German is among the most widely spoken language in the European Union and is the official language in Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. It’s also one of the official languages of Switzerland and Luxembourg.
There are other German-speaking communities scattered around Europe, such as in the Province of Bolzano-Bozen in Northern Italy and the Eastern part of Belgium, as well as communities in Eastern Europe, North and South America.
German is considered a difficult language to study by English learners, with its long and winding words, four noun case endings and three grammatical genders and the pronunciation gives every muscle in your mouth a good workout. On the other hand, as both English and German are related, you’ll notice a number of similarities that may make it easier to learn. Also, the compound words are so much fun to learn and the grammar’s considered to be quite logical. Just watch out for the exceptions to the rules.
The closest relative of German is Dutch and, believe it or not, English. German sits within the West Germanic arm of the Indo-European language family, together with English, Dutch and Flemish, Frisian, Yiddish, Afrikaans and Luxembourgish.
There are certain similarities regarding grammar, syntax and vocabulary with Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Icelandic which, together with Faroese, are among the North Germanic languages. If you’re keen on an East Germanic language, you can always give Gothic or Vandalic a go, although they became extinct a long time ago.
German is widely known as the language of the Dichter und Denker, writers and thinkers. One of the greatest is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). His drama Faust I (1808) is considered his greatest work and a national treasure, as well as the source of many quotations still present in everyday German.