Talk:Germanic languages

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'King' and its cognates are common Germanic words, should we add those to the table?Cameron Nedland 14:08, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

I think it's sort of hit-and-miss. There are probably hundreds of more words we could add, so I wouldn't bother much adding more, but as long as cognates are found in most languages, I would probably not remove any examples. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 23:02, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Do we know they are Common Germanic? Forms appear in West Germanic and North Germanic but not in East Germanic. Which could mean that it is Common Germanic, but East Germanic has lost the word, or that it is either West Germanic or North Germanic, and has since spread from the one to the other, and since been assimilated to ordinary words of the respective branch in the other. Jacob Haller 23:30, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
I think it's most probably CG, just that they haven't been attested in Gothic or were lost before Gothic evolved. Gothic would likely have had many words found in nearby languages, albeit not attested in writing. On the other hand, words attested in Gothic are much more interesting for the table. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 09:11, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, I personally think that table is one of the coolest things since gunpowder.Cameron Nedland 01:38, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, to each his own opinion. Anyway, I think we should generally limit ourselves to words with attested Gothic cognates, since the table could get rather unwieldy quite soon...
The Swedish version of the table also has reconstructed Proto-Germanic and Old English versions of the words. Looks interesting, although might need some fact-checking for errors. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 08:45, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
The Swedish version is even cooler than ours! I can't read Swedish, so I don't know what the footnotes say.Cameron Nedland 13:37, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Aaahh, generally the same as the English version. Besides that, there's a comment about nambred (nameboard), where I don't understand why they're giving the form "brett" (not even Swedish, unless they're referring to the word "broadly"), and some pondering on whether hám- in hámweardes (homewards) is the same as home-, which I have no reason to doubt, at least as a cognate. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 17:50, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Someone should put sweltan in the Old English for die, as well on the Swedish page. Deman7001 22:48, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Placement of Scanian[edit]

Should "Scanian" really be placed under "Swedish"? The history of the dialect is muddled, and there are several Scanian regionalists who could get offended, but I'd say it's similar to Bokmål. Bokmål is geneologically (or however it's spelled) West Norse, but has turned generally East Norse due to heavy impact from Danish. Scanian is geneologically Danish, but has turned generally Swedish due to heavy impact from it. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 09:00, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

So you think it should be under Danish?Cameron Nedland 13:37, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Genealogically, yeah, I think I'd prefer it. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 17:43, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Curiously, the Eastern Danish link in the table (the Danish dialect believed to be closest to Scanian, having emerged from a similar part of a dialectal continuum) already links to Scanian. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 17:56, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Shouldn't Danish and Swedish be under the same language genealogically? Aaker 12:26, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
Linguistically, they could be considered dialects of a pluricentric language continuum. Genelogically, they have diverged from a common ancestor, Old Norse. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 18:36, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Lombardic (again!)[edit]

I removed Lombardic from its absurd position straddling E & WGMc and it has been reverted. The reason for removing it was quite simple and has been discussed before. Every major handbook on the history of German says Lombardic is West Germanic. Some editors of this page hold the opinion (as they're entitled to do) that it either is or might be EGmc. However, they are quite unable to support this so far with even a single source. never mind a match for the dozen or I listed some time ago on this Talk page. Since the EGmc claim flies in the face of the unanimous view in the handbooks that Lombardic is West Germanic, it really has no place on this page at all - if there were anything to it, the Lombardic page would be the place - let alone in a table which attempts to summarise the accepted view of the relationship of the Gmc languages. The idea that the note (whose claim, after all, would also seems to be untrue) somehow excuses this doesn't count as a reason to revert in my view.

I appreciate that people are attached to their opinions, but if you can't back them up with citations, what basis have you got for objecting to their removal from this page in favour of a view thoroughly supported in the published literature? --Pfold 21:15, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Was there actually a meaningful difference at this stage between "East Germanic" and "West Germanic"? Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 21:24, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I reverted because your edit summary implied that sources had been requested for a year, when there wasn't even a {{fact}} tag on it, and because simply removing Lombardic from the table doesn't solve anything. If the majority of scholars hold Lombardic to be West Germanic rather than East Germanic, then move it to the West Germanic column of the table. But keep the note explaining that there is a dispute about the issue. —Angr 21:45, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

"Creoles are not considered Germanic languages"[edit]

Who doesn't consider them Germanic languages and why don't they? This looks completely arbitrary. Jacob Haller 15:32, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Tod (sub.)/tot (adj.)[edit]

Is 'dead' in the table standing for the adjective or for the substantive (the man with the scythe/the status 'exitus')? The last is in Modern High German (der)'Tod' only the first is 'tot'. --Pistazienfresser (talk) 19:32, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

It's the adjective, same as in the other languages. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 19:56, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

French influence in Swedish?[edit]

