German language

Native toGerman-speaking Europe
RegionGermany, Austria and Switzerland
EthnicityGerman-speaking peoples
Native speakers
90 million (2010) to 95 million (2014)
L2 speakers: 10–15 million (2014)[1]
Early forms
Standard forms
Latin (German alphabet)
German Braille
Signed German, LBG
(Lautsprachbegleitende / Lautbegleitende Gebärden)
Official status
Official language in

Several international institutions
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byNo official regulation
(German orthography regulated by the Council for German Orthography)[2]
Language codes
deu (T)
ISO 639-3Variously:
deu – German
gmh – Middle High German
goh – Old High German
gct – Colonia Tovar German
bar – Bavarian
cim – Cimbrian
geh – Hutterite German
ksh – Kölsch
nds – Low German[note 1]
sli – Lower Silesian
ltz – Luxembourgish[note 2]
vmf – Mainfränkisch
mhn – Mòcheno
pfl – Palatinate German
pdc – Pennsylvania German
pdt – Plautdietsch[note 3]
swg – Swabian German
gsw – Swiss German
uln – Unserdeutsch
sxu – Upper Saxon
wae – Walser German
wep – Westphalian
hrx – Riograndenser Hunsrückisch
yec – Yenish
high1287  High Franconian[4]
uppe1397  Upper German[5]
Linguasphere52-AC (Continental West Germanic)
52-ACB (Deutsch & Dutch)
52-ACB-d (Central German incl.
52-ACB–dl & -dm Standard/Generalised High German)
52-ACB-e & -f
(Upper- and Swiss German)
52-ACB-h (émigré German varieties incl. 52-ACB-hc Hutterite German & 52-ACB-he Pennsylvania German etc.)

52-ACB-i (Yenish);
Totalling 285 varieties: 52-ACB-daa to 52-ACB-i
Legal statuses of German in the world.svg
  (Co-)Official and majority language
  Co-official, but not majority language
  Statutory minority/cultural language
  Non-statutory minority language
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German (Deutsch, pronounced [dɔʏtʃ] (About this soundlisten)) is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages that are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

One of the major languages of the world, German is a native language to almost 100 million people worldwide and the most widely spoken native language in the European Union.[6] German is the third most commonly spoken foreign language in the EU after English and French, making it the second biggest language in the EU in terms of overall speakers. German is also the second most widely taught foreign language in the EU after English at primary school level (but third after English and French at lower secondary level), the fourth most widely taught non-English language in the US (after Spanish, French and American Sign Language), and the second most commonly used scientific language as well as the third most widely used language on websites after English and Russian. The German-speaking countries are ranked fifth in terms of annual publication of new books, with one tenth of all books (including e-books) in the world being published in the German language. In the United Kingdom, German and French are the most sought-after foreign languages for businesses (with 49% and 50% of businesses identifying these two languages as the most useful, respectively).[7]

German is an inflected language with four cases for nouns, pronouns and adjectives (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative), three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), two numbers (singular, plural), and strong and weak verbs. It derives the majority of its vocabulary from the ancient Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. A portion of the words are derived from Latin and Greek, and fewer are borrowed from French and Modern English. With standardized variants (German, Austrian and Swiss Standard German), German is a pluricentric language. It is also notable for its broad spectrum of dialects, with many unique varieties existing in Europe and also other parts of the world. Italy recognizes all the German minorities in its territory as national historic minorities and protects the varieties of German spoken in several regions of Northern Italy besides South Tyrol.[8] [9] Due to the limited intelligibility between certain varieties and Standard German, as well as the lack of an undisputed, scientific difference between a "dialect" and a "language", some German varieties or dialect groups (e.g. Low German or Plautdietsch[3]) are alternatively referred to as "languages" or "dialects".


