About the German Language
German is spoken by approximately 80 million people in Germany, and by several million in other European countries such as
Austria (7 million), Luxemburg (c.300,000), Switzerland (3.4 million), and the region of Alsace-Lorraine in France (1.5 million).
Other countries outside Europe where German is spoken are Canada (c.330,000), Brazil (c.550,000), and the United States (the
Pennsylvania Dutch, who left Germany during the 18th century, speak a Rhine-Franconian dialect).
In the last few years there have been various attempts to change German spelling, which was
consolidated at the end of the 19th century in the Rechtschreibung der Deutschen Sprache (Orthography of the German Language),
by the German philologist Konrad Duden. After much controversy, all except one of the Bundeslander accepted the Rechtschreibreform
('spelling reform'). The Bundesland of Schleswig-Hollstein refused to accept the orthographical changes, but has since fallen
To the English native speaker, the main difference between English and German is the use of
grammatical genders and cases, which determine the endings of words. The structure of German and English sentences also differ
in many instances.