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History of German
Quick Reference
  ·  Official Language
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy, East-Belgium, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein
  ·  Number of Speakers
approximately 100 million
  ·  Origin
German Language - Old High German dates back to the 8th Century and is similar in many respects to Anglo-Saxon
  ·  Alphabet & Scripts
Roman - Additional Letter ß (Double SS). Traditional Gothic script. (Fraktur) was revived during the 3rd Reich (1933-45) and this can still be seen on some buildings
Today German is spoken by more than 100 million people. Following the American Wars of Independence, the Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia and considered adopting a new language for the future of the United States.

When it came to the vote, English was chosen above German as the language of the new republic - by only one vote!

German a Germanic language, is a member of the Indo-European language family. At some time during the disintegration of the Indo-European Community a group of tribes made their way to north-west Europe and there developed a Bronze Age Culture probably around 2,000 BC.

In time, the Indo-European dialect of the settlers underwent a changes which made it essentially a new language now known as Germanic or Primitive Germanic. By 500 BC, these nomadic tribes had begun to expand from their scattered Scandinavian and North German communities into the heart of the European Continent until finally they were brought to a halt on the frontiers of the Roman Empire.

The stabilising force, which emerged as the Germanic world came to rest, was the Frankish Empire from the fifth century AD to the end of the reign of Charlemagne in 1814. By conquest or peaceful annexation, the Franks gradually drew together all the Germanic peoples of Continental Europe with only the Scandinavian North and Anglo-Saxon Britain remaining separate.

During the centuries that followed there was no standard language of the people but rather a variety of dialects; Low German dialects in the North and High German dialects in Middle and Southern Germany.

The language used from about AD 700-1050 by monks, clerics and the aristocracy is now known as Old High German. However, this does not denote any simple unified language but is rather the collective name for the language of the educated at that time, with its regional variations.

Old High German gradually developed into Middle High German. The common people continued to speak in their dialects and by 1350 a need was becoming felt for a type of German which would be adequate for the whole range of human activity.

The translation of the Bible into Middle German by Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a major contribution to the final victory of this dialect as a common German language. East Middle German formed the basis of the modern standard language we know today.

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Did you know?
There are no "primitive" languages. All languages have a system of sounds, words and sentences that can adequately communicate the content of culture.
German History
German Speaking
» Germany
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