The Significance of the German Language
Today, German (“Deutsch”) is the native language of about 100 million people around the world; it is the official language in 7 countries, and it is among the three most learned languages in the world as well as one of the three principal languages of the European Union.
German is the official language in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein as well as in parts of Belgium and northern Italy. In addition, German is spoken in the French regions of Alsace and Loraine as well as southern Denmark. German has spread around the world with significant German speaking communities in Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Russia. German has even expanded overseas to the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, South Africa, and Namibia, where it is still spoken by German immigrant communities.
Modern German still has many varieties and dialects that are spoken in the different regions. They differ significantly in terms of pronunciation and lexicon and are rather difficult to understand for learners of the German language. Austrian German and Swiss German differ considerably in lexicon and phonology from Standard German which is considered to have originated in the Lower Saxony region in northern Germany, around the city of Hannover.
Due to emigration, not only during World War II, German has spread around the globe. It is widely spoken in parts of the USA and Canada, and German words such as angst, wanderlust, zeitgeist, kindergarten, poltergeist, hinterland, doppelganger, and kraut have found their way into the English language.
Today, German is one of the most important languages in Europe and among the three major languages of the European Union. As the German economy is one of the world’s most advanced market economies and the world’s most export-oriented nation, German is an important language for business and commerce.