Germany is the most significant of the countries where the German language is spoken as a native language. Other German speaking nations include Austria and Switzerland. In Switzerland, German is the most important of the four official languages spoken. German is also spoken by smaller communities in Italy, especially the South Tyrol, Belgium, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. German speakers have migrated all around the world and have taken their language and traditions with them to their new homes.
100 million people worldwide speak German as their native or first language. It is the most widely spoken native language in the European Union and the second most commonly spoken language after English in the EU.
The history of Germany dates back to the Middle Ages. Germany became unified as a single nation in 1871. Modern Germany is known as the Federal Republic of Germany with its capital in Berlin. There are 16 federal states that make up the Federal Republic. Its economy is the largest in Europe with a highly skilled and educated population. It is a democratic nation with a parliamentary system of government elected by a system known as mixed member proportional representation. The German Parliament is called the Bundestag. Its current head of state is the president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, while the political leader is the well known Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Those who are not familiar with what Germany is famous for may be surprised to learn that it probably has more castles than any other country. There are an estimated 25,000 different castles dotted around the country. Many of them are important tourist attractions.
Germany is famous for many other things: the strength of its economy, its manufacturing industry, well-known car manufacturers, such as Mercedes Benz, Daimler and Volkswagen, the Rhine Valley and German wine. Those who know all about Germany will know about Germany’s delicious food, like its highly prized bread and sausages, as well as German beers, which are exported all around the world.
Different parts of Germany have many traditions and there are hundreds of events throughout the year which celebrate some aspect or another of German culture.
What is Germany known for? Many Germans have been leading musicians, composers, intellectuals, inventors, scientists, philosophers, conservationists, designers and sportsmen and women. In short with a population of nearly 83 million people it is inevitable that so many Germans have made their mark through history.
These days, of course, it is easy to find all the information about Germany that you would ever want to know because of the huge amount of information available on the Internet.
All About the German Language
What Languages are Spoken in Germany?
As well as German dialects there are also a number of other languages that are spoken in Germany. These are spoken by migrants and include Turkish, Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Russian, Greek and Italian.
The Structure of the German Language
Even though English is a Germanic language the structure of German isn’t quite as simple as English. This is because there are four cases of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, which are nominative, accusative, genitive and dative. On top of that difference is the fact there are 3 genders to consider, which are masculine, feminine and neuter. The German vocabulary has several origins but is mostly from the ancient Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Others are derived from Greek, Latin and Greek. Additionally, there are some loan words from both French and English that help to make up the national language of Germany.
People curious about Germany’s ability to speak English often ask “do they speak English in Germany?” As it stands, English is taught in schools, which means most people have at least a reasonable understanding of English. Languages are popular overall and many others are taught apart from English, such as French, Spanish or Latin.
Also, some schools offer other language learning choices like Italian, Greek, Russian, Polish and Dutch. All in all, the question “do they speak English in Germany?” depends on how much Germans learnt in school or whether they specialized in other languages as well. There are many languages spoken in Germany to varying degrees, including English, but the only one that is the national language of Germany and Germany’s official language is, quite simply, German!
The Traditions & Culture of Germany
Clothing Culture in Germany
Often, people from outside Germany think that German cultural clothing is wearing dirndl dresses and lederhosen everywhere, but in fact, these are just worn in the south of Germany, in Bavaria, but not often these days. When it comes to taste in clothing, some German people’s characteristics are to attach great importance to colour. During leisure times white, blue, grey and brown are the preferred colours. In those parts of towns and cities where business takes place, you will see men donning either black, grey or navy suits, while women are far less conservative about their style of dress and may be seen wearing different types of business clothes. However, they don’t wear very short shorts or skirts as is often found in other western countries.
Apart from business people, there is another noticeable cultural feature of Germany and that’s its subcultures, which stand out because of their German cultural clothing. This means they express themselves through the clothes they wear, for example, Punks or Goths, the latter tend to emphasise the wearing of black clothes with a vintage look with metal pieces to match. One of the main differences between German cultural clothing can be seen between young and old Germans who generally don’t share the same clothing tastes.
Germans are eager to express one of the traditions in Germany and that is through their fashion tastes so as seasons change so does the clothing that German’s wear. Germans are eager to define their social status through the dress they choose to wear. This is one of the traditions in Germany.
The Lifestyle of the German People
When it comes to Germany’s lifestyle it doesn’t differ that much from other comparable countries. Generally, the German family traditions these days are to have small families with just one or two children per family and mothers don’t give birth at a young age but tend to leave it to as late as they can. There is one trend that might be peculiar to just Germans and that’s the preference for renting an unfurnished apartment, even to the point of installing their own light fittings, laying the carpet of their choice and painting the walls. This is because they like to live in a place that perfectly matches who and what they are.
When it comes to Germany’s religion and culture in Germany’s lifestyle, Germans certainly don’t have conservative views on religion this and it is popular not to follow any religion at all. At one time there was a compulsory church tax, but today Germans can either pay or opt out – whatever they choose.
Whether they live in the town or countryside, traditional German people aren’t generally reclusive and they will get together with other like-minded Germans to take part in sports activities, to read books, to shoot, to talk and to exchange information on anything that interests them. They may even share cooking or compare one another’s collections.
