Ugh. Those German Dialects.

Posted By From On High
Date Wednesday, 9 October 2019, at 1:14 p.m.
I originally posted this to the "I Love My German Heritage" Facebook page. 

Special Note: I had a German instructor once in high school who told me that my vocabulary and comprehension were good but that I spoke German with a "Mississippi drawl."
Besonderer Hinweis: Ich hatte einmal in der High School einen Deutschlehrer, der mir sagte, dass mein Wortschatz und mein Verständnis gut seien, ich aber mit einem "mississippische Drawl" Deutsch spreche.
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Diejenigen von Ihnen, die in Deutschland geboren und dort aufgewachsen sind, könnten dabei helfen. Sind Dialekte in verschiedenen Teilen Deutschlands so schwer zu verstehen? Unterscheidet sich "Niederdeutsch" von Bundesland zu Bundesland?
Hier ist ein Artikel aus einer amerikanischen Zeitung über deutschen Dialekt.
Du entscheidest.
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Those of you English-speaking folks who have tried to master the German language - like me - at some point - have run into the problem of "dialect." The native language spoken in Bavaria - for example - is standard German but with slight regional variations, different from those you'd find in Thuringia. Or Berlin. It can give you fits.
Well, you're not alone. But there's hope for us.
Here's an interesting article from the Wausau (Wisconsin) Daily Herald, dated July 23, 1994, entitled:
"Dialects of German Speech Dying Out."
("Dialekte der deutschen Sprache sterben aus")
Don Zamzow remembers a trip to Germany.
We met some people up north, and I was talking to a lady, struggling with this "high German," he said. Finally, I blurted out to her in "low German."
"She answered, 'It's clear.' She literally started to cry."
The tears were for joy, because the low German Zamzow spoke - Pomeranian - had virtually died out, even in its homeland.
Low German is a generic term for a variety of provincial dialects which differ in pronunciations and contractions. Low German/Pomeranian, for instance, is different from low German/Bavarian or low German from Mechlenburg.
Every diverse country has such differences. Take someone from West Texas, someone from Minnesota, someone from south Alabama, and someone from Maine - and listen to them talk.
But Ray Schield of Merrill [Wisconsin] says that just as the Southern drawl is disappearing, so are differences in German speech.
"There is a fear that the language is dying, because it's almost extinct in Germany," he said. "With modern communication, everything is done in the same dialect."
That's called high - or "standard" - German, the language American students learn.
There just isn't a need, or even an easy way, to learn Pomeranian anymore.
"When you had multiple generations in a household, that's how languages got carried forward," said Zamzow. "Grandparents spent time with the little kids."
In Schield's home, his grandmother insisted that he learn and speak standard German. His parents, though commonly spoke 'platt Deutsch' - low German.
"I learned most of my English when I got into elementary school," he said.
Just as with newer immigrants, the older the child, the better the speaker of the native tongue.
"I'm 58," said Zamzow. "I can speak it and understand it. My brother, who is four years younger, can understand it but can't speak it.
"My sister, who's 10 years younger still, can't understand it at all."
Zamzow and Schield hope the 'Pomersche Verien' - the Pomeranian club - can help preserve the language. Zamzow's goal is to at least get the language on tape, so other people can hear it.

"I'd like to get these people around a table and have them talk on video tape," he said. "Then we can get that in the historical museum for everyone."

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