The difference between German and Austrian is primarily formal. Both are recognised as languages in their own right and have significant phonetic discrepancies.
The languages spoken in Austria and Switzerland are based on German. Austrian, German, and Swiss have shared roots.
This means that:
- Austrians and the Swiss can understand Germans
- native German speakers find it challenging to understand Austrians and Swiss Germans This is because Austrian and Swiss German use expressions and rules that do not exist in German spoken in Germany.
The differences between Germans and Austrians
Regardless of the languages’ similarities, Austrians and Germans have different cultures and ways of thinking. For example, their individual senses of humour do not travel well across borders.
Austrians think Germans take everything too seriously and always want to be right. Germans, for their part, don’t view Austrians as particularly wise, so much so that the German newspaper Bild once claimed that the Austrian flag has a red stripe at the top and bottom to prevent Austrians from flying it upside down!
The German spoken in Germany
German is the most widely spoken language in Europe. It is a Germanic language with a complex grammar system and strict rules.
Unlike Romance languages, German uses four cases for its nouns, which is a direct derivation from Latin.
Unlike English and French, all letters are pronounced in German, except for the letter ‘h’. German vowels include the standard vowels of the Latin alphabet, plus three vowels with an Umlaut, a symbol that alters how they are pronounced.
The German spoken in Austria
Austrians speak ‘High German’, which differs quite significantly from the standard German spoken in Germany. The grammar, vocabulary, and phonetics are all different, meaning that the way the two languages are written and pronounced varies greatly.
One example of the difference in pronunciation involves words ending with ‘ig’, such as numbers. In Germany, zwanzig (twenty) is pronounced with a ‘ch’ sound at the end of the word, while in Austria, it is closer to a ‘k’ sound.
The German spoken in Switzerland
The written and spoken forms of German spoken In Switzerland differ greatly. The latter comprises a set of dialects used daily in Switzerland’s various cantons. The languages of neighbouring countries, such as Italian, influence these dialects. All Swiss dialects come under the umbrella of Swiss German.
The written language taught at school and used by the local government is Standard Swiss German, or a variety of Standard German.
Are you looking for a German translation service? At Eurotrad, we have over twenty-five years of experience in the field. Our German-speaking translators provide specialised translations in full respect of the differences between German, Austrian, and Swiss German.