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German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Society, social and cultural identity. The Thirty Years' War between Catholic Church, Catholicism and Protestantism was a signifi ...

Central Europe
. It is the most widely spoken and
official An official is someone who holds an office (function or , regardless whether it carries an actual with it) in an or government and participates in the exercise of , (either their own or that of their superior and/or employer, public or legally ...

official
or co-official language in
Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north, and the to the south; it covers an area of ...

Germany
,
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastli ...

Austria
,
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
,
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein ( ; ), officially the Principality of Liechtenstein (german: link=no, Fürstentum Liechtenstein), is a German-speaking The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europ ...

Liechtenstein
, and the
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
province of
South Tyrol it, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano – Alto Adige lld, Provinzia Autonoma de Balsan/Bulsan – Südtirol , settlement_type = Autonomous The federal subject in Russia">Federal subjects of Russia">federal subject ...
. It is also a co-official language of
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a landlocked ...

Luxembourg
and
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the ...
, as well as a
national language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
in
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east a ...

Namibia
,
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of i ...

Africa
. German is most similar to other languages within the West Germanic language branch, including
Afrikaans Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 5 ...
,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
,
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, the
Frisian languages The Frisian (, ) languages are a closely related group of West Germanic languages The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group i ...
,
Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. It is also spo ...
,
Luxembourgish Luxembourgish ( ; also ''Luxemburgish'', ''Luxembourgian'', ''Letzebu(e)rgesch''; Luxembourgish: ) is a West Germanic language that is spoken mainly in Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: ...
, Scots, and
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciatio ...

Yiddish
. It also contains close similarities in vocabulary to some languages in the
North Germanic group
North Germanic group
, such as
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
,
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
, and
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
. German is the second most widely spoken
Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most ...

Germanic language
after English. German is one of the major languages of the world. It is the most spoken native language within the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
. German is also widely taught as a foreign language, especially in continental Europe, where it is the third most taught foreign language (after English and French), and the United States. The language has been influential in the fields of philosophy, theology, science, and technology. It is the second most commonly used scientific language and among the most widely used languages on websites. The
German-speaking countries The following is a list of the countries and territories where German is an official language (also known as the Germanosphere). It includes countries that have German language, German as (one of) their nationwide official language(s), as well as D ...
are ranked fifth in terms of annual publication of new books, with one-tenth of all books (including e-books) in the world being published in German. German is an inflected language, with four cases for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative); three
genders Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity and masculinity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gende ...
(masculine, feminine, neuter); and two
numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
(singular, plural). It has strong and weak verbs. The majority of its vocabulary derives from the ancient Germanic branch of the
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. Some European languages of ...
language family, while a smaller share is partly derived from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, along with fewer words borrowed from French and
Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th cen ...

Modern English
. German is a
pluricentric language A pluricentric language or polycentric language is a language with several interacting codified standard forms, often corresponding to different countries. Many examples of such languages can be found worldwide among the most-spoken languages, incl ...
; the three standardized variants are
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
,
Austrian Austrian may refer to: * Austrians, someone from Austria or of Austrian descent ** Someone who is considered an Austrian citizen, see Austrian nationality law * Something associated with the country Austria, for example: ** Austria-Hungary ** Austr ...
, and
Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial ...
Standard High German. It is also notable for its broad spectrum of dialects, with many varieties existing in Europe and other parts of the world. Some of these non-standard varieties have become recognized and protected by regional or national governments.


Classification

Modern
Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south ...
is a West Germanic language in the
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
branch of the
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
. The Germanic languages are traditionally subdivided into three branches,
North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia ...

North Germanic
, East Germanic, and
West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic languages, Germanic family of languages (the others being the North Germanic languages, North Germanic and the extinct East Germanic languages, East Germani ...
. The first of these branches survives in modern
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
,
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
,
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
,
Faroese Faroese ( ) or Faroish ( ) may refer to anything pertaining to the Faroe Islands, e.g.: *the Faroese language * the Faroese people {{Disambiguation Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
, and
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
, all of which are descended from
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
. The East Germanic languages are now extinct, and
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...
is the only language in this branch which survives in written texts. The West Germanic languages, however, have undergone extensive dialectal subdivision and are now represented in modern languages such as English, German,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
,
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciatio ...

Yiddish
,
Afrikaans Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 5 ...
, and others. Within the West Germanic language dialect continuum, the Benrath and
Uerdingen Uerdingen () is a district of the city of Krefeld, Germany, with a population of 17,888 (2019). Originally a separate city in its own right, Uerdingen merged with the city of Krefeld in 1929. Today, Uerdingen is best known for a local distillery a ...
lines (running through
Düsseldorf Düsseldorf ( , , ; often in English sources; Low Franconian and Ripuarian language, Ripuarian: ''Düsseldörp'' ; archaic nl, Dusseldorp) is the capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state of Germany. It is the second-la ...

Düsseldorf
- Benrath and
Krefeld Krefeld ( , ), also spelled Crefeld until 1925 (though the spelling was still being used in British papers throughout the World War II, Second World War), is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located northwest of Düsseldorf, its ...
-
Uerdingen Uerdingen () is a district of the city of Krefeld, Germany, with a population of 17,888 (2019). Originally a separate city in its own right, Uerdingen merged with the city of Krefeld in 1929. Today, Uerdingen is best known for a local distillery a ...
, respectively) serve to distinguish the Germanic dialects that were affected by the
High German consonant shift In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
(south of Benrath) from those that were not (north of Uerdingen). The various regional dialects spoken south of these lines are grouped as
High German The High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten), or simply High German (; not to be confused with Standard High German which is imprecisely also called ''High German''), comprise the varieties Variety may refer to: Science and tec ...
dialects, while those spoken to the north comprise the
Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. It is also spo ...
/Low Saxon and
Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics'', University of California Press, 1991, p. 321. (Calling it "Low Frankish (or Netherlandish)".)Scott Shay ...
dialects. As members of the West Germanic language family, High German, Low German, and Low Franconian have been proposed to be further distinguished historically as Irminonic,
Ingvaeonic North Sea Germanic, also known as Ingvaeonic , is a postulated grouping of the northern West Germanic languages that consists of Old Frisian Old Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between ...
, and
Istvaeonic Weser-Rhine Germanic is a term introduced by the German linguist Friedrich Maurer for the group of prehistoric West Germanic dialects ancestral to Dutch and to the West Central German West Central German (german: Westmitteldeutsch) belongs to ...
, respectively. This classification indicates their historical descent from dialects spoken by the Irminones (also known as the Elbe group), Ingvaeones (or North Sea Germanic group), and Istvaeones (or Weser-Rhine group). Standard High German is based on a combination of
Thuringian Thuringian is an East Central German dialect group spoken in much of the modern German Free State of Thuringia north of the Rennsteig ridge, southwestern Saxony-Anhalt and adjacent territories of Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hess ...
-
Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part of High German languages, High German. Present ...
and Upper Franconian dialects, which are
Central German Central German (german: mitteldeutsche Dialekte, mitteldeutsche Mundarten, Mitteldeutsch) is a group of High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germany. Central German divides into two sub ...
and Upper German dialects belonging to the
High German The High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten), or simply High German (; not to be confused with Standard High German which is imprecisely also called ''High German''), comprise the varieties Variety may refer to: Science and tec ...
dialect group. German is therefore closely related to the other languages based on High German dialects, such as
Luxembourgish Luxembourgish ( ; also ''Luxemburgish'', ''Luxembourgian'', ''Letzebu(e)rgesch''; Luxembourgish: ) is a West Germanic language that is spoken mainly in Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: ...
(based on Central Franconian dialects) and
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciatio ...

