Re: What is Standard German? (was: Re: CHAT letter names)
|From:||Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 3, 2004, 13:52|
> > Just to clarify, I do not talk about the one-and-only, maybe
> > constructed, Standard High German that probably no-one speaks and
> > all people claim people from Hanover speak.
> Why should people from Hanover speak Std. High German? Hanover
> should definitely be beyond the machen-maken line, i.e. Low German
> (Ostfälisch?) should be spoken there... what happened? Was Hanover
> the first town to lose Plattdeutsch completely?
> I've always wondered how far Std. German can be considered a conlang.
High German *is* spoken. It is the exchange language everywhere and
most people have it as their mother tongue (though by far not all of
them). It is used in school, and is the language that you hear on the
radio, on TV and read in newspapers, magazines, etc.
High German is still a class of dialects: under the influence of the
Lower/Central and High German regional dialects/language, the specific
shade of High German is different from region to region.
And in contrast to Low and Central German dialects/languages it
underwent another vowel shift (the 'Second Vowel Shift' IIRC).
Concerning 'contructed': when it is tried to find an 'ideal' High
German language, called Standard High German, often Hanover is cited,
because their normal shade of High German seems to be very close. Who
defined 'ideal', however, I do not know. It seems to be some kind of
average, maybe with some features rectified that are considered bad
:-) (e.g. simplified grammar is bad :-)))).
However, many, many speakers with L1 High German are very close to
that strange Standard, so there is a justification of defining a
standard by the mere number of people who speak so very similar a
Hanover and Plattdeutsch: Plattdeutsch (Lower German) is considered a
different language than HG, with a very high dialectal diversity --
greater than that of HG. If people cite Hanover for good SHG, this is
no contradiction to people speaking Plattdeutsch there: Hanover has
two languages. And in many regions, Plattdeutsch is not the mother
tongue of the majority of people anymore, but instead, HG is. Hanover
is one such region.
I'm from close to Hanover, also from a region where my grandparents
had L1 Low German, but my mother and I already had HG as L1 (not sure
about my father). However, only 100km away from Hanover, the language
is not so close to SHG anymore.
And Ostfälisch may be right. I'm not sure. Ostfälisch has very, very
many diphthongues (like our Ostwestfälisches Platt, too). But I never
consciously heard anyone from Hanover talk Platt.
Unfortunately, the dialects of Plattdeutsch in my home region and
Hanover and probably many other regions as well, are moribund now.
Maybe the situation is even more messed up because in areas with L1
not HG, people try to speak HG when someone else does not properly
understand their language. The natives then consider this trial HG as
well, but it is usually a good mixture. :-)
Sometimes it is good for linguistic study: in Saarbrücken, a woman in
a market once explained to me something in her variant of HG. But
that was actually very thoroughly pronounced Westpalatinian with all
its endings and bells and wistles clearly realised and not swallowed
in any way. I should have had a tape recorder to study its phonemes
and morphology that I had never heard so clearly distinguished
before. :-) I had to grin. :-)
------------------------------ Dr. Henrik Theiling -------------
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