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Language Studies in German

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Though there is no such thing as an Austrian language Language is a system of gestures, grammar, signs, sounds, symbols, and words which are used to represent and communicate concepts, ideas, meanings, and thoughts; language is a "semantic code". The study of language is linguistics, an academic discipline founded by Ferdinand de Saussure. Those who speak a language are part of that language's linguistic community.

Making a principled distinction between one human language and another is often not possible. One major issue is the dialect continuum phenomena, where the boundaries between named language groups are necessarily arbitrary. For instance, there are dialects of German very similar to Dutch which are not mutually intelligible with other dialects of (what we call) German.
..... Click the link for more information.
, several Germanic The Germanic languages make one of the branches of the Indo-European (IE) group of tongues, spoken by the Germanic peoples who dwelled north and east along the borders of the Roman Empire. These tongues share many markers which they have in common, and which no other tongue has; of these the best known is the sound shift known as Grimm's law.

 

Writing

Some early Germanic languages
..... Click the link for more information.  dialects

 

"Dialect" or "Language"

A dialect is a variant, or variety, of a language spoken in a certain geographical area. The number of speakers, and the area itself, can be of arbitrary size. It follows that a dialect for a larger area can contain plenty of (sub-) dialects, which in turn can contain dialects of yet smaller areas, et cetera.

The concept dialect is distinguished from sociolect, which is a variety of a language spoken by a certain social stratum, from standard language, which is standardized for public performance (e.g. written standard), and from jargon and slang which are characterized by differences in vocabulary (or lexicon according to linguist jargon).
..... Click the link for more information.  are spoken in Austria The Republic of Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe, a federation of 9 states. Austria is bordered by Liechtenstein and Switzerland in the west, Italy and Slovenia in the south, Hungary and Slovakia in the east, and Germany and the Czech Republic in the north.

Republik Österreich
(In Detail) (Full size)
National
..... Click the link for more information. .

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Standard German

German (Deutsch)
Spoken in: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and 38 other countries.
Region: -
Total speakers: 128 Million
Ranking: 9
Genetic
classification: Indo-European
 Germanic
  West
   High German
    German
     Middle German
      East Middle German
       German
Official status
Official language of: Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Namibia
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1 de
ISO 639-2(B) ger
ISO 639-2(T) deu
SIL GER
..... Click the link for more information. , called "High German" in Austria, is taught in schools, but many Austrians do not consider it a native language.

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Austro-Bavarian is a common language throughout much of the country. Wienerisch, the Austro-Bavarian dialect of Vienna

   Alternate meanings: See places and things called after Vienna

Vienna (German official name: Wien, Hungarian: Bécs, Croatian: Beč, Czech: Vídeň, Serbian Beč, Slovak: Viedeň, Slovene: Dunaj) is the capital of Austria, and also one of Austria's nine federal states (Bundesland Wien). It is situated on the river Danube, and is surrounded by the Austrian federal state of Lower Austria. With a population of about 1.5 million, Vienna is the largest city and the cultural and political centre of Austria.
..... Click the link for more information. , is most frequently used in Germany The Federal Republic of Germany is one of the world's major industrialised countries, located in central Europe. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark and the Baltic Sea, to its east by Poland and the Czech Republic, to the south by Austria and Switzerland and to its west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Germany is a founding member of the European Union.
..... Click the link for more information.
 for impersonations of the typical inhabitant of Austria. The Central Austro-Bavarian dialects are more intelligible to speakers of Standard German than the Southern Austro-Bavarian dialects of Tirol

Tyrol (Tirol in German) is a federal state or Bundesland, located in the west of Austria.

Historical references to Tyrol (before World War I) include todays Tyrol, South Tyrol and East Tyrol

The mountainous region neighbors to Vorarlberg in the west and Salzburg and Carinthia in the east. It is split into two parts, separated by a 10-20 km wide band of the state
..... Click the link for more information. .

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Vorarlbergerisch, spoken in Vorarlberg

Vorarlberg is the westernmost federal state of Austria. Though it is the second smallest in terms of area (Vienna is the smallest), it borders three countries:

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Germany (Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg)

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Switzerland (Graubünden and St. Gallen)

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Liechtenstein,

as well as the Austrian state of Tyrol.

