German Language Distribution Part I

German Language Distribution Part I

The German language is spoken by around 100 million people in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, German-speaking Switzerland as well as residents of other countries: in Luxembourg (mostly in the form of the Moselle-Franconian colloquial language Letzebuergesch), in Belgium (especially in area Eupen-Malmedy), in France (particularly in Alsace-Lorraine v), Denmark (a.. in North Schleswig), in Italy (South Tyrol as well as other smaller enclaves), Poland, Romania (v. a. through the Banat Swabians and Saxons), in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, in Hungary (mainly by the Danube Swabians) and in the former Soviet Union (mainly by the Russian-Germans).

Outside of Europe there are linguistic islands, among others. in Canada, the USA (e.g. the Pennsylvania Germans), in Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Chile (especially in the south of the country), Argentina and Australia as well as in Namibia and the Republic of South Africa.

German is the only official language in Germany, Liechtenstein and Austria. One of the official languages ​​is German in Switzerland (in addition to French, Italian and Romansh), in Luxembourg (in addition to French), in Belgium (in addition to French and Dutch) and in the European Union; German has the status of a national language in Switzerland and Namibia, the status of a regional official language in Italy (Province of Bozen).

Today, German as a foreign language is learned by around 20 million people worldwide, around 15 million of them in Europe and around 13 million of them in Eastern Europe. Since the late 1980s, there has been a strong increase in interest in learning the German language, among other things. through German reunification, the process of completing the European internal market and the political upheavals in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, but also because Germany is a migration destination. The low level of political interest in language promotion measures meant that German as a foreign language fell behind other languages ​​such as French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. Like any other language, it is not competitive with English.

The spread of the German language has seen numerous changes over the course of history. Until the 8th century, German in the east only extended as far as the Elbe and Saale. In the south, the Lombard parts of northern Italy belonged to the German-speaking area; large parts of western France were German or a mixture of Romansh-German. In the Old High German period, the German language spread to the south and west. With the German settlement in the east, the closed German-speaking area had reached its greatest extent in the 13th century. In the course of other waves of colonization, the German language had also penetrated to Eastern Austria, Italy and Yugoslavia. In modern times, Dutch developed into its own standard language in the 16th century, in the west (France and Switzerland) French was gaining ground. The most drastic changes took place in the east of the German-speaking area as a result of the aftermath of the Second World War.

Among the dialects German dialects, literature in German language German literature, Austrian literature, Swiss literature.


The New High German written language, as a standard language (also known as high-level language), bridges differences in colloquial language, the scenic forms of the standard language and German dialects (the boundaries between the individual areas are, however, fluid). At each level, complete technical languages and able languages for their specific needs the German vocabulary (often by foreign words); special languages correspond to the need for closer group formation. From these areas, new linguistic material penetrates the everyday language and further into the standard language. A definition of the linguistic stock by language academies does not exist, and the fact that the German language is spoken in several states also keeps state influences within narrow limits. German is one of the most verbose languages. The German vocabulary is estimated at around 300,000 to 500,000 words (not counting the vocabulary of specialist languages ​​and dialects, which increases the number given many times over).

Language examples for Old High German and Middle High German Hide table

Old High German Lorscher bee blessing (10th century)

kirst imbi is huze

nu fluic du uihu minaz hera fridu frono

in godes munt heim zi comonne gisunt

sizi sizi bina inbot you sancte maria

hurolob ni have you zi holce ni fluc you

noh you nin-inside noh you nint-uuinnest me

sizi uilu stillo vuirki godes uuillon

Jesus, the bees are out! / Now you fly, my animal, here in the peace of the Lord, / so that you may come home safe and sound under God’s protection. / Sit down, sit down, bee! St. Mary commanded you. / You shall not have permission, you shall not fly into the forest; / You should neither flee from me, nor should you slip away from me. / Sit very still and do God’s will.

Middle High German From the Arthurian novel “Iwein” (2nd half of the 12th century) by Hartmann von Aue

Swer to rehte güete

turn your mind

dem volget s ǣ lde and êre.

des gît certain lêre

künec Artûs the guote,

the one with rîters muote

to praise customer arguing.

he had bî sînen zîten

lived so beautiful

in addition he has the êren crown

dô truoc and sîn name treit.

des have the truth sîne lantliute:

sî always alive today:

he had bought the lop,

died in the lîp,

so somebody lives his name.

he is vicious ashamed

iemer vil even worth it,

which still according to sînem site vert.

Whoever directs his mind to the true good experiences happiness and honor. This is clearly taught to us by the noble King Arthur, who knew how to strive for praise with the spirit of a knight. He lived so exemplary in his time that he wore the wreath of honors back then, as his name still bears it now. His compatriots testify to this: They say he is still alive today. He has earned fame that his name still lives on even after he died. Whoever acts like him is forever free from shameful shame.

The special position of German among the Germanic languages ​​has so far been seen by research mainly in phonetic-formal traits (phonetic shift, see section history). In English, usually the root syllable is stressed (eg. U rlaub in contrast to the formed with the prefix verb erl au ben); This emphasizes (in contrast to the Romance and most Slavic languages) the meaningful element as well as the sentence accent the meaningful parts of the speech. Rarely the sound of rhythmic reasons (leb É constantly, luck e lig Rev. A ren) or opposites emphasis he (not é rzogen but v Êmoved). The discrepancy between pronunciation and writing is limited in the German language (compared, for example, with French or English); so z. B. initial st and sp pronounced as [ ʃ t] or [ ʃ p], final ig as [iç]. Some sounds differentiated in the spelling coincide in the pronunciation (e.g. ä and short e to [ε], ai and ei to [ai], äu and eu to [ ɔ i]). On the other hand, the same characters can have different pronunciation (e.g. e [ε] and [e], o [ ɔ ] and [o]).

German Language Distribution Part I


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