We Speak Everything PLUS Standard German :-)

If you’ve wandered around Baden-Württemberg you might have seen signs that read: Wir können alles. Außer Hochdeutsch.

Say what?

Translated, that means: We can do anything, expect speak Standard German.

What, they don’t speak German in Germany? Is this a joke? Maybe you thought you lost your marbles.

It’s more complicated than just speaking German in Germany—we speak High German, West Low German, East Low German, East Frisian, Low Saxon, Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian, Lower Silesian, Swabian, Baden, etc etc…

Whew, that’s a whole lotta language going on.

Just so you’re aware, not all the languages spoken in Germany are derived from German. Nope, over in Lower Lusatia, for example, you’ll hear (or read, since signs are bilingual) Lower Sorbian, which is based on a Slavic language.

Upper Sorbian is spoken by around 40,000 people in Upper Lusatia, which is an area found within Saxony (and cities like Bautzen).

And in Lower Saxony, almost a quarter of million people speak East Frisian (also called East Frisian-Low Saxon), which kind of sounds like Dutch. Hmm, these are the tea drinking folks of the country (unlike most of the coffee devouring rest of the country)—so why not speak something else, right? ;-)

West Low German is the biggie, spoken by around 4 million people. You’ll hear this dialect in Hamburg, parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony-Anhalt, North Rhine-Westphalia, and even Denmark.

Doesn’t it seem like we’re all over the map? Yeah, it should—because just about everywhere in Germany, someone’s speaking another language, it seems.

I have to admit, it was the Lower and Upper Silesian that had me confused. Upper Silesian doesn’t have German roots (it has Polish beginnings), while Lower Silesian (spoken by around 23,000 people) does.

Maybe Germany’s motto should be that we can speak everything, PLUS Standard German. ;-)

 

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