German Language

The German language is a very easy language for speakers of other European languages to learn. This is because many of them are related, and they have borrowed and loaned words to other European languages. For example, English is a Germanic language, and both English and German are a part of the same branch of language families. Both descended from an ancient language called Proto-Indo-European (which later gave way to the Indo-European branch of language). Let’s take a look at some interesting information about one of the parents of English: the German language.

The German language is actually the official language of more than just Germany. It may sound surprising to some, but German is used in Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg. It is also used in parts of France, Italy, Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and other European countries. This makes the German language one of the most popular languages found in Europe. It is also considered to be the third most taught foreign language throughout the world. In English-speaking countries, German follows Spanish and French. In Japan and the rest of Europe, German is the second most common language to be learned as a second language (with English being the most common). There are over 100 million native speakers of the German language worldwide. Speaking of native speakers, a fun fact for those of us in America: it is rumored that after the Revolutionary War, votes were taken to decide the official language of the new country. English beat German by only one vote! Think of how different it would be if German had won!

The German language is also one of the most common languages found on the internet. This paves the way for many translators to find work online and also serves as a method of income for Germany. It is also no secret that Germany has one of the most stable economies in the world. It is also interesting to note that the German language is one of the most common, if not the most common, language suggested for college level study. Some universities in America, for example, have more majors that require German study than majors that require Spanish study.

Let’s take a look at a bit of history of the German language. There are three main eras of German. These include Old German, Middle German, and Modern German. The dates for Old German range from about 750 to 1050 and Middle German is considered to have been active from 1050 to 1500. Modern German is considered to have begun in 1500, and it is the style of German that is present today. During the time of Old German, there was no standard language. Everyone spoke in dialects, and they may have not been mutually understandable. The Middle German period saw the creation of a standardized language, but the language was mostly written. Throughout the Modern German period, many changes took place. For example, in the eighteenth century, many writers contributed to German and made it what it is today.

There are still German dialects today, and some of them differ from standard German moreso than others. Some of places where these other types of dialects are found are Germany, Luxembourg, France, and Switzerland. Usually, only dialects that neighbor each other are mutually understandable. Dialects are traditionally divided into Low German and High German.

By 1880, standard rules for the German language were published in the Duden Handbook. The rules remained unchanged until the spelling reforms that took place in 1996. After these reforms, the school systems adjusted to teaching the new spellings while the traditional and new spellings were both used by the general public and the media. By now, almost everything has been converted to the new spellings, but some private individuals still practice the old spellings. In short, the spelling reforms basically got rid of the ß that appeared in some German words. This symbol is pronounced as if there are two “s” letters where it appears. The spelling reforms got rid of this symbol and began writing words with the two “s” characters instead.

In modern times, the German speaking population that resides outside of Europe has grown. There are around five million speakers of the German language located in the United States alone. Although Spanish and French are typically the most common languages spoken at homes in America (besides English), in North and South Dakota, German is the most common second language.  Brazil is the closest behind the United States with around three million German speakers. The spread of the language is mostly attributed to the Germans who moved overseas. More than five million Germans left Germany between the years of 1843 and 1910. The majority of these Germans moved to the United States. The emigration of native Germans helped to spark the spread of the German language and make it more popular than it ever was before.

The German language has a long and complex history, and it is interesting to learn about one of the languages that English owes so much to. As demonstrated by some of the information above, German is a very popular language and a great choice for a second language, especially if you already speak English! These two languages have so much in common—German is probably the easiest language for native English speakers to learn because of the similarities in style, grammar, structure, and spelling. The popularity of German is not likely to recede, especially since Germany’s economy is still so powerful. It is estimated that Germany provides the money for around 60,000 international exchanges every year. Not only that, they are also the biggest spenders of tourist dollars. With so much cash flow, the business opportunities for speakers of German are endless. If you are struggling with trying to find the right foreign language to learn, consider the information relayed about German in this article, hopefully some of it caught your attention! Maybe you never considered learning German before, and maybe you have already started, but there are definitely benefits to learning this popular language.

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