German: Hallo

Distribution: Countries include but not limited to: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Poland

Introduction: German is an Indo-European language.  Since English and German derive from the same language family, Germanic, the two languages are similar with regards to phonology, vocabulary, and syntax.  German exists with a wide variety of dialects; nonetheless, a standard language, "High German," is used for written communication, with a few small regional differences.

Cultural and Rhetorical Influences

  • Communicates directly; language is encoded for directness.

  • Addresses others using the person's last name and expects the same.

    • Very formal type of interaction (e.g. shaking hands with everyone in the room).

  • Takes as much time as needed to come to a decision which isn't easily influenced by others.


  • Verbs:

    • No present progressive.

    • No equivalent of the going to future.

    • No auxiliary do.

    • No present progressive.

    • Present perfect is typically used to talk about the past.

  • Three features of word order:

    • Nouns are capitalized.

    • The "th" spelling and sound are hard to learn because they don't exist in German..

    • Being an inflected language, parts of speech may be misused.

  • Stricter punctuation rules exist which can cause a person to overuse punctuation in English.

  • ◦Main verb must be the second element in independent clauses.

    ◦Past participle must be the last element in independent clauses.

    ◦Main verb must be the last element in dependent clauses.



Fischer, Boris. "German Culture." E-mail interview. 15 Apr. 2014.

Shoebottom, Paul. A Guide to Learning English. 1996. Website. 27 Apr. 2014.

Swan, Michael. "German Speakers." Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and Other Problems. Ed. Swan, Michael and Bernard Smith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 37-51. Print.