When localizing your audiovisual content for German audiences, knowing which German accents and dialects to use is crucial. Localization is a complex process. It is much more than just translating a text or doing a voice-over.
Successful German localization takes into account the cultural nuances of the audience and a deep understanding of how to make the content relatable to the audience. The differences between the various dialects and accents discussed here will make it easier for producers to decide which accent is suitable for their project and their target audience.
Different German Accents and Dialects
Do you know that German is one of the most spoken languages in Europe?
German accents tend to vary greatly. Understanding the general distinctions between these varieties and regional variations is important if you are considering audiovisual translation services.
Which Countries Speak German?
German is the 6th most popular language and is spoken by over 230 million speakers around the world. Other than Germany, strong concentrations of German speakers can be found today in other parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
It is widely spoken in many other parts of the world. German is the official language in countries like Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland. In countries like Denmark, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia, Italy, Poland, and Slovakia, it is a minority language.
Each country has its own distinct dialect, but most German speakers can understand each other. Most speakers use Hochdeutsch, which is standard German and is easily understood in most countries. It is also the most commonly used dialect for German voice over requirements.
Most Popular German Accents
There are several different types of German accents, each with unique features. While some accents are quite similar in nature, others have distinct vocabularies and phonetic features. Here are the most commonly used German accents by a German voice over artist.
Standard German or High German is mainly spoken in southern and central Germany. This particular accent is what is used by public officials, in schools, and on TV. The accent is easier to learn for English speakers because of its strong resemblance and similarities to English.
Listen to Britta, a talented German Voice Over Artist.
Low German accent is quite similar to High German, especially in its written form. The accent is mainly spoken in northern Germany, in Netherlands, Denmark, and Poland. Within the accent, there are several regional dialects, such as Ostfriesian, Holsatian, and Schleswig.
With fewer people using Low German, this dialect is slowly disappearing. One of the most notable features of the dialect is its use of the constant [t] instead of [ts] or [s].
Swiss German is one of the official languages in Switzerland and is spoken by 6 million people. This German regional accent is very different from High German and is characterized by its liberal use of French loan words such as “merci.” The dialect also has distinct words which are not used in High German such as “schaffe” (to work) instead of “arbeite.”
Swiss German is simpler and clear, with only the present and the past verb tenses and no genitive case.
This German dialect is spoken in Bavaria in Germany. While it shares several similarities to High German when it comes to writing, it has distinctive phonetic features of its own. This dialect is known for its use of slang words such as “uffgejuckt” (fed up) and “gschmarrer” (a quarrel).
This German accent is predominantly spoken in Austria and in a few parts of Germany. The grammar in the Austrian dialect is similar to High German, but it has a distinct vocabulary of its own. The differences between the two can be compared to British and American English, where speakers of both languages can understand each other, but different words are still used for the same thing.
There are several words that are specifically used only in Austrian German such as “Stiege” (stairs) and “Erdapfel” (potato).
Which German Accent Should I Choose?
If you are looking to penetrate European markets, integrate German voice-overs in your localization campaigns.
Choosing the right talent for voice-overs is not just about language capability and voice quality. It is also about subtle nuances, such as selecting an artist with the suitable language variation, dialect, and accent.
If you are unsure which of the German accents will be the most suitable for your project, it is best to work with a professional German voice-over agency. Professionals can help you choose the right voice actor as well as decide on the right accent to use based on your brief and the goals of your project.
High German is the most widely spoken and commonly used dialect in most German-speaking countries. It is also taught in schools and used on TV and by government officials.
How to Get an Accurate German Voice-Over
The goal of your marketing campaign should be to reach the minds and hearts of your target audience in their language so they can resonate with your message.
Professionals know the subtle nuances and differences between dialects. These little things make a huge difference in localization.
Finding a German-speaking voice artist is not enough. You will also need an artist that has experience in working on the type of voice-over project you need. Some professionals excel at promotional and corporate videos, while others may specialize in character voices.
GoLocalise has a vast database of voice-over talent with different German Accents, specializing in a wide variety of project types:
When you work with GoLocalise, you get access to talented voice artists that have mastered a neutral accent and know how to mimic the subtle nuances of various German accents.
Additionally, our in-house project managers, sound engineers, and language directors deliver the highest sound quality for each project. Our state-of-the-art recording studios, quality equipment, and software ensure that you can bridge the gap to European markets through extraordinary German localization projects.
Now, which of the German Accents is better for your localization project?