzerland/Swiss German? I'd rather have native speakers from the region doing it, like I said, I am not an expert, and am so far north that I go to work by ice floe. I have basically no knowledge of Austrian or Swiss dialects and pronounciations :-). I think we should maybe avoid the adjective "best". The Tagesschau people don't speak best. They just speak in a way so close to the pronunciation guides in use in DE that they are basically accent-free. It will be very hard to localize them by their way of speaking, except for a very general "Germany". --Zipor haNefesch (talk) 23:16, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
@Zipor haNefesch: Theoretically the Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch by Eva Krech et. al. should reflect what Germans, Austrians and the Swiss consider Standard German pronunciation, as it is the collaborative work of experts from all those countries, but I doubt the book comes up to its claims. de:Schweizer Hochdeutsch also cites Ingrid Hove's Die Aussprache der Standardsprache in der Schweiz of 2002, which I don't know though. We could ask Swiss linguists (Germanisten) like Freigut if they know a reliable and more or less up-to-date source for Swiss Standard German pronunciation. — Of course you're right no variant should be called better or worse than any other, nor intrinsically good or bad. — On second thought mach is probably right in saying that the Hanover myth should be mentioned, if only to debunk it as an ill-founded myth. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 00:25, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

Why not "Lutheric"?[edit]

To avoid any confusion, I've been proposing the term "Lutheric" for present Standard German (in German: Lutherisch). Hellsepp --Hellsepp (talk) 12:42, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Well, that's fine for your own personal communication, but until the name achieves widespread popularity independent of you, it's not appropriate at Wikipedia. +Angr 13:22, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
it is also misleading. Luther did have influence on the emergence on Standard German, but his effect is usually overblown. The real standardization took place a full century after Luther and was only loosely connected to his Bible. --dab (𒁳) 15:49, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

The relevant guideline, by the way, can be read at WP:NEO. Gabbe (talk) 17:21, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Origins revision[edit]

Someone might want to work on the Origins section, which has, for instance:

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 albeit used mainly in informal situations or at home and also including dialect literature, and more recently a resurgence of German dialects in mass media.

Around that my head I can't wrap. -R. S. Shaw (talk) 08:44, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

East Middle German?[edit]

According to Ethnologue, Standard German is under the East Middle German family group. I think we need to expand a lot about the history of Standard German. Komitsuki (talk) 10:48, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

But Standard German is separately under the High German languages family according to this article. Komitsuki (talk) 10:50, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

Requested move to "High German"[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: not moved. Discussion was initiated by a sock of a site-banned user, and no support has been forthcoming. Favonian (talk) 15:50, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Standard GermanHigh German – The proposed form is easily the most common name for this subject on English-language GBooks, as you can see from this ngram. See the Goethe Institute, Deutsche Welle, American Heritage, Oxford, and One Look. In German, this subject is generally referred to as Hochdeutsche, rarely as Standarddeutsche, as you can from this ngram. Also, take a look at all the editors above complaining about the current title over the years. The Holy Four (talk) 08:59, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose. The name High German is ambiguous but generally refers to the High German languages, where it currently redirects. That article has a hatnote telling people about this article if that's what they were looking for. That's sufficient. Aɴɢʀ (talk) 10:32, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
    • Any commonly used term is to some extent ambiguous. To use "High German" to refer to standard form of modern German is far more common than any other use. There is no reason we can't use ambiguous terms in titles anyway. The title is supposed to be the common name, the name that this subject is generally called in the secondary source. The existence of another article with a similar name on a similar subject is irrelevant to the titling of this article. On GBooks, I found 167 of examples of people with guten Hochdeutsch, but only one with guten Standarddeutsch. The current title is so rare, it's practically a made up name. The Holy Four (talk) 11:18, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
      • The German terms Hochdeutsch and Standarddeutsch aren't the issue here, but the English terms High German and Standard German. Aɴɢʀ (talk) 12:12, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. Standard German is the established English term for my mother tongue and very few people understand the ambiguous High German. Aɴɢʀ is right, the issue is not what Germans call their language. —LiliCharlie (talk) 12:36, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
    • I already linked to various English-language dictionaries in the nomination, not to mention ngrams. If that's not enough, here's Google Trends. "High German" outpaces "Standard German" 49-2 as a search term for U.S. readers. From reading the article, my sense is that, far from being an "established term", "Standard German" is in fact a homespun translation of Standarddeutsch. The Holy Four (talk) 13:50, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
      • As mentioned my mother tongue is German, but the majority of my family are Americans who don’t speak German well, or not at all. We have used Standard German for decades in conversation about language differences. It’s not an invented expression, but one in constant use. P.S.: We also sometimes use the term High German as opposed to Low German, both words referring to dialects of the language. P.P.S.: Please cite authoritative specialized secondary references instead of Google, German institutions and non-specialized dictionaries. —LiliCharlie (talk) 15:09, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. High German is, at best, ambiguous, and the natural way to disambiguate is to use the term Standard German. The hatnote is sufficient. --Boson (talk) 12:48, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Is it standard or pluricentric?[edit]

