Deutsche Standard-Aussprache (lessons in German schools?)

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by bearded, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. bearded

    bearded Senior Member

    I would like to know whether at the schools of German-speaking Countries there is a teaching of the standard German pronunciation, along with grammar teaching. In my Country the standard pronunciation is not taught, so most people keep their regional speech (especially in the ''lower classes'') and Italians are able, as soon as another Italian opens his mouth, to guess what region he comes from.
    Ist es bei Ihnen auch so ?
  2. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member


    when I was in the first class in school, (1960), we learned intonation of each vowel and consonant, and we learned a kind of standard pronunciation, but may be too "exact". The principle is to pronounce it as it is written, this include some modification rules, of course.

    One of the most essential part was 1. to pronounce all syllables (in coll. language mostly end syllables are weakende, and partly omitted) and 2. to pronounce hard consonants hard (this is different to the local dialect.)

    In German language there is a standard "Bühnenaussprache" - we did not learn these stage pronunciations.

    In later years we did not learn pronunciation but style.

    I do not know the current status.
  3. lingpil Senior Member

    German & Russian
    In my school time (until 2006, so pretty recent) the programm was (or rather has been) supposed to be taught in standard German, but no one really spoke like an anchorman on TV. The style was more kind of a "dialect light" and quite close to the standard language, with some more or less strong dialectal influences. The younger generations in Germany generally don't speak dialects as strong as their parents or grandparents did due to the medial influence. (Shows in standard German, Hollywood movies dubbed in the standard language, etc.) So people understand each other well across the country, but you can still, at least roughly, determine where someone comes from. From my experience with Italian I'd say it's quite similar.
  4. Kurtchen Senior Member

    German - Norddeutschland
    Of course I cannot speak for other people, especially from other countries, but in my neck of the woods we certainly didn't take special elocution lessons.
    Forms of diglossia do exist where people sometimes will 'schnack up platt', but those are rare :)
  5. Glockenblume Senior Member

    Deutsch (Hochdeutsch und "Frängisch")
    In the '80s in Franconia (Franken):
    Teachers payed attention to pronounce correctely the -m and the -n at the end of the declensions.
    But otherwise their pronounciation was half way between so called standard pronounciation and dialect, somewhere in the middle:
    a bit more standard for dictations and a bit more dialect when the spoke to us.
    Some of the teachers had real difficulties to pronounce the "t" and the "p", which they pronounced like "d" and "p".
    As for "s", it was only in foreign language courses where I heard for the first time in my life that there where two different ways to pronounce the "s"- , for all "s" where pronounced in my region like "ss".
    A citation from my Latin teacher:
    "Ihr könnd ja allä kei Deudsch!" (=Ihr könnt ja alle kein Deutsch.) - the "l" pronounced in pressing the tip of the language to the under teeth (typical for the regional dialect).

    ... I forgot:
    The only matter where we learned a real standard pronounciation that was in the school chorus:
    a good pronounciation of the "t" and the "s" - and what is special for chorus and not necessary for speaking: the "r" pronounced à l'italienne ("italienisches 'r' ").
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2013
  6. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    In Germany, it is getting less and less of in issue in school. Since the 1980 you can see a rapid loss of dialectal speech with younger people who seem to learn German more from TV than from their peers; at least in urban areas. They even start to take counter measures in schools. In the state of Schleswig-Holstein, e.g., "Platt" (the regional language) is actively taught at school (click).

    In Austria, standard German has traditionally been viewed as a kind of foreign language used for written communication only. The traditional expression for standard German is nach der Schrift reden (to speak according to writing). In urban areas you find a growing minority of younger people (< 30) who speak standard German. This correlates very nicely with the introduction of cable and satellite TV that exposed more Austrians to German TV in the 1980s.

    In Switzerland, there is an active drive to reduce the influence of standard German. Germanic speaking Swiss certainly regard standard German as "foreign" and don't want to be confronted with it more than absolutely necessary in their daily lives.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
  7. bearded

    bearded Senior Member

    Many thanks to all of you for the very intesting information.
  8. Dan2

    Dan2 Senior Member

    English (US)
    I'd like to ask a related question.

    I've traveled in German-speaking countries only briefly, so I don't have a lot of experience, but when I've been in Bavaria and Austria (and of course Switzerland, but let's put that aside) a common occurrence seems to be that people to whom I wish to speak (for ex., in a store or office), if they are already speaking among themselves, are speaking something that is so dialectal that it's not intelligible to me. Then I make my request in (accented) standard German and a conversation in standard German ensues (sometimes their standard German clearly sounds accented to me). They may go back to "dialect" when I leave.

    The structure of the interaction seems very much as if I had spoken English: they have "switched languages" to accommodate me.

    Does this happen also to native German speakers from the north visiting Austria? Bavaria?

    Are there additional areas where Germans consciously think, "Oh this is a foreigner (or a native standard-German speaker), I have to switch to the standard language"?

    (In contrast, a British visitor to the US will easily understand my conversation with an American friend, and if he addresses me, I will make no change in the way I speak.) (Of course, I already speak the "standard language". He's the dialect speaker. :) )

    And to those German-forum regulars who wish to answer: Suppose you're walking down the street of your home town talking to a friend from your town; I approach and say, accented but fully understandable, "Entschuldigung, können Sie mir mal helfen? Ich suche ..." Which of you would consciously (or maybe unconsciously, by habit) think, "I need to switch dialects"?

