A lot of basic German vocabulary will look familiar to you: das Haus ( the house ), der Hund ( the dog/hound ), die Strasse ( the street ), ein Mann ( a/one man ), machen ( to make ), sprechen ( to speak ) and so on. (Notice, by the way, that all nouns in German are capitalized!) That's because English is a Germanic language. But, English became heavily influenced by Latin through the Norman Conquest, so an awful lot of the English lexicon tends to look more like French than like German. Take for instance to compare , which is comparer in French, but vergleichen in German. In some ways, German vocabulary will look more foreign to you than French or Spanish!
The Middle Low German language is an ancestor of modern Low German. It was spoken from about 1100 to 1600. The neighbouring languages within the dialect continuum of the West Germanic languages were Middle Dutch in the West and Middle High German in the South, later substituted by Early New High German . Middle Low German was the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League , spoken all around the North Sea and the Baltic Sea .  It had a significant influence on the Scandinavian languages . Based on the language of Lübeck , a standardized written language was developing, though it was never codified.