German Language Facts
If you’re thinking about learning German it’s always good to know a little about the origins and history of the language you are learning. Here, Cactus Language offers up our most interesting German language facts:
5 Interesting German Language Facts
1. German is part of the West Germanic languages, along with English and Dutch
With what is today’s Germany being divided up into numerous small states for centuries, German was standardised primarily by its literature, as writers sought to be understood by as many readers as possible. As Germany’s unification started during the 19th century, standards were adopted. The Deutsches Wörterbuch, today’s largest German dictionary in existence, was begun by the Brothers Grimm in 1838.
2. German is spoken by 95 million native speakers worldwide
German is the European Union’s most widely spoken native language. German Sprachraum refers to the Central Europe German-speaking area, which includes Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is also an official language in South Tyrol (Italy), Belgium and Luxembourg, and a minority language in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Namibia.
3. German is famous for its extensive use of long words
Some German words are so long that the longest German word is now obsolete: Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, meaning “the law concerning the delegation of duties for the supervision of cattle marking and the labeling of beef”, has been deemed too unpractical for bureaucrats.
4. German has its own unique words which can’t be translated in other languages
Like most languages. Useful examples include:
- Luftschloss: this word literally means “castle in the sky” and is used to describe someone’s unrealistic dream.
- Blaumachen: similar to the expression “Blue Monday”, this words means ditching school or work.
- Heimat: both a positive word and a very German concept, it describes the relationship between a person and his/her homeland.
5. Until the mid-20th century, German was written using a different script of the Latin alphabet
The script was called the Fraktur script. This form of Gothic script was introduced in the 16th century and remained in use until the Second World War.
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