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German linguistics resources

This semester I am teaching a German Linguistics course to undergraduates. Below are some of the resources I use for the course: first a brief description of each of the textbooks I use, and secondly, a list of free online resources to support the course. If anyone would like a copy of the syllabus I use in the course, you can contact me directly (admin at to request it.

These are the textbooks I use when teaching my German Linguistics course:

Exploring the German Language
Exploring the German Language by Sally Johnson
This book is a clearly and concisely written introduction to the linguistics of German that is accessible to undergraduates. Each topic is treated with enough detail to give students a solid background in linguistic concepts but without overwhelming them with unnecessary information. It also contains a range of exercises to accompany each chapter so that students can practice the concepts they are learning. For those who want to use the book for independent learning, there is an answer key for the exercises at the back of the book.


Modern German Pronunciation
Modern German Pronunciation by Christopher Hall
Hall’s book is a very thorough and excellent primer on the pronunciation of German. It helps learners understand exactly how to pronounce each sound and gives them reference points for doing so. There are accompanying audio exercises for the book and they are mentioned in the Preface. While they do not come with the book, they are available at the publishers website in MP3 format. When I purchased the book, these were not available online. I contacted the author by email at the University of Joensuu in Finland and purchased a CD of the audio pronunciation activities directly from him. Should they go missing on the publisher’s site, purchasing directly from the author may still be an option. Very well worth it, in my opinion.


A History of the German Language
A History of the German Language by John T. Waterman
This book has been around for decades, and for good reason. Though it is times a difficult read, particularly for undergraduate students still in the midst of acquiring German, there is really no other book in English that adequately covers the history of the language. Waterman’s book traces the language from its origins in Indo-European to the modern period. It contains a fair amount of detail and offers examples of the various stages of the language and language changes it describes, thus making the abstract much more concrete.


The German-Speaking World
The German-Speaking World by Patrick Stevenson
Stevenson’s book is an enlightening introduction into various sociolinguistic issues of modern German.  It explores contextual language usage in terms of such issues as relationships between speakers, different forms of address, regional speech forms, differences between spoken and written forms of German, the role of language in identity formation, and language change.
Exercises and thought-provoking discussion question make abstract concepts more concrete as well as make this a great book to use in the classroom.


In addition, there are tons of excellent free resources available online:

General linguistics and German linguistics / Reference works

Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech: The entire contents of the book by Edward Sapir (1921).

• “Linguistics” article [Wikipedia]

• Comprehensive Glossary of linguistic terms [SIL]

• Glossary of linguistic terms: English | German []

International phonetic alphabet

Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper

Multimediale Lehr- und Lernmaterialien zur Einführung in die historische Sprachwissenschaft Excellent audio-visual explanations of issues in historical and contemporary German linguistics

Linguistik online Online journal with dozens of full-text scholarly articles on linguistic issues.

What is Deutsch?

• “German language” article [Columbia Encyclopedia (2001)]

• “Deutsche Sprache” article []

• “German” article [Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language (1998)]

• “German language” article [Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)]

• “Was ist die deutsche Sprache wert?” Journal article by Csaba Földes in Wirkendes Wort 50 (2000), pp. 275-296.

The structure of German / Die Strukturen des Deutschen

• “The Awful German Language” by Mark Twain [Vistawide]


• The German phoenetic alphabet with recordings of sounds. [CalPoly]

• Phonetics – the sounds of spoken language – Animations of speech organs articulating the sounds of German [U of Iowa]

A Guide to German Pronunciation Concise explanations with recordings [U of Portsmouth]

eDAF German pronunciation overview with audio [National U of Singapore]

The Sounds of German Very brief pronunciation explanations with audio [BBC German]

Tongue twisters with text and MP3 audio []

• More tongue twisters with text and .wav audio [Paul Joyce German course]


• German word grammar: German | English []

German morphology / inflection browser Provides complete inflections and morphological analysis of word forms entered. []


• “What is a word?” essay [U of Sussex]

German word formation []

Word formation in German []

Wortliste The 100, 1000, and 10,000 most commonly used words in German [Wortschatz Deutsch]

• “Ein Beitrag zur Partikelanalyse – Beispiel: doch” Journal article by Gabriele Graefen, Linguistik online 6 (2000).

• “Zur Bedeutung von deutsch geschweige (denn)” Journal article by Renate Pasch, Linguistik online 6 (2000).

• “Ein altes Problem: Partikeln in der Grammatik — ja, aber wie?” Journal article by Aino Kärnä, Linguistik online 22 (2005).


German sentence grammar []

German sentence structure [Wikipedia]

German word order []

German grammar article [Wikipedia]

• “Verschiedene Arten der Art und Weise: zu ihrer Positionierung im Deutschen und Englischen” Journal article by Karin Pittner, Linguistik online 6 (2000).