Yiddish
. Also closely related to Standard German are the
Upper German Upper German ( German: ) is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in the southern German-speaking area (). Family tree Upper German proper comprises the Alemannic and Bavarian dialect groups. Furthermore, the High Franconian di ...

Upper German
dialects spoken in the southern
German-speaking countries The following is a list of the countries and territories where German is an official language (also known as the Germanosphere). It includes countries that have German language, German as (one of) their nationwide official language(s), as well as D ...
, such as
Swiss German Swiss German (Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise th ...
(
Alemannic dialects Alemannic, or rarely Alemannish (''Alemannisch'', ), is a group of High German dialect The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south of the Benrath and Ue ...
) and the various Germanic dialects spoken in the French
region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental geography). Geographic re ...
of
Grand Est Grand Est (; gsw-FR, Grossa Oschta; Moselle Franconian/ lb, Grouss Osten; Rhine Franconian: ''Groß Oschte''; german: Großer Osten ; en, "Great East") is an Regions of France, administrative region in Northeastern France. It superseded three ...

Grand Est
, such as Alsatian (mainly Alemannic, but also Central- and 
Upper Franconian Upper Franconia (german: Oberfranken, Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Obafrankn'') is a ''Regierungsbezirk'' (administrative 'Regierungs''region 'bezirk'' of the States of Germany, state of Bavaria, southern Germany. It forms part of the his ...
dialects) and
Lorraine Franconian Lorraine Franconian (Lorraine Franconian: ''Plàtt'' or ''lottrìnger Plàtt''; french: francique lorrain or ''platt lorrain''; german: Lothringisch) is an ambiguous designation for dialects of West Central German (german: Westmitteldeutsch), ...
(Central Franconian). After these High German dialects, standard German is less closely related to languages based on Low Franconian dialects (e.g. Dutch and Afrikaans), Low German or Low Saxon dialects (spoken in northern Germany and southern
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
), neither of which underwent the High German consonant shift. As has been noted, the former of these dialect types is Istvaeonic and the latter Ingvaeonic, whereas the High German dialects are all Irminonic; the differences between these languages and standard German are therefore considerable. Also related to German are the Frisian languages— North Frisian (spoken in
Nordfriesland island in the mudflat at low tide Nordfriesland ( da, Nordfrisland, en, North Frisia, frr, Nordfraschlönj) is the northernmost Districts of Germany, district of Germany, part of the state of Schleswig-Holstein. It includes almost all of trad ...
), Saterland Frisian (spoken in Saterland), and West Frisian (spoken in
Friesland Friesland ( , , ; official fry, Fryslân ), historically known as Frisia, is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administra ...

Friesland
)—as well as the Anglic languages of English and Scots. These
Anglo-Frisian The Anglo-Frisian languages are the West Germanic languages which include Anglic (English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxo ...
dialects did not take part in the High German consonant shift.


History


Old High German

The history of the German language begins with the
High German consonant shift In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
during the
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
, which separated
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and ...
dialects from
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of ...
. This sound shift involved a drastic change in the pronunciation of both
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study th ...
and voiceless
stop consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
s (''b'', ''d'', ''g'', and ''p'', ''t'', ''k'', respectively). The primary effects of the shift were the following below. * Voiceless stops became long (
geminated In phonetics and phonology, gemination (), or consonant lengthening (from Latin ''geminatio'' "doubling", itself from ''Gemini (constellation), gemini'' "twins"), is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singlet ...

geminated
) voiceless
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
s following a vowel; * Voiceless stops became
affricate An affricate is a consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pr ...
s in word-initial position, or following certain consonants; * Voiced stops became voiceless in certain phonetic settings. While there is written evidence of the
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and ...
language in several
Elder Futhark The Elder Futhark (or Fuþark), also known as the Older Futhark, Old Futhark, or Germanic Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabets Runes are the letters in a set of related alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic ...
inscriptions from as early as the sixth century AD (such as the
Pforzen buckle The Pforzen buckle is a silver belt buckle found in Pforzen, Ostallgäu ( Schwaben) in 1992. The Alemannic grave in which it was found (no. 239) dates to the end of the 6th century and was presumably that of a warrior, as it also contained a lan ...
), the Old High German period is generally seen as beginning with the ''Abrogans'' (written c. 765–775), a Latin-German glossary supplying over 3,000 Old High German words with their
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
equivalents. After the ''Abrogans'', the first coherent works written in Old High German appear in the ninth century, chief among them being the ''Muspilli'', the ''Merseburg Charms'', and the ''Hildebrandslied'', and other religious texts (the ''Georgslied'', the ''Ludwigslied'', the ''Evangelienbuch'', and translated hymns and prayers). The ''Muspilli'' is a Christian poem written in a Bavarian dialects, Bavarian dialect offering an account of the soul after the Last Judgment, and the ''Merseburg Charms'' are transcriptions of spells and charms from the Paganism, pagan Germanic tradition. Of particular interest to scholars, however, has been the ''Hildebrandslied'', a secular Epic poetry, epic poem telling the tale of an estranged father and son unknowingly meeting each other in battle. Linguistically this text is highly interesting due to the mixed use of
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of ...
and Old High German dialects in its composition. The written works of this period stem mainly from the Alemanni, Alamanni, Bavarian dialects, Bavarian, and
Thuringian Thuringian is an East Central German dialect group spoken in much of the modern German Free State of Thuringia north of the Rennsteig ridge, southwestern Saxony-Anhalt and adjacent territories of Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hess ...
groups, all belonging to the Elbe Germanic group (Irminones), which had settled in what is now southern-central Germany and
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastli ...

Austria
between the second and sixth centuries during the great migration. In general, the surviving texts of OHG show a wide range of dialectal diversity with very little written uniformity. The early written tradition of OHG survived mostly through Monastery, monasteries and Scriptorium, scriptoria as local translations of Latin originals; as a result, the surviving texts are written in highly disparate regional dialects and exhibit significant Latin influence, particularly in vocabulary. At this point monasteries, where most written works were produced, were dominated by Latin, and German saw only occasional use in official and ecclesiastical writing. The German language through the OHG period was still predominantly a spoken language, with a wide range of dialects and a much more extensive Oral literature, oral tradition than a written one. Having just emerged from the High German consonant shift, OHG was also a relatively new and volatile language still undergoing a number of Phonetics, phonetic, Phonology, phonological, Morphology (linguistics), morphological, and Syntax, syntactic changes. The scarcity of written work, instability of the language, and widespread illiteracy of the time explain the lack of Standard language, standardization up to the end of the OHG period in 1050.


