No official regulation
German orthography regulated by the Council for German
deu – German
gmh – Middle High German
goh – Old High German
gct – Colonia Tovar German
bar – Bavarian
cim – Cimbrian
geh – Hutterite German
ksh – Kölsch
nds – Low German[a]
sli – Lower Silesian
ltz – Luxembourgish[b]
vmf – Mainfränkisch
mhn – Mócheno
pfl – Palatinate German
pdt – Plautdietsch[c]
swg – Swabian German
gsw – Swiss German
uln – Unserdeutsch
sxu – Upper Saxon
wae – Walser German
wep – Westphalian
hrx – Riograndenser Hunsrückisch
yec – Yenish
high1287 High Franconian
uppe1397 Upper German
52-AC (Continental West Germanic)
> 52-ACB (Deutsch & Dutch)
> 52-ACB-d (
Central German incl. 52-ACB–dl & -dm
Standard/Generalised High German)
+ 52-ACB-e & -f (
Upper German & Swiss German)
+ 52-ACB-h (émigré German varieties incl. 52-ACB-hc Hutterite German
Pennsylvania German etc.)
+ 52-ACB-i (Yenish);
Totalling 285 varieties: 52-ACB-daa to 52-ACB-i
(Co-)Official and majority language
Co-official, but not majority language
Statutory minority/cultural language
Non-statutory minority language
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering
support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead
Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see
German (Deutsch [dɔʏtʃ] ( listen)) is a West Germanic
language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most
widely spoken and (co-) official language in Germany, Austria,
South Tyrol (Italy), the
German-speaking Community of
Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official
languages of Luxembourg. The languages which are most similar to
German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch:
Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low
Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. German is the second most widely
spoken Germanic language, after English.
One of the major languages of the world, German is the first language
of almost 100 million people worldwide and the most widely spoken
native language in the European Union. Together with French,
German is the second most commonly spoken foreign language in the EU
after English, 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), and the
second most commonly used scientific language as well as the third
most widely used language on websites (after English and Russian).
The German-speaking countries are ranked fifth in terms of annual
publication of new books, with one tenth of all books (including
e-books) in the world being published in the German language. 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), and strong and weak verbs.
German derives the majority of its vocabulary from the ancient
Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. A portion of
German words are derived from
Latin and Greek, and fewer are borrowed
from French and English. With slightly different standardized variants
(German, Austrian, and Swiss Standard German), German is a
pluricentric language. Like English, German is also notable for its
broad spectrum of dialects, with many unique varieties existing in
Europe and also other parts of the world. Due to the limited
intelligibility between certain varieties and Standard German, as well
as the lack of an undisputed, scientific difference between a
"dialect" and a "language", some German varieties or dialect groups
Low German or Plautdietsch) are alternatively referred to as
"languages" and "dialects".
2.1 Old High German
2.2 Middle High German
2.3 Early New High German
2.4 Austrian Empire
3 Geographic distribution
Europe and Asia
3.1.1 German Sprachraum
3.1.2 Outside the Sprachraum
3.2.2 South Africa
3.3 North America
3.4 South America
3.4.1 Co-official statuses of German or German varieties in Brazil
3.6 German as a foreign language
4 Standard German
4.1 Varieties of Standard German
5.1 Low German
5.2 Low Franconian
5.3 High German
5.3.1 Central German
5.3.2 High Franconian
5.3.3 Upper German
6.1 Noun inflection
6.2 Verb inflection
6.2.1 Verb prefixes
6.3 Word order
6.3.1 Auxiliary verbs
6.3.2 Modal verbs
6.3.3 Multiple infinitives
7.1 English–German cognates
8.3 Reform of 1996
9.2.1 Consonant spellings
9.2.2 Consonant shifts
11 German loanwords in the English language
12.2 Verein Deutsche Sprache
12.3 Deutsche Welle
13 See also
17 External links
Standard German is a West Germanic language descended from the
Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Germanic languages
are traditionally subdivided into three branches: North Germanic, East
Germanic, and West Germanic. The first of these branches survives in
modern Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Faroese, and Icelandic, all of
which are descended from Old Norse. The East
Germanic languages are
now extinct, and the only historical member of this branch from which
written texts survive is Gothic. The West Germanic languages, however,
have undergone extensive dialectal subdivision and are now represented
in modern languages such as English, German, Dutch, Yiddish,
Afrikaans, and others.
Germanic languages in Europe
Within the West Germanic language dialect continuum, the Benrath and
Uerdingen lines (running through
Krefeld-Uerdingen, respectively) serve to distinguish the Germanic
dialects that were affected by the
High German consonant shift (south
of Benrath) from those that were not (north of Uerdingen). The various
regional dialects spoken south of these lines are grouped as High
German dialects (nos. 29–34 on the map), while those spoken to the
north comprise the Low German/Low Saxon (nos. 19–24) and Low
Franconian (no. 25) dialects. As members of the West Germanic language
family, High German, Low German, and
Low Franconian can be further
distinguished historically as Irminonic, Ingvaeonic, and Istvaeonic,
respectively. This classification indicates their historical descent
from dialects spoken by the
Irminones (also known as the
Ingvaeones (or North Sea Germanic group), and
Standard German is based on Thuringian-Upper Saxon dialects (no. 30 on
the map), which are
Central German dialects (nos. 29–31), belonging
to the Irminonic
High German dialect group. German is therefore most
closely related to the other languages based on
High German dialects,
Luxembourgish (based on
Central Franconian dialects
Central Franconian dialects – no.
29), and Yiddish. Also closely related to
Standard German are the
Upper German dialects spoken in the southern German-speaking
countries, such as
Swiss German (Alemannic dialects – no. 34), and
the various dialects spoken in the French region of Grand Est, such as
Alsatian (mainly Alemannic, but also Central- and Upper
Franconian (no. 32) dialects) and Lorraine Franconian
Central Franconian – no. 29).
High German dialects, standard German is (somewhat less
closely) related to languages based on
Low Franconian dialects (e.g.
Dutch and Afrikaans) or Low German/Low Saxon dialects (spoken in
Germany and southern Denmark), neither of which underwent the
High German consonant shift. As has been noted, the former of these
dialect types is Istvaeonic and the latter Ingvaeonic, whereas the
High German dialects are all Irminonic; the differences between these
languages and standard German are therefore considerable. Also related
to German are the Frisian languages—North Frisian (spoken in
Schleswig-Holstein no. 28), Saterland Frisian (spoken in Lower Saxony
– no. 27), and West Frisian (spoken in the
Netherlands – no.
26)—as well as the
Anglic languages of English and Scots. These
Anglo-Frisian dialects are all members of the Ingvaeonic family of
Germanic languages which did not take part in the High German
Main article: History of German
Old High German
Main article: Old High German
The history of the
German language begins with the High German
consonant shift during the migration period, which separated Old High
German (OHG) dialects from Old Saxon. This sound shift involved a
drastic change in the pronunciation of both voiced and voiceless stop
consonants (b, d, g, and p, t, k, respectively). The primary effects
of the shift were the following:
Voiceless stops became long (geminated) voiceless fricatives following
Voiceless stops became affricates in word-initial position, or
following certain consonants
Voiced stops became voiceless in certain phonetic settings.
following a vowel
While there is written evidence of the Old
High German language in
Elder Futhark inscriptions from as early as the 6th century AD
(such as the Pforzen buckle), the Old
High German period is generally
seen as beginning with the
Abrogans (written c.765–775), a
Latin-German glossary supplying over 3,000 OHG words with their Latin
equivalents. Following the
Abrogans the first coherent works written
in OHG appear in the 9th century, chief among them being the Muspilli,
the Merseberg Incantations, and the Hildebrandslied, as well as a
number of other religious texts (the Georgslied, the Ludwigslied, the
Evangelienbuch, and translated hymns and prayers). The
Muspilli is a Christian poem written in a Bavarian dialect offering an
account of the soul after the Last Judgment, and the Merseberg
Incantations are transcriptions of spells and charms from the pagan
Germanic tradition. Of particular interest to scholars, however, has
been the Hildebrandslied, a secular epic poem telling the tale of an
estranged father and son unknowingly meeting each other in battle.
Linguistically this text is highly interesting due to the mixed use of
Old Saxon and Old
High German dialects in its composition. The written
works of this period stem mainly from the Alamanni, Bavarian, and
Thuringian groups, all belonging to the
Elbe Germanic group
(Irminones), which had settled in what is now southern-central Germany
Austria between the 2nd and 6th centuries during the great
In general, the surviving texts of OHG show a wide range of dialectal
diversity with very little written uniformity. The early written
tradition of OHG survived mostly through monasteries and scriptoria as
local translations of
Latin originals; as a result, the surviving
texts are written in highly disparate regional dialects and exhibit
Latin influence, particularly in vocabulary. At this
point monasteries, where most written works were produced, were
dominated by Latin, and German saw only occasional use in official and
German language through the OHG period was still predominantly a
spoken language, with a wide range of dialects and a much more
extensive oral tradition than a written one. Having just emerged from
High German consonant shift, OHG was also a relatively new and
volatile language still undergoing a number of phonetic, phonological,
morphological, and syntactic changes. The scarcity of written work,
instability of the language, and widespread illiteracy of the time
thus account for the lack of standardization up to the end of the OHG
period in 1050.
Middle High German
The Germanic-speaking area of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire around AD 962.
Old Frisian (Alt-Friesisch)
Old Saxon (Alt-Sächsisch)
Old Franconian (Alt-Fränkisch)
Old Alemannic (Alt-Alemannisch)
Old Bavarian (Alt-Bairisch)
Main article: Middle High German
While there is no complete agreement over the dates of the Middle High
German (MHG) period, it is generally seen as lasting from 1050 to
1350. This was a period of significant expansion of the
geographical territory occupied by Germanic tribes, and consequently
of the number of German speakers. Whereas during the Old High German
period the Germanic tribes extended only as far east as the
Saale rivers, the MHG period saw a number of these tribes expanding
beyond this eastern boundary into Slavic territory (this is known as
the Ostsiedlung). Along with the increasing wealth and geographic
extent of the Germanic groups came greater use of German in the courts
of nobles as the standard language of official proceedings and
literature. A clear example of this is the mittelhochdeutsche
Dichtersprache employed in the
Hohenstaufen court in
Swabia as a
standardized supra-dialectal written language. While these efforts
were still regionally bound, German began to be used in place of Latin
for certain official purposes, leading to a greater need for
regularity in written conventions.
While the major changes of the MHG period were socio-cultural, German
was still undergoing significant linguistic changes in syntax,
phonetics, and morphology as well (e.g. diphthongization of certain
vowel sounds: hus (OHG "house")→haus (MHG), and weakening of
unstressed short vowels to schwa [ə]: taga (OHG "days")→tage
A great wealth of texts survives from the MHG period. Significantly,
among this repertoire are a number of impressive secular works, such
as the Nibelungenlied, an epic poem telling the story of the
dragon-slayer Siegfried (c. 13th century), and the Iwein, an Arthurian
verse poem by
Hartmann von Aue
Hartmann von Aue (c. 1203), as well as several lyric
poems and courtly romances such as
Parzival and Tristan. (Also
noteworthy is the Sachsenspiegel, the first book of laws written in
Low German (c. 1220)). The abundance and (secular) character of
the literature of the MHG period demonstrate the beginnings of a
standardized written form of German, as well as the desire of poets
and authors to be understood by individuals on supra-dialectal terms.