I have noticed when looking in Swedish that there are some French(Romansche) based words like 'Historie', Have these words been adopted from French into Swedish or are they of a Germanic origin? (talk) 17:45, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Falcon-Eagle200780.192.246.56 (talk) 17:45, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, that one (historie) is certainly borrowed into Swedish from Romance (probably direct from Latin historia rather than from French histoire). But French also has a lot of Germanic loan words, so other similarities you see may be native Swedish words that are cognate to Frankish words that French has borrowed. Or the Swedish words and the French words may both be borrowed, since Swedish has a lot of loanwords from Low German. Your question can only be answered on a word-by-word basis, but this page isn't the place for it. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 18:00, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
In the 18th century (I think), there were many loanwords adopted directly from French, by the Swedish aristocracy. Curiously, by comparing these to the English equivalents, in English they have often retained the spelling, but changed pronunciation, while in Swedish, the pronunciation is largely retained, but the spelling is changed, one example is English "raid", Swedish "räd". (Granted, it's just one example.) Also, Norman, a dialect of French had a notable impact from Old Norse, the predecessor of Swedish. Finally, in some cases, the words could be indirectly borrowed from French, via Low or High German, as well.惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * (talk) 16:50, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Sweden had a long phase of francophilia, where many loanwords were adopted - most have been purged from the language but some remain. BodvarBjarki (talk) 20:43, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
The correct Swedish word for "history" is actually "historia" which I guess has been borrowed directly from Latin or via Low German. There are however many French loan words in Swedish. Some common examples include: apropå (fr: à propos), ingenjör (fr: ingénieur), garderob (fr: garde-robe), portmonnä (fr: porte-monnaie), löjtnant (fr: lieutenant), glass (fr: glace), fåtölj (fr: fauteuil), garanti (fr: garantie) and many more. Aaker (talk) 22:12, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Error in list Of examples?[edit]

In the list of examples en:"many" is shown as meaning de:"Manch". This is wrong IMHO. The 1:1 translation of en:"many" into German is de:"viele" where de:"Manch" means en:"some". (talk) 18:18, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

This is a list of cognates, not direct translations. The question of "semantic shift" is already noted, afaik. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * (talk) 16:52, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Influx of vocabulary from other languages)[edit]

I believe it is rather misleading to say that Afrikaans has "a significant influx of vocabulary from other languages" in the article, because I would not say that it is greater than many other Germanic languages. The non-Germanic influx into Afrikaans is certainly much less than English has experienced and I would say less than Dutch. Afrikaans began diverging from Dutch in the 17th Century and so escaped much of the French influence that Dutch was subjected to since that period, for example. Certainly there has been an influx, but to suggest it is significantly more than other Germanic languages have experienced is misleading. Booshank (talk) 20:50, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

At the very least it would need citing with a reliable source. In addition to Dutch, English, and Afrikaans, the other Germanic language that has experienced "a significant influx of vocabulary" from non-Germanic languages is Yiddish. —Angr 21:59, 15 April 2008 (UTC)
I think this was put in there to explain why it diverged from Standard Dutch and not as a comparison to all Germanic languages. Since it's just a tree, maybe it's not necessary at all since if a user read the article on Afrikaans, he could read more about the language. Just a thought. Kman543210 (talk) 12:10, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
Even Scandinavian languages (except Icelandic) have had a notable impact from Non-Germanic languages, mostly Greco-Latin and French. Maybe it's less than for West Germanic, but certainly not ignorable. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * (talk) 20:48, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

re "Diachronic": Gutnish[edit]

It's true that Gutnish is now "practically a dialect of Swedish" but the same applies to Low German and Scots - and these languages are not declared for "extinct". Shouldn't therefore the entry concerning Gutnish be corrected? Thanks. Freigut (talk) 16:33, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

I don't think Low German is a mere dialect either of (high) German or Dutch. Scots is more unclear, depending on the variety discussed. It seems the claim is Gutnish was largely replaced by Swedish. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * (talk) 09:03, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
That being said, Gutnish still is spoken today (with differences from Swedish)so it is not 'extinct' that is why the German Diachronic should be changed Bennyj600 (talk) 16:35, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Sadly Gutnish is in decline and will probably be dead within three generations, but calling it extinct would be premature. BodvarBjarki (talk) 20:47, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Numbers in the intro[edit]

Where did these come from? They look doubtful. Leushenko (talk) 16:54, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

The estimates of native speakers of any given language always seem to be controversial, and what's not helpful is that different "reliable" sources give different figures. What do you doubt about the figures in the introduction? Do you think that they are too low or too high? Here is what the Dictionary of Languages (Andrew Dalby) gives for each of the major Germanic languages (native speakers only):
English 350,000,000
Frisian 750,000
Dutch 20,000,000
Afrikaans 6,000,000
German 120,000,000
Luxemburgish 300,000
Yiddish 2,000,000
Swedish 9,000,000
Danish 5,500,000
Norwegian 5,000,000
Faroese 50,000
Icelandic 250,000
This book was written in 1998, so I'm guessing that these figures might be a lot higher now 10 years later. Kman543210 (talk) 07:08, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
They look low to me. This being based on the first entry: there are more than 350 million people in the USA and UK, not counting other English-speaking countries. Obviously not 100% are native speakers but I am suspicious that the number is so much lower than the population of the countries where the language is used. Still, I have no evidence to back up my suspicion, so as long as the quoted figure is supported by an uncontroversial source I suppose there's nothing to complaim about. Leushenko (talk) 18:33, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree, but until we can find more updated reliable sources, we have to stick with what we have. Ethnologue is a great source, but many of the estimates are old. I've even seen estimates for some minority languages taken from 20 years ago. Reliable?...yes, but outdated as well in many cases. Kman543210 (talk) 22:29, 23 June 2008 (UTC)


the map is very distorted; the north is inclined towards the left: it gives a wrong perception of Europe as it is in reality. The results: France seems almost at the same latitudes than Germany on the map, which is far from reality! Maybe it would be better to find a map that is not so much distorted to give a better perception of how Europe really is.

