ad donhamiltontx: (...) .... I know nothing of the differences between the German spoken in Germany and the German spoken in Austria or Switzerland or elsewhere. (...)
The major differences between Austrian German and the German spoken in Germany regard
a) usage of vocabulary (Sackerl as opposed to Tüte, Jänner as opposed to Januar etc.)
b) pronunciation (Germans stress the "i" in "Mathematik", while Austrians stress the second "a" for example)
c) the fact that we practically NEVER use the "Imperfekt" or "Präteritum" when we speak (you will almost never hear an Austrian say "Ich ging gestern ins Kino" because it sounds extremely formal to us; we'd rather say "Ich bin gestern ins Kino gegangen"; we do use the "Präteritum" in formal writings though)
d) different usage of articles (Austrians usually say "das Joghurt", while Germans say "der Joghurt", we say "das Cola", the Germans say "die Cola" etc.)
e) differences when it comes to using "sein" and "haben" (Austrians would normally say "Ich bin drei Stunden an der Haltestelle gestanden", while - as far as I know - Germans would usually say "Ich habe drei Stunden an der Haltestelle gestanden")
f) and usage of prepositions (Austrians only say "zu Weihnachten, zu Ostern", while Germans also (or maybe even exclusively, I'm not sure about that) say "an Weihnachten, an Ostern").
@Robert Thank you for the detailed explanation. Listening to Reinhard, I detect some slight differences in pronunciation. So slight that if I did not know he was Austrian, I would probably not have noticed them. Naturally, I have not heard enough of his dialogues to notice any of the other differences you mention.
Never having had the pleasure of visiting Austria, my only experience with an "other" German was riding a train from Munich to Lindau. When the conductor came by, he spoke to me in an incomprehensible tongue. When he realized that I spoke German (sort of), he said, Ah, you understand German and repeated his message (I don't remember now what he said). I assume he was speaking Bavarian. I did not think Austrian German differed very much from NHD (if at all), but I did wonder what the differences were.
I normally can hear if someone is German or Austrian even before they have finished pronouncing the first word. Honestly, we used to play games like this. Listening to different people and guessing where they come from. It normally takes only a syllable to detect the differences. Sometimes it takes a bit more, but usually a native speaker can hear the difference already with what we call "Anlaut" (that is the initial sound of a word).
The dialect I speak in is not so different from standard German. When I last talked to Colin on skype, he understood practically everything I said in my dialect. He is very good, I have to say (him living in Austria certainly does help though ;-)).
I normally speak in standard Austrian German at work and in other formal settings but at home and with friends I only speak in dialect.
"I normally can hear if someone is German or Austrian even before they have finished pronouncing the first word."
Same for me. Reinhard for example sounds definitely Austrian to me and Jolanda sound Suisse. There are not only the differences Robert mentioned above, there differences in pronunciation too. But you will find speakers from Germany too which pronounce some words differently which makes clear to me from which region they are. In my German lessons I try to use the Standard German pronunciation, and that make it even for natives difficult to figure out where I live. I was recently asked by a German member where I come from ;)
"The dialect I speak in is not so different from standard German. When I last talked to Colin on skype, he understood practically everything I said in my dialect. He is very good, I have to say (him living in Austria certainly does help though ;-))."
To be honest, your dialect sounded like standard German to me. At least it sounded like it was about as standard as most Austrians speak most of the time. This is how people speak to me in shops or on the street at the best of times (at least when they don't switch to English after I say one word). The thicker dialects sounds to me very different though since I moved out of the apartment I shared with four Austrian students, I have not been exposed to so much of this stuff. I usually only significant amounts of real dialect when I go paintballing.
