German language


November 28, 2021

German (; [dɔɪ̯ʧ]) is an Indo-European language belonging to the western branch of the Germanic languages. It is the language with the highest number of native speakers of the European continent and the European Union, spoken as the first language and recognized as an official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Namibia (official as a regional language) and in the Italian region of Trentino. -South Tyrol. Within the Germanic group it is the most widespread language in the world after English. As of 2021, it is spoken by 135 million people around the world.

Geographic distribution

German is mainly spoken in Central Europe: in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. With approximately 149 million speakers spread across 38 states, it is a pluricentric language like English. There are in fact German linguistic islands on all continents and some of these communities have existed for several centuries. According to Ethnologue, the German language is the 12th language spoken as the first language (L1) by size: it is spoken in 43 countries by 76.6 million people overall.


German is mainly spoken in Germany (where it is the first language for over 95% of the population), Austria (89%), Switzerland (65%), most of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. German is also one of the three official languages ​​of Belgium, along with Dutch and French. The speakers are mainly concentrated within the German-speaking community of Belgium and make up about 1% of the country's population. In Italy, German is recognized as the first official provincial language (alongside Italian) in South Tyrol. It also enjoys co-official status in Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Val Canale and other Carnic-Germanic linguistic islands) and is admitted as a working language by the municipal administrations in the Walser Valle d'Aosta municipalities of the upper Lys Valley (Gressoney-La-Trinité, Gressoney -Saint-Jean and Issime), where it is an equivalent language of school learning together with French and Italian. Dialects attributable to the linguistic family of German are spoken by the Walser minorities of Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta, by the Mochene minorities of Trentino and by the Carnic-Germanic ones of Sauris, Timau and Sappada in Friuli. The Cimbrian language also belongs to the family of Germanic languages, spoken by the linguistic minority of Cimbri present between Veneto and Trentino. German is also spoken in parts of Poland (Opole Voivodeship), Alsace and Lorraine (France) and in some border centers in the county of South Jutland in Denmark. German-speaking communities can also be found in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, Russia and Kazakhstan. However, the forced expulsion of the Germans after World War II and mass emigration to Germany in the 1980s and 1990s significantly reduced many of these communities.


German is spoken by around 25-30,000 people as a native language in the former German colony of Namibia. Although it has lost its status as the country's official language, it is still used in many areas, especially for business and tourism, as well as in churches (think the German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church of Namibia - GELK), in schools (e.g. the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule Windhoek), in literature (Giselher W. Hoffmann is among the German-Namibian authors), in radio (German-language programs of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation) and in music (for example the rapper EES). There are speakers in South Africa, especially in Wartburg.

North America

In the US, North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states where German is the most common home language after English (the second most spoken language in the other states is Spanish, French or Tagalog).

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