Germany

 

Germany is one of the most influential nations in European culture, and one of the world’s main economic powers. Known around the world for its precision engineering and high-tech products, it is equally admired by visitors for its old-world charm and “Gemütlichkeit” (coziness) or hospitality. If you have perceptions of Germany as simply homogeneous, it will surprise you with its many historical regions and much local diversity for its relatively small size.

Talk

The official language of Germany is German. The standard form of German is called “Hochdeutsch” (High German). This is accent-free or better dialect-free German, the “official” form of the language. It is understood by all and spoken by almost all Germans. However, every region has its historical dialect, which might pose a challenge sometimes to those who speak even good German and even to native speakers as well. This is usually noticeable only in the south and rural areas of the north and east. Thus, when traveling in Bavaria, Saxony and Baden, you are stepping foot in places where dialect remains a strong part of the local identity. The general rule is that south of the Main River divides north Germany from the south in both language dialects and local culture.

All Germans learn English at school, so you should be able to get by with English in most places. Many people–especially in the tourism industry and higher educated persons–also speak FrenchRussian or Spanish, but if you can’t speak German, English remains your best bet. Even if one member of the staff doesn’t speak English, you are likely to find someone who does and is more than willing to help you. In the southeastern part of that area, a small Slavic community of 50,000 also speak the Sorbian language, the least spoken modern Slavic language today, but widely protected from near-extinction since 1945.

If you address a German with English, always first ask “Do you speak English?” or even better its German translation, “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” as that is considered a sign of politeness.

(source: Wikitravel)

 

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