Talk:Proto-Germanic language

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"ē and æ are also transcribed as ē1 and ē2;" the values should be reversed, right? To quote the article, "Krahe treats ē2 (secondary ē) as identical with ī." So, ē2 is a higher vowel than ē1. So why does the article say e2 = æ ?! Jakob37 15:34, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

You're right; I corrected it. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 14:12, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Borrowed from Germanic during the Proto-Germanic phase[edit]

Some loan-words from early Germanic which exist in neighbouring non-Germanic languages are believed to have been borrowed from Germanic during the Proto-Germanic phase; an example is Finnish and Estonian kuningas "king", which closely resembles the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *kuningaz.[1]

Can be borrowed from Germanic before its existence ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:32, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

The prefix "proto" does not mean "before", but "the first period of". Therefore, Proto-Germanic is Germanic. Againme (talk) 22:06, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
I've fixed this so the matter is more clear.·Maunus·ƛ· 08:35, 23 August 2008 (UTC)


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Comrie was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

Grimm's law section issue[edit]

Under Grimm's Law in the article it states "In addition tt>ss." To my knowledge, this is not true. Could someone check up on this and delete it if it's a mistake. Sounds more like the High German Sound Shift. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:45, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, I don't think tt > ss is part of Grimm's law. PIE *-tt- became *-st- in Germanic, though that's not part of Grimm's Law either. —Angr 16:28, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I think this refers to allophonic variation in PIE clusters, e.g., an excrescent spirant developed in the combination, dental stop + dental stop; e.g. Skt. vittá, Av. vistō ‘known’, Gk. ἄιστος ‘unseen’, OIrish ro-fess ‘known’, OHG giwiss ‘certain’ from PIE /wyttos/ [witstos]. But this wasn't a part of Grimm's Law or the Germanic Spirant Law. -Scott Shay (talk) 18:00, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Proto-Germanic in other languages[edit]

I moved the list of possible proto-germanic loans to neighboring languages from the proto-norse article to here (as that list was more than one word). This is based on my understanding that there isn't much difference between proto-germanic and proto-norse (except possibly a vowel shift), and that one probably wouldn't be able to distinguish a proto-germanic borrowing from a proto-norse borrowing. If I'm wrong...well....Ekwos (talk) 01:23, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

Repitition/Error in Old High German?[edit]

The cases in the morphology section are repeated, only about 2 paragraphs later... redundant.

Also, it is written: "Although the pronominal dual survived into all the oldest languages" I believe Old High German didn't have dual pronouns, except in some specific dialects. (The Germanic Languages - Johan van der Auwera, Ekkehard König. Published by Taylor & Francis, 1994 page 99)

Any evidence to contradict this... or should this be more clear? I'm trying to write a paper on this topic, so I personally think this should be cleared up. (talk) 19:52, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

Proto-Germanic people[edit]

I very much think there needs to be an article on the hypothetical Proto-Germanic people, to go along with this article. I think that without such an article, this article is kind of "incomplete". Gringo300 (talk) 14:27, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

But only if there is published, non-fringey research into a hypothetical Proto-Germanic people. More likely, there should be (and maybe already is) an archeology article about a culture postulated to have been the speakers of Proto-Germanic (just like the people of the La Tène culture are postulated to have spoken Proto-Celtic). —Angr 14:42, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
Probably the closest things to what you're looking for are Nordic Stone Age, Nordic Bronze Age, and Przeworsk culture. —Angr 14:48, 17 March 2009 (UTC)


There appears to be some disagreement about whether this article should use abbreviations for Proto-Indo-European ("PIE") and Proto-Germanic ("PGmc"). While it is typical to see such abbreviations in the comparative literature, my sense is that it isn't good style for an encyclopedia, marring the quality of the prose while only saving us a few bytes. Also, it may confuse readers, bearing in mind that the standard or something being non-confusing isn't "They can figure it out if they backtrack several paragraphs and read very carefully," and that any of us would probably know immediately what "PIE" and "PGmc" meant, even if there were no key, so "it doesn't confuse us" may not mean much. Finally, should someone choose to quote this article, it would be good if each sentence were intelligible on its own. (talk) 22:00, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

