The German Language


Sprechen sie Deutsch?
(Do you speak German?) Deutsch? no, sorry, I don’t speak Dutch Hello language enthusiasts. Welcome to
the Langfocus channel and my name is Paul Today I’m going to talk about the German language. German is a very important language
that deserves all of our attention. It is spoken by 95 million native speakers,
mainly in central Europe but it’s also spoken by an additional 10 to 15 million
second language speakers, especially in Eastern Europe. It is the majority language and
an official language in Germany, of course but also Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein
and the South Tyrol region of Northern Italy. It’s also an official language in Luxembourg and Belgium
but it’s not a majority language there. German is the most widely spoken language
in the European Union. It is also one of the most widely taught languages
in the world with between 75 and 100 million people
having studied it as a foreign language In both, the United States and in Europe,
it is the third most widely taught foreign language. Did you know that one tenth of the world’s books
are published in German ? German is also the second most
widely used scientific language. I know some doctors and all of them have some reading
knowledge of German because so much scientific
research is documented in German. So are you starting to get an idea
of why German is important? German is a member of the West Germanic language family,
which also includes Dutch, Afrikaans, Frisian,
English and Yiddish The West Germanic languages are part of
the wider Germanic language family So let’s take a look at the origins
of the Germanic language family. Wait, actually no. I did this in my last video. So… I’m just going to play that part again
while I go get a coffee and I’ll be right back All Germanic languages developed from Proto-Germanic
which was spoken around 500 BCE Proto-Germanic possibly originated in Scandinavia and different varieties of Germanic
began to emerge with migration. Runic inscriptions from the 2nd century CE show us that,
by that time, Proto-Germanic had began to separate
into distinct Western, Eastern and Northern dialects. Oh sorry. Are you guys waiting for me? Well, let’s move on. The West Germanic dialects were probably closely
related enough to be mutually intelligible
until about the 8th century CE. But, at that time, something was happening that would
split the Germanic language family and give birth to
the German language as we know it today. That was the High Germanic Sound Shift
(or the High Germanic Consonant Shift) Some West Germanic varieties underwent
a number of sound changes. Nine consonants changed to be precise and
this created two distinct groups of Germanic dialects: High German or Hochdeutsh
and Low German or Plattdeutsh And, just out of interest, let me pronounce
these words a different way: High Deutsch and Flat Deutsch.
Hmm… maybe there’s a connection with English. High German dialects arose in the southern areas
of Germany which are at a higher elevation. That’s why they’re called “High German”. The Low German dialects existed in the northern part of
Germany at a lower elevation and also in the Netherlands. These terms do not refer to high and low status but
rather to the elevation of the areas they were spoken in. High German can be further subdivided into 2 segments:
upper German and central German So what were the sound changes that took place?
Well, let’s take a look. These consonant changes took place in three stages: In the first stage, these consonants changed intervocalicly.
That means between vowel sounds. The p sound, the “puh” became a “fuh”. The “t” sound became a “ss”
and the “k” sound became a “ch” Here’s an example for the English word for “sleep”. In Low German it’s “slapen”,
but in German, it’s “schlafen”. In the second stage, these consonants changed at the
beginning of a word and also in some other context like If they are the second letter in a double consonant
or after an L or R So the sound “puh” became “pfuh”
like a “p” and an “f” together. the “t” sound became a “z”; it sounds like a TS sound,
even though it’s written with a Z. And the K sound became a kch
like a k sound followed by ch here’s an example for the english word “tame” In Lower German, it’s “tamm”,
but in High German it’s “zahm”. In the third stage, three more consonants changed : B sound became a P,
D sound became a T, and G sound became a K. Here’s an example for the English word for “day”: In lower German it’s “dag”,
but in High German, it’s “tag”. All of these sound changes took place
in Upper German in the South. but some of them didn’t take place in Central German
and some of them didn’t take place in standard German. But we’ll get to standard German in a minute. So some of you might be thinking :
“well, how did these sounds just switch?” Well, they didn’t instantly switch,
they gradually changed over a period of a few centuries. probably between the 5th century and 8th century CE Over the centuries, the dialect continuum of Low German
and High German grew more and more distinct until there were varieties that
were quite incomprehensible. So someone from the south in Bavaria would have trouble
communicating with someone from Hamburg in the north. But, of course, that was before standard German. The dialects of Low German are often said
to be a separate language from High German, and they’re often said to be halfway
between High German and Dutch Now the Low German dialect actually crosses
the border into the eastern part of the Netherlands
where Low German is also spoken. But these days the Low German dialects
in the north of the country are mostly fading, and basically only older people speak them.
Younger people might understand them
but they tend to use standard German instead But when did standard German come into the picture? Standard German – which, by the way, is also called
Hochdeutsch in German – so don’t be confused
between High German and standard German – originated as a written literary language
that developed over a few hundred years. as writers tried to write in a way that would be
understood by the largest number of people possible
from different dialect areas. But perhaps the most important factor in the
development of standard German was the translation of
the Bible into German by Martin Luther in the year 1522. He based his translation on the Saxon dialect of
central German, while including some vocabulary
from other dialects as well. Virtually all speakers of German dialects owned
a copy of the new Bible and studied it effectively,
