German language

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Spoken in

GermanyGermany Germany Austria Liechtenstein Switzerland ( German-speaking Switzerland ) Luxembourg Italy ( South Tyrol ) Belgium ( German-speaking community and canton Malmedy ) France ( Alsace and Lorraine )

also from minorities in numerous other southern , central and eastern European countries (especially around Opole and in Transylvania ), in Central Asia and in southern Africa (in addition to Namibia also South Africa ) and from emigrants overseas (especially on the American continent)

speaker Estimated around 90 to 105 million native speakers worldwide, around 80 million second and foreign speakers worldwide, of which at least 55 million are in the European Union alone (according to Eurobarometer )
Official status
Official language in GermanyGermany Germany Austria Switzerland Liechtenstein Luxembourg (but: Luxembourgish ) Belgium ( minority in Ostbelgien ) European Union (official and working language)
European UnionEuropean Union 
At regional / local level:

ItalyItaly Italy :

SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia :

BrazilBrazil Brazil :

Other official status in NamibiaNamibia Namibia (" national language ", also official language until 1990) Poland (" auxiliary language " in numerous municipalities) Paraguay (official second language in the autonomous Mennonite colonies) Denmark (lingua franca and administrative language of the German minority in northern Schleswig )
Recognized minority /
regional language in
BrazilBrazil Brazil Italy Romania Kazakhstan

RussiaRussia Russia Slovakia Czech Republic Hungary South Africa Ukraine
Czech RepublicCzech Republic 
South AfricaSouth Africa 

Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2 ( B ) ger ( T ) eng
ISO 639-3


The German language or German ([ dɔɪ̯tʃ ]; abbreviated German or German ) is a pluricentric West Germanic language that serves around 90 to 105 million people worldwide as their mother tongue and around 80 million as a second or foreign language .

Your language area includes Germany , Austria , German-speaking Switzerland , Liechtenstein , Luxembourg , East Belgium , South Tyrol , Alsace and Lorraine as well as North Schleswig . In addition, German is a minority language in some European and non-European countries, e.g. B. in Romania and South Africa as well as national language in African Namibia . German is the most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union (EU).

The standard language , the standard German , is composed of standard varieties of the German umbrella language and is the result of conscious language planning interventions. Originally, the German-speaking area consisted of a large number of High German and Low German dialects within a dialect continuum .

The German researches, documents and mediates the German language and literature in their historical and contemporary forms. According to a recent study, German contemporary language comprises more than five million words, almost a third more than 100 years ago.


German-Dutch language area with the following large dialect groups :
  • Low German
  • Former Low German language area. Practically nonexistent since 1945/50.
  • Middle German
  • Former Central German language area. Practically nonexistent since 1945/50.
  • Upper German
  • Former Upper German language area. Practically nonexistent since 1945/50.
  • Lower Franconian
  • The former German-speaking area in East Central Europe is highlighted. Continental West Germanic languages ​​that do not belong to the German-Dutch dialect continuum :
  • Frisian
  • The term “German language” is primarily understood today to mean the High German standard language (Standard High German) that was created on the basis of Middle German and Upper German dialects . The dialects (dialects) of the dialect continuum other hand, are only partially from this language covered .

    German also includes the historical predecessor languages Old High German (language codes according to ISO 639-2 & 639-3: goh ) and Middle High German (language codes according to ISO 639-2 & 639-3: gmh ) as well as newer colloquial varieties or mixed languages ​​(e.g. . Missingsch ) within the scope of the German standard language.

    The Luxembourg and some emigrants dialects (z. B. Pennsylvania Dutch ) or transition dialects (z. B. Kollumerpompsters ) back to varieties of dialect continuum.

    The Yiddish , which dates back to the Middle High German, has been especially among Slavic and Hebrew evolved influences independently and with its own written language; The same applies to the Creole language Unserdeutsch, which is lexically based on German .


    The word "German"

    The word or Glottonym (the name of a language) German has evolved from the Germanic * Theudo 'people', ahd. Thiota, thioT and the adjective derived from ahd. Thiutisk (1000), MHG. Diutisch, diutsch, tiutsch, tiusch developed . It means something like 'belonging to the people' and developed into a name for the language of the Germanic tribes of Central Europe, which stood in contrast to the language of the neighboring Romance population and Latin .

    A parallel formation is already documented in the Gothic adverb þiudiskō , with which the Greek expression ethnikṓs (ἐθνικῶς) 'pagan' was translated. Later the Old English þēodisc was used in the same way for Latin gentīlis , pagan '. In its Latin form theodisce , the word can be found for the first time in a synod report by the papal nuncio Gregory of Ostia from the year 786:

    "[...] et in conspectu concilii clara voce singula capitula perlecta sunt et tam latine quam theodisce [...]" "[...] and in the council plenum the individual chapters are read with a loud voice, both in Latin and in the language of the people [ ...] "

    This account of two synods that took place in England was read out both in Latin and in the language of the people. The context shows that the old English language was meant here, as opposed to the Latin used by the clergy. The first evidence from the continental Germanic language area is only two years younger than in an indictment against the Baier duke Tassilo III. At the Reichstag in Ingelheim a Germanic translation for the alleged “desertion” was named: “quod theodisca lingua harisliz dicitur”.

    Since Charlemagne the expression theodisca lingua became the official name for the old Franconian vernacular and increasingly also for the entirety of the Germanic dialects spoken in his empire. The older term "Franconian" for their own language no longer applied clearly since the 9th century, because on the one hand the West Franconian upper class in later France had adopted the Romance dialect of the local population, on the other hand the Eastern Franconia also non-Franconian tribes such as the Alemanni , the Baiern , the Thuringian and the Saxons included. This is what the Carolingian historian Notker , who lived in the 2nd half of the 9th century, said:

    "[...] qui Theutonica sive Teutisca lingua loquimur [...]"

    "[...] who we speak Teutonic or German [...]"

    - Notker : Gesta Karoli 1, 10, 24-25

    Since then, the Old High German form diutisc began to replace the Middle Latin theodiscus . In addition to theodiscus, from around 880 there has also been a Middle Latin diutiscus, tiutiscus . Old High German, to which the word usage has narrowed since the 9th century, consisted of different dialects. It was not until the middle of the 12th century that a more uniform Middle High German poetry and literary language developed in the Middle Rhine region, which we encounter in the classical courtly knight literature , in which there are also reflections of the French-speaking knight epic. This poetry and the supraregional poetic language associated with it was founded and borne primarily by the rising nobility, who at the same time stood out from the people, who of course continued to cling to their regional dialects.

    The area in which these linguistic varieties, which formed a coherent dialect continuum and were uniformly referred to as "German" in the language levels of Continental Germanic spoken at the time, was initially called diutschiu lant in the plural . However, the author of the Annoliedes (around 1085) from the Siegburg monastery also used diutisc in the singular and established a connection between language, people and country:

    "Diutschin sprechin, Diutschin liute in Diutischemi lande."

    "Speak German, German people in German land."

    The spelling of the country name (initially in the sense of " German language area ") was first encountered in late Middle High German Tiutschland and became generally accepted in the 16th century.

    Names of German in other languages

    Due to the changeable political history of the German-speaking area and its middle position between the areas of Romance and Slavic languages, there are more different forms for the name of the German language than for most other languages ​​in the world . In general, however, the names of the German language can be grouped into six groups based on their origin:

    Glottonyms derived from the word “German”

    This group is initially formed by the other Germanic languages:

    In addition, derivatives of the word "German" also appear in some Romance languages:


    • Chinese : déyǔ 德語  /  德语 or déyìzhìyǔ 德意志 語  /  德意志 语 ( dé [yìzhì] = phonetic transmission of the word "German"; "language")
    • Vietnamese : tiếng Đức or Đức ngữ ( tiếng or ngữ "language"; Đức is the [Sino-] Vietnamese pronunciation of the same Sinographeme as in the Chinese name)
    • Japanese : doitsu-go ド イ ツ 語 or 独 逸 語 ( doitsu = phonetic transmission of the word "German"; go "language")
    • Korean : dogileo 독일어 (abbreviated: 독어) (The same Sinographeme as in the Japanese name, but in Sinocorean instead of Sino-Japanese pronunciation: → 독 dok , → 일 il , → 어 eo. )
    • Northern Sami : duiskkagiella or tuiskkagiella
    • Taiwanese : dik-gok ue ( 德國 話  /  德国 )

    Glottonyms derived from the word “Saxony”

    “Saxony” refers to the historical Saxon people who populated today's Lower Saxony- speaking area.

    In the Irish and Welsh languages , the words Sasanach and Saesneg refer to the Anglo-Saxons and today's English.

    Glottonyms derived from the word "* němьcь"

    Advertising for the German language at the German Embassy in Prague

    In the Slavic languages, the term for “German ” can be traced back to the ancient Slavic root * něm- for “dumb”. This was originally a general term for all foreigners from the European west who did not understand the Slavic languages ​​and with whom communication was difficult or impossible as a result (cf. Greek barbaros ). An exception is Macedonian , in which the term germanski ( германски ) has established itself.

    In languages ​​that are partly characterized by Slavic loanwords such as Hungarian or Kazakh , similar terms such as Hungarian német or Kazakh nemis ( неміс ) emerged . In the past, the term nemțește , which was borrowed from the Slavic languages, was common in Romanian , but is now increasingly being replaced by the term germană . The currently used translations of "German [en language]" are:

    The Arabic term for Austria an-Nimsā (النمسا) was also borrowed from the Slavic languages.

    Examples of the surname “Deutscher” include a. the Polish racing cyclist Przemysław Niemiec , the Slovak soccer player Adam Nemec , the German lawyer Reinhard Nemetz or, in the moviest form of a female name-bearer, the Czech writer Božena Němcová .

    Glottonyms derived from the word “Alamannen”

    The Alemanni were a population group of the West Germanic culture, whose area was on the border with the "Welschland" ( France , Italy ). The term Alemannic for German spread primarily through French.

    Glottonyms derived from the word “Germanic”

    The use of " Germane " or "Germania" is a rather recent phenomenon that can be found in the wake of the Renaissance . The distribution in non-European languages ​​was mainly done through English.

