Fun Facts about German
- German is the native language of about 100 million people worldwide.
- The German language consists of 300.000 words – there are about 1000 new words every year
- The Grimm brothers started working on the first German dictionary in 1838.
- A lot of German words made their way into the English language. Some examples are “delikatessen”, “angst”, “doppelgänger”, „ersatz“, „gemütlichkeit“, „kaput“ (German spelling „kaputt“), „kindergarten“, „kitsch“, „poltergeist“, „schadenfreude“, „wunderkind“ and „zeitgeist“.
- German is the most widely spoken first (native) language in the European Union.
- Stanford University has the German motto “Die Luft der Freiheit weht“.
- The German-language “Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien” was printed from 1605 and is considered the world’s first newspaper.
- There are lots of German dialects: “Kölsch” in the Cologne area, “Berlinerisch” in Berlin, “Bayerisch” in Bavaria, “Sächsisch” in Saxony and many more. The “Low German” dialects are found in northern Germany; the “Upper German” dialects in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They actually refer to the elevation of their regions, not their location.
- The controversial German Spelling Reform of 1996 („Rechtschreibreform“) was meant to simplify the spelling rules of German-speaking countries. However after public debates and several campaigns the extent of the reform was diluted.
- The most common baby names in Germany were Karl and Gertrud in 1912 and Mia and Ben in 2012.
- Germans can’t just pick any name for their kids. All names have to be approved by the civil registry office.
- Müller (“Miller”) is the most common family surname in Germany. Almost 10% of all Germans are named Müller.
- While in most languages nouns are either masculine or feminine, there’s a 3rd gender in the German language: Neuter.
- In 1880 Mark Twain published his essay “The Awful German Language” complaining about the complexity of German grammar.
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