The official language used in Germany is German, which is among the languages of the West Germanic subdivision of the Indo-European language group. The German language is closely associated with English, Afrikaans, Low German, Dutch, and Frisian. The history of German goes back to the early Middle Ages when the first written text in Old German emerged in 9th century AD. Old German is so different from the modern language such that the speakers would not understand each other. It was in the 1700s that contemporary German developed. The German alphabet is similar to the English alphabet. However, there are extra letters such as ä, ö, ü and ß that are not found the English alphabet.

In Germany, over 95% of the population speaks German. Romani is spoken by about 0.08% of the population while Sorbian, which is spoken in the east of Germany is used by 0.09%. North Frisian used in Nor Friesland by approximately ten thousand people who make 0.01%, and Danish which is used by 0.06%, especially near the Danish border. Other languages include Kurdish, at 0.3%, and Turkish, spoken by about 1.8% of the population.

The German vocabulary is mainly founded on that of the Germanic branch of languages, but few words also stem from English, Latin, Greek, and French. Words borrowed from English include "ozean" to mean ocean, "debatte" for debate, "haus" for house, "Januar" for January, among others. There are also similar words in both languages that mean different things. Such words include "spring", which is a season in English but also means jump in German and "kind" meaning nice in English but child in German. Common useful German words and phrases include "guten morgen" for good morning, and "danke" which means thank you.

Apart from German which is widely spoken as the first language, there are other minority languages in Germany. One of them is Low German which is mainly spoken in northern Germany. This language is different from the Standard German and is closely connected to Frisian, English, and Dutch. The second minority language is Low Sorbian, which is mainly used in Lower Lusatia historical province especially by the elderly. However, this language is close to extinction. Upper Sorbian is a minority language used in Germany’s historical Upper Lusatia province. Frisia is used by residents of North Frisian region of Germany. Other Minority Languages found in Germany are Danish and Romani.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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