If repetitions of "Proto-Indo European" and "Proto-Germanic" are hard on the eyes, we might consider using just "Indo-European" or "Germanic" for successive iterations, as, in such contexts, there is no ambiguity at all; e.g. "Germanic reflects Indo-European voiceless stops as fricatives." (talk) 22:07, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
I found your first removal of abbreviations particularly objectionable:
For example, *PIE bhrátēr > Pgmc *brōþēr "brother" but PIE mātér > Pgmc mōðēr "mother."
For example, Proto-Indo-European *bhrátēr yields Proto-Germanic *brōþēr "brother" but Proto-Indo-European mātér yields Proto-Germanic mōðēr "mother."
It seems to me the example gets lost in the verbiage, making the example almost incomprehensible. Also if I imagine being a novice reader:
  • I would know I was in the article Proto-Germanic; so the abbreviation PGmc. (as Angr now has it) would be obvious.
  • If I didn’t pick up from the lede what PIE meant, I probably wouldn’t understand “Proto-Indo-European” any better. So you are making inconsistent assumptions about reader understanding. (“Indo-European” would be even worse: not only is technically wrong [Gothic was an Indo-European language], the article doesn’t indicate what it means.)
  • I might not appreciate the detailed meaning of “>” that it implies a regular sound change. But this symbol is very generally common to indicate a change and the direction of change. I see it frequently in edit summaries (and not just in language articles).
If you seriously believe readers might be confused, perhaps a footnote explanation might be in order.
For the same reason I feel that the abbreviations should be retained in other examples. (The verbiage would obscure the example, and if the example were quoted, equal explanation would be needed.) But I would not object to spelling PIE out in at least some pure text contexts (like the section head of Schleicher’s fable). —teb728 t c 23:41, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Where schematic visual clarity is needed, e.g., "*PIE bhrátēr > Pgmc *brōþēr "brother" but PIE mātér > Pgmc mōðēr "mother," we should be using tables, wouldn't you think?
Also, there were a few oversights in that finely-polished gem of yours, one of which you'd restored; I've fixed them.[1][2] (talk) 01:44, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Good asterisk fixes. But as for your recent "brother" fix, if you had noted it in your earlier edit summary, I would have preserved it. As for your "mother" fix, you also missed it before despite all your editing. I was only reverting your edits I disagreed with while trying to preserve the ones I liked. —teb728 t c 04:36, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
As for tabular presentation, it seems to me that the Verner's examples don't make much of a table and "post-PIE *woyd-á > Gothic wait" even less so. —teb728 t c 04:51, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
It would not have earned the designation "Verner's law" were there not more examples. (talk) 05:00, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

c. 200[edit]

Refering to the very first paragraph of this article: maybe I am splitting hairs here, but when writting "c. 200", do you mean CE (AD) or BCE (BC)? Just curious...some people may want to know...and we don't want our information to be inaccurate... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:30, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

If you are refering to the runic scripts in Proto-Norse, I think they must mean 200 AD. --Oddeivind (talk) 13:40, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

Writing system?[edit]

According to the article the writing system of Proto-Germanic is the Elder Futhark. How can one be sure about this when there are no written records? Can one even be sure that the language actually had any writing system? --Oddeivind (talk) 13:33, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

No, reconstructed Proto-Germanic is unwritten, i.e. it had no writing system. However, the oldest surviving inscriptions in a Germanic language are written in the Elder Futhark and are very close to Proto-Germanic. Still, they aren't in Proto-Germanic but rather in early Old Norse, and that should be made clear. +Angr 20:48, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
The it would probably be most fair not to include writing system, as long as one does not know for sure whether there actually existed one for proto-germanic. --Oddeivind (talk) 19:50, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Dual number[edit]

