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Germanic family

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Nephilim
Diglot
Senior Member
Poland
Joined 6788 days ago

363 posts - 368 votes 
Speaks: English*, Polish

 
 Message 1 of 17
02 December 2007 at 6:52am | IP Logged 
For those of you interested in the Germanic family there is a really good map of the whole family in wikipedia - just tap in Germanic Languages and wikipedia into google and you will see a very clear coloured map.

Professor Arguelles mentioned this in one of his posts last week but I can't seem to find the specific question amongst all the other posts and have limited time on this computerso I can't do a detailed search. In the post, the professor was talking about Germanic languages having intermediate stages so you could see how they evolved over time, unlike say, Slavic languages where you only have Old Church Slavonic and then the modern ones. Check it out - it;s very interesting.

I hope this is useful to the person the professor was addressing.
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ProfArguelles
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United States
foreignlanguageexper
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 Message 2 of 17
02 December 2007 at 5:00pm | IP Logged 
Indeed, even as I was writing about a Germanic learning sequence last week, I thought that perhaps I ought to give it is own thread, so I will copy the information here again here for easier reference. Looking over what I wrote last week about needing to study only four of these skeleton keys in order to subsequently unlock even living members of the family all the more easily, I am not sure that that number in and of itself is accurate—I had already studied many other languages at that point—but there is no doubt that knowing how languages got to be what they are is of enormous practical value in understanding what they are

The Teutonic languages are classified into many more historical stages than are the Latin and Slavic languages. While one can certainly find readers for older Iberian or Italic texts, apart from Latin itself, Old French and Provencal are the only stages of Latin that are commonly given their own historic presentation and treatment. As for the Slavs, I believe that apart from Old Church Slavonic/Old Bulgarian there are no particular manuals for analyzing and becoming acquainted with specific “old” or “middle” stages of any of them. The Germanic languages, on the other hand, all have at least a distinct medieval/early modern phase, and a number of them have an even older historical variant as well. Thus, the study of the Teutonic family as a whole is a perfect training ground for witnessing and internalizing the principles of comparative philology.

To begin the study of the Germanic language family by studying the historic variants before the living ones has many advantages. For the most part they are only skeletons of languages, and studying them accordingly one can get a decent analytical overview of their particularities within a single semester each. Scrutinizing them sequentially as a course of study, you can gain deep insight into how languages are related to each other and how they change over time. You learn to see them as individuals because you are simultaneously acknowledging both their similarities and their differences. In terms of the practical benefits of doing this, all I can say is that this is exactly what I did for a number of years, and as a result I came to a point where I could perceive all Germanic languages/dialects as variations upon a theme, a theme that I knew so well than when I came into contact with living dialectical variations on the theme, acclimating myself to their communicative frequencies posed no challenge.

Apart from the many historical variants of the Teutonic tribe and the generally recognized living Germanic languages, there are also a considerable number of non-official dialects that show some continued resiliency into the 21st century. Indeed, there are so many names that could be attached to Germanic forms of speech that I do not even want to attempt a complete list for fear of leaving too many out. The major candidates for study in terms of accessibility are generally:

Older and Medieval languages:
East: Gothic
West: Old High German, Middle High German, Old English/Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, Old Saxon, Middle Dutch, Middle Frisian
North: Old Norse, Old Swedish

Gothic is the only representative of the extinct Eastern branch of the family that has left enough traces for study. Middle High German, Middle English, and Old Norse in particular provide access to treasure troves of exciting literature, so these should come in for particular consideration.

One approach would be to take them in a logical historical and sub-family genetic sequence, e.g., Gothic, Old High German, Middle High German, and Old Norse. Speaking from experience, after studying these four for about a semester each, most of the others came in the bargain, with attention certainly required, but without the need for any further expenditure of “study” time.

Another approach, perhaps of easier access to English and German speakers—and perhaps also more valuable for them—would be to swim backwards through their native tongues and then branch out, e.g., Middle High German, Old High German, Gothic, Old Norse, or Middle English, Old English, Old Norse, Gothic.

Spending 360 hours spread over a two year period engaged in this study should greatly reduce the number of hours you need to spend studying modern Germanic languages in order to know them. The major candidates here are:

West: German, Yiddish; Dutch/Flemish, Afrikaans; Frisian, English
North: Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish.

