from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A dialect ( Latin dialectus and Dialectos , ancient Greek διάλεκτος dialektos , German , conversation / discussion ' , speech', 'dialect / dialect', 'Language', from ancient Greek διαλέγεσθαι dialégesthai , German , talk to someone ' ), as a dialect called , is a local or regional language variety . It can differ from other dialects as well as from the standard language (originally written language ) in all language areas, such as phonology (sound system),Grammar - ( morphology ) (theory of forms), syntax (theory of syntax ) - lexic (vocabulary) and idioms differentiate.

The term accent , which only refers to the pronunciation, must be distinguished from the term “dialect” .

That part of linguistics that deals with the description of dialects is called dialectology . In recent linguistics, sociolinguistics also deals with dialects. If literary works are written in a dialect, one speaks of dialect literature .


Language and dialect

Basically, every utterance used for communication is a form of language . There is also sign language. Dialects are local expressions of a language (see dialect continuum ). Otherwise it is difficult to distinguish language and dialect from one another, as there are no standardized criteria for this.

It is questionable whether a distinction can be scientifically justified at all, since it is an evaluative distinction , at least within the Central European German-speaking area . In the unreflected everyday use of the two words, "language" is considered to be of higher value, "dialect" as less important. For example, “ Standard German ” is understood as a quality term for the standard German language , even if this word originally only referred to the origin (language in the geographically higher country) of various dialectal language varieties. The situation is completely different with reports on indigenous tribes, settlements and their languages, e. B. from Africa, Asia or South America. One almost always speaks of "languages" and almost never of "dialects", even if there is no written form and the number of speakers is negligible or only covers a single village.

In linguistics today, a distinction is usually made according to criteria that go back to Heinz Kloss . According to its definition, in order to be considered a language, a language must be umbrella language , extension language and distance language . Another point of view brought in Eugenio Coseriu , who made the distinction between primary, secondary and tertiary dialects.

In addition, the recognition of a dialect as a language is in many cases associated with conflicts of interest, since a separate language rather than a dialect can serve as a legitimation for the establishment of a national territory . This conflict could be observed in Europe, for example, in the Corsican , Valencian , Catalan or Occitan ( Provençal ). A large proportion of the speakers of the respective varieties demanded their recognition as a language, but this was refused by the central governments.

However, factors such as the awareness of the speaker, one's own literature, mutual intelligibility or the status of a state language also play a role in the difference between dialect and language. A subdivision must therefore be made individually.

The political side of the distinction between dialect and language becomes clear in Max Weinreich's Der yivo un di problemen fun undzer tsayt ("The Yiddish Scientific Institute and the Problems of Our Time"):

אַ שפראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמײ און פֿלאָט


- after Yivo-bleter , 1945

A shprakh iz a dialect with an armey un flot

"A language is a dialect with an army and a navy"

Standard language as the umbrella language

A standard language covers ( if there is a standard variety this is the cover) the dialects of the regions of a language / dialect continuum and is therefore referred to as the umbrella language. While the dialects of neighboring places usually differ only slightly and their speakers understand each other without any problems, understanding becomes more difficult the further the dialects are apart. Only the overarching standard language or standard variety enables mutual communication between dialect speakers of the same language or within the language system who live far away from each other. Similar to how one uses a lingua franca such as English to communicate across different language areas, often internationally, one uses a standard language for communication in one's own language area (often nationally), i.e. across all dialects of a language. For example, a dialect can definitely have an expression as a regional standard language in the supra-regional linguistic area or develop into one if it connects different dialect regions with one another as an umbrella, traffic and / or commercial language .

So covered z. B. Luxembourgish in standard German as a standard variety is a small language area with regional dialect varieties. In addition to their local Moselle-Franconian local dialects, the native speakers speak a variety of a standard language that is no longer similar to the German-speaking standard variety of standard Luxembourgish . The dialects are or were variations of the German standard variety , within the Indo-European language family of the West Germanic language group. In this particular Luxembourg case, which changed in the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, this is called diglossia in relation to belonging to standard Luxembourgish and standard French or, in the past, was called “triglossie” in addition to standard German.