Did P-Germanic have a dual number? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:34, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

It is evident in both Gothic and Old English, so yes, but probably only in pronouns. Ekwos (talk) 23:10, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Proto-Germanic personal pronouns[edit]

Proto-Germanic personal pronouns[1]
First person Second person Third person
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative *ek
*þū *jut *jūz *iz *sī *it *īz *ijōz *ijō
Accusative *mek
*unk *uns *þek
*inkw *izwiz *inǭ *ijǭ *inz
Genitive *mīnaz *unkeraz *unseraz *þīnaz *inkweraz *izweraz *es *ezōz *es *ezǫ̂
Dative *miz *unkiz *unsiz *þiz *inkwiz *izwiz *immai *ezōi *immai *imaz
Instrumental *inō *ezō *inō *imiz

1 – Unstressed variant

  • Would anyone like to comment on this table I made? It might be useful somewhere in this article. Hayden120 (talk) 06:06, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Looks ok, although organising the cases horizontally rather than the usual vertical arrangement may be a bit confusing. You also swapped the dative, instrumental and genitive forms in the 3rd person. And it seems you took the forms from Wiktionary, am I right? CodeCat (talk) 10:14, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Argh, formatting the 3rd person was a pain, and I probably mixed it up while trying to get it right. Alright, I'll change the arrangement of the cases. Yes, I did take it from there. You are the author, yes? Hayden120 (talk) 12:04, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Formatting these tables is an absolute nightmare. I've been experimenting for hours, and I can't change the arrangement of the cases. Do you have any idea how to do this? I have rearranged the table. What do you think? Hopefully nothing was accidentally switched to the wrong place. I'm too tired to see any mistakes. Hayden120 (talk) 16:53, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Looks better now, yes. I made the table on Wiktionary indeed, but I took the forms from Don Ringe - From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic, so you will want to add that as a reference if you add it. CodeCat (talk) 22:33, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Cheers. Ah, many thanks for the reference! I had a bit of a Google last night but I couldn't find anything. I'll add it to the template, and put the template in the article. It might be good to have some accompanying text, though. Thanks for your help, Hayden120 (talk) 03:16, 6 October 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ Ringe, Donald (2006). From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-928413-X. 

Closest relatives of Proto-Germanic?[edit]

Which language group is the closest relative of proto-Germanic within the IE family? I remember reading somewhere that the Balto-Slavic languages are particularly close to Germanic, and the two groups are likely to be descended from a single Germano-Balto-Slavic proto-language. Could somebody please confirm or refute this claim? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:23, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm not quite sure. Some indeed posit a closer relationship between Germanic and Balto-Slavic, but at the same time this goes against the belief that satem languages form a unity against centum languages. So I think all we can really say is that Germanic is rather isolated with Indo-European, a fringe language. CodeCat (talk) 23:14, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
The internal subgrouping of the IE languages is not well-established. Don Ringe and Tandy Warnow have done some work on this, using computational methods originally developed for biology. The early IE languages appear to have formed a dialect continuum, with the Baltic languages near the Germanic languages, so there are vocabulary overlaps between them. Benwing (talk) 04:58, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

The satem shift in Balto-Slavic is not the defining separation of IE. The idea that it is is an unfortunate misunderstanding. It is just another sound change, nothing particularly special or defining about. Of all languages, Celtic on the one had, and Baltic (esp) and Slavic on the other are the closest. Hardly surprising that Germanic is nearest to its nearest realtives Hxseek (talk) 10:50, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