Middle High German

While there is no complete agreement over the dates of the Middle High German (MHG) period, it is generally seen as lasting from 1050 to 1350. This was a period of significant expansion of the geographical territory occupied by Germanic tribes, and consequently of the number of German speakers. Whereas during the Old High German period the Germanic tribes extended only as far east as the Elbe and Saale rivers, the MHG period saw a number of these tribes expanding beyond this eastern boundary into Slavs, Slavic territory (known as the ''Ostsiedlung''). With the increasing wealth and geographic spread of the Germanic groups came greater use of German in the courts of nobles as the standard language of official proceedings and literature. A clear example of this is the ''mittelhochdeutsche Dichtersprache'' employed in the Hohenstaufen court in Swabia as a standardized supra-dialectal written language. While these efforts were still regionally bound, German began to be used in place of Latin for certain official purposes, leading to a greater need for regularity in written conventions. While the major changes of the MHG period were socio-cultural, German was still undergoing significant linguistic changes in syntax, phonetics, and morphology as well (e.g. Vowel breaking, diphthongization of certain vowel sounds: ''hus'' (OHG "house")''→haus'' (MHG), and weakening of unstressed short vowels to schwa [ə]: ''taga'' (OHG "days")→''tage'' (MHG)). A great wealth of texts survives from the MHG period. Significantly, these texts include a number of impressive secular works, such as the ''Nibelungenlied'', an Epic poetry, epic poem telling the story of the dragon-slayer Sigurd, Siegfried ( thirteenth century), and the ''Iwein,'' an King Arthur, Arthurian verse poem by Hartmann von Aue ( 1203), Lyric poetry, lyric poems, and courtly romances such as ''Parzival'' and ''Tristan''. Also noteworthy is the ''Sachsenspiegel'', the first book of laws written in Middle Low German, Middle ''Low'' German ( 1220). The abundance and especially the secular character of the literature of the MHG period demonstrate the beginnings of a standardized written form of German, as well as the desire of poets and authors to be understood by individuals on supra-dialectal terms. The Middle High German period is generally seen as ending when the 1346–53 Black Death decimated Europe's population.


Early New High German

Modern German begins with the Early New High German (ENHG) period, which the influential German Philology, philologist Wilhelm Scherer dates 1350–1650, terminating with the end of the Thirty Years' War. This period saw the further displacement of Latin by German as the primary language of courtly proceedings and, increasingly, of literature in the List of states in the Holy Roman Empire, German states. While these states were still under the control of the Holy Roman Empire, and far from any form of unification, the desire for a cohesive written language that would be understandable across the many German-speaking Principality, principalities and kingdoms was stronger than ever. As a spoken language German remained highly fractured throughout this period, with a vast number of often mutually incomprehensible German dialects, regional dialects being spoken throughout the German states; the invention of the printing press 1440 and the publication of Luther Bible, Luther's vernacular translation of the Bible in 1534, however, had an immense effect on standardizing German as a supra-dialectal written language. The ENHG period saw the rise of several important cross-regional forms of Chancery (medieval office), chancery German, one being ''gemeine tiutsch,'' used in the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, and the other being ''Meißner Deutsch'', used in the Electorate of Saxony in the Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg. Alongside these courtly written standards, the invention of the printing press led to the development of a number of printers' languages (''Druckersprachen'') aimed at making printed material readable and understandable across as many diverse dialects of German as possible. The greater ease of production and increased availability of written texts brought about increased standardization in the written form of German.One of the central events in the development of ENHG was the publication of Luther's translation of the Bible into German (the New Testament was published in 1522; the Old Testament was published in parts and completed in 1534). Luther based his translation primarily on the ''Meißner Deutsch'' of Saxony, spending much time among the population of Saxony researching the dialect so as to make the work as natural and accessible to German speakers as possible. Copies of Luther's Bible featured a long list of Gloss (annotation), glosses for each region, translating words which were unknown in the region into the regional dialect. Luther said the following concerning his translation method:
One who would talk German does not ask the Latin how he shall do it; he must ask the mother in the home, the children on the streets, the common man in the market-place and note carefully how they talk, then translate accordingly. They will then understand what is said to them because it is German. When Christ says 'ex abundantia cordis os loquitur,' I would translate, if I followed the papists, ''aus dem Überflusz des Herzens redet der Mund''. But tell me is this talking German? What German understands such stuff? No, the mother in the home and the plain man would say, ''Wesz das Herz voll ist, des gehet der Mund über''.
With Luther's rendering of the Bible in the vernacular, German asserted itself against the dominance of Latin as a legitimate language for courtly, literary, and now ecclesiastical subject-matter. Furthermore, his Bible was ubiquitous in the German states: nearly every household possessed a copy. Nevertheless, even with the influence of Luther's Bible as an unofficial written standard, a widely accepted standard for written German did not appear until the middle of the eighteenth century.


Austrian Empire

German was the language of commerce and government in the Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg Empire, which encompassed a large area of Central and Eastern Europe. Until the mid-nineteenth century, it was essentially the language of townspeople throughout most of the Empire. Its use indicated that the speaker was a merchant or someone from an urban area, regardless of nationality. Prague (german: Prag, links=no) and Budapest (Buda, german: Ofen, links=no), to name two examples, were gradually Germanization, Germanized in the years after their incorporation into the Habsburg domain; others, like Pressburg (Pozsony, now Bratislava), were originally settled during the Habsburg period and were primarily German at that time. Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and cities like Zagreb (german: Agram, links=no) or Ljubljana (german: Laibach, links=no), contained significant German minorities. In the eastern provinces of Banat, Bukovina, and Transylvania (german: Banat, Buchenland, Siebenbürgen, links=no), German was the predominant language not only in the larger towns – like (Timișoara), (Sibiu) and (Brașov) – but also in many smaller localities in the surrounding areas.


Standardization

In 1901, the German Orthographic Conference of 1901, Second Orthographic Conference ended with a complete standardization of the Standard High German language in its written form, and the Duden Handbook was declared its standard definition. The () had established Bühnendeutsch, conventions for German pronunciation in theatres three years earlier; however, this was an artificial standard that did not correspond to any traditional spoken dialect. Rather, it was based on the pronunciation of Standard High German in Northern Germany, although it was subsequently regarded often as a general prescriptive norm, despite differing pronunciation traditions especially in the Upper-German-speaking regions that still characterise the dialect of the area todayespecially the pronunciation of the ending as [ɪk] instead of [ɪç]. In Northern Germany, Standard German was a foreign language to most inhabitants, whose native dialects were subsets of Low German. It was usually encountered only in writing or formal speech; in fact, most of Standard High German was a written language, not identical to any spoken dialect, throughout the German-speaking area until well into the 19th century. Official revisions of some of the rules from 1901 were not issued until the controversial German orthography reform of 1996 was made the official standard by governments of all German-speaking countries. Media and written works are now almost all produced in Standard High German which is understood in all areas where German is spoken.


Geographical distribution

As a result of the German diaspora, as well as the popularity of German taught as a foreign language, the geographical distribution of German speakers (or "Germanophones") spans all inhabited continents. However, an exact, global number of native German speakers is complicated by the existence of several varieties whose status as separate "languages" or "dialects" is disputed for political and linguistic reasons, including quantitatively strong varieties like certain forms of Alemannic German, Alemannic and
Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. It is also spo ...
. With the inclusion or exclusion of certain varieties, it is estimated that approximately 90–95 million people speak German as a first language, 10–25 million speak it as a second language, and 75–100 million as a foreign language. This would imply the existence of approximately 175–220 million German speakers worldwide.


Europe

, about 90 million people, or 16% of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
's population spoke German as their mother tongue, making it the second most widely spoken language on the continent after Russian and the second biggest language in terms of overall speakers (after English).


German Sprachraum

The area in central Europe where the majority of the population speaks German as a first language and has German as a (co-)official language is called the "German ''German Sprachraum, Sprachraum''". German is the sole official language of the following countries: *
Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north, and the to the south; it covers an area of ...

Germany
*
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastli ...

Austria
* 17 cantons of
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
*
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein ( ; ), officially the Principality of Liechtenstein (german: link=no, Fürstentum Liechtenstein), is a German-speaking The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europ ...