I think that much "twist" is necessary in order to get Iceland and northern Norway on the map. And those are more important to a map of the Germanic languages than France! —Angr 04:30, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Because the map has Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales coloured the same as England it could give the false impression that the various Celtic languages found in these countries are Germanic or that Germanic languages are the only ones spoken in these places. In contrast, Belgium doesn't have the entire area within its border coloured like this and so accounts for French being spoken in addition to Dutch. There is also the problem of the map not being labeled with dates despite being in the history section. From the way it looks I've assumed it represents the spread of Germanic languages currently spoken in Europe, but if it's supposed to represent the spread Germanic languages much earlier than ~1850 then it becomes very flawed with respect to Celtic languages. 02:45, 20 January 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Meltyman (talkcontribs)

The map is wrong in many places. East Frisian is only spoken in a tiny portion of Lower Saxony and not on the North Sea Coast. Frisian is spoken in northern Germany and not southern Denmark as it shows. It also has the island of Ruegen the wrong color as the rest of Germany. The map implies that only English is spoken in Ireland and Scotland. Not true. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:47, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

No, the map implies that English is spoken in Ireland and Scotland, which is true. Colors showing where languages are spoken are not meant to imply exclusivity. +Angr 15:30, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

The map "The present-day distribution of the Germanic languages in Europe" is wrong about the northern part of Norway: A large majority, also in the counties of Troms and Finnmark, speak Norwegian. (It is only in the two municipalities of Karasjok and Kautokeino that Sami speaking people is a majority of native speakers.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:13, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

Crimean Gothic[edit]

Linguistic evidence actually shows that Crimean Gothic is a West Germanic language, contrary to traditional belief. Shouldn't this somehow be altered in the article? I do not have a written source at hand, regrettably, I'm only going by what's been told to me by Harald Bjorvand, professor of germanistic linguistics at the University of Oslo. Does anyone else have a written source? I believe the misconception has arisen due to geographical reasons, seeing as Crimean Gothic was a germanic language spoken in an area assosicated with the Goths.--Alexlykke (talk) 19:35, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

I've never heard that. All I know about Crimean Gothic is that the word for "egg" is adda, which appears to show the change of *-jj- to *-ddj- that's characteristic of East Germanic, not West Germanic. —Angr 19:59, 6 December 2008 (UTC)
As far as I have heard, whether Crimean Gothic should be considered East or West Germanic is still a matter under debate. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 00:07, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
This issue is dealt with in the Crimean Gothic article which also cites the works you need to refer to to more detailed arguments and evidence. The statement "Linguistic evidence actually shows that Crimean Gothic is a West Germanic language, contrary to traditional belief" does not reflect the current state of scholarship. --Pfold (talk) 11:53, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Loanwords and Influence (Ersatz)[edit]

|I find it worth noting the range and depth of the phenomenon that is Germanic loanwords. Other than the Classical languages of Latin and Greek I believe the Germanic languages to be among the most influential in terms of vocabulary and loanwords. If you look to almost any European language you will soon find a Germanic loan in its vocabulary. It is worth considering the historical implications that this has had.

I believe it originates from the Germanic speakers as being in the right place at the right time after the Roman era. They were the most widespread tribes in the area other than the Roman descendants and the Celts, so the new technologies and cultural practices that emerged in the post-Roman period were largely named by these speakers. These words soon became easy to pass on to new peoples in Europe and along with the return of interest in the Classical languages the Germanic tongues became the most prolific givers of words.

While not as pure a group of languages as say, the Baltic tongues (who are the closest to Proto Indo-European), I think this again warrants mention in the article. I'm not going to add such a section yet until I see some opinions.| CormanoSanchez (talk) 01:30, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

Well, how would you propose that section to look? 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 16:56, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

|I am merely suggesting such a section. I don't think I possess the proper number of sources and material to write it on my own without unintentionally violating policy. But I am open to any other editor with more experience to create such a section| CormanoSanchez (talk) 17:27, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

|Proposed section outline: Historical context: brief discussion of range of Germanic loans and numbers. I'm sure there are many linguists and other academics who realize the size and influence of Germanic loanwords so their input would be appreciated as proper sources for citations. Perhaps a brief history of certain important loans throughout the centuries and to which languages. A mention of the idea of ersatz (which is already in brief on the German language page) and the formation of certain word roots which have been used to preserve words. Historical implications: What the amount of Germanic loans means, especially in the case of English, and historical examples of their effects on other languages. Again, all these parts of the section would be supported by the writings of linguists and academics who understand and possess the evidence of the loans.| CormanoSanchez (talk) 18:29, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Question about determiner/article usage[edit]

