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One language, lots of possible pitfalls. The many variants of business German

One language, lots of possible pitfalls. The many variants of business German

How to say good morning in German? Guten Morgen? Or perhaps Moin (north Germany), Grüß Gott (south Germany), Grüessech (Bern), Grüezi (Zurich) or Servus (Austria)? The German language comes in a number of variations. 

The German-speaking world might seem uniform at first glance, but don’t be fooled – it is actually far from that. Its linguistic diversity should be taken into account first and foremost by businesses, since efficient communication is key if you want to succeed at an international level. There are a couple particular differences you might want to know about.

For instance, the accent of Austrian or Swiss business partners can be difficult to grasp even for a born and bred German. However, pointing out to your interlocutor that they should enunciate more can be taken as an offence.  There are also differences in the use of articles, which is also something worth paying attention to. In Austria or Switzerland it is a mistake to say die E-Mail instead of das E-Mail or die SMS instead of das SMS. And if you are making an appointment with your business partner in the east or south of Austria, remember that 2:15 p.m. is likely to be given to you as viertel drei (notViertel nach zwei), and 2:45 p.m. will probably be called dreiviertel drei (instead ofViertel vor drei). The same will be the case in southern Germany. And if your Swiss partner uses the term Abriss, just remember they might not mean a building that has been torn down, but an excessive price of a service.

These are only some of the linguistic pitfalls you should be wary of; it would be quite impossible to name them all. Linguistic ignorance can be taken as unprofessional and very nearly ruin your chance of successful negotiation. To keep on the safe side, you might want to consider hiring a professional translation agency to help you through and make sure you make the right impression from the start.