Talk:Germanic Parent Language

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I am expecting tons of criticism and ridicule for even suggesting this article, let alone actually writing it. While you're flaming me, please just remember that I wrote it in good faith and tried to back up everything with solid sources. And I know that it needs to have more information added. I just wrote the current copy in one sitting, and I need a break. =) Thanks. Varoon Arya 03:55, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Dear Varoon Arya, of cource this is a tricky topic, but I don't see why you should be bashed for articulating a theory that is the implicit basis of most of the scholars' standard models. They even dare to postulate a common "Germanic/German" language at a much later era, and where they do not find primariy sources as backing, they just stop questioning. I'am looking forward to a debate on that and perhaps someone finds new papers or books on that topic. --El bes 05:24, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
One can never actually sleep around here. All this happened overnight! Anyway, Varoon, new articles are always prime targets. Thanks for making the effort. Remember, an eyeblink ago I mentioned that the article needed line refs - every idea should have a note identifying it for the good public so they can tie it in to the structure of encyclopedic knowledge. Don't be disheartened by all this - just keep at it if this is what you want to do. I found that proper citations cut down considerably on the attacks on my contributions. After you get skilled in that then you will have to face the vandals but that is another question. Bonne chance.Dave 11:52, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

merge? / problematic paragraph[edit]

so, the "GPL" includes (both "Early" and "Late") Proto-Germanic. The scope of this article is then only different from Proto-Germanic inasmuch as it discusses Pre-Germanic, i.e. the transition from "dialectal late PIE" to "Early PGmc". That such a transition must have taken place is undisputed, and a fact perfectly independent of speculations on the Nordic Bronze Age. Hence, I believe it might be better to just mention the terms "GPL" and "PreGmc" in a paragraph at Proto-Germanic. Also, I find the following paragraph highly dubious:

The notion of the Germanic Parent Language ... attempts to both realign the relative chronology offered by historical linguistics and the absolute chronology offered by archeology, as well as to accommodate newer research which assumes an incipient predecessor dialect of Proto-Indo-European in its reconstructive efforts regarding the diachronic, synchronic and areal features of the entire language group through the course of its development.

It is perfectly unclear how this notion

"attempts to both realign the relative chronology offered by historical linguistics and the absolute chronology offered by archeology"

-- what is being re-aligned? All we are saying is that the locus of PreGmc was probably the NBA, but I fail to see any re-alignment of anything in that. PGmc was a language of the Pre-Roman Iron Age, so PreGmc was a language of the NBA -- this just stands to reason. The second part,

"accommodate newer research which assumes an incipient predecessor dialect of Proto-Indo-European in its reconstructive efforts regarding the diachronic, synchronic and areal features of the entire language group through the course of its development"

makes even less sense to me. What does an "incipient predecessor dialect of Proto-Indo-European" have to do with anything? Such a Pre-Proto-Indo-European dialect would date to the 6th millennium BCE or so, full 3,000 years before "PreGmc". And what is the point of giving a one-line summary of the aim of historical linguistics as "reconstructive efforts regarding the diachronic, synchronic and areal features of the entire language group through the course of its development"? I'm sorry if I am missing something, but I am afraid that if this paragraph is devoid of meaning to me in spite of my familiarity with historical linguistics, it will be perfect white noise to your average reader without specialist background. dab (𒁳) 08:32, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

