German is a West Germanic language related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90-98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union. Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. A number of words are derived from Latin and Greek, and fewer from French and English. German is written using the Latin alphabet. The history of the language begins with the High German consonant shift during the migration period, separating Old High German dialects from Old Saxon.
Contributions by Nico, Poccil, and J. 'mach' wust.