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Are you all set to go to Germany for your higher studies? Germany has some of the best academic infrastructure, resources, and opportunities in the world. And as one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, Germany provides exciting job opportunities.
Even the cost of education at public schools in Germany is absolutely free. Germany is indeed a great study abroad destination if you are looking to gain international perspectives.
But what about the language? While it is not mandatory to be proficient in the German language to enter German for academic or even employment purposes, it is always good to learn the native language.
Learning German will help you with your daily activities such as commuting to and from work and school, shopping, placing orders at a restaurant, greeting and the like. And as is the case with every language, the German language, too, has some unique attributes.
At the outset, a lot of us ‘outsiders’, or the ‘layman’ in the German language perceive it to be a difficult language for the hard sounds. But, in reality, German is more similar to the English language. In the group of languages, particularly, the West Germanic languages, German is found alongside English and Dutch.
Hence, German has similarity with English and Dutch languages. Nonetheless, the form of German language that is spoken by the natives and taught is known as the High German, or Hochdeutsch. This is considered to be the standardized form of the German language.
Thus, if you are visiting Switzerland, you can interact with the natives in Hochdeutsch as although they speak Swiss German they can actually read Hochdeutsch.
Here are a few more fun facts about the German language to spur you to learn the language. Enjoy Reading!
1. The longest lettered-word – One thing that often keeps non-German speakers away from learning German is the long words and the hard sounds. Truly enough, German is infamous for its long words. And the longest word to have been ever recorded is 79-letter long! The word is:
It typically means an association of subordinate officials of Danube steamboat electrical services’ head office management. This was a club that existed in Vienna before the wars. While this word is not actually useful, it is only a way to make it to the record by just stretching out the simple word: Danube steamship company captain.
2. 3 Genders – The English do not assign genders to inanimate objects but most European languages do, for instance Spanish, French, German. And while others stick to the conventional two genders, Germans use three genders. Beyond the masculine and feminine, German has added a third gender known as neuter, which is basically used to define neutral genders, that is neither masculine nor feminine.
3. The most widely spoken mother tongue – German is the most widely spoken language as native/mother-tongue/or second language. Nearly 130 Million people are reported to be speaking German as a mother tongue in the European Union. It is the official language in 7 countries.
4. Counting time with reference to the next hour – If you ask a German the time, you will be told halb drei, which is half three. But this does not mean that the time is 3.30. Rather, it means that the time is 2.30. Germans say time by counting the minutes to the next hour. So halb drei means its 30 minutes to 3, or 2.30
5. Similarity with English – As shared already, German, English, and Dutch have more in common than any other languages spoken in the EU. Although English has heavily borrowed from the French language (table, chair, law, divorce etc. daily use words in English are actually derived from French), English and French share only 27% of their vocabulary And despite the seeming difference between English and German, these two languages actually share over 60% of their vocabulary! As a native English speaker or even with good command over English as a language, you can easily learn the German language.
6. The Gutenberg Bible – This is more of a historic fact. The first-ever Bible and the first-ever book printed by the movable type was actually printed in German by Johannes Gutenberg in the year of 1454. At a point in time, it was a sin to translate the Bible, which would mean that most would have to learn the language that the Bible had been printed in to be able to read the same.
7. Words typical to German – As with every language, German also has its own black sheep. There are a few words in German, despite its close similarity with English and Dutch, which do not have any equivalent in other languages. For instance, fremdschämen would loosely translate to feeling shame on behalf of another person. Similarly, Fernweh could be used to describe someone with a passion for travel and adventure. It is also used as the opposite of Heimweh, or loosely, a feeling of being homesick.
8. Capitalization of nouns – This is very unique to German. While in English only the proper nouns like names of people, country, and cities are only capitalized, in German, every noun is capitalized.
9. The unique letter – Another black sheep in the German language is its unique letter. The alphabets have an extra consonant sound ß. This is pronounced as Eszett and sounds like the double-S sound in English. This letter is unique to the group of German consonants because a word never starts with this letter and it cannot be simply exchanged with the double-S. For example, the word masse and maße may have the same pronunciation and sound the same but it means weight and size respectively. It is almost like a homophone in English.
10. Incomprehension among speakers – Now does not this seem funny and weird! But yes, German speakers may not be easily able to understand each other. This is because the standard German that we are used to hearing is akin to Hamburg, the north central area of Germany. In this area, the spoken German actually closely follows the grammar and pronunciation regulations of the German language as taught in schools and language courses.
However, the dialect differs in other regions. For most native German speakers, Bavaria is the most difficult dialect to be understood in terms of pronunciation. So much so that if a movie made in the Bavaria dialect is screened in north German or in any other German-speaking country, it is shown with subtitles.
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