The Tradition and Culture of Germany
The musical interest in Germany’s lifestyle is that Germans have their own strong musical traditions. From this has emerged some great talents, such as Nena (99 balloons), Sarah Connor and Lena Meyer-Landrut, who have all become known globally. There are locally based music heroes too, such as Herbert Groenemeyers, who is famous in the local context for his deep emotional songs. His album “4630 Bochum” is the 3rd top-selling album in Germany
Other traditions in Germany are seasonal traditions with their origins in past religious practice. Easter is a family occasion where there is the presence of the Easter bunny and the traditional Easter egg hunt, and also Easter decorations. It is common for families to go on an Easter walk. Food is part of the Easter German tradition and oven-grilled Easter lamb is often substituted for a cake shaped to resemble a lamb. Christmas is never forgotten and fits into Germany’s traditional calendar of events. It begins in November with the Christmas markets that have become known throughout the world for the warm winter atmosphere they offer and the Gluehwein.
Halloween never used to be part of the traditions in Germany, but has recently been included. The Saint Martin’s Fest is still celebrated and this is the time when children go from house to house wearing lanterns and performing sing songs. Participants often gather in large groups and walk together.
A well known German peoples’ characteristic is the way they involve themselves with traditional events. They like certainty and they like to attend events that are perfectly organized.
While the family is important to Germans, German family traditions don’t quite match other cultures when it comes to being close-knit. There is, of course, an emphasis on the family and education is important as well.
German Food & Drinks
Traditional German Foods
Germans just love food! That is one of Germany’s food facts, whether it’s their own traditional food, or it comes from other countries. They enjoy eating Italian, Turkish, Chinese, Thai and Greek cuisine the most. For the younger generation, food from overseas is often preferred to traditional German foods. Food is noticeably cheap in Germany so you rarely hear complaints about the cost. Even tourists have noticed this too, as well as the huge variety of food choices available. If you are a vegan you are catered for. If you are sold on the organic food you will find it everywhere in Germany and if you depend on a special diet you can get all the ingredients or ask at your chosen restaurant.
There are many traditional German foods, such as Sauerbraten, Bratwurst which are types of sausages and rissoles. There is also Schweinshaxe, which is usually prepared with potatoes dumplings and red cabbage. Sauerkraut normally goes with potatoes. Jaeger Schnitzel and Zigeuner Schnitzel are both pan-fried with either a sauce overloaded with mushrooms or capsicum. When it comes to bread and cakes there are Sugar Plum Cake, Donauwelle and Bienenstich.
For breakfast, traditional German foods can be found in the form of a cold meal, which may include cereals, like Muesli, or slices of bread containing cold meat, cheese or jam. Children have in recent years taken to the chocolate spread, “Nutella.”
Most Popular Drinks in Germany
Apfelschorle is one of Germany’s well known non-alcoholic drinks, as is apple juice added to sparkling water. Orange Juice, apple juice and multivitamin Juice feature prominently in a German’s diet. Germans are great coffee fans.
Germany does have a world reputation for some of its German drinks, namely the white wines produced in the Mosel Valley. However, beer usually features in conversations when talking about Germany’s alcoholic preferences with brands such as Koelsch in Cologne and Alt in Dusseldorf.
German Food Traditions
The German food culture is of key importance at all German events, whether they are cultural, religious or social events. “Kaffeetrinken” is a German traditional food event where a few people gather in the afternoon to chat, eat cake and drink coffee. It used to be associated with older people but today all generations love this event and eat traditional German desserts.
Traditional German Festivals
The Octoberfest in Munich is a German traditional festival that is famous throughout the world. It is a 15-day celebration of German beer and food and attracts six million people! It is a time in the year where a lot of Bavarian beer is drunk and traditional food is eaten like pork sausage and pork knuckles. It is accompanied by a variety of different music. Another one of the important German traditional festivals is the Wave-Gothic Festival in Leipzig. In June: Rock am Ring and Rock I’m Park are two popular musical German traditional festivals that cover three days each and attract hundreds of thousands of spectators.
German Karneval is one of the largest traditional German festivals. It not only pulls huge crowds but takes place in virtually every town throughout the country. During Karneval, there are many dress-up parties which involve music and alcohol. Other German festivals and holidays include German traditions at Christmas.
15 Interesting German Facts and Information
Here are 15 Fun Facts about Germany!
- A German was the first to invent the calculator.
- The capital of Germany, Berlin, has 960 bridges.
- German law states that to be free is a basic human instinct, so prisoners have the right to escape jail.
- College education in Germany is free and fees for bachelor’s degrees in state-owned universities were abolished in 2014 because politicians believed that paying for higher education was ‘socially unjust’.
- Over 800 million curry wursts are consumed in Germany annually.
- Facts about the German language include the fact that German is the most spoken language in Europe.
- Two out of five households are single-person households.
- A German cultural fact is that Germany also has one of the lowest birth rates in the world.
- 26% of the population is at this time over 60 years old.
- 86 % of adults from 25–64 years have completed at least upper secondary education. That exceeds the EU average of 74.2%
- Youth unemployment is just 7.7 % and is one of the lowest in the EU.
- Some interesting facts about Germany are that Germany has 6,200 museums, 820 theatres, 130 professional orchestras and 8,800 libraries in 2013.
- Germany has the biggest beer drinking population in Europe.
- Munich’s Oktoberfest is the biggest folk festival in the world with a lot of beer drunk.
- Any form of discrimination against gay and lesbian people is illegal.
As can be seen from reading through the above information, Germany is one of the most important modern nations in the world and has considerable influence on world affairs as well as being a fascinating country to visit in its own right. For all your German translation requirements use Aussie German Translations, your professional NAATI German translation service.