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Varieties of German

With more than 120 million people speaking German in 8 countries of the world, it is hardly surprising that the actual usage of German language varies.

Like English, German is a pluricentric language with three major national centers of language usage: Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Those varieties are not considered to be dialects, but are equally correct and acceptable in all contexts (media, legislature, education ...).

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Three national centers of German usage

The differences in grammar are much less significant than differences in vocabulary. Partly, this is due to the fields of administration and law. For example: regional court is referred to by 'Landesgericht' in Austria and by 'Landgericht' in Germany.
Of course, local dialects can vary more strongly throughout Germany and Austria. However, their influence has been decreasing due to mass media and individual mobility.

Switzerland is a case of its own, with its local dialects of the vernacular 'Switzertütsch' (Swiss German) being unintelligble even to Germans and Austrians. Swiss standard German as used by most media and in legislation deviates less from the German used in Austria or Germany. The relation between the vernacular 'Switzertütsch' and Swiss standard of German is one of diglossia.
For this reason, the following abstract does not include the situation in Switzerland.

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