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Where did the German language originate?

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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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