    • Albanian : Gjermanisht (undefined), Gjermanishtja (certain)
    • Armenian : Գերմաներեն (Germaneren)
    • Bulgarian : германски (Germanski)
    • English : German (to Dutch , the English name for Dutch, see the article Dutch (name) ).
    • Esperanto : germana (lingvo)
    • Georgian : გერმანული (ენა) ( Germanuli ( ena language))
    • Hebrew :גרמנית (germanite)
    • Hindi : जर्मन (jarman)
    • Ido : Germana linguo
    • Indonesian : Jerman
    • Irish : Gearmáinis
    • Kiswahili : Kijerumani
    • Manx : Germaanish
    • Macedonian : германски (germanski)
    • Mongolian : Герман (German)
    • New Greek : Γερμανικά ( Jermaniká , neuter plural)
    • Romanian : germană (next to neamț )
    • Scottish Gaelic : Gearmailtis
    • Thai : (ภาษา) เยอรมัน , (phasa) yoeraman

    Special forms

    Terms in the Baltic languages

    Sign languages

    • In German, British and some other sign languages , the sign for German is an index finger placed on the forehead and stretched upwards, which imitates the Prussian spiked hat.


    Separation and constitution of the German language from Germanic

    The history of the (high) German language is often divided into four sections ( language levels ):

    The separation and constitution of the German language from Germanic can be understood as a threefold linguistic-historical process:

    1. In the 4th to 7th centuries: the increasing differentiation from the late Common Germanic to the South Germanic to the Elbe Germanic and, to a lesser extent, to the Rhine-Weser Germanic, on which the early medieval tribal dialects are based.
    2. In the 7th to 9th centuries: the integration in the Franconian Reich Association to Old High German . The Langobard language - extinct in the 10th century and native to northern Italy - probably also belonged to the ancestors of this group according to today's linguistics.
    3. From 15./16. Century: the written or high-level language layering on High German (more precisely: East-Central German and South-East German) basis, whereby Low German was also finally incorporated into the German language, although an influence from High German can be ascertained since Old High German times.
    Old Franconian
    Old Alemannic
    Old Bavarian
    West Franconian
    Old Dutch
    Old Middle and Old High Franconian
    Old Upper German
    Old Saxon
    Old High German
    Middle Low German
    Middle High German
    Low German
    Standard German

    Low and High German

    The West Germanic language area (excluding Old English ) in the early Middle Ages .
  • Old Dutch varieties
  • Old high German varieties
  • Old Frisian varieties
  • Old Saxon varieties
  • Marking of the continental West Germanic dialect continuum
  • Representation of the German-speaking area by the linguist Karl Bernhardi from 1843.
    This map from the time of the earliest German studies contains some historical features. a. Swedish and Danish are subordinate to the German language, English appears to be unrelated and Dutch , Frisian and “ Sassian ” are summarized as the “Low German language
    strain ”.

    The different variants of today's German language are grouped into two sections, High German and Low German . High German is the name given to all continental West Germanic dialects that were involved in the second or High German phonetic shift in the early Middle Ages (Alemannic, Bavarian, East, Rhine, Middle Franconian, East Central German = Upper and Central German dialects = High German dialects). The Low German dialects, like English , Frisian and Dutch , did not participate in this second sound shift, or only to a very small extent.

    Since during the entire Middle Ages, in contrast to the Romansh or Slavic-speaking neighboring countries, the "Land of Germans" (German-speaking area) had strongly territorially fragmented political structures, the sometimes very different German dialects ( German dialects ) developed in parallel for a long time.

    A first approach to a supra-regional balance of the dialects has been sought in part in the Middle High German poetic language of court poetry around 1200. In fact, the efforts of the poets to avoid only regionally understandable vocabulary and dialectal phonetic peculiarities in order to enable a supraregional understanding of their works can be recognized. On the other hand, the broad impact of the poets working at the royal courts was rather small, since at that time only a small part of the population could read and write or had access to this elite art. The beginning of the New High German written and standard language can therefore only be seen in supra-regional compensation processes of the late Middle Ages and early modern times.

    While the standard language in most European countries emerged from the dialect of the respective capital, today's High German language (standard language) represents a kind of "compromise" between the Central and Upper German dialects south of the so-called Benrath line .

    In northern Germany , especially in the wake of the Reformation , standard German has largely replaced the native Low German (Lower Saxon or Low German and Lower Franconian) as the official and school language, as well as Danish in Schleswig and Frisian in East Frisia . At the heyday of the Hanseatic League , Middle Low German functioned as the lingua franca in the north-eastern North and the entire Baltic region .

    The importance of Martin Luther (1483–1546) for the development of the German language should not be overestimated. Already around 1350 there were approaches to a national written language, which one calls Early New High German in research . In the Danube region, a relatively high degree of uniformity had been achieved, judges Werner Besch , and Luther brought the East Central German forms he used to these southern dialects. He was in the middle of the flow of development. His translation of the Bible was, however, an important work that served as a role model and, due to its wide distribution, was accessible to everyone - especially to every teacher.

    The development of high German written language was largely complete in the 17th century. The removal of the so-called pile -up of letters in the 18th century rounded off the German typeface, which has hardly changed in basic features since then.

    In the Netherlands, Flemish and Brabant cities such as Bruges , Ghent and Antwerp developed into commercial metropolises in the High Middle Ages . In this highly urbanized area, almost at the same time as the written language of High German, the southern Dutch dialects developed into a compensatory language , the forerunner of the later standard Dutch language . As a result, Standard German was never able to develop into the official language of the Burgundian Netherlands and consequently has almost no influence on the dialects in the Dutch-speaking area. In the 17th century, the standard Dutch language was the dominant written language in much of the western part of what is now North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony . In most schools in what is now the German district of Kleve , Dutch was the language of instruction until the 19th century. According to sociolinguistic criteria, the Lower Franconian dialects covered by the German standard language can no longer be counted as Dutch on German territory today; due to today's roofing language, they belong to the German dialect.

    History of language and sound change

    The historical sections of German are closely linked to phenomena of sound change . The so-called High German sound shift , a phenomenon of the consonant system, separates German (in the form of Old High German ) from the rest of the continental West Germanic dialects. This sound change is not carried out by the Low German dialects; In this respect, the German standard language in its consonant system is determined by the south and the middle of the language area.

    The transition from Middle High German to Early New High German is mainly characterized by monophthonging and diphthonging in the area of ​​sounds . Both are phenomena of the vowel system. While diphthongization starts in the south-east of the language area and is not carried out in the Lower German north or in the Alemannic south-west, the central German language area is the starting point for monophthongization.

    Overall, the Low German North insists on the old state of speech both in the area of ​​consonants and in the area of ​​vowels. The Alemannic southwest only does not make the phonetic changes in the area of ​​the vowels; the Bavarian southeast contributes diphthongization to the German language, but does not perform monophthongization.

    Language standardization

    Title page of the German dictionary by Johann Christoph Adelung 1774
    Title page of the first volume of the German dictionary

    The Saxon chancellery language (also Meißner Chancellery German) developed in the age of German humanism . It formed a prerequisite for a general standard German that was superior to the dialects, as Martin Luther realized in his translation of the Bible in 1522. As a counterpart there was the Maximilian chancellery language prescribed by the emperor to his officials , which had Upper German language habits and in the form of Upper German writing language prevailed in today's southern Germany and Austria and was used there until the 18th century. After the Seven Years' War , however, Maria Theresa was forced to make the Saxon chancellery language the standard language in the south of the empire.

    With the increase in the number of literate people and the importance of writing, the importance of sound changes for the history of language decreased in favor of conscious standardization. One of the most important grammarians of the 18th century is Johann Christoph Adelung , whose dictionary , published 1774–1786, had a great influence on his contemporaries and on lexicography . Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm began editing the most comprehensive German dictionary in 1852 , which was completed in 1961 but has since been revised.

    High German spelling was increasingly standardized in the course of the 19th century. A breakthrough to a High German "standard spelling " came with the orthographic dictionary of the German language by Konrad Duden (1880), which was declared the basis of the official spelling in the spelling standardization of 1901 in a slightly changed form - without attaining official status. The Duden was not without competition at that time: In addition to other unofficial dictionaries such as the so-called " Buchdruckerduden " - also published by the Bibliographisches Institut and Konrad Duden - and the dictionary of German spelling (1903) by Georg Ammon , which was written with the help of Nikolaus Wecklein Official rule dictionaries with partly different spelling rules such as the official dictionary for German spelling for use in Prussian offices (1903) or the rules for German spelling and dictionary - edition with uniform spellings in Austria (1904). The deviations were, among other things , in the admission or non-admission of several spellings (e.g. Keeks - Cakes - Kakes , today: Keks ), in the representation of the s sound in front of z in German script and Fraktur , in the modification or non-modification of Proper names (e.g. Göthe instead of Goethe , Bismark instead of Bismarck ). With the “Buchdrucker-Duden” of 1903, special requests for changes from the German Book Printers Association, the Reich Association of Austrian Book Printing Owners and the Swiss Book Printing Owners Association were taken into account.

    In 1996, 2004 and 2006 there were spelling reforms (see also: History of German Spelling ). High German pronunciation also experienced attempts to regulate it in the late 19th century, primarily through Theodor Siebs' pronunciation dictionary . However, these regulations did not reach the level of binding force that Duden achieved with spelling. In contrast to the High German written language, the Low German written language is not officially standardized, but is increasingly influenced by the "Rules for Low German Spelling" and the dictionary by Johannes Saß , established in Hamburg in 1956 .

    Influences of other languages ​​on the German language

    Due to its central location in Europe, the German language has been influenced by other languages ​​over the centuries. In the Middle Ages and the time before, it was primarily the Latin language that the German language made use of. Many everyday words, especially from architecture, religion and warfare (e.g. window, cart, cellar, monastery, fight ) are borrowed from Latin. The ancient Greek language also had a strong influence on German in religion, science and philosophy (e.g. church, Pentecost, democracy, crypt, philosophy, physics ). In some cases, the previously used terms disappeared completely due to the borrowings: doctor, medic and the colloquially used doctor replaced the terms Laachi or Lachi and Bader as designations for the healer at an early stage .

