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"Difference in East/West German accents?" Topic

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Last Hussar24 Jan 2016 4:56 p.m. PST

Watching Deutschland '83, with a East German guy sent as a spy into West Germany. Would he not have an accent? Regional accents are often easily identifiable in Europe (apparently this is why Ahrnold never does a German language film, as allegedly he sounds like a hick.)

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2016 5:02 p.m. PST

I had two teachers in college when I took German.
One was Ukrainian.
The other was from Bremen and accused me of having a Berlin accent. Apparently the sophisticates from Bremen consider Prussians hillbillies.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian24 Jan 2016 5:14 p.m. PST

Had a German neighbor (Silesian) different accent than Baden-Wurttemberg or Bavaria

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Jan 2016 5:31 p.m. PST

When I did German I apparently had something of a Berlin accent, which amused me as I'd never so much as met a Berliner, let alone gone there. Accents can be taught though…. (And yeah, I heard the same about Arnold – apparently it'd be like letting Dave Prowse be the voice of Darth Vader rather than just the body….)

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2016 6:16 p.m. PST

WRT the show, the important thing would be that his accent matched his cover story. This would be more plausible as an East German working in the West than the other way around.

And yes, accents can be convincingly taught. The key is to learn the language/dialect as such, rather than superimpose what you think you hear over an assumed framework.

Last Hussar24 Jan 2016 6:59 p.m. PST

He's been subbed in for a actual officer – he's a DDR border guard. They show some training, but I don't recall speech coaching, it was mostly getting the cover story right, and spycraft

Last Hussar24 Jan 2016 7:03 p.m. PST

Apparently Prowse was upset when he found out about James Earl Jones – who wouldn't want to hear "Now me lover, don't you be doubting the dark side."

At Bovingdon last year my son heard West Country Wehrmacht re-enactors, and we went round the rest of the day doing clichéd Nazi phrases like the Wurzels.

Personal logo Panzerfaust Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2016 7:05 p.m. PST

When I took German many years ago our class had a different teacher each semester. Our first, Elka, was from Berlin and had the full on guttural Berlin accent. I suppose you could compare it to a strong New York accent though none of us had a clue at the time.

Christina, our second teacher, was from the extreme north west and her accent sounded something like British English. Heike, our final teacher was from east Germany and she had the soft drawl of an easterner that might be comparable to an American deep south accent.

Needless to say, my class was really messed up accent-wise. One day we had a substitute teacher and half way through the class he asked us who taught us to speak German. We bounced around between these extremes depending upon the phrase spoken.

Of course, these were my personal impressions of those accents at the time. I might be way off.

Personal logo Panzerfaust Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2016 7:23 p.m. PST

YouTube link

The German Darth Vader was the high point for me, much better than James Earl Jones.

Martin from Canada26 Jan 2016 7:16 a.m. PST


Today I learn that Texas German is a thing… I'll leave it at that.

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