All the articles about German have this "it's pluricentric" sentence, but it was clearly added without reviewing the content of the articles and it doesn't make much sense.

I'm not saying "standard" and "pluricentric" can't co-exist. What I'm saying is that this article (like the rest) doesn't make any effort to explain how they co-exist in the case of German.

The article talks about many "varieties" of standard German. So, there are multiple standard Germans? I.e. there is no one "standard German", but various?

I really can't understand this article. Every paragraph contradicts itself.

Is it true that there is one standard written German, and no agreed way to pronounce it? Is that what the article is trying to say?

The article says: "regional variants are permissible in contemporary Standard German". Who is the authority that decided that regional variants are part of Standard German? Is there an official international body that standardises the German language including pronunciation? (Council for German Orthography?)

If not, the article mentions "the Duden series". If that's the most recognised authority on German pronunciation, is it the real "Standard German" pronuncation? --Gronky (talk) 13:59, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

I think "pluricentric" mainly means Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. It doesn't refer specifically to pronunciation. --Boson (talk) 11:41, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

I deleted the "pluricentric" sentence[edit]

German is pluricentric, but this article is about one variant of German, called Standard German. It's not Berlin German, for example. And while some would say Hanover German is closest to being standard, the slang from inner city Hanover isn't part of Standard German.

But, that said, generic language courses for foreigners never primarily use Bavarian, Austrian, or Swiss German pronunciation. (Specific courses with a regional emphasis might, but the general ones don't.) So it seems that a "Standard German pronunciation" does exist. There's no international organisation saying what is standard German pronunciation, but it seems there's a clear consensus that a certain pronunciation is standard. (I can't put my finger on it, but it's closest to the pronunciation of central Germany.)

Can anyone help dig up references to say what is considered standard German pronunciation? Thanks. Gronky (talk) 08:53, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

