Even if dialects and accents don’t betray them, there are telltale words that give away whether a German-speaker comes from Germany, Austria or Switzerland — and even roughly which part of Germany.
Words for toys, food and everyday items can differ depending on regions. They are nevertheless regarded as standard German and not regional dialect, as Ulrich Ammon, professor emeritus of linguistics and a specialist in Sociolinguistics at the University of Duisburg-Essen, told DW in an interview: “Standard language can be used in the public realm without objection.”
In a nutshell: There’s more than one way to say “Brötchen” (bread rolls). The question is, will the clerk at the bakery understand you?
Speaking of bread — which Germany is famous for around the world — there are not only different words for rolls and loaves, but many names for the part of a loaf that some unthinkingly throw away, and others covet: the heel.
In northern and western Germany, that would be “Kanten,” or “Knust,” to name just the most common terms. Bavarians and Austrians might call the crusty dry end of a loaf of bread “Scherzl”; elsewhere in southern Germany it’s a “Rand.” Jokingly, the heel is also known as “Hintern” (behind).
For German foods with a variety of names, click through the gallery above. One of them is the potato, which is a staple all over the country. For more on Germans’ obsession with spuds, click through the gallery below.
You’ll find more about German culture, language and lifestyle at dw.com/meetthegermans.