Due to their isolated location from the rest of Austria, the people in
..... Click the link for more information. , is an Alemannic

Alemannic comprises the following dialects:

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Swiss German (mostly in Switzerland), also called High Alemannic (the other dialects listed here are Low Alemannic).

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Alsatian (in Alsace, in France)

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Swabian (mostly in Schwaben, in Germany)

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Alemán Coloneiro (in Venezuela)

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Walser (originally in the Wallis Canton of Switzerland)


..... Click the link for more information.  dialect similar to Swiss German Swiss German (Schweizerdeutsch, Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizerdütsch, Schwyzertütsch) is any of the High German dialects spoken in Switzerland. The term Hochdeutsch (High German) is, in a Swiss context, often reserved for Standard German, which is imported from Germany and thus not a Swiss German dialect.

Unlike most dialects in modern Europe,
..... Click the link for more information. .

The two southern provinces of Styria Styria (Steiermark in German, Štajerska in Slovenian) can refer to:

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Styria - a federal state of Austria

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Styria - an informal province in Slovenia

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Styria - a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire and crownland of Austria-Hungary


..... Click the link for more information.  (Steiermark) and Carinthia

 

Carinthia (German Kärnten, Slovenian Koroška) is a federal state or Bundesland, located in the south of Austria.

It covers an area of 9,536 km² with 559,404 inhabitants (2001).

It consist mostly of a basin inside the Alps, with the Carnian Mountains making up the border to Italy and Slovenia. The Tauern mountains divide it from Salzburg. To the East lies the state of Styria and it makes up a continuous valley with the eastern part of the Tirol to the West. Its lakes are a major tourist attraction. The main river is the Drau.
..... Click the link for more information.  (Kärnten) speak variations of the Southern Austro-Bavarian dialect range similar to the common tyrolean dialect which originates near Innsbruck Innsbruck (population 120,000) is a city in southwest Austria, and the capital of the Tirol province. Located on the Inn River, it is a famous winter sports centre.

The Olympic Winter Games were held in Innsbruck twice, first in 1964, then in 1976 when the city replaced Denver, Colorado as the venue after Colorado voters rejected a bond to finance the games.

 

External links

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Official homepage

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Tourismus information

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University of Innsbruck

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Airport

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Congress (convention centre)

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Live-cam Maria-Theresien-Strasse

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virtual-tour Tirol/Innsbruck


..... Click the link for more information.  (but it has to be said that Tyrol Tyrol was a county of the Holy Roman Empire until its dissolution in 1806, and a crownland of Austria-Hungary until it dissolved in 1918.

The southern part of Tyrol was occupied by Italian forces at the end of World War I and was subsequently ceded to Italy. The northern part is today a federal state of Austria called Tyrol, while the South Tyrol today constitutes the Italian province of Bozen-Bolzano.
..... Click the link for more information.  has many dialects).

Simple words in these dialects are very similar, but pronunciation is distinct for each and it is very easy for an Austrian after a few spoken words to judge which kind of dialect of Austria someone speaks, and most dialect words are understood but if it goes into the dialects of the deeper valleys of Tyrol Tyrol was a county of the Holy Roman Empire until its dissolution in 1806, and a crownland of Austria-Hungary until it dissolved in 1918.

The southern part of Tyrol was occupied by Italian forces at the end of World War I and was subsequently ceded to Italy. The northern part is today a federal state of Austria called Tyrol, while the South Tyrol today constitutes the Italian province of Bozen-Bolzano.
..... Click the link for more information. , sometimes even other Tyroleans are hopeless to understand the dialect.

A good reference for the Austrian, Bavarian and other German dialects are the dialect ("Mundart") editions of Asterix Asterix (originally Astérix) is the fictional hero of a series of comic books created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in France. The books have been translated into many languages (including Latin and ancient Greek) and are available in most countries. It's probably the most popular French comic in the world.

 

Setting and characters

Asterix lives around 50 BC in a fictional village in northwest Gaul (
..... Click the link for more information.  and Obelix Obelix (originally Obélix) is a fictional character, a sidekick with superhuman strength in the Asterix comic books. His job when not bashing Romans is as a menhir delivery man. He has a little dog named Idefix (Dogmatix in English editions).