As you are probably aware, several examples of good research since the 90’s display a renewed interest in examining the linguistic data and projecting reconstructions in light of socio-historical context assumed to be prevalent at the time prior to the First Sound Shift. With rare exceptions, this has not been the case since the 30’s or 40’s. The term GPL expresses the desire of researchers to consciously include the NBA within the scope of their examinations and encourages others to do so. The Pre-Germanic stage is gaining in importance in the discussion regarding Proto-Germanic as is may provide clues to explain the causes behind the Sound Shift and/or help to clarify the glottalic problem. GPL is proposed as a framework in which Germanists can discuss these issues without continually having to restate their take on archeological findings which often reside outside their direct field of expertise. As you said, “that such a transition must have taken place is undisputed, and a fact perfectly independent of speculations on the Nordic Bronze Age”. The ‘independence’ has been duly noted, and the point of the GPL is to bring together the two fields into closer cooparation, even if only at a conceptual level. To mention one result of Van Coetsem’s work: He spends three chapters (9-11) of his book ‘realigning’ absolute and relative chronology, the most interesting claim set forth being that the beginning of the Iron Age and the formation of a Sprachbund with the Celts could, with further interdisciplinary research, prove to be the actual cause of the sound and accent shift of ca. 500 BCE, marking the transition from Early to Late Germanic. In fact, he spends one chapter just setting up the sorely needed theoretical framework for the discussion regarding the effects of language contact and theoretical ‘substrates’. (BTW, he pretty much destroys the Germanic Substrate Hypothesis as commonly understood, both on linguistic/theoretical as well as socio-historical grounds.)
On the second point, I wasn’t referring to a PRE-Proto-Indo-European dialect at all. Perhaps my choice of words was poor. The ‘incipient’ was in reference to the Pre-Germanic Indo-European dialect, which researchers such as Van Coetsem and Voyles use as their starting point. Sorry for the confusion.
The ‘one-line summary’ was just due to time contraints. With time, I would like to add information on these feature in their own paragraphs. I included the Phonological Boundaries because it was relatively short and at hand. Varoon Arya 13:04, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

No merge - too specialized[edit]

This article provides some welcome detail on the pre-proto-Germanic phase, that critical 1500 years of archaeological non-discontinuity in which Proto-Germanic had a chance to evolve from PIE. This is the cradle of the Germanics and it deserves some detail. However considering whole range of development it represents a specialized topic even though Proto-Germanic is mentioned within it. As such should it not have its own article referenced by the "detail" template? How can our writer do it justice as a small section of Proto-Germanic, unless we propose to lengthen that article to the ridiculous lengths I have seen in some articles? Proto-Germanic is already at 32 or 34 thereabout. 80 or 100 is really too long don't you think? Let's have some Wikiroom here, which we traditionally do in a linked collection of shorter articles. There is after all a Wikibooks if you feel inclined to write a book by this method.Dave 14:29, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