High German period is generally seen as ending with the
decimation of the population of
Europe in the
Black Death of
Early New High German
Main article: Early New High German
Dutch language area before and after the flight and expulsion
Germans (1944-1950) from much of eastern and central Europe. Areas
in the east where German is no longer spoken are marked by lighter
Modern German begins with the Early New
High German (ENHG) period,
which the influential German philologist
Wilhelm Scherer dates
1350–1650, terminating with the end of the Thirty Years' War.
This period saw the further displacement of
Latin by German as the
primary language of courtly proceedings and, increasingly, of
literature in the German states. While these states were still under
the control of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire and far from any form of
unification, the desire for a cohesive written language that would be
understandable across the many German-speaking principalities and
kingdoms was stronger than ever. As a spoken language German remained
highly fractured through this period with a vast number of often
mutually-incomprehensible regional dialects being spoken throughout
the German states; the invention of the printing press c.1440 and the
publication of Luther's vernacular translation of the Bible in 1534,
however, had an immense effect on standardizing German as a
supra-dialectal written language.
The ENHG period saw the rise of several important cross-regional forms
of chancery German, one being gemeine tiutsch, used in the court of
Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and the other being Meißner
Deutsch, used in the
Electorate of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony in the Duchy of
Saxe-Wittenberg. Alongside these courtly written standards, the
invention of the printing press led to the development of a number of
printers' languages (Druckersprachen) aimed at making printed material
readable and understandable across as many diverse dialects of German
as possible. The greater ease of production and increased
availability of written texts brought about increased standardization
in the written form of the German language.
The widespread popularity of the Bible translated into German by
Martin Luther helped establish modern German
One of the central events in the development of ENHG was the
publication of Luther's translation of the Bible into German (the New
Testament in 1522 and the Old Testament, published in parts and
completed in 1534). Luther based his translation primarily on the
Meißner Deutsch of Saxony, spending much time among the
Saxony researching the dialect so as to make the work as
natural and accessible to German speakers as possible. Copies of
Luther's Bible featured a long list of glosses for each region that
translated words which were unknown in the region into the regional
dialect. Concerning his translation method Luther says the following:
One who would talk German does not ask the
Latin how he shall do it;
he must ask the mother in the home, the children on the streets, the
common man in the market-place and note carefully how they talk, then
translate accordingly. They will then understand what is said to them
because it is German. When Christ says 'ex abundantia cordis os
loquitur,' I would translate, if I followed the papists, aus dem
Überflusz des Herzens redet der Mund. But tell me is this talking
German? What German understands such stuff? No, the mother in the home
and the plain man would say, Wesz das Herz voll ist, des gehet der
With Luther's rendering of the Bible in the vernacular German asserted
itself against the dominance of
Latin as a legitimate language for
courtly, literary, and now ecclesiastical subject-matter. Further, his
Bible was ubiquitous in the German states with nearly every household
possessing a copy. Nevertheless, even with the influence of
Luther's Bible as an unofficial written standard, it was not until the
middle of the 18th century after the ENHG period that a widely
accepted standard for written German appeared.
Ethnolinguistic map of Austria-Hungary, 1910, with German-speaking
areas shown in red
German was the language of commerce and government in the Habsburg
Empire, which encompassed a large area of Central and Eastern Europe.
Until the mid-19th century, it was essentially the language of
townspeople throughout most of the Empire. Its use indicated that the
speaker was a merchant or someone from an urban area, regardless of
Some cities, such as
Prague (German: Prag) and
Budapest (Buda, German:
Ofen), were gradually Germanized in the years after their
incorporation into the Habsburg domain. Others, such as Pozsony
(German: Pressburg, now Bratislava), were originally settled during
the Habsburg period, and were primarily German at that time. Prague,
Bratislava as well as cities like
Zagreb (German: Agram),
Ljubljana (German: Laibach), contained significant German
In the eastern provinces of
Siebenbürgen), German was the predominant language not only in the
larger towns – such as Temeswar (Timișoara), Hermannstadt
(Sibiu) and Kronstadt (Brașov) – but also in many smaller
localities in the surrounding areas.
Deutsches Wörterbuch (1854) by the
Brothers Grimm helped to
standardize German orthography.
The most comprehensive guide to the vocabulary of the German language
is found within the Deutsches Wörterbuch. This dictionary was created
Brothers Grimm and is composed of 16 parts which were issued
between 1852 and 1860. In 1872, grammatical and orthographic rules
first appeared in the
In 1901, the 2nd Orthographical Conference ended with a complete
standardization of the
German language in its written form and the
Duden Handbook was declared its standard definition. The Deutsche
Bühnensprache (literally, German stage language) had established
conventions for German pronunciation in theatre (Bühnendeutsch)
three years earlier; however, this was an artificial standard that did
not correspond to any traditional spoken dialect. Rather, it was based
on the pronunciation of
Standard German in Northern Germany, although
it was subsequently regarded often as a general prescriptive norm,
despite differing pronunciation traditions especially in the
Upper-German-speaking regions that still characterize the dialect of
the area today – especially the pronunciation of the ending -ig
as [ɪk] instead of [ɪç]. In Northern Germany,
Standard German was a
foreign language to most inhabitants, whose native dialects were
subsets of Low German. It was usually encountered only in writing or
formal speech; in fact, most of
Standard German was a written
language, not identical to any spoken dialect, throughout the
German-speaking area until well into the 19th century.
Official revisions of some of the rules from 1901 were not issued
until the controversial
German orthography reform of 1996
German orthography reform of 1996 was made the
official standard by governments of all German-speaking countries.
Media and written works are now almost all produced in Standard German
(often called Hochdeutsch, "High German") which is understood in all
areas where German is spoken.
Main article: Geographical distribution of German speakers
Approximate distribution of native German speakers (assuming a rounded
total of 95 million) worldwide.
Italy (South Tyrol) (0.4%)
Due to the
German diaspora as well as German being the second most
widely spoken language in
Europe and the third most widely taught
foreign language in the US and the EU (in upper secondary
education) amongst others, the geographical distribution of German
speakers (or "Germanophones") spans all inhabited continents. As for
the number of speakers of any language worldwide, an assessment is
always compromised by the lack of sufficient, reliable data. For an
exact, global number of native German speakers, this is further
complicated by the existence of several varieties whose status as
separate "languages" or "dialects" is disputed for political and/or
linguistic reasons, including quantitatively strong varieties like
certain forms of Alemannic (e.g., Alsatian) and Low
German/Plautdietsch. Mostly depending on the inclusion or exclusion
of certain varieties, it is estimated that approximately 90–95
million people speak German as a first language, 10-25
million as a second language, and 75–100 million as a foreign
language. This would imply approximately 175–220 million
German speakers worldwide. It is estimated that also including all
persons who are or were taking German classes, i.e., regardless of
their actual proficiency, would amount to about 280 million people
worldwide with at least some knowledge of German.
Approximate distribution of native speakers of German or a German
variety outside Europe
Ethnologue 2016 unless referenced otherwise)
Numbers of speakers should not be summed up per country, as they most
likely overlap considerably.
Table includes varieties with disputed statuses as separate language.
Low German & Plautdietsch
Europe and Asia
German language in Europe:
"German Sprachraum": German is official language (de jure
or de facto) and first language of the majority of the population
German is a co-official language, but not the first
language of the majority of the population
German (or a German dialect) is a legally recognized
minority language (Squares: Geographic distribution too
dispersed/small for map scale)
German (or a variety of German) is spoken by a sizeable
minority, but has no legal recognition
Main article: List of territorial entities where German is an official
In Europe, German is the second most widely spoken mother tongue
(after Russian) and the second biggest language in terms of overall
speakers (after English). The area in central
Europe where the
majority of the population speaks German as a first language and has
German as a (co-)official language is called the "German Sprachraum".
It comprises an estimated 88 million native speakers and 10 million
who speak German as a second language (e.g. immigrants).
Excluding regional minority languages, German is the only official
Germany (de facto, not specified in the constitution),
Austria (de jure),
17 cantons of
Switzerland (de jure), and
Liechtenstein (de jure).
It is a co-official language of the
Italian Autonomous Province of
South Tyrol (also majority language),
Belgium (as majority language only in the German-speaking Community),
four cantons of Switzerland, and
Outside the Sprachraum
Although expulsions and (forced) assimilation after the two World Wars
greatly diminished them, minority communities of mostly bilingual
German native speakers exist in areas both adjacent to and detached
from the Sprachraum.
Europe and Asia, German is a recognized minority language in
the following countries:
Bosnia and Herzegovina (see also: Donauschwaben)
Czech Republic (see also:
Germans in the Czech Republic)
Denmark (see also: North Schleswig Germans)
Hungary (see also:
Germans of Hungary)
Italy (outside of South Tyrol; see also: Cimbrian,
Mòcheno/Fersentalerisch, Walser German)
Kazakhstan (see also:
Germans of Kazakhstan)
Poland (see also German minority in Poland; German is auxiliary
language in 31 communes;)
Romania (see also:
Germans of Romania)
Russia (see also:
Germans in Russia)
Slovakia (see also: Carpathian Germans)
Ukraine (see also:
Germans in Ukraine)
In France, the
High German varieties of Alsatian and Moselle
Franconian are identified as "regional languages", but the European
Charter for Regional and Minority Languages of 1998 has not yet been
ratified by the government. In the Netherlands, the Limburgish,
Low German languages are protected regional languages
according to the European Charter for Regional and Minority
Languages; however, they are widely considered separate languages
and neither German nor Dutch dialects.
German language in Namibian everyday life
German language in Namibia
Namibia was a colony of the
German Empire from 1884 to 1919. Mostly
descending from German settlers who immigrated during this time,
25–30,000 people still speak German as a native tongue today.
The period of German colonialism in
Namibia also led to the evolution
of a Standard German-based pidgin language called "Namibian Black
German", which became a second language for parts of the indigenous
population. Although it is nearly extinct today, some older Namibians
still have some knowledge of it.
German, along with English and
Afrikaans was a co-official language of
Namibia from 1984 until its independence from
South Africa in 1990. At
this point, the Namibian government perceived
Afrikaans and German as
symbols of apartheid and colonialism, and decided English would be the
sole official language, claiming that it was a "neutral" language as
there were virtually no English native speakers in
Namibia at that
Afrikaans and several indigenous languages became
"national languages" by law, identifying them as elements of the
cultural heritage of the nation and ensuring that the state
acknowledged and supported their presence in the country. Today,
German is used in a wide variety of spheres, especially business and
tourism, as well as the churches (most notably the German-speaking
Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Namibia (GELK)), schools (e.g. the
Deutsche Höhere Privatschule Windhoek), literature (German-Namibian
authors include Giselher W. Hoffmann), radio (the Namibian
Broadcasting Corporation produces radio programs in German), and music
(e.g. artist EES). The Allgemeine Zeitung is one of the three biggest
Namibia and the only German-language daily in
Mostly originating from different waves of immigration during the 19th
and 20th centuries, an estimated 12,000 people speak German or a
German variety as a first language in South Africa. One of the
largest communities consists of the speakers of "Nataler Deutsch",
a variety of Low German, concentrated in and around Wartburg. The
small town of
Kroondal in the North-West Province also has a mostly
German-speaking population. The South African constitution identifies
German as a "commonly used" language and the Pan South African
Language Board is obligated to promote and ensure respect for it.
The community is strong enough that several German International
schools are supported such as the Deutsche Schule Pretoria.