I have no objection to the removal of the sentence from the intro, but it could indeed be said that there are different (Austrian, German, and Swiss) versions of standard German. However, it is somewhat complicated. In Switzerland, for instance, German is an official language, and official communications use Swiss Standard German (German: de:Schweizer Hochdeutsch). In addition to this, the Swiss in the German-speaking part of Switzerland usually speak Swiss German (German: de:Schweizerdeutsch), which is in fact a generic term for the different versions of Alemannic German, which is also spoken in parts of Germany. Alemannic German is in fact often described as an independent language and has its own ISO language code. The situation is similar in Austria, where there is Austrian Standard German (German: de: Österreichisches Deutsch), the (official) national standard variety of the German language in Austria (which is different from the standard German of Germany), as well as the "spoken" language of Austria, which is normally Bavarian, also often classified as a language rather than a dialect.--Boson (talk) 11:38, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
As regards punctuation, Duden 6 (Das Aussprachewörterbuch) is usually considered a reliable source. Or are you looking for a source stating that Duden is a reliable source? --Boson (talk) 11:50, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for this. I'm mostly interested in the pronunciation. I came here looking to know what I should learn to have a standard German accent. But I'd also like to generally improve these articles now that I've started to dig into them.
I think the problems stem from people not noticing that languages have multiple facets and each facet can have one, multiple, or no standards. So trying to give a yes/no answer about "standard German" can only lead to a misleading oversimplification. What I have so far is:
  • There is one official standard spelling (1996) (by official I mean approved by governments)
  • There is no official standard pronunciation
    • ...or maybe there are, such as government approved school books?
  • There are multiple "standards" of German, but this is when "standard" is used in the sense of "version", which isn't the sense at the subject of this article. This article is about "standard" in the sense of common, general.
What I don't know yet is:
  • Is there any official standard for grammar?
  • Is there enough consensus around one pronunciation to call it "standard German pronunciation"?
    • I think so. I have german self-study courses from about ten different publishers and they all teach the same pronunciation (e.g. ich is always ich; never ik or isch)
  • Is punctuation officially standardised in the 1996 spelling reform? If so then I guess that's the standard.
Any more comments are very welcome. Gronky (talk) 12:30, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Duden is commonly regarded as an authority on various questions about the German language (including grammar) but, of course, has no official status, On the other hand, if a teacher marked something as wrong he or she would have a problem if a Duden said otherwise. As regards spelling and punctuation, this is "regulated" by the so-called "spelling reform", but since the "government" has no mandate or authority to regulate how citizens should speak or write, this is binding only on servants of the state, including what teachers teach. However, it has become the de facto standard, and, of course, the newer editions of Duden have largely taken the new "standard" on board, as have most other writers (eventually). Since, in Germany, culture and education are the responsibility of the individual (federated) states, not the federal government, the "spelling reform" was agreed between the 16 German states and Austria and Switzerland. So spelling and punctuation are largely standardized, though Switzerland does not use "ß". I believe one particular dictionary commissioned or published by the state has some sort of official status in Austria, and there are a number of differences in vocabulary between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The main point about "common, general" is that - apart from orthography - what is common in Austria, is not common in Switzerland and Germany, so there are three standards by that measure, just as there is no standard English that encompasses American English and British English.
As regards pronunciation I would recommend Duden 6 as a guide. I would say that there is a fairly broad consensus on roughly what constitutes standard pronunciation, but many Bavarians, in particular, would probably disagree. And even the general consensus allows some variation. Differences among Germans when speaking standard German include differences in the pronunciation of 'r', which has four "accepted" pronunciations. Only one is used in the body Duden 6 but, as the introduction explains, that stands in for all of the standard variants. There are also variants when speaking clearly, e.g. when dictating, just as in English "the" has three basic pronunciations (before consonants, before vowels, and when used alone or when speaking especially clearly). --Boson (talk) 00:35, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Ok, so, how can that broad consensus be described in Wikipedia articles? (I came here to solve my own questions, but I generally try to improve wikipedia first and let my questions get resolved as a side effect.)
Since all the language learning materials teach an accent from Germany (and not the Bavarian part), would it be fair to call that Standard German? Or maybe Standard German from Germany? The latter avoid resistance from certain groups, but it's also parly misleading since foreigners preparing to live in Austria or Switzerland generally use the same learning materials as those moving to Germany, so it seems more accurate (although less politically correct) to refer to it as simply Standard German. Right/wrong?
