History of the German Language

German is one of the languages that belongs to the Indo-Germanic family of languages and is the official language for both Germany and Austria. It is also spoken in dialect form across the world, including Luxembourg, Eastern-France, North-Italian border regions, Romania, Russia, Southern Brazil, Australia and the United States. Historically, the language falls into three periods – Old German, Middle German and Modern German.

Old and Middle German

In the early period, the language was not standardized and local dialects were used in writing. In the middle period, the language gained more uniformity as the chancelleries of the Roman Empire began to use a combination of Middle High German dialects instead of Latin, in the 14th century.

The Middle Saxon language, which was spoken in 1100 – 1500, split into West Low Saxon and East Low Saxon. The related languages within the dialect of the West Germanic languages were later replaced by Early New High German.

Modern German

It wasn’t until the 18th century, that German began to look and sound the way it does today. In 1880, the first grammatical and orthographic rules appeared in the Duden Handbook. In 1901, it was declared as the accepted standard of the German language, until its subsequent revision in 1996. It is now the language of the church and the state, education and literature.

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