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The word "German" can be used as a noun or an adjective referring to a person or thing from Germany. "The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany states that men and women have equal rights under the law. Nevertheless, women did not enjoy juridical equality in marriage and the family until new family legislation was passed in 1977. Previously, family law, which had been influenced by the religious orientation of the Christian Democratic and Christian Social parties, had stated that women could seek outside employment only if this were consistent with their household duties."
The word "German" is also a noun for the language that people speak in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and parts of Switzerland. "German remains the language with the most native speakers in Europe – besides Germany having the largest population in the EU, the German language was once the lingua franca [common language] of central, eastern and northern Europe."