German language is similar to which language?

So, one of the ways I learnt English language is by understanding Latin and Greek roots and we can say that large part of English is derived from these languages.
However, now I am learning German language and the words seem different to me. To my surprise, I watched a movie in German where subtitles were both in German and English. English language is more concise on the other hand, German language is more verbose but flexible when it comes to structuring words.
So, German language is derived from which language or languages?
Thanks for your input!


The language was created directly by Odin. But then Thor and Loki messed it up quite good. They always argued about how to make the language more difficult and absurd for us, poor language learners. They were having fun in creating compound words longer and longer, and that’s on us right now! :rofl:

PS: I leave to others with way more knowledge than me to explain you in simple manners about Saxons, Indo-European and Proto-Germanic… :open_mouth:


I think it’s good to consider from frame of reference of both inheritance and borrowing. English has Germanic inherited words–rank, line, and set. And borrowed words–series, order, and sequence.

A simple answer (Germanic) / response (Latinate) can be hard / difficult.

On the question of inheritance, German is a Western Germanic language and, as a Germanic language, an Indo-European language. With English and German being both Western Germanic languages, you’ll find many cognates, albeit often in “simpler” vocabulary, such as that which was used in daily ancient rural life.

On the question of borrowing, German has definitely borrowed from Latin (20% - 30%), Greek (5% - 10%), and most recently English (5% - 10%), and even French (3% - 5%) along with smaller amounts coming from other languages as well. German students, too, eat pizza while studying their algebra.


The ancestor of German and other Germanic language is:

"The common Germanic ancestor is the reconstructed proto-language from which all Germanic languages descended. This proto-language, often referred to simply as Proto-Germanic, is estimated to have been spoken around 500 BCE to 500 CE.

Proto-Germanic was the common ancestor of the various Germanic languages, including Old English, Old Norse, Old High German, Old Saxon, and others. Over time, these languages evolved and diversified into the modern Germanic languages spoken today, such as English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian.

Proto-Germanic likely originated in the area around what is now southern Scandinavia and northern Germany, spreading through migrations and interactions with neighboring peoples. It underwent significant changes and diversification as Germanic-speaking tribes migrated to different regions of Europe during the early medieval period.

Linguists have reconstructed Proto-Germanic through comparative linguistics, analyzing the similarities and differences among the attested Germanic languages and applying sound laws and other linguistic principles to trace back to their common ancestor. While there are uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge, scholars have made significant progress in understanding the phonology, grammar, and vocabulary of Proto-Germanic." (ChatGPT).

You could have asked ChatGPT, Copilot etc. yourself and have gotten an answer in a few secs…


Linguists classify English as a West Germanic language which also includes Dutch and German, and others. This is because it is descended from Anglo Saxon, which was brought to England when various Germanic tribes settled in England, primarily the south and east. Thus it displaced the native brythonic language. However, it has lost the case structure and grammatical gender that German has largely retained. It also has about 2/3 of its vocabulary originating in French and Latin. And word order is quite different from German, and far more like that of French.

To me English is more of a pidgin, being a simplified Germanic framework onto which we have added a significant latinate body.

To me English and French seem quite close, whereas English and German seem far more distant.

The process whereby English lost its Germanic grammar is not understood, all we know is that old English was spoken, or at least written, till about the eleventh century, and sometime, perhaps before the end of that period, the spoken language started to fall apart. Many believe it was due to contact between native old english speakers and norse invaders, or perhaps even due to native brythonic influence, or maybe a mix of both influences. Alternatively we just decided we’d had enough Germanic grammar.

Some Germanic languages or dialects in Europe have also lost case and gender, though some are disappearing.

The one area where French is very different is the phonetics. France is populated by Inspector Clouseau impersonators. The vowels are pure, and the timing is syllabic, like Italian and Spanish. Both English and German have stress timing, and lots of diphthongs. Thus German is easier to pronounce for an English speaker and vice versa.


It might help to look into the different sound shifts within the Germanic language family in order to learn vocabulary more easily:


Incidentally, German is descended from Proto Indo European (PIE) along with French, Russian, Danish etc. However, German has a lot of vocabulary that cannot be traced back to PIE, and it has some unusual features, especially the creation of the past tense of some verbs by the changing of a root vowel. Thus ich gebe and ich gab. We see the same in English of course, That is believed to originate in semitic languages, as ancient semitic languages had exactly the same structure. We don’t know for sure, but German might have originated when a semitic tribe started to speak PIE, and brought over some of their vocabulary and grammar.

Languages are fascinating. The evolution of the vowel change to indicate a past tense is also fascinating.