If, as an expat in Germany, you have started to learn a bit of German, odds are you have had some tee hee already. Although the language is somehow close to English, you can hear some familiar words at times. For example, Fahrt. For sure, any English speaker could conceal a smile when they hear this word from Germans.
For them, this word might seem funny because it has an entirely different meaning in their language. But in the German language, it means journey or drive. So, whenever you see a board written, Auf Wiedersehen und Gute Fahrt, Einfahrt, or anything related, don’t misinterpret the last word. Remember, in German, this word has a different meaning.
However, the fun doesn’t end here! There are several fun facts about learning the German language that would leave you amazed! So, before we dive into the fun facts, let’s take a sneak peek at the origin of the German language origin and its evolution.
Origin of German Language and Evolution
German is one of the most popular Indo-Germanic languages out there. It is the official language of Liechtenstein, Austria, and Germany and co-official of Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the European Union. The language history goes back to the Early Middle Ages when Old High German dialects were separated from Old Saxon.
The Old High German testimonials are from strewed Elder Futhark’s writings from the sixth century AD. Whereas, the ancient coherent texts are from the 9th century. That was the era when Germany was divided into several different states.
Within the Holy Roman Empire, the Germanic-speaking area was categorized into Frisian, Saxon, Frankish, Bavarian, and Alemannic. The writers of the era used to write in such a way that masses of the largest area could understand it. Certainly, it was one of the crucial ways for language unification.
When it comes to German Language History, there were three periods.
1. Old German (c. 750 – c. 1050)- This period did not have any standard language. The language people used to speak and write was influenced by the High German Consonant shift. The grammatical system was quite similar to Old Saxon, Old Dutch, and Old English. However, by the mid 11th century, the inflexion grammar of German was simplified. This happened due to vowel reduction in unstressed syllables. That is the reason 1050 was known to be the beginning of the Middle High German period.
2. Middle German (c.1050 – c.1500)- The Middle German language has basically no standardized spelling. It includes a different combination of Middle High German dialects replacing Latin. The language was also used in official writings of 0the era. Texts were written in Gothic minuscules, in the Latin Alphabet. The main features of this language are:
No vowel length marking
No umlauted vowels making
Use of semivowels on the original texts like /j/ and /w/.
This was basically spoken from 1100-1500, dividing into East Low Saxon and West Low Saxon. Middle Dutch was spoken in the Middle and West high Germs in the South. In fact, it was substituted by Early New High German.
3. Modern German (c.1500 to the present)- This period is said to start with the German used by Luther. It then became the basis of modern standard German and Modern High German. During the 18th century, it has become the language of the state, church, literature, and education. Many modern writers provided this modern language with the form it has now.
Click here to know more about the origin and history of the German language.
Richness of Language: Average Number of Words in German Vocabulary
To be precise, there are 26 letters, a ligature (ß)- sharp “S”, ”eszett” or”scharfes S and 3 umlauts Ä, Ö, Ü in the German alphabet. As compound nouns are infinite, they are not included in the German dictionaries. According to research, the German language has more than 5.3 billion words. Out of which, one-third of the words were added in the last decade. Therefore, as compared to English, the German language has eight times more words.
In 2017, the Duden dictionary editors added more words, making the total count of 23 million words approximately. On the other hand, the Leo online dictionary is around. Despite having many words, the average speaker only uses 12,000 to 16,000 words in their vocabulary, including about 3.500 foreign words.
Learning the German Language
The pronunciation of German alphabets is quite similar to English. Have a look below:
A = ah
B = bay
C = tsay
D = day
E = ay
F = eff
G = gay
H = hah
I = eeh
J = yot
K = kah
L = ell
M = em
N = en
O = oh
P = pay
Q = koo
R = air
S = es
T = tay
U = ooh
V = fow
W = vay
X = iks
Y = oopsilon
Z = tset
Aren’t a few alphabets have the same pronunciation?
Basically, both German and English are Germanic languages, and therefore, there are several similarities between these two. Learning German depends on the learner and his first language.
The difference in grammar rules can make learning German a bit harder than English and French. This is because the German language has different sets of rules which don’t apply to most widely spoken Latin-based languages.
But did you know there are several fun facts about the German language? Let’s read them out.
Fun Facts about the German Language
German is the 11th most widely spoken language worldwide.
German is the official language of 6 countries– Germany, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Austra, South Tyrol (Italy), and Belgium.
German is the mother language or a second language of approximately 130 million people.
German and English are sisters from different mothers.
Some German words do not have English Translation.
All nouns are capitalized in German.
German has three-word genders– masculine, feminine, and neuter, which signifies three grammatical categories.
Bizarre and Hilarious Proverbs such as Lass die Kirche im Dorf. In German, it means leaving the church in the village, and in English, it means asking someone just to calm down and avoid exaggerating. Another most delightful proverb is Das ist Nicht Bier (That’s not your beer), which in English translates, ‘it’s none of your business.’
Endless long Words- Germans loves ϋber-long words. It means they can combine as many words as possible by combining two or more nouns by connectors to create a new word. For example
Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung motor vehicle liability insurance
So, next time if you listen or see any long, bizarre words, don’t panic!
Undoubtedly, learning German is an amazing experience for language-lovers. For more fun facts, click here.
Learn More About MW Expand Solutions
MW Expat Solution was founded with the objective of helping expats in Germany navigate through the maze of health care insurance, expat insurance, savings, and investment products. As a team of English-speaking advisors fully committed to helping clients with simple, transparent solutions for their financial needs- MW Expat Solution advisors provide the best package designed for clients’ specific needs and the best cover to protect them.