German is the language of Germany and Austria, and one of the languages of Switzerland (along with French, Italian, and Romansch, a minor Romance language). There are many dialects of German. Hochdeutsch (or High German) is the dialect used in almost all television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Another dialect is Platdeutsch (or Low German), which is spoken across much of Northern Germany, and is very similar to Dutch. Bayerisch, or Bavarian, is spoken in Bavaria, and is very difficult for most non-Bavarians to understand (but don't worry, they all speak Hochdeutsch). In Switzerland, although Hochdeutsch is used officially, Schweizerdeutsch, or Swiss German, is what most (German) Swiss speak.

German is a Western Germanic language, and evolved from the same language as English, Dutch, Yiddish, and a few other minor languages. West Germanic, as its name implies, is part of Germanic, which also includes Scandanavian (Swedish, etc.), and East Germanic (Gothic and a few other dead languages of sackers of Rome).

Germanic, in turn, is part of Indo-European, along with Balto-Slavic (such Lithuanian and Russian), Celtic (such as Irish), Italic (which includes the Romance languages like French and Spanish), Greek, Albanian, Indo-Iranian (which includes most of the languages of Iran, Pakistan, and northern India, and also the language of the Gypsies), and Armenian. Indo-European, along with several dead languages of Anotolia (modern-day Turkey), including Hittite, is part of a family called Indo-Hittite. Indo-Hittite and Indo-European are essentially the same, but the Anatolian languages seem not to be very different from the rest of Indo-European, so the the name Indo-Hittite is used to reflect that.

Indo-Hittite, in turn, may be part of a still larger family, called Eurasiatic (or sometimes called Nostratic). Eurasiatic also includes the families Uralic-Yukaghir (which includes Hungarian, Lapp, and Finnish), Altaic (which includes Turkish and Mongolian), Japanese and Korean (which are part of one family), Eskimo-Aleut, and a few other languages of Siberia.

I have a more detailed lineage of Eurasiatic, as well as for Indo-European/Hittite.

Disclaimer--All information on this page came from the top of my head. It should be accurate, however, there may be mistakes.
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July 17, 1996