the problem is that there isn't really much that can be said about "Pre-Proto-Germanic". This article is inflated as it is, and its scope includes Proto-Germanic. I honestly think there simply isn't more than a brief paragraph in the topic without embarking on idiosyncratic theories better addressed in Lehmann's article. I am happy to give this some time to develop, but I really see nothing here that couldn't just as well be discussed at Proto-Germanic. Expand this article any further, and there will be a clear and present danger of WP:CFORK. dab (𒁳) 16:38, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Even if this article is merged tomorrow, the need for terminology that spans the entire Gmc spectrum persists and will only become more apparent with time. It might very well be that the term GPL does not find widespread acceptance in the future. I can already foresee a day when, after certain parties recognize the need for it, a name not unlike North-Western-Post-Indo-European will be selected as a suitably sterilized and sufficiently hyphenated term to describe the whole Gmc continuum prior to the moment Wulfilas set pen to parchment. But, until that day arrives, GPL remains a real term with real proponents, and I think it deserves an article of its own. (Just for the record: I’ve read WP:CRYSTAL and I’m familiar with its contents. So, I don’t plan on making any kind of speculation regarding the eventual acceptance of GPL.)
At the same time, I can respect and understand the arguments presented in opposition. Indeed, GPL does cover Proto-Germanic and its sub-stages Early Gmc and Late Gmc. And on this point I would like to mention that there is a growing body of literature that discusses the exact nature of the changes between these two periods, and that the Proto-Germanic article simply cannot handle a report of the findings of such literature without either growing to unwieldy proportions or outstripping its current title. It may be said in retort that an article on GPL is also not the best home for such information. I can see the merit in such a response. But short of creating sub-pages branching off of the existing Proto-Germanic article and reporting on each of these phases separately, I don’t see a ready-made solution. Besides, in such a situation, the information would be too forked and obtaining any kind of overview would become a Herculean task – not to mention an enormous strain on the Proto-Germanic article and its editors.
In addition to Early and Late Gmc, GPL also covers Pre-Gmc – which, as yet, has no article. Is there enough published literature to warrant one? In my opinion, perhaps. And more literature is surely in the making. At present, I personally have nothing more than a handful of resources and few confirmed findings actually worth reporting (which I have considered adding to the GPL article, though my better judgement tells me to wait until the editorial team finds a happy solution to the present issues. In any event, I wouldn't like to see this particular article grow too much anyways. If I understand him correctly, I fully concur with dab on this point). But a few more trips to the library and some online-time by me or another interested party will in all likelihood change that soon enough. In the eventuality that such information does make itself available, what shall be done with it? (This is a non-rhetorical question and one which I think the editors would do well to consider as a team.) The points mentioned in the above paragraph apply in the main here also.
And: What is to be done to group this information together? A group of articles with a disambiguation page? What kind of overview can that give? And can presenting information considered by all accounts to describe, not Proto-Germanic, but its predecessors really be considered a case of content forking? How far can articles overlap without said forking? And how diffuse can an article (in this case Proto-Germanic) become before it warrants a major overhaul complete with a change of title?
These are a few of the questions that seem central to the future of this particular article. I feel fairly safe in the assumption that at least a few members of the editorial team have some more or less concrete ideas as to how to proceed. I, for one, am all ears. =) Varoon Arya 21:20, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
As I said, I am willing to give this some time. I am not bent on running over this article like the holy inquisition like you seem to assume. But I note that "the need for terminology that spans the entire Gmc spectrum persists and will only become more apparent with time" is in WP:CRYSTAL territory. I do not believe this to be the case at all. I think that it is proper to consider the NBA pre-Germanic. But I suppose there is room for disagreement. Only, such disagreement needs to be expressed in academic journals before we can bring it up on Wikipedia. dab (𒁳) 10:17, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
I am forced to assume that 'giving it some time' is your way of expressing some kind of 'positive' or at least 'not entirely negative' opinion on the matter. If I seem unapreciative, it is not intentional.
Yes, I recognize that saying anything unsourced about the 'future' of GPL or indeed any term would be a case of WP:CRYSTAL in the mainspace. I was assuming the talkpages are a safe space for expressing inclusionist sentiment. I'll do my best to refrain from it henceforth.
As I tried to indicate before, the above questions are not rhetorical and are not intended to give an impression of resistance to change or that there is 'no other way than my way'.
And yes, NBA is mainly covered by Pre-Germanic. Van Coetsem, Voyles, Lehmann, Kortland and everyone else I have read agree on this point 100%. The only disagreement I can discern here - besides the question as to whether there needs to be one overarching term - is the one regarding their (Van Coetsem, Voyles, Lehmann, Kortland, etc.) terminology for the developments immediately pre- and post-FSS (i.e. Early vs. Late Proto-Germanic) and yours. What else are we to assume if not that this distinction is an emerging consensus? Honestly, is using this distinction a case of WP:SYN? Help me out here, dab. (And I suppose that last bit is directed at the eventuality of a merge with Proto-Germanic. See below.) Aryaman (☼) 13:39, 16 November 2007 (UTC)


I am very reluctant to say anything negative about a properly sourced and referenced page on something Germanic linguistics, but I do have reservations here.

My initial surprise was that, in spite of many years working in this field, I had never come across the term "Germanic Parent Language". To see whether this was perhaps just a personal failing, I looked in in the JSTOR journal archive and found exactly four hits, only two of which were post-1918 (it finds 17,000+ for "germanic" alone), and none of which used the term in the article title. Google also gives a tiny number of hits, almost all of which relate to van Coetsem.