German language in the United States, Pennsylvania
German language, Plautdietsch, and Hutterite German
In the United States, the states of
North Dakota and
South Dakota are
the only states where German is the most common language spoken at
home after English. German geographical names can be found
throughout the Midwest region of the country, such as New Ulm and many
other towns in Minnesota; Bismarck (North Dakota's state capital),
Munich, Karlsruhe, and Strasburg (named after a town near Odessa in
Ukraine) in North Dakota; New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Weimar,
and Muenster in Texas; Corn (formerly Korn), Kiefer and
Oklahoma; and Kiel, Berlin, and Germantown in Wisconsin.
Between 1843 and 1910, more than 5 million
overseas, mostly to the United States. German remained an
important language in churches, schools, newspapers, and even the
administration of the
United States Brewers' Association through
the early 20th century, but was severely repressed during
World War I.
Over the course of the 20th century, many of the descendants of 18th
century and 19th century immigrants ceased speaking German at home,
but small populations of speakers are still found in Pennsylvania
(Amish, Hutterites, Dunkards and some
Mennonites historically spoke
Hutterite German and a West
Central German variety of German known as
Pennsylvania German or
North Dakota (Hutterite Germans, Mennonites, Russian
Germans, Volga Germans, and Baltic Germans), South Dakota, Montana,
Texas German), Wisconsin, Indiana, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Ohio
(72,570). A significant group of German Pietists
Iowa formed the
Amana Colonies and continue to practice speaking
their heritage language. Early twentieth century immigration was often
to St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee,
Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
German-language newspapers in the U.S. in 1922
The dialects of German which are or were primarily spoken in colonies
or communities founded by German-speaking people resemble the dialects
of the regions the founders came from. For example, Hutterite German
resembles dialects of Carinthia.
Texas German is a dialect spoken in
the areas of
Texas settled by the Adelsverein, such as New Braunfels
and Fredericksburg. In the
Amana Colonies in the state of Iowa, Amana
German is spoken.
Plautdietsch is a large minority language spoken in
Mexico by the
Mennonite communities, and is spoken by more
than 200,000 people in Mexico.
Pennsylvania German is a West Central
German dialect spoken by most of the
Amish population of Pennsylvania,
Indiana and resembles Palatinate German dialects.[citation
Hutterite German is an
Upper German dialect of the Austro-Bavarian
variety of the German language, which is spoken by Hutterite
Canada and the United States. Hutterite is spoken in
the U.S. states of Washington, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota,
and Minnesota; and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan
and Manitoba. Its speakers belong to some Schmiedleit, Lehrerleit, and
Dariusleit Hutterite groups, but there are also speakers among the
older generations of Prairieleit (the descendants of those Hutterites
who chose not to settle in colonies). Hutterite children who grow up
in the colonies learn to speak
Hutterite German before learning
English, the standard language of the surrounding areas, in school.
Many of these children, though, continue with German
in addition to public school, throughout a student's elementary
In Canada, there are 622,650 speakers of German according to the most
recent census in 2006, with people of German ancestry (German
Canadians) found throughout the country. German-speaking communities
are particularly found in
British Columbia (118,035) and Ontario
(230,330). There is a large and vibrant community in the city of
Kitchener, Ontario, which was at one point named Berlin. German
immigrants were instrumental in the country's three largest urban
areas: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver; post-Second World War
immigrants managed to preserve a fluency in the
German language in
their respective neighborhoods and sections. In the first half of the
20th century, over a million German-Canadians made the language
Canada's third most spoken after French and English.
Mexico there are also large populations of German ancestry, mainly
in the cities of:
Mexico City, Puebla, Mazatlán, Tapachula,
Ecatepec de Morelos, and larger populations scattered in the states of
Chihuahua, Durango, and Zacatecas.
East Pomeranian is co-official in Espírito
Brazilian German and Colonia Tovar dialect
In Brazil, the largest concentrations of German speakers are in the
Rio Grande do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul (where Riograndenser Hunsrückisch
developed), Santa Catarina, Paraná,
São Paulo and Espírito
Santo. There are also important concentrations of German-speaking
descendants in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela,
Co-official statuses of German or German varieties in Brazil
Espírito Santo (statewide cultural language)
Laranja da Terra
Santa Maria de Jetibá
Rio Grande do Sul
Santa Maria do Herval
In Australia, the state of South
Australia experienced a pronounced
wave of immigration in the 1840s from Prussia (particularly the
Silesia region). With the prolonged isolation from other German
speakers and contact with Australian English, a unique dialect known
Barossa German has developed and is spoken predominantly in the
Barossa Valley near Adelaide. Usage of German sharply declined with
the advent of
World War I, due to the prevailing anti-German sentiment
in the population and related government action. It continued to be
used as a first language into the twentieth century but now its use is
limited to a few older speakers.
German migration to
New Zealand in the 19th century was less
pronounced than migration from Britain, Ireland, and perhaps even
Scandinavia. Despite this there were significant pockets of
German-speaking communities which lasted until the first decades of
the 20th century. German-speakers settled principally in Puhoi,
Nelson, and Gore. At the last census (2006), 37,500 people in New
Zealand spoke German, making it the third most spoken European
language after English and French and overall the ninth most spoken
There is also an important German creole being studied and recovered,
named Unserdeutsch, spoken in the former German colony of German New
Micronesia and in northern
Australia (i.e. coastal
Queensland and Western Australia), by a few elderly people.
The risk of its extinction is serious and efforts to revive interest
in the language are being implemented by scholars.
German as a foreign language
Knowledge of German as a foreign language in the EU member states
(+Turkey), in per cent of the adult population (+15), 2005.
Like French and Spanish, German has become a classic second foreign
language in the western world, as English (Spanish in the US) is well
established as the first foreign language. German ranks second
(after English) among the best known foreign languages in the EU (on a
par with French) as well as in Russia. In terms of student
numbers across all levels of education, German ranks third in the EU
(after English and French) as well as in the
United States (after
Spanish and French). In 2015, approximately 15.4 million
people were in the process of learning German across all levels of
education worldwide. As this number remained relatively stable
since 2005 (± 1 million), roughly 75–100 million people able to
communicate in German as foreign language can be inferred assuming an
average course duration of three years and other estimated
parameters. According to a 2012 survey, 47 million people within
the EU (i.e., up to two thirds of the 75–100 million worldwide)
claimed to have sufficient German skills to have a conversation.
Within the EU, not counting countries where it is an official
language, German as a foreign language is most popular in Eastern and
Northern Europe, namely the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, the
Netherlands, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia,
Sweden and Poland.
German was once and, to some extent, is still, a lingua franca in
those parts of Europe.
Main article: Standard German
Standard German originated not as a traditional dialect of a specific
region but as a written language. However, there are places where the
traditional regional dialects have been replaced by new vernaculars
based on standard German; that is the case in large stretches of
Germany but also in major cities in other parts of the
country. It is important to note, however, that the colloquial
standard German differs greatly from the formal written language,
especially in grammar and syntax, in which it has been influenced by
Standard German differs regionally between German-speaking countries
in vocabulary and some instances of pronunciation and even grammar and
orthography. This variation must not be confused with the variation of
local dialects. Even though the regional varieties of standard German
are only somewhat influenced by the local dialects, they are very
distinct. German is thus considered a pluricentric language.
In most regions, the speakers use a continuum from more dialectal
varieties to more standard varieties according to circumstances.
Varieties of Standard German
The national and regional standard varieties of German.
In German linguistics,
German dialects are distinguished from
varieties of standard German. The varieties of standard German refer
to the different local varieties of the pluricentric standard German.
They differ only slightly in lexicon and phonology. In certain
regions, they have replaced the traditional German dialects,
especially in Northern Germany.
German Standard German
Austrian Standard German
Swiss Standard German
In the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, mixtures of dialect and
standard are very seldom used, and the use of
Standard German is
largely restricted to the written language, though about 10% of the
Swiss residents speak
High German (aka Standard German) at home, but
mainly due to German immigrants. This situation has been called a
Swiss Standard German is used in the Swiss education
Austrian Standard German
Austrian Standard German is officially used in the
Austrian education system.
A mixture of dialect and standard does not normally occur in Northern
Germany either. The traditional varieties there are Low German,
Standard German is a
High German "variety". Because their
linguistic distance to it is greater, they do not mesh with Standard
German the way that
High German dialects (such as Bavarian, Swabian,
Main article: German dialects
The continental West Germanic dialects
German is a member of the West Germanic language of the Germanic
family of languages, which in turn is part of the Indo-European
language family. The
German dialects are the traditional local
varieties; many of them are hardly understandable to someone who knows
only standard German, and they have great differences in lexicon,
phonology and syntax. If a narrow definition of language based on
mutual intelligibility is used, many
German dialects are considered to
be separate languages (for instance in the Ethnologue). However, such
a point of view is unusual in German linguistics.
The German dialect continuum is traditionally divided most broadly
High German and Low German, also called Low Saxon. However,
High German dialects and Low Saxon/
Low German dialects
do not belong to the same language. Nevertheless, in today's Germany,
Low German is often perceived as a dialectal variation of
Standard German on a functional level even by many native speakers.
The same phenomenon is found in the eastern Netherlands, as the
traditional dialects are not always identified with their Low
Low German origins, but with Dutch.
The variation among the
German dialects is considerable, with often
only neighbouring dialects being mutually intelligible. Some dialects
are not intelligible to people who know only Standard German. However,
German dialects belong to the dialect continuum of
High German and
Main article: Low German
The Low German/Low Saxon (yellow) and
Low Franconian (orange) dialects
Low German was the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League. It
was the predominant language in Northern
Germany until the 16th
century. In 1534, the
Luther Bible was published. The translation is
considered to be an important step towards the evolution of the Early
New High German. It aimed to be understandable to a broad audience and
was based mainly on Central and
Upper German varieties. The Early New
High German language gained more prestige than
Low German and became
the language of science and literature. Around the same time, the
Hanseatic League, based around northern ports, lost its importance as
new trade routes to
Asia and the
Americas were established, and the
most powerful German states of that period were located in Middle and
The 18th and 19th centuries were marked by mass education in Standard
German in schools. Gradually,
Low German came to be politically viewed
as a mere dialect spoken by the uneducated. Today, Low Saxon can be
divided in two groups: Low Saxon varieties with a reasonable Standard
German influx[clarification needed] and varieties of Standard German
with a Low Saxon influence known as Missingsch. Sometimes, Low Saxon
Low Franconian varieties are grouped together because both are
unaffected by the
High German consonant shift. However, the proportion
of the population who can understand and speak it has decreased
World War II. The largest cities in the Low German
Hamburg and Dortmund.
Low Franconian dialects
Low Franconian dialects are the dialects that are more closely
related to Dutch than to Low German. Most of the Low Franconian
dialects are spoken in the
Netherlands and in Belgium, where they are
considered as dialects of Dutch, which is itself a Low Franconian
language. In Germany,
Low Franconian dialects are spoken in the
northwest of North Rhine-Westphalia, along the Lower Rhine. The Low
Franconian dialects spoken in
Germany are referred to as Meuse-Rhenish
or Low Rhenish. In the north of the German
Low Franconian language
Low Franconian dialects (also referred to as Cleverlands
or as dialects of South Guelderish) are spoken. These dialects are
more closely related to Dutch (also North Low Franconian) than the
Low Franconian dialects (also referred to as East Limburgish
and, east of the Rhine, Low Bergish), which are spoken in the south of
Low Franconian language area. The South Low Franconian
dialects are more closely related to
Limburgish than to Dutch, and are
transitional dialects between
Low Franconian and Ripuarian (Central
East Bergish dialects are the easternmost Low
Franconian dialects, and are transitional dialects between North- and
South Low Franconian, and Westphalian (Low German), with most of its
features however being North Low Franconian. The largest cities in the
Low Franconian area are
Düsseldorf and Duisburg.
