Yahoo Answers is shutting down on May 4th, 2021 (Eastern Time) and the Yahoo Answers website is now in read-only mode. There will be no changes to other Yahoo properties or services, or your Yahoo account. You can find more information about the Yahoo Answers shutdown and how to download your data on this help page.

Which languages are close to German?

7 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    German belongs to the group of the Germanic languages. There are further subdivisions in this group: West Germanic (German, Yiddish, Dutch/Flemish/Afrikaans, English) and North Germanic (the Scandinavian languages such as Norwegian, Swedish, Danish).

    In terms of intelligibility, I'd say Yiddish and Dutch/Flemish/Afrikaans are closest to German. With these languages, it is actually possible to understand the gist of what is being said if you know German (as opposed to understanding only random words). Yiddish is closer to High (Standard) German than Dutch/Flemish/Afrikaans - the problem of understanding Yiddish mainly derives from the fact that it also contains a lot of Hebrew and Slavic vocabulary which doesn't sound anything like German. But still, it's very close. E.g.


    Oyfn firil ligt dos kelbil

    ligt gebindin mit a shtrik

    hoich in himil flit dos shvelbil

    freit sich dreit sich hin un tsrik.


    Auf der Fuhre liegt das Kälblein

    liegt gebunden mit einem Strick.

    Hoch im Himmel fliegt das Schwälblein,

    freut sich, dreht sich, hin und zurück.

    [English (literal translation):

    On the waggon the little calf lies

    lies bound with a rope

    High above in the sky, the little swallow flies,

    is happy, turns around, back and forth]

    (You can see from this song that there are also some similarities between English and German vocabulary, e.g. bound (gebunden), calf (Kalb), high (hoch), flies (fliegt), lies (liegt), etc., but the similarities are not as close as those between Yiddish and German. Also, the English word order is different from the word order in German or Yiddish.)

    Dutch/Flemish/Afrikaans are also languages that are very close to German in terms of intelligibility. As I said, other languages related to German are English and the Scandinavian languages. I don't know enough about the Scandinavian languages, but as for English, I'd say it is not possible to understand a lot of it without actually having studied it. This is mainly due to the fact that large parts of the English vocabulary are not Germanic in origin but come from Romance languages like French.

  • 8 years ago

    as others have pointed out, English, German, Dutch, the Scandinavian languages (not Finnish!) are all in the Germanic family. It is not true however that English 'was derived from German.' They had a common ancestor (called usually Proto-Germanic). But you will have to decide what you mean by 'close.' Grammar, vocabulary, phonetics? There is a huge variety of closeness. Dutch is probably closer than Portuguese, for example, but it isn't all that easy to tell why or how.

    If this is the kind of thing that interests you, do some reading on historical linguistics.

  • 8 years ago

    Believe it or not, English was derived from the German language.

  • Mr Ed
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    It depends how close you want it. Dutch, of course, is very close. As well as Flemish. Danish is also pretty close. Very much of English is of Germanic origen, but it has got pretty far from its origins over the centuries.

  • 8 years ago

    I guess Dutch and Platdeutsch (Amish) are closest to German.Danish,Norwegian and Swedish are further apart and English is not very close.

    Source(s): Canadian.
  • Nguyen
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    Dutch, Flemish, and Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish people's language).

  • English is the closest, actually.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.