This is not a standard view. Also, you seem to be confusing genetic inheritance with areal transfer. If there is any emerging standard on the genetic history of PIE, it is that (based on work by Don Ringe):
  1. The first split was Anatolian vs. the others.
  2. The second split was Tocharian vs. the others.
  3. The third split was Italo-Celtic vs. the others.
There are various reasons for these splits. The distinctiveness of Anatolian is little surprise. Tocharian differs from the others in the thematic endings and various other things. All except the four just mentioned share a common innovation in that the primary passive ending '-r' was replaced by the active ending '-i'. Furthermore, all four are "centum" -- not a coincidence, as the satem languages are the innovators. The "ruki" rule in particular is an important common innovation in (most of) the satem languages.
Note that this measures "closeness" in terms of when the genetic split happened, not any synchronic measure of closeness. It may well be that Germanic and Celtic are closer than average in terms of vocabulary, due to areal borrowings, and it seems highly likely that Germanic and Baltic especially are close by this measure. Benwing (talk) 23:17, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

What do you mean that it's not a standard view ? If not Celtic and Balto-Slavic, then which languages is Germanic closest to ? Some of your concepts are irrelevant or controversial. Eg idea of Italo -Celtic sub-branch actually has little support. Hxseek (talk) 01:53, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Controversial, maybe. Saying that it's "irrelevant" is just name-calling and intellectual snobbery and has no place in a legitimate discussion. The views I outlined, as I said, are the views of Don Ringe, who's done the most important recent work in Indo-European cladistics. Now I know that the Italo-Celtic sub-branch has little support, but nonetheless, this is what Ringe's work predicts. This work was done using computational models predicting the most likely grouping, not just by one or another researcher's more-or-less-reasoned opinion, as was the case before. Now, granted, Ringe put a lot of effort into carefully choosing the features that served as input to the model, and with different features you might get very different results. But still I do think that the split based on inherited primary passive -r vs. innovative primary passive -i is a real one.
Also, you never responded to the important issue I brought up regarding confusing genetic inheritance with areal transfer, which suggests to me that you might not completely understand the difference. Germanic might well be closer to Celtic and Balto-Slavic in vocabulary (as I said before, this is through areal borrowings); but not cladistically. And when you say "what do you mean that it's not a standard view", what's your support that it IS a standard view? Who are the sources saying this? Benwing (talk) 11:02, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, I did not mean your arguement is pointless. Rather, I did not see what you were getting at with the splitting chronolgy of IE. It would indeed be both. Areal influences certainly important, but I;m sure you[ve heard of the hypothetical Northern IE group, "Germano-Balto-Slavic". I'd have to search for specific references if you really want over next couple of days. What do you propose, apart from Celtic ? And are you suggesting 'cladism' is more important that areal convergences in the overall make up of a language ? Hxseek (talk) 12:02, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

I haven't heard of this group. But I still wonder if you have some misunderstandings about areal vs. genetic relationships, or at least about the way that the historical linguistics community generally views such relationships. Groups like your hypothetical "Northern IE" are nearly always meant to be genetic, not areal. No one denies that there are areal relationships but people don't normally make up hypothetical areal groups because of the fact that areal relationships are almost always multi-way. If Northern IE is proposed as a genetic grouping, it certainly has even less general support than Italo-Celtic, which appears in many sources (e.g. AFAIK Sihler subscribes to this as well). Benwing (talk) 07:42, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

I cant comment exactly how much support it has. However, I am surprised you're ignorant of it given that quite a few soruces discuss it, including the book below - surprised you missed it in there. And yes, it is proposed to be a 'genetic' relationship. I personally am sceptical of over-arching 'family groups' Hxseek (talk) 22:58, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Also, your suggestion of the primacy of 'genetic' relationship over 'areal influences' might not be quite correct. Obviously, you are merely following the dogma of most linguists, however, if one thinks about it carefully, why should divergent linguistic phenomena override convergent ones ? See [3] from page 28 (talk) 09:21, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

