One of the world’s major languages with up to 98 million native speakers worldwide, the German language is a West Germanic language with close linguistic links to English and Dutch. The greater part of the vocabulary of the language is derived from Indo-European language family, particularly the Germanic branch, with significant, though lesser, influences from Greek and Latin, and limited derivation from English and French.
The written German language uses the Latin alphabet with the addition of one unique letter and three vowels modified using umlauts. The first recorded usages of the early ancestor of this language, Old High German, can be found as early as the 6th century when a major consonant shift separated it from Old Saxon. It was not for another 200 years, however, that true glosses of the language appeared, and another hundred years after that until texts coherently written purely in the language were created.
As Germany underwent many radical changes and divisions the only entity working consistently to create a standardized German language over the course of several centuries was the contingency of writers that wished to distribute works that could be understood by the largest readership possible.
A brief period existed in which a form now known as “Early New High German” was developed. It began with Martin Luther’s controversial translation of the Bible between the years of 1522 and 1534. His translation was largely based on the standard language used for bureaucratic purposes in Saxony. This language blended the Eastern Upper and Eastern Central dialects of the German language with the grammatical system that had been used in written Middle High German. This differed from the spoken dialects that were beginning to lose grammatical features such as the preterit and the genitive case.
Roman Catholics were not receptive to this translation and instead set out to create their own translation, which in the end differed from the “Protestant” version of the language only slightly, ending the brief developmental period.
Throughout this time, and up until around 1800, the only standardized version of the German language was in the written form. Each region spoke its own distinct dialect and approached the standard language much as you would a foreign language, pronouncing the words as close to their spelling as possible. Though the pronunciation used in northern Germany is considered standard, the actual verbal usage of Standard German still sees fluctuation in the pronunciation depending on the region.
As recently as 1996 and 2007 the German language saw significant change. The former year introduced a spelling reform that was met with controversy and rejection. Some states refused to accept the modifications, and a court ruling declared that only the school system could enforce the reforms and that everyone else could continue to write the language as they had learned. In 2007, however, after a decade with no formal intervention, the old spellings were invalidated and the formal reform was installed.
Germany has a long history that dates back to 750 BC when the Germanic tribes first started becoming more prevalent. In modern times, Nazi Germany was a force in Europe until it was defeated by the Allies in World War II. After the War, Germany was split into two countries, East and West Germany, until it was reunited in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since then, Germany has reemerged as a world economic power with significant influence and buying power.
Berlin is Germany’s largest city as well as its capital. It famously used to have the Berlin Wall that separated East Germany from West Germany. Now, the cityscape is adorned with sky scrapers and historical buildings. Berlin is home to many world famous museums and galleries.
The autobahn is Germany’s network of roads that is famous for the lack of a speed limit in some areas. Due to traffic and weather, however, it is not possible to achieve super high speeds. Vehicles that cannot go above 60 km/h are forbidden on the autobahn. Despite the lack of a speed limit, research has shown that overall traffic safety is comparable to other highways.
The 3 B’s of classical music are made up of 3 famous German composers- Brahms, Beethoven, and Bach. These 3 have had a profound impact on classical music and many of their symphonies are still enjoyed today.
German athletes have fared very well in international competition. In terms of Olympic competition, Germany ranks behind the United States in the amount of medals won. Both the men’s and women’s national soccer teams have won the World Cup three times and two times respectively. Tennis superstars Steffi Graf and Boris Becker hail from Germany as well.
When you think of German engineering, cars is the one term that usually comes to mind right away. Famous German car makers BMW and Mercedes Benz have been in the automobile industry for years and are world renowned for their luxury fleet of automobiles that employ the latest in German technology.