Modern Standard German is a West Germanic language descended from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Germanic languages are traditionally subdivided into three branches: North Germanic, East Germanic, and West Germanic. The first of these branches survives in modern Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Faroese, and Icelandic, all of which are descended from Old Norse. The East Germanic languages are now extinct, and the only historical member of this branch from which written texts survive is Gothic. The West Germanic languages, however, have undergone extensive dialectal subdivision and are now represented in modern languages such as English, German, Dutch, Yiddish, Afrikaans, and others.[10]

The Germanic languages in Europe

Within the West Germanic language dialect continuum, the Benrath and Uerdingen lines (running through Düsseldorf-Benrath and Krefeld-Uerdingen, respectively) serve to distinguish the Germanic dialects that were affected by the High German consonant shift (south of Benrath) from those that were not (north of Uerdingen). The various regional dialects spoken south of these lines are grouped as High German dialects (nos. 29–34 on the map), while those spoken to the north comprise the Low German/Low Saxon (nos. 19–24) and Low Franconian (no. 25) dialects. As members of the West Germanic language family, High German, Low German, and Low Franconian can be further distinguished historically as Irminonic, Ingvaeonic, and Istvaeonic, respectively. This classification indicates their historical descent from dialects spoken by the Irminones (also known as the Elbe group), Ingvaeones (or North Sea Germanic group), and Istvaeones (or Weser-Rhine group).[10]

Standard German is based on a combination of Thuringian-Upper Saxon and Upper Franconian and Bavarian dialects, which are Central German and Upper German dialects, belonging to the Irminonic High German dialect group (nos. 29–34). German is therefore closely related to the other languages based on High German dialects, such as Luxembourgish (based on Central Franconian dialectsno. 29), and Yiddish. Also closely related to Standard German are the Upper German dialects spoken in the southern German-speaking countries, such as Swiss German (Alemannic dialectsno. 34), and the various Germanic dialects spoken in the French region of Grand Est, such as Alsatian (mainly Alemannic, but also Central- and Upper Franconian (no. 32) dialects) and Lorraine Franconian (Central Franconian – no. 29).

After these High German dialects, standard German is (somewhat less closely) related to languages based on Low Franconian dialects (e.g. Dutch and Afrikaans) or Low German/Low Saxon dialects (spoken in northern Germany and southern Denmark), neither of which underwent the High German consonant shift. As has been noted, the former of these dialect types is Istvaeonic and the latter Ingvaeonic, whereas the High German dialects are all Irminonic; the differences between these languages and standard German are therefore considerable. Also related to German are the Frisian languages—North Frisian (spoken in Nordfrieslandno. 28), Saterland Frisian (spoken in Saterlandno. 27), and West Frisian (spoken in Frieslandno. 26)—as well as the Anglic languages of English and Scots. These Anglo-Frisian dialects are all members of the Ingvaeonic family of West Germanic languages which did not take part in the High German consonant shift.

