Stage German

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Stage German is a unified pronunciation rules on the German literary language in the theater business in the German speaking, which established itself in the 19th century. According to Theodor Siebs , the “stage language [...] should be a noble and therefore very purely spoken language. Under no circumstances, however, should the care of the pronunciation disturb the liveliness of the expression […] ”.


The NHG had developed from the 15th century, first as a pure literary language, which mediated between the regional dialects. Spoken German, on the other hand, remained the respective dialect into the 19th century .

When the German-speaking theater became more and more popular around 1800, there was a need for a uniform pronunciation for stage performances. In 1898 it was codified in Berlin at a conference of Germanists and theater directors. In the same year the standard work Deutsche Bühnenaussprache by the Wroclaw professor of German studies Theodor Siebs was published .

Stage German was based on the sound values ​​of the written language and gained a great reputation as "pure standard German" in the course of the 19th century. Strictly speaking, it is essentially a North German pronunciation of the New High German written language, which was originally based on southern German pronunciation habits. An example of this is the requirement to pronounce the final syllable <-ig> basically as -ich , for which room acoustic reasons were put forward. In Germany the pronunciation -I has established itself as "correct", but not in Austria and Switzerland . Another element of stage German is the "rolling R" ( tongue tip R ).


The main principles of the scheme:

  1. New pronunciation rules should not be laid down, but existing usage should be determined; where differences arise, they are to be evened out according to the most common and most appropriate pronunciation.
  2. Spelling can never be the measure of pronunciation. Writing is always something secondary to pronunciation.
  3. The fixed regulation only takes into account calm, intellectual speech; A certain leeway must be left to express the mood.
  4. Cases in which rhyme, rhythm or the rare use of language require special deviations from the usual are excluded from the regulation.

The peculiarity of the German stage pronunciation:

  1. The linguistic-historical assessment wins from the points on which the pronunciation is unanimous on all German theaters.
  2. The stage must above all be clear and effective from a distance, and therefore its language is characterized by a slower tempo and greater effort than our colloquial language.
  3. The foreign words are of great importance, because their - mostly underestimated - number is very large, and with the pronunciation, even on good stages, understandably many violations are made.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Theodor Siebs: German stage language . 11th edition. Verlag Albert Ahn, Bonn 1915, p. 10 .
  2. ^ Theodor Siebs: German stage language . 11th edition. Verlag Albert Ahn, Bonn 1915, p. 15 .