German all across the world
German is the mother-tongue of more than 100 million people, with the biggest community of native speakers in Germany (81.5 million), followed by Austria (7.6 million) and Switzerland (4.2 million). In addition to these, there are also large German-speaking regions in South Tyrol, Alsace and the United States of America.
The German Sprachraum
The German Sprachraum, meaning the area in Central Europe where the majority of the people speak German as a first language, comprises Germany, Austria, 17 cantons of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Furthermore, German is a co-offical language in Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy.
This makes German the most spoken native language in the European Union. German is also the third most taught foreign language (after English and French) in continental Europe and the United States.
German and its variants
There is no compulsory Standard German. On the one hand, the variants of German spoken in Austria and Switzerland are quite different to the German spoken in Germany. On the other, there are many different German dialects.
Legal language is also affected by this: In Germany, it is called “Schuldrecht”, while in Switzerland one would say “Obligationenrecht” (law of obligation). And when up to the knees in debt, in Austria it is called “Grida”, whereas in Germany one finds oneself in “Insolvenz” (insolvency).
The awful German language
Maybe you have heard of Mark Twain’s book “The awful German language”, in which he describes his difficulties with our peculiar language. But is German really that hard to learn? Not necessarily – Chinese, Arabic, Hungarian and Polish, among others, are supposedly more difficult to learn.
Some things are actually even easy in German. The alphabet is easy to learn and it is not difficult to decipher how a word is pronounced once you know the rules. German only has four cases, whereas Hungarian has 18! And the many prepositions make the language easy to handle. To cut a long story short: German is not an easy language, but there are even more difficult ones out there!
Monday – Friday
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm