Department of English and Modern Languages

About German

Who speaks German? German is the native language of over 100 million people in Germany, Austria, and parts of Switzerland, Luxembourg, Northern Italy, and Eastern Belgium and Eastern France. It is an official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Italy. In Europe, more people speak German than English, Spanish, French or Italian. German is among the top ten most commonly spoken languages in the world. It is one of the most frequently used languages on the Internet. In the United States, 1.38 million people speak German at home and 60 million people (nearly 25% of the population) are of German heritage. In Missouri, there are more than 30,000 native German speakers.

Who studies German? There are 200 million speakers of German worldwide and 20 million students of German. Of these, 13 million are in Europe, Eastern Europe and the former USSR, where it is the most commonly used second language. In the United States there are 600,000 students learning German.

The Importance of German in Academic Programs German is required or recommended in many academic programs. Study and research in Germany are generously funded by agencies such as the Fulbright Commission, the German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humbolt Foundation. Each year, Germany funds 2,000 grants to foreign scholars. The importance of German in fields such as Philosophy, Music, Art, Psychology, Sociology, History, Art History, European Politics, Literary Studies, Religious Studies, Film, Law, and the Sciences is reflected by the 119 Nobel Prizes awarded to native speakers of German. To fully understand important texts in their majors, students should be able to read them in the original language. Thinkers and artists such as Freud, Einstein, Marx, Nietzsche, Kant, Hegel, Mozart, Beethoven, Goethe and Kafka created their works in German.

Along with English, German is one of 37 Germanic languages. This means that speakers of English find many words and grammatical structures in German that are related to German and make the study of German easier.

German and Science Germans collaborate on international projects such as Spacelab, Deep Earth Sampling in the Oceans, and the International Nautical Almanac. Germany is among the top three countries in high-tech-research and products. Nearly half of the pharmaceuticals in the US come from Germany and Switzerland. Germany is second only to the United States in the number of patents it produces.

Germany’s Economic Might Germany is one of the most highly developed and efficient industrial nations and, after the USA, Japan, and China, has the world’s fourth largest national economy. Germany is one of the top trading partners for Missouri and one of the top five sources of foreign direct investment in the United States. Over 1,000 major U.S companies do business in Germany, and German-speaking countries. Over 1,000 firms from German-speaking countries have subsidiaries in the U.S. German is also a key business language in Russia, the European Union, Central and Eastern Europe and parts of Asia.

For more information on the role of Germany and the German language in the world, see the following Internet link: