Languages of the world: 3. German

Languages of the world:

German is a West Germanic language related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 100 million native speakers, German is one of the world’s major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union.

Some of it its words come from Latin and Greek and fewer from English and French.

As Germany was divided into many different states in the 8th century AD, the only force working for a unification or standardization of German for several hundred years was the general wish of writers to be understood by as many readers as possible.

The 2nd Orthographical Conference ended in 1901 with a complete standardisation of the German language in its written form and three years earlier the Deutsche Bühnensprache had established rules for German.

If we have a look in Europe, German is natively spoken in Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, but its use is shared with other different languages in Switzerland and Luxembourg. In the rest of the world, German is spoken by communities having the largest ones in The USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Australia and South Africa.

Facts:

  • The first printed book in the world was in German. Johannes Gutenberg invented book printing and printed the first book in the world – a 42-page bible – in 1455.
  • The oldest existing book written in the German language is probably Abrogans, an 8th century manuscript dictionary of translations from Latin into Old High German
  • German belongs to the three most learned languages in the world and is the tenth most widely spoken language in the world and fifth on the Internet.
  • German is among the top five most widely used languages on the Internet. German has 3 genders, ‘masculine’, ‘feminine’ and also ‘neuter’.

der – masculine
die – feminine
das – neuter

  • The German language is exceptionally famous for forming long words. Some examples are:

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz
A 63-letter long word meaning: Beef labeling regulation & delegation of supervision law.

Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft for Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.

Some words which come from German and you may already know are:

  • You perhaps went to a Kindergarten as a child.
  • Zeitgeist, meaning ‘the spirit of the times’.

Here are some false friends:

  • The German word Gift means poison.
  • Mist is the translation of “bird droppings”.
  • An advice in German is a Rat. The animal rat is written Ratte.
  • Gymnasium in German is not a gymnasium in English. It actually means Grammar School.
  • Sympathisch means nice in English and if you want to say sympathetic the correct word is mitfuehlend.

Here, at the University of Almería, you can find German courses in our “centro de lenguas”.

bis bald !

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Languages of the World: 2.French

Today we are going to learn a little bit more about the French language.

French is a descendant of the spoken Latin language of the Roman Empire, as are languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Catalan, Sicilian and Sardinian. It is spoken officially in 29 countries by more than 115 million people and around 275 million speak it as a second language. It is an official language of United Nations, European Union and a large number of international organizations.

French speakers will number approximately 500 million people in 2025 and 650 million people, or approximately seven percent of the world’s population by 2050.

It is the second most common language in Canada, after English, and both are official languages at the federal level.

A majority of the world’s French-speaking population lives in Africa. It is estimated that 115 million African people spread across 31 Francophone African countries can speak French as either a first or a second language. The total French-speaking population is expected to reach 700 million people in 2050.

French was the most important language of diplomacy and international relations from the 17th century to approximately the middle of the 20th century. English has taken over that role since then.

Facts:

  • The French counting system is partially vigesimal: twenty (vingt) is used as a base number in the names of numbers from 60 to 99. The French word for 80 is quatre-vingts, literally “four twenties”, and the word for 75 is soixante-quinze, literally “sixty-fifteen”
  • French is second only to English for the number of countries where it has official status.
  • The number of French speakers has tripled since 1945 largely because most of the former French and Belgian colonies kept French as their language of government, education and science after decolonization.
  • The Agence universitaire de la Francophonie networks 630 French language universities and more than 350 French faculties worldwide, for a total of 120,000 professors and researchers.
  • About a third to a half of basic English words come from French, including pedigree, surf, view, strive, challenge, pride, staunch and war.
  • At the time of the French Revolution, 75% of French citizens did not speak French as a mother tongue. Until the 19th century, French was spoken more widely in Holland and Germany than in some parts of France.
  • The letter ‘w’ appears only in foreign words within the French language.
  • French spelling generally reflects the language as it was spoken four or five centuries ago and is therefore, a poor guide to modern pronunciation.
  • French is the second most commonly-taught second language in the world (after English).
  • One of the longest sentences in literature comes from Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”: 823 words without a period.
  • If you learn French, you’ll have a head start in learning other languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Italian or Catalan

False friends (Faux amis) in French:

  • Sensible means sensitive
  • A deception is a disappointment
  • Journal is a newspaper
  • Actuellement: Sounds like ‘actually’… but it means ‘at the current time’. Actually would be ‘en fait’.
  • Caution in French means a deposit, guarantee or bail, in financial terms.
  • Forcément is equal to necessarily.
  • Réalisation is to complete or accomplish something.
  • La chair is the skin, not something where you can sit down.
  • Le four is not a number, it refers to the oven.
  • Laid is someone ugly.

Here, at the University of Almería, you can find French courses in our “centro de lenguas”.

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Á bientôt !

Spain’s National Day

From the University of Almería and the Vice-Chancellorship of Internationalization and Cooperation for Development we wish you happy “Día del Pilar” which is also “Spain’s National Day”.

On this day we commemorate the 520th Anniversary of America’s discovery by Christopher Columbus. It is known as “Columbus Day” in the United States and as “Día de la Raza” in various Latin American countries.

Happy Spain’s National Day !!!

Languages of the World: 1.Spanish

Languages of the world:

In this section we are going to talk about clichés, topics and other interesting information related to languages throughout the world.

We are starting this trip with the Spanish language.

Spanish (also called Castilian) is a Romance language that originated in Spain. It is estimated that there are more than 420 million people all around the world with Spanish as mother tongue, making it the second most widely spoken language in terms of native speakers (after Chinese). Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and is used as an official language by the European Union and Mercosur.

It is spoken officially in 21 countries:

Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, SADR, Spain and Venezuela. Being “de facto” in: Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay.

Spanish is also a very important language in the United States, where more than 50 million people use it every day.

Facts:

  • From year 1252 to 1284, King Alfonso X standardized the official language in Castile and Leon.  He was known also as Alfonso the Wise, or Learned, because of his ardent study of Roman philosophy of law and social mores.
  • The Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española) is the accepted authority of correct, standard Spanish. Beginning in the 18th century.
  • Spanish is one of the world’s most phonetic languages. If you know how a word is spelled, you can almost always know how it is pronounced.
  • The first Spanish grammar was created by Elio Antonio de Nebrija and published in 1492, the same year Columbus discovered America.
  • Spanish is expected to be the first language of 50% of the population of the United States within 50 years.
  • If you learn Spanish, you will have a head start in learning other languages such as French, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan or Romanian
  • The demand for Spanish courses has doubled worldwide in ten years.
  • The most difficult words for foreigners are probably the rolled r (-rr) sound such as in jarra, ferrocarril, carretera or zorro and the dr sound which we can find in the words dromedario or cocodrilo.
  • Some false friends that we can find in Spanish are as follows:
    • Asistir meansto attend; to say assist, the word ayuda is used.
    • Carpeta is not acarpet, it is a folder.
    • Constiparse is tocatch a cold.
    • decepciónis a disappointment, not a deception (engaño).
    • Embarazada is apregnant woman, if someone is embarrassed, he or she is avergonzado/a.
    • Éxito is asuccess, not an exit.
    • Recordar means to rememberor to remind.
    • Sensible is the Spanish word for sensitive and not sensible (sensato)
    • Tuna is a college musical club, if you want to order the fish tuna you had better ask for atún.

Here, at the University of Almería, you can find Spanish courses in our “centro de lenguas”.

¡ Hasta la próxima !