Is Duden 6 also used in the other German-speaking countries? When Swiss teachers are teaching Standard German, do they switch into a Standard German pronunciation or do they keep going as if it was Swiss German?
I've bodly edited the intro but it's a work in progress (but still an improvement to what was there). Gronky (talk) 07:33, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I am not sure what you are getting at exactly. You seem to be concentrating on pronunciation, and I think that is described reasonably well in the section Standard German#Phonology and the main article linked to there. What might be needed is a reference to a reliable source confirming the status of Duden. As the German phonology article states, there is a continuum, with local dialect influencing pronunciation when speaking standard German (and pronunciation of Swiss standard German being different again). I don't have any experience of Swiss teachers, but I imagine they mainly use the standard Swiss pronunciation of Swiss standard German (which is different from standard German in Germany, though I don't know if all Swiss people see it that way). Their accent will doubtless be influenced somewhat by the local dialect. Swiss German (as opposed to Swiss standard German) is virtually incomprehensible to most Germans. This is why it is often classified as a separate language. There are a number of differences in vocabulary and syntax between the different German languages and between different dialects within those languages. Swiss standard German is probably much more influenced by French. Swiss people will often say "merci" where a German would say "danke" (this is also true of speakers of Alsatian. Swiss IT people may also say things like "Die Mutationen laufen am Dienstag" - with a typical Swiss sing-song and different vowel sounds - where a German would say "Der Änderungsdienst läuft am Dienstag). And Austrians have names for fruit and vegetables unknown in most of Germany. --Boson (talk) 17:22, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I am a German native speaker and would like to comment on Standard German which I define here as the variety used by professional speakers and writers in national (überregional) media (TV, radio, newspapers, books etc.). You can compare my observations to what you know about Standard Englishes world-wide.
As far as morphology and syntax are concerned I can’t think of a single difference between existing national standards. When different forms are possible (e.g.: der Dschungel ~ das Dschungel ~ die Dschungel) they are acceptable everywhere, and areas where preference is given to a certain form don’t coincide with countries.
Word usage is a different matter. Though the core vocabulary is virtually identical (again, variation in this area doesn’t coincide with national boundaries, think of Samstag vs. Sonnabend) rarer or newer words may be restricted to one of the German speaking countries (e.g. Natel to Switzerland, and of course legal and administrative terminology). In media aiming at an international audience such words are often avoided, or used for special effects/a regional touch.
It is difficult to place professional actors/speakers by their accent (pronunciation), no matter where they grew up or live, even though way over 90% of people who speak Standard German in all other respects can easily be placed, at least roughly. There are however a couple of words that may betray even professionals, e.g. fesch is /feːʃ/ in Austria but /fɛʃ/ elsewhere, but this is a matter of phoneme selection rather than phoneme realization.
Spelling is quite uniform, but the Swiss use ss instead of ß and (usually) quotation marks à la française. Different pronunciations may also lead to different spellings, e.g. Geschoss /ɡəˈʃɔs/ vs. Geschoß /ɡəˈʃoːs/ — the first form is acceptable everywhere, but the latter is either dialectal or Standard German of Austria.
Summary: Distinct national varieties of Standard German do exist; they are less pronounced than in English let alone Portuguese, but more pronounced than in French. It’s a situation similar to Standard Mandarin Chinese (Pǔtōnghuà in PR China, HK and Macau; Guóyǔ in Taiwan; and Huáyǔ in SE Asia) if you ignore the use of traditional vs. simplified characters. —LiliCharlie (talk) 21:50, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
@Boson: I agree there's a continuum of correct ways to pronounce German, but surely Standard German is one point or one part of that continuum. Bavarian pronunciation, for example, would be on the continuum but it's not the standard for German pronunciation. When someone wants to be a news reader on a national or international channel, their boss doesn't tell them to speak like a Bavarian. Bavarian isn't wrong (and to be politically correct we should avoid the term "non-standard"), but it's not the standard. I'd like this article to be clearer about what is the standard. From listening to learning materials from ten different companies, they all seem to pronounce German the same way, so there's consensus on what the standard is but Wikipedia doesn't discuss this standard. Wikipedia instead avoids the topic and limits itself to noting that there's a continuum and none are incorrect. A reference to a reliable source confirming the status of Duden would indeed be useful (assuming the Duden gives a single definition of German as used by media professionals rather than listing the various correct variations).