High German languages
Central German dialects
The Franconian dialects (Low Franconian, Central- and Rhine
Franconian, and High Franconian)
High German dialects consist of the Central German, High
Upper German dialects. The High Franconian dialects
are transitional dialects between Central- and Upper German. The High
German varieties spoken by the Ashkenazi Jews have several unique
features, and are considered as a separate language, Yiddish, written
with the Hebrew alphabet.
Central German dialects are spoken in Central Germany, from Aachen
in the west to
Görlitz in the east. They consist of Franconian
dialects in the west (West Central German), and non-Franconian
dialects in the east (East Central German). Modern
Standard German is
mostly based on
Central German dialects.
The Franconian, West
Central German dialects are the Central
Franconian dialects (Ripuarian and Moselle Franconian), and the Rhine
Franconian dialects (Hessian and Palatine). These dialects are
Germany and Belgium
Luxembourgish in Luxembourg
Lorraine Franconian (spoken in Moselle) and as a
variant of Alsatian (spoken in
Alsace bossue only) in France
Kerkrade dialect in the Netherlands.
Luxembourgish as well as the
Transylvanian Saxon dialect
Transylvanian Saxon dialect spoken in
Transylvania are based on
Moselle Franconian dialects. The largest
cities in the Franconian
Central German area are
Further east, the non-Franconian, East
Central German dialects are
spoken (Thuringian, Upper Saxon, Ore Mountainian, and Lusatian-New
Markish, and earlier, in the then German-speaking parts of Silesia
also Silesian, and in then German southern
East Prussia also High
Prussian). The largest cities in the East
Central German area are
Berlin and Leipzig.
The High Franconian dialects are transitional dialects between
Central- and Upper German. They consist of the East- and South
The East Franconian dialect branch is one of the most spoken dialect
branches in Germany. These dialects are spoken in the region of
Franconia and in the central parts of Saxon Vogtland. Franconia
consists of the Bavarian districts of Upper-, Middle-, and Lower
Franconia, the region of
South Thuringia (Thuringia), and the eastern
parts of the region of
Hohenlohe) in Baden-Württemberg. The largest cities in the East
Franconian area are
Nuremberg and Würzburg.
South Franconian is mainly spoken in northern
Germany, but also in the northeasternmost part of the region of Alsace
in France. While these dialects are considered as dialects of German
in Baden-Württemberg, they are considered as dialects of Alsatian in
Alsace (most Alsatian dialects are however Low Alemannic). The largest
cities in the South Franconian area are
Karlsruhe and Heilbronn.
Upper German and High Franconian (transitional between Central-
and Upper German) dialects
Upper German dialects are the Alemannic dialects in the west, and
Bavarian dialects in the east.
Alemannic dialects are spoken in
Switzerland (High Alemannic in the
densely populated Swiss Plateau, in the south also Highest Alemannic,
and Low Alemannic in Basel),
Baden-Württemberg (Swabian and Low
Alemannic, in the southwest also High Alemannic), Bavarian Swabia
(Swabian, in the southwesternmost part also Low Alemannic), Vorarlberg
(Low-, High-, and Highest Alemannic),
Alsace (Low Alemannic, in the
southernmost part also High Alemannic),
Liechtenstein (High- and
Highest Alemannic), and in the Tyrolean district of Reutte (Swabian).
The Alemannic dialects are considered as Alsatian in Alsace. The
largest cities in the Alemannic area are
Stuttgart and Zürich.
Bavarian dialects are spoken in
Austria (Vienna, Lower- and Upper
Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Salzburg, Burgenland, and in most parts of
Bavaria (Upper- and Lower
Bavaria as well as Upper
Palatinate), South Tyrol, southwesternmost
Vogtlandian), and in the Swiss village of Samnaun. The largest cities
in the Bavarian area are
Vienna and Munich.
Main article: German grammar
German is a fusional language with a moderate degree of inflection,
with three grammatical genders; as such, there can be a large number
of words derived from the same root.
Declension of the German definite articles (all equivalent to English
Grammatical gender in German
German nouns inflect by case, gender and number:
four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive and dative.
three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. Word endings sometimes
reveal grammatical gender: for instance, nouns ending in -ung (-ing),
-schaft (-ship), -keit or heit (-hood, -ness) are feminine, and nouns
ending in -chen or -lein (diminutive forms) are neuter and nouns
ending in -ismus (-ism) are masculine. Others are more variable,
sometimes depending on the region in which the language is spoken; and
some endings are not restricted to one gender, e.g. -er (-er), e.g.
Feier (feminine), celebration, party, Arbeiter (masculine), labourer,
and Gewitter (neuter), thunderstorm.
two numbers: singular and plural.
This degree of inflection is considerably less than in Old High German
and other old
Indo-European languages such as Latin, Ancient Greek,
and Sanskrit, and it is also somewhat less than, for instance, Old
English, modern Icelandic, or Russian. The three genders have
collapsed in the plural. With four cases and three genders plus
plural, there are 16 permutations of case and gender/number, but there
are only six forms of the definite article, which together cover all
16 permutations. In nouns, inflection for case is required in the
singular for strong masculine and neuter nouns, in the genitive and
sometimes in the dative. Both of these cases are losing ground to
substitutes in informal speech. The dative noun ending is considered
somewhat old-fashioned in many contexts and is often dropped, but it
is still used in proverbs and the like, in formal speech and in
written language. Weak masculine nouns share a common case ending for
genitive, dative and accusative in the singular. Feminine nouns are
not declined in the singular. The plural has an inflection for the
dative. In total, seven inflectional endings (not counting plural
markers) exist in German: -s, -es, -n, -ns, -en, -ens, -e.
In German orthography, nouns and most words with the syntactical
function of nouns are capitalised to make it easier for readers to
determine the function of a word within a sentence (Am Freitag ging
ich einkaufen. – "On Friday I went shopping."; Eines Tages
kreuzte er endlich auf. – "One day he finally showed up.") This
convention is almost unique to German today (shared perhaps only by
the closely related
Luxembourgish language and several insular
dialects of the North Frisian language), but it was historically
common in other languages such as Danish (which abolished the
capitalization of nouns in 1948) and English.
Like the other Germanic languages, German forms noun compounds in
which the first noun modifies the category given by the second,:
Hundehütte ("dog hut"; specifically: "dog kennel"). Unlike English,
whose newer compounds or combinations of longer nouns are often
written in "open" with separating spaces, German (like some other
Germanic languages) nearly always uses the "closed" form without
spaces, for example: Baumhaus ("tree house"). Like English, German
allows arbitrarily long compounds in theory (see also English
compounds). The longest German word verified to be actually in (albeit
very limited) use is
which, literally translated, is "beef labelling supervision duty
assignment law" [from Rind (cattle), Fleisch (meat), Etikettierung(s)
(labelling), Überwachung(s) (supervision), Aufgaben (duties),
Übertragung(s) (assignment), Gesetz (law)]. However, examples like
this are perceived by native speakers as excessively bureaucratic,
stylistically awkward or even satirical.
Main article: German verbs
The inflection of standard
German verbs includes:
two main conjugation classes: weak and strong (as in English).
Additionally, there is a third class, known as mixed verbs, whose
conjugation combines features of both the strong and weak patterns.
three persons: first, second and third.
two numbers: singular and plural.
three moods: indicative, imperative and subjunctive (in addition to
two voices: active and passive. The passive voice uses auxiliary verbs
and is divisible into static and dynamic. Static forms show a constant
state and use the verb ’’to be’’ (sein). Dynamic forms show an
action and use the verb “to become’’ (werden).
two tenses without auxiliary verbs (present and preterite) and four
tenses constructed with auxiliary verbs (perfect, pluperfect, future
and future perfect).
the distinction between grammatical aspects is rendered by combined
use of subjunctive and/or preterite marking so the plain indicative
voice uses neither of those two markers; the subjunctive by itself
conveys secondhand information[clarification needed]; subjunctive plus
preterite marks the conditional state; and the preterite alone shows
either plain indicative (in the past), or functions as a (literal)
alternative for either second-hand-information or the conditional
state of the verb, when necessary for clarity.
the distinction between perfect and progressive aspect is and has, at
every stage of development, been a productive category of the older
language and in nearly all documented dialects, but, strangely enough,
it is now rigorously excluded from written usage in its present
disambiguation of completed vs. uncompleted forms is widely observed
and regularly generated by common prefixes (blicken [to look],
erblicken [to see – unrelated form: sehen]).
The meaning of basic verbs can be expanded and sometimes radically
changed through the use of a number of prefixes. Some prefixes have a
specific meaning; the prefix zer- refers to destruction, as in
zerreißen (to tear apart), zerbrechen (to break apart), zerschneiden
(to cut apart). Other prefixes have only the vaguest meaning in
themselves; ver- is found in a number of verbs with a large variety of
meanings, as in versuchen (to try) from suchen (to seek), vernehmen
(to interrogate) from nehmen (to take), verteilen (to distribute) from
teilen (to share), verstehen (to understand) from stehen (to stand).
Other examples include the following: haften (to stick), verhaften (to
detain); kaufen (to buy), verkaufen (to sell); hören (to hear),
aufhören (to cease); fahren (to drive), erfahren (to experience).
German verbs have a separable prefix, often with an adverbial
function. In finite verb forms, it is split off and moved to the end
of the clause and is hence considered by some to be a "resultative
particle". For example, mitgehen, meaning "to go along", would be
split, giving Gehen Sie mit? (Literal: "Go you with?"; Idiomatic: "Are
you going along?").
Indeed, several parenthetical clauses may occur between the prefix of
a finite verb and its complement (ankommen = to arrive, er kam an = he
arrived, er ist angekommen = he has arrived):
Er kam am Freitagabend nach einem harten Arbeitstag und dem üblichen
Ärger, der ihn schon seit Jahren immer wieder an seinem Arbeitsplatz
plagt, mit fraglicher Freude auf ein Mahl, das seine Frau ihm, wie er
hoffte, bereits aufgetischt hatte, endlich zu Hause an.
A selectively literal translation of this example to illustrate the
point might look like this:
He "came" on Friday evening, after a hard day at work and the usual
annoyances that had time and again been troubling him for years now at
his workplace, with questionable joy, to a meal which, as he hoped,
his wife had already put on the table, finally at home "on".
German word order is generally with the
V2 word order
V2 word order restriction and
also with the
SOV word order restriction for main clauses. For polar
questions, exclamations and wishes, the finite verb always has the
first position. In subordinate clauses, the verb occurs at the very
German requires for a verbal element (main verb or auxiliary verb) to
appear second in the sentence. The verb is preceded by the topic of
the sentence. The element in focus appears at the end of the sentence.
