Did you know that the German you’re learning and speaking today is not the same as the German that was spoken a century ago? From spelling changes to new pronunciations, grammar, and brand-new words, languages are constantly in flux. So, what will the German language be like in the 22nd century? Let’s ask our crystal ball…

Here are 5 changes we might see in German in 100 years!

🔮 Prediction 1: German finds new linguistic inspiration

Many centuries ago, German adopted many words from French. That’s why we call french fries Pommes Frites or an office Büro (the German version of bureau). It’s also why German has verbs that end in -ieren, such as studieren (étudier) or fotografieren (photographier): They're from French! More recently, many words have been borrowed from English. As a result, German calls a computer, well, Computer and a baby Baby.

So what’s the next language Germans will source new words from? The evidence is right before our eyes: German is already borrowing words from Arabic and Turkish! Younger German speakers might say Habibi (from Arabic حبيبي) when referring to a friend, wallah (والله) to express I swear, or call a German person Alman (the Turkish word for "German").

As of now, the use of these words is treated as slang… but that's how language change starts! We predict that not only will we see an increase in loan words from Arabic and Turkish, but that they will be considered as German as Büro!

🔮 Prediction 2: Genitive’s demise

Today’s German differentiates between four grammatical cases: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive. They can be a pain to get right for learners (and sometimes even for native speakers). But here come the good news 😅

We predict that German will gradually replace the genitive case with the dative, ultimately making the genitive vanish from the language 💨 It has already become somewhat common to use a dative construction instead of the genitive, so you'll hear der Hintern von Duo (the butt of Duo) instead of Duos Hintern (Duo’s butt). 

In German, some prepositions require that you use the genitive case after them—and we're already seeing the dative pop up in these cases in spoken language. It’s possible that wegen des Sprachwandels (because of language change, genitive case), we’ll say and write wegen dem Sprachwandel (dative) in the future!

🔮 Prediction 3: Making room for new pronouns

While English has long used the pronoun they as a gender-neutral singular form, German does not yet have an equivalent. If you want to avoid using personal pronouns in German, it's most common to use the person’s name instead: You say Das ist Alex und Alex kommt aus Hamburg (This is Alex and Alex comes from Hamburg) rather than Das ist Alex und er/sie (he/she) kommt aus Hamburg

But we expect changes in the future—and in fact, changes are already here! We predict that German will evolve a pronoun that does not reference gender. Today's speakers have already suggested using sier—a combination of sie (she) and er (he)—or, alternatively, xier. Or maybe English they will be borrowed! Only time will tell…

🔮 Prediction 4: We’re going places

Our brains and bodies like to do things in a way that uses the least amount of energy necessary for the best possible outcome. Efficiency is a vital quality—and German-speaking teens are very skilled at it!

This generation is subjecting phrases with German prepositions to convenient reductions. You’ll sometimes hear them say Wir gehen Stadtpark (We’re going [to the] city park) instead of Wir gehen in den Stadtpark, or Ich bin noch Schule (I’m still [at] school) instead of Ich bin noch in der Schule. How efficient!

This evolution of German sentence structure might have been influenced by kids whose families migrated to Germany from Turkey. Turkish doesn't have separate prepositions like German and English, and instead word endings are used to show the same information. There may be other explanations but the reality is the same: Many German-speaking teenagers are dropping the preposition and the article that comes after it. We predict that this phenomenon will become more widespread and that it will move from youth slang into the everyday language of all German speakers.

🔮 Prediction 5: One dialect to rule them all?

German is known for having three standard varieties (German, Austrian, and Swiss) and many different dialects within those varieties. Sometimes the differences between them can be rather dramatic, especially if you're a learner more used to one than another! However, it's already the case that some dialects are becoming more similar to the standard varieties—and not all of them will make it into the next century.

As young German speakers become more mobile, move to cities, and have more exposure to standard varieties through new media, each country's standard variety might become more prevalent. We predict that in the next century, the German dialect landscape will become less diverse and robust. (This may be comforting for learners who have experienced the different dialects firsthand!)

German is future-proof ✨

While we can’t say for sure how German will change, we do know that it will change. Language change is a natural occurrence and it’s happening all around you right now, if you listen closely! 

Are you curious about the future of other languages, too? Check out our predictions for English, Spanish, and French.