There are around 120 million speakers of German in 8 countries around the world. German is not just native to Germany: it is the official or co-official language in Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, part of Belgium, and Luxembourg. It is the first language of about 95 million people and the most widely spoken language in the European Union.
German is also one of the most widely taught foreign languages in the world.
The different kinds of German
With so many speakers spread across eight countries around the world, the usage of German is bound to vary making it a pluricentric language.
If one has heard of High and Low German, one must understand that it does not refer to any social order: this classification refers to the geographical part of Germany where the version of the language was/is spoken.
Low German (Niederdeutsch or Plattdeutsch) is spoken in the low-lying area of northern Germany. It is an old form of German in use even today. Low German also made its way across the oceans to the USA, Canada, and Brazil with the Mennonites when they left Germany to avoid religious pressure.
High or Upper German (Oberdeutsch or Hochdeutsch) was originally used in the southern highlands of Germany. It was popularised because of the translation of the Bible into German by Martin Luther in the 16th century.
This kind of German became today’s Standard German.
Standard German is a mixture of High German and different dialects, ‘artificially’ created by poets, philosophers, and scholars. When we talk of German today, Standard German is what we refer to, and this is what is taught in all language schools.
Germany: England’s close cousin
German and English are part of the West Germanic language family and are closely related.
King George I of Great Britain was a German import from Hanover and, even today, the British Royal family has Teutonic (read German) heritage.
English and German are related languages but far apart as to require translation. With English being a dominant world language, it is not surprising that translators and translation services are needed to travel freely between the two languages.
Deutsch nach Englisch: What is the need for translation into English and vice-versa?
Germany: the economic powerhouse
The obvious answer is that Germany is a power to reckon with even today when the world has come to mean the United States of America to most people.
Just consider that Hitler had brought Germany to decimation- financially and morally- at the end of World War II in 1945. Today, Germany is the largest national economy in Europe with the fifth largest GDP in the world. It has risen like the Phoenix from the ashes of WW II.
In 2016, Germany had the highest trade surplus in the world worth $310 billion. This makes the country an export giant. Germany, in fact, exports $1.27 trillion in goods and services every year.
Business and trade with Germany are highly desirable. All economic activity requires contracts, correspondence, documentation and legal activity: in short, all the wheels of commerce have to be greased to cut the deals. This is not possible if communication is a barrier. Professional translation services of the highest quality are, thus, in great demand.
Germany: the centre of culture
German philosophers like Kant, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer, have shaped western philosophy.
Mozart and Beethoven were German giants who strode the western classical music scene. Today, Germany is the largest music market in Europe and the third largest in the world.
10% of all books published worldwide are in the German Language.
German cinema, media, art and architecture, are no less renowned.
Man does not live by bread alone: the finer arts of life are what place humans as the highest form of Nature’s creations. In the absence of German to English translation, we stand to lose all that Germany has to offer in this regard.
Germany: the innovator in Science, Engineering and Technology
Germany has been home to the most prominent of scientists and researchers, generating more Nobel laureates than any other nation. Einstein was a German: need more be said?
Germany is a world leader in innovation. Leading universities and research institutes spearhead path-breaking work in technology and science and work in close collaboration with manufacturing and major engineering giants.
If the Arts are important to an elevated life, the sciences and engineering innovation are important to life itself.
The free to and fro flow of knowledge and information is impossible without German to English translation. Such translation has to be accurate, knowledgeable, and well researched: only an expert is capable of such a task.
Germany: home to mammoth manufacturers
Germany is a huge manufacturing hub. Who hasn’t heard of German-made automobiles? Mercedes Benz, Daimler, Porsche, Volkswagen, and BMW are brands that make your heart beat faster.
Pharmaceutical companies like Bayer and Siemens, sporting superstar Adidas, and Faber-Castell stationery are the very tip of the German manufacturing iceberg, though hot properties in the global scene as well.
Want to trade with the Germans? Being two-tongued takes on new meaning.
In conclusion, it must be stated that the world not only needs to interact with Germany but wants to. We cannot divorce the popularity of a language from the favourable global perception of the country of its birth. In other words, German is a sought after language globally because its Vaterland is a favoured country.
A global opinion poll by the BBC revealed that Germany is the second most respected nation in the world among FIFTY countries and that it has had the most positive influence in the world since 2011.
Still any doubts about the importance of German to English translation?