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Formal and Informal German

Hi, everybody, i was wondering why in german there is an important difference between the formal and informal language. It's a difference more pronunciated than the spanish, portuguese or english. Could be for cultural reasons, or for being used like a lingua franca last centuries my supouses...

September 19, 2017



As I understand it, there used to be a lexical distinction between formal and informal modes of address in English; this was the difference between "You" and "Thou", respectively. I'm not sure why, as a matter of historical fact, this faded from usage. But of course, one can still use language which is more or less formal, and should do so depending on who it is that one is addressing.


Thou art correct.


Every language has formal and informal forms. You wouldn't go into a job interview and greet everyone by saying "Sup bros, what's shaking?" or greet a customer at work by saying "Good morning, sweetheart." German's distinction between formal and informal isn't that different from the same distinction in (for example) French; it's just that there has always been a difference between how people speak to their close friends and family and how they speak to people they don't know that well or are not so close to.


If "what's shaking?" doesn't call for a lingot, I don't know what does.
Pure gold.


I lost it at "what's shaking?" LOL!!!!


It is the same difference, you will use formal or informal depending who you are talking to. If you do not know the people and they are in higher authority (teachers, bosses etc.) or older than you, you will use formal. With friends, children and some younger people you will use informal.


Germans have this like "perfect" & you must do stuff correctly, to a point where it's considered pretty looked down upon to walk on the wrong side of the road. So you just be very formal to those who you would respect in any other culture, but you should be informal with your close buddies. Every culture has it's little quirks with respectfulness. Like Asian cultures have a way of respectfulness through honor, the German culture has a way of respectfulness through perfection. But just use respectful language to those who you should respect and it'll go well.

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