  9. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    In principal, "German" is a federation of various dialects that are much more heterogeneous than anything you have in English and Standard German is a more or less artificial lingua franca within this confederation. So, in theory, all people are bilingual, their local dialect and Standard German for written communication ("Schriftsprache") and to talk to non-locals.

    It is a relatively recent phenomenon, that a significant part of the population use standard German as their native dialect. Even Goethe is known to have spoken with a very think Frankfurt dialect.

    So, what you experienced was that with those people the traditional diglossia was still intact. This is so for probably 80% of Austrians and maybe the same for Bavarians in rural areas. In Munich, this is totally different. You can spend days there without hearing any "true" Bavarian.

    Some local dialects have died out, like the Platt spoken around Hanover. That is why they are regarded as speaking the most neutral German. Their local dialect wasn't standard like at all. It just doesn't exist any more.
  10. Liam Lew's Senior Member

    I think I wouldn't even have to switch to standard German. Only if there was something you didn't understand, I would pronounce it standard German. We don't have such a strong dialect in Hamburg.
  11. lingpil Senior Member

    German & Russian
    It depends on (at least) three factors: not only where do you come from and who are you talking to, but also what have you been speaking among your family. I live in a region where the dialect differs significantly from standard German, but due to my special background I don't speak the Franconian dialect. I speak a pretty clear standard German slightly accented by a Russian influence. (An accent I simply can't get rid of.) But also many friends of mine who I went to school with and whose families have been living in Franconia for a couple of generations, speak a language coming close to the standard. Like some other posters mentioned above that's not unusual since a couple of decades, especially in towns and cities. So I doubt that one of us would switch our language style when talking to a foreigner. On the other hand it can happen that two people coming from the same region work in the same office for years and are used to talk to each other in a German that is more or less close to the standard, and then one of them gets a phone call and starts talking in a Bavarian or Saxonian or an another dialect, which is nearly intelligible for the other. So the family factor is quite important too.
    I agree that strong dialect speakers speak an accented form of standard German, but I wouldn't compare the switch between the dialect and the standard language to a switch to a foreign language. Since we are constantly exposed to the standard by using the media and the grammar doesn't differ much between dialects and the standard German it's not that "unnatural" to speak the standard. Strong dialect speakers can't simply hide their origines, like I wrote in my first post. You can hear where someone comes from.
    At the end of the day the answer to the question what you'll get to hear depends on the situation, as well as on the person you are talking to.
  12. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    I came from an area with a strong dialect (itzgründisch, belonging to the Franconian group).
    So I agree basically to what lingpil said.

    They have the dialect to speak to each other, and they switch to standard German with an accent when speaking to people from other regions (not speaking their dialect) or to foreign people.

    I live in Dresden, but I recognize immidiately that people come throm these regions when I hear them speaking standard German.

    I can also say from accent whether someone comes from the north.

    The dialect is nearly as different to standard German as Dutch - if you consider consonant shift they are very similar.

    Own words, own grammar, but texts appear seldom in written form in dialects, and there is no standard spelling.

    Kartoffeln = Ardöpfel
    Schnittlauch = Gruserich
    Kohlrabi = Öwaschicharuhm

    Almost no grammatical past tense

    "Wo"= "who"
    der Mann, der = Dar Maa, wo = the man who ...
    other forms of articles:
    in der Küche = in der Küche = in dara Küchn = in the kitchen
    in mein Haus = in mei Haus = in my house (it sounds rather English in the dialect form),
    often they use the diminutive: in mei Häusla

    Basically you would not understand them when they are speaking fast. They do not have an own army, so it is a dialect and not a language (as the linguistich joke says).

    Why did I write the examples? To avoid the misunderstanding that the dialect is just accented language.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  13. Dan2

    Dan2 Senior Member

    English (US)
    Might it be more accurate to say: "So, traditionally all people were bilingual (or monolingual dialect speakers). Today a large portion of the population of Germany speaks, on a daily basis, a "dialect" that is so close to standard that they don't switch dialects to talk to (most) non-locals." I think you confirm this in your next paragraph:
    Your post is a good "big-picture" overview. I guess I was looking more for the personal perceptions of forum dialect speakers. For ex., it sounds like if I encountered Hutschi talking to members of his family, he would consciously "switch dialects" to speak to me. (Thanks, Hutschi, for your comments.) On the other hand, I bet if I ran into you, Bernd, talking to Sowka, I would hear what sounds to me like standard German, and it would not be meaningful to speak of "switching dialects" for me (other than maybe speaking a little slower and more clearly). So I'm interested in "calibration" of this phenomenon. What are the dialects whose speakers consciously think, "I have to switch to standard German" for this standard German speaker" and who are our "forum friends" that find themselves doing this?

    So thanks also to Liam and Lingpil for their replies.

    Anmerkung der Moderatorin: Das Thema "th" als "f" hat jetzt seinen eigenen
    Thread. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 14, 2013
  14. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    For obvious reasons, the identity of their dialects being "language it its own right" is strongest among Austrians and Swiss speakers. Within Germany, I think it applies most to Upper German and of Low German speaking area. If it weakest in areas where the native dialect is extinct and where the local vernacular is just standard German with an accent and a few peculiarities. Those are mainly formerly Low German speaking areas. In general, urban areas have a higher percentage of "native" Standard German speakers.
    < ... >
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 14, 2013

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