How is the pronunciation different from the accent

Differences: dialect or accent - or another language?

At first it might seem easy to distinguish a language from a dialect or accent, right?

  • Examples of a language would be German, English or Spanish, as spoken in Germany, England and Spain.
  • Dialects, also dialect are variations of a language, such as Hessian and Berlin dialects of German.
  • A accent on the other hand, describes a form of pronunciation that usually differs from the pronunciation of other native speakers.

So you could say that every country has its language and there are dialects within that language. But of course it's not that simple, because human communication does not stop at national borders. What about Austria, for example? German is the official language there. So is the Austrian variety of German (which admittedly sounds very different from Standard German) a dialect?

How is a language different from a dialect?

There are some examples where it is difficult to define whether it is a stand-alone language or a dialect (apart from the question of whether a dialect or an accent is first of all). The term is helpful here Official language or National language. This describes the language of a country in which the government communicates with the citizens and which is used in all government agencies. As the term suggests, this is always an independent language. It doesn't always have to be for each country a Be language. In India, for example, Hindi and English are official languages ​​and in Switzerland there are even four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.

One criterion for distinguishing a language from a dialect is mutual intelligibility. If two speakers cannot understand each other in their respective mother tongue, one speaks of different languages ​​and not of dialects.

However, it's the same with Kölsch, although I grew up in Berlin and my mother tongue is German. I also do not understand someone who speaks proper urban language.

So why are Kölsch and Bavarian dialects of German even though the speakers sometimes cannot understand each other? In direct comparison, Swedes and Norwegians can understand each other much better than, for example, speakers of different Chinese dialects - but nevertheless the Swedes speak Swedish, the Norwegians Norwegian and all Chinese speak Chinese.

Sociopolitical boundaries are not always linguistic boundaries

The reason here is not of a linguistic but of a sociopolitical nature. As mentioned earlier, official languages ​​refer to a political, boundaries. Often there is a common cultural asset behind it that defines a nation. Norway and Sweden are different countries that share a similar language but not the same nation. China, on the other hand, has a common cultural asset that is thousands of years old, and so the language there is called Chinese referred to, even if the speakers of different dialects sometimes cannot communicate with each other.

So, roughly summarized, there is two important criteria for determining a language: linguistic and political. The linguistic criteria look at the linguistic characteristics of a language and compare them with other languages. They answer questions like: What are the differences? Can the speakers understand each other? If you compare two similar communication systems here and they hardly show any differences, then we speak of dialects. According to purely linguistic criteria, for example, Dutch and German would be dialects of the same language!

But often they are political criteria more decisive. They relate to the status of a language within a country or region. A look at the two cultures and independent countries of Germany and the Netherlands confirms that we are talking about two languages, not dialects.

How do I know if it's a dialect or an accent?

It is easy to confuse accents with dialects. So how do you determine if a dialect or an accent is spoken?

An accent relates to the pronunciation of a mother tongue in another language.

A native French speaker who speaks German often has a French accent. This means that he pronounces German words as if he were speaking his mother tongue. We Germans, on the other hand, are known to often have a fairly German accent when we speak English. Since some sounds, like English [th], do not appear in our language, some people tend to pronounce them like a familiar sound in their native language, like an [s] or sometimes like an [f]. That would be English with a German accent.

Is there a uniform rule on language or dialect or accent?

Exceptions prove the rule. Even if it has now become a little easier to distinguish languages ​​from dialects and accents, there are of course always cases where everything is different again. Because although the political criteria for defining a language often take precedence over the linguistic one, in the case of Austria it is the case that the official language is German - and not Austrian. Austrian German therefore counts as a dialect of the High German language. To ask?