German, Dialects

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Summary

German ( ) is a West Germanic language. It derives most of its vocabulary from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. A number of words are derived from Latin and Greek, and fewer from French and English. Widely spoken languages which are most similar to German include Luxembourgish, Yiddish, Dutch, the Frisian languages, English and the Scandinavian languages.

Details

German is a member of the West Germanic language of the Germanic family of languages, which in turn is part of the Indo-European language family. The German dialect continuum is traditionally divided most broadly into High German and Low German, also called Low Saxon. Yet, historically, High German dialects and Low Saxon/Low German dialects do not belong to the same language. Nevertheless, in today's Germany, Low Saxon/Low German is often perceived as a dialectal variation of Standard German on a functional level, even by many native speakers. The same phenomenon is found in the eastern Netherlands, as the traditional dialects are not always identified with their Low Saxon/Low German origins, but with Dutch.

The variation among the German dialects is considerable, with often only neighbouring dialects being mutually intelligible. Some dialects are not intelligible to people who only know standard German. However, all German dialects belong to the dialect continuum of High German and Low Saxon languages.

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  • WikipediaThe Goethe Institute

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