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German language in Europe: Wikis


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Knowledge of German as a foreign language (second language in Luxembourg) in the EU member states (+Croatia and Turkey), in per cent of the adult population (+15), 2005.

The German language (both as an official language and as a minority language) is spoken in a number of countries and territories in West, Central and Eastern Europe (Deutscher Sprachraum). To cover this speech area they are often referred to as the German speaking countries, the German speaking area, or equivalently German-speaking Europe (the few overseas territories which speak German are not commonly included in the concept).

The former extent of German-speaking Europe before World War Two; red indicates direct populations of German-speakers, pink indicates common areas of German settlment outside of Germany and/or Austria.

German is the main language of about 90–95 million people in Europe (as of 2004), or 13.3% of all Europeans, being the second most spoken native language in Europe after Russian, above French (66.5 million speakers in 2004) and English (64.2 million speakers in 2004).

The European countries with German-speaking majorities are Germany (95%, 78.3 million), Austria (89%, 7.4 million), Switzerland (65%, 4.6 million) ("D-A-CH"), Luxembourg (0.48 million) and Liechtenstein (0.03 million).



Official languages German

D-A-CH or DACH is an acronym used to represent the dominant states of the German language Sprachraum. It is based on the official automobile license plate abbreviations for:

"Dach" is also the German word for "roof", and is used in linguistics in the term Dachsprache, which standard German arguably is in relation to some outlying dialects of German, especially in Switzerland and Austria.

The term is sometimes extended to D-A-CH-Li or DACHL to include Liechtenstein.

DACH is also the name of an Interreg IIIA project, which focuses on crossborder cooperation in planning.[1]

Official status

Official language Majority language Partially official
Liechtenstein Germany (besides locally Sorbian, Frisian, and Danish)
Austria (besides locally Slovene, Croatian, and Hungarian)
Switzerland (besides French, Italian and Rumantsch)
Luxembourg (besides French and Luxembourgish, the latter being a standardised High German dialect)
Denmark - recognized minority language in the former South Jutland County
Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol in Italy

Czech Republic
Hungary (Danube Swabians)
Romania (Transylvania and Banat Swabians)

German language as the official-auxiliary language in 22 municipality on Polish part of Silesia. Communes where German is an official auxiliary language are in orange. whilst those in yellow are permitted to give German that status.

German speaking minorities without official status

Owing to tourism and second-home colonies some areas around the Mediterranean Sea (like the Balearic Islands) have small German-speaking communities.

German as a foreign language

German was once the lingua franca of Central, Eastern and Northern Europe and remains one of the most popular foreign languages in Europe and it is the second most popular after English.[2] Thirty-two percent of citizens of the EU-15 countries say they can converse in German (either as a mother tongue or as a second/foreign language).[3] This is assisted by the widespread availability of German TV by cable or satellite. German competence is highest in the Netherlands, Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina (historical connections, more than 400.000 people in the country speak German, as they were refuges during 1992-1995 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and over 300.000 Bosnians that temporarily work in these countries now) and in Slovenia (historical connections). Relatively high German competence is also found in Sweden, Belgium (historical reasons), the Czech Republic (historical connections), Slovakia (historical connections), Hungary (historical connections), Poland (historical connections) and Croatia (historical connections). German is the third most taught foreign language worldwide, including the United States;[4] it is the second most known foreign language in the EU.[5] It is one of the official languages of the European Union, and one of the three working languages of the European Commission, along with English and French.

The learning of German as a foreign language is promoted by the Goethe Institute, which works to promote German language and culture worldwide. In association with the Goethe Institute, the German foreign broadcasting service, Deutsche Welle offers a range of online German courses and radio broadcasts produced with non-native German speakers in mind.


German-speaking people include composers (e.g. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mahler or Schönberg), lyrical poetry and literature (e.g. Walter von der Vogelweide, Goethe, the Brothers Grimm, Schiller, Heine, Brecht or Thomas Mann as well as important works written by authors as the Nibelungenlied or Ludwigslied) and scientific philosophy (e.g. Albertus Magnus, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein or Adorno).

These cultures are quite diverse as a result of the varied history of the German speaking people. The German speaking world has consisted of independent principalities (e.g., Liechtenstein), of larger confederations, (e.g., the Holy Roman Empire, Prussia or the Confederation of the Rhine), of political units (e.g., Bohemia), or of political states (e.g., Germany, Austria; etc.).

See also


  1. ^ "DACH+ Raumentwicklung im Grenzraum von Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz und Liechtenstein" (in German). DACH. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  2. ^ Eurobarometer: Europeans and Languages from September 2005 (Languages most commonly used in the EU: 47% English, 30% German, 23% French)
  3. ^ "EUROPA - Redirection". Retrieved 2009-10-27.  
  4. ^ After Spanish and French
  5. ^ After English; "Europeans and Language" (PDF). European Commission. 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-08.  

External links



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