German language


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Wikipedia.

German language,

member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languagesGermanic languages,
subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages, spoken by about 470 million people in many parts of the world, but chiefly in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
..... Click the link for more information.
). It is the official language of Germany and Austria and is one of the official languages of Switzerland. Altogether nearly 100 million people speak German as their first language, among them about 77 million in Germany; 8 million in Austria; 4.5 million in Switzerland; 2 million in the United States and Canada; about 2 million in Latin America; and several additional millions throughout Europe, including the Baltic republics, Belarus, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, and the Balkan states. German is important as a cultural and commercial second language for millions of people in Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe and in North and South America.

High and Low German

There are two principal divisions of the German language: High German, or Hochdeutsch, and Low German, or Plattdeutsch. One of the most striking differences between them is the result of a consonant shift (usually referred to as the second, or High German, sound shift) that took place before the 8th cent. A.D. in certain West Germanic dialects. This sound shift affected the southern areas, which are more elevated and hence referred to as the High German region, whereas it left untouched the Low German prevalent in the lowland regions of the North. In a broader and purely linguistic sense, the term Low German can also be extended to cover all the West Germanic languages in which the second sound shift did not take place, such as Dutch, Frisian, and English.

Distinctive Features

Besides differences in word order, the German language is unlike English in that German makes extensive use of inflectional endings. The verb is inflected to show person, number, tense, and mood; and the subjunctive is frequently used. The declensional scheme has four cases: nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative. There are two ways of declining the adjective, and there are three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. A distinctive feature of German is its extensive use of lengthy compound words. For example, the English "history of antiquity" is translated into German as Altertumswissenschaft; the English "worthy of distinction" is translated as auszeichnungswürdig.

The Gothic or Black Letter form (in German called Fraktur) of the Roman alphabet, which first appeared in Europe around the 12th cent., is now rarely used, although knowledge of Fraktur is needed in order to read many works printed before 1945. The Roman alphabet is now exclusively used in printing. To it were added the symbol ß, representing a voiceless s (as in English mouse), now often replaced with ss; and the umlauted vowels ä, ö, and ü. German is the only language in which all nouns are capitalized, common as well as proper. There is a closer relationship between German spelling and pronunciation than there is in English.

History of German

Historically, German falls into three main periods: Old German (c.A.D. 750–c.A.D. 1050); Middle German (c.1050–c.1500); and Modern German (c.1500 to the present). The earliest existing records in German date back to about A.D. 750. In this first period, local dialects were used in writing, and there was no standard language. In the middle period a relatively uniform written language developed in government after the various chancelleries of the Holy Roman Empire began, in the 14th cent., to use a combination of certain dialects of Middle High German in place of the Latin that until then had dominated official writings.

The German of the chancellery of Saxony was adapted by Martin LutherLuther, Martin,
1483–1546, German leader of the Protestant Reformation, b. Eisleben, Saxony, of a family of small, but free, landholders. Early Life and Spiritual Crisis

Luther was educated at the cathedral school at Eisenach and at the Univ.
..... Click the link for more information.
 for his translation of the Bible. He chose it because at that time the language of the chancelleries alone stood out in a multitude of dialects as a norm, and Luther thought he could reach many more people through it. The modern period is usually said to begin with the German used by Luther, which became the basis of Modern High German, or modern standard German. The spread of uniformity in written German was also helped by printers, who, like Luther, wanted to attract as many readers as possible.

During the 18th cent. a number of outstanding writers gave modern standard German essentially the form it has today. It is now the language of church and state, education and literature. A corresponding norm for spoken High German, influenced by the written standard, is used in education, the theater, and broadcasting. German dialects that differ substantially from standard German, not only in pronunciation but also in grammar, are found in regions of Germany, E France, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein; Lëtzeburgesch, an official language of Luxembourg, is a German dialect spoken by about 400,000 people there. Although dialectal differences within both the High German and Low German regions remain, a trend toward uniformity in the direction of the written standard is expected partly as a result of widespread broadcasting, diminishing isolation, and increased socioeconomic mobility.

Bibliography

See B. A. Reichenbach, Handbook of German Grammar (1987); W. B. Lockwood German Today (1987); W. M. Rivers, Teaching German (1988); C. V. J. Russ, ed., The Dialects of Modern German (1989); A. E. Hammer, German Grammar and Usage (1989).

References in periodicals archive ?
Under the agreement, teacher exchange visits will be scheduled, in addition to strengthening the supervision of university research projects in the German language department which has 250 students, the Dean of the Faculty told TAP.
The German President awarded the translator of the German Embassy and the German language teacher with the Order for merits before Germany.
Senior official of the ICCBS: University of Karachi said that this course will be coordinated through the Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Centre (ICCBS: University of Karachi) in collaboration with the German language expert at Goethe-Institute, Karachi.
The Goethe Institute is a nonprofit German cultural association that operates worldwide, promoting the study of the German language abroad, and encouraging international cultural exchanges and bilateral relations.
If available, interested candidates are also advised to submit proof of attendance and/or level certificate for German language, a copy of their valid passport and their certificate of POEA online Pre-employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) which applicants can take by logging on peos.poea.gov.ph.
The required documents are cover letter and curriculum vitae with colored passport size picture; High School Diploma (notarized copy); Nursing Diploma (notarized copy); Board Certificate and copy of license from the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC); Certificates of employment in related field (previous and current) (notarized copy); Attendance and/or level certificate for German language, if available; Copy of valid Passport; and Certificate of POEA online Pre-employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) (peos.poea.gov.ph).
Paul held services in German until the mid 1930's and the congregation's Lutheran school taught the German language until the late 1970's.
German Ambassador Franz Josef Kremp said the embassies of Germany, Austria and Switzerland deem it necessary to show off German culture because they have witnessed a 'dramatic drop' in students learning the German language in schools, mostly due to the latest education reform that was implemented in Cyprus.
Hui-Wen High School is the sixth high school in Taiwan to join the PASCH network with established German language programs, supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.
All changes in the German language (including the word-formation system) in the pre-literary period are prone to the influence of Vulgar Latin and Gallo-Romance.
The group, comprising 12 female and 3 male students, will travel to GUtech's partner university in Germany, RWTH Aachen University, in August 2018 to attend a three-week German Language and Culture Course.
Freeport, ME, August 23, 2017 --(PR.com)-- Wayside Publishing, an educational textbook publisher known for Triangulo Aprobado for AP Spanish and APprenons for AP French, has just released a new edition of its popular Neue Blickwinkel for AP German Language and Culture instruction.