For a sentence without an auxiliary, these are some possibilities:
Der alte Mann gab mir gestern das Buch. (The old man gave me yesterday
the book; normal order)
Das Buch gab mir gestern der alte Mann. (The book gave [to] me
yesterday the old man)
Das Buch gab der alte Mann mir gestern. (The book gave the old man
[to] me yesterday)
Das Buch gab mir der alte Mann gestern. (The book gave [to] me the old
Gestern gab mir der alte Mann das Buch. (Yesterday gave [to] me the
old man the book, normal order)
Mir gab der alte Mann das Buch gestern. ([To] me gave the old man the
book yesterday (entailing: as for you, it was another date))
The position of a noun in a German sentence has no bearing on its
being a subject, an object or another argument. In a declarative
sentence in English, if the subject does not occur before the
predicate, the sentence could well be misunderstood.
However, German's flexibile word order allows one to emphasise
Normal word order:
Der Direktor betrat gestern um 10 Uhr mit einem Schirm in der Hand
The manager entered yesterday at 10 o'clock with an umbrella in the
hand his office.
Object in front:
Sein Büro betrat der Direktor gestern um 10 Uhr mit einem Schirm in
His office entered the manager yesterday at 10 o'clock with an
umbrella in the hand.
The object Sein Büro (his office) is thus highlighted; it could be
the topic of the next sentence.
Adverb of time in front:
Gestern betrat der Direktor um 10 Uhr mit einem Schirm in der Hand
sein Büro. (aber heute ohne Schirm)
Yesterday entered the manager at 10 o'clock with an umbrella in the
hand his office. (but today without umbrella)
Both time expressions in front:
Gestern um 10 Uhr betrat der Direktor mit einem Schirm in der Hand
Yesterday at 10 o'clock entered the manager with an umbrella in the
hand his office.
The full-time specification Gestern um 10 Uhr is highlighted.
Gestern um 10 Uhr betrat der Direktor sein Büro mit einem Schirm in
Yesterday at 10 o'clock the manager entered his office with an
umbrella in his hand.
Both the time specification and the fact he carried an umbrella are
Der Direktor betrat mit einem Schirm in der Hand gestern um 10 Uhr
The manager entered with an umbrella in the hand yesterday at 10
o'clock his office.
The phrase mit einem Schirm in der Hand is highlighted.
Der Direktor betrat gestern um 10 Uhr sein Büro mit einem Schirm in
The manager entered yesterday at 10 o'clock his office with an
umbrella in his hand.
The time specification and the object sein Büro (his office) are
The flexible word order also allows one to use language "tools" (such
as poetic meter and figures of speech) more freely.
When an auxiliary verb is present, it appears in second position, and
the main verb appears at the end. This occurs notably in the creation
of the perfect tense. Many word orders are still possible:
Der alte Mann hat mir heute das Buch gegeben. (The old man has me
today the book given.)
Das Buch hat der alte Mann mir heute gegeben. (The book has the old
man me today given.)
Heute hat der alte Mann mir das Buch gegeben. (Today has the old man
me the book given.)
The main verb may appear in first position to put stress on the action
itself. The auxiliary verb is still in second position.
Gegeben hat mir der alte Mann das Buch heute. (Given has me the old
man the book 'today'.) The bare fact that the book has been given is
emphasized, as well as 'today'.
Sentences using modal verbs place the infinitive at the end. For
example, the English sentence "Should he go home?" would be rearranged
in German to say "Should he (to) home go?" (Soll er nach Hause
gehen?). Thus, in sentences with several subordinate or relative
clauses, the infinitives are clustered at the end. Compare the similar
clustering of prepositions in the following (highly contrived) English
sentence: "What did you bring that book that I do not like to be read
to out of up for?"
German subordinate clauses have all verbs clustered at the end. Given
that auxiliaries encode future, passive, modality, and the perfect,
very long chains of verbs at the end of the sentence can occur. In
these constructions, the past participle in ge- is often replaced by
Man nimmt an, dass der Deserteur wohl erschossenV wordenpsv seinperf
One suspects that the deserter probably shot become be should.
("It is suspected that the deserter probably had been shot")
Er wusste nicht, dass der Agent einen Nachschlüssel hatte machen
He knew not that the agent a picklock had make let
Er wusste nicht, dass der Agent einen Nachschlüssel machen lassen
He knew not that the agent a picklock make let had
("He did not know that the agent had had a picklock made")
The order at the end of such strings is subject to variation, but the
latter version is unusual.
Österreichisches Wörterbuch, Austrian Dictionary.
Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the
European language family. However, there is a
significant amount of loanwords from other languages, in particular
from Latin, Greek, Italian, French and most recently English.
In the early 19th century,
Joachim Heinrich Campe
Joachim Heinrich Campe estimated that one
fifth of the total German vocabulary was of French or Latin
Latin words were already imported into the predecessor of the German
language during the
Roman Empire and underwent all the characteristic
phonetic changes in German. Their origin is thus no longer
recognizable for most speakers (e.g. Pforte, Tafel, Mauer, Käse,
Latin porta, tabula, murus, caseus, Colonia). Borrowing
Latin continued after the fall of the
Roman Empire during
Christianization, mediated by the church and monasteries. Another
important influx of
Latin words can be observed during Renaissance
humanism. In a scholarly context, the borrowings from
continued until today, in the last few decades often indirectly
through borrowings from English. During the 15th to 17th centuries,
the influence of Italian was great, leading to many Italian loanwords
in the fields of architecture, finance, and music. The influence of
French language in the 17th to 19th centuries resulted in an even
greater import of French words. The English influence was already
present in the 19th century, but it did not become dominant until the
second half of the 20th century.
At the same time, the effectiveness of the
German language in forming
equivalents for foreign words from its inherited Germanic stem
repertory is great. Thus,
Notker Labeo was able to
translate Aristotelian treatises in pure (Old High) German in the
decades after the year 1000. The tradition of loan translation was
revitalized in the 18th century, with linguists like Joachim Heinrich
Campe, who introduced close to 300 words that are still used in modern
German. Even today, there are movements that try to promote the Ersatz
(substitution) of foreign words deemed unnecessary with German
alternatives. It is claimed that this would also help in spreading
modern or scientific notions among the less educated and as well
democratise public life.
As in English, there are many pairs of synonyms due to the enrichment
of the Germanic vocabulary with loanwords from
Latin and Latinized
Greek. These words often have different connotations from their
Germanic counterparts and are usually perceived as more scholarly.
Historie, historisch – "history, historical", (Geschichte,
Humanität, human – "humaneness, humane", (Menschlichkeit,
Millennium – "millennium", (Jahrtausend)
Perzeption – "perception", (Wahrnehmung)
Vokabular – "vocabulary", (Wortschatz)
The size of the vocabulary of German is difficult to estimate. The
Deutsches Wörterbuch (The German Dictionary) initiated by Jacob and
Wilhelm Grimm already contained over 330,000 headwords in its first
edition. The modern German scientific vocabulary is estimated at nine
million words and word groups (based on the analysis of 35 million
sentences of a corpus in Leipzig, which as of July 2003 included 500
million words in total).
Duden is the de facto official dictionary of the German language,
first published by Konrad
Duden in 1880. The
Duden is updated
regularly, with new editions appearing every four or five years. As of
August 2013[update] it is in its 26th edition and in 12 volumes, each
covering different aspects such as loanwords, etymology,
pronunciation, synonyms, and so forth.
The first of these volumes, Die deutsche Rechtschreibung (English:
German Orthography), has long been the prescriptive source for the
spelling of German. The
Duden has become the bible of the German
language, being the definitive set of rules regarding grammar,
spelling and usage of German.
Österreichisches Wörterbuch ("Austrian Dictionary"), abbreviated
ÖWB, is the official dictionary of the
German language in the
Republic of Austria. It is edited by a group of linguists under the
authority of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and
Culture (German: Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur).
It is the Austrian counterpart to the German
Duden and contains a
number of terms unique to
Austrian German or more frequently used or
differently pronounced there. A considerable amount of this
"Austrian" vocabulary is also common in Southern Germany, especially
Bavaria, and some of it is used in
Switzerland as well. The most
recent edition is the 42nd from 2012. Since the 39th edition from 2001
the orthography of the
ÖWB was adjusted to the German spelling reform
of 1996. The dictionary is also officially used in the Italian
province of South Tyrol.
This is a selection of cognates in both English and German. Instead of
the usual infinitive ending -en
German verbs are indicated by a hyphen
"-" after their stems. Words that are written with capital letters in
German are nouns.
der, die, das, den, dem
German orthography and German braille
German alphabet, one of Austria's elementary school handwriting
German alphabet, elementary school handwriting program in some West
German is written in the
Latin alphabet. In addition to the 26
standard letters, German has three vowels with Umlaut, namely ä, ö
and ü, as well as the eszett or scharfes s (sharp s): ß. In
Switzerland and Liechtenstein, ss is used instead of ß. Since
never occur at the beginning of a word, it has no traditional
Written texts in German are easily recognisable as such by
distinguishing features such as umlauts and certain orthographical
features – German is the only major language that capitalizes
all nouns, a relic of a widespread practice in Northern
Europe in the
early modern era (including English for a while, in the
1700s) – and the frequent occurrence of long compounds. The
longest German word that has been published is
made of 79 characters. Because legibility and convenience set certain
boundaries, compounds consisting of more than three or four nouns are
almost exclusively found in humorous contexts. (In contrast, although
English can also string nouns together, it usually separates the nouns
with spaces. For example, "toilet bowl cleaner".)
German orthography reform of 1996,
ß replaced ss after
long vowels and diphthongs and before consonants, word-, or
partial-word-endings. In reformed spelling,
ß replaces ss only after
long vowels and diphthongs.
Since there is no traditional capital form of ß, it was replaced by
SS when capitalization was required. For example, Maßband (tape
measure) became MASSBAND in capitals. An exception was the use of ß
in legal documents and forms when capitalizing names. To avoid
confusion with similar names, lower case
ß was maintained (so,
"KREßLEIN" instead of "KRESSLEIN"). Capital
ß (ẞ) was ultimately
German orthography in 2017, ending a long orthographic
Umlaut vowels (ä, ö, ü) are commonly transcribed with ae, oe, and
ue if the umlauts are not available on the keyboard or other medium
used. In the same manner
ß can be transcribed as ss. Some operating
systems use key sequences to extend the set of possible characters to
include, amongst other things, umlauts; in
Microsoft Windows this is
done using Alt codes. German readers understand these transcriptions
(although they appear unusual), but they are avoided if the regular
umlauts are available because they are a makeshift, not proper
spelling. (In Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, city and family names
exist where the extra e has a vowel lengthening effect, e.g. Raesfeld
[ˈraːsfɛlt], Coesfeld [ˈkoːsfɛlt] and Itzehoe [ɪtsəˈhoː],
but this use of the letter e after a/o/u does not occur in the
present-day spelling of words other than proper nouns.)
(Listen to a German speaker recite the alphabet in German)
Problems playing this file? See media help.
There is no general agreement on where letters with umlauts occur in
the sorting sequence. Telephone directories treat them by replacing
them with the base vowel followed by an e. Some dictionaries sort each
umlauted vowel as a separate letter after the base vowel, but more
commonly words with umlauts are ordered immediately after the same
word without umlauts. As an example in a telephone book Ärzte occurs
after Adressenverlage but before Anlagenbauer (because Ä is replaced
by Ae). In a dictionary Ärzte comes after Arzt, but in some
dictionaries Ärzte and all other words starting with Ä may occur
after all words starting with A. In some older dictionaries or
indexes, initial Sch and St are treated as separate letters and are
listed as separate entries after S, but they are usually treated as
S+C+H and S+T.