A dialect is the local regional expression of a language; the standard language or standard variety is a supra-local, supra-regional umbrella language with a smaller or larger catchment area. "You can recognize dialects by the fact that you mostly speak them and rarely write them."

Standard languages ​​and their standard variety (s) are relatively young language expressions compared to the length of the history of languages ​​to date. In the historically and ethnologically oriented German dialectology since the Romantic era , the distinction between dialect and standardized language was therefore relatively unproblematic. The dialects traced back to Old and Middle High German , which means that the laws of language change, especially in the phonological and morphological areas, could be recognized and represented on the basis of their diachronic representation .

Extension language, distance language, roofless dialect

The terms " distance language ", " expansion language " and " roofless dialect " go back to the sociolinguist Heinz Kloss and represent criteria for the distinction between a variety and a language.

A variety is a distance language if it deviates linguistically very clearly from another. For example, the German word "Haus" has a large distance from the French maison and a small one from the English house due to the similar pronunciation. A typical example of this is Basque , which, as an isolated language, is undeniably a distant language to Spanish, French and the Romance dialects spoken in the area. According to this same criterion, the Sorbian (= Slavic) language is also regarded as a distant language to (West Germanic) German. But also more closely related West Germanic languages, such as German to English , behave like spaced-apart languages. The objective measurement of the linguistic distance is extremely difficult due to the large number of criteria and words.

One variety is then a development language, if indeed it is not a distance language (as used to close with another variety), but still autonomous, standardized on the basis of their own dialects written form knows ( default language ), and this in both the fiction and z. B. is used in the scientific literature. Extended languages ​​are, for example, Yiddish or Macedonian , which are linguistically close to German or Bulgarian , but in their own standard variety have such a wide range of written applications that it goes far beyond that of a dialect. Bavarian , Meissen or Swiss-German dialects, for example, are not extended languages , as they lack both a supra-regional type of script that is generally recognized in their own language area and a written use that goes beyond dialect literature and occasional uses. Swiss Standard German is also not an extended language , because this is not based on the Swiss German dialects, but is rather a variant of the general German standard language that manifests itself in a manageable number of points. The Luxembourg , however, is often seen as expanding language, even if it in the Luxembourg administration, in higher education or in the print media, where the French will be given and High German are dominant, only a small space.

Even the pair of terms “distance language - extended language” cannot clarify the distinction between dialect and standard language in all cases. That is why Kloss introduced the term roofless dialect . Such is a language variety that can be linguistically called its own language, but whose speakers no longer have any reference to the corresponding standard variety or use the standard variety of another language, e.g. in the case of Low German that of Standard German (in Northern Germany) or Dutch (in the north-eastern Netherlands). An important criterion is that it was not developed as a standard language, but rather consists of a Low German dialect continuum, which, however, changes seamlessly into the High German dialect continuum. Of course, it is often controversial whether or not “individual languages” really exist in such cases. This was confirmed for Low German insofar as it was recognized by the northern federal states of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands as an independent regional language within the meaning of the EU Charter of Minority Languages.

Mutual intelligibility

Mutual intelligibility is often mentioned as a criterion for distinguishing between dialect and language. However, the exact determination of mutual intelligibility is also controversial in linguistics.

Mutual intelligibility is only a gradual criterion, since there is a wide range of partial intelligibility between complete mutual intelligibility and incomprehensibility. For example, verbal and, in particular, written communication between users of Danish and Norwegian is possible without problems , even though they are two languages. It also depends not only on personal background (e.g. knowledge of foreign languages ​​or holidays) and the talent of individual speakers, but also on the willingness to want to understand one another.

It is mostly the case that no mutual understanding is possible and, for example, a speaker of Valais German or other dialect understands a standard German conversation much better than, conversely, a speaker of standard German a purely Valais German conversation or other dialect speakers.

