September 14th

German Language Day -

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As we mark the annual celebration of German Language Day, traditionally held on September 12th, it’s a moment to come together and celebrate one of the cornerstone languages of Europe. This day stands as a beacon for language enthusiasts, scholars, and the general public to come together in championing the German language – a tongue that resonates with cultural depth and intellectual legacy.

During this day, various events shine a spotlight on the critical role the German language plays in global heritage. From its illustrious contributions to literature and philosophy to its pivotal role in scientific discourse, the day is a chance to delve into the language’s nuances and revel in its linguistic charm.

History of German Language Day

The roots of the German tongue stretch back to the branching off of the Indo-European family tree, giving rise to the Germanic languages during the medieval period. The earliest documented stage is Old High German, spoken until around the mid-11th century, which then transitioned into Middle High German, spoken until the 14th century. This period gave way to Early New High German.

A significant step towards the German language as we now know it — New High German — began in the 16th century. This was propelled forward by the work of Martin Luther, whose Bible translation played a vital role in unifying the dialects spoken across the Germanic regions, crafting a cornerstone for the Standard German language.

The use of Standard German, also known as Hochdeutsch, gained a stronghold through compulsory education, the proliferation of the printing press, and the need for a shared administrative and academic language. This context allowed German to flourish into a global lingua franca rich in literature and tradition.

Observing German Language Day every 14th of September has been an established practice since 2001, instituted by the German Language Association (Verein Deutsche Sprache e.V., VDS). The date is chosen to honor the memory of Jacob Grimm, one-half of the renowned Grimm brothers, who passed away on this day. His impactful work in linguistics and as co-author of the seminal work “Deutsches Wörterbuch” is commemorated during this celebration, which aims to uphold the German linguistic legacy and promote its enduring significance across the globe.

German Language Day Timeline

Early Germanic Settlements

The emergence of various Germanic tribes, which will later influence the development of the German language.

Old High German Period Begins

The earliest stages of the German language are found in written form, marking the beginning of Old High German.

Transition to Middle High German

The period where Old High German evolves into Middle High German, introducing significant changes in phonetics and vocabulary.

Luther's Bible Translation

Martin Luther translates the Bible into German, effectively standardizing the German language and influencing its modern form.

First German Language Dictionary

The publication of the first comprehensive German dictionary by the Deutsches Wörterbuch.

Standardization of German Orthography

The standardization of German orthography begins, leading to the uniform spelling system that underpins German today.

German Spelling Reform

Germany, Austria, and Switzerland agree on a German spelling reform, which was designed to simplify the language and make it more consistent.

German Language Day

Celebration of German Language Day, commemorating and promoting the German language and its cultural heritage.

Ideas to Celebrate German Language Day

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Deutsche Kultur Fest

Host a German cultural festival featuring traditional music, dance, and attire. Include language workshops, poetry readings, and information booths about learning German. Encourage participants to practice speaking and immerse in the language.

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Kinoabend: German Cinema Night

Organize a movie night showcasing classic and contemporary German films. Provide subtitles for those still learning the language, and hold discussions afterwards to practice German and explore the cultural contexts of the films.

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Geschmack Deutschlands: A Taste of Germany

Celebrate German Language Day with a culinary event. Offer cooking classes that teach how to prepare German dishes. Use German language in recipes and instructions to create an engaging learning environment.

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Spiel und Spaß: German Language Games

Facilitate a game day focusing on German language board games, linguistic puzzles, and trivia. Include activities for different language levels to encourage everyone to participate and practice their German skills.

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Deutsche Musik und Poesie: Music and Poetry Night

Host an evening dedicated to German music and poetry. Invite participants to perform songs or read poems in German, fostering a deeper appreciation for the language's artistic expressions.

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Sprachtandem: Language Exchange Event

Pair up German learners with native speakers for a tandem language exchange. This mutual teaching experience benefits both parties and provides a real-life context for language use.

8 Interesting Facts About German Language


One of the World's Major Languages

German is the most widely spoken native language within the European Union and is an official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg.


Mark Twain's Playful Critique

Famous American author Mark Twain once wrote a humorous essay titled 'The Awful German Language', where he comically struggled with the complexities of German's three genders, challenging syntax, and the seemingly endless compound words.


Compound Word Wonders

German is known for its long compound words (Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän, meaning 'Danube steamship company captain'). This is because the language often combines nouns to create new words, a feature that can lead to incredibly lengthy and specific terms.


The Umlaut's Utility

The German language uses the umlaut (ä, ö, ü) to denote a change in vowel pronunciation. It can also alter the meaning of a word, which is crucial. For example, 'Schwester' means 'sister,' while 'Schwätzer' means 'babbler'.


Consistent Spelling Reform

German has undergone several spelling reforms called 'Rechtschreibreformen.' The most recent major reform was in 1996 with the goal to simplify German spelling and punctuation, and to make it easier to learn.


Inventors of the Printing Press

The German language played a significant role in the spread of literacy and knowledge in Europe. Johannes Gutenberg, a German, invented the movable-type printing press around 1440, and the first book ever printed was the Bible in Latin followed by many texts in German.


Influential Works of Literature

German literature boasts some of the most classic works. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 'Faust' and the tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, 'The Brothers Grimm', have had profound impacts on Western literature and are still widely read and adapted today.


A Language of Philosophers and Musicians

German is the language of some of the greatest thinkers and composers in history, including Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johann Sebastian Bach. Philosophical and musical works in their original language carry nuanced meanings that are often challenging to translate.

German Language Day FAQs

Next German Language Day Dates

Year Date Day
2023 September 14th Thursday
2024 September 14th Saturday
2025 September 14th Sunday
2026 September 14th Monday
2027 September 14th Tuesday
What is the pattern? Every September 14th

German Language Day Word Search

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