I'm not personally arguing for a "primacy" of one over the other, just pointing out the way that linguistics usually works. Areal relationships can obviously suggest important connections, just like genetic ones do. Usually the genetic relationships can be recovered farther in the past and may often tell you more useful (in the sense of unexpected) things. However, there are plenty of cases where areal relationships tell you useful things, too. For example, the close genetic relationship between Hungarian and languages thousands of miles away in the Urals, or between Navajo (in Arizona) and the Athabaskan languages in Alaska, is quite unexpected and tells you something very specific about where the ancestors of these speakers came from; but at the same time, the path of the ancestors of the Hungarians southward and then westward can be clearly traced by various layers of borrowings. Similarly, the convergence of the Balkan languages and the East Asian languages tells you something important about cultural relationships among the speakers of these languages, esp. if you look at the extent to which various languages have converged -- e.g. both Vietnamese and Cambodian come from the same family but Vietnamese has converged much more towards the phonology of Middle Chinese (itself based on convergence to an originally Thai model). Benwing (talk) 05:07, 9 November 2010 (UTC)
Another interesting areal conundrum is posed by the word "path", which (along with a few other words) appears to have been borrowed into Proto-Germanic from Iranian languages. Now given a modern language-family map it's hard to see how the Germans and Iranians could possibly have met. However, from ancient sources it's clear that Germanic speakers extended southeast of their current areas, so-called Magna Germania, and Iranian speakers (specifically the Sarmatians and Scythians) extended far to the north and west, so that there was a region of overlap in western Ukraine and eastern Poland (see the map on the Sarmatians page). Benwing (talk) 05:24, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

To name 2 sources, see Handbook of Language COntact, ch 20 and [4] p 496 about arguements of closeness fo germanic to Baltic, Celtic, and Slavic esp. Hxseek —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:18, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

Proto-Germanic did not originate in Scandinavia[edit]

The theory that PGMc originated in southern Scandinavia is not rooted in any sound linguistic evidence, but rather on the archaeologcial (mis)-interpretations of Gustav Kossina and his predecesoor, Childe. A recent book analysis the development of Gmc from hydronymic evidence suggests that it originated along the northern fringes of the Alps area, then spread north to Scandinavia and west to Frisia [5]

Hxseek (talk) 10:54, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

This also is not a standard view. In fact, AFAIK the movement of Germanic speakers into the Alps area occurred within recorded history, meaning that it's unlikely that Germanic originated here. Furthermore, there are lots of very early borrowings from Germanic into the Baltic and Finnic languages (including even pre-Grimm's-Law borrowings), and these could not have happened unless the Germanic speakers were in the area of the Baltic sea very early on. BTW I looked at the reference you gave and I can't find anything in there that supports your claim. What page and paragraph should I be looking at? Benwing (talk) 23:25, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Again, this view, whilst standard, is somewhat simplistic, and relies on the nationalist archaeological interpretations of Kossina, that there was some "Germanic homeland" in Scandinavia. Moreover, it is based on the semi-mythological sagas, eg that Goths came from Sweden, when in fact this is not supported by any real evidence. It is likely that the sound innovations which defined Germanic were closer to central Europe, which was more advanced and therefore a more likely location for such sound innovations to occur. The early Germanic loans into Baltic and Finnic does not contradict this, but is itself a sign of Germanic spread north into Baltic trade routes, etc. {and what do you mean by pre-Grimm changes loans into Baltic ? Then it would not be a proto-Germanic loan, per definitionem) On the other hand, we cannot expect that Germanic loans be evident in Italic or Celtic, for it was culturally inferior, at that time. Finally, Germanic replaced Celtic in central Europe due to language shift, It became the new lingua franca of trade elites, barbarian merceneries, etc beyond the Roman frontier after the collapse of La Tene 'civilization'. Hxseek (talk) 02:02, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

--> Its chapter 62 in that book, by Udolph. Its excellent, in my humble opinion. Hxseek (talk) 06:45, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