Unlike all other Gauls in the village, Obelix has no need to drink the druid's magic potion, because he fell into the cauldron as a baby, making its effect upon him permanent.
..... Click the link for more information.  comic books which are available in Wienerisch (three editions with different dialects from inside Vienna

   Alternate meanings: See places and things called after Vienna

Vienna (German official name: Wien, Hungarian: Bécs, Croatian: Beč, Czech: Vídeň, Serbian Beč, Slovak: Viedeň, Slovene: Dunaj) is the capital of Austria, and also one of Austria's nine federal states (Bundesland Wien). It is situated on the river Danube, and is surrounded by the Austrian federal state of Lower Austria. With a population of about 1.5 million, Vienna is the largest city and the cultural and political centre of Austria.
..... Click the link for more information. ) and at least one for the common Tyrolean dialect and one for a deep Styrian dialect.

The people of Graz Graz (Slovenian: Gradec, pronounced "grahts" in German), with a population of about 240,000 is the second-largest city in Austria and capital of the province of Styria. The city is situated on the Mur river, in the southeast of Austria.

Graz was probably established in the 12th century, and it is built around the Schlossberg.

The name Graz is derived from the Slovenian word grad, meaning castle.
..... Click the link for more information. , the capital of Styria Styria (Steiermark in German, Štajerska in Slovenian) can refer to:

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Styria - a federal state of Austria

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Styria - an informal province in Slovenia

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Styria - a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire and crownland of Austria-Hungary


..... Click the link for more information. , speak yet another dialect which is not very Styrian and more easily to understand for people from other parts of Austria than other Styrian dialects, e.g. from western Styria Styria (Steiermark in German, Štajerska in Slovenian) can refer to:

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Styria - a federal state of Austria

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Styria - an informal province in Slovenia

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Styria - a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire and crownland of Austria-Hungary


..... Click the link for more information. .

preview not available. Click the link for more information.

 

Austrian News
Austrian Press & Information Service
Austrian related news and information.
APA - Austria Presse Agentur
The Austrian Press Agency (in German).
Kurier Online
News from Austria (in German).
Die Presse
National and international news (in German).
Salzburger Nachrichten
National and international news (in German).
Der Standard
National and international news (in German).
Wiener Zeitung
National and international news from Vienna with "Amtsblatt", the Offical newspaper of the Austrian Government (in German).
 Libraries
The National Library
Österreichische Bibliotheken - Austrian Libraries (in German)
Public Libraries - in Gernman
Austrian Scientific Libraries

Language

History Of The German Language

The Germanic languages departed from the other Indo-European languages by a shift in sounds called the First Germanic Sound Shift, and by other distinguishing features as well. More detail can be found here.

The language we now call German departed from the other Germanic languages (mainly English, Dutch, Scandinavian and the now extinct Gothic) by a shift in sounds called the Second Germanic Sound Shift. Its effect can still be seen by comparing modern German words with their English cognates: pound->Pfund, pipe->Pfeife, hope->hoffen, apple->Apfel, plant->Pflanze, tide->Zeit, cat->Katze, heart->Herz, hate->hassen, make->machen, weak->weich.

The rules for this sound shift are:
p->f, pp->pf, t->ss, tt->ts (written [t]z), k->ch, kk->kch, where initial p, t and k are treated like their doubled counterparts. The p->(p)f shift is quite regular, and so is the t->(t)s shift, which is somewhat blurred by the later differentiation between tz and ss. The k->(k)ch shift, however, is fully in effect only in Swiss German; in standard German and in most of its dialects we find kk (written [c]k) instead of kch. (The characters in square brackets are not written initially in a syllable.)

