German ( Deutsch ), is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The German language is most similar to other languages within the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. It also contains close similarities in vocabulary to Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, although they belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
One of the major languages of the world, German is a native language to almost 100 million people worldwide and the most widely spoken native language in the European Union. German is the third most commonly spoken foreign language in the EU after English and French, making it the second biggest language in the EU in terms of overall speakers. German is also the second most widely taught foreign language in the EU after English at primary school level (but third after English and French at lower secondary level), the fourth most widely taught non-English language in the US (after Spanish, French, and American Sign Language), the second most commonly used scientific language and the third most widely used language on websites after English and Russian. The German-speaking countries are ranked fifth in terms of the annual publication of new books, with one-tenth of all books (including e-books) in the world being published in German. In the United Kingdom, German and French are the most sought-after foreign languages for businesses (with 49% and 50% of businesses identifying these two languages as the most useful, respectively).
German is an inflected language with four cases for nouns, pronouns and adjectives nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), two numbers (singular, plural), and strong and weak verbs. It derives the majority of its vocabulary from the ancient Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family.
High German (Hochdeutsch)
Old High German, a group of dialects for which there was no standard literary language, was spoken until about 1100 in the highlands of southern Germany. During Middle High German times (after 1100), a standard language based on the Upper German dialects (Alemannic and Bavarian) in the southernmost part of the German speech area began to arise. Middle High German was the language of an extensive literature that includes the early 13th-century epic Nibelungenlied.
Modern standard High German is descended from the Middle High German dialects and is spoken in the central and southern highlands of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It is used as the language of administration, higher education, literature, and the mass media in the Low German speech area as well. Standard High German is based on, but not identical to, the Middle German dialect used by Martin Luther in his 16th-century translation of the Bible. Within the modern High German speech area, Middle and Upper German dialect groups are differentiated, the latter group including Austro-Bavarian, Alemannic (Swiss German), and High Franconian.
Low German (Plattdeutsch, Or Niederdeutsch)
Low German, with no single modern literary standard, is the spoken language of the lowlands of northern Germany. It developed from Old Saxon and the Middle Low German speech of the citizens of the Hanseatic League. The language supplied the Scandinavian languages with many loanwords, but, with the decline of the league, Low German declined as well.
Although the numerous Low German dialects are still spoken in the homes of northern Germany and a small amount of literature is written in them, no standard Low German literary or administrative language exists.
Other Major Dialects
Alemannic dialects, which developed in the southwestern part of the Germanic speech area, differ considerably in sound system and grammar from standard High German. These dialects are spoken in Switzerland, western Austria, Swabia, and Liechtenstein and in the Alsace region of France. Yiddish, the language of the Ashkenazic Jews (Jews whose ancestors lived in Germany in the European Middle Ages), also developed from High German.
5 interesting facts about the German language
5 Things You Didn’t Know About The German Language…
How many people speak German? What is the meaning of “Standard German”? How many words do we use in the German language? And what do “false friends” have to do with learning German? you will get the answers to all these questions here:
German is spoken by more than 120 million people in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and in parts of Belgium, Northern Italy, and Eastern France. It is a key language in the European Union and the new economies of Central and Eastern Europe. Even abroad, the German language seems to be in great demand. According to ZAF (Center for Education and Training), in 2015 about 15.4 million people attended German courses at schools, universities, or language institutes; half a million more students than 5 years ago.
In addition, German belongs to the ten most popular languages ?? in the world and that is why we also got an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records of 2006.
2. By A Hair’s Breadth, German Has Become The Main Language Of The USA
For more than 200 years, there has been a legend, which says that German almost became the official language of the USA. But is that true? Like with every legend, there is some truth in it. In 1794, a group of German immigrants presented a petition in Virginia to the US House of Representatives, demanding a German translation of the legal texts. The motion was rejected by 42 votes against 41. This caused frustration among the immigrants, which formed the basis for the legend. Even in the next generation, the so-called “Mühlenberg-legend” gained more and more popularity. According to rumors, in 1828 there was a vote in Pennsylvania on whether German should be introduced as the second official language besides English. Supposedly, only one single vote prevented the application of the motion and this vote came from the ethnic German parliamentary speaker “Mühlenberg.”
3. The German Vocabulary
The German language consists of about 5.3 million words – with a rising trend. About one-third of those words were added in the last 100 years. This means the German language contains eight times as many words as the English language. In everyday conversation, we use much fewer words: only 12.000 – 16.000 words including about 3.500 foreign words. The “Duden”, a popular reference book for grammar and orthography of the German language, lists 135.000 words. Because of the possibility of creating words by joining single words together to make one word, the German language is considered as a particularly rich language. For example Wehrdienstverweigerer" (EN: conscientious objector) or “Weltmeisterschaftseröffnungsspiel” (EN: world championship opening game).
4. False Friends
German and English have more in common than you might think. Words like “Kindergarten” or “Strudel” for example, mean the same in English and German. But there are some words that are a bit tricky. Those words are called false friends: words that are similar in the German and English language but mean something different. Here are some examples:
- The word: kind
English meaning: nice, cute
German meaning with a capital letter at the beginning: child
- The word: still
English meaning: nevertheless, however
German meaning: silent
- The word: spring
English meaning: a time of the year/season
German meaning: jump
So be careful, because so-called “false friends” can quickly lead you to the wrong track and your conversation partner and you could speak of very different things.
5. "STANDARD GERMAN” Does Not Really Exist
Often, students ask us what the term “standard German” really means. The answer is quite simple because in fact, Standard German is just another word for High German and that is what we teach at the ActiLingua Academy. High German or Standard German is a mixture of Middle German and Upper German and most of the Austrian dialects are based on it. Even if many Austrians insist on speaking their own language, the differences between the “Austrian” and the “German” German are almost nonexistent. Although there are some words in which we have not fully agreed yet, such as Paradise (DE: tomato) or Schlagobers (DE: whipped cream) we always understand each other.
Some Basic German Language Words
1. Yellow - Gelb
2. Orange - Orange
3. Red - Rot
4. Purple - Lila
5. Blue - Blau
6. Green - Grun
7. Brown - Braun
8. Pink - Rosa
9. Black - Schwarz
The banana is yellow
Die banana ist Gelb
The flower is orange
Die Blume ist orange
The apple is red
Der Apfel ist rot
The scarf is purple
Der Schal ist Lila
The sky is blue
Der Himmel ist Blau
The leaf is green
Das Blatt ist Grun
The cat is black
Die Katze is Schwarz
a. One - Eins
b. Two - Zwei
c. Three - Drei
d. Four - Vier
e. Five - Funf
f. Six - Sechs
g. Seven - Sieben
h. Eight - Acht
i. Nine - Neun
Vogel - birds
Hunde - dogs
Elefanten - Elephant
Tiere - animals
Ein, nein … zwei, nein, es sind drei Vogel!
One, no … two, no, there are three animals
Ich sehe sieben Tiere: vier Vogel und drei Hunde
I can see seven animals: Four birds and three dogs
Eine Elefanten Herde
A herd of elephants
A to K
A bis K
The letter A (Der Buchstabe A)
das Auto, die Autos
the car, cars
The letter B (Der Buchstabe B)
die Blume, die Blumen
the flower, flowers
The letter C (Der Buchstabe C)
die Chemikalie, die Chemikalen
the chemical, chemicals
’Hello, My name is Julia’
how will you say it in German?
Well, in German you will say it like this:
Hallo, Mein Name ist Julia
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What do you call Good Morning in German Language?
Good Morning is called “Guten Morgen”.
2. Is german a romance language?
No, German is not a romance language. The romance languages are Spanish, French, and Italian because they are largely derived from Latin. German is not. In other words, a language is a Romance language if it’s associated with, well, romance.
3. How many words in the german language?
German is considered to be the language of science and its beauty lies in its words. The German language is estimated to be made out of a total of 300000 words with the largest German dictionary having over 135000 words.
4. Is German a Latin language?
German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English. … It derives the majority of its vocabulary from the ancient Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. A portion of the words are derived from Latin and Greek, and fewer are borrowed from French and Modern English.
5. How do you say “how are you” in german language?
How are you is called “Wie gehts”.
6. What is “Happy birthday” in german language?
Happy birthday is called “alles Gute zum Geburtstag”.
7. Who invented German language?
One of the first-ever records of the German language dates back to the 1st Century b.c. when the Romans came into contact with inhabitants of the Rhine-Danube area during their occupation. The modern German we know today is likely to be unrecognizable from the language that the Romans first observed.