With the modern languages as well, I think it is probably only necessary to actively and consciously study a handful of them, after which you will find that you can simply acquire the others with active exposure to them without anything like the same requisite period of conscious study. So, which ones to choose, and with which ones to start:

Indeed, German should certainly be the first with which to establish a solid connection. In this particular field, most of the best classic scholarship is in German, and so it is an absolutely indispensable reference tool for this quest. Thus, it is the only “must” on the list, for while English is fascinating for its anomalies and the degree to which it has changed almost out of the family, consequently it is not the best choice in the particular context of the quest to understand the family as a unit. Thus, for getting grounded in the group, I would recommend proceeding thus: German, Icelandic, Dutch, and Swedish. In starting with German, you start with a Western/Continental, so the next should be a Scandinavian, and Icelandic, like German, is still highly inflecting. Then back to the West, then again to the North—Dutch and Swedish are respectively the largest in these categories, so they are most logical, but Frisian or Afrikaans, or Danish or either Norwegian, could certainly substitute for them as objects of conscious study, and they should do so if there is any particular reason or opportunity for this.

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Alkeides
Senior Member
Bhutan
Joined 5791 days ago

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 Message 3 of 17
02 February 2008 at 5:55am | IP Logged 
Professor, could you recommend a few books to start with on your historical track? Also would it be advisable to replace Old High German or Middle High German with Anglo-Saxon instead?
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ChristopherB
Triglot
Senior Member
New Zealand
Joined 5959 days ago

851 posts - 1074 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: English*, German, French

 
 Message 4 of 17
03 February 2008 at 2:14am | IP Logged 
I would also be very interested in some old-German materials. I've scoured my university library and could find nothing more than a couple of primers.

Edited by Fränzi on 03 February 2008 at 2:15am

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Alkeides
Senior Member
Bhutan
Joined 5791 days ago

636 posts - 644 votes 

 
 Message 5 of 17
09 February 2008 at 11:46pm | IP Logged 
I have managed to find a few recordings with samples available online over the past week, but many of them seem influenced by modern English accents (either British or American). Professor, do you have any recommendations for Anglo-Saxon audio?
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ProfArguelles
Moderator
United States
foreignlanguageexper
Joined 6899 days ago

609 posts - 2102 votes 

 
 Message 6 of 17
10 February 2008 at 5:46pm | IP Logged 
If this kind of study proves to be congenial to the structure of your mind, then you will ultimately end up surveying all the dialects, and so I do not know that there is any particular best order with which to get started. Certainly, if you wish to replace Old High German with Anglo-Saxon as your introduction to the oldest stage, go right ahead, but then also replace Middle High German with Middle English so that you can see the continuity of historical development.

First and foremost—with decent quality audio!—there is a very happy example of an excellent contemporary textbook:
Mark Atherton, Old English, Teach Yourself Books, 2006

Contemporary Overviews:
Hans Frede Nielsen, The Germanic Languages: Origins and Early Dialectial Interrelations, University of Alabama Press, 1989
Orrin W. Robinson, Old English and its Closest Relatives: A Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages, Stanford University Press, 1992.

The following volumes comprise a relatively uniform series of perennial reprints from Oxford Clarendon Press:

Joseph Wright:
Middle High German Primer
Historical German Grammar
An Elementary Historical English Grammar
An Elementary Middle English Grammar
Old English Grammar
Grammar of the Gothic Language

Henry Sweet:
A Short Historical English Grammar
Anglo-Saxon Reader
Anglo-Saxon Primer

Earle & Plummer:
Two Saxon Chronicles

E.V. Gordon
Introduction to Old Norse


Older comparative grammars and collections of paradigms:
James Helfenstein, A Comparative Grammar of the Teutonic Languages, London: Macmillan, 1870.
Moritz Heyne, Kurze Laut- und Flexionslehre der altGermanischen Dialecte, Paderborn, 1874.
E.A. Kock, AltGermanische Paradigmen, Lund: Glerrups, 1915.

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ChristopherB
Triglot
Senior Member
New Zealand
Joined 5959 days ago

851 posts - 1074 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: English*, German, French

 
 Message 7 of 17
14 February 2008 at 1:00pm | IP Logged 
For Anglo-Saxon there is also the well-known Guide to Old English by Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson (2006), though I have not used it myself. Another book of interest to the solo learner is the recent Introduction to Old English by Peter S. Baker (2007).

I cannot conclusively vouch for the quality of these products, but judging by Amazon's reviews and also the stock they carry, it would appear that they are the best readily available resources for solo/student learners of this dialect.
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Palmettofighter
Newbie
United States
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29 posts - 29 votes
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 8 of 17
17 February 2008 at 3:48pm | IP Logged 
Does a website or anything exist that dedicates itself to people like me who want to master the Germanic language family?

Edited by Palmettofighter on 17 February 2008 at 4:21pm



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