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Languages of Germany

Federal Republic of Germany, Bundesrepublik Deutschland. 82,652,000. 5,241,801 without German citizenship (1990 official figures). National or official language: Standard German. Literacy rate: 99%. Immigrant languages: Adyghe (2,000), Algerian Spoken Arabic (26,000), Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Catalan-Valencian-Balear, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic (3,000), Chechen, Croatian (652,000), Dimli, Dutch (101,000), English (273,000), Greek (314,000), Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi (24,500), Italian (548,000), Japanese (20,000), Jutish, Kabuverdianu (3,000), Kalmyk-Oirat, Kazakh, Kirmanjki, Korean (14,000), Latvian (8,000), Laz (1,250), Moroccan Spoken Arabic (44,200), Northern Kurdish (541,000), Osetin, Portuguese (78,000), Russian (360,000), Spanish (134,000), Tamil (35,000), Tarifit, Tigrigna (15,000), Tosk Albanian (25,000), Tunisian Spoken Arabic (26,000), Turkish (2,110,000), Turkmen, Turoyo (20,000), Urdu (23,000), Uyghur, Vietnamese (60,000), Western Farsi (90,000). Also includes speakers of Chinese varieties (40,000), and languages of Afghanistan (29,000). Information mainly from S. Barbour and P. Stevenson 1990; B. Comrie 1987; M. Stephens 1976. Blind population: 82,000 in western Germany, including 51,000 blind, 31,000 severely visually handicapped (1989 SB). Deaf population: 50,000 to 8,000,000 (VanCleve 1986). Deaf institutions: 141. The number of individual languages listed for Germany is 28. Of those, 27 are living languages and 1 has no known speakers.
Bavarian

[bar] 6,000,000 in Germany (2005). North Bavarian: north of Regensburg, to Nuremburg and Western Bohemia, Czech Republic; Central Bavarian: Alps and Salzburg; South Bavarian: Bavarian Alps, Tyrol, Styria, including the Heanzian dialect of Burgenland, Carinthia, northern Italy, and part of Gottschee in Slovenia. Alternate names: Bairisch, Bavarian Austrian, Bayerisch.  Dialects: Central Bavarian, North Bavarian, South Bavarian.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Upper German, Bavarian-Austrian 
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Danish

[dan] 21,000 in Germany (2000). South Schleswig. Alternate names: Dänisch, Dansk.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, North, East Scandinavian, Danish-Swedish, Danish-Riksmal, Danish 
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Frankish

[frk] Extinct.  Alternate names: Fränkisch, Old Frankish.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, West Middle German, Eastern Franconian 
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Frisian, Eastern

[frs] 2,000 in Germany (2003). Population total all countries: 6,370. Ostfriesland, Lower Saxony, Emden and Oldenburg towns area; Saterland, Jeverland, and Butjadingen. Reportedly used only in Saterland, Eastern Frisia in 1998. Also in Canada, United States. Alternate names: Ostfriesisch.  Dialects: Not intelligible with Western Frisian [fry] of the Netherlands or Northern Frisian [frr] (1978 E. Matteson) or Saterfriesisch [stq] (2001 W. Smidt). Lexical similarity: 77% with Standard German, 74% with Western Frisian [fry].  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Low Saxon-Low Franconian 
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Frisian, Northern

[frr] 10,000 (Stephens 1976). Ethnic population: 60,000 (Stephens 1976). Schleswig-Holstein, coastal strip between Eider River south and Wiedau River north; adjacent islands Föhr, Amrum, Sylt, Norstrand, Pellworm, the ten islands of Halligen group, and Helgoland. Alternate names: Nordfriesisch.  Dialects: Mooringer (Mooringa, Mainland Frisian), Ferring (Fohr-Amrum), Sölreng (Sylt), Helgoland. Ferring dialect is actively used. Not intelligible to Eastern Frisian [frs] of Germany or Western Frisian [fry] of the Netherlands except by a few educated bilingual speakers of Western Frisian. Lexical similarity: 70% between the Mooringer dialect and Standard German, 55% with English, 66% with Eastern Frisian [frs], the Föhr dialect has 69% with Standard German, 62% with English, 68% with Western Frisian [fry], 73% with Eastern Frisian [frs], 86% with the Mooringer dialect, 91% with the Amrum dialect; the Sylt dialect has 64% with Standard German, 61% with English, 79% with the Mooringer dialect, 85% with the Föhr dialect.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Frisian 
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German Sign Language