Concerning German accents, it is said that Germans can tell where our Henry Kissinger was from even if they hear him only speaking English. As for me as an outsider, I doubt I would detect any differences. Even the train conductor who apparently spoke to me in Bavarian didn't seem to have a "foreign" accent. I just couldn't understand him. On this side of the ocean, we Americans have our regional accents, too, and they become apparent almost immediately, perhaps even starting with the Anlaut. However, no American regional accent is hard for other Americans to understand, though I have met non-native speakers who found it difficult to cope with the accents of our Deep South. I really like all this input, and I look forward to listening to the courses Jolanda listed.
ad Jolanda: Also, du und Paul, ihr seid ein kongeniales Sprecher-Duo :-)
Ich könnte euch beiden ewig zuhören. Ich habe mir gerade eure Lektion "Hochdeutsch vs. Schweizerdeutsch" angehört.
Ich habe von deiner Dialektversion nicht viel mehr als einen Satz verstanden ("Es war einmal ein Mann"). So schön wie dein Dialekt klingt und so wunderbar wie du den Text mit deiner Stimme vorträgst, hättest du mir aber so ziemlich alles erzählen können und ich hätte dir trotzdem zugehört :-)
Selbiges gilt für Paul. Ihr solltet UNBEDINGT mehr Lektionen in dieser Kombination machen. Eine linguistische Doppel-Conférence, was will man mehr?
Ich weiß nicht, ob man den Begriff "Doppel-Conférence" auch in Deutschland bzw. der Schweiz verwendet. In Österreich bezeichnen wir damit einen Dialog zwischen zwei Kabarettisten.
Ah, Kabarett ist wieder so ein Wort, das wir ganz anders aussprechen als die Deutschen ;-)
@Jolanda: Ich habe mir "Hochdeutsch vs. Schweizerdeutsch" jetzt auch mal angehört. Irgendwie war das bisher an mir vorbeigegangen. Dein Dialekt gefällt mir auch gut. Und ich verstehe 70 oder 80%. Ich glaube, ich habe i.d.R. ein gutes Gehör für Dialekte. Nachsprechen könnte ich das aber definitiv nicht ;) Am Ende liest Du den Text ja nochmal in Hochdeutsch. Dabei ist Dein Schweizer Akzent nur ganz gering, ist mir aufgefallen. Viel geringer als in unseren gemeinsamen Podcasts. Der Unterschied entsteht wahrscheinlich durch das Vorlesen vs. dem freien Sprechen, oder?
@Robert: Ich weiß nicht, wie man das bei Kabarettisten nenne, aber statt Conférence würden wir wohl eher Konferenz sagen. Und ich kenne für Kabarett sowohl die "harte Aussprache" als auch die französische Aussprache Cabaret. Aber ich wohne ja auch in dem Bereich, der dem Mitteldeutschen zugeordnet wird (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heutige_..., siehe blaues Gebiet) und daher sind mir vielleicht sowohl Eigenheiten des süddeutschen als auch des norddeutschen vertraut. Und ich liebe auch die Varianten und die Vielfalt unserer Sprache und die verschiedenen Ausprägungen.
I agree with what Robert is saying. In fact, the seven or eight LingQ German voices that I have heard so far are all so pleasant that I think you all should get together to do a German version of Downton Abbey. (Disclaimer: I have only heard of Downton Abbey; I have never seen it). Deutsche Radio Drama?
@donhamiltontx: Ist unsere Sprache nicht erstaunlich interessant: Schauspiel und Hörspiel? Auf Wiedersehen und Auf Wiederhören. I love it! Und Veras Krimis sind wirklich hörenswert.
Thanks to you all, the German library is stocked with as many goodies as the online bakeries we have looked at. Certainly I appreciate the specific suggestions. This time around I am going to approach the study of German in baby steps, so it is going to take me some time, but I intend to explore everything, especially the radio dramas. This will mean, however, that I won't be able to produce any TV scripts for Vera. I should say I already listened to Ein Podcastkrimi a couple years ago. It was quite difficult for me, but I did like it very much. I even learned about the American singer Robin Stine (I let that be my mystery :-) ).
Indeed, SanneT, German is a marvelous language, rich in literature and as you say rich in expressions. "Auf Widerhören" has no equivalent in any language I know. And I certainly prefer Hörspiel to radio drama, even if unlike Robert I don't listen to Russian dramas.