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How much do you know about German? 6 interesting facts about Goethe’s language

Did you already know that German people can create more than 23 millions words with only 26 letters of the alphabet?! How much do you know about the German language? After reading this article, you will get a better idea!

How many people speak German as a native speaker?

The German speakers, namely those who speak German as first or second language, are almost 130 million worldwide. German is not only the official language in seven countries, but also one of the most spoken languages in the UE. A German-speaking minority (about 7,5 million people) lies scattered in 42 countries.

How many people study German as a foreign language?

289 million! According to some research led by the germanist Ulrich Ammon, almost 289 million people have decided to study German during their life. Can they speak German fluently? Who knows. That’s another kettle of fish. However, the current number of German learners is around 15,4 million, 90% of which are young students.

How many words does the German language have?

Well, far more than you might expect and German learners can confirm it. Mixing two or more words to create a new one is easy job for German speakers. Therefore, a true answer to this question does not exist. In 2013, a Berliner linguistic found 5,3 million words. Only four years later, the Duden editorial staff published a total amount of 23 million words (only basic forms). The result came up from a great collection of technical and literary works (4000 books). Not to mention that the latest Duden edition shows a shrunken amount of 145.000, but native German speakers tend to use only 12.000-16.000 words. 

Which words are the most frequently used?

  • Gold medal: DER, DIE, DAS (the determined articles, which German students should learn by heart in combination with the noun that follows)
  • Silver medal: IN, the preposition
  • Bronze medal: UND, the conjunction

Which is the longest word?

According to Duden, the German longest word is “Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-hyperaktivitätsstörung”, that means “attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder” and boasts 44 letters.

What is the International Mother Language Day for?

Purpose of this commemoration is to celebrate the importance of language as a part of the cultural identity of a population, as well as to raise awareness about the risks languages are being exposed to, due to the globalization. Nowadays, almost half of the 6000 languages spoken worldwide are in danger. German is not one of them, yet several German’s dialects are about to disappear. In particular, the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger depicts the North Frisian and the Saterland Frisian as the most endangered languages within the German area. 


Photo: PourquoiPas Pixabay