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I have the following sentence:

Я хочу записаться на курсы немецкого языка.

english: I would like to register/sign up for the german language course(s).

The question of the case is to be answered here with куда? So this asks for accusative. And indeed, if we look at курсы which is plural* we can see that the word курс is курсы in both, plural nominative and accusative. Here in this case if I see it correctly it is accusative.

Now немецкого. This is the same in genitive and accusative (animate?). I am not sure if it stands here in genitive or accusative.

Языка is clear and this is also my problem. It clearly stands in genitive. It is inanimate and therefore accusative would be Язык. So it is genitive. I don't understand why. I would have thought that записаться на asks for accusative and all which follows has to be in accusative. So язык. But I am wrong here. I think it might be that it is genitive, because the question is to whose course I am signing up. Which course? It is the course of the german language, so german language's course. Thats why course is in accusative and the describing part german language is in genitive. I am signing up for german language's course.

My questions in a structure:

  1. Why is языка used here? So genitive and not accusative?
  2. Is the немецкого here accusative or genitive (I know its the same in animate form, but I am wondering in which case it stands here. Also isn't it inanimate here and it would be then немецкий if it was accusative?).

*as far as I know this is typical that in Russian plural is used here, so courses.

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Here in this case if I see it correctly it is accusative.

Correct. "Курсы" is definitely an object in this sentence so it can't be nominative.

Now немецкого.

Sorry, it's not the right time yet. "Немецкий" is an adjective acting as a determiner for some noun. Hence it must agree with that noun in case, gender and number. You should find that noun first, see if that noun is animate/inanimate, decide which case that noun should be and only then use the same case/number for this adjective.

I would have thought that записаться на asks for accusative [...]

Correct.

[...] and all which follows has to be in accusative.

That's a somewhat confusing statement... Accusative is the case of the direct object of a predicate, that's true. But that direct object might be quite complex. It might have a finer inner structure, with its own links and governing rules. I don't think that the accusative case should be enforced all the way through such complex object.

I think it might be that it is genitive, because the question is to whose course I am signing up. Which course?

Exactly! The sequence of questions in this sentence is:

  1. Я хочу (что сделать?) записаться.
  2. Записаться (куда?, на что?) на курсы. Accusative.
  3. На курсы (чего?) языка. Genitive.
  4. Языка (какого?) немецкого. Genitive. It's the same case, number and animation as "языка".

Why is языка used here?

You've figured out the right reasoning: because it's linked to "курсы" rather than to "записаться".

Is the немецкого here accusative or genitive

It's genitive for the exact reason you've named.

Also isn't it inanimate here and it would be then немецкий if it was accusative?).

Correct, it's inanimate. So indeed, it would've been "немецкий" in the accusative case.

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The better (more exact) translation is: I would like to register for courses OF the German language. By the existence of "of" preposition you can see that it is Genitive.

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