Liechtenstein
German is a co-official language of the following countries: * Belgium (as majority language only in the German-speaking Community, which represents 0.7% of the Belgian population) *
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a landlocked ...

Luxembourg
, along with French and Luxembourgish * Switzerland, co-official at the federal level with French, Italian, and Romansh, and at the local level in four List of cantons of Switzerland, cantons: Canton of Bern, Bern (with French), Canton of Fribourg, Fribourg (with French), Canton of Grisons, Grisons (with Italian and Romansh) and Canton of Valais, Valais (with French) * Italian South Tyrol, Autonomous Province of South Tyrol (also majority language)


Outside the Sprachraum

Although Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–1950), expulsions and Persecution of Germans, (forced) assimilation after the two World wars greatly diminished them, minority communities of mostly bilingual German native speakers exist in areas both adjacent to and detached from the Sprachraum. Within Europe, German is a recognized minority language in the following countries: * Czech Republic (see also: Germans in the Czech Republic) *
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
(see also: North Schleswig Germans) * Hungary (see also: Germans of Hungary) * Poland (see also German minority in Poland; German is an Bilingual communes in Poland, auxiliary and co-official language in 31 communes) * Romania (see also: Germans of Romania) * Russia, (see also: History of Germans in Russia, Ukraine and the Soviet Union, Germans in Russia) * Slovakia (see also: Carpathian Germans) In France, the High German varieties of Alsatian and Moselle Franconian are identified as "regional languages", but the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages of 1998 has not yet been ratified by the government.


Africa


Namibia

Namibia was a German South-West Africa, colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1919. About 30,000 people still speak German as a native tongue today, mostly German Namibians, descendants of German colonial settlers. The period of German colonialism in Namibia also led to the evolution of a Standard German-based pidgin language called "Namibian Black German", which became a second language for parts of the indigenous population. Although it is nearly extinct today, some older Namibians still have some knowledge of it. German remained a ''de facto'' official language of Namibia after the end of German colonial rule alongside English and
Afrikaans Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 5 ...
, and had ''de jure'' co-official status from 1984 until its independence from South Africa in 1990. However, the Namibian government perceived Afrikaans and German as symbols of apartheid and colonialism, and decided English would be the sole official language upon independence, stating that it was a "neutral" language as there were virtually no English native speakers in Namibia at that time. German, Afrikaans, and several indigenous languages thus became "national languages" by law, identifying them as elements of the cultural heritage of the nation and ensuring that the state acknowledged and supported their presence in the country. Today, Namibia is considered to be the only German-speaking country outside of the ''Sprachraum'' in Europe. German is used in a wide variety of spheres throughout the country, especially in business, tourism, and public signage, as well as in education, churches (most notably the German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (GELK)), other cultural spheres such as music, and media (such as German language radio programs by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation). The is one of the three biggest newspapers in Namibia and the only German-language daily in Africa.


South Africa

An estimated 12,000 people speak German or a German variety as a first language in South Africa, mostly originating from different waves of immigration during the 19th and 20th centuries.Template:German L1 speakers outside Europe, German L1 speakers outside Europe One of the largest communities consists of the speakers of "Nataler Deutsch", a variety of
Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. It is also spo ...
concentrated in and around Wartburg, KwaZulu-Natal, Wartburg. The South African constitution identifies German as a "commonly used" language and the Pan South African Language Board is obligated to promote and ensure respect for it.


North America

In the United States, German is the fifth most spoken language in terms of native and second language speakers after English, Spanish language in the United States, Spanish, French language in the United States, French, and Chinese language in the United States, Chinese (with figures for Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin combined), with over 1 million total speakers. In the states of North Dakota and South Dakota, German is the most common language spoken at home after English. As a legacy of significant German American, German immigration to the country, German geographical names can be found throughout the Midwestern United States, Midwest region, such as New Ulm, Minnesota, New Ulm and Bismarck, North Dakota, Bismarck (North Dakota's state capital). A number of German varieties have developed in the country and are still spoken today, such as Pennsylvania German language, Pennsylvania German and Texas German.


South America

In Brazil, the largest concentrations of German speakers are in the states of Rio Grande do Sul (where Riograndenser Hunsrückisch developed), Santa Catarina (state), Santa Catarina, and Espírito Santo. German dialects (namely Hunsrik and East Pomeranian dialect, East Pomeranian) are recognized languages in the following municipalities in Brazil: * Espírito Santo (statewide cultural language): Domingos Martins, Laranja da Terra, Pancas, Espírito Santo, Pancas, Santa Maria de Jetibá, Vila Pavão * Rio Grande do Sul (Riograndenser Hunsrückisch German is a designated cultural language in the state): Santa Maria do Herval, Canguçu * Santa Catarina (state), Santa Catarina: Antônio Carlos, Santa Catarina, Antônio Carlos, Pomerode (standard German recognized) Small concentrations of German-speakers and their descendants are also found in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Bolivia.


Oceania

In Australia, the state of South Australia experienced a pronounced wave of Prussian immigration in the 1840s (particularly from Silesia region). With the prolonged isolation from other German speakers and contact with Australian English, a unique dialect known as Barossa German developed, spoken predominantly in the Barossa Valley near Adelaide. Usage of German sharply declined with the advent of World War I, due to the prevailing anti-German sentiment in the population and related government action. It continued to be used as a first language into the 20th century, but its use is now limited to a few older speakers. As of the 2013 census, 36,642 people in New Zealand spoke German, mostly descendants of a small wave of 19th century German immigrants, making it the third most spoken European language after English and French and overall the ninth most spoken language. A German German-based creole languages, creole named was historically spoken in the former German colony of German New Guinea, modern day Papua New Guinea. It is at a high risk of extinction, with only about 100 speakers remaining, and a topic of interest among linguists seeking to revive interest in the language.


As a foreign language

Like English, French, and Spanish, German has become a standard foreign language throughout the world, especially in the Western World. German ranks second on par with French among the best known foreign languages in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
(EU) after English, as well as in Russia and Turkey. In terms of student numbers across all levels of education, German ranks third in the EU (after English and French) and in the United States (after Spanish and French). In 2020, approximately 15.4 million people were enrolled in learning German across all levels of education worldwide. This number has decreased from a peak of 20.1 million in 2000.Hamann, Greta
15.4 million people are learning German as a foreign language
Deutsche Welle, 4 June 2020.
Within the EU, not counting countries where it is an official language, German as a foreign language is most popular in Eastern Europe, Eastern and Northern Europe, namely the Czech Republic, Croatia,
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Sweden, Poland, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. German was once, and to some extent still is, a lingua franca in those parts of Europe.


Standard German

The basis of Standard German developed with the Luther Bible and the chancery language spoken by the Electorate of Saxony, Saxon court. However, there are places where the traditional regional dialects have been replaced by new vernaculars based on standard German; that is the case in large stretches of Northern Germany but also in major cities in other parts of the country. It is important to note, however, that the colloquial standard German differs greatly from the formal written language, especially in grammar and syntax, in which it has been influenced by dialectal speech. Standard German differs regionally among German-speaking countries in vocabulary and some instances of pronunciation and even grammar and orthography. This variation must not be confused with the variation of local dialects. Even though the regional varieties of standard German are only somewhat influenced by the local dialects, they are very distinct. German is thus considered a
pluricentric language A pluricentric language or polycentric language is a language with several interacting codified standard forms, often corresponding to different countries. Many examples of such languages can be found worldwide among the most-spoken languages, incl ...
. In most regions, the speakers use a continuum from more dialectal varieties to more standard varieties depending on the circumstances.


