Where did the German language originate?
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
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.