Written German also typically uses an alternative opening inverted
comma (quotation mark) as in „Guten Morgen!“.
A Russian dictionary from 1931, showing the "German alphabet" –
the 3rd and 4th columns of each half are
Fraktur and Kurrent
respectively, with the footnote explaining ligatures used in Fraktur.
Further information: 2nd Orthographic Conference (German),
Fraktur dispute, and
German orthography reform of 1944
Until the early 20th century, German was mostly printed in blackletter
typefaces (mostly in Fraktur, but also in Schwabacher) and written in
corresponding handwriting (for example
Kurrent and Sütterlin). These
variants of the
Latin alphabet are very different from the serif or
sans-serif Antiqua typefaces used today, and the handwritten forms in
particular are difficult for the untrained to read. The printed forms,
however, were claimed by some to be more readable when used for
Germanic languages. (Often, foreign names in a text were printed
in an Antiqua typeface even though the rest of the text was in
Fraktur.) The Nazis initially promoted
they were considered Aryan, but they abolished them in 1941, claiming
that these letters were Jewish. It is also believed that the Nazi
régime had banned this script as they realized that
inhibit communication in the territories occupied during World War
Fraktur script however remains present in everyday life in pub
signs, beer brands and other forms of advertisement, where it is used
to convey a certain rusticality and antiquity.
A proper use of the long s, (langes s), ſ, is essential for writing
German text in
Fraktur typefaces. Many Antiqua typefaces include the
long s also. A specific set of rules applies for the use of long s in
German text, but nowadays it is rarely used in Antiqua typesetting.
Any lower case "s" at the beginning of a syllable would be a long s,
as opposed to a terminal s or short s (the more common variation of
the letter s), which marks the end of a syllable; for example, in
differentiating between the words Wachſtube (guard-house) and
Wachstube (tube of polish/wax). One can easily decide which "s" to use
by appropriate hyphenation, (Wach-ſtube vs. Wachs-tube). The long s
only appears in lower case.
Reform of 1996
German orthography reform of 1996
The orthography reform of 1996 led to public controversy and
considerable dispute. The states (Bundesländer) of North
Bavaria would not accept it. The dispute landed
at one point in the highest court, which made a short issue of it,
claiming that the states had to decide for themselves and that only in
schools could the reform be made the official rule – everybody
else could continue writing as they had learned it. After 10 years,
without any intervention by the federal parliament, a major revision
was installed in 2006, just in time for the coming school year. In
2007, some traditional spellings were finally invalidated, whereas in
2008, on the other hand, many of the old comma rules were again put in
The most noticeable change was probably in the use of the letter ß,
called scharfes s (Sharp S) or ess-zett (pronounced ess-tsett).
Traditionally, this letter was used in three situations:
After a long vowel or vowel combination,
Before a t, and
At the end of a syllable
Thus Füße, paßt, and daß. Currently only the first rule is in
effect, thus Füße, passt, and dass. The word Fu
ß 'foot' has the
ß because it contains a long vowel, even though that letter
occurs at the end of a syllable. The logic of this change is that an
'ß' is a single letter whereas 'ss' obviously are two letters, so the
same distinction applies as for instance between the words den and
Main article: German phonology
Spoken German in Goethe's Faust
In German, vowels (excluding diphthongs; see below) are either short
or long, as follows:
Short /ɛ/ is realized as [ɛ] in stressed syllables (including
secondary stress), but as [ə] in unstressed syllables. Note that
stressed short /ɛ/ can be spelled either with e or with ä (for
instance, hätte "would have" and Kette "chain" rhyme). In general,
the short vowels are open and the long vowels are close. The one
exception is the open /ɛː/ sound of long Ä; in some varieties of
standard German, /ɛː/ and /eː/ have merged into [eː], removing
this anomaly. In that case, pairs like Bären/Beeren 'bears/berries'
or Ähre/Ehre 'spike (of wheat)/honour' become homophonous (see:
In many varieties of standard German, an unstressed /ɛr/ is not
pronounced [ər], but vocalised to [ɐ].
Whether any particular vowel letter represents the long or short
phoneme is not completely predictable, although the following
If a vowel (other than i) is at the end of a syllable or followed by a
single consonant, it is usually pronounced long (e.g. Hof [hoːf]).
If a vowel is followed by h or if an i is followed by an e, it is
If the vowel is followed by a double consonant (e.g. ff, ss or tt),
ck, tz or a consonant cluster (e.g. st or nd), it is nearly always
short (e.g. hoffen [ˈhɔfən]). Double consonants are used only for
this function of marking preceding vowels as short; the consonant
itself is never pronounced lengthened or doubled, in other words this
is not a feeding order of gemination and then vowel shortening.
Both of these rules have exceptions (e.g. hat [hat] "has" is short
despite the first rule; Mond [moːnt], "moon" is long despite the
second rule). For an i that is neither in the combination ie (making
it long) nor followed by a double consonant or cluster (making it
short), there is no general rule. In some cases, there are regional
differences: In central
Germany (Hessen), the o in the proper name
"Hoffmann" is pronounced long, whereas most other
pronounce it short; the same applies to the e in the geographical name
"Mecklenburg" for people in that region. The word Städte "cities", is
pronounced with a short vowel [ˈʃtɛtə] by some (Jan Hofer, ARD
Television) and with a long vowel [ˈʃtɛːtə] by others (Marietta
ZDF Television). Finally, a vowel followed by ch can be short
(Fach [fax] "compartment", Küche [ˈkʏçə] "kitchen") or long
(Suche [ˈzuːxə] "search", Bücher [ˈbyːçɐ] "books") almost at
random. Thus, Lache is homographous between [laːxə] Lache "puddle"
and [laxə] Lache "manner of laughing" (colloquial) or lache! "laugh!"
German vowels can form the following digraphs (in writing) and
diphthongs (in pronunciation); note that the pronunciation of some of
them (ei, äu, eu) is very different from what one would expect when
considering the component letters:
ai, ei, ay, ey
Additionally, the digraph ie generally represents the phoneme /iː/,
which is not a diphthong. In many varieties, an /r/ at the end of a
syllable is vocalised. However, a sequence of a vowel followed by such
a vocalised /r/ is not a phonemic diphthong: Bär [bɛːɐ̯] "bear",
er [eːɐ̯] "he", wir [viːɐ̯] "we", Tor [toːɐ̯] "gate", kurz
[kʊɐ̯ts] "short", Wörter [vœɐ̯tɐ] "words".
In most varieties of standard German, syllables that begin with a
vowel are preceded by a glottal stop [ʔ].
With approximately 25 phonemes, the German consonant system exhibits
an average number of consonants in comparison with other languages.
One of the more noteworthy ones is the unusual affricate /p͡f/. The
consonant inventory of the standard language is shown below.
1/x/ has two allophones, [x] and [ç], after back and front vowels,
2/r/ has three allophones in free variation: [r], [ʁ] and [ʀ]. In
the syllable coda, the allophone [ɐ] is found in many varieties.
3 The voiceless stops /p/, /t/, /k/ are aspirated except when preceded
by a sibilant, exactly as in English.
4/d͡ʒ/ and /ʒ/ occur only in words of foreign (usually English or
Where a stressed syllable has an initial vowel, it is preceded by
[ʔ]. As its presence is predictable from context, [ʔ] is not
considered a phoneme.
c standing by itself is not a German letter. In borrowed words, it is
usually pronounced [t͡s] (before ä, äu, e, i, ö, ü, y) or [k]
(before a, o, u, and consonants). The combination ck is, as in
English, used to indicate that the preceding vowel is short.
ch occurs often and is pronounced either [ç] (after ä, ai, äu, e,
ei, eu, i, ö, ü and consonants; in the diminutive suffix -chen; and
at the beginning of a word), [x] (after a, au, o, u), or [k] at the
beginning of a word before a, o, u and consonants. Ch never occurs at
the beginning of an originally German word. In borrowed words with
initial Ch before front vowels (Chemie "chemistry" etc.), [ç] is
considered standard. However, Upper
Germans and Franconians (in the
geographical sense) replace it with [k], as German as a whole does
before darker vowels and consonants such as in Charakter, Christentum.
Germans (except Franconians) will borrow a [ʃ] from the French
model. Both agree in considering each other's variant,[clarification
needed] and Upper
Germans also the standard in [ç], as particularly
awkward and unusual.
dsch is pronounced [d͡ʒ] (e.g. Dschungel /ˈd͡ʒʊŋəl/ "jungle")
but appears in a few loanwords only.
f is pronounced [f] as in "father".
h is pronounced [h] as in "home" at the beginning of a syllable. After
a vowel it is silent and only lengthens the vowel (e.g. Reh [ʁeː] =
j is pronounced [j] in Germanic words (Jahr [jaːɐ]) (like "y" in
"year"). In recent loanwords, it follows more or less the respective
l is always pronounced [l], never *[ɫ] (the English "dark L").
q only exists in combination with u and is pronounced [kv]. It appears
in both Germanic and
Latin words (quer [kveːɐ̯]; Qualität
[kvaliˈtɛːt]). But as most words containing q are Latinate, the
letter is considerably rarer in German than it is in English.
r is usually pronounced in a guttural fashion (a voiced uvular
fricative [ʁ] or uvular trill [ʀ]) in front of a vowel or consonant
(Rasen [ˈʁaːzən]; Burg [buʁk]). In spoken German, however, it is
commonly vocalised after a vowel (er being pronounced rather like
[ˈɛɐ] – Burg [buɐk]). In some varieties, the r is
pronounced as a "tongue-tip" r (the alveolar trill [r]).
s in German is pronounced [z] (as in "zebra") if it forms the syllable
onset (e.g. Sohn [zoːn]), otherwise [s] (e.g. Bus [bʊs]). In
Austria, Switzerland, and Southern Germany, [s] occurs at syllable
onset as well. A ss [s] indicates that the preceding vowel is short.
st and sp at the beginning of words of German origin are pronounced
[ʃt] and [ʃp], respectively.
ß (a letter unique to German called scharfes S or Eszett) was a
ligature of a double s and of an sz and is always pronounced [s].
Blackletter typeface, it traditionally replaced ss at
the end of a syllable (e.g. ich muss → ich muß; ich müsste → ich
müßte); within a word it contrasts with ss [s] in indicating that
the preceding vowel is long (compare in Maßen [in ˈmaːsən] "with
moderation" and in Massen [in ˈmasən] "in loads"). The use of
recently been limited by the latest German spelling reform and is no
longer used for ss after a short vowel (e.g. ich mu
ß and ich müßte
were always pronounced with a short U/Ü);
Liechtenstein already abolished it in 1934.
sch is pronounced [ʃ] (like "sh" in "shine").
Latin loanwords is pronounced [tsion].
th is found, rarely, in loanwords and is pronounced [t] if the
loanword is from Greek, and usually as in the original if the loanword
is from English (though some, mostly older, speakers tend to replace
the English th-sound with [s]).
v is pronounced [f] in a limited number of words of Germanic origin,
such as Vater [ˈfaːtɐ], Vogel "bird", von "from, of", vor "before,
in front of", voll "full" and the prefix ver-. It is also used in
loanwords, where it is normally pronounced [v]. This pronunciation is
common in words like Vase, Vikar, Viktor, Viper, Ventil, vulgär, and
English loanwords; however, pronunciation is [f] by some people in
some in the very south. The only non-German word in which "v" is
always pronounced "f" is Eva (Eve).
w is pronounced [v] as in "vacation" (e.g. was [vas]).
y is pronounced as [y] when long, and [ʏ] when short (as in Hygiene
[hyɡi̯ˈeːnə] ; Labyrinth [labyˈʁɪnt] or Gymnasium
/ɡʏmˈnaːziʊm/), except in ay and ey which are both pronounced
[ai]. It is also often used in loanwords and pronounced like in the
original language like in Style or Recycling.
z is always pronounced [t͡s] (e.g. zog [t͡soːk]), except in
loanwords. A tz indicates that the preceding vowel is short.