Varieties

In German linguistics, German dialects are distinguished from variety (linguistics), varieties of
Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south ...
. The ''varieties of Standard German'' refer to the different local varieties of the pluricentric language, pluricentric Standard German. They differ only slightly in lexicon and phonology. In certain regions, they have replaced the traditional German dialects, especially in Northern Germany. * German Standard German * Austrian Standard German * Swiss Standard German In the German-speaking parts of
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
, mixtures of dialect and standard are very seldom used, and the use of Standard German is largely restricted to the written language. About 11% of the Swiss residents speak Standard German at home, but this is mainly due to German immigrants. This situation has been called a ''medial diglossia''. Swiss Standard German is used in the Swiss education system, while Austrian German is officially used in the Austrian education system.


Dialects

The German dialects are the traditional local varieties of the language; many of them are not Mutual intelligibility, mutually intelligibile with standard German, and they have great differences in lexicon, phonology, and syntax. If a narrow definition of language based on mutual intelligibility is used, many German dialects are considered to be separate languages (for instance in the ''Ethnologue''). However, such a point of view is unusual in German linguistics. The German dialect continuum is traditionally divided most broadly into
High German The High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten), or simply High German (; not to be confused with Standard High German which is imprecisely also called ''High German''), comprise the varieties Variety may refer to: Science and tec ...
and
Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. It is also spo ...
, also called Lower Saxony, Low Saxon. However, historically, High German dialects and Low Saxon/Low German dialects do not belong to the same language. Nevertheless, in today's Germany, Low Saxon/Low German is often perceived as a dialectal variation of Standard German on a functional level even by many native speakers. The variation among the German dialects is considerable, with often only neighbouring dialects being mutually intelligible. Some dialects are not intelligible to people who know only Standard German. However, all German dialects belong to the dialect continuum of High German and Low Saxon.


Low German or Low Saxon

Middle Low German was the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League. It was the predominant language in Northern Germany until the 16th century. In 1534, the Luther Bible was published. It aimed to be understandable to a broad audience and was based mainly on Central German, Central and
Upper German Upper German ( German: ) is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in the southern German-speaking area (). Family tree Upper German proper comprises the Alemannic and Bavarian dialect groups. Furthermore, the High Franconian di ...

Upper German
varieties. The Early New High German language gained more prestige than
Low German Low German or Low Saxon (in the language itself: , and other names; german: Plattdeutsch, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands. It is also spo ...
and became the language of science and literature. Around the same time, the Hanseatic League, a confederation of northern ports, lost its importance as new trade routes to Asia and the Americas were established, and the most powerful German states of that period were located in Middle and Southern Germany. The 18th and 19th centuries were marked by mass education in
Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south ...
in schools. Gradually, Low German came to be politically viewed as a mere dialect spoken by the uneducated. The proportion of the population who can understand and speak it has decreased continuously since World War II. The major cities in the Low German area are Hamburg, Hanover, Bremen and Dortmund. Sometimes, Low Saxon and Low Franconian varieties are grouped together because both are unaffected by the High German consonant shift.


Low Franconian

In Germany, Low Franconian dialects are spoken in the northwest of North Rhine-Westphalia, along the Lower Rhine. The Low Franconian dialects spoken in Germany are referred to as Low Rhenish. In the north of the German Low Franconian language area, North Low Franconian dialects (also referred to as Cleverlands or as dialects of South Guelderish) are spoken. The South Low Franconian and Bergish dialects, Bergish dialects, which are spoken in the south of the German Low Franconian language area, are transitional dialects between Low Franconian and Ripuarian language, Ripuarian dialects. The
Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics'', University of California Press, 1991, p. 321. (Calling it "Low Frankish (or Netherlandish)".)Scott Shay ...
dialects fall within a linguistic category used to classify a number of historical and contemporary West Germanic varieties most closely related to, and including, the Dutch language. Consequently, the vast majority of the Low Franconian dialects are spoken outside of the German language area, in the Netherlands and Belgium. During the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period, the Low Franconian dialects now spoken in Germany, used Middle Dutch or Early Modern Dutch as their literary language and Dachsprache. Following a 19th-century change in Prussian language policy, use of Dutch as an official and public language was forbidden; resulting in
Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to be confused with High German The High German languages or High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south ...
taking its place as the region's official language. As a result, these dialects are now considered German dialects from a socio-linguistic point of view. Nevertheless, topologically these dialects are structurally and phonologically far more similar to Dutch, than to German and form both the smallest and most divergent dialect cluster within the contemporary German language area.


High German

The High German dialects consist of the
Central German Central German (german: mitteldeutsche Dialekte, mitteldeutsche Mundarten, Mitteldeutsch) is a group of High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germany. Central German divides into two sub ...
, High Franconian German, High Franconian and
Upper German Upper German ( German: ) is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in the southern German-speaking area (). Family tree Upper German proper comprises the Alemannic and Bavarian dialect groups. Furthermore, the High Franconian di ...

Upper German
dialects. The High Franconian dialects are transitional dialects between Central and Upper German. The High German varieties spoken by the Ashkenazi Jews have several unique features and are considered as a separate language,
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciatio ...

Yiddish
, written with the Hebrew alphabet.


Central German

The
Central German Central German (german: mitteldeutsche Dialekte, mitteldeutsche Mundarten, Mitteldeutsch) is a group of High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germany. Central German divides into two sub ...
dialects are spoken in Central Germany, from Aachen in the west to Görlitz in the east. They consist of Franconian languages, Franconian dialects in the west (West Central German) and non-Franconian dialects in the east (East Central German). Modern Standard German is mostly based on Central German dialects. The Franconian, West Central German dialects are the Central Franconian dialects (Ripuarian language, Ripuarian and Moselle Franconian dialects, Moselle Franconian) and the Rhine Franconian dialects (Hessian dialects, Hessian and Palatine German language, Palatine). These dialects are considered as * German in Germany and Belgium *
Luxembourgish Luxembourgish ( ; also ''Luxemburgish'', ''Luxembourgian'', ''Letzebu(e)rgesch''; Luxembourgish: ) is a West Germanic language that is spoken mainly in Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: ...
in Luxembourg *
Lorraine Franconian Lorraine Franconian (Lorraine Franconian: ''Plàtt'' or ''lottrìnger Plàtt''; french: francique lorrain or ''platt lorrain''; german: Lothringisch) is an ambiguous designation for dialects of West Central German (german: Westmitteldeutsch), ...
(spoken in Moselle (department), Moselle) and as a Rhine Franconian variant of Alsatian (spoken in Alsace bossue only) in France * Limburgish language, Limburgish or Kerkrade dialect in the Netherlands. Luxembourgish as well as the Transylvanian Saxon dialect spoken in Transylvania are based on Moselle Franconian dialects. The major cities in the Franconian Central German area are Cologne and Frankfurt. Further east, the non-Franconian, East Central German dialects are spoken (
Thuringian Thuringian is an East Central German dialect group spoken in much of the modern German Free State of Thuringia north of the Rennsteig ridge, southwestern Saxony-Anhalt and adjacent territories of Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hess ...
,
Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part of High German languages, High German. Present ...
and North Upper Saxon-South Markish, and earlier, in the then German-speaking parts of Silesia also Silesian German, Silesian, and in then German southern East Prussia also High Prussian dialect, High Prussian). The major cities in the East Central German area are Berlin and Leipzig.