popularizing this form of written German. Originally there was no single way to pronounce
this written form of German but… eventually the dialect of Hanover became the standard
for pronunciation of standard German. Standard German includes some of the sounds
of the High German Consonant Shift but not all of them because it was influenced
by the dialect of Hanover. So standard German began as a written language
but as it became the language of education, it became more widespread as the formal spoken language
and it also influence the local dialects. Today pretty much everyone can speak standard
German even if they speak a local dialect casually and many local dialects have become largely replaced by standard German, especially the Low German dialects in the north of the country. But there are still some dialects that are quite distinct
and still thriving like the Bavarian dialect in the southeast. German is considered a pluricentric language.
That means that there are multiple standard
varieties of the language There is one standard language in Germany,
one in Austria and one in Switzerland. All of these standard varieties are pretty much the same,
except for some different vocabulary. But, of course, those are the standard language.
Switzerland and Austria and also South Tirol which is
related to Austria have their own dialects as well The Austrian dialects are related
to the Bavarian dialects in South East Germany. And the Swiss dialects are related to
the alemannic dialects in southwest Germany. Maybe, you saw my video about the languages
of Switzerland. It’s this one right here. And, in that video, I talked about how the Swiss
German dialects are kind of incomprehensible
to speakers of standard German, unless they also speak an Alemannic dialect
from the border area. But, of course, that’s talking about the Swiss German dialects. German-speaking Swiss can speak standard German,
even if they tend to use it less than people in Germany. Of course, they might pronounce standard German
with the different accent, but that’s no big deal. In Austria and South Tirol, the situation is similar. There are dialects that might be hard to understand for
people from some other German-speaking countries
but, of course, standard German is the bridge. These countries are all part of the German “Sprachraum”
which means the geographic area over which
that language is spoken. And within that “Sprachraum”,
standard German is the “dachsprache” That means the umbrella language under which
all of those dialects can come together. Those 2 German terms I just used “Sprachraum” and “Dachprache” are common linguistic terms. And I think that shows just how much influence
the German language has over academic areas
of research, like linguistics. So, what is the german language like? Well, it’s closely related to English which is obvious
when we look at the most basic sentences. Here’s an example. “I buy books often”=”Ich kaufe häufig Bücher” Here, the word order is SVO, like an English except that
the adverb comes before the object instead of after it. Here’s another example with an important twist. “I will buy the book today”=
“Ich werde das Buch heute kaufen” In this case, we see one of the most confusing things
for learners of German, which is the placement of the second verb
at the end of the sentence. So if there’s a helping verb like “will” or “werde”, it is in
the normal SVO position but the main verb goes at the end. Another example: [EN] “The book was interesting”=
[DE] “Das Buch war interessant” And one more example : [EN “I like people who work hard”
[DE] “Ich mag Menschen, die hart arbeiten” Another thing that learners of German find
challenging is the case system in German. In German, pronouns and nouns change form
depending on their function in the sentence. but, along with them, the articles
and adjectives also change. Here’s an example of German grammatical cases,
using the noun meaning TABLE (Rem: not “book”) You can see that the change takes place not only
in the noun but also in the definite article as well. The work for “table” is a masculine noun in German. But there are actually 3 genders in German. There are
masculine nouns, feminine nouns and neuter nouns. And for each of them, the case forms are different and
all of these different forms also apply to adjectives,
which drives learners crazy. So, while German is closely related to English,
“the devil is in the details”. Even though most of the other Germanic languages are
classified as category 1 languages by the FSI,
German is classified as category 2. It’s closely related to English and they have a lot in
common in terms of the general syntax and vocabulary, but, when it comes to the fine details of grammar,
there are some challenges for learners. But, as alwaysn if you are interested
in German-speaking cultures and countries, or if you would like to benefit from the widespread use
of German, then don’t hesitate to start learning. All challenges become adventures
when you become fascinated. The question of the day, German speakers: Do you think there’s anything unique or special
or interesting about your local variety of German? And how do other varieties of German sound to you? Let us know in the comments down below.
And everyone else, jump in and let’s discuss. Thank you for watching and have a nice day.

5 thoughts on “The German Language

  1. Außerordentlich spannend 🙂
    Da wirdi etzä vermuetlich au ds video übr üüseri schwiizer dialäggt mösä gu aaluegä. ^^

  2. 10:49 Well said. Even native speakers like us have sometimes difficulties with it, because there are no rules which tell us which word is masculine (der), feminine (die) or neutral (das), unless you know the subject. A "Junge" (boy) is obviously male, hence "der Junge". But what about words like "der Bus" (the bus)? How is a bus masculine in German?

  3. Nobody:

    Germans: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis

    Me: what does that mean?

    Germans: lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust.

  4. There are so many dialects, variants or accents of German in Germany (including those in Austria and Switzerland) that it is so much fun listening to local people expressing themselves in their regional tongue. It is a musical experience and most of the time it is amusing. The road to success and fame for German stand up comedians or comedy artists is using a dialect that is considered to be amusing. Number one: the dialects of Bavaria. Listen to Gerhard Polt and test your German.

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