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How to understand German dialects

Dialects are an important aspect of language, differentiating regions and countries, and offering unique grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

Dialects are an important aspect of language, differentiating regions and countries, and offering unique grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. The German language has 16 regional dialects, which sounds like a lot, however the English language has over 160! Here in Ireland, Hiberno English is spoken, with differences in words such as cupboard and press, runners and trainers.


Did you know in Germany there are 6 names for a donut? Each region has its own, for example: in Munich they say Krapfen, whereas in Stuttgart they say Berliner.


Hochdeutsch (Standard German) is the German we teach at GermanMind, and the German you will hear on the news, read in a book, and one that all native Germans will be familiar with.


In general, German can be split into High German (hochdeutsch), Mitteldeutsch (Middle German) and Low German (niederdeutsch) vernaculars. This does not indicate class or quality, but rather the high, middle and low states geographically in Germany.


High German (Hochdeutsch)- known as Bavarian German, spoken across the south of the country, and extending to Austria and Switzerland. The most commonly spoken dialects here are the Bavarian Dialect (Bayerisch), Austrian German (Österreichisches Deutsch), and Swiss German (Schwiizerdütsch).


Middle German (Mitteldeutsch)- this is the most widely spoken dialect in the country, and as you may have guessed, found in the middle regions of Germany, spreading from Dusseldorf and Cologne in the west, right across to Frankfurt and Berlin. Mitteldeutsch is home to a lot of local dialects including the most popular The Berlin Dialect (Berlinerisch), and The Upper Saxon Dialect (Sächsisch).


Low German (Niederdeutsch)- can also be referred as Plattdeutsch is found in the northern regions of Germany, and eastern areas of the Netherlands. This dialect is the least spoken out of all, with just 700,000 people (recorded 2020) speaking it, but with great efforts by the government to protect this dialect.

We have many more German learning tips and advice on our blog, and don’t forget to check out our student success stories too.

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