Business · December 16, 2019

Insights into the Origins and the Existing Structure of the German Language

The German language is the official language in Germany, Liechtenstein, and Austria. It is also the co-official language of Switzerland, the European Union, Luxembourg, and Belgium. With almost 95 million native speakers, German is one of the prominent languages of the world. The German language belongs to the Indo-European language family. German can be considered as a collection of various mini-languages independent of each other. There are various dialects in German, which tend to be one of the crucial factors in defining the quality of German translation.

Origins of the German language

The history of the German language can be traced back to the Early Middle Ages that were known for the High German consonant shift. The migration period was accompanied by the separation of Old High German dialects from Old Saxon. Many Elder Futhark inscriptions from 6th century A.D. as well as oldest coherent texts such as Merseburg incantations, the Hildebrandslied, and the Mus Pilli are some of the earliest evidence of Old High German.

The division of Germany into different states over the course of many hundred years resulted in the Alemannic, Saxon, Frankish, Frisian, and Bavarian regions. However, writers during the period aimed at a written language that could be understood by a large share of the population. This was one of the milestones that led to the unification of the German language.

Periods in History of the German Language

The three primary periods in the history of the German language are Old German, Middle German, and Modern German. The first period i.e., Old German lasted from 750 to 1050 A.D. and did not have any standard language. The Middle German period lasted from 1050 to 1500 A.D. During this period, a uniform written language developed, albeit without any standardized spelling. The main features of the German language during this time included the lack of marking for vowel length and the marking of umlauted vowels.

In addition, the semi-vowels such as /j/ and /w/ were used in the original texts. The era of Early New High German or the roots of modern German language started with the translation of the Bible by Martin Luther with the New Testament in 1522 and the Old Testament in 1534. The work of Martin Luther reflected a modern language that was also understood by a majority of the population at that time.

Domination of High German

The differences in written German language across Germany, Switzerland, and Austria are not so distinct. However, the differences in spoken German language are prominently evident in the many dialects belonging to the High German and Low German dialect groups. The primary difference between the High and Low German is evident in the sound system or phonology of the dialects, especially for consonants.

The southern highlands of Germany follow High German as the official written language. Modern standard High German developed from Middle High German dialects and is largely spoken in the central and southern highlands of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It is the primary language for administration, literature, mass media, and higher education. Low German, on the other hand, does not have any standard literary or administrative language.

Author Bio

G11N is a competent and proactive organization committed to supporting the globalization efforts of different businesses. The German translation services of G11N are equipped with the expertise of professional translators, linguists, and editors for delivering quality translation services. The diverse spectrum of translation services at G11N includes software and website localization as well as document translation and transcription services.