The recorded history of Germanic languages begins with their speakers’ first contact with the Romans, in the 1st century BCE. At that time and for several centuries thereafter, there was only a single “Germanic” language, with little more than minor dialect differences. Only after about the 6th century CE can one speak of a “German” (i.e., High German) language.
German is an inflected language with four cases for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative), three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), and strong and weak verbs. Altogether, German is the native language of more than 90 million speakers and thus ranks among the languages with the most native speakers worldwide. German is widely studied as a foreign language and is one of the main cultural languages of the Western world.