This page was last updated 28 Feb 2011 -- rak.

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When our German ancestors along with thousands of others in 1765-66 or so set out for a new life in Russia, there was of course no Germany. Instead there were over 2,500 countries, some fairly large and very many small, some extremely small, almost all of the territory of which now lies within Germany, although some is in other countries such as Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, France and Luxemburg.

In most of those 2,500 or so countries, either most of the rulers, or most of the commoners, or most of both spoke some dialect of German. And the eventual standardization of the spoken language took a very long time. A minority of those in the mid-18th century who spoke some form of German could write German although even for that minority spelling varied and could vary quite widely even in one place over a few years. Real standardization of spelling essentially began with Luther's bible in 1534 but there was still very serious work to be done in this as late as 1876. Even as standards were established, very often and in many places a standard adopted, did not mean that useage followed immediately, or even soon.

So our tendency today, to think of Germany and the German language in the mid-1700s as great homogeneous entities is greatly mistaken.

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