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Where did the German language originate?

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Answered 2011-05-02 19:36:37

German, or High German, is a Germanic language, specifically a West Germanic language. Its closest modern relatives are Yiddish, Low German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Frisian, and of course English (which are all also West Germanic languages).

The West Germanic languages probably began to differentiate themselves from the North Germanic (or Scandinavian) languages and the East Germanic languages (including Vandalic and Gothic, among others) some time around 400-100 BC. Common Germanic is the name of the language that was spoken before this differentiation; Germanic is one of the numerous branches of the Indo-European languages, and thus German is related to all the other Indo-European languages as well (from Hindi and Urdu, Farsi, and Hittite to Russian, Irish, Greek, French, and Portuguese--among many others).

The ancestral home of the peoples who spoke Common Germanic is thought to lie along the Baltic and North Seas in what is today southern Sweden, Denmark, and northern Germany.

As these peoples started spreading apart through migration (caused perhaps by weather, famine, and/or war), the dialects started diverging into West, East, and North, depending on the direction they headed.

The many tribes who spoke West Germanic languages ended up settling along the North Sea and the Rhine and Weser Rivers. The language of those who were farther north eventually turned into Dutch, Frisian, English, and Low German; that of those who were farther south eventually turned into what we call High German today. "High" refers to the fact that those people lived closer to the mountains, e.g. the Alps, and "low" refers to people who lived closer to the sea.

The first German language was made in the Fourth century by a priest attempting to convert German (which at the time was full of barbarians known as the visigoths). It was a combination of Latin and ancient Runic and was called the Gothic Language (after the visigoths) and there is not enough left today to be able to re construct it.

In 1534, Martin Luther published the German Bible. This version of German soon became the official version of the German language. Before this, German was a large group of different dialects.

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