Why German is Considered the Language of Writers and Thinkers

By Sean Patrick Hopwood

Riddled with quirky traits and poetic descriptions, the German language is a fascinating one. But why is German called “Das Land der Dichter und Denker”? In this article, we take a look at some wonderful and fun facts about one of the world’s most intriguing languages to explore why it’s considered the language of writers and thinkers!

Das Land der Dichter und Denker

The German phrase translates to ‘The Land of Poets and Thinkers,’ and it’s a common nickname for Germany. German culture ran through the veins of many famous minds that influenced the way the rest of the world reads and interacts with each other.

From Goethe and Schiller to Heine, Mozart, Beethoven, Fred, Klimt, and Einstein, German was spoken by many brilliant leaders and continues to stand tall as one of the most important cultural languages in the world. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, for example, the writer of Faust, is considered one of the greatest national treasures of Germany.

Interesting Facts About the German Language

Did you know that German is among the top 15 most widely-spoken languages on earth? It’s estimated that roughly 1.4% of the world’s population are German speakers. Here are some more interesting facts about the German language that prove that it’s the language of writers and thinkers!

German is a Close Relative to the English Language

German is a West Germanic language, just like the English language. This means that the languages share a lot of similarities and are actually closely related. However, there are many words that look and sound the same, but have totally different meanings!

Proverbs in the German Language Can be Bizarre at Times

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei – Everything has an end; only a sausage has two. What it really means, however, is that all good things must come to an end at some point.

Das ist nicht dein Bier! – That’s not your beer. The meaningful translation would be that it is none of your business.

In German, All Nouns are Capitalized

If you’ve ever read a newspaper in a part of the German-speaking world, you’d have noticed how the paragraphs are permeated with extra-long words that are written in capital letters. That is because they write all nouns in capital letters. And it’s also part of the reason why written German is such a captivating language.

German is Full of Unique Words Describing German Philosophy

One notable aspect of the German language is its ability to create new, super-specific words that help to express life much more accurately than the English language could ever dream of. Schadenfreude, for example, literally translates the kind of happiness that is derived from someone else’s misfortune or pain. Then there’s Torschlusspanik, the word used to summarize the fear that creeps in with old age and the realization that one doesn’t have much time left, and this evokes a sense of urgency to do certain things before it’s too late.

Many German Words are Compounded Nouns

Did you know that many of the scarily-long German words can probably be broken down into smaller nouns? The German language is well-known for building new words from existing ones. A good example is Handschuhe. It combines the words Hand and Schue (which means shoes) to form a new word for ‘hand shoes’ and literally translates to ‘gloves’ in the English language.

It’s the European Union’s Most Widely-Spoken Language and the Heart of German Culture

Aside from being the official language of Germany, German is also an official language in Austria and Liechtenstein. It’s also a co-official language of Luxembourg and Switzerland, and thus, it is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the European Union! However, the dialect isn’t the same everywhere across the German-speaking world of the European Union, and depending on where you are in Germany, you’ll encounter various German dialects.

Nouns are Masculine, Feminine, or Gender-Neutral

All German nouns have genders, but the gender doesn’t comply with the gender of the object; it’s purely grammatical. According to Mark Twain, young ladies aren’t classified as a specific sex, but turnips are definitely female.

German was the Proud Owner of the World’s Longest Foreign Language Word

The supercalifragilisticexpialidocious you were thinking about might be the longest word in the English language, but German history used to top that! The 63-letter Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, which means ‘the law concerning the delegation of duties for the supervision of cattle marking and the labeling of beef’ was too much for even the native German speakers. The word was eventually declared obsolete.

Germanic Script only Emerged in the Middle of the 20th Century!

German used to be written with the Fraktur script from the Latin alphabet up until the middle of the twentieth century. Gothic calligraphy was introduced to the language in the 16th century and was in use in German Universities until the end of the Second World War.

Wrapping Up

With all its unique quirks, fascinating words, and captivating phrases, German certainly is a wonderful language that can describe life and all its experiences in a very unique way. It’s no wonder the language is considered the best one that poets and philosophers can use to express their ideas! 

So while a German citizen might call their language the language of poets because that’s what they were taught, there’s a very good reason why the rest of the world also agrees. German is one of the richest languages on earth thanks to its huge variety of words. 

They have words to describe sounds, processes, and even the effects of certain emotional states, and very few other languages can boast of this. And it is in philosophy and poetry where words are armor to keep up the good fight of spreading knowledge!

 Author Bio:

Sean Patrick Hopwood is the President of Day Translations, an academic evaluation services provider. He is also a language polyglot and can speak English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Hebrew, and Portuguese with varying levels of fluency. Soccer is one of his many passions. It allows him to socialize with his friends and brings him in close contact with people from other cultures. He loves to dance and salsa is one of his favorite styles.

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