It's my understanding that typically German speakers switch between Standard German, which they might use at work, and some local dialect which they use less formally.

Are there places in Germany where Standard German completely replaced local dialects (So that people no longer switch between dialects depending on the situation)?

Alternatively, are there places where Standard German is the default choice between strangers?

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    Just to clarify (for myself), do you mean a place where standard german became the local dialect or rather a place where you speak a mix of Standard german and their local dialect. – SomeUser May 28 '18 at 8:34
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    This questions suffers from a lack of definition what you see as a dialect. For a naive understanding, a dialect may be considered any form of a language (with special focus on pronunciation and perhaps vocabulary) that diverges from written ("standard") language and is universal (shared by practically everybody) in a certain geographical region. If you use this definition, however, what would you make of places where their local dialect is identical with written ("standard") language (nota bene: not overwritten but historically naturally identical) – Christian Geiselmann May 28 '18 at 13:20
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    @ChristianGeiselmann Defining what constitutes a dialect is difficult. Defining what still counts as "standard language" is also difficult. On the other hand, the questions "Do people switch their language (and not just the register) depending on whether they talk to family members and locals or to people from other parts of Germany?" and "Do people perceive their local language as different from standard German?" can be answered rather objectively. – Uwe May 28 '18 at 14:36
  • I do not switch between a dialect and 'standard German', since I live in the area around Braunschweig and Hannover. However, of course, this is a dialect (''Braunschweigisch', see wikipedia for more information) and is not identical to written German at all. Just, once this dialect was defined as 'standard German'. – tavkomann May 28 '18 at 15:18
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    I would like to add that "switching" between dialect and standard when strangers meet will not happen. its not like meeting in a different country and trying to conversate in english as default. – RRZ Europe May 30 '18 at 6:45

Yes, in large parts of Northern Germany (also well south of Hanover), people nowadays can

  1. neither consciously switch between standard German and a local dialect (although they frequently do so automatically and gradually)
  2. nor realize that their colloquial speech includes some regional markers that an outsider or a trained linguist would recognize, but which do not hinder mutual intelligibility.

This answer assumes a definition of dialect that correlates with geographical code switching. Regional characteristics only become a dialect if native speakers are aware of them in relation to a national standard language as found in the media.

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Very probably, no (not with the relatively simple development history you assume - reality is much more complicated). Dialects are really sticky and persistent - And also considered part of the local cultural heritage. They tend to assimilate and adapt, but also tend to stay. They influence pronounciation, grammar, and also choice of words to various extents. Even if dialects are superseded by hochdeutsch, the still tend to have influence to various degrees on some or all of the aspects. "Dialect" vs "Standard German" is not like "black and white" - There are various degrees of in-betweens (I would even consider the rolling "R" (The "Carolin Rrrreiber-R") used by some bavarian dialects even in Standard German as a remnant of dialect).

There are, however, regions within Germany where the local dialect is considered identical to hochdeutsch (for various historical reasons, mainly because the original niederdeutsch "dialect" spoken there would rather be considered a different language and is mainly extinct today - but this is highly disputable) - This area tends to get mainly located in the region around Hannover. Up until the 20th century, the German spoken in Prague was considered to be the "best" Hochdeutsch (but it obviously not superseded a local dialect there, as the local language has always been Czech).

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  • That Prague thing is a bit pc-correct on one side and just incorrect on the other. The city was mixed and several of the local dialects in that region were German variants, spoken mostly by minorities. Compare that WP you linked to Prager Deutsch. – LаngLаngС May 28 '18 at 15:52
  • @LangLangC I am not sure what you are referring to as incorrect? The article you link to definitely says "Linguisten zweifeln ... an, dass sich das Prager Deutsch von den in der Region ... gesprochenen Dialekten ableitet." – tofro May 28 '18 at 20:33
  • There are places which have more than one local dialect, or even more than one local language. Prague was not exclusively Czech, so the local dialect for a time that analyses Prager Deutsch cannot consist of solely Czech ("always been") language variants. – LаngLаngС May 28 '18 at 20:38
  • @LangLangC The article explicitly says the "Hochdeutsch" spoken there had very probably absolutely nothing to do with the dialects there - Why do you involve them, then? I don't get that point. It's irrelevant. – tofro May 28 '18 at 20:53
  • "nothing to do" is imo quite absurd, "(subsantially) different" might fit, but that's peripheral. I involve "them" since you brought "them" up and provided two timeframes, when PD was a thing and "always". Maybe another link might help Prag Bevölkerung. Deutsch (& variants & probably others) was one of the local dialects is the point that gets needlessly sidelined in the answer. – LаngLаngС May 28 '18 at 21:01

Yes there is one place in Germany where standard German has completely replaced dialects: in books.