The Second Sound Shift divides Germany into a smaller Northern part (without the sound shift) and a larger central and Southern part (with the sound shift). The border between the two regions approximates a line passing through Cologne (Köln) and Berlin, but there is a more or less fuzzy region of more than a hundred kilometres width south of that line where the language underwent the Seconds Sound Shift only partially. In Western Germany, for instance, the non-initial t (e.g. dat and wat instead of das and was) reaches much farther south than most of the other non-shifted sounds. There are several central German dialects that have neither initial p nor pf, but f instead. The other countries where German is spoken are all south of this line. More

Language borrowing

Young children attend a Kindergarten (children's garden). Gesundheit doesn't really mean "bless you," it means "health" -- the good variety being implied. Psychiatrists speak of Angst (fear) and Gestalt (form) psychology, and when something is broken, it's kaputt. Although not every English-speaker knows that Fahrvergnügen is "driving pleasure," most do know that Volkswagen means "people's car." Musical works can have a Leitmotiv. Our cultural view of the world is called a Weltanschauung by historians or philosophers. Such terms are commonly understood by most well-read English-speakers.

More English words borrowed from German:
(Notice how many have to do with food!) - blitz, blitzkrieg, cobalt, dachshund, delicatessen, ersatz, frankfurter, glockenspiel, hinterland, infobahn (for "information highway"), kaffeeklatsch, Munster and Limburger (cheeses named for German cities), pilsner (glass, beer), pretzel, quartz, rucksack, sauerkraut, schnaps, (apple) strudel, waltz, wiener. From Low German: brake, dote, tackle.

Germanic cognate terms:
(Shared in common; mostly family-related words, parts of the body, and old basic words) - der Arm, der Ball, der Bruder, die Hand, das Haus, das Ende, das Gold, gut (good), der Finger, lang, der Mann, die Maus, Montag (Monday), die Mutter, der Vater, die Schwester (sister), der Sohn, die Tochter (daughter), das Wasser, das Wort (word).

English in German:
The following German words have been borrowed from English. Usually the only difference is the use of the German article (the - der, die, or das - masc., fem., neu.) and the capitalization used for all German nouns. The pronunciation is usually similar to English, but sometimes with a unique German twist. They are usually German's more recent borrowings. English terms: das Baby, der Babysitter, babysitten (to babysit), das Bodybuilding, das Callgirl, der Clown, der Cocktail, der Computer, fit (in good shape), die Garage, das Golf (der Golf is "the gulf" or a VW model), das Hobby, der Job, joggen (to jog), der Killer, killen (to kill), der Lift (elevator), der Manager, managen (to manage), das Musical, der Playboy, der Pullover, der Rum, der Smog, der Snob, der Streik, das Team, der Teenager, das Ticket, der Tunnel, der Trainer (coach), der Waggon (train car).

Loan Words from French (Französisch)
The following German words look like English words, but they are actually words from French that both English and German have adopted. They are more recent than the Latin borrowings below. French borrowings include: das Abenteuer (adventure), die Armee, das Ballett, die Chance, fein (fine), galoppieren, der General, die Infanterie, die Kanone, die Lanze (lance), der Offizier, die Parade, die Parole (saying, motto),der Platz (place, square), der Preis (prize, price), der Prinz, die Prinzessin, der Tanz (dance), die Uniform.

Loan Words from Latin (Latein)
Both English and German have borrowed heavily from Latin. Latin was the language of the universities in Germany and the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. Because such words are very old and have undergone changes over the centuries, some are not very obvious equivalents. For example, the German word Birne comes from Latin pirum which gave us the English word pear. Some other Latin loan words: aktiv, der Altar, der Atlas, die Disziplin, der Esel (ass, donkey), das Examen, die Feige (fig), das Fieber (fever), der Kaiser (Caesar, emperor), die Kammer (chamber), die Kamera, der Kanzler (chancellor), der Keller (cellar), das Klima, das Kloster (cloister), das Kreuz (cross), die Lilie (lily), der Markt (market), die Meile (mile), das Münster (minster, church), die Münze (money, coin), opfern (to offer, sacrifice), die Pforte (portal), das Pfund (pound), die Rose, der Student/die Studentin, die Tafel (tablet), der Wein (wine).

The German Umlaut ("diaeresis" in English)
The two dots sometimes placed over the German vowels a, o, and u are known as an Umlaut. The umlauted vowels ä, ö and ü (and their capitalized equivalents Ä, Ö, Ü) are actually a shortened form for ae, oe and ue respectively. At one time the e was placed above the vowel, but as time went by the e transformed into just two dots. In telegrams and in plain (ASCII) computer text the umlauted forms still appear as ae, oe and ue. A German typewriter or computer keyboard includes separate keys for the three umlauted characters (plus the ß, the so-called "sharp s" character). The umlauted letters are distinct from plain a, o, or u, and they are pronounced differently.

