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. After these High German dialects, standard German is somewhat less closely related to languages based on Low Franconian dialects e. 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.
These Anglo-Frisian dialects are all members of the Ingvaeonic family of West Germanic languages which did not take part in the High German consonant shift. 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:. While there is written evidence of the Old High German language in several 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.
Following the Abrogans the first coherent works written in OHG appear in the 9th century, chief among them being the Muspilli , the Merseburg Charms , and the Hildebrandslied , as well as a number of other religious texts the Georgslied , the Ludwigslied , the Evangelienbuch , and translated hymns and prayers.
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 and Austria between the 2nd and 6th centuries during the great migration.
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 significant Latin influence, particularly in vocabulary.
The 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 the 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 While there is no complete agreement over the dates of the Middle High German MHG period, it is generally seen as lasting from to Whereas during the Old High German period the Germanic tribes extended only as far east as the Elbe and 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. 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. 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. Also noteworthy is the Sachsenspiegel , the first book of laws written in Middle Low German c. The abundance and especially the 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.
The Middle High German period is generally seen as ending with the decimation of the population of Europe in the Black Death of — While these states were still under the control of the 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.
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 and the Old Testament , published in parts and completed in 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.
But tell me is this talking German? What German understands such stuff? 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.
German was the language of commerce and government in the Habsburg Empire , which encompassed a large area of Central and Eastern Europe. Until the midth 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 nationality. 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, Budapest and Bratislava as well as cities like Zagreb German: Agram , and Ljubljana German: Laibach , contained significant German minorities. In the eastern provinces of Banat and Transylvania German: This dictionary was created by the Brothers Grimm and is composed of 16 parts which were issued between and In , 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.
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 were not issued until the controversial German orthography reform of was made the official standard by governments of all German-speaking countries. Approximate distribution of native German speakers assuming a rounded total of 95 million worldwide. 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. 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.
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. 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 has not yet been ratified by the government.
Namibia was a colony of the German Empire from to Mostly descending from German settlers who immigrated during this time, 25—30, people still speak German as a native tongue today. 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 until its independence from South Africa in 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 time.
Hoffmann , radio the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation produces radio programs in German , and music e. The Allgemeine Zeitung is one of the three biggest newspapers in Namibia and the only German-language daily in Africa. Mostly originating from different waves of immigration during the 19th and 20th centuries, an estimated 12, people speak German or a German variety as a first language in South Africa. 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.
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. In Australia , the state of South Australia experienced a pronounced wave of immigration in the s from Prussia particularly the Silesia region. With the prolonged isolation from other German speakers and contact with Australian English , a unique dialect known as 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 , 37, people in New Zealand spoke German, making it the third most spoken European language after English and French and overall the ninth most spoken language.
There is also an important German creole being studied and recovered, named Unserdeutsch , spoken in the former German colony of German New Guinea , across Micronesia and in northern Australia i. The risk of its extinction is serious and efforts to revive interest in the language are being implemented by scholars. 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.
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 Northern 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 dialectal speech.
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. 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. Swiss Standard German is used in the Swiss education system, whereas 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. 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, Hessian can. 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 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. Middle Low German was the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League. It was the predominant language in Northern Germany until the 16th century. In , 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 Southern Germany.
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 and 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 continuously since World War II. The largest cities in the Low German area are Hamburg and Dortmund. The 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. These dialects are more closely related to Dutch also North Low Franconian than the South Low Franconian dialects also referred to as East Limburgish and, east of the Rhine , Bergish , which are spoken in the south of the German Low Franconian language area.
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. Modern Standard German is mostly based on Central German dialects. These dialects are considered as. Luxembourgish as well as the Transylvanian Saxon dialect spoken in Transylvania are based on Moselle Franconian dialects.
They consist of the East- and South Franconian dialects. 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. The largest cities in the South Franconian area are Karlsruhe and Heilbronn. The Upper German dialects are the Alemannic dialects in the west, and the Bavarian dialects in the east. The Alemannic dialects are considered as Alsatian in Alsace. The largest cities in the Bavarian area are Vienna and Munich.
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. German nouns inflect by case, gender and number:. 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. In nouns, inflection for case is required in the singular for strong masculine and neuter nouns only in the genitive only in archaic use in the dative , and even this is losing ground to substitutes in informal speech. 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: 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. Like the other Germanic languages, German forms noun compounds in which the first noun modifies the category given by the second,: 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: Like English, German allows arbitrarily long compounds in theory see also English compounds.
However, examples like this are perceived by native speakers as excessively bureaucratic, stylistically awkward or even satirical. The meaning of basic verbs can be expanded and sometimes radically changed through the use of a number of prefixes. 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 ver suchen to try from suchen to seek , ver nehmen to interrogate from nehmen to take , ver teilen to distribute from teilen to share , ver stehen to understand from stehen to stand.
Other examples include the following: Many 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? German word order is generally with the 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 end. 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:. 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. 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:. The main verb may appear in first position to put stress on the action itself. The auxiliary verb is still in second position. Sentences using modal verbs place the infinitive at the end.
For example, the English sentence "Should he go home? 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: 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 the infinitive. Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the European language family.
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. Borrowing from 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 Latin have 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 the 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. The tradition of loan translation was revitalized in the 18th century, with linguists like Joachim Heinrich Campe , who introduced close to 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. 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. The size of the vocabulary of German is difficult to estimate.
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 included million words in total. The Duden is the de facto official dictionary of the German language, first published by Konrad Duden in The Duden is updated regularly, with new editions appearing every four or five years. If you see the pattern you are able to continue the series of numbers by yourself. In Germany it is in contrast to e. We write one to ten in words, then we write just figures 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 ….
Click the play button. Sign up to my email list or check out the menu for more online lessons. It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. Similarities between German and English. The Word "is" in German. I, you, he, she, it in German. We, you, they in German. I love you in German. You, she, they in German. Er sie es instead of the Noun.
Conjugation of sein and haben. Thank you, Hello and Yes in German. I like in German. How old are you? My, your, his, her in German. Our, your, their in German. Happy Birthday in German. Telling Time in German. Future Tense in German. Excuse me in German. Counting in German to , Punctuation marks in German. Days of the Week in German. Nice things you could say to your sweetheart Romantic German Phrases.
Current Local Time in Germany: Language Lovers I won. Additional Lesson and Stories: Der eingeblendete Hinweis Banner dient dieser Informationspflicht. Eine Anleitung zum Blockieren von Cookies finden Sie hier. Language Lovers I won Online Store: How to count in German from 1 to , Today you will learn to count up to , The numbers from 11 to 20 can also be a little tricky. Here you can see a pattern. Go to Basic Lesson No