World Facts

How Did Germany Get Its Name?

Germany perhaps has more names than any other country in the world - where did they all come from?

The Many Names Of Germany

Germany has more names than any other country in the world. What that means is that this nation is known by a wide variety of names, depending on the particular culture or language referring to it. Some of these names include: Niemcy, Deutschland, Alemania, Saksa, and Vuoceja. Researchers have classified these names into 6 groups based on origin. These classifications include: Saxon, Protoslavic, Old High German, Alamanni, Latin or Greek, and those names of an origin that researchers have yet to identify.

History Of Germany’s Names

One of the first known names of the region was Germania, attributed to the area by the Romans. The name was in recognition of a particularly powerful local tribe that the Romans fought. Although the Romans went on to take control of the majority of western Europe, the region under the Germanic tribes remained unconquered.

The Germanic tribes later moved into the Roman Empire, contributing to its eventual weakened state and ultimate failure. The Franks, one of the Germanic tribes, came to control present-day France during the 600’s. Over time, this tribe was absorbed by the Roman culture there. These Franks often fought with the Allemani, a Germanic tribe living in Germania. This experience led to French individuals referring to the area as Allemagne. Other nearby countries with Latin-based languages (like Spain and Portugal) picked up on this name. In Spanish, for example, the country is known as Alemania.

Today, Germans refer to their country as Deutschland, a name that has its origins in the 8th century. During this time, people living in the region did not identify as either Germanics or Allemanis. Instead, they considered themselves to be regular individuals, removed from the influences of the Latin and Roman cultures. Their name for themselves and their language was Duits Disk, which meant “of the people”. As the German language developed, the name became Deutsch and the country became Deutschland. This name took on many variations throughout Europe. The Italians, for example, translated the name to: Tedesco.

People in Northern Europe took a similar approach to that of the French and referred to the region based on the name of one of the local tribes. These names include Saksa and Saksamaa after the Saxons. Eastern European societies, like the Slavs, created their own name for the region and its people as well. Because the 2 cultures spoke unrelated languages, the Slavs could not understand the Germanic tribes and referred to the people as Niemcy, which means “not understandable” or “unclear”. Some linguists believe that this could be an explanation for some of the yet unclassified names.

How Did Germany Get Its Name In English?

English speakers translated the name Deutsch to Dutch. This term, however, was only applied to people living in the Netherlands, which is located closer to England. These individuals were considered Germanic speakers. In order to differentiate between the regions and the people, English speakers began to refer to the country as Germany, which originates from the Roman term Germania. The first recorded use this word by English speakers dates back to 1520 AD. Prior to that, English-speakers referred to this country as Alman and Almain, derived from the previously mentioned Latin-based word.



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