High Franconian

The High Franconian German, High Franconian dialects are transitional dialects between Central and Upper German. They consist of the East Franconian German, East and South Franconian German, South Franconian dialects. The East Franconian dialect branch is one of the most spoken dialect branches in Germany. These dialects are spoken in the region of Franconia and in the central parts of Saxony, Saxon Vogtland. Franconia consists of the Bavarian districts of Upper Franconia, Upper, Middle Franconia, Middle, and Lower Franconia, the region of South Thuringia (Thuringia), and the eastern parts of the region of Heilbronn-Franken (Tauber Franconia and Hohenlohe) in Baden-Württemberg. The major cities in the East Franconian area are Nuremberg and Würzburg. South Franconian is mainly spoken in northern Baden-Württemberg in Germany, but also in the northeasternmost part of the region of Alsace in France. In Baden-Württemberg, they are considered as dialects of German. The major cities in the South Franconian area are Karlsruhe and Heilbronn.


Upper German

The
Upper German Upper German ( German: ) is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in the southern German-speaking area (). Family tree Upper German proper comprises the Alemannic and Bavarian dialect groups. Furthermore, the High Franconian di ...

Upper German
dialects are the Alemannic German, Alemannic and Swabian German, Swabian dialects in the west and the Bavarian language, Bavarian dialects in the east.


=Alemannic and Swabian

= Alemannic dialects are spoken in
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
(High Alemannic German, High Alemannic in the densely populated Swiss Plateau, in the south also Highest Alemannic German, Highest Alemannic, and Low Alemannic German, Low Alemannic in Basel), Baden-Württemberg (Swabian German, Swabian and Low Alemannic, in the southwest also High Alemannic), Swabia (Bavaria), Bavarian Swabia (Swabian, in the southwesternmost part also Low Alemannic), Vorarlberg (Low, High, and Highest Alemannic), Alsace (Low Alemannic, in the southernmost part also High Alemannic),
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein ( ; ), officially the Principality of Liechtenstein (german: link=no, Fürstentum Liechtenstein), is a German-speaking The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europ ...

Liechtenstein
(High and Highest Alemannic), and in the Tyrol (state), Tyrolean Reutte District, district of Reutte (Swabian). The Alemannic dialects are considered as Alsatian in Alsace. The major cities in the Alemannic area are Stuttgart, Freiburg, Basel, Zürich, Lucerne and Bern.


=Bavarian

= Bavarian dialects are spoken in
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastli ...

Austria
(Vienna, Lower Austria, Lower and Upper Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Salzburg (state), Salzburg, Burgenland, and in most parts of Tyrol (state), Tyrol), Bavaria (Upper Bavaria, Upper and Lower Bavaria as well as Upper Palatinate),
South Tyrol it, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano – Alto Adige lld, Provinzia Autonoma de Balsan/Bulsan – Südtirol , settlement_type = Autonomous The federal subject in Russia">Federal subjects of Russia">federal subject ...
, southwesternmost Saxony (Southern Vogtlandian, Vogtländisch), and in the Swiss village of Samnaun. The major cities in the Bavarian area are Vienna, Munich, Salzburg, Regensburg, Graz and Bolzano.


Regiolects

* Berlin German, Berlinian, the High German regiolect or dialect of Berlin with Low German substrate * Missingsch, a Low-German-coloured variety of High German. * Ruhrdeutsch (Ruhr German), the High German regiolect of the Ruhr area.


Grammar

German is a fusional language with a moderate degree of inflection, with three grammatical genders; as such, there can be a large number of words derived from the same root.


Noun inflection

German nouns inflect by case, gender, and number: * four grammatical case, cases: nominative, accusative case, accusative, genitive, and dative case, dative. * three grammatical gender, genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Word endings sometimes reveal grammatical gender: for instance, nouns ending in (-ing), (-ship), or (-hood, -ness) are feminine, nouns ending in or (diminutive forms) are neuter and nouns ending in (-ism) are masculine. Others are more variable, sometimes depending on the region in which the language is spoken. And some endings are not restricted to one gender, for example: (agent noun, -er), such as (feminine), celebration, party; (masculine), labourer; and (neuter), thunderstorm. * two numbers: singular and plural. This degree of inflection is considerably less than in
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and ...
and other old
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
such as
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit, and it is also somewhat less than, for instance, Old English, modern
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
, or Russian. The three genders have collapsed in the plural. With four cases and three genders plus plural, there are 16 permutations of case and gender/number of the article (not the nouns), but there are only six forms of the article (grammar), definite article, which together cover all 16 permutations. In nouns, inflection for case is required in the singular for strong masculine and neuter nouns only in the genitive and in the dative (only in fixed or archaic expressions), and even this is losing ground to substitutes in informal speech. Weak masculine nouns share a common case ending for genitive, dative, and accusative in the singular. Feminine nouns are not declined in the singular. The plural has an inflection for the dative. In total, seven inflectional endings (not counting plural markers) exist in German: . Like the other Germanic languages, German forms noun compound (linguistics), compounds in which the first noun modifies the category given by the second: ("dog hut"; specifically: "dog kennel"). Unlike English, whose newer compounds or combinations of longer nouns are often written "open" with separating spaces, German (like some other Germanic languages) nearly always uses the "closed" form without spaces, for example: ("tree house"). Like English, German allows arbitrarily long compounds in theory (see also English compounds). The longest German word verified to be actually in (albeit very limited) use is , which, literally translated, is "beef labelling supervision duties assignment law" [from (cattle), (meat), (labelling), (supervision), (duties), (assignment), (law)]. However, examples like this are perceived by native speakers as excessively bureaucratic, stylistically awkward, or even satirical.


Verb inflection

The inflection of standard German verbs includes: * two main Grammatical conjugation, conjugation classes: Germanic weak verb, weak and Germanic strong verb, strong (as in English). Additionally, there is a third class, known as mixed verbs, whose conjugation combines features of both the strong and weak patterns. * three grammatical person, persons: first, second and third. * two grammatical number, numbers: singular and plural. * three grammatical mood, moods: realis mood, indicative, imperative mood, imperative and subjunctive mood, subjunctive (in addition to infinitive). * two voice (grammar), voices: active and passive. The passive voice uses auxiliary verbs and is divisible into static and dynamic. Static forms show a constant state and use the verb ’'to be'’ (sein). Dynamic forms show an action and use the verb "to become'’ (werden). * two grammatical tense, tenses without auxiliary verbs (present tense, present and preterite) and four tenses constructed with auxiliary verbs (perfect (grammar), perfect, pluperfect, future tense, future and future perfect). * the distinction between grammatical aspects is rendered by combined use of the subjunctive or preterite marking so the plain indicative voice uses neither of those two markers; the subjunctive by itself often conveys reported speech; subjunctive plus preterite marks the conditional state; and the preterite alone shows either plain indicative (in the past), or functions as a (literal) alternative for either reported speech or the conditional state of the verb, when necessary for clarity. * the distinction between perfect and continuous and progressive aspects, progressive aspect is and has, at every stage of development, been a productive category of the older language and in nearly all documented dialects, but strangely enough it is now rigorously excluded from written usage in its present normalised form. * disambiguation of completed vs. uncompleted forms is widely observed and regularly generated by common prefixes (' [to look], ' [to see – unrelated form: ]).