    Since the late Middle Ages, the German language has been heavily influenced by the Italian language in the areas of trade, finance (such as gross, net, account, risk, bankruptcy ) and music (such as piano, harpsichord, da capo, bravo! ) . Later it was mainly the French language that had a great influence on German. Since French was spoken at many courts after the Thirty Years' War and even Prussian kings had a better command of this language than German, which according to Voltaire was only used for communication with soldiers and horses, words from the upper class came into the German language (e.g. Boulevard , Jam, sidewalk ).

    Some words came into German from the Slavic languages ​​(for example, Grenz, Gurke, Pistole ), Yiddish and Rotwelsch (for example, meschugge, Kaff, Schickse, Schlamassel, Zoff ), but the influence of these languages ​​was much less than the aforementioned .

    In trade (magazine, tariff, tare) , botany (orange, coffee, ginger) , medicine (elixir, balsam) , mathematics (algebra, algorithm, digit) , chemistry (alkaline, alcohol) and astronomy (almanac, zenith, rigel) influences from the Arabic can also be identified, which came to Europe and thus also to Germany in the Middle Ages, for example through the Crusades . But even in everyday terms such as suitcase, gasoline or lemonade , Arabic influences or origins can be proven.

    From the middle of the 20th century, the influence of English on German increased (see Anglicisms ). This development is viewed with skepticism by some, especially when there are enough German synonyms . Critics also note that it is often (for example in the case of cell phones ) a question of pseudo-Anglicisms .

    Inadequate knowledge of the English language is sometimes held responsible for mixing up and replacing existing German words with pseudo-Anglicisms. According to a study by GfK , only 2.1% of employees speak fluent English. In the under-thirty-year-old group, however, over 54% rate their English language skills as good to excellent. As a result, more efficient English lessons can help improve language skills, and instead of synchronizing the sound of films and series, the English-language originals should be subtitled with German text. At the same time, this would contribute to a better demarcation between the languages ​​and the preservation of German language quality.

    In the course of global trade and the import of exotic fruits and animals , words from very exotic languages ​​have become a common part of everyday life. For example, the Tupi words that have come into German include piranha ("tooth fish"), tapir , Kaschu (also cashew "kidney tree"), passion fruit ("plant that gives fruit"), manioc (" House of the Goddess Mani ") and Carioca (" inhabitant of the house of Cari "= inhabitant of Rio de Janeiro after the village Carioca, in the place of which Rio was built), also pineapple (" fragrant fruit ") and jaguar (" jungle dog ") .

    Influences in the 20th century

    German usage in the 21st century: Mixture of German, English and French in one clothing store

    There were also strong influences on the German language in the 20th century. On the one hand, the widespread use of audiovisual mass media promoted a natural tendency towards standardization ; on the other hand, in rural areas, a conscious re-education from dialect language to standard German was promoted. Added to this is the influence of the Second World War , which resulted in German language islands in Eastern Europe being largely destroyed , many speakers of the Jewish dialects of German and the Yiddish language close to German being murdered ( Holocaust ) or as a linguistic minority outside the German language zone live and lose the use of German or Yiddish more and more due to the dominance of the surrounding languages. The division of Germany has also led to a different development of vocabulary and forms of expression; this is the subject of linguistic research. This is countered by a renewed unifying tendency through the common media and personal mobility in the time after reunification . The English, or more precisely: Anglo-American influence on the German language, especially in West Germany, has become very important since the Second World War ; this shows up in the form of anglicisms , mainly in vocabulary, in idioms and in the valence of some verbs . A derogatory term to describe this usage is " Denglisch " (German-English).

    Initiatives against the influence of foreign languages

    The endeavors to keep the German language free of influences from foreign languages ​​as far as possible are not new. While the Anglicisms that flow into the German language  - such as abchecken, Net, Charts, in 2004  - are often criticized today, the attempts to defend themselves in the past were primarily directed at influences from ancient Greek , Latin and French .

    In the 17th century, the fruitful society in particular was an advocate of protecting the German language from alienation (“corruption”, “language herbalism”) . During this time, new expressions were created, some of which are still an integral part of the German vocabulary today, such as "plural" (instead of numerus pluralis or pluralis ), "dialect" (instead of dialect ), "author" (instead of author ), " Dictionary ”(instead of Vocabularius, Dictionarium, Dictionaire or dictionnaire ),“ Century ”(instead of Säkulum ),“ Address ”(instead of address ),“ Doctrine ”,“ Statesman ”and“ Correspondence ”. Many words were created as direct translations of the Latin word structures in prepositions with the same meaning and word stems of Old High German origin (such as "Rückblick" instead of retrospective ). In general, however, the Latinisms have not been pushed out of the vocabulary, but have been preserved as synonyms. In contrast to the Latinisms in the vocabulary of the French or English languages, the meaning of many words newly coined at this time is recognizable and semantically accessible even to non-Latins.

    In other cases, the intention was to replace foreign-language words with new German ones, but they went too far. At least the following new formations could not prevail. For example, mirrors were to be replaced by “sight glass” (which ultimately got a different meaning ), pistol by “ assassin puffer” , nose by “face bay” or mummy by “dried corpse”, while the Roman goddess of the dawn (Aurora) in red dome and the goddess of love ( Venus ) should be renamed Lustinne . However, it is controversial whether these god names should really be replaced. They could also have acted as mere explanations.

    At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the General German Language Association , the predecessor of the Society for the German Language , created new words. Some of them were able to assert themselves - especially in the field of road and rail transport - or were at least accepted as a synonym, for example "Landstrasse" for Chaussee , "Abteil" for Coupé , "Environment" for milieu or "Leitbild" for ideal . A number of these word creations have only prevailed in Germany and Austria, but not in Switzerland, so that the original foreign-language terms now appear like helvetisms : “Sidewalk” for sidewalk , “goalkeeper” for goalie , “penalty” for penalty , “conductor “For conductor ,“ ticket ”for billet ,“ platform ”for platform ,“ telephone ”for telephone ,“ vehicle ”for automobile ,“ ground floor ”for ground floor are examples. Of the two proposed alternatives for electricity or electricity , "Strom" was able to hold its own, while "Glitz" did not appeal to the population. “Electricity” was retained and was linguistically associated with the new synonym “electricity” in terms such as “electrical current” or “e-current”. More of these new word creations from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are, among many others: "Beam catcher" for receiving antenna , "Close tube" for microscope , "Glitzbetrieb" for electric motor , "Car shed " for garage , "Snail" for spiral , "aiming" for tendency .


    The transition from orality to literacy completed the German language to a large extent in the Middle Ages. Earlier, still preserved written documents of the Germanic tribes are written in the runic script , which was used for inscriptions and probably went out of use in the course of Christianization in the early Middle Ages . The language of files and documents, legal books, historiography, science in general and poetry became Latin as the lingua universalis . Little by little, documents in the German language were written with Latin letters . This began with the witness lists of the documents which contain German proper names. The first emerged in the 7th century in the West Franconian area. The first German poem is the Wessobrunn prayer from around 790. In the 9th century, the first larger poems in Old High German followed, such as the Gospel Harmony of Otfried von Weißenburg and the Heliand . A rich development of German poetry did not begin until the 12th century.

    Although the first document in German that is still preserved today, a deed of donation from Augsburg , was drawn up between 1063 and 1077, the German document language did not begin until the end of the 12th century in the southwest of the language area. These are arbitration awards , sales contracts , shrine deeds . The German document language originated in the Upper Rhine and Danube regions and spread to Lower Germany , which remained true to Latin for several decades longer. The reason for this is probably that the written Middle High German language originated on Upper German soil, which is why the Low Germans perceived it as something foreign. The first German-language imperial law was the Mainz Landfriede of 1235. Before Frederick II (13th century), royal documents were almost exclusively in Latin, German gradually gained acceptance, and under Ludwig the Bavarian (15th century) they were often in German composed.

    In the 14th and 15th centuries there was a significant increase in German fiction , as well as devotional and edification books and finally the first German translation of the Bible . Reformatory writings and the Evangelical Church in general acted like an engine for the German written language. German suffered a slight dampening from humanism , in which people wrote exclusively in Latin. In 1570, books written in Latin still made up 70% of all books printed in Germany. Writing in Latin gave way to German towards the end of the 17th century (from 1692), when science also used written German. Christian Thomasius gave a lecture in German at the University of Leipzig in the winter of 1687/1688 and his influence made the University of Halle , where he later held his chair , one of the first universities with German as the language of instruction. In the late 17th century, historical studies mostly used German for their written works, while philosophy and medicine followed suit in the 18th century . Jurisprudence was Germanized at the latest , since German only had the greater number of works in 1752.

    Around 1730, Latin scripts made up only 30% of the books on the book market before Latin as a written language practically died out around 1800.


    The German-speaking area is part of the continental-West Germanic dialect continuum , in which neighboring local dialects are usually mutually understandable and the differences become greater the further apart two dialects are spoken. Common to the whole German-speaking world is only the default language , the dialects and regional colloquial languages covered include and in turn, more standard varieties. However, the differences between the standard varieties are relatively small, while some dialects in the German-speaking area are barely understood by other dialect speakers or standard German speakers.

    The classification of German dialects is based on studies from the 19th century. At the same time, colloquial languages ​​began to develop in many places as a kind of hybrid between standard language and dialect. Since the middle of the 20th century, especially after the events of the Second World War , the colloquial languages ​​have replaced the old dialects. The influx of refugees and, above all, the rapidly increasing spread of radio and television had a decisive influence on this ; Standard German was used in the schools.

    Standard varieties

    The national and regional varieties of the
    standard German language

    Within the pluricentric German standard language , the standard varieties are, on the one hand, West German , Austrian and Swiss Standard German , and on the other - with a lower degree of normative independence - Standard German from Belgium , South Tyrol , Liechtenstein and Luxembourg .

    In Germany, Austria, South Tyrol and the German-speaking part of Belgium, the respective varieties of standard German each fulfill all the typical functions of a standard language . In Switzerland, the use of the Swiss variety of standard German is mainly limited to the area of ​​written language , everyday language is almost exclusively the Swiss German dialects. In Luxembourg, in addition to the Luxembourgish form of standard German, there is an independent Luxembourgish standard variety that fulfills some of the functions of a standard language.