At the latest when entering elementary school, each dialect speaker acquires an additional standardized language. Today, due to modern communication technologies, radio and television as well as national print media, the vast majority of dialect speakers are at least bilingual ( diglossia ), depending on their life situation, professional challenge, mobility and communication requirements .

Primary, secondary and tertiary dialects

Eugenio Coseriu distinguishes three types of dialects using the example of the Spanish-speaking area:

  • The “primary” dialect has been around for at least as long as the predominant standard language.
  • The “secondary” dialect arises from local development (diatopic differentiation) from the standard language.
  • The "tertiary" dialect represents a localized influence on the standard language.
    • z. B. in Spanish:
      • Standard Spanish with Andalusian coloring

Status of the dialect in German-speaking countries


There are clear differences in the importance of dialects within individual regions of the German-speaking area: While the local dialect is only spoken with speakers of the same dialect or within the family in many areas and non-dialect speakers often perceive it as rural or uneducated, the dialect is used in some language regions, such as in German-speaking Switzerland or some areas of East Frisia, in almost all everyday situations, regardless of social status and level of education. The retreat of dialects from people's everyday life takes place at different speeds in different regions. The "standard German language" was still perceived as a foreign language by most of the inhabitants of the German-speaking area in the 1950s, especially in the Low German-speaking area, today perhaps only by many German-Swiss, South Germans, Western Austrians and South Tyroleans.

The provision in Article 3 of the Basic Law (anti-discrimination paragraph) of the Federal Republic of Germany "Nobody may be disadvantaged or preferred because of [...] their language, origin and homeland [...]" is often not applied to dialect speakers. This factually favors the decline in dialects.

The future of dialects

The basic dialects are declining and are increasingly losing speakers and thus their importance. In his book Palatinate from 1990, Rudolf Post says that Palatine is losing nine percent of its vocabulary with each new generation. Today dialects are hardly capable of developing independent neologisms in relation to High German, the High German expression is almost always used.

Use in broadcasting

Within the ARD -Hörfunks nineties is discussed since mid-whether speakers are rejected with a recognizable dialect or even dialect if she tolerated as a "regional splash of color" or even as a profile feature of institutions - and for the care of the cultural heritage - should be encouraged. In general, a decline in the dialect on ARD radio has been observed since then, even if this is largely received negatively by the press and cultural circles. On the other hand, it is difficult to broadcast in dialect, as the broadcasting areas, especially of the larger broadcasters, are spread over several dialect areas.


Dialects in programming languages

The situation with programming languages is similar in several respects to that with natural languages. The high-level languages ​​often correspond to the variants standardized by consortia (e.g. ANSI ), while their implementations differ more or less from them. The differences relate to grammar and semantics, but sometimes also to the stock of different programming concepts. A programming language with a large number of dialects is BASIC .

As with natural languages, the dialect variety is overlaid by historical changes. So there are practically no Perl dialects, but z. B. Perl 4, which one could call "Alt" -Perl, while today Perl 5 is used almost exclusively.

Dialects in the animal kingdom


The term “dialect” also has a meaning in ornithology , ornithology: In ornithological specialist literature, different songs and calls of many songbirds are called dialects, which are typical for the region . These differences are very noticeable in some species, such as golden hammer , ortolan or chaffinch , and can be clearly heard and assigned by experienced determiners; in other species they are less audible and can only be differentiated in the sonagram . In the European avifauna , the ortolan's song is one of the best examples and also the best-studied example of the dialect expression in birds.


Different dialects have also been observed in orcas .