Could it be stated that a common feature of germanic (separating it from other IE languages) is the option of a zero-article? I am not sure about this by any means, it just occurred to me how rather than Latin or Sanskrit who have no articles ever... French/Spanish (for example) seem to need them excessively (course, compared to germanic languages). It seems that generalness in Romance languages is handled much more differently... I don't know about Celtic languages, for example... (only that they don't have indefinite pronouns)

Any ideas as to what's going on here? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Retailmonica (talkcontribs) 17:04, 19 January 2009 (UTC)


Yiddish is a Germanic language derived from Middle High German and closely related to modern German, and it is spoken by 3 million people. I was surprised to see it missing from this page, other than in a footnote. I would follow WP:SOFIXIT, but I fear I'd make a mess of including it as I'm not that familiar with linguistics. Fences and windows (talk) 22:41, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree. Yiddish should definitely be included in the mainspace of the article, as well as the chart of cognates, etc. JesseRafe (talk) 03:15, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Scots... timeline?[edit]

I'm a bit confused about the placing of Scots in the timeline/tree.

The northern part of the Kingdom of Northumbria was incorporated into Scotland right at the start of the Middle English period, so surely this would be where the split was?

Certainly, the big language change of the time was the Norman invasion of England, and as the Scots-speaking Lothian (modern East and Mid Lothian and Borders regions) was never part of the conquered Norman territory it's unlikely that "Middle English" per se was ever spoken there.

McClure's definition of it coming from Northumbrian Old English and the Oxford description of it seem to support the classification of it as having an evolution independent of what is recognised as Middle English. Prof Wrong (talk) 21:18, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

McClure's definition of Scots having its origins in Northumbrian Old English, while chronologically correct in the sense that all varieties of ‘English’ derive from Old English, is somehwat misleading in that the period when Scots begins to diverge from other varieties of Northern English is after substantial immigration from Northern and Midland England of Scandinavian-influenced English-speakers in the 12-13c. Their speech perhaps having an significant influence on the route Scots was to take. See History of the Scots language. Nogger (talk) 20:54, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

deleting orphan: Terminological comparison between Germanic languages[edit]

I'm adding the info here, in case anyone wants to make use of it. Since no-one ever bothered to link to it, I assume there isn't much need for a separate article. If anyone here wants to restore it, please do so, and link appropriately from this or other articles. kwami (talk) 00:56, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Contents of redirected page Terminological comparison between Germanic languages ([1]), edited mainly by Articioch (talk · contribs) with additions by Furor1 (talk · contribs) and others.

Genetic tree of West Germanic[edit]

The internal grouping of the West Germanic languages is still unresolved (see e.g. Ringe's recent book "From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic"), but the tree as (formerly) given, which splits Anglo-Frisian against Old High German/Old Saxon/Old Low Franconian is certainly wrong. The proper division is almost certainly between OHG and all the other languages (Ringe's "Northern West Germanic" grouping). The basic reason for this is that the Northern West Germanic languages share a number of innovations that are not present in OHG:

  1. The so-called "Einheitsplural" (unified plural ending of verbs in -ath)
  2. The development of Class III weak verbs into a relic class consisting of four verbs (*sagjan, *hugjan, *habjan, *libjan)
  3. The split of the Class II weak verb ending -ō- into -ō-/-ōja-
  4. Possibly, the plural ending -as of a-stem nouns
  5. Possibly, the so-called Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law

The second item -- the development of Class III weak verbs -- seems particularly important as it is such a specific change and because the developments in northern WG vs. OHG were radically different. According to Ringe, Class III was actually two different classes in Proto-Germanic: (1) a stative class with endings -ja/-ai in the present and no linking vowel in the past; (2) a "factitive" class with endings -ā/-ai in the present and a linking vowel -a in the past. It's likely that both of these classes persisted down through Proto-West-Germanic. Essentially what happened is:

  1. The northern languages moved all factitive verbs, and all stative verbs other than the four previously mentioned, into Class II (or occasionally Class I?). The remaining four verbs keep the original stative endings.
  2. OHG unified the factitive and stative verbs and generalized the -ai ending (which later developed to -ẽ) as the only ending for all forms of both present and past.

