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About German

German is the most common native language in Europe, spoken as a first language by over 80 million people in Germany plus many in Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Possibly more importantly, German culture is one of the most influential in history. More famous composers have been German speaking, coming from either Germany or Austria, than any other language, the list ranging from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Richard Strauss and Stockhausen.

German culture has also produced many of the leading modern scientists, the most famous probably being Einstein along with other pioneering names such as Plank and Heisenberg as well as leading mathematicians such as Gauss and Riemann.

German philosophy and literature has also been extremely influential. Leading writers range from Goethe and Schiller in the 18th century to Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse more recently. There have probably been more great philosophers writing in German than any other language too, possibly excepting English, with Leibniz, Kant, Karl Marx and Wittgenstein all being native German speakers.

This abundance of world class culture and intellectual innovation perhaps makes the horrors which took place at Germany's hands in the 1930s and early 1940s even more inexplicable. However, Germany appears have put this tragic part of its history behind itself and once again focusses on peaceful drive and ambition.

Germany is now the largest economy in Europe and the fourth largest in the world after the USA, China and Japan. This strength has led to the business adage that 'If I am selling to you, then I will speak your language, aber wenn du mir etwas verkaufst, musst du Deutsch sprechen" [...but if you are selling something to me, you must speak German].

German has many words in common with English such as hier for here and Katze for cat, along with ist for is. This makes learning German easier for someone with a solid basis in English. Two main differences, however, are that German has three genders, i.e. words for 'a' and 'the', along with different forms for when you address someone politely or informally, the key distinction being 'sie' for 'you' when being polite and 'du' when being informal.

As with other languages, the entries in the four sections of Frazebook for German give some basic greetings in German, taking things further, buying some food and numbers. Of course, the phrases given in Frazebook are just a start. We hope that you will enjoy learning them if you plan to visit Germany, or that it could be start of a further study of German culture though its music, philosophy, literature and science.