Die deutsche Sprache/the German Language: an Overview

Mercredi 03 mars 2021

*Why learn German/Warum Warum Deutsch lernen?*

The German language is spoken as a native language by 100 million people -- the most spoken native language in the European Union, and the second most learned. It is the second most used scientific language and the third most used online after English and Russian. One tenth of all books in the world are published in German!

Die deutsche Sprache wird von 100 Millionen Menschen als Muttersprache gesprochen -- die am meisten gesprochene Muttersprache in der Europäischen Union und die am zweithäufigsten gelernte. Sie ist die zweithäufigste wissenschaftliche Sprache und die dritthäufigste Online-Sprache nach Englisch und Russisch. Ein Zehntel aller Bücher der Welt erscheint in deutscher Sprache.

It is an official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and parts of Italy and Belgium. But German has many different dialects that may be considered different languages and each country has a different standard version. So, learn the version of the country you are going to!

Es ist eine Amtssprache in Deutschland, Österreich, der Schweiz, Luxemburg, Liechtenstein sowie in Teilen Italiens und Belgiens. Aber Deutsch hat viele verschiedene Dialekte, die als verschiedene Sprachen angesehen werden können, und jedes Land hat eine andere Standardversion. Lernen Sie also die Version des Landes, in das Sie reisen werden!

Besides being used in *science* by people like Albert Einstein, Leibniz and Max Planck, you might want to read literature and philosophy.

In *literature,* you might want to read Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Brothers Grimm (who wrote Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and others) and Nobel prize winner Thomas Mann.

In *philosophy,* you might want to read Karl Marx, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Engels, Karl Jaspers, Karl Popper, and even Jung and Sigmund Freud in Psychology!

*German Grammar and Vocabulary/deutsche Grammatik und Wortschatz*

It is a germanic language, close to Dutch, English and Afrikaans. And it also has similarities with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, as they are North Germanic.

It has much similar vocabulary with English:

Rott/Red, Braun/Brown, House/Haus.

Words that have th in English have a d in German: Think/Denken, Thought/Dact.

Words that have gh in English have a ch (like Arabic خ): Daughter/Tachter, Right/Recht.

Words that end with k in English have a ch: Book/Buch, Milk/Milch.

In German, *all* nouns and names are capitalised in all sentence positions!

*Example:* Die Katze, Bücher, Hans, Ein Junge/the cat, books, Hans, a boy.

However, German has slightly complex grammar! The main verb always appears second in a verb.

*Example:* Ich *trinke* Milch/I *drink* milk.

The subject can be replaced with an adverb or adverbial clause

*Example:* Nachts trinke ich Milch/At night drink I milk.

If there is a modal verb and a main verb, such as can + help, in German we keep the helping verb "can" in position 2 and leave "help" to the end!

Example: Ich kann Ihnen helfen/I can you help.

In German, the definite article "the" changes with the gender and grammatical role of the noun. 

*Example:* *Der* Mann ist hier/*The* man is here.

Ich sehe *den* Mann/I see *the* man. *Die* Frau ist nicht hier/*The* woman is not here.

Ich lese das Buch/I read the book.


Despite some grammar rules, (that are consistent) German is not hard to learn from an english background! In fact, the American Foreign Service Institute categorizes it as only Category 2 out of 5 and says you need approximately 36 weeks (900 class hours) to be fluent. The Goethe Institute offers language courses in many countries (including Lebanon) and Deutsche-Welle has a very good free app! And also, USJ offers courses in the first two levels of German, A1 and A2 as electives.