Benwing (talk) 02:01, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

The linguistic evidence is not the issue here. The question is: what is the predominant view in the literature? - that is what the article should reflect. I am not convinced (and a single reference to Ringe won't do it) that the traditional view is less widely supported than the one you cite. Everyone can see some problems with the traditional view (in that sense, everyone agrees it's "certainly wrong", though I think that is a misleading way to put it, since all prehistoric linguistic groupings are by definition based on problematic and incomplete evidence), but that doesn't mean there's a greater consensus for NWGmc or that NWGmc is "certainly right" or even "certainly a better hypothesis". Even if those of us who contribute to this article agreed it was "certainly right" (and I agree there are interesting arguments in favour of it) I don't see that the literature has yet come round to that view. You'd need at several more authorities to make it even arguable that this is a widespread view amongst linguists, let alone the consensus.
Having said that, though, I agree that the diachronic table as it stands is unsatisfactory: the top row for West Gmc doesn't remotely represent the literature either. Hardly any linguists use the term South Germanic; you don't have proto-languages with only a single descendant - and who uses "Proto-Saxon" anyway?; how can two Frankish dialects be grouped separately at this level when their main difference (the sound shift) didn't occur till later?; Low Franconian is closer to English than to Central Franconian? I could go on. You won't find a grouping remotely like this in any of the standard works on the grouping of the Gmc languages - this is effectively OR. I suggest someone source the groupings from a reliable standard work and cite it as a source. The disclaimer that the groupings are controversial simply doesn't excuse the muddle presented here. As for the position of Lombardic in the row below, it breaks the rules of tree diagrams and is completely contrary to the consensus view in the literature that Lombardic is West Germanic - OR again. --Pfold (talk) 18:17, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Are you sure that the "consensus" groups Old Saxon and OHG against Anglo-Frisian? I seriously doubt that. I've seen the "northwest germanic" grouping mentioned in plenty of places. You also have to consider that some of the older sources are confused about the fact that shared retentions don't count for anything when looking at groupings. If anything, we should present a "consensus" that inserts no groupings at all between West Germanic and Anglo-Frisian. As for Proto-Saxon etc., I agree these are more or less neologisms, although there's in fact nothing wrong with "Proto-X" referring to a single language (e.g. "Proto-Norse"; Kortlandt speaks of "Proto-Irish" in [2]). As it stands, these are simply place-fillers for earlier stages of the languages in question, to avoid creating a clade where none exists. Benwing (talk) 23:05, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
BTW When I wrote the above comments I hadn't looked much at OLF and it does look like it doesn't belong with Old Saxon and Anglo-Frisian, e.g. it doesn't have characteristics 1, 4 or 5 given above. This would lead to a potential "Ingvaeonic" grouping of Anglo-Frisian and Old Saxon. However I'm not sure whether this is supported in the literature. As for "South Germanic", this was in the last version of the chart and I agree it doesn't belong. The question is, what do you call e.g. the stage of OHG in 400 AD? It's not clear that terms like "OHG" are generally thought to extend that far back. With OE, I've seen terms like "Primitive English" and "Proto-Anglo-Saxon" to refer to pre-OE of 400 AD or so. Benwing (talk) 23:16, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
OK, I went ahead and changed the tree so that Old Saxon and Anglo-Frisian are grouped in an Ingvaeonic node, and used the term "Primitive X" to describe the pre-written stages of OHG, Old Saxon and OLF/Old Frankish. Benwing (talk) 03:42, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

Possible solution[edit]

Low Franconian and Low Saxon are two separate groups. The language of the Hanseatic League was Low German and this included the Low Franconian and Low Saxon varieties. Historically, there were no two separate languages, but there was a so-called dialect continuum.

Making a difference between High German and the Low German (including Dutch) is already questionable in both ways, but separating the Low German in two different categories (Dutch and Low German) is simply incorrect.

Frisian English Dutch German
dei day dag Tag
rein rain regen Regen
wei way weg Weg
neil nail nagel Nagel
tsiis cheese kaas Käse
tsjerke church kerk Kirche
tegearre together samen zusammen
wiet wet nat nass
sibbe sibling verwante Verwandte
kaai key sleutel Schlüssel
ha west have been ben geweest bin gewesen
twa skiep two sheep twee schapen zwei Schafe
yndie(d) indeed inderdaad in der Tat
ús us ons uns
hynder horse paard Pferd
brea bread brood Brot
hier hair haar Haar
ear ear oor Ohr
doar door deur Tür
grien green groen Grün
stiel steel staal Stahl
read red rood Rot
giel (Sf. Jeel) yellow geel Gelb
swiet sweet zoet süβ
troch through door durch
hawwe have hebben haben
tinke thinking denken denken
lyts little klein klein

In this table you will find English and Frisian on the one side, and German and Dutch on the other side. The so-called Low Saxon or Low German varieties should be somewhere between the Dutch and German language. I propose you merge Low Franconian and Low Saxon, otherwise you need at least three new linguistic groups for Frisian as well. Kind regards --Kening Aldgilles (talk) 00:41, 25 December 2011 (UTC)

