We all know of Germany as Europe’s automobile and industrial capital. We are well acquainted with its technology, its logical structures & organisations, and most certainly with its (thriving) engineering and manufacturing culture. Let’s not even get started on its innovations or Oktoberfests. Having set a legacy for beer brewing and beer drinking fests, it’s no surprise that they have one of the highest numbers of beer consumers in the world!
But these facts apart, did you also know that German is among the ten most commonly spoken languages in the world? Time to check out just how widespread this intellectual culture really is!
Language of Deutschland
German, referred to as Deutsch in German itself, is the official language of Germany and Austria, and is also one of the four official languages of Switzerland. With an astonishingly high number of native speakers in the European Union, German is also a lingua franca of Central and Eastern Europe.
It belongs to the West Germanic group of the Indo-European language family, along with English, Frisian and Dutch. Knowing German will give you the chance to reach out to 100 million people, along with access to 15 million websites. Furthermore, if you have a business, you might want to consider localising your website or product literature into German, to increase your sales prospects in their markets.
Analytical or complex?
German has been an important language in academia as well as for professionals moving to Germany. While the country has produced a number of inventors, Nobel Prize winners and philosophical thinkers, there are plenty of people who will tell you all about how its complex sentence structures and word formations, while many others will also tell you that once you’ve figured out the logic, it is extremely easy, especially for an English speaker!
Despite all the jokes about it being an impossible language and its sixteen different ways to simply say “the”, as an English speaker, you actually already have an advantage since German and English share the same Germanic root; unlike Japanese or Arabic.
Understanding their Culture
Germans have a reputation for being logical, punctual, focused planners and organizers, which is reflected in their rules, procedures and systems. While humour, surprises or personal chat might not always be appreciated in a business context, German is also the native tongue of some of the greatest literary and artistic minds in human history, such as Goethe and Mann, and composers such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Wagner.
Being Global does not simply mean being a citizen of the world. It means to provide value to your society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts. So #BeLingual – linguistically and culturally. Learn about a new culture and see the world through another lens. It isn’t simply about knowing new people, their practices & lifestyles, sometimes it’s about breaking the ice to develop new relations and creating opportunities.