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Do you know?
The German language is known for its rich lexicon and exceedingly long compound words. It is the most widely spoken native language in the European Union.
Around 16% of the population living in the European Union speak German.
It is the 11th most spoken language in the world, with more than 150 million speakers.
In six European countries, Germany is recognized as the official language or one of the official languages.
History of the German Language
The German language belongs to the Indo-European language family. It is believed the language has its roots in Proto-Germanic, which probably began to develop sometime around 2000b.c. According to the linguists, by 500b.c, Proto-Germanic became a distinct language different from other languages. Proto-Germanic created its vocabulary primarily based on its own resources. Thus, the language is uniquely different from other Indo-European languages. However, as the speakers of the language came in close contact with Roman culture, many words were borrowed from them.
The German language has evolved over the years. Historians divide it into four periods: Old German (750 to 1050), Middle German (1050 to 1350), New German (1350 to 1800), and Modern German (1800 to present).
The language was formed mainly due to the Great Germanic Sound Shift. The grammatical system used in Old High German was much similar to Old English, Old Saxon, and Old Dutch. At this period, the language was yet to be standardized.
It got a relatively standardized form in the middle period that began sometime around 1050. It was when the languages began to replace Latin in official works. During this period, Latin alphabets in Gothic minuscules were used to write the scripts, and there was no consistent German spelling.
Post 1350, the language was further evolved, and the period is known as Early New High German. The New High German was different from its previous era mainly due to four phonological shifts. In 1522 - 1523, Martin Luther translated both testaments of the Bible into the German language, particularly in the East Middle German style. As the translated copy was widely distributed, the dialect became dominant. Luther continued to modify and improve the language style until his death. Today, an average German won't be able to read the first version of the translation; however, they can make sense of the edition that came out in 1534.
By the eighteenth century, a standardized written German was developed. However, many dialects continued to be a part of the commonly spoken language. The written language was used in education, theatre, and literature and continued to evolve. Brothers Grimm published the first German dictionary from 1852 to 1860 (in 16 parts). Duden Handbook was published in 1880. It outlined the grammatical and orthographic rules of the modern German language. In 1901, the rules described in the Duden Handbook were declared the standard guideline. Those rules went unrevised until 1998. During the late 90s, experts from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein came together to reform German spelling, and the new spelling proposed by them got the government's approval.
Why learn German?
How to learn German?
Is it hard to learn German?
Learning German is not as hard as you may have heard. Especially for English speakers, it is rather an easy language to pick up. Both English and German stem from the same language family called Germanic. Besides, the verb forms in German are far more regular than it is in English, and the irregular verbs also follow some distinct patterns.
What makes it challenging to learn German?
German has four grammatical cases and three genders. You need to master the rules and the exceptions to speak and write the language correctly. Another thing that makes learning German challenging is its vast vocabulary. In German, you can say the same thing in 500 different ways. Also, new terms can be created in German by joining different words and nouns with one or more suffixes. Besides, while writing German, you may have to split a verb into two parts, and the suffix has to be placed at the end of the sentence.
The difference between the spoken and the written language can also confuse a non-native speaker. Spoken German is characterized by several small words that do not have any meaning on their own. You need to give a tone to the sentence to make it meaningful.