Low Franconian takes an intermediate position between these two. It doesn't take part in innovations 1, 3 and 4, only partly in 5 and completely in 2. It also has the diphthongisation of WG ē and ō to ie and uo, as does Old High German, but it shares the monophthongisation of WG ai and au to ē and ō with Old Saxon (and if monophthongisation in general is concerned, with Old Frisian as well). It also seems to have the shift io > ia, at least judging from the form thiadi, which unifies it with Old Frisian against Old Saxon and Old High German which both retain io (thioda, diota). It also shares the loss of intervocalic -h- with Old Frisian and Old English, which is retained in Old Saxon and Old High German. Another feature it shares with Old Frisian and Old English is the weakening of unstressed i to e, which appears intermittently in Old Low Franconian texts. On the other hand, it loses initial h- before consonants, like Old High German.
So it seems that there is no real specific feature of Low Franconian that sets it out as a unique branch, but it also seems strange to use any connection to Central Franconian as evidence against a distinct identity. The Franks were not a unified people, they were a union of many smaller groups, so there is no reason why those groups could not have had different dialects. There are very few sound changes that are completely unique to Low Franconian, but the early appearance of final devoicing and the change -hs- > -ss- may speak for an emerging identity as a distinct dialect, as does the relative lack of distinction between the strong and weak declensions (including the complete merger of feminine o-stems and on-stems). I think the most sensible thing to say is that Low Franconian is a transition dialect, which takes a central position among Old Saxon, Old Frisian and Old High German and shares certain features with all three without being grouped distinctly with any one. CodeCat (talk) 10:44, 25 December 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for your examples.
At least for Frisian speaking people who also have knowledge of Dutch/German, both languages seem to be pretty much the same. The language of the Hanseatic League was Low German/Dutch, spoken in a dialect continuum. It sounds the same, looks the same, and has a common history and maybe therefor should be treated as one group.
Different from English and Frisian, the Low German varieties later took over the Nasal developments. The examples given give a good impression. Kind regards --Kening Aldgilles (talk) 19:33, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

Hello Kening. I've been out of the country for 5 weeks and just got back. Can you explain more clearly what your concerns are with the current layout and what you want it to look like instead? However, before proposing anything I'd suggest you look somewhat more into the actual linguistic reasons why the Germanic languages are grouped as they are. You are arguing primarily on surface similarities of various words in the modern languages, which is not a valid way of grouping languages historically and suggests you don't have a background in historical linguistics. Benwing (talk) 00:25, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

New diagram: check language names / ethnonyms?[edit]


I translated File:Einteilung der Germanen nach from German to English File:Einteilung der Germanen nach Maurer.en.svg – as far as I could. It illustrates the subdivion of the Germanic languages and peoples according to :de:Friedrich Maurer.

Would someone like to check if the names of peoples and languages are correct? Especially my translation of "Germanen" (Latin "Germani", i.e. members of a Germanic people). According to the English wiktionary, it is "Germans", too...

The other translations (English and Latin ones) are taken from the English wikipedia, and I think that they are correct. Thanks in advance. -- MaEr (talk) 08:39, 29 August 2010 (UTC)


Norwegian is placed as a descendant of the Old East Norse, therefore, the Old West Norse should be moved one space to accommodate the Old Norwegian. Also, Old Gutnish should be occupying both the Early Middle ages and the Middle ages spaces. Mmasalleras (talk) 13:07, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

Modern Norwegian is 'east Norse' in the same way that English is Romance, brought on by foreign influence. The difference though is that the differences between Danish and Norwegian are small, so Danish influence didn't affect Norwegian in a very serious manner. I think it's best to say that modern Norwegian descends from both Old Norwegian and Old Danish to some degree. CodeCat (talk) 18:44, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
Just as English was heavily influenced by Latin and Norman, but it isn't Romance, Norwegian isn't an East Scandinavian language nor descends(mainly) from Old East Norse, as the table incorrectly shows. Also, [Early] Old Gutnish doesn't descend from Old East Norse, they were contemporary and already showing clear differences by the 10th c., something that the table isn't displaying. Mmasalleras (talk) 02:13, 29 December 2011 (UTC)


Madagascar shouldn't be coloured on the map because English is no longer official there (and actually not very known). Aaker (talk) 21:06, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Classification of English[edit]

One new study reports that English could/should be classified as North Germanic. Inge (talk) 13:09, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

That would ignore all the West Germanic features, which all the North Germanic languages lack. However, it's not terribly surprising that there are some similarities, considering that Old English arose from the Germanic dialects of Denmark. CodeCat (talk) 13:52, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
The claim is definitively debunked on Language Log --Pfold (talk) 12:20, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

I'm no expert in this field, but as a Scot it doesn't required you to be an expert to know that Scots English dialects display a huge amount of Norse vocabulary- and a few grammatical features. At what point people want to start drawing lines isn't clear to me, but the considerable Scandinavian history & influence in/on Scotland is undeniable. (talk) 11:17, 29 December 2012 (UTC)


If one understands dialect to mean variant forms of one language used in a a more or less circumscribable area, Franconian (and others) is as much a dialect of German as Yorkshire is a dialect of English. The only Lowland Scots that I have ever read was used by Mary Queen of Scots in her letters. It is so similar to English that it is quite easy to read. It is much easier to read than, say, Beowulf or even Wulfstan's Sermon to the English (11th cent.). I find it difficult think of it as anything other than a language with the same history of development, so a dialect of English. Pamour (talk) 13:16, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Linguists generally don't distinguish between dialects and languages. After all, consider your first sentence. "Variant forms of one language". What is one language? That in itself isn't well defined, especially in the face of a dialect continuum like the one that exists in mainland West Germanic. Dutch on one end and Alemannic or Bavarian on the other are not mutually intelligible, but there is no clear-cut border between them; rather there are gradual changes as you travel from one area to the other, and in each area, the most intelligible dialects are those closer to that area, while those further away are harder to understand. So linguists normally consider the difference between dialect and language to be a matter of perspective and often use the two terms interchangeably (for example, they call the Germanic languages a dialect of Indo-European). A more neutral term that is also used is "language variety", which implies that everything is just a kind of language in its own right rather than a dialect of something. CodeCat (talk) 17:00, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

I'd suggest the Lowland Scots of Burns would tax you a bit more, as a Glaswegian (a dialect largely fairly light on Scots vocab)I can't make head nor tail of it.