Verb prefixes

The meaning of basic verbs can be expanded and sometimes radically changed through the use of a number of prefixes. Some prefixes have a specific meaning; the prefix refers to destruction, as in (to tear apart), (to break apart), (to cut apart). Other prefixes have only the vaguest meaning in themselves; is found in a number of verbs with a large variety of meanings, as in (to try) from (to seek), (to interrogate) from (to take), (to distribute) from (to share), (to understand) from (to stand). Other examples include the following: (to stick), (to detain); (to buy), (to sell); (to hear), (to cease); (to drive), (to experience). Many German verbs have a separable prefix, often with an adverbial function. In finite verb forms, it is split off and moved to the end of the clause and is hence considered by some to be a "resultative particle". For example, , meaning "to go along", would be split, giving (Literal: "Go you with?"; Idiomatic: "Are you going along?"). Indeed, several parenthetical referencing, parenthetical clauses may occur between the prefix of a finite verb and its complement (ankommen = to arrive, er kam an = he arrived, er ist angekommen = he has arrived): : A selectively literal translation of this example to illustrate the point might look like this: : He "came" on Friday evening, after a hard day at work and the usual annoyances that had time and again been troubling him for years now at his workplace, with questionable joy, to a meal which, as he hoped, his wife had already put on the table, finally home "to".


Word order

German word order is generally with the V2 word order restriction and also with the SOV word order restriction for main clauses. For yes-no questions, exclamations, and wishes, the finite verb always has the first position. In subordinate clauses, the verb occurs at the very end. German requires a verbal element (main verb or auxiliary verb) to appear V2 word order, second in the sentence. The verb is preceded by the topic–comment, topic of the sentence. The element in focus appears at the end of the sentence. For a sentence without an auxiliary, these are several possibilities: : (The old man gave me yesterday the book; normal order) : (The book gave [to] me yesterday the old man) : (The book gave the old man [to] me yesterday) : (The book gave [to] me the old man yesterday) : (Yesterday gave [to] me the old man the book, normal order) : ([To] me gave the old man the book yesterday (entailing: as for someone else, it was another date)) The position of a noun in a German sentence has no bearing on its being a subject, an object or another argument. In a sentence (linguistics), declarative sentence in English, if the subject does not occur before the predicate, the sentence could well be misunderstood. However, German's flexible word order allows one to emphasise specific words: Normal word order: :: :: The manager entered yesterday at 10 o'clock with an umbrella in the hand his office. Object in front: :: :: His office entered the manager yesterday at 10 o'clock with an umbrella in the hand. : The object (his office) is thus highlighted; it could be the topic of the next sentence. Adverb of time in front: :: :: Yesterday entered the manager at 10 o'clock with an umbrella in the hand his office. (but today without umbrella) Both time expressions in front: :: . :: Yesterday at 10 o'clock entered the manager with an umbrella in the hand his office. : The full-time specification is highlighted. Another possibility: :: . :: Yesterday at 10 o'clock entered the manager his office with an umbrella in the hand. : Both the time specification and the fact he carried an umbrella are accentuated. Swapped adverbs: :: :: The manager entered with an umbrella in the hand yesterday at 10 o'clock his office. : The phrase is highlighted. Swapped object: :: :: The manager entered yesterday at 10 o'clock his office with an umbrella in the hand. : The time specification and the object (his office) are lightly accentuated. The flexible word order also allows one to use language "tools" (such as poetic meter and figures of speech) more freely.


Auxiliary verbs

When an auxiliary verb is present, it appears in second position, and the main verb appears at the end. This occurs notably in the creation of the perfect (grammar), perfect tense. Many word orders are still possible: : (The old man has me today the book given.) : (''The book'' has the old man me today given.) : (''Today'' has the old man me the book given.) The main verb may appear in first position to put stress on the action itself. The auxiliary verb is still in second position. : (''Given'' has me the old man the book today.) The bare fact that the book has been given is emphasized, as well as 'today'.


Modal verbs

Sentences using modal verbs place the infinitive at the end. For example, the English sentence "Should he go home?" would be rearranged in German to say "Should he (to) home go?" (). Thus, in sentences with several subordinate or relative clauses, the infinitives are clustered at the end. Compare the similar clustering of prepositions in the following (highly contrived) English sentence: "What did you bring that book that I do not like to be read to out of up for?"


Multiple infinitives

German subordinate clauses have all verbs clustered at the end. Given that auxiliaries encode future, passive voice, passive, modality (semiotics), modality, and the perfect (grammar), perfect, very long chains of verbs at the end of the sentence can occur. In these constructions, the past participle formed with is often replaced by the infinitive. : ''V psv perf mod'' : One suspects that the deserter probably shot become be should. : ("It is suspected that the deserter probably had been shot") : : He knew not that the agent a picklock had make let : : He knew not that the agent a picklock make let had : ("He did not know that the agent had had a picklock made") The order at the end of such strings is subject to variation, but the second one in the last example is unusual.


Vocabulary

Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. However, there is a significant amount of loanwords from other languages, in particular Latin language, Latin,
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, Italian, French, and most recently English. In the early 19th century, Joachim Heinrich Campe estimated that one fifth of the total German vocabulary was of French or Latin origin. Latin words were already imported into the predecessor of the German language during the Roman Empire and underwent all the characteristic phonetic changes in German. Their origin is thus no longer recognizable for most speakers (e.g. , , , , from Latin , , , , ). Borrowing from Latin continued after the fall of the Roman Empire during Christianisation, mediated by the church and monasteries. Another important influx of Latin words can be observed during Renaissance humanism. In a scholarly context, the borrowings from Latin have continued until today, in the last few decades often indirectly through borrowings from English. During the 15th to 17th centuries, the influence of Italian was great, leading to many Italian loanwords in the fields of architecture, finance and music. The influence of the French language in the 17th to 19th centuries resulted in an even greater import of French words. The English influence was already present in the 19th century, but it did not become dominant until the second half of the 20th century. Thus, Notker Labeo was able to translate Aristotelian treatises into pure (Old High) German in the decades after the year 1000. The tradition of loan translation was revitalized in the 17th and 18th century with poets like Philipp von Zesen or linguists like Joachim Heinrich Campe, who introduced close to 300 words that are still used in modern German. Even today, there are movements that promote the substitution of foreign words that are deemed unnecessary with German alternatives. As in English, there are many pairs of synonyms due to the enrichment of the Germanic vocabulary with loanwords from Latin and Latinized Greek. These words often have different connotations from their Germanic counterparts and are usually perceived as more scholarly. *  – "history, historical", () *  – "humaneness, humane", () *  – "millennium", () *  – "perception", () *  – "vocabulary", () * – "dictionary, wordbook", () * – "to try", () The size of the vocabulary of German is difficult to estimate. The (''German Dictionary''), initiated by the Brothers Grimm (Jacob Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm) and the most comprehensive guide to the vocabulary of the German language, already contained over 330,000 headwords in its first edition. The modern German scientific vocabulary is estimated at nine million words and word groups (based on the analysis of 35 million sentences of a Text corpus, corpus in Leipzig, which as of July 2003 included 500 million words in total). The Duden is the ''de facto'' official dictionary of the Standard High German language, first published by Konrad Duden in 1880. The Duden is updated regularly, with new editions appearing every four or five years. , it was in its 27th edition and in 12 volumes, each covering different aspects such as loanwords, etymology, pronunciation, synonyms, and so forth.
The first of these volumes, (German Orthography), has long been the Usage dictionary, prescriptive source for the spelling of German. The ''Duden'' had become the bible of the German language, being the definitive set of rules regarding grammar, spelling, and usage of German. The ("Austrian Dictionary"), abbreviated , is the official dictionary of the German language in the Republic of Austria. It is edited by a group of linguists under the authority of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (german: Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur, links=no). It is the Austrian counterpart to the German ''Duden'' and contains a number of terms unique to Austrian German or more frequently used or differently pronounced there. A considerable amount of this "Austrian" vocabulary is also common in Southern Germany, especially Bavaria, and some of it is used in
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
as well. Since the 39th edition in 2001 the orthography of the has been adjusted to the German spelling reform of 1996. The dictionary is also officially used in the Italian province of
South Tyrol it, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano – Alto Adige lld, Provinzia Autonoma de Balsan/Bulsan – Südtirol , settlement_type = Autonomous The federal subject in Russia">Federal subjects of Russia">federal subject ...
.


