We are kicking off a series of blog posts about localization in different regions. Note that when you localize software, for example, to enter a new market, don't look at that region as a black box! If you've never crossed from Bavaria into Austria (or the other way around), you might assume that:
a) the languages on either side of the border are fairly similar
b) if you're translating for these markets your target language would be German (DE). Almost.
Lingohub is based in Linz, Austria - and I'm writing this from Berlin, Germany being a native of Bavaria (and I grew up with Austrian television). Let this be the first in a series of blog posts where we want to highlight language nuances. Feel free to send us emails with some experiences of your own.
Austrian German and standard German
Just like you have words in European Spanish that sound weird and plain wrong to a resident of a Latin-American country, some words will determine whether a customer from either side of the Alpine border will feel taken care of using your product.
Here are a few examples that illustrate that these aren't mere different spellings but entirely different words. As linguists know, dialect differences are primarily evident in domestic vocabularies (food and other daily life words). In the case of the translations for "law," they are both Latin words, one in the singular and one in the plural. (Also see Wikipedia's article on Austrian German)
Other differences between Austrian German and German
In each of the countries, standard German is the official language. Still, regional features and neighborhoods with other countries bring zest to language development and expand vocabulary. For example, Austria has 9 lands with history, borders, and language particularities. One of them - the federal state of Burgenland, uses a mix of German with Hungarian and Croatian. Moreover, there exists Burgenland Croatian which is recognized as a minority language. Based on all the historic-social things, there are differences with:
Mismatch of grammatical gender of nouns
In the German language, each noun has special articles - der(he), die(she), and das(it), which designate the noun's gender. And if you think you can remember them once and use them both in Germany and Austria - you are failing. Here are the most common differences:
In general (if we are not going into the peculiarities of the dialects), Austrian German and standard German have a list of differences in pronunciation. One of the differences is the common Austrian suffix -l, which turns the German Pfand, Packung, into Pfandl, Packerl. Another example is the ending ‑ig, which will be [‑ɪk] in Austria rather than [‑ɪç] like in Germany.
Let's sum up
I hope this article brings you some understanding of what needs to be attended to if you are thinking about close-to-culture content generating for both countries. In Lingohub, we are charmed by the differences in languages and dialects because they show us all the uniqueness of regions and their charm.