And I agree with CodeCat, that in linguistics a dialect is merely a variation that is/has been at point on a continuum. If you really want to push it, you can measure mutual intelligibility... but often it seems that arguments around "language" versus "dialect" are emotionally-driven political identity arguments rather than scientific ones. (talk) 11:11, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Characteristics & Standardisation[edit]

Surely the standardised dialects aren't the best yardstick for taxonomy? This paragraph is also very bad at getting across what it actually means. If you are familiar with comparative linguistics, a few readings gets you there, but I fear it'll read like gibberish to someone new to the subject. (talk) 11:05, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Why is such a crappy, questionable product such as being used?[edit]

Why is such a backdoor application such as used as a reference. Many of their contentions about language are primitive at best. It just a shoddy product and yet it is cited as if it has some authority and as if it is viable research which it is clearly not. It is the intellectual equivalent of using already soiled toilet paper in a bathroom environment... Is its use on Wikipedia the result of someone furthering their business interest in this less than standard product? Stevenmitchell (talk) 02:08, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

I'd hesitate before ascribing commercial interests. It's far more likely it's the sloppy lack of research - and, indeed, education - that is at the root of it. Someone edits a Wikipedia page with their belief and when eventually challenged to find a "notable source" they go to and state that it's outside of Wikipedia and "trustworthy" and then camp until everyone else gives up in disgust.

Welcome to Wikipedia! (talk) 21:55, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Be it wrong or wright: Simple opinions of a bachelor with YOUR background are of absolutely NO USE for the reader. Give arguments, reasons, or at least authorities, or - sorry - shut up. — Preceding unsigned comment added by HJJHolm (talkcontribs) 16:32, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

That figure[edit]

According to this diagram, Fife is a multilingual area while Lewis isn't. As anyone who has even visited these places could tell you, let alone lived in them, this is grossly inaccurate. Lewis is an English-speaking island, with a significant number of Gaelic speakers. Fife speaks English and is monolingual. Similarly, any attempts to claim that Lothian and Borders, in 2013, speak "Scots" is misguided. The language is much closer to English than it is to the Scots of 70 years back, when it was genuinely a distinct and distinctive dialect (if not a separate language). Given these offensively gross errors, I'm exceedingly loathe to trust anything plotted on this chart at all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:53, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Examples of verb second order for English[edit]

Added 'Pop Goes the Weasel' and 'Able was I ere I saw Elba' as further examples. I've never heard the two examples that were previously the only ones cited, but I am sure the two I added are better known. Furthermore, both are already referenced within Wikipedia. Meaning of Fife (talk) 23:34, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

August 2014 what about Flemish[edit]

I don't see any mention of Flemish/Vlaams in the Article. Is there an assumption that Nederlands is a common language between the Dutch and the Belgians? Even between the Flemish provinces there are variations in dialectic words and between Dutch and Flemish even the basic alphabet has phonic differences e.g. "g" takes on a different sounding. The diminutive in Dutch is an "icke" whereas in Vlaams more likely "tje" Also the influence of the Monarchy/Aristocracy also sees a lot of borrowed French words adapted into Flemish e.g. a small present would be cadeautje but in Dutch geschenk (talk) 15:30, 1 May 2014 (UTC) CED (Not scientific input - just a Celt raising a few questions) Both examples are actually reversed. Also, besides the obvious pronunciation and day-to-day seperateness of 2 nations, both everyday languages are relatively similar and mutually intelligible. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:20, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

South Germanic languages[edit]

Why there is no such way for South Germanic languages?

If you look at South Germanic, you will see why. --Pfold (talk) 21:47, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

Diachronic Table[edit]

I think the diachronic table needs to be replaced by something explicitly based on a published source. As it stands the table is in breach of WP:OR and WP:SYNTH. There are problems which cannot be fixed simply by editorial tweaking:

  • The idea that the periodisation of all the dialects can be aligned within a single grid of period divisions - the divisions used are often in conflict with the articles on the individual languages
  • The use of terms which are never used in the literature, such as Early New Central German, Primitive Saxon.

I don't see how the job can be done in a table - I think we need to source a suitable diagram, or, if we can't find a copyright-free diagram that represents current thinking, create a new diagram based on a single published source. Something like the one on p. 49 of Keller's The German Language, say. --Pfold (talk) 11:32, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

Bad organization and missing information[edit]

The article needs serious rewriting. I'm a fan of historical linguistics or philology, but there's way too much historical information and it's sprinkled through every section in the article, without regard for whether it's actually helpful. We need more information on the phonology, morphology, and syntax of modern Germanic languages.

