Austrian German and Bundesdeutsch – the Threat of Standardisation

©dpa (via Süddeutsche Zeitung)

There are many different varieties of the German language. This is important for the German speaking countries outside of Germany where the differences in vocabulary and grammar form part of a distinct national identity. This is particularly true in the case of Austria. The small neighbouring country often sees Germany as an arrogant force with little respect for Austrian sensibilities. And expecting everything to be in standard German without wanting to learn about differences is regarded as a typical “Piefke” (i.e. arrogant German) attitude.

Indeed, many Germans in the northern regions of the country are unaware of Austrian German and, if they they ever cross the border, soon find themselves struggling with the linguisitic differences, particularly in the culinary field. Austrian German knows a wealth of words and expressions connected to food that are completely different from the standard German terms and can easily cause confusion.

But it seems that some of this distinct “Austrianness” is now being lost as the influence of modern media brings about a shift towards a more prevalent use of the previously rejected “Bundesdeutsch” (i.e. the language spoken in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland). It seems that the heavenly “Paradeiser” for instance might soon be replaced with the much more prosaic “Tomate”.

Find out more about this – and about the German entrepreneur who scandalised Austrians by securing the marketing rights to the – for many – quintessentially Austrian greeting “Griaß di!” on our Facebook page and in an article by the Süddeutsche Zeitung. For more information on the often difficult relationship between Germans and Austrians, read one of our previous blog posts.