German – A Brief Overview, Part 2, Dialects and Lexicon
The spoken language comprised a variety of dialects, which, although a continuum of High German and Low German or Saxon were, nevertheless, often unintelligible to outsiders of a particular geographical area. Although local dialects are still used in oral communication on a regional scale, the official Standard German, also called Hochdeutsch, is used in written and media communication. It is understood by all German-speakers. Its grammatical and orthographic rules, detailed in 1901 in the Duden Book, were revised as a result of the controversial German spelling reform of 1996.
German Alphabet and Lexicon
Most German vocabulary comes from the Germanic idiomatic stock. A significant list of words was borrowed from Latin and Greek, and smaller amounts from French and, more recently, English. German uses the Latin alphabet. To the standard 26 letters are also added three vowels with Umlaut (ü, ö, ä) and the Eszett (or ß). Several German words have enriched the English lexicon, including automat, blitz, delikatessen, kindergarten, realpolitik, rucksack and edelweiss. The standards of the German language are monitored, regulated and upheld by the Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung
Posted September 10, 2014