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German – A Brief Overview, Part 1

German-Speaking Country Flags

German-Speaking Country Flags

German (or Deutsch) is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European family. It is spoken by about 100 million people, primarily in Germany, where 95% of the population claims it as their first language, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg. It is also the idiom of choice of communities located in South Tyrol region of Italy, the East Cantons region of Belgium, the Alsace region of France, and South Jutland County in Denmark. In addition, German-speaking ethnic pockets can also be found in Romania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, North and Latin America, and in the former German colony of Namibia. German is also rapidly becoming a dominant language in the Internet world, with 6.9% of the Web population claiming to be German-speaking.

The origins of the German language are traced back to the Migration Period (300-700 A.D.), which marks the transition in Europe from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages and refers to the many waves of mass movement of German and Slavic tribes into the territories of the former Western Roman Empire. Linguistically, these migrations brought the split of High German dialects from common West Germanic. Early High German writings are identified in the Elder Futhark inscriptions, produced in the 6th century. Germany’s millenarian history of geographical fragmentation prevented for a long time the development of a standardized language. Until about 1800, standard German was predominantly a written language.

Posted September 7, 2014

Filed Under: Blog, Language Facts

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