German-speaking Europe

German-speaking Europe

The German language (both as an official language and as a minority language) is spoken in a number of countries and territories in West and Central Europe (" _de. Deutscher Sprachraum"). To cover this speech area they are often referred to as the German speaking countries, the German speaking area, or equivalently German-speaking Europe (the few overseas territories which speak German are not commonly included in the concept). Together with English-speaking Europe, the Nordic countries and the Dutch-speaking area, German-speaking Europe forms Germanic Europe.

German is the main language of about 90–95 million people in Europe (as of 2004), or 13.3% of all Europeans, being the second most spoken native language in Europe after Russian, above French (66.5 million speakers in 2004) and English (64.2 million speakers in 2004).

The European countries with German-speaking majorities are Germany (95%, 78.3 million), Austria (89%, 7.4 million) and Switzerland (64%, 4.6 million) ("D-A-CH"), and Liechtenstein (0.03 million).


Infobox Geopolitical organization
name = D-A-CH
linking_name = D-A-CH

membership =
languages_type = Official languages
languages = German
official_website = []

D-A-CH or DACH is an acronym used to represent the dominant states of the German language "Sprachraum". It is based on the official automobile license plate abbreviations for:
*Germany (D for "Deutschland")
*Switzerland (CH for "Confoederatio Helvetica")

"Dach" is also the German word for "roof", and is used in linguistics in the term Dachsprache, which standard German arguably is in relation to some outlying dialects of German, especially in Switzerland and Austria.

The term is sometimes extended to D-A-CH-Li or DACHL to include Liechtenstein.

DACH is also the name of an Interreg IIIA project, which focuses on crossborder cooperation in planning. [cite web|title=DACH+ Raumentwicklung im Grenzraum von Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz und Liechtenstein|language=German|publisher="DACH"|url=|accessdate=2008-03-22]

Official status

*German is the country's only official language:
** Germany
** Liechtenstein
*German is the majority language, and shares official status with other languages:
** Luxembourg (besides French and Luxembourgish, the latter being a standardised High German dialect)
** Switzerland (besides French, Italian and Rumantsch)
*German is a minority language with official status:
**Belgium (besides Dutch and French)
*German language has official status only in part of the country/territory:
** Denmark
** Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol in Italy
*German language is recognized as a minority language:
** Czech Republic
** Hungary (Danube Swabians)
** Romania (Transylvania and Banat Swabians)

Outside Europe, German is recognised as a regional language in Namibia.

German speaking minorities without official status

*High numbers of German speaking minorities, but no official recognition:
** Poland (particularly in Opole Voivodeship)
** France (Alsace and Moselle)
** Latvia
** Estonia
** Russia
** Serbia (particularly Vojvodina)

*German speaking minorities, but no official status:
** Lithuania
** Croatia
** Kazakhstan
** Slovakia
** Slovenia
** Ukraine

Owing to tourism and second-home colonies some areas around the Mediterranean Sea (like the Balearic Islands) have small German-speaking communities.

German as a foreign language

German was once the lingua franca of Central, Eastern and Northern Europe and remains one of the most popular foreign languages in Europe. 32% of citizens of the EU-15 countries say they can converse in German (either as a mother tongue or as a second/foreign language). [] This is assisted by the widespread availability of German TV by cable or satellite.

German is the third most taught foreign language worldwide, including the United States; [After Spanish and French] it is the second most known foreign language in the EU. [After English; cite web|url=|title=Europeans and Language|publisher=European Commission|year=2005|accessdate=2007-12-08|format=PDF] It is one of the official languages of the European Union, and one of the three working languages of the European Commission, along with English and French.


German-speaking people include composers (e.g. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Mahler or Schönberg), lyrical poetry and literature (e.g. Walter von der Vogelweide, Goethe, the Brothers Grimm, Schiller, Heine, Brecht or Thomas Mann as well as important works written by authors as the Nibelungenlied or Ludwigslied) and scientific philosophy (e.g. Albertus Magnus, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein or Adorno).

These cultures are quite diverse as a result of the varied history of the German speaking people. The German speaking world has consisted of independent principalities (e.g: Liechtenstein), of larger confederations, (e.g: the Holy Roman Empire, Prussia or the Confederation of the Rhine), or of political units (e.g:Bohemia), or of political states (e.g:Germany, Austria; etc.)

The German language was once the lingua franca of central, eastern and northern Europe, and remains one of the most popular foreign languages taught worldwide, and in Europe it is the second most popular after English [ Eurobarometer: [ Europeans and Languages] from September 2005 (Languages most commonly used in the EU: 47% English, 30% German, 23% French) ]

ee also

* Austrian German
* Swiss German
* Swiss Standard German
* German-speaking Community of Belgium
* Languages in the European Union
* Germanic Europe
* English-speaking Europe
* Sprachraum
* German as a minority language
* Benelux


External links


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