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Proto-Germanic Philology

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markste
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 Message 1 of 4
09 March 2009 at 11:24am | IP Logged 
Hi Professor

I am currently following a course in German Philology, looking in particular at Gothic, Old High German and Old English. This subject interests me greatly and I was just interested on your views concerning the existence of a West Germanic Parent language.

Thanks

Mark

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ProfArguelles
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 Message 2 of 4
10 March 2009 at 12:48am | IP Logged 
Mr. Harwood,

Do I believe that a Proto-West Germanic parent language ever existed? Yes. That is, there is no doubt that the various "dialects" converge more and more the further back in history we go, so it is only logical that they must meet at a certain point from which they then became differentiated. But did the break-up (from Proto-East Germanic and Proto-North Germanic) already begin in the Proto-Germanic homeland before the various migrations? Well, this will lead us into the always controversial realm of glottochronology and we would need to have some specific posited dates for reference. I suppose I do not believe that it did begin that early, for it seems as if there was still relative unity among all the tribal languages when they entered the historical purview of the Romans. However, without textual material to confirm anything, this can only remain conjectural, and thus I would not wager very much that I must be right in this.

I do hope this helps?

Regards,

Alexander Arguelles
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markste
Tetraglot
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 Message 3 of 4
10 March 2009 at 1:21am | IP Logged 
Thank you very much Professor

Your comments are very much appreciated. I have just one further query. Like you said before, without textual evidence it is very difficult to say when exactly this division took place. By no means am I saying that either one of us is correct in our assumptions but I tend to take the view that the languages did begin to divide before the first migrations away form the homeland. It has been argued that if the West Germanic parent language broke up after migrating from the homeland, then all the linguistic innovations must have taken place between aroud about 0-250 AD. This however seems a relativley short time frame for so many changes to occur, unless these changes had already started to manifest in the homeland.

I was just wondering what your opinion was regarding this viewpoint.

Once again professor, thank you very much for your input.

Mark Harwood   

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Iversen
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 Message 4 of 4
10 March 2009 at 1:50am | IP Logged 
I would like to point to one curious fact: Both Dutch and High German uses a -ge in compound verbalforms, except when the participle starts with a prefix chosen from a small group. However Low German doesn't have this -ge, so in this respect it is closer to the Scandinavian languages (i.e. the North Germanic group).

It also uses 'doen' in a way that is reminiscent of English 'to do', though far less consistently. Its morphology is almost as simple as that of Dutch, but on the other hand it now is under heavy influence from High German in many questions of syntax.

This all goes to show that the connexions between the modern languages of the socalled Ingwäonian region are even more complex than you would believe from just looking at the historical family tree of the Germanic languages.




Edited by Iversen on 10 March 2009 at 1:54am



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