Orthography

Written texts in German are easily recognisable as such by distinguishing features such as Germanic umlaut, umlauts and certain German orthography, orthographical features – German is the only major language that capitalizes all nouns, a relic of a widespread practice in Northern Europe in the early modern era (including English for a while, in the 1700s) – and the frequent occurrence of long compounds. Because legibility and convenience set certain boundaries, compounds consisting of more than three or four nouns are almost exclusively found in humorous contexts. (In contrast, although English can also string nouns together, it usually separates the nouns with spaces. For example, "toilet bowl cleaner".) In German orthography, nouns are capitalised, which makes it easier for readers to determine the function of a word within a sentence. This convention is almost unique to German today (shared perhaps only by the closely related Luxembourgish language and several insular dialects of the North Frisian language), but it was historically common in other languages such as Danish (which abolished the capitalization of nouns in 1948) and English.


Present

Before the German orthography reform of 1996, ''ß'' replaced ''ss'' after vowel length, long vowels and diphthongs and before consonants, word-, or partial-word endings. In reformed spelling, ''ß'' replaces ''ss'' only after long vowels and diphthongs. Since there is no traditional capital form of ''ß'', it was replaced by ''SS'' (or ''SZ'') when capitalization was required. For example, (tape measure) became in capitals. An exception was the use of ß in legal documents and forms when capitalizing names. To avoid confusion with similar names, lower case ''ß'' was sometimes maintained (thus "" instead of ""). Capital ß (ẞ) was ultimately adopted into German orthography in 2017, ending a long orthographic debate (thus " and "). Umlaut vowels (ä, ö, ü) are commonly transcribed with ae, oe, and ue if the umlauts are not available on the keyboard or other medium used. In the same manner, ß can be transcribed as ss. Some operating systems use key sequences to extend the set of possible characters to include, amongst other things, umlauts; in Microsoft Windows this is done using Alt codes. German readers understand these transcriptions (although they appear unusual), but they are avoided if the regular umlauts are available, because they are a makeshift and not proper spelling. (In Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, city and family names exist where the extra e has a vowel lengthening effect, e.g. ''Raesfeld'' , ''Coesfeld'' and ''Itzehoe'' , but this use of the letter e after a/o/u does not occur in the present-day spelling of words other than proper nouns.) There is no general agreement on where letters with umlauts occur in the sorting sequence. Telephone directories treat them by replacing them with the base vowel followed by an e. Some dictionaries sort each umlauted vowel as a separate letter after the base vowel, but more commonly words with umlauts are ordered immediately after the same word without umlauts. As an example in a telephone directory, telephone book occurs after but before (because Ä is replaced by Ae). In a dictionary comes after , but in some dictionaries and all other words starting with ''Ä'' may occur after all words starting with ''A''. In some older dictionaries or indexes, initial ''Sch'' and ''St'' are treated as separate letters and are listed as separate entries after ''S'', but they are usually treated as S+C+H and S+T. Written German also typically uses an alternative opening inverted comma (quotation mark) as in .


Past

Until the early 20th century, German was printed in blackletter typefaces (in Fraktur, and in Schwabacher), and written in corresponding penmanship, handwriting (for example Kurrent and Sütterlin). These variants of the Latin alphabet are very different from the serif or sans-serif Antiqua (typeface class), Antiqua typefaces used today, and the handwritten forms in particular are difficult for the untrained to read. The Nazism, Nazis initially promoted Fraktur and Schwabacher because they were considered Aryan, but they abolished them in 1941, claiming that these letters were Jewish. It is believed that the Nazi régime had banned this script, as they realized that Fraktur would inhibit communication in the territories occupied during World War II. The Fraktur script however remains present in everyday life in pub signs, beer brands and other forms of advertisement, where it is used to convey a certain rusticality and antiquity. A proper use of the long s (), long s, ſ, is essential for writing German text in Fraktur typefaces. Many Antiqua (typeface class), Antiqua typefaces also include the long s. A specific set of rules applies for the use of long s in German text, but nowadays it is rarely used in Antiqua typesetting. Any lower case "s" at the beginning of a syllable would be a long s, as opposed to a terminal s or short s (the more common variation of the letter s), which marks the end of a syllable; for example, in differentiating between the words (guard-house) and (tube of polish/wax). One can easily decide which "s" to use by appropriate hyphenation, ( vs. ). The long s only appears in lower case.


Consonant shifts

German does not have any dental fricatives (as English th). The th sound, which the English language still has, disappeared on the continent in German with the consonant shifts between the 8th and 10th centuries.For a history of the German consonants see . It is sometimes possible to find parallels between English and German by replacing the English th with d in German: "Thank" → in German , "this" and "that" → and , "thou" (old 2nd person singular pronoun) → , "think" → , "thirsty" → and many other examples. Likewise, the gh in
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
English words, pronounced in several different ways in modern English (as an f or not at all), can often be linked to German ch: "to laugh" → , "through" → , "high" → , "naught" → , "light" → or , "sight" → , "daughter" → , "neighbour" → .


Literature

The German language is used in German literature and can be traced back to the Middle Ages, with the most notable authors of the period being Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. The , whose author remains unknown, is also an important work of the epoch. The fairy tales collected and published by Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century became famous throughout the world. Reformer and theologian Martin Luther, who was the first to translate the Bible into German, is widely credited for having set the basis for the modern Standard High German language. Among the best-known poets and authors in German are Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Lessing, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Schiller, Heinrich von Kleist, Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Hoffmann, Bertolt Brecht, Brecht, Heinrich Heine, Heine and Franz Kafka, Kafka. Fourteen German-speaking people have won the Nobel Prize in literature: Theodor Mommsen, Rudolf Christoph Eucken, Paul von Heyse, Gerhart Hauptmann, Carl Spitteler, Thomas Mann, Nelly Sachs, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, Elias Canetti, Günter Grass, Elfriede Jelinek, Herta Müller and Peter Handke, making it the second most awarded linguistic region (together with French) after English.


See also

* Outline of German language * Denglisch * Deutsch (disambiguation) * German family name etymology * German toponymy * Germanism (linguistics) * List of German exonyms * List of German expressions in English * List of German words of French origin * List of pseudo-German words adapted to English * List of terms used for Germans * List of territorial entities where German is an official language * Names for the German language * DDR German


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

*
Dissemination of the German language in Europe around 1913 (map, 300 dpi)
{{Authority control German language, Fusional languages High German languages Languages of Austria Languages of Belgium Languages of Germany Languages of Liechtenstein Languages of Luxembourg Languages of Namibia Languages of Switzerland Languages of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol Stress-timed languages Verb-second languages