This book provides a detailed but accessible introduction to the development of the German language from the earliest reconstructable prehistory to the present day. Joe Salmons explores a range of topics in the history of the language, offering answers to questions such as: How did German come to have so many different dialects and close linguistic cousins like Dutch and Plattdeutsch? Why does German have 'umlaut' vowels and why do they play so many different roles in the grammar? Why are noun plurals so complicated? Are dialects dying out today? Does English, with all the words it loans to German, pose a threat to the language? This second edition has been extensively expanded and revised to include extended coverage of syntactic and pragmatic change throughout, expanded discussion of sociolinguistic aspects, language variation, and language contact, and more on the position of German in the Germanic family. The book is supported by a companion website and is suitable for language learners and teachers and students of linguistics, from undergraduate level upwards. The new edition also includes more detailed background information to make it more accessible for beginners.