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Ingrid Bauer

Where is German Spoken?

By October 31, 2012

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Did you know there are roughly 126 million people in the world who speak German? Germany has  a population of  82 million - so where are the other many millions who speak German? Find out more in this article.


November 5, 2012 at 4:58 pm
(1) Robert says:

DUH!!! “German,” of course is taken very loosely in your geography and statistics. Try speaking standard German in Luxemburg, Elsass, northeastern Italy, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein and see how far you get! It’s like the #3 language in the world, Spanish: one form diverges so drastically from the standard tongue that, in So.Amer., a Venezuelan cannot understand a Chilean, an Argentinian a Mexican, a Cuban a Puerto Rican, etc., etc, etc.

November 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm
(2) Aldo says:

Here in south brazil too, many german related people still learn original language. In the city of Pomerode the german language is always heard on the street.

November 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm
(3) D.S. says:

Im 19. Jahrhundert in Deutschland, das in mehreren Staaten aufgeteilt war, gab es eine starke Amerika-Auswanderung, wo vielleicht Kanada mit dem Wort Amerika einbegriffen ist.

In the 19th Century in Germany, which was divided into several states, there was a strong American emigration, where Canada is perhaps included with the word America. (for us Germans)

Amerika-Auswanderung – „Wir trinken noch ein gut’ Glas Wein und lassen Deutschland Deutschland sein“.

American emigration – “We drink a good glass of wine and let Germany be Germany.”

Diesem Motto folgten zwischen 1815 und 1914 knapp 7 Millionen Deutsche. Vor Iren und Briten bildeten sie zahlenmäßig die größte Einwanderungsgruppe.

This is the motto followed from 1815 to 1914 with nearly 7 million Germans. They formed numerically the largest immigrant group, before the Irish and the British.

Das die untere Bevölkerungsschicht eine schlechte Zeit in Deutschland hatte, gibt das folgende Kommentar in einem Gedicht Kunde.

That the lower segment of the population had a bad time in Germany, the following comment is going to show it with a poem. (and with my free liberal translation)

November 5, 2012 at 6:32 pm
(4) D.S. says:

Auswanderungslied von — Emigration song by
August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1798 – 1874)

1. Unsre Fürsten hatten viel versprochen, — Our princes had promised much,
Doch das Halten schien nicht ihre Pflicht. — but their duty they didn’t keep.
Haben wir denn nun soviel verbrochen, — Have we now so much done wrong,
Dass sie hielten ihr Versprechen nicht? — that they did not keep their promise?

2. Schlimmer wird es jetzt von Tag zu Tage, — Worse, it is now day by day,
Schweigen ist nur unser einzig Recht: — silence is our only right:
Untertanen ziemet keine Klage, — Subjects seemly have no action,
Und gehorchen muß dem Herrn der Knecht. — and the servant must obey the Lord.

3. Unsre Brüder werden ausgewiesen, — Our brothers are deported,
Mehr als alles Recht gilt Polizei. — more than anything, the right belongs to the police.
Heute trifft es jenen, morgen diesen, — Today someone is marked, tomorrow another,
Jeder, jeder Deutsch’ ist vogelfrei. — each, every German may be outlawed.

4. Deutsche Freiheit lebet nur im Liede, — German freedom may live only in a song,
Deutsches Recht, es ist ein Märchen nur. — German law, it is only a myth.
Deutschlands Wohlfahrt ist ein langer Friede – — Germany’s welfare is a long quietude -
Voll von lauter Willkür und Zensur. — full of pure arbitrariness and censorship.

5. Darum ziehn wir aus dem Vaterlande, — Therefore, we are leaving our fatherland,
Kehren nun und nimmermehr zurück, — not turn back nor ever,
Suchen Freiheit uns am fremden Strande – — searching our freedom on a foreign shore -
Freiheit ist nur Leben, ist nur Glück. — freedom is to live, is full happiness.

November 5, 2012 at 6:47 pm
(5) DANIEL says:

Robert.- i just want to say that venezuelan CAN understand a chilean or mexican, etc just changes our accent and few words

November 5, 2012 at 9:27 pm
(6) Wendy says:

It’s not true that a Venezuelan will not understand a Chilean. There are, of course, words that are different. But generally speaking, all of us Latin Americans can understand each other very well from Mexico all the way to Chile and the Caribbean. Cheers.

November 6, 2012 at 3:41 am
(7) Fred says:

In all the regions/countries listed by Robert standard German is understood, and most of the locals can also speak it. (Not in S. America, of course!)

November 6, 2012 at 4:26 am
(8) Emily says:

Thanks to D.S for taking the time to share the poem and to translate it. It’s really interesting.

November 6, 2012 at 9:38 pm
(9) Leslie says:

You are incorrect, Robert. The dialects are not so different in South America, and all those whom you said will not understand each other, will. Take this from someone who has several friends from there, and who is married to a Mexican, and speaks fluent Spanish. The same goes for the German of different places. It’s like saying British don’t understand Americans. Ah – but perhaps therein lies the problem – are you American? I notice your American TV has to subtitle Brits. I assure you, however, that most English-speaking people understand ALL other English-speaking people quite well, just as it is for the other languages previously mentioned.

November 9, 2012 at 2:22 am
(10) Tom says:

I agree with Leslie. Most German-speaking people do understand each other and can speak high German (Hochdeutsch). German is spoken throughout Germany and Austria and in about 3/4 of Switzerland plus Luxembourg and Lichtenstein, and in many bordering countries such as Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia. German is also widely understood in the Netherlands. I would argue that German is the most influential language in Europe followed by French.

November 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm
(11) Dave Hartmann says:

Robert, you are mistaken abt Spanish speaking people of Mexico and Chili. I have relatives fm both countries and they have no problem in understanding each other’s Spanish. The same with northern Switzerland our relatives there understood our standard German easily. They have their own “mundort” when spkg to one another.

November 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm
(12) Ron says:

This is an interesting map of where German is spoken:


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