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German language

German Language


German is spoken primarily in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, in two-thirds of Switzerland, in two-thirds of the South Tyrol province of Italy (in German, Südtirol), in the small East Cantons of Belgium, and in some border villages of the South Jutland County (in German, Nordschleswig, in Danish, Sønderjylland) of Denmark.

In Luxembourg (in German, Luxemburg), as well as in the French régions of Alsace (in German, Elsass) and parts of Lorraine (in German, Lothringen), the native populations speak several German dialects, and some people also master standard German (especially in Luxembourg), although in Alsace and Lorraine French has for the most part replaced the local German dialects in the last 40 years.

German is the main language of about 100 million people in Europe (as of 2004), or 13.3% of all Europeans, being the second most spoken native language in Europe after Russian, above French (66.5 million speakers in 2004) and English (64.2 million speakers in 2004). German is the third most taught foreign language worldwide, also in the USA (after Spanish and French); it is the second most known foreign language in the EU (after English; see) It is one of the official languages of the European Union, and one of the three working languages of the European Commission, along with English and French.

Standard German is the only official language in Liechtenstein and Austria; it shares official status in Germany (with Danish and Sorbian as minority languages), Switzerland (with French, Italian and Romansh), and Luxembourg (with French and Luxembourgish). It is used as a local official language in German-speaking regions of Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and Poland. It is one of the 20 official languages of the European Union.

It is also a minority language in Poland, Canada, France, Russia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Togo, Cameroon, the USA, Namibia, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico, Hungary, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Croatia, Ukraine, Argentina, and Australia.