@LiliCharlie: Thanks for the clarifications. What variety of German do professional actors/speakers use? Berlin? Hanover? Bavarian? I know it won't be 100% identical to any given region, but what's the closest? Or if it's not possible to pick a region, can you describe what accent they don't have? (e.g. it's not Austrian, not Swiss, not Bavarian, not Berlin, not...) Gronky (talk) 05:55, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, standard German pronunciation should be described in German phonology, which includes "the pronunciation taught to language learners is that of central Germany, which is thus referred to as "standard German pronunciation". Perhaps a similar statement should be included in the phonology section of this article. This article does include "For the pronunciation, there is no officially recognised standards body but the pronunciation most commonly used in formal speech and teaching materials is similar to the formal German spoken in Hanover." Duden 6 does indeed give the standard pronunciation (of each word), what it calls Standardlautung ("the pronunciation of trained radio and TV speakers") . It also, very briefly, discusses two variations: Umgangslautung (used in normal speech rather than by newsreaders) and Überlautung (used when dictating etc.). --Boson (talk) 08:07, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
The comments about Hanover in this article and the phonology article were both added recently by me based on our conversations here :-) Before my edits there was just a strange silence regarding what standard German might resemble. I hope others can add references to confirm I'm not being overly hasty in making those edits.
I'll add a mention of Duden 6, but it would be great to have some references to justify it. It would also be good to say to what extent Austrian and Swiss media and teachers use Duden 6.
Also, there are two curious things in Standard_German#Phonology. One is that it says the Siebs standard pronunciation is based on Low German, but most other sources (including say that the (modern) standard is based on High German. (Except Ethnologue, which says standard German is "Based equally on East Upper German and East Middle German.") Is the Low German comment simply a mistake or is it just out of context (i.e. Low German might have been standard in 1900 but not today)?
And you (User:Boson) mention Duden 6 but this article says Duden 4. A quick web search suggest Duden 6 is correct. Can someone confirm?
I know I ask a lot of questions but I hope you (plural) can see we're making progress in improving these articles. Gronky (talk) 08:41, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
@Gronky: Hanover is often cited for that, you know, but it is actually one of the centres of the Low German speaking zone, a language (formerly the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League) which is linguistically remote from Standard German and closer to Dutch, so this is not an easy question to answer. Standard German is an artificial language (like Standard Chinese) that was created by Martin Luther right after the invention of movable type on the basis of a huge number of dialects, in order to reach a large readership. It must be pointed out however that only grammar and vocabulary were standardized; spelling and pronunciation came much later. Due also to an extremely late political unity of the German states there was no uniform spelling until the early 20th century (and matters of language use are still not regulated by the Federal Republic, but by the individual states). A standard of pronunciation was first created by Theodor Siebs who basically took the values for consonants from the south and those for vowels from the north. Never has there been a centre (like London was and Paris still is) from which a standard language radiated. Keep in mind it is an artificial language with elements from many different places. — When it comes to the continuum between (local) dialects and Standard German (not the continuum from one local dialect to another one) it is common practice among German scholars to speak of Regiolekte “regiolects” which are transitional by definition — For pronunciation a lot of professional actors/speakers now also use Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch by Eva-Maria Krech et al. which is larger and more detailed than Duden 6 Das Aussprachewörterbuch, but training at the WDR or similar public broadcasting institutions is also very influential. And since German spelling is comparatively regular pronunciation dictionaries are needed much less than for English. —LiliCharlie (talk) 09:27, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
That's interesting. I'll try to summarise that in the article now. Does Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch teach the same "accent" as Duden 6? Are there any documents used by the WDR which describe their pronunciation and which we could use as a references? And do you know to what extend Duden 6 and Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch are used by Swiss and Austrian media and teachers? Gronky (talk) 09:53, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch also teaches Standard German pronunciation but has a lengthy introduction (the actual word list starts on p. 283) that also deals with its relationship to regional variants of pronunciation. As I said, it is very detailed. — Unfortunately I don’t know any documents that describe WDR or DLF training for speakers to outsiders. — There are slight differences between speakers from different broadcasting institutions. For example on Belgian BRF several newsreaders tend to sound over-precise and to use a trilled [ʀ] instead of the more common fricative or approximant [ʁ]. (Interestingly something similar is true for BRF’s French speaking equivalent. — I am a trained phonetician, and I don’t think an average language user will even notice. — Besides, being trained somewhere doesn’t mean staying there for the rest of your life. Plus the same programme will often be broadcast on several channels and in several countries.) —LiliCharlie (talk) 10:52, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

