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GERMAN


German language, German Deutsch, official language of both Germany and Austria and one of the three official languages of Switzerland. German belongs to the West Germanic group of the Indo-European language family, along with English, Frisian, and Dutch (Netherlandic, Flemish). Thus probably ranks sixth in number of native speakers among the languages of the world (after Chinese, English, Hindi-Urdu, Spanish, and Russian). German is widely studied as a foreign language and is one of the main cultural languages of the Western world.

 

German is the official language in seven countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, as well as parts of Italy and Belgium.

 

Table of Contents

 

History

The earliest known examples of written German date from the 8th century AD and consist of fragments of an epic poem, the Song of Hildebrand, magical charms and German glosses in Latin manuscripts. A short Latin-German dictionary, the Abrogans, was written during the 760s.

 

German literature started to take off during the 12th and 13th centuries in the form of poems, epics and romances. Well known examples include the epic Nibelungenlied (the Song of the Nibelungs) and Gottfried von Straßburg's Tristan. The language used is now known asmittelhochdeutsche Dichtersprache (Middle High German poetic language). During this period Latin was gradually replaced by German as the language of official documents.

 

German belongs to the three most learned languages in the world as well as the ten most widely spoken languages in the world.

 

Dialects

Alemannic dialects, which developed in the southwestern part of the Germanic speech area, differ considerably in sound system and grammar from standard High German. These dialects are spoken in Switzerland, western Austria, Swabia, and Liechtenstein and in the Alsace region of France. Yiddish, the language of the Ashkenazic Jews (Jews whose ancestors lived in Germany in the European Middle Ages), also developed from High German.

 

German language on websites

German language on websites ranks on 5th on its content available on net and it is 6.2 % in terms of percentage. German is among the top five most widely used languages on the Internet.

 

Number of speakers

It has about 100 million speakers in the world.

 

References

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/230814/German-language

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/german.htm

 

 

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