German Language Day – September 14, 2019

Fri Sep 13

It’s one of the longest words in German and something to consider on National German Language Day, which occurs every September 14. 

“Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” may seem like gibberish to the non-German language speaker. In actuality, this word (which we won’t even attempt to pronounce) is now obsolete. It translates as  “Beef labeling monitoring delegation Act.” And yet, today, we mourn its loss.

German is the language of poets Bertolt Brecht, Rainer Maria Rilke and the classic Weimar-era cinema.  To promote the language and encourage more people to learn it, the German Language Association (VDS) created this day 17 years ago,  helping to  revive the speaking of German across the globe.

German Language Day timeline

1st century B.C.

The first recorded use of German

Historical records reveal that ancient Romans were in contact with German speakers.

1522

Lutherbibel is published

Luther translates the Bible into German, providing a people's alternative to the dominance of Latin.

1981

Famous German war movie, "Das Boot," is released

Directed by Wolfgang Peterson, this German classic earned fame all over the world.

2001

German Language Day debuts

The German Language Association (VDS) celebrated this day for the first time, embarking on an endeavor to promote the German language, worldwide.

German Language Day Activities

  1. German, anyone?

    Learning German can be a whole lot of fun, especially when you actually get a chance to use it on a European trip. But if you can't travel to Germany, right here in the United States, there are German pastry shops or bookstores where you can try out what you've learned.

  2. Read a German classic

    Even an English translation will do. Because the more that you read, the more you'll learn. National German Language Day is also a great day to watch some classic German horror films like "Nosferatu" or "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari."

  3. Have a beer. Prost!

    Okay, so this is not exactly Oktoberfest. But as far as we know, anything German calls for a cold beer. And a meaty, bratwurst!

5 Facts About The German Language That Will Untwist Your Tongue

  1. It's the sixth most widely-spoken language

    By ranking, these are the most widely-spoken languages in the world: Chinese (encompassing both Mandarin and Cantonese,) English, Hindi-Urdu, Spanish, Russian and German. It's also the most widely-spoken language in Europe. Gut gemacht!

  2. German is the language of writers and thinkers

    Goethe, Schiller, Brecht, Marx, Nietzsche — great thinkers all, were masters of the German language.

  3. German and English are sister languages

    Both languages are a part of the West Germanic languages. German and English have greatly influenced each other’s cultures and sometimes, there's also a little sibling rivalry!

  4. Unlike English, German has three genders

    Masculine, feminine, and neuter. If that's hard to wrap your mind (and your mouth) around; some languages, like Polish, have six grammatical genders!

  5. German has some funny proverbs

    "Das ist nicht dein Bier" translates as, "that’s not your beer." But what it really means is, "this is none of your business, stay out!"

Why We Love German Language Day

  1. German is the most widely-spoken language in Europe

    Spoken by 95 million people worldwide, German is the native language of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Plus, it's fascinating when one German word contains 80 letters!

  2. Language and culture go hand-in-hand

    In a world where English is becoming the go-to language on the international stage; individual countries are working hard to maintain their own national lingua franca. Reviving the German language is also an attempt to preserve the culture and history of Germany. But if you want to learn contemporary German, watch German television on National German Language Day.

  3. Forgetting your mother tongue is a real loss

    For German children living outside Germany, learning and speaking their mother tongue is one of the most important ways they can connect to their culture and heritage. It's also an added asset to be bilingual or even trilingual in today's international business climate.