[gsg] 50,000 (Van Cleve 1986). 22,000 members of German Deaf Association. West. Alternate names: Deutsche Gebärdensprache, Dgs.  Dialects: Many regional lexical variations. Some similarity to French [fsl] and other European sign languages. Relation to sign languages of eastern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is not known. More than one sign language used in eastern Germany.  Classification: Deaf sign language 
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German, Standard

[deu] 75,300,000 in Germany (1990). Population total all countries: 90,294,110. Also in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Moldova, Mozambique, Namibia, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation (Europe), Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan. Alternate names: Deutsch, Tedesco.  Dialects: Major related language areas are Bavarian [bar], Schwäbian [swg], Alemannisch [gsw], Mainfränkisch [vmf], Hessisch, Palatinian, Rheinfränkisch, Westfälisch [wep], Saxonian, Thuringian, Brandenburgisch, and Low Saxon [nds]. Many varieties are not mutually inherently intelligible. Our present treatment is incomplete. Standard German is one High German variety, which developed from the chancery of Saxony, gaining acceptance as the written standard in the 16th and 17th centuries. High German refers to dialects and languages in the upper Rhine region. Lexical similarity: 60% with English, 29% with French.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, East Middle German 
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German, Swiss

[gsw]  Southwest, south Baden-Wuerttemberg. Alternate names: Alemannic, Alemannisch.  Dialects: Low Alemannisch, High Alemannisch.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Upper German, Alemannic 
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Kabardian

[kbd] 14,000 in Germany (2005 Circassian Association).  Classification: North Caucasian, West Caucasian, Circassian 
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Kölsch

[ksh] 250,000 (1997 H. Jakobs). Cologne (Köln) area. Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, West Middle German, Ripuarian Franconian 
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Limburgish

[lim]  German-administered Limburg: Cleves, Aachen, Viersen, Heinsberg. Alternate names: Limberger, Limburgan, Limburgian, Limburgic, Limburgs Plat.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, West Middle German, Rhenisch Franconian 
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Luxembourgeois

[ltz] Few in Germany. West, Bitburg area. Alternate names: Letzburgisch, Lëtzebuergesch, Luxemburgian, Moselle Franconian.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, West Middle German, Moselle Franconian 
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Mainfränkisch

[vmf] 4,910,000 (2006). Mostly River Main area, including Mainz, west of Frankfurt. Alternate names: Upper Franconian.  Dialects: Approximately 40% inherently intelligible with Standard German.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, West Middle German, Moselle Franconian 
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Pfaelzisch

[pfl]  Southwest Palatinate, Rheinpfalz. Alternate names: Pfälzisch, Pfälzische.  Dialects: Various dialects.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, West Middle German, Rhenisch Franconian 
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Plautdietsch

[pdt] 90,000 in Germany (1996 R. Epp).  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Low Saxon-Low Franconian, Low Saxon 
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Polish

[pol] 241,000 in Germany.  Alternate names: Polnisch, Polski.  Classification: Indo-European, Slavic, West, Lechitic 
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Romani, Balkan

[rmn] 3,500 in Germany. 2,000 Arlija and 1,500 Dzambazi.  Dialects: Arlija (Erli), Dzambazi.  Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Balkan 
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Romani, Sinte

[rmo] 80,000 in Germany (2000). Ethnic population: 200,000. Hamburg; colonies south. Alternate names: Rommanes, Sinte, Sintí, Ziguener.  Dialects: Gadschkene, Estracharia, Krantiki, Kranaria, Eftawagaria, Praistiki.  Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Northern 
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Romani, Vlax

[rmy] 5,750 in Germany. 2,500 Lovari, 2,500 to 4,000 Kalderash.  Dialects: Lovari, Kalderash.  Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Vlax 
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Saterfriesisch

[stq] 5,000 (2001 W. Smidt). Saterland, East Frisia. Alternate names: Saterfriesiesch, Saterlandic Frisian, Saterländisch.  Dialects: Not intelligible with Eastern Frisian [frs]. Related to Western Frisian [fry], Northern Frisian [frr].  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Frisian 
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Saxon, Low