High German consonant shift
German does not have any dental fricatives (as English th). The th
sounds, which the
English language still has, disappeared on the
continent in German with the consonant shifts between the 8th and the
10th centuries. It is sometimes possible to find parallels between
English and German by replacing the English th with d in German:
"Thank" → in German Dank, "this" and "that" → dies and das, "thou"
(old 2nd person singular pronoun) → du, "think" → denken,
"thirsty" → durstig and many other examples.
Likewise, the gh in Germanic English words, pronounced in several
different ways in modern English (as an f, or not at all), can often
be linked to German ch: "to laugh" → lachen, "through" and
"thorough" → durch, "high" → hoch, "naught" → nichts, "light"
→ leicht or Licht, "sight" → Sicht, "daughter" → Tochter,
"neighbour" → Nachbar.
Main article: German literature
German language is used in
German literature and can be traced
back to the Middle Ages, with the most notable authors of the period
Walther von der Vogelweide
Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. The
Nibelungenlied, whose author remains unknown, is also an important
work of the epoch. The fairy tales collections collected and published
by Jacob and
Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century became famous
throughout the world.
Reformer and theologian Martin Luther, who was the first to translate
the Bible into German, is widely credited for having set the basis for
the modern "High German" language. Among the most well known poets and
authors in German are Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Hoffmann,
Brecht, Heine, and Kafka. Thirteen German-speaking people have won the
Nobel Prize in literature: Theodor Mommsen, Rudolf Christoph Eucken,
Paul von Heyse, Gerhart Hauptmann, Carl Spitteler, Thomas Mann, Nelly
Sachs, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, Elias Canetti, Günter Grass,
Elfriede Jelinek and Herta Müller.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
German loanwords in the English language
English has taken many loanwords from German, often without any change
of spelling (aside from, often, the elimination of umlauts and not
Meaning of German word
to descend by rope / to fastrope
onset / entry / math / approach
connection / access / annexation
automation / machine
novel concerned with the personal development or education of the
flash / lightning
delikatessen / delicatessen
delicate / delicious food items
lit. "double going / living person alive", look-alike of somebody
professional position within a theatre or opera company that deals
mainly with research and development of plays or operas
lit. "replacement", typically used to refer to an inferior substitute
for a desired substance or item
feast / celebration
ski jumping for distance on alpine equipment
snug feeling, cosiness, good nature, geniality
form or shape / creature / scheme; a concept of 'wholeness'
(etymologically die Gestalt is the past participle of stellen used as
an abstract noun, i. e. the same form as contemporary die
health / bless you! (when someone sneezes)
meteo. "holy shine" / halo
lit. mil. "area behind the front-line": interior / backwoods
out of order, not working
lit. "cats' lament": hangover, crapulence
lit. "children's garden" – nursery or preschool
fake art, something produced exclusively for sale
cabbage salad (bastardized)
herb, cabbage in some dialects
guiding theme (the verb leiten means "to guide, to lead")
lit. "taking goods by force" (original meaning "to take away
furniture" shifted in German and was borrowed by English both during
the Thirty Years War)
lit. "rumbling ghost"
diplomacy based on practical objectives rather than ideals
empire or realm
backpack (Ruck → Rücken which means "back")
shredded and salted cabbage fermented in its own juice
taking pleasure in someone else's misfortune
lit. "place/area/room of a language": area where a certain language is
lit. "jammed": inhibited, uptight
lit. "forest dieback", dying floral environment
desire, pleasure, or inclination to travel or walk
lit. "perception of the world": ideology
lit. "wonder child": child prodigy, whiz kid
lit. "spirit of the times": the spirit of the age; the trend at that
chess term lit. "compulsion to move"
The use and learning of the
German language are promoted by a number
Main article: Goethe-Institut
The government-backed Goethe-Institut (named after the famous
German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) aims to enhance the
knowledge of German culture and language within
Europe and the rest of
the world. This is done by holding exhibitions and conferences with
German-related themes, and providing training and guidance in the
learning and use of the German language. For example, the
Goethe-Institut teaches the Goethe-Zertifikat German language
Verein Deutsche Sprache
The Dortmund-based Verein Deutsche Sprache (VDS), which was founded in
1997, supports the
German language and is the largest language
association of citizens in the world. The VDS has more than
thirty-five thousand members in over seventy countries. Its founder,
statistics professor Dr. Walter Krämer, has remained chairperson of
the association from its beginnings.
Main article: Deutsche Welle
Deutsche Welle logo
The German state broadcaster
Deutsche Welle is the equivalent of the
BBC World Service
BBC World Service and provides radio and television broadcasts
in German and 30 other languages across the globe. Its German
language services are tailored for
German language learners by being
spoken at slow speed.
Deutsche Welle also provides an e-learning
website to learn German.
German family name etymology
List of German exonyms
List of German expressions in English
List of German words of French origin
List of pseudo-German words adapted to English
List of terms used for Germans
Names for the German language
^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2010" (The World's
100 Largest Languages in 2010), in Nationalencyklopedin
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Ammon, Ulrich (November 2014). "Die
Stellung der deutschen Sprache in der Welt" (in German) (1st ed.).
Berlin, Germany: de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-019298-8. Retrieved 24
July 2015. [page needed]
^ a b c d e "
Special Eurobarometer 386: Europeans and their languages"
(PDF) (report). European Commission. June 2012. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 6 January 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
^ "Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung – Über den Rat".
Rechtschreibrat.ids-mannheim.de. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
^ a b c d Jan Goossens: Niederdeutsche Sprache: Versuch einer
Definition. In: Jan Goossens (Hrsg.): Niederdeutsch: Sprache und
Literatur. Karl Wachholtz, 2. Auflage, Neumünster 1983, S. 27; Willy
Sanders: Sachsensprache, Hansesprache, Plattdeutsch:
sprachgeschichtliche Grundzüge des Niederdeutschen. Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, Göttingen 1982, ISBN 3-525-01213-6, S. 32 f.; Dieter
Stellmacher: Niederdeutsche Sprache. 2. Auflage, Weidler,
ISBN 3-89693-326-4, S. 92.
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
(2017). "High Franconian".
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History.
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
(2017). "Upper German".
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History.
^ "German 'should be a working language of EU', says Merkel's party".
The Daily Telegraph. 18 June 2013.
^ Europeans and their Languages Archived 6 January 2016 at the Wayback
Machine., Data for EU27, published in 2012.
^ "More than 80% of primary school pupils in the EU were studying a
foreign language in 2013" (PDF). Eurostat. 24 September 2015.
Retrieved 3 May 2016.
^ a b c Modern
Language Association, February 2015, Enrollments in
Languages Other Than English in
United States Institutions of Higher
Education, Fall 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
^ "Why Learn German?". Goethe Institute. Retrieved 28 September
^ "Usage Statistics of Content Languages for Websites, March
^ "Why Learn German?". SDSU – German Studies Department of European
Studies. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
^ "Foreign languages 'shortfall' for business, CBI says". BBC News. 22
^ Template:German L1 speakers outside Europe
^ a b c d Sum of Standard German, Swiss German, and all German
dialects not listed under "Standard German" at
Ethnologue (18th ed.,
^ a b Robinson, Orrin W. (1992).
Old English and its closest
relatives : a survey of the earliest Germanic languages.
Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. p. 16.
ISBN 978-0-8047-2221-6. OCLC 22811452.
^ a b c d Robinson, Orrin W. (1992).
Old English and its closest
relatives : a survey of the earliest Germanic languages.
Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. pp. 239, 242.
ISBN 978-0-8047-2221-6. OCLC 22811452.
^ Calvin, Thomas. An Anthology of German Literature. D. C. Heath &
co. pp. 5–6. OCLC 6128632.
^ a b c Scherer, Wilhelm; Jankowsky, Kurt R. (1995). Zur Geschichte
der Deutschen Sprache. Oxford University. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: J.
Benjamins. p. 11.
^ a b Waterman, John (1976). A history of the German language: with
special reference to the cultural and social forces that shaped the
standard literary language (Rev. ed.). Seattle: University of
Washington Press. p. 83. ISBN 0-295-73807-3.
^ Alder, Aaron D. "A Brief History of the German Language".
linguistics.byu.edu. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
^ Salmons, Joe (2012). A history of German : what the past
reveals about today's language (1st ed.). Oxford, U.K.: Oxford
University Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-19-969793-9.
^ Keller, R.E. (1978). The German language. London: Faber.
pp. 365–368. ISBN 0-571-11159-9. OCLC 4139504.
^ Bach, Adolf (1965). Geschichte der deutschen Sprache. Heidelberg:
Quelle & Meyer. p. 254.
^ Fahlbusch, Erwin and Bromiley, Geoffrey William. The Encyclopedia of
Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans;
Brill, 1999–2003, 1:244.
^ Super, Charles William (1893). A history of the German language.
University of California Libraries. Columbus, Ohio: Hann & Adair.
^ Dickens, A.G. (1974). The German Nation and Martin Luther. New York:
Harper & Row. p. 134.
^ Wilhelm Scherer, Zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache [On the
history of the German language] (
^ Anstalt G. Freytag & Berndt (1911). Geographischer Atlas zur
Vaterlandskunde an der österreichischen Mittelschulen. Vienna: K. u.
k. Hof-Kartographische. "Census December 31st 1910"
^ A magyar szent korona országainak 1910. évi népszámlálása.
Első rész. A népesség főbb adatai. (in Hungarian). Budapest:
Magyar Kir. Központi Statisztikai Hivatal (KSH). 1912.
^ Synopsis of the
Deutsches Wörterbuch (in English) at the Language
Research Centre, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and
Humanities, retrieved 27 June 2012.
^ Gerhard Weiss, Up-to-Date and with a Past: The "Duden" and Its
History, 1995, The Publisher as Teacher, 6 DOI, online from jstor
^ Dieter Nerius: Die Rolle der II. Orthographischen Konferenz (1901)
in der Geschichte der deutschen Rechtschreibung. In: Zeitschrift für
deutsche Philologie (ISSN 0044-2496), 119. Jahrgang 2000, Nr. 1,
^ Theodor Siebs: Deutsche Bühnenaussprache (zuletzt als: Deutsche
Aussprache. Reine und gemässigte Hochlautung mit
Aussprachewörterbuch. Hrsg. von Helmut de Boor. 19., umgearbeitete
Auflage. VMA, Wiesbaden 2000, ISBN 3-928127-66-7)
^ Upward, Chris (1997). "Spelling Reform in German". Journal of the
Simplified Spelling Society. J21: 22–24, 36. Archived from the
original on 23 September 2014.
^ a b c "
Foreign language learning statistics – Statistics
Explained". Ec.europa.eu. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
^ Marten, Thomas; Sauer, Fritz Joachim, eds. (2005).
Länderkunde – Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz und
Liechtenstein im Querschnitt [Regional Geography – An Overview
of Germany, Austria,
Switzerland and Liechtenstein] (in German).