    The standardized vocabulary, which is identical in all seven national full and half centers in the German-speaking area, is called community German . However, this incomplete vocabulary of community German cannot generate its own language variety (much less a superordinate high-level language); but it forms the basis of each of the seven varieties of standard German.


    The continental West Germanic (High German, Low Franconian, Low German and Frisian) dialects
    Map based on the clustering of the pronunciation intervals of German dialects.
  • Low German cluster

  • East central German cluster

  • Upper German cluster

  •  Ripuarian cluster

  • Lower Rhine-West Munsterland cluster
  • A rough division of the German dialects is usually carried out along the Benrath line into the Low German dialects in the north, which did not go through the second German sound shift , and the High German dialects in the south, which are affected by the second German sound shift.

    The High German dialects can be further divided into Middle and Upper German dialects. The Karlsruhe line ( euch / enk line on the Franconian-Bavarian and the mäh / mähet line on the southern Franconian-Swabian dialect border) was often cited as the (language) border between Middle and Upper German dialects . Today the Speyerer ( Appel / Apfel -Linie), but also the Germersheimer Linie ( Pund / Pfund -Linie) , which runs almost the same in the West, is seen as the language border between Upper and Middle German.

    In most of the Central and Upper German varieties, the second High German sound shift is only partially implemented, as is the case with the East Central German varieties, which have largely contributed to the development of the standard language. Middle and Upper German vary from High and High Alemannic as well as Bavarian Tyrolean , which are the only varieties that have completely carried out the second German phonetic shift, to Ostbergisch , where only the word ik corresponds to me (see also Uerdinger line = extreme northern limit of the Central German) has been moved. In general, however, the Benrath line (maken / make) is viewed as the northern limit of the High German varieties

    Those varieties in which the second or High German sound shift has not been carried out or only to a small extent are referred to as Low German . Low German in the proper sense ( Lower Saxon and East Low German ) comes from Old Saxon and is spoken in northern Germany and in the northeast of the Netherlands (there under the name "Nedersaksisch"). It is strictly understood by the speakers as an independent language. Low German has been given official status as a regional language in Germany and the Netherlands under the Council of Europe's language charter . The German states of Hamburg , Schleswig-Holstein , Lower Saxony , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremen had previously registered Low German for protection in accordance with Part III of the Language Charter.

    The Lower Rhine varieties of Lower Franconian on the German Lower Rhine , like the Low German dialects in the true sense, did not carry out the second or High German sound shift, or only to a small extent. In terms of language typology, however, they are more closely related to the neighboring Dutch dialects than to the neighboring German. Their assignment to Low German is therefore controversial. Like Dutch, they go back to Old Lower Franconian (Old Dutch).

    The dialects of the area between the Uerdinger line ( ik- / ich -Linie ) and the Benrath line ( maken- /machen -Linie ) (Düsseldorf, Mönchengladbach, Krefeld, Neuss) show both Lower Franconian and Middle Franconian features and are a dialect transition area between the Central German-Middle Franconian and the Lower Franconian dialects.

    The Low German and Middle Franconian dialects are colloquially mostly referred to as Platt .

    Mixed languages

    The classification of the mixed language Missingsch from High German and Low German is unclear. It is similar with the Petuh with High German, Low German, Danish and South Jutian language elements. The Südjütische with strong influences of the Low German language and some older Nordic forms is generally classified as a dialect of the Danish language. The Danish variety Sydslesvigdansk (Southern Schleswig-Danish ), which is widespread in northern Schleswig-Holstein, also has German influences; its classification as a dialect, variant of Imperial Danish or as a mixed language has not yet been completed.

    In addition to the Missingsch and the Petuh, there are also other mixed languages ​​of the Low German language; These are mainly mixtures with Dutch and Frisian, such as the Kollumerpompsters . These mixed languages ​​are commonly classified as dialects of Low German, Dutch or Frisian.

    The various “mixed languages” in North America, such as Texas German, are accents or dialects of either High German or Low German.

    However, there are not only mixed languages ​​from German varieties and other Germanic languages. The so-called Ponaschemu arose from German and Lower Sorbian . The water Polish with elements of the German language and the Upper Silesian dialect is sometimes partly classified as a dialect of Polish, as a separate language.

    The Yiddish that according to the prevailing opinion originally to the Middle High German decline, however, especially among Slavic and Hebrew independently developed influences and its own written language has formed is regarded as a separate language in linguistics in general.

    The status of Wymysoric (Wilmesau-German), which is still spoken by around 100 elderly people in Silesia, is unclear .

    Creole languages ​​based on German

    In the course of colonization originated in what is now East New Britain (Papua New Guinea), the so-called Our German , a German-based creole language in Namibia was next nor the kitchen German , a pidgin . Our German is now almost extinct, as most speakers emigrated. In addition, up to 150 words of German origin in the Tok Pisin language have been preserved in Papua New Guinea . Kitchen German, on the other hand, still has around 15,000 - mostly older - speakers.

    Creole languages ​​also emerged in the concentration camps of the Nazi era . They consisted of keywords and very often complementary non-verbal signs. Around 1985 Wolf Oschlies suggested that the concentration camp already z. T. used term " Lagerszpracha " to use generally.

    Just like other pidgin and creole languages, Unserdeutsch and Kitchen German are to be viewed as independent linguistic systems from a linguistic point of view.

    Distribution and legal status

    Around 100 million people speak German as their mother tongue and as many as a foreign language. Around 15.5 million people around the world are currently learning the German language. There is an increasing or constant trend in this regard in most countries.

    (For a description, see the following picture)
  • German is the official or co-official language ( de jure or de facto ) and the mother tongue of the majority of the population
  • German is a co-official official language, but not the mother tongue of the majority of the population
  • German (or a variety of German) is a legally recognized minority language (squares if the geographical extent is too small / the distribution is too thin)
  • German (or a variety of German) is spoken by a notable minority (> 50,000), but has no legal status
  • Seven states and territories that have German as one of their official languages ​​are organized in the Council for German Spelling . In addition, an annual informal meeting of the heads of state of the German-speaking countries has been held since 2004 .

    Geographical key data of the language area

    The westernmost point of the closed German- speaking area in Central Europe, in which German or a German dialect is the current colloquial language, is the municipality of Rambruch in Luxembourg. Exactly 850 km to the east is the Austrian municipality of Deutsch Jahrndorf in Burgenland, its easternmost point. In the north, the German municipality of List on Sylt marks the end of the language area, which is almost exactly 1005 km north of its counterpart, the Swiss municipality of Zermatt am Matterhorn .

    German as first language

    Number of speakers

    Since the beginning of the 1990s, the number of German native speakers has been given as around 90 to 100 million worldwide. Quantitative differences arise due to several factors:

    • The affiliation to a language group or the mother tongue or second language of people is not recorded statistically in most countries and can therefore only (often imprecisely) be extrapolated. Furthermore, bilingual people (i.e. with two mother tongues) can often only provide one answer when surveys take place.
    • The affiliation of some (often strong speaker) varieties to the German language, i. H. the umbrella language German, is controversial or has changed in recent history (e.g. Alsatian , Luxembourgish and Limburgish ).
    • In the case of numerous statements, no distinction is made between native speakers and second language speakers (e.g. many people with a migration background in German-speaking countries), but only their sum or only the former.

    Ethnologue gives the number of first and second speakers of standard German in Germany at around 79 million, of which around 71 million are first speakers. It does not include (often bilingual) speakers of other varieties around the world (e.g. Bavarian , Swiss German or Riograndenser Hunsrückisch ) and also indicates that the list is incomplete. According to Ethnologue, there are around 76 million first and 56 million second speakers of standard German worldwide, which together makes up around 132 million speakers. If you add the specified number of speakers of Standard German with those of the varieties that are not listed under “Standard German”, this results in around 90 million first-language speakers of German. Based on representative surveys and population statistics, other authors assume a maximum of around 95 million native speakers. Statements of up to 105 million speakers very likely include second speakers and / or controversial, but strong speaker varieties. This made German the most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union in 2012 .

    Geographical distribution and number of speakers
    country Number of speakers
    ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 400,000
    AustraliaAustralia Australia about 79,000
    BelgiumBelgium Belgium 78,000 (in East Belgium , as a minority also in the Montzener and Areler Lands ; German is one of the three official languages ​​of Belgium, together with Dutch and French )
    BrazilBrazil Brazil 1,500,000 (with Riograndenser Hunsrückisch possibly up to 3,000,000)
    ChileChile Chile 20,000 (see also Launa German )
    DenmarkDenmark Denmark 25,900 (in northern Schleswig ), some of them also in Low German (around two thirds of the members of the German minority, however, use the southern Jutian dialect as a colloquial language)
    GermanyGermany Germany around 76–77 million who have German as their mother tongue; German is the official language
    Dominican RepublicDominican Republic Dominican Republic 30,000
    EstoniaEstonia Estonia almost 2,000 ( Baltic Germans , Russian Germans )
    FranceFrance France 1,200,000, v. a. in Alsace and north-eastern Lorraine (43% of Alsatians said they had knowledge of Alsatian in 2012 )

    • 74% of people aged 60 and over • 54% of 45 to 59 year olds • 24% of 30 to 44 year olds • 12% of 18 to 29 year olds • 3% of 3 to 17 year olds

