It aimed to be understandable to a broad audience and was based mainly on Central and Upper German varieties. The Early New High German language gained more prestige than Low German and became the language of science and literature. Around the same time, the Hanseatic League, based around northern ports, lost its importance as new trade routes to Asia and the Americas were established, and the most powerful German states of that period were located in Middle and Southern Germany. The 18th and 19th centuries were marked by mass education in Standard German in schools.
Gradually, Low German came to be politically viewed as a mere dialect spoken by the uneducated. Today, Low Saxon can be divided in two groups: Low Saxon varieties with a reasonable Standard German influx [ clarification needed ] and varieties of Standard German with a Low Saxon influence known as Missingsch. Sometimes, Low Saxon and Low Franconian varieties are grouped together because both are unaffected by the High German consonant shift. However, the proportion of the population who can understand and speak it has decreased continuously since World War II.
The largest cities in the Low German area are Hamburg and Dortmund. The Low Franconian dialects are the dialects that are more closely related to Dutch than to Low German. Most of the Low Franconian dialects are spoken in the Netherlands and in Belgium , where they are considered as dialects of Dutch, which is itself a Low Franconian language. These dialects are more closely related to Dutch also North Low Franconian than the South Low Franconian dialects also referred to as East Limburgish and, east of the Rhine , Bergish , which are spoken in the south of the German Low Franconian language area.
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The High German varieties spoken by the Ashkenazi Jews have several unique features, and are considered as a separate language, Yiddish , written with the Hebrew alphabet. Modern Standard German is mostly based on Central German dialects.
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These dialects are considered as. Luxembourgish as well as the Transylvanian Saxon dialect spoken in Transylvania are based on Moselle Franconian dialects.
German: Biography of a Language
They consist of the East- and South Franconian dialects. The East Franconian dialect branch is one of the most spoken dialect branches in Germany. These dialects are spoken in the region of Franconia and in the central parts of Saxon Vogtland. The largest cities in the South Franconian area are Karlsruhe and Heilbronn. The Upper German dialects are the Alemannic dialects in the west, and the Bavarian dialects in the east.
The Alemannic dialects are considered as Alsatian in Alsace. The largest cities in the Bavarian area are Vienna and Munich. German is a fusional language with a moderate degree of inflection , with three grammatical genders ; as such, there can be a large number of words derived from the same root. German nouns inflect by case, gender and number:. This degree of inflection is considerably less than in Old High German and other old Indo-European languages such as Latin , Ancient Greek and Sanskrit , and it is also somewhat less than, for instance, Old English , modern Icelandic or Russian.
The three genders have collapsed in the plural. In nouns, inflection for case is required in the singular for strong masculine and neuter nouns only in the genitive and in the dative only in fixed or archaic expression , and even this is losing ground to substitutes in informal speech. Weak masculine nouns share a common case ending for genitive, dative and accusative in the singular. Feminine nouns are not declined in the singular. The plural has an inflection for the dative. In total, seven inflectional endings not counting plural markers exist in German: -s, -es, -n, -ns, -en, -ens, -e. In German orthography, nouns and most words with the syntactical function of nouns are capitalised to make it easier for readers to determine the function of a word within a sentence Am Freitag ging ich einkaufen.
Unlike English, whose newer compounds or combinations of longer nouns are often written in "open" with separating spaces, German like some other Germanic languages nearly always uses the "closed" form without spaces, for example: Baumhaus "tree house". Like English, German allows arbitrarily long compounds in theory see also English compounds.
However, examples like this are perceived by native speakers as excessively bureaucratic, stylistically awkward or even satirical. The meaning of basic verbs can be expanded and sometimes radically changed through the use of a number of prefixes. Other prefixes have only the vaguest meaning in themselves; ver- is found in a number of verbs with a large variety of meanings, as in ver suchen to try from suchen to seek , ver nehmen to interrogate from nehmen to take , ver teilen to distribute from teilen to share , ver stehen to understand from stehen to stand. Many German verbs have a separable prefix, often with an adverbial function.