@Boson: Funny you mention the use of merci for “thank you” in Switzerland. I have noticed that this usage is spreading elsewhere as well, maybe under the influence of colloquial Turkish mersi (instead of the more formal teşekkür ederim or teşekkürler). — It is difficult to say that German of Switzerland is more influenced by French than other varieties. After all there have been centuries of French influence on all German dialects and the language has myriads of Gallicism, so a handful of examples are by no means enough. —LiliCharlie (talk) 11:43, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

New version of #Phonology[edit]

A big thanks to both of you, Boson and LiliCharlie. I've now rewritten the #Phonology section. (old version) Review and references sought. The main unanswered question is to what extent those three reference works are used by media and teachers outside of Germany. Anyone know? Gronky (talk) 10:19, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

Though it would be desirable I don’t think many language teachers speak with a standard actor-like accent. Instead their intonation patterns can often be placed, and so can some of their phoneme realizations. — Krech’s Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch has a lot of authors (50 or so, but I didn’t count) from all parts of the German speaking world and explicitly deals with Austrian and Swiss variants on dozens of pages. —LiliCharlie (talk) 11:16, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Ok, but if it flags the Austrian and Swiss variants as being variants, then that's fine. The book still documents a general standard (a standard to be used if the location of the audience isn't known).
As for teachers, I see your point. Would it be accurate to say that language teachers generally use this standard? Gronky (talk) 11:28, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
On pp.1-2 of the introduction it first talks about
  • ...die Standardaussprache, die Gegenstand dieses Wörterbuches ist
  • ...the standard pronunciation which is the topic of this dictionary
in the singular, then it goes on:
  • Da sich das Deutsche zu einer plurizentrischen Sprache entwickelt hat, bildeten sich jeweils eigene Standardvarietäten (und damit Standardaussprachen) in Deutschland, Österreich und der Deutschschweiz heraus. Sie sind jedoch z.T. auch über die eigenen Landesgrenzen hinaus im Gebrauch.
  • As German has developed into a pluricentric language separate standard varieties (and hence standard pronunciations) have developed in each of Germany, Austria, and German speaking Switzerland. However in part these are in use beyond the own national boundaries.
This seeming contradiction is later resolved by talking about
  • regionale und soziolektale Varianten
  • regional and sociolectal variants
and acknowledging the basic homogeneity of Standard German pronunciation on the higher level of language use.

I am not too sure most language teachers are well trained when it comes to an impeccable standard accent. —LiliCharlie (talk) 12:14, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
I've added those quotes to the article as a reference, and further toned down the claim that language teachers use it. Gronky (talk) 12:38, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
All right. Next I would like to comment on why a Hanover accent sounds close to the standard. Consider the English word poison-ivy spoken with different English accents from around the world. You will notice that the consonants are almost identical everywhere, but that the vowels differ wildly, and so does intonation. The same is true of German (unless it is broadly dialectal). As mentioned above Siebs took the vowels from the north, and this is why generally northern accents sound more like the Standard. Now Hanover also happens to have intonation contours that are similar to Siebs’s idea of what Standard German should sound like, and voilà: the result is that the accent of this city came to be considered the standard accent by many (laymen). —LiliCharlie (talk) 13:00, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
(I have to go offline now but I'll be back tonight or tomorrow)Gronky (talk) 13:09, 29 November 2013 (UTC)


This map mostly follows modern borders - established after the end of the war - and cannot possibly contain in each colour-shaded area the speakers that speak a specific variety. Austria, for example is an extremely new country, whose borders were decided by politicians with little concern for the people on the ground - Its borders and the borders of Austrian German can't be so near-identical. And what about the Germans in the Sudetenland who still speak German? Granted that many moved to Germany after the war and again with the end of the Cold War. But the fact remains that German is still spoken in these areas. Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 16:32, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Are there any sources for the (rather preposterous) claim that Standard German has no native speakers?[edit]

@User:Kwamikagami: Please provide WP:SOURCES for your claim that Standard German has no native speakers. Otherwise, that claim is WP:OR and must be removed from Wikipedia. Please note that WP:OTHERSTUFF does not count as a source in any way.

And please stop edit-warring over such a silly question. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 19:03, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

I'm taking my lead from you and the other editor who claims to know about this. And please keep the discussion in one location. (I answered at Talk:Austrian German.) — kwami (talk) 19:11, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

Number of speakers[edit]

Ethnologue DOES give a number of Standard German speakers. It's entry on "German, Standard" says: 69,800,000 in Germany (European Commission 2012). Population total all countries: 78,093,980. L2 users: 8,000,000 in Germany (European Commission 2012). The previous number of 88M is probably unrepresentative. ~80M L1 and ~20M L2 would be the logical numbers according to Ethnologue/Ammon (2014); see also numbers at List of territorial entities where German is an official language. --37ophiuchi (talk) 20:27, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