My conclusion is that this is simply not an accepted term in Germanic linguistics. I can't see any reason for a separate article - it would be much better, IMHO, to use the material here to improve Proto-Germanic. --Pfold 12:28, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Hi again Pfold. Thanks for responding to my invitation to participate here. Along with dab, I count you among the most rigorous editors in all things Germanic here at Wikipedia, so I welcome your opinion on this matter.
I knew going into this that an article on GPL would be met with skepticism and that a merge would be among the suggestions for further action. If a merge is, in fact, the consensus, then I welcome it and am willing to help incorporate the material as the majority sees fit. (Though, it escapes me why articles like Atlantic (semitic) languages are not subjected to the same stringency.)
I would appreciate it if those who are in favour of a merge would detail how they envision incorperating the material here into the Proto-Germanic article. In particular, I would like to know where information on Pre- and Early Proto-Germanic should go. Though it may surprise some here, there are a number of respectable theories in circulation regarding the features of these stages of the language, and I think it would be a shame to sweep them under the rug as ‘ideosyncratic’ or even ‘fringecruft’ simply because they don’t fit into the current Proto-Germanic page. (On a Wiki-related note: The Nordic Bronze Age lead needs to be adjusted. Everyone I have read dates Proto-Germanic (i.e., post-FSS) to 500 BCE. The NBA is to be associated with Pre- and Early Proto-Germanic.) Perhaps the most interesting information here has to do with reflexes of inherited (P)IE grammar that underwent changes or even disappeared within the PreGmc to EPGmc stages – reduplication being the most important and most informative for students of the daughter dialects. Also, I would like to know how the staging within Proto-Germanic (i.e. Early and Late) is to be addressed at Proto-Germanic. In this respect, the current article is more than slightly outdated, and even confusing once one becomes familiar with the research done in the last 20 years or so. I consider Voyles’ attempt at sub-chronology exceptionally good, and every post-1990 work on vocalism or consonantism that I have read goes into detail with periodization. And though it is a bit early for reporting in the mainspace, the continuing research of scholars like Graeme Davis will bring with it a renewed push to make some progress on PIE and Proto-Germanic syntax in all of its intermediate stages.
So, let’s hear some concrete suggestions on the proposed merge. Aryaman (☼) 14:17, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
the full content of this article can be merged as is into a "pre-Germanic" section on Proto-Germanic. Alternatively, this article can be moved to Pre-Germanic, and concentrate on the pre-FSS period exclusively, leaving Proto-Germanic proper to the Proto-Germanic article. Pointing to Atlantic (semitic) languages is the WP:OTHERCRAP fallacy. I do encourage you to update the PGmc article with recent literature, but I am sure we can do this without bothering with idiosyncracies like "GPL". dab (𒁳) 10:19, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
I can see good in both of those suggestions. The first has comprehensiveness going for it, though I am still wondering whether the phonology, for example, should be broken down into its proper intermediate stages or whether notes added to the Proto-Germanic inventory will suffice. (My worry here is that the article will become too jumbled without very careful editing and signposting.) The second has simplicity going for it, though here providing an overview of both topics seems problematic. I lean towards the first, provided the outstanding issues can be satisfactorily resolved.
My pointing to Atlantic (semitic) languages was not intended as an argument to keep this article as a separate entity. It was an expression of a lack of understanding on my part. No need to assume fallicious argumentation here, as I already expressed my willing to cooperate in a merge if it proves to be the consensus.
And, even though it may appear 'idiosyncratic' to you, either a merge or split will not change the justification of at least mentioning the fact that GPL has been used as a term in respectable literature to refer to the Pre-, Early, and Late Proto-Germanic stages. It's valid information that deserves to be included. And of course, you are welcome to add the blurb stating that it has not found widespread acceptance. That seems fair on all accounts. Aryaman (☼) 14:03, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
P.S.: After spending some time studying the structure of the Indo-European (language) article, it dawned on me that perhaps we should be considering a similar type of structure for the Proto-Germanic information in the not-so-distant future. In particular, I mean having 'main articles' for features of PGmc which warrant such articles. If this is the direction that the Proto-Germanic article is going in, then I could easily imagine including information on the sub-stages in the detailed articles (for example, having a Proto-Germanic Phonology page with details on the transitions between PIE, Pre-Gmc, Early PGmc and Late PGmc with graph-type inventories where helpful). I realize that such a move would be too much to implement now, but I'm assuming that others are at least willing to consider that the available information on Pre- and Proto-Germanic is worthy of detailed discussion that breaches the one article boundary. Of course, this would not rule out suggestions already made as temporary solutions. Collaborative comments are welcome... Aryaman (☼) 15:14, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Aryaman asked for my input. I must agree with Dbachmann here, because scholars usually talk of Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Germanic, and I don't think we need any article in-between. The content should be merged into the article Proto-Germanic instead. The article Proto-Germanic is BTW in dire need of attention, and I think that Aryaman's attention would improve it vastly.---- Berig (talk) 17:11, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

