The official language of around 95 million people, German is mainly spoken in Central Europe, although it is the third most widely taught foreign language in both the United States (after Spanish and French) and the European Union (after English and French). In scientific communities it is the second-most widely used (after English), and it is the third most-used language on the Internet.
Interpreting: We were able to provide two expert German interpreters for a two-day conference taking place in Hamburg last month at very short notice – the previous provider had unfortunately cancelled. After the event, the client credited both the professionalism and stamina of our interpreters. We also regularly provide German interpreters to the NHS, the Department for Work and Pensions and more.
History of the German Language
The history of the German language begins with the separation of Old High German dialects from Old Saxon, in around the sixth century. Owing to the division of Germany into many different states, the only force working for a standardisation of German for several centuries was a desire by writers to be understood by the widest readership possible.
This problem was crystallised by the publication of Martin Luther’s Bible translation, completed in 1534, which was based on standard bureaucratic language used in Saxony. This language was based on largely on Eastern Upper and Eastern Central German dialects, and preserved much of Middle High German grammatical structure. By this time, the spoken German dialects in Central and Upper Germany had already begun to lose the genitive case as well as the preterite tense. To overcome this, copies of the Bible featured a long list of glossaries by region, translating unknown words into regional dialects.
This carried on until the mid-18th century, when a widely accepted standard was created. Standard German was mostly a written language, with Low Saxon dialects still popular in northern Germany. This spread across the Habsburg Empire as the language of commerce and government, and then later standardised formally at the Second Orthographical Conference in 1901, with a controversial further reform in 1996.
Within Europe today, there are significant differences in German spoken in Austria, Switzerland and also northern Italy. All dialects across Germany fall broadly into High German or Low Saxon dialect continua. German is also a recognised minority language in countries including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and the Ukraine.
Our German linguists are well versed in managing the differences between variants – use the link below to discuss your language requirements with us.