(Okay, and mostly in television and in national radio programmes. But the latter would be disputible because TV and radio typically have been using a "standard" variety of the language from their very beginning, so there was nothing to be "replaced".)

Otherwise I find your question is not answerable because it is not clear what one would see as a dialect and what as standard German. There are peculiarities of pronunciation everywhere (even in Hannover where even people with lower levels of formal education tend to speak quite close to written German), and there is no way to define how much you have to deviate in pronunciation, vocabulary, syntax and prosody from "standard German" in order to be considered being a user of "dialect".

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The people in Hanover (German: Hannover) are said to speak a very pure Standard German. A local dialect does exist, however it seems that it today almost disappeared.

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    As a person living in Hannover for 5 years now, I claim: yes, Hannover pronunciation is astonishingly close to "standard" German. This is visible (or audible) especially when speaking to people who in other regions would almost certainly use heavy dialect, e.g. trades are rural people. However, anyway there are particularities of pronunciation that let you almost without mistake identify a person as having been raised in Hannover. So, it is not real "standard" German (as expected in TV or on stage). – Christian Geiselmann May 28 '18 at 16:29
  • @ChristianGeiselmann I would very much like to hear these markers. Especially since on my latest train ride I spoke with a graphic designer who hailed from H and she claimed that she does not understand any dialects of German at all, not even the local Platt. Within her speech I only heard and identified weak colourings but hardly any dialectal features I would readily describe as such. – LаngLаngС May 28 '18 at 20:03
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    @LangLangC I cannot provide a full list of pronunciation features of Hanoveranese, but the one thing which (in my perception: almost parodistically often) appears is a certain way of pronouncing "Hannover" as "Hanooofa", with a very distinct and open "a" at the end. I am aware that this is very close to "standard" pronuncation, and still, for the trained ear, it isn't. I suppose, prosody is an important feature. – Christian Geiselmann May 29 '18 at 10:56
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    @ChristianGeiselmann Ah. Listening to the examples on wir-sind-hannoveraner there are some more peculiarities, apart from vocals, like st, ch in middle or endposition… – LаngLаngС May 29 '18 at 11:24
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    @LangLancC Da schau her! Ein veritables Klangarchiv der Hannoveraner Aussprachevarietät! Danke für die Recherche und den Link. - First thing that catches my ear is again a very (or over-) pronounced "a" in "Karte" --> Kaaaate where standard German would reduce (tighten) the "a" at its end towards the r. – Christian Geiselmann May 29 '18 at 11:43

People will only use Hochdeutsch in speech as soon they realize the other German speaker isn't understanding them properly. It's not related to formal or educated speech. Colleagues at work happily use the local dialect, because they are all speaking and understanding it.

Mostly in big cities, people from different regions meet and so the local dialect isn't understandable to a lot of people. That's where Hochdeutsch is spoken often, and also without trying the local dialect first.

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  • Mostly in big cities -- does this include all of Germany, e.g. Bavaria? – MaxB May 28 '18 at 2:23
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    So there are no places where the local dialect simply no longer exists? – MaxB May 28 '18 at 2:25
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    @MaxB yes there is a huge area in the North where the local dialect, (ie mostly plattdeutsch), is almost extinct. – Beta May 28 '18 at 5:43
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    Basically I can't think about any place in Germany, where local dialect fully merged with Hochdeutsch. But one says, that the average of people living in Hannover are the closest to speak 'Hochdeutsch'. As I have never been to Hannover, I can't tell you if that is only a rumour - but being personally rooted in Baden-Württemberg, I just can tell you that especially in villages one will meet many people speaking in dialects. Fun fact: The different swabian dialects spoken around my district even vary within a tiny range of kilometers. – SteffPoint May 28 '18 at 6:14
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    This answer ignores that there are large parts of Germany where people simply don't switch because they would not know how since they perceive their colloquial language to be standard German already. – Crissov May 29 '18 at 8:16

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