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Thank you Germany: Part 017: Your dialects offer special charm


A particular speciality of Germany are the many different dialects. They provide for a very unique charm of the different federal states. Not infrequently, the dialect also goes hand in hand with a very specific sense of humour. While people in the north of the country cultivate a casual way of speaking and humour, and Berliners have cultivated a deliberately brash way of expressing themselves, the Rhinelander, for example, prefers to ramble.

Each type of dialect thus provides its own unique character. Even though many people speak High German today, dialects are still popular again. There are also comedians and cabaret artists who perform in dialect. Some dialects even have their own name. Dialects often have a very special vocabulary to express the way of life of a region. With dialectal terms, the world view of some cities or federal states can be expressed much better than with High German formulations.

This is why artists, musicians and even poets are once again using dialect today. In contrast to the conservative preservation of language cultivated in past centuries, today the emphasis is mostly on the renewal and mutability of the language. When musicians draw on appropriate language in their songs, they often mix it with words from youth language or invent completely new formulations. Like High German, dialect is also changing. Another thing shows that many Germans also appreciate dialect: for many dialects there are small dictionaries or even translations of popular science books. Asterix and Obelix, for example, is also available in Swabian or in the Palatinate dialect.

Many people use these translations as funny gifts for good friends. The wealth of dialects only goes to show the special diversity of the German language in general. Every German has certain dialects that he or she particularly appreciates and others that he or she dislikes. In some circles it is even good manners not to like certain dialect languages. In some federal states, people like to tease the neighbouring federal state with their dialect. But this is just another case of small regional disputes that, taken as a whole, nevertheless reinforce the special cohesion of Germany. Linguists have also studied dialects. Seen as a whole, High German is actually rather a recent phenomenon compared to the dialects. It was only with the spread of written language and the mass media that High German became more and more widespread among the population. Today, however, speaking dialect is no longer a stigma compared to the past.

The decisive factor in the use of high-level language and dialect is merely the appropriate use of a language that fits the respective situation. Ideally, speakers should be able to confidently distinguish between oral language code and written language use. Where this is given, dialect often offers many good possibilities of expression in oral speech. Dialect is therefore used as an important form of linguistic expression in all strata of the population. When one hears it, one can sometimes even associate a certain feeling with it. In some languages, listeners feel at home. Other forms of language evoke certain stereotypes in them. A conscious use of language can also work with it artistically.

Last updated on 6. February 2023

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