Indo-Europan > Germanic > West Germanic > High German
Spoken by: 90.3 millions according to Ethnologue.com, 1990
Official in: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Italy (province Bolzano-Bosen)
Spoken primarily in: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein
German is by far the biggest native language in the European Union, and also a very popular second language in the region. German has also been one of the main scientific languages. The standard language has developed from High German, i.e. the varities spoken in the southern parts of the language area, and has now almost replaced the northern Low German. The medieval High German has an offspring in Yiddish. Unlike the other major Germanic languages (like English, Dutch, Swedish, and Danish), German has kept a four-case and a three-gender system for nouns. Typical for German orthography is the capitalization of nouns (cfr. below).