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German is the mother tongue for the second-greatest number of people in Europe (after Russian). The official language of Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein, it is also the most-widely spoken of the four official languages of Switzerland and is spoken in parts of France (Alsace and Lorraine regions), Italy (South Tyrol), Denmark (South Jutland), Belgium and Luxembourg. Although German-speaking regions in Eastern Europe, once numerous, were largely decimated due to mass deporations of ethnic Germans following World War II from areas in present-day Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic, there are still some German-speaking communities in each of those countries as well as Romania, Hungary and Kazakhstan.

In the United States, Amish and Mennonite communities speak a dialect of German, and a German-speaking diaspora exists in parts of Brazil, Argentina, and Namibia. Yiddish, the language of Ashkenazic Jews, is very closely related to modern German, but, for the most part, is considered a separate language and not a dialect. Other Germanic languages include Dutch, Afrikaans, English, and the national languages of the Nordic countries (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic).

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