German is not a Latin language - it is a Germanic language. This means that unlike the Romance language (Spanish, French, Italian, ..), German is not a language which originates from Latin.
Although German is not a language which is derived from Latin, German vocabulary still contains a number of Latin-derived words. Many of these words are loanwords from French, while others are directly borrowed from Latin.
In this section we will see many Latin-based German vocabulary words, however it is important to note that the majority of German vocabulary words are of Germanic origin. Such words tend to be closer to English (which is another Germanic language) than to Latin.
Below are some examples of such German words which are very different from Latin (note that in German, all nouns are capitalized).
Here are some examples of German words which are derived from Latin. In some cases the German word has a slightly different meaning compared to the Latin word on which it is based:
Some of these are loanwords from French. For example the German word “Priorität” (priority) is borrowed from the French word “priorité” which comes from the Latin word “prioritās”.
Here are more examples of German nouns ending “-tät” and the Latin words from which they are derived:
German nouns which end in “-tät” generally have the feminine grammatical gender, and the same is true for the Latin nouns ending in “-tās” on which they are based.
For example, the German word “Kultur” (culture) is derived from the Latin word “cultūra” which means “cultivation”. Here are some more examples:
Both German nouns ending in “-tur” and Latin nouns ending in “-tūra” generally have the feminine grammatical gender.
To continue learning about the vocabulary similarities and differences between German and Latin, have a look at this list of the 1000 most common Latin words, and this other list the 1000 most common German words.
The Romance languages are those which are derived from the language of the Romans - in other words, those languages which are derived from Latin.
Etymology: the term “Romance” comes from the Latin term “rōmānicus”, itself composed of “rōmānus” (meaning “roman”) plus the suffix “-icus” meaning “belonging to” or “derived from”.
German is not a Romance language, simply because German is not a language which is derived from Latin. The main Romance languages are Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Catalan.
There is a historical explanation for why German is not a Romance language: Many of areas which are now part of Germany were not part of the Roman empire. The Romans did occupy some parts, but enough in surface and duration for the Latin language to take hold there.
In linguistics, lexical similarity is used to compare two languages in terms of their vocabulary. It only measures how similar the vocabulary is, without taking into account other linguistic factors such as grammar.
Unsurprisingly, the Romance languages have more Latin-based vocabulary than German does. Spanish vocabulary is very similar to Latin, and the same is true for Italian vocabulary.
English has a (slightly) higher level of lexical similarity to Latin, than German does. In fact, English has many Latin-derived vocabulary words. There is a historical explanation: the invasion of England in the 11th century by the French-speaking Normans brought many Latin-based French words into the English language.
Although German is not based on Latin, both these languages belong to the Indo-European family of Languages (and so does English). This means that German and Latin share a common ancestor language.
The common ancestor language to German and Latin is an extinct language which linguists have reconstructed. They have named it the Proto-Indo-European language, or PIE for short.
Linguistically, the relationship between Latin and German could be compared to that of cousins, because neither of these languages is a direct descendant of the other - and yet they have a common ancestry.
Some of the similarities between German and Latin are linguistic patterns which both German and Latin inherited from PIE. For instance, PIE has 3 grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and so does German and Latin.
The PIE language uses declensions (changes in word endings) to indicate grammatical cases. This linguistic feature is also present in Latin and in German.
German has four grammatical cases (nominative, accusative, dative and genitive) which are also found in Latin. In addition to these four, Latin also has the vocative and the ablative cases, which are not found in German.