The history of the German language / Geschichte der deutschen Sprache

General / Allgemeines

A Brief History of the German Language: Very well done. [U of Minnesota]

•  Geschichte der deutschen Sprache Detailed description of German language
development by Jan Wohlgemuth

Vom Indogermanischen zum Deutschen Brief history of the language

Historical Dictionaries

•  Universal-Lexikon by Johann Heinrich Zedler (1732-1754) [Bayrische Staatsbibliothek]

Geschichte der hochdeutschen Mundart by Johann Christoph Adelung (1808) [U Bielefeld]

• Another digitalized version of Adelung’s dictionary by Johann Christoph Adelung (1808) [Bayrische Staatsbibliothek]

Deutsches Wörterbuch by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm (1838ff.) [U Trier]

Wörterbuch der deutschen Gegenwartssprache (1952-1977)

Historical Handwriting Samples

Hand-written manuscripts of medieval and early new high German texts. Dozens of fully digitized manuscripts [U Heidelberg]

Gebetsbüchlein Anonymous prayer book from the 15th century. [U Bielefeld]

•  Gesangbuch Hymnal by Martin Thann (1728)

• “Die Hällische Chronik – Eine Chronik der Stadt Halle” (1494-1545) Digitized manuscript dated 1825 [U Bielefeld]

Indo-European Language / Indogermanisch

• List of common Indo-European roots [Wikipedia]

Indo-European Roots Index [American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language]

Indo-European Etymological Dictionary

• Descriptions of languages & dialects belonging to Indo-European family [Ethnologue]

•  Languages of Europe map

Indo-European Peoples / Die Indogermanen

Proto-Indo-Europeans [Wikipedia]

Germanic Language / Germanisch

• “Germanic substrate hypothesis” article [Wikipedia]

• “Germanic languages” article [Wikipedia]

• “West Germanic strong verb” article [Wikipedia]

• List of Germanic and Latinate equvalents [Wikipedia]

• Fordsmender’s Dictionary of Proto-Germanic Roots

• “Grimm’s Law” article [Wikipedia]

Germanic Tribes / Die germanischen Stämme

Die Germanen article []

Germania by Tacitus: English translation | German translation: The most detailed early description of the Germans at the end of the first century CE by the Roman historian Tacitus.

Old High German / Althochdeutsch

Die zweite Lautverschiebung and the dialect variations resulting from it: Flash-Shockwave animations [U Trier]

• “Hildebrandslied” Introduced and read by renowned Prof. Jost Trier, ca. 1965 [YouTube]

Middle High German / Mittelhochdeutsch

Mittelhochdeutsches Handwörterbuch: By Matthias Lexer. Middle High German to modern German dictionary. Originally published 1872-1878 & reprinted many times over since. Still considered a seminal reference work. [U Virginia]

Mittelhochdeutsches Wörterbuch: By Georg Friedrich Benecke. Middle High German to modern German dictionary with many examples of usage. Originally published 1854-1866 & reprinted many times since. [U Virginia]

•  Middle High German Text Archive: Several full-length texts, prepared for scholarly use. [U Virginia]

Mittelhochdeutsche Texte im Internet []

Yiddish [Wikipedia]

Early New High German / Frühneuhhochdeutsch

Early New High German – English Dictionary By Jonathan West [U Newcastle Upon Tyne]

European Chancelleries and the Rise of Standard Written Languages By John H. Fisher, Essays in Medieval Studies 3 (1986).

Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft Text about the first German language society. By Brigitte Squarr.

New High German / Neuhochdeutsch

• “Consolidation in 18th-Century Morphology” Journal article a bout the
transition from Early to New High German using adjective declension as case
study. By Anja Voeste, Linguistik online 4 (1999).

• “Die deutsche Sprache” Poem by Friedrich Hebbel [1813-1863]

• “Sprache” Poem by Friedrich Theodor Vischer [1807-1887]

Issues in Contemporary German

Dialects / Dialekte (Mundarten)

Dialektatlas [Deutsche Welle]

Modern German Dialects Extensive annotated list of links to info on more than 3 dozen German dialects. [U Portsmouth]

Digitaler Wenkeratlas The online version of Georg Wenker’s Sprachatlas des Deutschen Reiches (1888-1923), the first ever and still the most comprehensive German dialect atlas. The project is  ongoing. Use the DiWa header in the menu to locate materials. [U Marburg] Dialect maps, audio, and other materials documenting modern dialects. [U Marburg]

Der deutsche Dialektraum Flash-Shockwave animation [U Trier]

• “Die soziolinguistische Situation von Chilenen deutscher Abstammung” Journal article by Ulrike Ziebur, Linguistik online 7 (2000).

• “On the Description of National Varieties: Examples from (German and Austrian) German and (English and American) English” Journal article by Joachim Grzega, Linguistik online 7 (2000).

Spelling reform / Rechtschreibreform

Rechtschreibreform: Die neusten Regeln | English []

The Relationship Between German & English

The American Language: The entire contents of the book by H.L. Mencken (1921). See the chapter on German in the US.

German words in English [Robbin D. Knapp]

3 comments on “German linguistics resources
  1. Larissa says:

    Vielen, vielen Dank! Die Sammlung, die ich brauche…

  2. Dewi Ratnasari says:

    Tausend Dank. Die Sammlung brauche ich sehr

  3. David says:

    Ausgezeichnete Beitrage!

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