    GreeceGreece Greece 45,000
    IrelandIreland Ireland 100,000
    IsraelIsrael Israel 200,000 (see also Yiddish )
    ItalyItaly Italy 310,000 (in South Tyrol alone ; there are also the German-speaking islands and German-speaking foreigners)
    CanadaCanada Canada 438,000
    KazakhstanKazakhstan Kazakhstan 358,000 (see also Kazakh Germans )
    KyrgyzstanKyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan 20,000 (see also Kyrgyzstan Germans )
    CroatiaCroatia Croatia 3,013
    LatviaLatvia Latvia over 3,000 ( Baltic Germans , Russian Germans )
    LiechtensteinLiechtenstein Liechtenstein over 30,000 (German is the only official language)
    LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania a good 3,000, especially in Memelland (East Prussia, Baltic Germans , Russian Germans )
    LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg 474,000 (German, together with Central German Luxembourgish and French, is the legal official language)
    MexicoMexico Mexico 80,000-90,000
    NamibiaNamibia Namibia 30,000 (German is one of the legally recognized "national languages")
    NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 80,000-110,000
    AustriaAustria Austria 7.57 million German-speaking Austrians (German as a legal official language alongside minority languages)
    ParaguayParaguay Paraguay 166,000
    PolandPoland Poland 96,000, of which 58,000 are native speakers (mainly in Opole Voivodeship )
    RomaniaRomania Romania 45,000
    RussiaRussia Russia 75,000 in the European part, 767,300 in Siberia and 20,000 in the area of ​​the former Volga-German Republic , today Saratov Oblast
    SwedenSweden Sweden About 50,000 people speak German as their mother tongue. They live all over the country, especially in the big cities of Stockholm , Gothenburg and Malmö , but also in rural areas such as Småland . In addition, there is an unknown number of people with German roots. Germans form one of the oldest immigrant groups in the country and have been represented since the Middle Ages.
    SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 5 million (63.7% of the Swiss population; German is the official language with French , Italian and Romansh )
    SerbiaSerbia Serbia 5,000 (see also Danube Swabians in Vojvodina )
    SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia 5,186 native speakers (see also Carpathian German ), German as the second official language in the municipality of Blaufuss
    SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia 1,628
    SpainSpain Spain 100,000 (tourist influx, 60,000 of them in the Balearic Islands alone )
    South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa 300,000–500,000 (100,000 passport Germans, 1 million people of German origin, see Foreign Office; see also Nataler Deutsch )
    ThailandThailand Thailand 25,000
    Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic 39,100
    TurkeyTurkey Turkey 25,000
    UkraineUkraine Ukraine 38,000
    HungaryHungary Hungary 35,000–200,000 (see also Hungarian Germans , Danube Swabians )
    United StatesUnited States United States 1,100,000
    United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 77,000
    All in all about 98 million
    The list only shows states with presumably more than 25,000 German-speaking people or states that were historically German settlement areas. Most of the figures given are not based on the actual number of active speakers - which can hardly be recorded - but on projections, nationalities, old emigration figures, etc. Therefore, some figures may be far above or below the assumed actual values.
    German-language media abroad

    A good indicator of the worldwide spread of the German language are the German-language foreign media , the number of which is increasing slightly.

    Distribution as mother tongue and legal status

    Closed German-speaking area

    (sorted by approximate number of speakers)

    German Upper Sorbian place-name sign of Neudörfel / Nowa Wjeska , Saxony
    German-Frisian signs at the police headquarters in Husum , North Frisia

    German is the most common language in Germany. German is the official language , is used as the standard language in the national media and as a written language. As the language of everyday life, it is spoken almost exclusively in many regions (often slightly colored regionally). The transition to the German dialects is fluid.

    In Germany is German:

    The question of whether only High German or also Low German is legally subsumed under German is answered inconsistently from a legal point of view: While the BGH, in a decision on the submission of utility models at the Munich Patent Office in Low German, equates Low German with a foreign language ("Low German (Low German) are registration documents in the sense of Section 4a, Paragraph 1, Clause 1 of the GebrMG. "- BGH decision of November 19, 2002 - Ref .: X ZB 23/01), according to the comment by Foerster / Friedersen / Rohde on Section 82 a of the State Administrative Act of Schleswig-Holstein with reference to decisions by higher courts on Section 184 of the Courts Constitution Act since 1927 (OLG Oldenburg, October 10, 1927 - K 48, HRR 1928,392), the term German language means both High German and Low German.

    Special regulations apply to Sorbian , Danish (as the language of the Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein), Frisian , Romani and Low German . Low German, Frisian and Danish are recognized as regional official languages in Schleswig-Holstein according to § 82 b LVwG, alongside High German. As a result - for example - authorities in Schleswig-Holstein and, following a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice, also the patent office in Munich must process applications made in Low German.

    According to the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages , the languages ​​recognized as minority or regional languages ​​in Germany are as follows:

    Some of the national legal implementations have not yet taken place - this applies in particular to the Romany language. In Schleswig-Holstein, the regional and minority languages ​​Low German, Danish and Frisian (see Frisian Act ) have the status of an official language in part (spatial and / or factual) . Others in Germany (such as the Yenish Sociolect or Yiddish ) or allochthonous minority languages ​​such as Turkish or Polish were not included in the charter.

    Formerly common languages ​​such as Moselle Romansh (extinct in the 11th century), Polabian (extinct in the 18th century) or Yiddish are no longer spoken, or hardly at all.

    The inclusion of the German language as a commitment in Article 22 of the Basic Law was discussed in society in 2008. The German CDU party passed such a demand at its party congress in November 2008. Other parties criticized the initiative as xenophobic scaremongering or as unnecessary because German is of course the national language. In an investigation, the Scientific Services of the German Bundestag came to the conclusion that the inclusion of the German language as a symbol or state goal in the Basic Law would be legally permissible.

    German-Hungarian town sign Oberwart , Burgenland

    In Austria, according to Article 8, Paragraph 1 of the Federal Constitutional Law (BVG) from 1920, the “German language” (without further specification) is the state language of the republic, without prejudice to the rights granted to linguistic minorities. In addition to German, the official languages are Slovenian in Carinthia and Styria, and Hungarian and Burgenland-Croatian in Burgenland . However, Austrian German is actually used in everyday life as well as in the state sector as a national variety ( standard variety ) of Standard German. This Austrian standard variety was therefore standardized by the state in the Second Republic through the Austrian Dictionary (for the first time in 1951, when it replaced all old German rule books).

    According to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the minority languages ​​recognized in Austria are as follows:

    • Burgenland-Croatian in Burgenland according to Part III
    • Romani in Burgenland according to Part II
    • Slovak in Vienna according to Part II
    • Slovenian in Carinthia according to Part III, in Styria according to Part II
    • Czech in Vienna under Part II
    • Hungarian in Burgenland according to Part III, in Vienna according to Part II
    A sign in Switzerland in four languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.

    In Switzerland, German is the national and official language at the national level alongside French , Italian and Romansh , which is only the official language at the national level when dealing directly with Romansh. Almost 63% of the population, around five million people in Switzerland, state that German is their mother tongue. The form of standard German used in Switzerland, Swiss High German , differs from the standard language in Germany and Austria in terms of vocabulary , word formation , morphology , syntax , orthography and pronunciation . These peculiarities are called helvetisms . The colloquial language is almost exclusively Swiss German , a collective term for various forms of the traditional Alemannic dialects .

    In 17 of 26 cantons , German is the only official language, in four other official languages ​​alongside French (cantons Bern , Friborg and Valais ) and alongside Italian and Romansh ( Graubünden ). At the community level, each community can determine its official language (s) on its own authority.

    Switzerland is the only country in Europe in which the Yenish , a variety of German, was recognized as a “non-territorial” language, albeit not as an official language, when the European Language Charter was ratified in 1997.


    In Belgium, Standard German is the official language at the national level with Dutch and French . In Ostbelgien , the cantons of Eupen and Sankt Vith , German is the official language, and French is co-official as a minority language. The reverse is true in the canton of Malmedy and in the Low German communities , where French is the official language and German is the minority language. Around 78,000 Belgians state that German is their mother tongue.


    Standard German is the only official language in Liechtenstein. Minority languages ​​do not apply. The colloquial language is Liechtenstein , an Alemannic form of dialect and closely related to Swiss German and the Vorarlberg dialects .

    Bilingual place-name sign in Luxembourg: The italic Luxembourg name (Waarken) is subordinate to the official French name ( Warken ; here identical to the High German name).
    Bilingual information sign in Luxembourg

    In Luxembourg, Standard German, together with Luxembourgish and French, is the official language , but French is the “legislative language”; H. For example, for legal texts or state tenders, the French versions are authoritative. Luxembourgish is a Moselle-Franconian language variety of German, has been the only " national language " of the Grand Duchy since 1984 and is used in particular on radio and TV (e.g. RTL Group ). Standard German, however , continues to play a dominant role, especially in the print media , books, etc.; therefore one speaks of a Luxembourgish-High German diglossia . According to surveys by the EU, over 90% of Luxembourgers state that they have a good to very good level of German and a sufficient command of French. In 2011, the Luxembourg Statistical Office STATEC determined the following distribution of colloquial languages ​​(at home, work / school, with relatives / friends): Luxembourgish 70.5%, French 55.7%, standard German 30.6%. All public offices are legally obliged to answer in the language of the citizen, but without usually adhering to it. The official French names are decisive for place names and thus also place names (e.g. “Dudelange” for Dudelange or “Luxembourg” for Luxembourg), with the place name in Luxembourgish often in italics below. Other street signs are mostly in French and Standard German, less often in Luxembourgish (e.g. the reference to an “Arrêt de secours / emergency stop” on motorways).

    All three languages ​​are represented in the print media, but with different emphasis. The largest daily newspaper, Luxemburger Wort / La Voix du Luxembourg, mixes articles in German, French and Luxembourgish in its print version and offers the choice between German, French, English and Portuguese on its website. The second largest newspaper, Tageblatt, also mixes the three official languages ​​in its print version, but only makes its website available in German. The use of language by Luxembourg companies is very much determined by the type of business; for example, the advertisements and homepages of craft businesses are very often exclusively German, whereas law firms, architects or tax consultants only make their website available in French and English in most cases. Private websites, schools or clubs, etc. often mix the three official languages ​​on their pages. Although standard German and Luxembourgish predominate on the websites of the political parties, the websites of the Luxembourg government and public offices are almost exclusively available in French and English.

    States in Europe and North Asia

    (in alphabetical order)

    Baltic States

    In the Baltic states of Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania, there are still a good 8,000 members of the German minority (Baltic Germans, East Prussians and Germans from Russia ) who speak Standard German and in some cases also Low German. For Estonia the number is estimated to be less than 2000 (in 2000: 1870), for Latvia to a good 3000 (2004: 3311) and also for Lithuania to a good 3000. Of the Germans living in Lithuania with exactly 3243, only 804 speak German as their mother tongue.


