Most people who have never visited Germany know something about the country, even if they know nothing much about the German language. They may know that Germany is one of the most important of the European countries in terms of economics. They may know that Germany loves soccer and its national team has won international tournaments like the Soccer World Cup and the Europa Cup more times than most other countries.

Interesting Facts About the German Language

Many people who come from some of the more interesting countries around the world in terms of tourist attraction will have noticed that Germans love to travel, especially in the German winter and sometimes it seems that there are more Germans outside of Germany travelling around than there are Germans inside their own country. That is just a false impression, of course. It’s just that there are many Germans, 80 million or so of them and 20 million more if you count Austrians and Swiss who speak German, too. All those German speakers also live in relatively wealthy countries and the combination means that there are many German speakers who have the means to explore their wanderlust.

German students also do not have to pay for university or any tertiary education. That frees them from taking out a loan like many of their contemporaries elsewhere, particularly in English speaking countries where university fees have skyrocketed. That may explain why you often see so many young Germans travelling around as they can afford to do so, especially if they have reciprocal work

As for the German language, it is related to other so-called West Germanic languages. These include Dutch and English. Like many other languages, German has absorbed many loan words, particularly from French and English, but also from other languages. It is a fact that although pronunciation can be difficult, many Dutch and English speakers will be familiar with a surprising large number of German words.

If you want to know all about the German language here are some other interesting facts about the language.

Every noun is a he, a she or an it!

Every noun in German has a gender. This is no surprise to the speakers of many other languages. Russian also has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter; French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese all have two: masculine and feminine, while Kiswahili from East Africa tops the lot with eight noun classes. This can be bewildering for English speakers who do not use gender at all, apart from with regard to people or animals. One of the most confusing things about gendered nouns is that there seems to be no rhyme or reason why a tisch (table) in German is a he, while the table in French is a she! And then, why oh why is a dog (hund) a he, even when it is a she, a cat (katzte), a she, even when it is a he, and a horse (pferd) an it, even when it is definitely still alive and either a he or a she! Mark Twain famously once said that young woman in Germany does not have a sex, while a turnip does!

If all you had to do was to learn what was masculine, feminine or neuter that would be manageable, but then the German language complicates everything by changing whatever words go with the noun to a masculine, feminine or neuter form. That goes for things like definite articles, which are just plain old ‘the’ in English, but die, der and das in German. It also includes verb tenses and adjectives.

Every noun starts with a capital letter

This little Rule about the German Language is not so difficult to remember. All Nouns are written with a capital Letter! This doesn’t thankfully affect how they are pronounced, even if it looks a little disjointed when you first see German written down.

German uses the Latin script with a few unique differences

The German language hasn’t always been written in the way that it is now. In fact, modern German has gone through a long evolution before being officially standardised in the language used throughout Germany today. These days, it uses the same script as do many other languages like English, the Latin languages, Malay and Indonesian etc. German has a small number of differences. There is the eszett, the ß, which is pronounced as a long ‘ss’. The other special letters are derivations of ‘a’, ‘o’ and ‘u’. These may have an ‘umlaut,’ two dots on top of the vowels that modify the way they are pronounced, so ä, ö and ü.

German has a number of very long compound words

Every language has some compound words: words that have been created by combining more than one other word to make something unique. German has made a fine art of compound words with some real crackers. One of the best of these was ‘Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz,’ all 63 letters long. It has a pretty obscure and nowadays an obsolete meaning and has recently been retired, just for the amusement of us readers!