German is the official and predominant spoken language in Germany. It is one of 23 official languages in the European Union, and one of the three working languages of the European Commission, along with English and French. Recognised native minority languages in Germany are Danish, Sorbian, North Frisian and Saterland Frisian. They are officially protected by the ECRML. The most used immigrant languages are Turkish, Kurdish, Polish, the Balkan languages, and Russian.
Standard German is a West Germanic language and is closely related to and classified alongside English, Dutch, and the Frisian languages. To a lesser extent, it is also related to the East (extinct) and North Germanic languages. Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Significant minorities of words are derived from Latin and Greek, with a smaller amount from French and most recently English (known as Denglisch). German is written using the Latin alphabet. In addition to the 26 standard letters, German has three vowels with Umlaut, namely ä, ö, and ü, as well as the Eszett or scharfes S (sharp s) which is written "ß".
German dialects are distinguished from varieties of standard German. German dialects are traditional local varieties and are traced back to the different German tribes. Many of them are not easily understandable to a speaker of standard German, since they often differ in lexicon, phonology, and syntax.
Around the world, German has approximately 100 million native speakers and also about 80 million non-native speakers. German is the main language of about 90 million people (18%) in the EU. 67% of German citizens claim to be able to communicate in at least one foreign language, 27% in at least two languages other than their first.
In the German diaspora, aspects of German culture are passed on to younger generations through naming customs and through the use of spoken and written German. The Goethe Institute seeks the spread the knowledge of German culture worldwide.