I repeat that I do also think that Aryaman is capable of greatly increasing the value of our articles on Germanic. You have the necessary expertise, Aryaman, just try to keep in mind that Wikipedia is built to reflect boring old mainstream at all times. dab (𒁳) 19:23, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Thank you, Berig, for accepting my invitation and for commenting on this matter. As you may have noticed, I hand-picked those editors I consider the most conscientious in their work on all things Germanic, as I value their opinions most and want to make sure that my contributions here are in synch with the existing 'consensus of the properly informed'. Seeing that you have confirmed the view of dab and Pfold, I feel certain that the consensus reached is, indeed, the best course of action. Thank you for your participation here.
And thank you to all who have participated thus far, both for your work on the article and for your assistance in helping me adjust and familiarize myself with Wikipedia standard procedures. I will remember this experience as a positive one.
On to your (pl.) comments: Thank you for the vote of confidence. I would indeed be interested in undertaking a moderate update on the Proto-Germanic article. I suppose I am what some would call a Cautious Mover when it comes to embarking on what could end up being an intricate and comprehensive edit of a larger than average page. (This will probably change with time as I gain experience, but please bear with me for the present.) I have created a subpage under my username as a kind of sandbox for my work on the article, and I will be doing all of my draft-work over there. I will try to bother you fellows as little as possible during this process, and I hope that the next time you hear from me on this matter it will be in the form of an invitation to view and critique my fourth- or fifth-generation draft, as well as to identify the parts which are worthy of being added over on the mainspace Proto-Germanic article. After that point I would delete the subpage and apply any further edits directly to the mainspace article as necessary. I realize that this temporary move to a subpage might be seen as disregard for WP:BOLD, but I feel more comfortable with it at the present.
Unless you chaps have additional comments or advice, I shall turn my attention to said article ASAP. Aryaman (☼) 21:47, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Terminology and merger[edit]

Osthoff’s Law, Cowgill's Law—any possibility of writing the articles and linking from here?

On the subject of merging this article, I can see the point, but I think this article covers material outside the scope of Proto-Germanic. I would favour a separate and, if possible, somewhat expanded article on Pre-Germanic (I can't see the point of calling it Pre-Proto-Germanic), which would incorporate some of the material here, and putting the contents of this article as a whole, perhaps in reduced form, into the Germanic languages article, with whatever acknowledgments of controversiality of the topic may be necessary.

On the term Germanic Parent Language as a term covering the whole period from the break-up of PIE to the first appearance of recorded Germanic, it's hard to see how this can be treated as a single language; it would be on a par, surely, with treating Proto-Germanic and Modern English and all the stages between as a single language. Koro Neil (talk) 14:26, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

Rm stale merge template[edit]

I have removed the Merge tag from this article for two reasons. First, the merge discussion, above, appears very contentious, but also appears to have stalled in 2008. Second, there is currently no corresponding template on Proto-Germanic. Any editor wishing to restart merger discussion should consult Help:Merging for more information and help. Cnilep (talk) 15:21, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Where did you take these data?[edit]

"The emerging consensus among scholars is that the First Germanic Sound Shift—long considered to be the defining mark in the development of Proto-Germanic—happened as late as 500 BCE.[2]"

I checked some of the cited references, e.g. p.40 in Davis 2006 and there is nothing about 500 BCE. I would like to hear more about qualifications (credentials) of the people who wrote this article.

Russky1802 (talk) 00:07, 3 March 2011 (UTC)


This article seems to give details about defining what exactly could be considered the GPL. But then it doesn't say anything about why it's significant at all. As it stands now, it's just a history of Proto-Germanic and doesn't seem to add anything innovative beyond that. CodeCat (talk) 20:38, 4 December 2013 (UTC)