In learning German, most resources I rely on teach "Hochdeutsch," or High German. From what I've been told, while it's essentially a very formal form of German, it's very different from what normal people speak.

For example, I always learned the word name as the feminine Name, so the sentence "I like your name" might translate to Ich mag dein Name, however from what I understand a native German would be more likely to say Ich mag dein Nam.

What's the relationship/difference between Hochdeutsch and the German spoken by actual Germans?

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    Attention! »Hochdeutsch« has two different meanings: German has lots of dialects. The dialects in the lower regions in the north of the German spoken region are grouped together under the name »Niederdeutsch«. In contrast to this the dialects spoken in the higher regions (in the mountains) in the south are called »Hochdeutsch« or »Oberdeutsch«. But »Hochdeutsch« can also mean »Standarddeutsch«, i.e. the standardized and therefore »official« German as opposite of dialects. As I understand your Question you use »Hochdeutsch« in the meaning of »Standard German«. Jan 3 '17 at 7:30
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    (continued) But in Englisch »High German« is mainly used for the Bavarian dialects spoken in Bavaria and Austria. The standardized German that is spoken in TV and Radio and printed in books and newspapers is »Standard German« in English. So please edit your posting to clarify your question. See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochdeutsch Also read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_German_languages and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_German Jan 3 '17 at 7:33
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    Your example is wrong, as Name is masculine. You may want to correct this, so that answers can concentrate on the relevant part.
    – Carsten S
    Jan 3 '17 at 10:02
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    @TheEnvironmentalist still not right. You declined it as if Name was feminine.
    – c.p.
    Jan 3 '17 at 10:39
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    Who says "Ich mag dein Nam"? I don't know any person. This might be a certain dialect, but that's not what most people say.
    – Em1
    Jan 3 '17 at 10:42

Hochdeutsch (in its meaning Standard German) is not a very formal form of German but the written form. It's standardized by a joint commision made up by German, Austrian and Swiss officials. Local variations exist, especially Swiss German has a lot of unique expressions. German-speaking communities in Luxemburg and Belgium adopt the German standard. Liechtenstein adopts the standard in the Swiss German variety, and South Tyrol in Italy adopts the Austrian German standard.

Most people don't speak Hochdeutsch by default. Instead, they speak their local dialect and can switch to a spoken form of Hochdeutsch when they are talking to someone from a non-adjacent dialect or to foreigners. It often sounds very awkward and stiff when people do this.

There are exceptions, however: for example people from the Hannover-Braunschweig region speak a "dialect" nearly indistiguishable from Hochdeutsch. Many people in Berlin don't speak dialect either as there are a great number of speakers from other parts of Germany and people have to rely on Hochdeutsch to be understood by others. In the Hannover-Braunschweig region, the Ostfälisch dialect had died out already because of this.

  • People from Berlin, who talk Berlin dialect, are not close to Hochdeutsch... I had huge trouble to understand them, e.g. 'Jeen wa eene roochen' (Gehen wir eine Rauchen?)
    – Iris
    Jan 3 '17 at 16:19
  • Yes. The Berlin dialect is still present but it's getting less and less common because of the many people from outside who are going to Berlin. I've edited the sentence which could be misunderstood.
    – Janka
    Jan 3 '17 at 16:36
  • I do not fully agree with the reasons that you give. It is also important that the dialect in Berlin is of low prestige, which is not true in Bavaria or Swabia. I would also hypothesise that the dialect in originally Low German regions was under name greater pressure to be abandoned because of its greater distance to Standard German.
    – Carsten S
    Jan 3 '17 at 16:43
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    In many northern Low German regions, people still use dialect on a daily base. The reason it died out in the Hannover-Braunschweig region was industrialisation and the high amount of Mitteldeutsch and Oberdeutsch speakers coming from the Erzgebirge, Böhmen, Schlesien to work at the new factories in that region. Hochdeutsch was required for communication.
    – Janka
    Jan 3 '17 at 16:47
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    Danke! Immer gut, wenn hier auch Leute unterwegs sind, die tatsächlich wissen, wovon sie schreiben;) Zur heutigen Bedeutung des Niederdeutschen werde ich etwas lesen müssen.
    – Carsten S
    Jan 3 '17 at 18:19

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