German is among the most widely spoken language in the European Union and is the official language in Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. It’s also one of the official languages of Switzerlandand Luxembourg.
There are other German-speaking communities scattered around Europe, such as in the Province of Bolzano-Bozen in Northern Italy and the Eastern part of Belgium, as well as communities in Eastern Europe, North and South America.
German is considered a difficult language to study by English learners, with its long and winding words, four noun case endings and three grammatical genders and the pronunciation gives every muscle in your mouth a good workout. On the other hand, as both English and German are related, you’ll notice a number of similarities that may make it easier to learn. Also, the compound words are so much fun to learn and the grammar’s considered to be quite logical. Just watch out for the exceptions to the rules.
German is a very descriptive language. Nouns, especially, often combine the object with the activity.
der Staubsauger – the vacuum cleaner, consists of the noun Staub, dust and the verb saugen, to suck, ie. a dustsucker.
das Fernsehen – the television, combines the words fern, far, and sehen, watching, lit. far-watching.
German words can become overwhelmingly long, but just see it as a challenge and read the word slowly out loud.
How many words can you spot in the following compound nouns? Due to the economic crisis, the German government passed the
Wachstumsbeschleunigungsgesetz, growth acceleration act, and the Abwrackprämie, scrappage scheme, or cash for clunkers scheme, to support the German car industry.
If that’s not tongue twister enough for you, here’s a really popular one:
Fischers Fritze fischte frische Fische.
Fisherman Fritz fished fresh fish.
Even tricky in English!
The closest relative of German is Dutch and, believe it or not, English. German sits within the West Germanic arm of the Indo-European language family, together with English, Dutch and Flemish, Frisian, Yiddish, Afrikaans and Luxembourgish. There are certain similarities regarding grammar, syntax and vocabulary with Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Icelandic which, together with Faroese, are among the North Germanic languages. If you’re keen on an East Germanic language, you can always give Gothic or Vandalic a go, although they became extinct a long time ago.