Austria National Language: A Human-Centered Guide to the German Language

One of the most fascinating aspects of Austria’s linguistic landscape is the Austria National Language – German. As a country with a rich cultural heritage and diverse linguistic landscape, Austria has a lot to offer to language enthusiasts. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the history, status, and cultural significance of the German language in Austria. From its roots to its modern-day usage, we’ll explore the ins and outs of this fascinating language, and answer some frequently asked questions along the way.

The History of Austria National Language

To understand the significance of the German language in Austria, it’s important to look back at its history. The German language has a long and complex history, with roots stretching back to the early Middle Ages. In Austria, the history of German can be roughly divided into three main stages: Old High German, Middle High German, and New High German.

The Early Days: Old High German

Old High German (OHG) was the earliest form of the German language, spoken between the 6th and 11th centuries AD. This early form of German was influenced by various Germanic tribes, as well as the Latin and Celtic languages spoken in the region. In Austria, OHG was spoken by the Bavarians, who were one of the dominant tribes in the area at the time.

Middle High German: The Golden Age of Austrian German

Middle High German (MHG) emerged in the 11th century and was spoken until the 16th century. This period is often considered the Golden Age of Austrian German, as it saw the emergence of some of Austria’s most famous literature, music, and art. The works of poets like Walther von der Vogelweide and Hartmann von Aue, as well as the epic poems Nibelungenlied and Parzival, are considered some of the finest examples of MHG literature.

New High German: The Standardization of the Language

New High German (NHG) emerged in the 16th century and is the form of German that is spoken today. During this time, the German language underwent a period of standardization, with writers and scholars working to create a standardized form of the language. This was a crucial period in the development of the German language, as it allowed for greater communication and unity among German speakers across different regions.

The Status of German in Austria Today

Today, German is the official language of Austria and is spoken by the majority of the population. In addition to standard German, there are also several varieties of German that are spoken in Austria, including Austrian German, Viennese German, and Bavarian German.

German as the Official Language

German was declared the official language of Austria in 1921, following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Since then, German has been the language of government, education, and media in Austria.

Varieties of German in Austria

Despite the dominance of standard German, there are several regional varieties of German that are spoken in Austria. These varieties differ in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, and are often influenced by the local dialect In Austria, the most prominent regional variety of German is Austrian German. This dialect is spoken by roughly 8 million people in Austria, Germany, and other German-speaking countries. Austrian German has its own unique vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, which sets it apart from standard German.

Another regional variety of German that is spoken in Austria is Viennese German. This dialect is spoken in the capital city of Vienna and is known for its distinctive intonation and rhythm. Viennese German is sometimes referred to as the “singing language,” due to its melodic and lyrical quality.

Finally, Bavarian German is spoken in the western part of Austria, particularly in the state of Tyrol. Bavarian German is similar to Austrian German, but with a distinct Bavarian flavor. It is also spoken in parts of southern Germany and Switzerland.

The Cultural Significance of Austria National Language

The German language has played a significant role in Austria’s cultural heritage. From literature to music to art and architecture, German has been a driving force behind many of Austria’s most celebrated cultural achievements.


Austria has a rich literary tradition, with many famous writers and poets hailing from the country. Some of the most notable works of Austrian literature are written in German, including Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” Thomas Bernhard’s “Correction,” and Elfriede Jelinek’s “The Piano Teacher.” German literature has also had a significant impact on the world stage, with writers like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, and Heinrich Heine leaving an indelible mark on Western literature.


Music is another area where the German language has had a profound impact on Austrian culture. Austria is known for its classical music tradition, with composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, and Johann Strauss II composing some of the most beloved works of the classical repertoire. Many of these works are written in German, and the language has played an important role in shaping the musical identity of Austria.

Art and Architecture

German has also played a significant role in shaping Austria’s artistic and architectural heritage. Vienna, in particular, is known for its stunning architecture, much of which was designed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these buildings, such as the Vienna Secession Building and the Austrian Postal Savings Bank, are notable for their Art Nouveau style, which was heavily influenced by the German Jugendstil movement.


In conclusion, the German language holds great cultural significance in Austria, with regional dialects like Austrian German and Viennese German contributing to the country’s linguistic diversity. German has played a significant role in shaping Austria’s literary, musical, artistic, and architectural heritage, and has helped establish the country’s identity as a cultural powerhouse. Whether spoken in its standard form or in one of its many regional variations, the German language remains an integral part of Austria’s national identity and cultural heritage.


  • Is German the only language spoken in Austria?

No, there are several regional languages and dialects spoken in Austria, including Austrian German, Viennese German, and Bavarian German.

  • How many people speak German in Austria?

German is the most widely spoken language in Austria, with approximately 97% of the population speaking it as their first language.

  • What is the difference between Austrian German and standard German?

Austrian German has its own unique vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, which sets it apart from standard German. Austrian German is also influenced by other regional dialects and languages, such as Bavarian and Slovenian.

  • What is the role of German in Austrian culture?

German has played a significant role in shaping Austria’s cultural heritage, particularly in the areas of literature, music, and art and architecture.

  • Is it necessary to speak German to live in Austria?

While it is not strictly necessary to speak German to live in Austria, it can be helpful in many areas of daily life, including work, school, and social interactions.


  • “Austrian German.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 May 2023,
  • “Viennese German.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Apr. 2023,
  • “Bavarian Language.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 May 2023,

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