The Swiss-Germans have managed to get along just fine without the ß for many years, and with the new spelling reforms being introduced in all three German-speaking countries, Switzerland may not be alone much longer. For more about Rechtschreibreform see the New German Spelling Rules from a German Web site.

Free Online German Course
From About.com

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It's a doozy!
The English expression "doozy" (also "doozie") -- as in "Man, that one was a real doozy!" -- comes from the name of German-American car maker Frederick S. Duesenberg (1877-1932, born in Lippe, Germany) and his luxurious high-powered Duesenberg roadster. The American-built Duesenberg SJ could reach speeds of 130 mph (210 km/h). The Duesenberg Motor Company produced its streamlined, elegant motor cars from 1917 to 1937 to compete with similar expensive roadsters such as the Italian Bugatti.

On a related but different note, "Dear Doosie" by Werner Lansburgh (Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag) is a humorous love story that plays off of the German Du / Sie problem -- hence the title. Written in an interesting mix of English and German, the book can be read by anyone with at least an intermediate command of German and a good German-English dictionary. Written in the form of a series of letters, "Dear Doosie" has fun with the hazards of learning another language, in this case, a German learning English. But the book is also helpful for English-speaking learners of German -- and an amusing read besides.

 NOTE: This book may be available from Amazon.de.

 

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The Germans have a word for it

English may have more vocabulary than any other language, but that doesn't mean it has a word for everything. Every language has words and expressions that are unique and very difficult or impossible to translate into another language. The Eskimos, contrary to popular legend, do NOT really have fifty words for snow, but German gemütlich takes several words to explain in English: cozy, comfortable, warm, inviting, and hospitable. Sometimes these words or expressions are adopted wholesale into another language -- Kindergarten and Gesundheit (health), for example, from German into English. But more often the word is just unknown in other languages. German is a rich language that has words and turns of phrases that have no equal in English. (The reverse is just as true, of course.)

German makes certain distinctions that English does not. For English "to know" German has two words, each reflecting the difference between knowing something through understanding (wissen) and knowing something through recognition (kennen). A German can also understand immediately from the use of one of two distinct verbs whether an object has been "put" on a surface in a standing (stellen) or a lying (legen) position. When it comes to eating, animals and humans in German have two different words: fressen is used for non-humans, while people essen.

Some German expressions, such as Schadenfreude (a malicious pleasure or gloating over another's misfortune), don't really have an English equivalent. ("Crocodile tears" -- Krokodiltränen -- aren't really the same thing.) The adjective überfragt (lit., "over-asked," as in "Da bin ich überfragt." "You've got me there. I don't have the answer.") has no one-word English equivalent either.

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German slang and colorful expressions

One common mistake made by beginning language learners is to assume that expressions can be translated word-for-word from one language into another. (See "A Dictionary Can Be a Dangerous Thing" above.) They'll take an expression such as "to bite the dust" and render it into something like "zu beissen den Staub." Besides its word order problems (the phrase would go "den Staub beissen" in German), this literal translation makes absolutely no sense to a German-speaker. In the German language, when one "bites the dust," one actually "bites into the grass" (ins Gras beissen), perhaps because Germany is much greener than the wild West associated with this expression in English, although the German expression goes all the way back to the 16th century. More

Colorful Expressions

Cognates These are words which mean the same in German as in English. There is probably a slight difference in pronunciation. But the words are the same in both languages. By working on lists like this, vocabulary in a foreign language increases dramatically.

Additional resources with things which may be familiar to you:

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more cognates

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Dilberts Comic der Woche

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noch mehr Comics other comics

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check out advertising bloopers in various foreign countries

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Juma Magazine a German for youth online magazine

For vocabulary expansion, try these:

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German vocabulary

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Deutsche Vokabeln

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Einwortdeutsch words of one syllable with some explanation (in English)

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List of idioms

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German slang translated

The BBC offers online German Language training. MORE.

Simple Expressions

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