For instance, the Phonology section should discuss the phonemic inventories and phonological features of modern Germanic languages, like Slavic languages § Common features and Indo-Aryan languages § Phonology. The sound changes that happened between Proto-Germanic and the old Germanic languages belong in another section, because they don't really help a reader understand how modern English, Dutch, Standard German, Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic are different. The real differences between the modern Germanic languages have to do with presence or absence of phonemes (the dorsal fricative /x/ and semivowel /w/, postalveolars, affricates, front rounded vowels) and different phonological features (pitch accent, vowel length, diphthongs, different features of fortis and lenis obstruents, greater or lesser vowel reduction). More on these things is needed.

The Characteristics section is also confusing. We need to distinguish between features that happen to be important for classifying the Germanic languages as a separate branch of the Indo-European family, and features that are actually rare or unique to the Germanic languages as compared with other languages around the world. The Germanic consonant shift isn't a unique feature, because it results in the same voiced and voiceless stops and fricatives that are found in other language families around the world. Similarly, large vowel inventories are found in other language families, and so is vowel reduction and a present-past contrast. Probably some features listed are typologically distinctive, but I'm not sure which.

I may work on fixing these problems, but help would be appreciated. — Eru·tuon 06:58, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

The linguistic contact of the Viking settlers of the Danelaw with the Anglo-Saxons left traces in the English language[edit]

There were never a vikingish language:

In Bósa saga ok Herrauðs is to read:

  • Herraud's best friend was Bósi, the younger son of a former viking named Thvari or Bryn-Thvari by Brynhild, a former shieldmaiden and a daughter of King Agnar of Nóatún.
  • Bósi was a rough boy who was eventually outlawed for maiming some other folk in a ball-game. Herraud, discontented, gained permission from his father, over Sjód's objections, be allowed to set off on a Viking expedition with five ships

There is, however, no such thing as a former Norseman, mentioned in the sources. Dan Koehl (talk) 22:49, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

Egil Skallagrimsson saga: Björn var farmaður mikill, var stundum í víking, en stundum í kaupferðum; Björn var hinn gervilegasti maður. (english: Björn was a great traveller; sometimes as viking, sometimes as tradesman.

So, a Norseman could be a viking for some time, and he could be a tradesman (or a baker, or a shepherd) for some time. But not all tradesmen, bakers, shepherds and vikings were Norseman.

Norseman spoke norse, but norse vikings did not speak vikingish, and norse shepherds did not speak shepherdish or bakerish.

Norsemen had norse culture, but there was no norse viking, baker or shepherd culture.

I think its important to remind people today about the term Norsemen, an accepted term by historians and archelogists, referring to people from the north, present Scandinavia. This term does not have any certain time limit, the Norsemen were norse in years, 400, 500, 657, 749, 803, 950, 1066 and 1100. Norsemen is a true ethnical group, for some reason neglected on Wikipedia. Whenever the word viking is mentioned, it can correctly be replaced by the term Norsemen in 95% of the cases. Norsemen are described in other Wikipedia languages, and since the english Wikipedia should be written from a global point of view, the term Norse and Norsemen should not be treated different.

The first documented use of the word viking is made by Orosius, written in latin, and translated into old english. There is to read about Alexander the Great´s father, Philip II of Macedonia: Philippus vero post longam obsidionem, ut pecuniam quam obsidendo exhauserat, praedando repararet, piraticam adgressus est. translated into: ac he scipa gegaderade, and i vicingas wurdon. In this time the word pirat was not used in the english language, the latin piraticam was directly translated to vicingus.

Interestingly enough, theres stories in the sagas, describing arabic piates, and they were in the sagas referred to, as vikings. = Vikings could be arabs practising piracy, and vikings could be macedonian kings practising piracy, but peaceful norse farmers, and their wifes, were never, ever, described as vikings before 1900.

For over 1 000 years, viking was nothing else than an old-english translation of the latin word pirate.

A macedonian king will never, ever, become scandinavian. An arabic pirat will never become scandinavian.

But a norseman was scandinavian, and the present scandinavians are descendants of Norsemen, according to historians and archelogists.

The sentence The linguistic contact of the Viking settlers of the Danelaw with the Anglo-Saxons left traces in the English language reflects a very poor knowledge in what viking actually means. As well as poor knowledge in the term Norsemen.

'Viking is a controversial term, Norsemen is not. For some reason, some people absolutely wants to call my ancestors vikings, which is historically incorrect and besides, unpolite. The Scandinavians as a an ethnic group, is more or less the same as Norsemen, Theres no problem whatsoever to use the correct term.

Dan Koehl (talk) 23:19, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

I think this is an issue regarding the difference in usage between the terms in English and in modern Scandinavian languages. Sorry if you don't like that usage but we must follow the English language version here. Mutt Lunker (talk) 23:35, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, but we must follow the global point of view, with whatever language. We don't know how Koreans, Kenyans, or Tasmanians interprete the word viking, but for sure the word Norsemen is the correct term for the ethnical group of Scandinavian people. Dan Koehl (talk) 23:59, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
If by "the global view" you mean a usage which is divergent from that of the English language, no that is fundamentally not correct. Mutt Lunker (talk) 00:10, 10 May 2015 (UTC)