Nowadays, knowledge of foreign languages is an extremely valuable tool. It is a basic requirement, which is considered in many situations, incl. job recruitment or conferences. The command of German also is of great importance and increases your chances of getting a better job. German is widespread all over the world and is the first or second language of nearly 125 million people, even in our country. More and more companies in Poland are looking for people with knowledge of this language. Poland and Germany are in close cooperation, not only economically, but also culturally and socially. There are already about 13,000 German companies in Poland.

It should also be mentioned that German is the language of culture and science. People with knowledge of this language can become acquainted with the works of outstanding philosophers, writers, poets and scientists in the original.

German is one of the Germanic (or more precisely, West Germanic) languages, which also include:

– Alemannic (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Alsace, Swabia, including the southern part of the federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Vorarlberg);

 – Bavarian (Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Upper Palatinate, Southern Vogtland, Austria – except the federal state of Vorarlberg, Samnaun in Graubünden, Bolzano Province, formerly also part of the Bohemian Forest and the Bohemian Forest in Bohemia and Moravia),
 Upper Franconian (Franconia);

– Middle French, also known as West Central German (Hesse, Palatinate, the language of the area of Cologne and the eastern Moselle);

– East-Central and Upper German (which includes the “Standard Hochdeutsch”, and dialects from Upper Saxony, Thuringia, Anhalt, southern Brandenburg and Silesia; formerly also Upper Prussia, Sudetes);

– Low German (Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg, northern Brandenburg, Pomerania – now only Przednie, formerly also Lower Prussia; historically also Dutch (Low French), followed by Afrikaans being a variant of the Low German language).

It should be emphasised that they are generally recognised as “one German language”. Every German language has characteristic features that distinguish them from other Indo-European languages. This article presents the features of the German language only.

  • One of them is an alphabet. It consists of 30 letters. However, a characteristic feature is the fact that, in addition to 26 classic letters, it also contains the umlauts ä, ö, ü and ß. Many fonts, including Polish, do not have such characters. Therefore, they must be replaced with the appropriate digits:

ä = ae,             ö = oe, ü = ue, ß = ss;

  • Another feature that distinguishes German from other languages is the capital letter spelling of all nouns with articles, most of which need to be memorised, for example apple – der Apfel, mother – die Mutter, baum – tree;
  • The word stress in German falls in most words on the first syllable in the word, e.g. ‘Rụcksack,’ Fenster, ‘kommen,’ gehen, etc.

In addition, there are many rules for stressing words. For example, in separate compound verbs the prefix is stressed, and in inseparable compound verbs the subject of the verb is stressed, e.g. ‘eingehen,’ ausschlafen, ‘vorarbeiten,’ mitteilen, zer’stören, ver’kaufen, miss’achten. It should also be remembered when pronouncing that in German some vowels are short and some are long.

Thus, incorrectly pronouncing and stressing a word or part of sentences can often have a bad effect on the meaning of the word and the understanding of a sense in the statement.

  • German is classified as an inflectional language, with the inflection of the noun being relatively poor and the use of articles for numbers and cases. Many people say that an article variation is “a tough nut to crack”; however, this is not actually the case. Of course, there are some variation rules that must be followed, but they are easy and quick to master. The masculine and neuter genders, for example, show similarity in inflection, as do the feminine and plural genders. There are 4 cases – nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative – with the genitive being used least frequently. It is worth noting that the appropriate variety is often not necessary to understand the meaning of statements.
  • In the case of verbs, they have a richer inflection for persons, numbers, tenses and sides. The verb is always the second part of the sentence, unless it appears in the interrogative particular sentence. It is always located next to the subject.

That is why an experienced German translator is not so easy to find:-)

(M. L.)

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