See also


  • Hermann Bausinger : German for Germans. Dialects, language barriers and special languages . Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1984, ISBN 3-596-26491-X .
  • Wiktor M. Schirmunski : German dialectology. Comparative theory of sounds and forms in German dialects. Edited and commented by Larissa Naiditsch, with the assistance of Peter Wiesinger . Translated from Russian by Wolfgang Fleischer. Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2010, ISBN 978-3-631-59973-0 .
  • Joachim Göschel, Norbert Nail, Gaston Van der Elst (eds.): On the theory of dialect. Essays from 100 years of research. With biographical notes on the authors (= ZDL . Supplements, New Series, 16). Wiesbaden 1976, ISBN 3-515-03498-6 .
  • Werner König : dtv-Atlas German language . Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-423-03025-9 , pp. 139–165 The German dialects .
  • Klaus J. Mattheier: Pragmatics and Sociology of Dialects . Quelle and Maier, Heidelberg 1980, ISBN 3-494-02116-3 .
  • Astrid Stedje: German language yesterday and today . Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-7705-2514-0 .
  • Paul Eßer : Dialect and Identity. Diglottal socialization and identity formation . Peter Lang, European University Theses, Frankfurt a. M. / Bern 1983, ISBN 3-8204-5832-8 .
  • Alfred Lameli: Structures in the Language Area . Analysis of the typical complexity of dialects in Germany . de Gruyter, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-11-033123-3 .
  • Karl-Heinz Göttert: Everything except standard German. A foray through our dialects . Ullstein, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-550-08877-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Dialect  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Heinz Kloss: The development of new Germanic cultural languages ​​since 1800 (= language of the present. Writings of the Institute for German Language in Mannheim. Vol. 37). 2nd, expanded edition. Pedagogical Verlag Schwann, Düsseldorf 1978, ISBN 3-590-15637-6 ; Ders .: spacing languages ​​and extension languages. In: Joachim Göschel, Norbert Nail, Gaston Van der Elst (eds.): On the theory of dialect. Essays from 100 years of research. With biographical information on the authors (= ZDL . Supplements, New Series, 16). Wiesbaden 1976, pp. 301-322.
  2. a b Thomas Krefeld: "Primary", "Secondary", "Tertiary" dialects - and the history of the Italian-speaking area. In: Lexikon, Varietät, Philologie. Romance Studies. Günter Holtus on his 65th birthday. Edited by Anja Overbeck, Wolfgang Schweickard, Harald Völker. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-026228-5 , p. 137.
  3. Quoted from Yivo-bleter , 1945, Volume 25, No. 1, p. 13. Weinreich quotes here the contribution of one of his listeners, whose name he did not mention.
  4. ^ Fernand Hoffmann : Languages ​​in Luxembourg. Linguistic and literary historical description of a triglossia situation (= German language in Europe and overseas. Vol. 6). Franz Steiner Wiesbaden, Stuttgart 1979, ISBN 978-3-515-02985-8 , p. VII.
  5. Ulrich Ammon : The position of the German language in the world. De Gruyter, Berlin / Munich / Boston, Mass. 2015, ISBN 978-3-11-019298-8 , pp. 20 ff.
  6. dpa interview with linguist Norbert Dittmar . In: Landshuter Zeitung . No. 191. August 20, 2011, p. 16.
  7. See the study by the Augsburg Germanist Peter Maitz cited in the article Bavaria drives children in dialect from the Süddeutsche Zeitung of October 19, 2016.
  8. Ralf Wassermann: Ornithological Pocket Lexicon. Aula, Wiesbaden 1999, ISBN 3-89104-627-8 , p. 49.
  9. Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim (ed.): Handbook of the birds of Central Europe. Edit and a. by Kurt Bauer and Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim. 17 volumes in 23 parts. Academ. Verlagsges., Frankfurt / M. 1966 ff., Aula-Verlag, Wiesbaden 1985 ff. (2nd edition). Volume 14: Passeriformes . Part 5. Aula-Verlag, Wiesbaden 1997 (3rd edition). Volume 3: Emberizidae , ISBN 3-89104-611-1 , p. 1574.
  10. ^ ORF / kk: Orcas - robbers with a sense of family. In: 3sat . September 2017, accessed on September 5, 2017 (description of the BBC documentary , 45:01 min .: “Even in the same body of water, the different families communicate in different languages ​​[…].”).