    In Denmark, German is spoken by the approximately 20,000 members of the German ethnic group in North Schleswig and enjoys minority language rights, although it is not an official language at national or regional level. A part of the minority also speaks Low German as North Schleswig-Holstein . However, an estimated two thirds of them use the South Jutian dialect of the Danish language as their colloquial language and German as the standard language. Danish censuses do not provide information on language and ethnicity. Like other independent schools in Denmark, German schools in North Schleswig are subsidized to over 80% by the state; In addition, there is a special surcharge to cover bilingual mother tongue teaching, so that German schools are in practice completely on an equal footing with municipal schools.

    French-Alsatian street sign in Strasbourg

    In France, the Alsatian and Lorraine-Franconian dialects are spoken by around 1,200,000 people, mainly in Alsace and the north-eastern part of Lorraine . In 2012, 76% of Alsatians said they had some knowledge of Alsatian (43% good, 33% poor). However, the number of speakers is falling, especially in Lorraine and in the cities.

    The French Republic recognizes despite the existence of eight regional widely spoken languages (and other nationally distributed) next to French no languages other than official within the meaning of the official languages of. According to the constitution, French is the "language of the republic". Nevertheless, other languages have official recognition as langues régionales - including for the former Region Alsace and Moselle , the locally popular German dialects and standard German as writing and reference language of these regional dialects. This status usually only has an impact on educational policy, as the regional languages ​​can be learned in schools to varying degrees. However, it is precisely the status of German that is strengthened compared to other regional languages, since as a result of the border shifts in the world wars, a higher proportion of the population with a lack of knowledge of French was assumed. For example, government employees receive a higher wage if they speak German. German is given a particularly official status by the fact that the official election campaign texts (profession de foi) , which every candidate who stands for an election must submit, should be in a French and German version (with the same content). Only standard German is accepted. In any other region, official publications in any language other than French are not recognized and e.g. Some of them were drafted by the prefectures. Mixed or dialect-language services are sometimes held in the churches.

    The only completely German-language newspaper is the " Riviera-Côte d'Azur-Zeitung " in Nice, which is aimed primarily at tourists. In Alsace and Lorraine, all German-language daily and weekly newspapers had to give up because they had lost readers in the past due to many government restrictions. Until 1984, the publication of publications with a German title or entirely German content was prohibited under penalty of punishment in eastern France. However, there has recently been a slight renaissance of the native language press in Alsace. The most important printed source of information for German-speaking Alsatians is currently the daily multi-page German-language supplement to the newspapers "L'Alsace" (Mulhouse) and "Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace" (Strasbourg).

    Trilingual signage in Val Gardena ( South Tyrol ) in Ladin, German and Italian
    The regional council of Friuli Venezia Giulia in
    Trieste is labeled in four languages

    In Italy, German is regionally the official language in South Tyrol (along with Italian and locally Ladin ). Of the approximately 509,000 inhabitants of South Tyrol (as of 2012), 62.3% of the population of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano stated German as their mother tongue in the last census in 2011 (according to the official language group declaration, excluding foreign languages, 69.4%). The tendency is slightly upwards due to the increasing number of inhabitants even with a proportional decrease (1991 census about 65.3%). Around 75% of the Italian-speaking population lives in the three largest cities of Bolzano , Merano and Brixen with 73.8%, 49.1% and 25.8% respectively of the respective urban population (language group declaration, status 2011). All public offices are legally bilingual, as are all town and street signs. This and other signs in public life were almost exclusively Italian until the second Statute of Autonomy in 1972, as German was undesirable or even forbidden in this regard. Today the German predominates except in Bozen and Meran. Outside of the aforementioned largest cities in South Tyrol and the South Tyrolean lowlands , Italian is hardly available as an everyday language.

    German is the official language of the Trentino-South Tyrol region beyond the actual South Tyrol . In Trentino, however, there are only two smaller areas in which German dialects are still spoken: the Fersental and the municipality of Lusern . In addition, German in Italy also has co-official status (alongside Italian and French) in the Gressoney Valley , which belongs to the autonomous region of Aosta and is partly inhabited by Walsers . The German / Alemannic- speaking population here only includes a few villages. There are also German language minorities in the regions of Veneto and Friuli (including Pladen , Zahre , Tischlwang , Kanaltal and remnants of Cimbrian in the seven municipalities and thirteen municipalities ).

    Bilingual lettering at the municipal office of Cisek / Czissek in the Opole Voivodeship , Poland

    In Poland - although the use of the German language was forbidden in public life, in churches and schools, as well as in private life, especially in Silesia during the communist era - around 58,000 German native speakers live according to the 2011 census. Today these are mainly concentrated in the Opole Voivodeship , where German has official status as an " auxiliary language " in several municipalities . Several German-language newspapers appear in Poland with print runs of up to 10,000 copies. In addition to the half-hour German-language program from Radio Polonia, there is also a quarter-hour German-language radio program called Schlesien Aktuell . Furthermore, a German-language television program, Schlesien Journal , is broadcast weekly on TVP Opole and TVP Katowice for 15 minutes . In the capital Warsaw is the German-Polish meeting school Willy-Brandt-Schule , which also teaches in German. According to Polish law, multilingual place-name signs are used from a minority share of at least 20% in the respective municipality or city, which is reached in places in the Opole Voivodeship.


    In Russia, the last census in 2002 showed a total of 597,212 Germans, 350,000 of them in Siberia alone . However, only some of the Russian Germans speak German as their mother tongue.

    German is the recognized lingua franca of the German population in the two West Siberian national districts of Azowo ( Omsk region ) and Halbstadt ( Altai region ).

    Bilingual entrance sign for Sibiu / Hermannstadt , Romania

    Around 40,000 to 50,000 German native speakers live in Romania, which corresponds to around 0.2 to 0.3% of the Romanian population. This population group consists mainly of the Transylvanian Saxons and the Danube Swabians. However, due to the massive emigration of the younger generations to Germany and Austria, especially after 1990, these population groups suffer from severe aging; the average age is around 69 years. Despite this low proportion of the population, the German language is widely regarded as a cultural heritage, enjoys all the rights of a minority language and is particularly popular in cities and municipalities such as B. Hermannstadt , Schäßburg , Timisoara or Sathmar are present, which is why multilingual signage can often be found there. In addition, the German minority is also politically active through the “ Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania ” party and provides, for example, the current (2014) mayor of Sibiu and the chairman of the district council of Sibiu . In addition, the current (2016) President Klaus Iohannis is Transylvanian Saxon. In the densely populated areas of the German minority, with a population of up to 5%, there is also significant German infrastructure in the form of kindergartens, elementary schools, secondary schools and universities as well as theaters, but also newspapers such as the weekly Hermannstädter Zeitung or the Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung für Romania .

    Czech Republic

    In the Czech Republic there is still a small German minority of around 41,200 people (0.4% of the total population), remnants of the Sudeten Germans who escaped displacement after the Second World War. The number of German native speakers is constantly falling, as the younger generations of the minority in particular are exposed to extreme pressure to assimilate Czech and, for the most part, no longer grow up with German. The term "Sudeten Germans" is also no longer in use, instead the term "Germans in the Czech Republic" is usually used, who have enjoyed certain minority rights since the turn of the year 1990 and are used in the "National Assembly of Germans in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia" and in " Cultural Association of Citizens of German Nationality ”. German infrastructure such as kindergartens, schools, street signs or place-name signs no longer exist nationwide and the German language has neither regional nor national official or lingua franca statutes. However, German-language weekly newspapers appear, such as the “ Landeszeitung der Deutschen in Bohemia, Moravia und Silesia ” and the “ Prager Zeitung ”.


    Around 25,000 Bosporus Germans have lived in the largest city of Istanbul for several centuries .

    Bilingual street sign in Sopron / Ödenburg, Hungary

    The German minority in Hungary (Hungarian Germans) enjoys minority rights, but is already largely assimilated, especially in the younger generations, so that German is mostly only learned as a foreign language. Officially, one speaks of around 200,000 Hungarian Germans. In actual fact, however, a maximum of around 50,000 of these are likely to be German native speakers (around 0.5% of the total population). Since the minority lives very scattered across the country and has little sense of identity, one often speaks of a dual identity of the Hungarian Germans. Bilingual place, street, traffic and official signs can be found in the city of Ödenburg ( Sopron ) near the Austrian border and occasionally in other parts of the country. In other areas with a larger German minority there are very few German kindergarten groups or school classes. The German minority in Hungary is organized in the self-government of the Hungarian Germans.


    (in alphabetical order)


    According to the results of the last census, 77,576 or about 0.4% of the then known 19,855,287 inhabitants of Australia spoke German at home in 2006. Most of these German speakers, like the majority of the general population, lived in the country's megacities ( Melbourne , Sydney , Brisbane , Perth , Adelaide ). The largest proportion of the total permanent resident population were German speakers in Adelaide (0.57%) and its suburbs (0.68%), the Sunshine Coast (0.64%) and Gold Coast (0.52%), the Cape York Peninsula including the humid tropics with Cairns and the surrounding area (0.61%), as well as part of the border area between New South Wales and Victoria (0.52%), also in Melbourne and along the coast of New South Wales South wales.

    In addition to these practicing German speakers, there are those who speak German but no longer use it on a daily basis. There is also a German-language weekly newspaper in Australia called " Die Woche in Australien ". It is aimed primarily at German, Austrian and Swiss immigrants and offers articles on events in Europe as well as news within the German-speaking community of Australia.

    In addition to the number of German speakers, the number of people of German origin is much higher, perhaps about half a million to a million people or more, but is still quite small compared to the proportion of people of German origin in the population of the United States of America. Regardless, some Germans played quite a significant role in history, particularly in discovering and exploring Australia.


    There are no truly representative and well-founded figures on the number of German native speakers in Brazil. According to estimates, however, there are around two to five million people of German origin living in Brazil, of whom around 850,000 to 900,000 are bilingual (German and Portuguese ) and could therefore be classified as native German speakers. Ethnologue, on the other hand, gives 3,000,000 speakers for Riograndenser Hunsrückisch alone , which, however, are likely to overlap with the estimated 1,500,000 speakers of standard German. The population group of the Riograndenser Hunsrückisch is mainly concentrated in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul in the south of the country and here more on small towns not on the coast. Examples of this are Pomerode , Santa Rosa de Lima or Treze Tílias , where large parts of the population still speak German.

