Does the German Language Differ Much From the Dutch Language?

Yes, the German language differs from the Dutch language in a multitude of ways. Like Dutch, the German language is part of the Germanic languages. German is of course spoken in Germany, but also other countries. For example, think of Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Luxembourg. German is often compared to Dutch, but how similar are the languages really?

The Origin of the German Language

Did you know that there are four types of German? Old High German was spoken from about 500 AD until the year 1050. In the eleventh century, Old High German gradually transformed into Middle High German. This language was spoken from 1050 until about 1350 and became the forerunner of Early New High German. The latter was spoken between 1350 and 1650. Early New High German was the direct predecessor of modern New High German. This is the German language as we know it today. German is the most spoken language in the European Union, with roughly 120 million native speakers. It is the second most widely spoken language in Europe, after Russian.

Similarities With the German Language

Like Spanish and Italian, German and Dutch are often compared with each other. Both languages are written with the Latin alphabet. Nevertheless, the languages differ in certain respects. Take the grammar, for instance. Dutch grammar has become more simplified over the years. The German language has four grammatical cases, whereas Dutch has none. The Dutch language therefore significantly differs from the German language.

German Vocabulary

Dutch vocabulary has similarities with German vocabulary. The main reason for these similarities is the language family. Both Dutch and German are Germanic languages. Most Dutch words are somewhat similar in both form and meaning to their German counterparts. The languages are also similar when it comes to pronunciation. Nevertheless, it remains difficult for many Dutch speakers to understand the correct meaning of certain German words. Many related words have a slightly different meaning in German than in Dutch. For instance, take the word see. The German word see is translated into the Dutch word ‘meer’ (meaning ‘lake’). At the same time, the Dutch word ‘zee’ (meaning ‘sea’) is translated into the German word meer. Because the languages are very similar, this can be quite confusing for novice speakers.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are also reflected in communication. After all, understanding a language is not only about language skills, but also about the correct choice of words and linguistic habits of the interlocutor. It is often said that Germans communicate a little more distantly and more business-like than the Dutch. For example, in Germany it is wise to address strangers more formally. Also common in Germany is that they are more likely to expect an international interlocutor to speak German instead of the more universal English. Relatively few German employees speak the English language. Want to be assured of a correct German translation? Translation Agency Textwerk is happy to assist you.