In finite verb forms, it is split off and moved to the end of the clause and is hence considered by some to be a "resultative particle". For example, mitgehen , meaning "to go along", would be split, giving Gehen Sie mit? Literal: "Go you with? German word order is generally with the V2 word order restriction and also with the SOV word order restriction for main clauses. For polar questions , exclamations and wishes, the finite verb always has the first position. In subordinate clauses, the verb occurs at the very end. German requires for a verbal element main verb or auxiliary verb to appear second in the sentence.
HISTORY OF LANGUAGE
The verb is preceded by the topic of the sentence. The element in focus appears at the end of the sentence. For a sentence without an auxiliary, these are some possibilities:. The position of a noun in a German sentence has no bearing on its being a subject, an object or another argument. In a declarative sentence in English, if the subject does not occur before the predicate, the sentence could well be misunderstood. The flexible word order also allows one to use language "tools" such as poetic meter and figures of speech more freely. When an auxiliary verb is present, it appears in second position, and the main verb appears at the end.
This occurs notably in the creation of the perfect tense. Many word orders are still possible:. The main verb may appear in first position to put stress on the action itself. The auxiliary verb is still in second position.
Sentences using modal verbs place the infinitive at the end. For example, the English sentence "Should he go home? Thus, in sentences with several subordinate or relative clauses, the infinitives are clustered at the end. Compare the similar clustering of prepositions in the following highly contrived English sentence: "What did you bring that book that I do not like to be read to out of up for?
German subordinate clauses have all verbs clustered at the end. Given that auxiliaries encode future , passive , modality , and the perfect , very long chains of verbs at the end of the sentence can occur. In these constructions, the past participle in ge- is often replaced by the infinitive. Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the European language family.
Latin words were already imported into the predecessor of the German language during the Roman Empire and underwent all the characteristic phonetic changes in German. Their origin is thus no longer recognizable for most speakers e. Borrowing from Latin continued after the fall of the Roman Empire during Christianization, mediated by the church and monasteries. Another important influx of Latin words can be observed during Renaissance humanism. In a scholarly context, the borrowings from Latin have continued until today, in the last few decades often indirectly through borrowings from English.
During the 15th to 17th centuries, the influence of Italian was great, leading to many Italian loanwords in the fields of architecture, finance, and music. The influence of the French language in the 17th to 19th centuries resulted in an even greater import of French words. The English influence was already present in the 19th century, but it did not become dominant until the second half of the 20th century. Thus, Notker Labeo was able to translate Aristotelian treatises in pure Old High German in the decades after the year Even today, there are movements that try to promote the Ersatz substitution of foreign words deemed unnecessary with German alternatives.
As in English, there are many pairs of synonyms due to the enrichment of the Germanic vocabulary with loanwords from Latin and Latinized Greek. These words often have different connotations from their Germanic counterparts and are usually perceived as more scholarly.
The size of the vocabulary of German is difficult to estimate. The modern German scientific vocabulary is estimated at nine million words and word groups based on the analysis of 35 million sentences of a corpus in Leipzig, which as of July included million words in total. The Duden is the de facto official dictionary of the German language, first published by Konrad Duden in The Duden is updated regularly, with new editions appearing every four or five years. As of August [update] , it is in its 27th edition and in 12 volumes, each covering different aspects such as loanwords , etymology , pronunciation , synonyms , and so forth.
The first of these volumes, Die deutsche Rechtschreibung German Orthography , has long been the prescriptive source for the spelling of German. The Duden has become the bible of the German language, being the definitive set of rules regarding grammar, spelling and usage of German. It is the Austrian counterpart to the German Duden and contains a number of terms unique to Austrian German or more frequently used or differently pronounced there.
The most recent edition is the 42nd from The dictionary is also officially used in the Italian province of South Tyrol. This is a selection of cognates in both English and German.
Instead of the usual infinitive ending -en German verbs are indicated by a hyphen "-" after their stems. Words that are written with capital letters in German are nouns. German is written in the Latin alphabet. Because legibility and convenience set certain boundaries, compounds consisting of more than three or four nouns are almost exclusively found in humorous contexts.