Berlin: Inform-Verlag. p. 7. ISBN 3-9805843-1-3.
^ "The most spoken languages worldwide (speakers and native speaker in
millions)". New York, USA: Statista, The Statistics Portal. Retrieved
11 July 2015. Native speakers=105, total speakers=185
Ethnologue 19th Edition (2016)
^ U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration
Language Use in the United States: 2007
^ a b c d e f g h i Bureau des Traités. "Recherches sur les
traités". Conventions.coe.int. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
^ "Autochthonous Linguistic Minorities in the Italian Alps:".
Rga.revues.org. 20 December 1999. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
Kazakhstan – Languages". Ethnologue.com. Retrieved 18 July
Kazakhstan – Law on Languages". Usefoundation.org. 11 July 1997.
Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 July
^ "Map on page of Polish Commission on
Standardization of Geographical
Names" (PDF). Retrieved 20 June 2015.
^ "Устав азовского районного совета от
21.05.2002 N 5-09 устав муниципального".
Russia.bestpravo.com. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
^ "Charte européenne des langues régionales : Hollande nourrit
la guerre contre le français". Lefigaro.fr. Retrieved 18 July
^ a b c "Deutsch in Namibia" (PDF) (in German). Supplement of the
Allgemeine Zeitung. 18 August 2007. Archived from the original (PDF)
on 24 June 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
^ Deumert, Ama (2003). Markedness and salience in language contact and
second-language acquisition: evidence from a non-canonical contact
Language Sciences. 25. Elsevier Ltd.
^ a b German L1 speakers outside Europe
^ Schubert, Joachim. "Natal Germans". www.safrika.org.
^ "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 – Chapter 1:
Founding Provisions South African Government". Gov.za. Retrieved 18
^ "Table 5. Detailed List of Languages Spoken at Home for the
Population 5 Years and Over by State: 2000" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March
Russia Heritage Collection". Library.ndsu.edu.
Retrieved 18 July 2016.
^ Henry Steele Commager (1961). Immigration and American history:
essays in honor of Theodore C. Blegen. University of
p.102. ISBN 0-8166-5735-1
^ 49.2 million
German Americans as of 2005 according to the United
States Census Bureau. "US demographic census". Archived from the
original on 24 November 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2007. ; the 1990
census gives 57.9 million, or 23.3% of the U.S. population.
^ Documentary History of the
United States Brewers' Association.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 August 2013.
Retrieved 10 August 2013.
^ a b "Statistics
Canada 2006". 2.statcan.ca. 6 January 2010.
Retrieved 15 March 2010.
^ Tools of Progress: A German
Merchant Family in
1865–present ISBN 978-0-826-33087-1 pp. ix-8
^ How German is Mazatlan?, tripadvisor.co.uk
^ Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites
ISBN 978-0-801-89657-6 p. 144
^ a b c d "IPOL realizará formação de recenseadores para o censo
linguístico do município de Antônio Carlos-SC IPOL". E-ipol.org.
Retrieved 18 July 2016.
^ "Legislative Assembly of the state of
Espírito Santo (Commissioner
for Culture and Social Communication – Addition to the
constitutional amendment number 11/2009 establishing the East
Pomeranian dialect as well as German as cultural heritage of the
state" (PDF). Claudiovereza.files.wordpress.com. February 2011.
Retrieved 18 July 2016.
^ Gippert, Jost. "TITUS Didactica: German
^ "Pommern in Brasilien – LernCafe – Online-Journal zur
allgemeinen Weiterbildung". www.lerncafe.de.
^ Holm, John A. (1989). "Pidgins and Creoles: Volume 2, Reference
Survey" (1st ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
p. 616. ISBN 0-521-35940-6. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
^ a b "Deutsch als Fremdsprache weltweit. Datenerhebung 2015 –
Worldwide survey of people learning German; conducted by the German
Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Goethe Institute" (PDF).
Goethe.de. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
^ Знание иностранных языков в России
[Knowledge of foreign languages in Russia] (in Russian). Levada
Centre. 16 September 2008. Archived from the original on 10 May 2015.
Retrieved 10 May 2015.
Language Enrollments in K–12 Public Schools" (PDF).
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
February 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
^ von Polenz, Peter (1999). "6.5. Inter- und übernationale
Beziehungen". Deutsche Sprachgeschichte vom Spätmittelalter bis zur
Gegenwart. de Gruyter Studienbuch (in German). Band III: 19. und 20.
Jahrhundert. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter. pp. 192–194, 196.
ISBN 3-11-016426-4. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
^ Ulrich Ammon, Hans Bickel, Jakob Ebner, et al.: Variantenwörterbuch
des Deutschen. Die Standardsprache in Österreich, der Schweiz und
Deutschland sowie in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Ostbelgien und
Südtirol. Walter de Gruyter,
^ "Sprachen, Religionen – Daten, Indikatoren: Sprachen –
Üblicherweise zu Hause gesprochene Sprachen" (official site) (in
German, French, and Italian). Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Swiss Federal
Statistical Office. 2015. Archived from the original on 14 January
2016. Retrieved 13 January 2016. Zu Hause oder mit den Angehörigen
sprechen 60,1% der betrachteten Bevölkerung hauptsächlich
Schweizerdeutsch, 23,4% Französisch, 8,4% Italienisch, 10,1%
Hochdeutsch und 4,6% Englisch
^ some of which might be reborrowings from Germanic Frankish
^ This phenomenon is known as
Denglisch in German or as
Denglish in English.
^ Uwe Pörksen, German Academy for
Language and Literature’s
Jahrbuch [Yearbook] 2007 (Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2008, pp.
^ Verein Deutsche Sprache e.V. "Verein Deutsche Sprache e.V. – Der
Anglizismen-Index". Vds-ev.de. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
^ Note that menschlich, and occasionally human, may also mean "human,
pertaining to humans," whereas Menschlichkeit and Humanität never
mean "humanity, human race," which translates to Menschheit.
^ "Ein Hinweis in eigener Sache".
Wortschatz.informatik.uni-leipzig.de. 7 January 2003. Archived from
the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
^ Gerhard Weiss (1995). "Up-to-Date and with a Past: The "Duden" and
Its History". Die Unterrichtspraxis / Teaching German. Wiley. 6 (1:
The Publisher as Teacher): 7–21. doi:10.2307/3531328.
^ Zur Definition und sprachwissenschaftlichen Abgrenzung insbesondere:
Rudolf Muhr, Richard Schrodt, Peter Wiesinger (Hrsg.):
Österreichisches Deutsch – Linguistische, sozialpsychologische und
sprachpolitische Aspekte einer nationalen Variante des Deutschen (PDF,
407 Seiten; 1,3 MB) Archived 14 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine.,
Verlag Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, Wien 1995. Anm.: Diese Publikation
entstand aus den Beiträgen der Tagung „Österreichisches
Deutsch“, die mit internationalen Sprachwissenschaftlern an der
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz vom 22. bis 24. Mai 1995 stattfand
^ Ha, Thu-Huong. "
Germany has ended a century-long debate over a
missing letter in its alphabet". Retrieved 5 December 2017. According
to the council’s 2017 spelling manual: When writing the uppercase
[of ß], write SS. It’s also possible to use the uppercase ẞ.
Example: Straße — STRASSE — STRAẞE.
^ Adolf Reinecke, Die deutsche Buchstabenschrift: ihre Entstehung und
Entwicklung, ihre Zweckmäßigkeit und völkische Bedeutung, Leipzig,
^ Facsimile of Bormann's Memorandum (in German)
The memorandum itself is typed in Antiqua, but the
NSDAP letterhead is
printed in Fraktur.
"For general attention, on behalf of the Führer, I make the following
It is wrong to regard or to describe the so-called Gothic script as a
German script. In reality, the so-called Gothic script consists of
Schwabach Jew letters. Just as they later took control of the
newspapers, upon the introduction of printing the Jews residing in
Germany took control of the printing presses and thus in
Schwabach Jew letters were forcefully introduced.
Today the Führer, talking with Herr Reichsleiter Amann and Herr Book
Publisher Adolf Müller, has decided that in the future the Antiqua
script is to be described as normal script. All printed materials are
to be gradually converted to this normal script. As soon as is
feasible in terms of textbooks, only the normal script will be taught
in village and state schools.
The use of the Schwabach Jew letters by officials will in future
cease; appointment certifications for functionaries, street signs, and
so forth will in future be produced only in normal script.
On behalf of the Führer, Herr Reichsleiter Amann will in future
convert those newspapers and periodicals that already have foreign
distribution, or whose foreign distribution is desired, to normal
^ Kapr, Albert (1993). Fraktur: Form und Geschichte der gebrochenen
Schriften. Mainz: H. Schmidt. p. 81.
^ "Mittelschulvorbereitung Deutsch". Mittelschulvorbereitung.ch.
Retrieved 15 March 2010.
^ For a history of the German consonants see Fausto Cercignani, The
Consonants of German: Synchrony and Diachrony, Milano, Cisalpino,
^ "Gestalt". Duden / Bibliographisches Institut GmbH. 2017.
Retrieved 2017-09-20. mittelhochdeutsch gestalt = Aussehen,
Beschaffenheit; Person, Substantivierung von: gestalt, althochdeutsch
gistalt, 2. Partizip von stellen.
^ "Learning German, Experiencing Culture – Goethe-Institut".
Goethe.de. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
^ "Verein Deutsche Sprache e.V." Vds-ev.de. Retrieved 18 July
^ "Who we are". DW.DE. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
^ The status of
Low German as a German variety or separate language is
subject to discussion.
^ The status of
Luxembourgish as a German variety or separate language
is subject to discussion.
^ The status of
Plautdietsch as a German variety or separate language
is subject to discussion.
Fausto Cercignani, The Consonants of German: Synchrony and Diachrony,
Milano, Cisalpino, 1979.
Michael Clyne, The German
Language in a Changing
George O. Curme, A
Grammar of the German
1922) – the most complete and authoritative work in English
Durrell, M (2006). "Germanic Languages". In Brown, Keith. Encyclopedia
of language & linguistics. Elsevier. pp. 53–55.
doi:10.1016/B0-08-044854-2/02189-1. ISBN 978-0-08-044299-0.
Retrieved 6 February 2015. Lay summary (6 February
2015). – via ScienceDirect (Subscription may be
required or content may be available in libraries.)
Anthony Fox, The Structure of German (2005) ISBN 0-19-927399-5
Harbert, Wayne (2007). The Germanic Languages. Cambridge Language
Surveys. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511755071.
ISBN 978-0-521-01511-0. Retrieved 26 February 2015. Lay summary
Language (journal of the Linguistic Society of America) (26
König, Ekkehard; van der Auwera, Johan, eds. (1994). The Germanic
Language Family Descriptions. Routledge.
ISBN 978-0-415-28079-2. Retrieved 26 February 2015. Lay summary
(26 February 2015). The survey of the Germanic branch languages
includes chapters by Winfred P. Lehmann, Ans van Kemenade, John Ole
Askedal, Erik Andersson, Neil Jacobs, Silke Van Ness, and Suzanne
W.B. Lockwood, German Today: The Advanced Learner's Guide (1987)
Ruth H. Sanders. German: Biography of a
Language (Oxford University
Press; 2010) 240 pages. Combines linguistic, anthropological, and
historical perspectives in a "biography" of German in terms of six
"signal events" over millennia, including the Battle of Kalkriese,
which blocked the spread of Latin-based language north.
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