Other Languages
Адыгэбзэ: Джэрмэныбзэ
адыгабзэ: Германыбзэ
Afrikaans: Duits
Alemannisch: Deutsche Sprache
አማርኛ: ጀርመንኛ
Ænglisc: Þēodsc sprǣc
aragonés: Idioma alemán
armãneashti: Limba ghermãnescã
arpetan: Alemand
asturianu: Idioma alemán
Avañe'ẽ: Alemañañe'ẽ
Aymar aru: Aliman aru
azərbaycanca: Alman dili
تۆرکجه: آلمان دیلی
Bân-lâm-gú: Tek-gí
Basa Banyumasan: Basa Jerman
башҡортса: Немец теле
беларуская: Нямецкая мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Нямецкая мова
भोजपुरी: जर्मन भाषा
Bikol Central: Tataramon na Aleman
български: Немски език
Boarisch: Deitsche Sproch
བོད་ཡིག: འཇར་མན་སྐད།
bosanski: Njemački jezik
brezhoneg: Alamaneg
català: Alemany
Чӑвашла: Нимĕç чĕлхи
Cebuano: Inaleman
čeština: Němčina
Cymraeg: Almaeneg
davvisámegiella: Duiskkagiella
ދިވެހިބަސް: އަލްމާނީ
dolnoserbski: Nimšćina
eesti: Saksa keel
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Tedèsch
español: Idioma alemán
Esperanto: Germana lingvo
estremeñu: Luenga alemana
euskara: Aleman
Fiji Hindi: German bhasa
føroyskt: Týskt mál
français: Allemand
Frysk: Dútsk
Fulfulde: Almankoore
Gaelg: Germaanish
Gàidhlig: Gearmailtis
ГӀалгӀай: Немций мотт
贛語: 德語
ગુજરાતી: જર્મન ભાષા
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Tet-ngî
хальмг: Немшин келн
한국어: 독일어
հայերեն: Գերմաներեն
Արեւմտահայերէն: Գերմաներէն
हिन्दी: जर्मन भाषा
hornjoserbsce: Němčina
hrvatski: Njemački jezik
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: জার্মান ঠার
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Jerman
interlingua: Lingua german
Interlingue: German
isiXhosa: IsiJamani
isiZulu: IsiJalimani
íslenska: Þýska
italiano: Lingua tedesca
עברית: גרמנית
Kabɩyɛ: Caama kʊnʊŋ
kalaallisut: Tyskisut
къарачай-малкъар: Немец тил
kaszëbsczi: Miemiecczi jãzëk
қазақша: Неміс тілі
kernowek: Almaynek
Kinyarwanda: Ikidage
Kiswahili: Kijerumani
Kongo: Kidoitce
Kreyòl ayisyen: Lang alman
Кыргызча: Немис тили
لۊری شومالی: زڤون آلمانی
latviešu: Vācu valoda
Lëtzebuergesch: Däitsch
лезги: Немец чIал
lietuvių: Vokiečių kalba
Limburgs: Duits
lingála: Lialémani
Lingua Franca Nova: Deutx (lingua)
Livvinkarjala: Germuanien kieli
la .lojban.: dotybau
lumbaart: Lengua Tudesca
magyar: Német nyelv
मैथिली: जर्मन भाषा
македонски: Германски јазик
Malagasy: Fiteny alemana
മലയാളം: ജർമ്മൻ ഭാഷ
Māori: Reo Tiamana
მარგალური: გერმანული ნინა
مازِرونی: آلمانی زبون
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Jerman
Minangkabau: Bahaso Jerman
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Dáik-ngṳ̄
Mirandés: Lhéngua almana
монгол: Герман хэл
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဂျာမန်ဘာသာစကား
Dorerin Naoero: Dorerin Djermani
Nederlands: Duits
Nedersaksies: Duuts
नेपाली: जर्मन भाषा
नेपाल भाषा: जर्मन भाषा
日本語: ドイツ語
Napulitano: Lengua germanese
нохчийн: Немцойн мотт
Nordfriisk: Tjüsch
Norfuk / Pitkern: Jirman
norsk: Tysk
norsk nynorsk: Tysk
Nouormand: Allemaund
Novial: Germanum
occitan: Alemand
олык марий: Немыч йылме
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Nemis tili
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਜਰਮਨ ਭਾਸ਼ਾ
Pälzisch: Deutsche Sprache
Pangasinan: Salitan Alemano
پنجابی: جرمن
Papiamentu: Alemán
Patois: Joerman
Перем Коми: Немеч кыв
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ភាសាអាល្លឺម៉ង់
Picard: Alemant
Piemontèis: Lenga tedësca
Tok Pisin: Tok Jeman
Plattdüütsch: Düütsche Spraak
português: Língua alemã
Qaraqalpaqsha: Nemis tili
qırımtatarca: Alman tili
reo tahiti: Reo Heremani
Ripoarisch: Dütsche Sprooch
română: Limba germană
romani čhib: Jermanikani chib
rumantsch: Lingua tudestga
Runa Simi: Aliman simi
русиньскый: Нїмецькый язык
саха тыла: Ниэмэс тыла
Gagana Samoa: Fa'asiamani
संस्कृतम्: जर्मन् भाषा
Seeltersk: Düütsk
Sesotho: Sejeremane
Sesotho sa Leboa: Sejeremane
Setswana: Sejeremane
sicilianu: Lingua tidesca
Simple English: German language
SiSwati: SíJalimáne
slovenčina: Nemčina
slovenščina: Nemščina
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Нѣмьчьскъ ѩꙁꙑкъ
ślůnski: Mjymjecko godka
Soomaaliga: Af-Jarmal
српски / srpski: Немачки језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Njemački jezik
svenska: Tyska
Tagalog: Wikang Aleman
Taqbaylit: Tutlayt Talmant
tarandíne: Lènga tedesche
татарча/tatarça: Alman tele
తెలుగు: జర్మన్ భాష
Türkçe: Almanca
Türkmençe: Nemes dili
удмурт: Немец кыл
українська: Німецька мова
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: نېمىس تىلى
Vahcuengh: Vah Dwzgoz
vepsän kel’: Saksan kel'
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Đức
Volapük: Deutänapük
文言: 德語
West-Vlams: Duuts
Winaray: Inaleman
吴语: 德语
ייִדיש: דייטש
粵語: 德文
Zazaki: Almanki
Zeêuws: Duuts
žemaitėška: Vuokītiu kalba
中文: 德语
kriyòl gwiyannen: Anlman