[nds] 1000. 10,000,000 understand it in Germany, but many fewer are native speakers (1996 R. Hahn). North; Lower Rhine region, Aachen to Wittenberg. Alternate names: Low German, Nedderdütsch, Neddersassisch, Nedersaksisch, Niedersaechsisch, Plattdüütsch.  Dialects: Northern Low Saxon, Eastphalian (Ostfaelisch, Ostfälisch), Holsteinisch, Mecklenburg-Anterior Pomerania (Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch), Mark-Brandenburg (Maerkisch-Brandenburgisch, Märkisch-Brandenburgisch, East Prussian). Listed dialects are in Germany. The first 3 dialects listed are Western Low Saxon, the other 2 are Eastern Low Saxon. Not intelligible to speakers of Standard German. A direct descendant of Old Saxon, related to English. 20 to 30 dialects with differing inherent intelligibility, depending on geographic distance. They did not experience the second consonantal shift of the 8th and 9th centuries (J. Thiessen, U. of Winnipeg 1976). Modern forms have been largely suppressed until recently and have received much Hindi, Dutch [nld], or Frisian influence, depending on the area. Low Saxon varieties are listed as separate entries in the Netherlands, where they have official status. Pomerano is used in Latin America. Westphaelian [wep] and Plautdietsch [pdt] also have separate entries.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Low Saxon-Low Franconian, Low Saxon 
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Saxon, Upper

[sxu] 2,000,000 (1998 A. Thomsen). East, southeast, Sachsen with Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, Halle in Sachsen-Anhalt. Dialects: Erzgebirgisch, Hessian (Hessisch).  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, East Middle German 
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Sorbian, Lower

[dsb] 7,000 in Germany (1995). Population total all countries: 7,240. Ethnic population: 50,000. East, Niederlausitz (Dolna Luzica), Cottbus (Chósebuz) main town. Ethnic group has over 60 towns and villages. Also in United States. Alternate names: Bas Sorabe, Delnoserbski, Lluzykie, Lower Lusatian, Lusatian, Luzycki, Niedersorbisch, Wendish.  Classification: Indo-European, Slavic, West, Sorbian 
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Sorbian, Upper

[hsb] 18,000 in Germany (1995). Population total all countries: 18,240. Ethnic population: 45,000. East, Upper Saxony state, Bautzen (Budysin), and Kamenz. Also in United States. Alternate names: Haut Sorabe, Hornjoserbski, Hornoserbski, Obersorbisch, Upper Lusatian, Wendish.  Dialects: Bautzen, Kamenz.  Classification: Indo-European, Slavic, West, Sorbian 
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Swabian

[swg] 819,000 (2006). Ethnic population: 820,168 (2000). Southwest, Wuerttemberg; east Baden-Wuerttemberg; Schwaben; west Bavaria. Alternate names: Schwäbisch, Schwaebisch, Suabian.  Dialects: A variety of Highest Alemannisch [gsw]. More distinct than Bavarian [bar] from Standard German. 40% inherently intelligible with Standard German (estimate). Swabian of the Black Forest is different from Swabian in the Alb (Kloss 1978).  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Upper German, Alemannic 
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Westphalien

[wep]  Northwest, Westphalia. Alternate names: Westfaelisch, Westfälisch.  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, Low Saxon-Low Franconian, Low Saxon 
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Yeniche

[yec] 16,000 in Germany (2006). Also in Austria, France, Netherlands, Switzerland. Alternate names: German Travellers, Jenisch, Yenishe.  Dialects: German with a heavy cryptolectal lexical influsion from Traveller Danish [rmd], Western Yiddish [yih], Vlax Romani [rmy], and Hebrew [heb].  Classification: Mixed language, German-Yiddish-Romani-Rotwelsch 
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Yiddish, Western

[yih] 5,000 in Germany. 11,000,000 first and L2 speakers wordwide. Population total all countries: 5,400. Ethnic population: 49,210 in Germany (2000). Southwestern is south; Midwestern in central Germany; Northwestern is north. Also in Belgium, France, Hungary, Israel, Netherlands, Switzerland. Alternate names: Judeo-German, Yiddish, Yidish.  Dialects: Southwestern Yiddish, Midwestern Yiddish, Northwestern Yiddish. Originated in Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Alsace (France), Czechoslovakia, western Hungary. “The variety of Western Yiddish in Hungary is probably the most readily intelligible to Yiddish speakers in Romania, the Baltic, and the Slavic countries in the East. The Western Yiddish variety in Holland less so; the Western Yiddish in Alsace (France) and Switzerland, least so” (M. Herzog 1997).  Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, Yiddish 
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