There are rumours that you need to travel to Germany to learn German. But let us tell you: that’s not true! The language spoken in Austria is German – pure, correct German. Maybe even a little more melodious German. 😉
Regional Variations of the German language
More than 120 million people in 8 countries around the world speak German. So it is hardly surprising that the actual usage of the German language varies. There are little differences in Austria and Germany. Switzerland on the other hand is a case of its own, with its local dialects of the vernacular “Switzertütsch” (Swiss German) remaining mostly unintelligible even to Germans and Austrians.
What is standard German?
Standard German did not develop out of one regional dialect but was artificially created by poets, philosophers and scholars. Historically and linguistically, standard German is a mixture of Middle German and High German (i.e. most Austrian dialects). At the ActiLingua Academy we only teach standard German so that our students are prepared for everyday life in Austria or Germany.
Regions of German usage
If judged on linguistic features rather than by national affiliation, there are three major regions of German usage: High German, Middle German and Low German.
Benrath line & “Weißwurst” equator
The three different regions are separated by two isoglosses. The one that separates Low German from Middle German is called the Benrath line (marked red on the map). The second one separates Middle German from High German (marked blue on the map). It is known as the Main line as it largely follows the Main River and is also often referred to as the ‘Weißwurst’ equator. (Weißwurst is a kind of sausage typical in Bavaria).
Low German is used in all regions north of the Benrath line (marked red). It did not take part in
the second vowel change in the 7th and 8th century A.D. That’s why Low German often shares more characteristics with Dutch and English than with Standard German.
High German, as used in Bavaria and Austria is very melodious and pleasant to the ear. There are few grammar variations, although some vocabulary (culinary mostly) is unique to Bavaria and Austria.
Many Austrians insist on speaking their own language. But the differences between standard German in Austria and the German used in Germany south of the Benrath line are largely negligible. Only a list of some 80 words, most of them referring to food, cooking ingredients and plants, remained.
The differences between the national standards of German are often overly exaggerated. If you want to learn German in Vienna you can rest assured that ActiLingua Academy teaches standard German according to a recognized curriculum. We use the same course books as most renowned schools in Germany. Many experts even believe that the finest, most melodious German is spoken in Austria.