    In addition to the Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, Pomerano also plays a bigger role. This German dialect, which originated from the East Pomeranian , is now particularly represented in the state of Espírito Santo , but is also spoken in Minas Gerais , Rondônia (from 1970), Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul . Of the 300,000 speakers in Brazil, according to Ethnologue, 120,000 are said to live in Espírito Santo.

    While southern Brazil was mainly German-speaking at the beginning of the 20th century, the German language was  superseded by Portuguese through assimilation and through suppression or even banning in the middle of the 20th century - especially during the Second World War . Over the years, however, the situation has changed significantly, so that today the German language is particularly promoted as a cultural heritage and the region around Blumenau even serves as a tourist figurehead, although the German language is only spoken to a limited extent here. German infrastructure in the form of newspapers and schools exists to a limited extent, but German is hardly available in the public sector, since Portuguese is the only official language and the damage caused by the suppression of the German language group in Brazil was too great and permanent to be reversible. Nevertheless, after 2010, a number of municipalities elevated German dialects to the second official language at the municipal level.

    Municipalities in the state of Espírito Santo with German as the second official language (as of 2018)
    Municipalities with German as the second official language (as of 2018)
    Pomerano Hunsrück Standard German
    Santa Catarina
    Rio Grande do Sul
    Espírito Santo
    Municipalities in which German instruction is compulsory

    Rio Grande do Sul

    Santa Catarina


    In Canada , 438,000 people speak German as their mother tongue, including many Mennonites in Ontario, for example. This corresponds to about 1.5% of the total population. These are mostly German settlers from the 19th and immigrants from the 20th century. In Canada, however, only French and English are official languages.

    Road sign in Windhoek , Namibia

    Together with Afrikaans and English, German was the official language in what was then South West Africa during the apartheid period from June 1984 to Namibia's independence in 1990. Since then, English has been the only national official language and German is now the lingua franca and one of around 20 national languages ​​in the country. This makes Namibia the only non-European country in which German has a legal status at national level and is therefore legally anchored in the constitution as part of Namibian culture. About 20,000 Namibians (less than one percent of the total population) state that German is their mother tongue.

    Papua New Guinea

    The northern part of the Pacific state of Papua New Guinea was a German colony under the name German New Guinea from 1884 to 1914. Although most of the colonists from the German Empire were driven out by Australian troops in 1915, the national language Tok Pisin was influenced by the German language. Other official languages ​​are the new colonial language English and Hiri Motu . As a mother tongue, the German language is only spoken by around 100 mostly elderly people. The local variety spoken here is called Unserdeutsch.


    According to Ethnologue, 166,000 people in Paraguay have Standard German as their mother tongue, including 19,000 who have Standard German and Plautdietsch together as their mother tongue. In addition, there are another 19,000 people whose native language is Plautdietsch.

    An important group among the German-speaking inhabitants of Paraguay are the German-speaking Mennonites , who have mostly immigrated from Russia since 1927. As a result of further immigration from the United States, Canada and Mexico, the number has now risen to 45,000–50,000 people. They live mainly in the north-west of the country and in the Chaco, where they form a minority, numerically insignificant, but with great economic power and certain privileges. They mostly speak the Low German dialect Plautdietsch . Nonetheless, Standard German plays a significant role in the Mennonite colonies: especially as the language of churches, schools and administration, as well as the language of the media. 5 to 7% of the Paraguayan population are immigrants of German origin. The census in 2002 shows 1838 (≈ 0.035% of the population) people living in Paraguay who were born in Germany. During the reign of the German-born dictator Alfredo Stroessner , who held the office of President from 1954 to 1989, tens of thousands of Brazilian Germans immigrated. In 1973/74 alone there were 42,000, especially in the departments of Alto Paraná, Caazapáy, Itapua, Canendiyú, Caaguazú and San Pedro. In these departments alone, well over 100,000 German Brazilians live in 9 large and 45 peripheral settlements. Another immigration center is around Hohenau with at least 30,000–35,000 German-Brazilians. Since Stroessner's fall in February / March 1989, another 150,000 Germans from southern Brazil have been added. Many people of Polish and Ukrainian origin live on the Argentine border.

    United States

    Today, German is spoken by around 1.5 million people in the United States of America .

    According to a projection by the US Census Bureau based on the 2007 American Community Survey, it is the home language of 1,104,354 people in the United States, making it seventh among the most widely spoken languages.

    That High German almost became the official language of the United States is a rumor that can be traced back to a misinterpretation ( Muhlenberg legend ). In fact, this rumor related to the failed attempt to have legal texts in the state of Virginia published in German in the future.

    However, depending on the method of calculation, the Germans represent the numerically most important or second most important group of ancestors of the current population of the USA, around first place with descendants of immigrants from the British Isles (English, Scots, Kymren, Irish - ever depending on whether these are added together or not, and who is considered to be German; see Census).

    German as a foreign language

    The numbering of foreign speakers of the German language worldwide is based on very vague estimates. The lowest number mentioned at 16 million is based on a survey by the Standing Working Group on German as a Foreign Language of the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe Institute in 2005 (the survey from 2000 put the number of German learners worldwide at a good 20 Millions), but the statement to include all people who speak German as a foreign language is just as unrealistic as opposing extreme numbers of several 100 million. The number given by the Standing Working Group on German as a Foreign Language is at most suitable to quantify the number of those who are learning German as a foreign language in recorded educational institutions abroad and therefore does not include those who are learning by other means - e. B. through "direct contact" in the German-speaking countries and neighboring regions (including guest workers) or through courses (universities, adult education centers, etc.) - have learned the German language.

    In the area of ​​the European Union alone, the Eurobarometer determined a number of around 55 million EU citizens (12 percent) who speak German as a foreign language, including around 6 million in Germany, in a second According to the Eurobarometer survey from November to December 2005, the figure is 14 percent (see also the abridged version in the official languages ​​of the European Union ). Taking into account a total range of standard deviation and probability, a number between 50 and 60 million can be assumed within the EU. This number does not include foreign speakers of the German language in Switzerland (more than 2 million), in Russia (according to estimates it could be 10 million or more, according to the Standing Working Group on German as a Foreign Language : almost 5 million), in countries outside the EU where former guest workers and their families live (Turkey, ex-Yugoslavia).

    German is taught as a foreign language in many countries. The teaching and learning materials contain the standard German of Switzerland, Austria or Germany.

    In Europe, German is the most widespread foreign language after English and Russian. German is used particularly frequently as a foreign language in the Netherlands , Flanders , Scandinavia , Russia , the Baltic States , Slovenia , Croatia , Poland , Bosnia and Herzegovina , Francophone and Italian-speaking Switzerland , Serbia , Montenegro , Hungary , Slovakia , Czech Republic , North Macedonia , Belarus and Bulgaria elected. In some of these countries and regions, German is the first foreign language at school; it is ahead of English. You often learn German in Japan too . In other countries, such as France (around four million who speak German as a foreign language according to the Eurobarometer) and the United States, where, according to a Gallup study from 2001, around 7.5 million Americans speak German as a foreign language, German is losing ground Importance to Spanish . In East Asia (Japan), German was used as a medical language (instead of Latin ) in the 19th and 20th centuries .

    In 2002, German was the second most used language on the Internet after English (followed by French , Japanese , Spanish and Chinese ). Around 7.7 percent of all pages on the Internet were in German at that time (Internet pages in English: around 50%). For 2007, around 5.9% is given for German (45% for English, 4.4% for French). In 2013, W3Techs recorded German as a language on 5.9% of its websites (55.4% English, 6.1% Russian).

    According to a survey by the Standing Working Group on German as a Foreign Language , which u. a. the Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut belong, there were most German learners in 2000 in:

    • Russia: 4,657,500 (3.26%) (estimated to be over 10 million)
    • Poland: 2,202,708 (5.70%) (around 7 million according to Eurobarometer)
    • France: 1,603,813 (2.52%) (around 4 million according to Eurobarometer)
    • Czech Republic: 799,071 (7.80%) (around 3 million according to Eurobarometer)
    • Ukraine: 629,742
    • Hungary: 629,472 (according to Eurobarometer around 3.5 million)
    • Kazakhstan: 629,874
    • the Netherlands: 591,190 (according to Eurobarometer: around 11 million)
    • the United States: 551,274 (around 7.5 million according to a Gallup study)

    According to a report by Deutsche Welle , the number of German learners for Cameroon is around 200,000. A total of 300,000 people speak German as a foreign language in Cameroon.

    In Uzbekistan, a good 50 percent of the country's 1.2 million students learn German, the maximum figure is 750,000.

    According to the 2006 Eurobarometer survey, German is the second most widely spoken foreign language among Europeans, along with French. More than one in three Europeans speaks English (38%) and one in seven German (14%) as a foreign language. Above all in the Netherlands (where about 87% of the population have English, 70% German), in Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, but also Poland, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Croatia, Slovenia is knowledge of German Language widespread; in these countries the proportion of the population with knowledge of German is around 20 to around 55 percent.

    Knowledge of the German language in the countries of the European Union , some of their candidate countries and Switzerland and Liechtenstein according to a study by Eurobarometer from 2006.

    According to this information, German is spoken as a foreign language:

    • around 11 million in the Netherlands (66 percent of the total population)
    • in Denmark around 3 million (54 percent)
    • in Slovenia almost one million (45 percent)
    • in Croatia around 1.5 million (33 percent)
    • in the Czech Republic around 3 million (31 percent)
    • in Sweden around 2.5 million (28 percent)
    • in Slovakia around 1.5 million (28 percent)
    • in Belgium around 2.5 million (25 percent)
    • in Poland around 7 million (19 percent)
    • in Estonia around 0.2 million (18 percent)
    • in Finland almost one million (17 percent)
    • in Hungary around 1.5 million (16 percent)
    • in Germany around 6 million (7 percent)
    • in France around 4 million (7 percent)
    • in the UK around 3.5 million (6 percent)
    • in Turkey around 3 million (4 percent)
    • in Italy around 2.5 million (4 percent)

    German in international organizations

    European Union

    German is one of the 24 official languages ​​of the European Union and, in addition to English and French, it is also the working language of the European Union . German is the most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union and is the second most widely spoken language (native and foreign speakers) in the European Union, just behind English and by far ahead of French. However, less than 20 percent of the employees of the European Commission have a knowledge of German and de facto the working language status for German is limited to the submission of texts in this language for the final deliberations.

