3 Surprising Ways the German and English Languages are Similar

July 31, 2017
Have you heard your professional au pair teach your children some German words that sound similar to their English counterparts? German and English are not as different as you may think! What causes these similarities? Check out 3 reasons below.

English and German are Germanic Languages

While English borrows many of its words from Latin, French and Greek, it is actually considered a Germanic language. This means that the majority of the most common words in modern English have German roots. This blending of languages came about over a thousand years ago, when French, English and German tribes encountered one another in present day England.

A Shared Alphabet

The shared origin of English and German has led to a shared alphabet between the two languages. German also has the umlauted letters: ä, ö, ü, and the ß. When talking with your professional au pair, you may have noticed some pronunciation differences. For example, in German a 'w' is pronounced as a 'v'. Knowing these differences makes it easier to understand one another.

German Words in English and Vice Versa

Both German and English have borrowed words from one another. Here's a list of some you may recognize:

Kindergarten (school for young children)

Angst (fear, depression, anger)

Doppelgänger (someone’s double)

Fest (feast, celebration, party)

Gesundheit (bless you)

Poltergeist (ghost)

Wanderlust (desire to travel)

What's your favorite German word that you've learned from your professional au pair?