"Standard" means different things in different sources. The ISO code is just "German". With Ethnologue and Glottolog, they mean the language that the standard is based on, as opposed to Bavarian or Bernese. That's not how we're using the word "standard", as the standardized register of the language. Since Ethnologue and Glottolog only issue codes for languages, not for standardized registers, they have no conflict. Since we cover both, we do, and we cannot blindly follow their naming. The previous thread was over whether Standard German has any native speakers at all. Evidently it does, but not everyone speaking the ISO language [deu] necessarily speaks the standard register. Certainly as a native speaker you should be aware of the difference between Swiss German and Swiss Standard German.
If you want to change the topic of this article to [deu], that would require a complete rewrite. — kwami (talk) 20:38, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
In this case, the Wikipedia article "Standard German" is about the orthographic system, not about a language in that sense, thus the term "speakers" would not really be applicable at all. Concerning the number of Standard German L1 speakers: It would be utterly futile to attempt an assessment of that since dialectal flexations can be extremely subtle yet present. Where does Standard German end and the next closest "dialect" begin? Yes, Hochdeutsch is based on the Hannover variety of German, but even there, some flexations exist (e.g., "ch" instead of "g" --> Schlagzeug = Schlachzeuch). If a Standard German language/"dialect" would really be defined as exactly pronouncing everything as it is written, there might truly be close to no native speakers of such a hypothetical language. I think it would be similar for Standard forms of Italian or Arabic (tho I am not sure). Now, if we would allow for -some- leeway wrt to pronunciation, thereby trying to include people who -almost- speak Standard German, then such a leeway would be all but arbitrary and undefinable. I think it should be made more clear that our articles on German/Austrian/Swiss Standard German more refers to orthographic systems/standardized registers, than "languages/dialects". --37ophiuchi (talk) 21:14, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. If that's not clear already, it should be. BTW, Modern Standard Arabic is commonly said to have no native speakers. With Italian, from what I understand a lot of people are natively bilingual.
A standardized register is more than just orthography: it can be grammar, lexicon and accent as well, though languages are standardized to different extents. — kwami (talk) 06:51, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
I also propose to merge "Standard German" with "Austrian/Swiss/German Standard German". Give each of the latter mentions (really small articles anyway) a section on the main article and that's it. --37ophiuchi (talk) 10:16, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
Support. I expect that would be more accessible to the reader. — kwami (talk) 22:06, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Language codes for Standard German[edit]

@Kwamikagami: I don't understand why the ISO 639-3 code (=the ISO 639-2/T code) deu is given but not the ISO 639-1 code de and the ISO 639-2/B code ger. These codes are defined as being equivalent even though they are variously labelled "German, Standard", "Deutsch" or "Tedesco" and simply "German" (cf. Relationship between ISO 639-3 and the other parts of ISO 639: "The denotation represented by alpha-3 identifiers included in both ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3 is the same in each standard, and the denotation represented by alpha-2 identifiers in ISO 639-1 is the same as that represented by the corresponding alpha-3 identifiers in ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3.")

Also why not give the Glottolog code stan1295 which clearly excludes non-standard varieties of German? Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 03:22, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

@LiliCharlie: I have reinstated your improvements since there are no justifications for the revert so far. Sorry for the error in the edit summary. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 04:55, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
Hi. The problem here is one of labeling. What we are calling "Standard German" is different from what Glottolog and Ethnologue use that name for. We mean the national standard; Glottolog and Ethnologue mean the native language intelligible with the national standard.
Glottolog does not provide codes for language standards. It only provides codes for distinct languages, and Standard German is not a distinct language from German. You can see that in the dialects assigned to it, such as Alsatian. (Alsatian is not part of the German standard.) Per Ethnologue, [deu] has 130M native speakers. Whether the national standard has native speakers or not, it certainly doesn't have 130M of them. E also says many varieties of [deu] are not mutually intelligible, and if a variety is unintelligible with the national standard it certainly isn't the national standard.
If you want to keep the codes, then we need to replace the content of our article with the German language that the standard is based on. Our current German language has rather broad scope per the info box, but practically it covers what Eth. and Glot call "Standard German". — kwami (talk) 01:37, 2 April 2016 (UTC)