    United Nations

    In the UN , German is not an official or working language. A special position compared to the other non-official languages ​​is that the German translation service of the United Nations has been creating German versions of important official documents since 1975. The service, which is integrated into the UN Secretariat, is financed by a trust fund that Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and Switzerland support with contributions.

    The World Intellectual Property Organization , an agency of the United Nations, administers the Treaty on International Cooperation in the Field of Patents , or PCT for short. As part of the PCT, German is one of the languages ​​in which patent applications can be filed, alongside Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

    International institutions

    The most important international institutions (outside the EU ) that include German as one of their official languages ​​include:

    Language structure



    The German alphabet is the variant of the Latin alphabet that is used to write the German language. In today's standardized usage, it comprises the 26 basic letters of the Latin alphabet plus the three umlauts (Ä, Ö, Ü). In Germany, Austria and Luxembourg as well as the German-speaking minorities in Belgium, Denmark (North Schleswig), Italy (South Tyrol) and Poland (Upper Silesia) the Eszett ( ß ) (also known as the “sharp S”) is added, but in Switzerland and Liechtenstein no more.

    spelling, orthography


    In comparison with other Germanic languages, the German language has retained a rich system of word forms (inflection) to an extent that is otherwise only Icelandic. German distinguishes three genera (grammatical genders) in nouns, with which the forms of the accompanying articles and adjectives must match, as well as four cases and two numbers (singular and plural) for all three parts of speech. What is unusual is the additional “strong / weak” inflection of the adjectives, which indicates what kind of article is preceding. German marks forms for tense, person and mode on the verb and uses auxiliary verbs to express further grammatical categories. Verbs appear with a rich system of prefixes, particles, and other elements that make up compound verbs. Typical of German is also a high number of prepositions and a rich inventory of shading particles (stop, just, eh).

    Hereditary words, loan words and foreign words

    Hereditary words are those lexemes that have been part of the vocabulary of those Germanic varieties from which modern German has evolved since the time of Proto-Germanic. Proto-European had inherited a large part of these words from Proto-Indo-European / Proto-Indo-European.

    Hereditary words include words like two, fence, hundred, love, tooth, or cattle . Loan and foreign words do not come from the Germanic base, but have entered the German language. Most of these words come from other Indo-European / Indo-European languages. In contrast to loan words, foreign words can be identified as "foreign" by their emphasis, spelling or pronunciation. Examples of loan words from Latin are window, wine, street, brick or radish , while priest, church, count, meter and throne are of ancient Greek origin. German has taken some loan words from Hebrew , such as B. smell (from טוֹב 'good') or bankrupt (from פלטה 'escape').

    Foreign words of ancient Greek origin are biology, theology, mathematics, pharmacy, arctic, history, chronometer, democracy or arithmetic . Foreign words of Italian origin are, for example, balance sheet and melon ; The cloakroom, toilet and urinal come from French .

    The vast majority of loan and foreign words in the German language are for their part of Indo-European origin. So go fracture and fracture back to one and the same Indo-European word. While Bruch is a Germanic hereditary word, Fraktur (or Fraktion as well as fragment ) comes from Latin. It is similar with the hereditary word yoke and the Indian foreign word yoga .

    Evaluation questions

    German as the official language

    English is not an official language in Germany . In December 2014, European politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff called for English to be allowed as the administrative language and later as the official language in addition to German in order to improve the conditions for qualified immigrants, avert the shortage of skilled workers and facilitate investments. In several cities and federal states there are already offers in English, in some cases it was also made the official language of administration, in 2015 for example in Düsseldorf . The accessibility for z. B. Expats and international scientists on the German labor market should be increased; these workers usually have high incomes and would rather choose to stay in Germany if they can understand the authorities better and use them to learn the German language later.

    According to a representative YouGov survey, 59 percent of Germans would like the English language to become an official language throughout the European Union .

    In connection with the demand that Germany should develop a better welcoming and recognition culture, criticism is being leveled at the fact that under German law an employer can require a foreign employee to perform his work in German and to work according to work instructions written in German.

    Avoiding the German language

    In the course of globalization, there is a trend towards avoiding the use of the German language in the German-speaking area. This applies not only to forms of oral or written communication in which one of the participants does not (sufficiently) master the German language or in which this is assumed from the outset, but also to situations in which the addressee is able to communicate with German is. This applies to standardized situations such as radio communications in aviation, but also to wide areas of the cultural industry . For a long time it was z. B. in Germany frowned upon singing songs in German that should not belong to the genres Schlager or folk music .

    Victims of National Socialism who refuse to speak or write German, even if they learned this language in their childhood or youth, represent a special case . German is a language that for a long time was "barked" rather than spoken. "All of Europe has heard the German barking, it has engraved itself deeply in the memory of the peoples", says Jürgen Trabant .

    "Protection" of the German language

    An active language policy , as practiced in France and Iceland , among others , to prevent the language from being enriched with Anglicisms, has not taken place in Germany since the middle of the 20th century. Nonetheless, there are still language tutors in the German-speaking world who try to protect the German language from " language panders ".

    The Goethe-Institut , the Central Office for Schools Abroad and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) are committed to spreading the German language abroad . As President of the Goethe Institute, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann is particularly concerned about German as a scientific language. In the meantime, more than 90 percent of the scientific publications were in English. Scientific descriptions often work with images and metaphors from everyday life. If this connection in German is cut, the knowledge sharing of German speakers and their handling of scientific knowledge is jeopardized, which could lead to rapidly dwindling legitimation of science. Lehmann also complains that German school lessons in this country are currently being reduced instead of being expanded. The German language is "with its cultural and literary references rather degraded to a tool of a lingua franca."

    Language example

    General Declaration of Human Rights :

    “Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should meet one another in a spirit of brotherhood. "

    Text collections

    The Gutenberg-DE project has texts by over 1000 authors. Wikisource contains more than 9,300 German-language works.

    See also



    On the German vocabulary (inherited, loan and foreign words)

    • Harald Wiese: A journey through time to the origins of our language. How Indo-European Studies explains our words. 2nd Edition. Logos Verlag, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-8325-1601-7 .

    Language and dialect cards

    About history

    • Ulrich Ammon : The position of the German language in the world . De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2015, ISBN 978-3-11-019298-8 .
    • Jochen A. Bär : The future of the German language. In: Ekkehard Felder (Ed.): Language ( Heidelberger Jahrbücher , Bd. 53). Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 2009, e- ISBN 978-3-642-00342-4 , pp. 59-106.
    • Wolfgang Krischke: What does German mean here? Short history of the German language . C. H. Beck, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-59243-0 (generally understandable representation).
    • Peter von Polenz : German language history from the late Middle Ages to the present. Volume I: Introduction, Basic Concepts, 14th to 16th Century. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2000, ISBN 3-11-012458-0 .
    • Peter von Polenz: German language history from the late Middle Ages to the present. Volume II: 17th and 18th centuries. 2nd Edition. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2013, ISBN 978-3-11-031454-0 .
    • Peter von Polenz: German language history from the late Middle Ages to the present. Volume III: 19th and 20th centuries. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1999, ISBN 3-11-016426-4 .
    • Peter von Polenz: History of the German language. 10th, completely revised edition. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-017507-3 .

    On language development in the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic

    • Theodor Constantin: Plaste und Elaste: a German-German dictionary . With drawings by Titus. Edition Jule Hammer , Haude & Spener, Berlin 1983, ISBN 3-7759-0249-X .

    To language contacts of the German language

    Web links

    Commons : German language  - collection of images, videos and audio files
     Wikinews: German language  - in the news
    Wiktionary: German  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

    Individual evidence

    1. a b Thomas Marten, Fritz Joachim Sauer (Ed.): Regional studies Germany, Austria and Switzerland (with Liechtenstein) in cross section. Inform-Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-9805843-1-3 , p. 7.
    2. a b c ( Memento from March 15, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
    3. Euromosaik study from 2004: German in Slovakia (pp. 285–289) (PDF; 4.6 MB). Retrieved January 31, 2013.
    4. a b Regional and Minority Languages ​​of the European Union - Euromosaic Study: German in Slovakia ( Memento of August 24, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved November 13, 2009.
    5. Úrad splnomocnenca vlády SR pre národnostné menšiny (Government Council of the Slovak Republic for National Minorities and Ethnic Groups) - List of Slovak municipalities with over 20% minority share (2011) (PDF)
    6. Instituto de Investigação e Desenvolvimento em Política Linguística: Lista de línguas cooficiais em municípios brasileiros - List of Brazilian communities that use a co-official language, e.g. B. have introduced German and the East Pomeranian or Hunsrück dialect , accessed on July 16, 2019 (Portuguese)
    7. ^ German in Namibia . ( Memento from May 28, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 5.6 MB). In: Allgemeine Zeitung. , July 18, 2007, supplement.
    8. ^ Rüdiger Danowski: On the situation of the German minority in Poland since 1989., accessed on November 13, 2009.
    9. ^ German Mennonite colonies in Paraguay
    10. Support from the European Commission for measures to promote and safeguard regional or minority languages ​​and cultures - The Euromosaic sutdy: German in Denmark ( Memento of November 24, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (English). Retrieved November 13, 2009.
    11. O povo Pomerano no ES. ( Memento from December 21, 2012 in the web archive )
    12. Plenary aprova em segundo turno a PEC do patrimônio. ( Memento from November 30, 2014 in the web archive )
    13. Emenda Constitucional na Íntegra (PDF; 69 kB)
    14. ALEES - PEC que trata do patrimônio cultural retorna ao Plenário ( Memento of December 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
    15. LEI 14.061 - Declara Integrante Do Patrimônio Histórico E Cultural Do Estado Do Rio Grande Do Sul A “Língua Hunsrik”, De Origem Germânica
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