There's a lot of hand-waving in your arguments -- to help me make sense of them, can you please clarify the location and time period you're talking about? When the Germans were hypothetically on the "fringes of the Alps", where in fact were they? (Note that the book you quote, in section 6.4 "Results" p. 552, places them in Northern Germany, which is nowhere near the Alps. In fact, "Alps" occurs nowhere in this entire chapter.) Also, what time period are we talking about? As for the loans into Baltic, sorry, my mistake, they went the other way; i.e. there are loans into Germanic from Baltic that predate the first sound shift.
Now overall, I would buy the viewpoint that the Germanic people originated in Northern Germany, on the southern shores of the North and Baltic Seas, and then migrated north to Scandinavia. In fact, I think this may even be the most common viewpoint. It certainly accounts for the diversity of early dialects right in this area. But this is extremely different from your assertion that they originated in Southern Germany and then migrated north, which I find hard to believe. Benwing (talk) 11:20, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, that might be a slight misinterpretation or ambiguity in the way it is written - see final page of his discussion. He states the central mountains area. This could refer to central German highlands vs southern German Alps ? but not northern shoresor Scandinavia. By this I mean, this is where Germanic language originated in the generally quoted 500 - 200 BC period. The ethnogenesis of various so-called Germanic peoples of Roman Age is a entirely different matter Hxseek (talk) 11:59, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Look, I'm quoting from your source: "The examples of Gmc place-names and hydronyms gathered so far definitely reveal that there are numerous reflexes in northern Germany (especially in the northern areas of the central mountain range in the areas of fertile loess soil) of an old IE-OEur. stratum from which a Gmc system of place-names has developed." Claiming that this means "German Alps" is not a slight misinterpretation but a wholesale misreading. It specifically says northern Germany. The Alps are in the south. It also never says anywhere that this cannot mean that there was a culture spread out from the northern shores of the Baltic down to more highland areas of northern Germany; it just says that the hydronyms are strongest in the more inland areas. You have to realize also that this is only one writer, and only one source of information -- hardly enough to make definitive claims. Benwing (talk) 07:38, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

The central German highlands are different to the north sea shores. In any case, it's all 'just theory'. That's the thing about linguistics Hxseek (talk) 22:55, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Even if a source hypothetically did say the Alps or something else other than the mainstream, you need to consider Wikipedia:Fringe theories. Hayden120 (talk) 23:38, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

I have stated above it's not the 'mainstream' view which is regurgitated by texts, however, Jorgen Udolph is anything but fringe. What's interesting is that he highlights this "Scandinavian' hypothesis is not really based on any clear evidence. Not that I have any strong reason to support this or that view, but I don't think its unreasonable for it to be included, given that it certainly meets WP:RS. Yes, perhaps it was a bit bold to make such a title for this paragraph (i just got a bit excited. Germanic language is not my main research focus, however, before this book, I failed to find exactly why scholars presumed the Germanic sound shifts are presumed to have happened in soutehrn Scandinavia/ coastal northern Germany) Hxseek (talk) 01:17, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Sure, if you're careful to state what Udolph actually says, without filling in any interpretations, and make sure to indicate that this is a minority view, I don't see a problem with this. You might say something like this "However, it has also been claimed<put ref here>, based on hydronymic evidence, that Proto-Germanic originated in the interior of northern Germany, on the northern fringes of the central mountain range." Benwing (talk) 05:49, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Yep, of course. A reasonable suggestion, thanks Hxseek (talk) 09:38, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Udolph's lack of competence in historical linguistics has been pointed out and criticised by actual historical linguists. The method of linguistic paleontology, which is easier to apply in Germanic than Indo-European, strongly dissuades an immediate Germanic Urheimat in the interior of Germany, as a conspicuous amount of maritime vocabulary is reconstructible for Proto-Germanic, which fits much better with a coastal location. Note that Northern Germany is not Scandinavia, although southern Scandinavia reaches as far south as the northern border of Schleswig-Holstein, or even the Schlei, depending on the definition employed. If the Germanic Urheimat was in the southernmost part of Denmark, Kossinna would be right and Udolph would be completely wrong. If it was in Schleswig-Holstein, Kossinna would be nearly right and Udolph would be wrong. If it was along the lower Elbe, both would be wrong. The most common view places the Germanic Urheimat somewhere in Northern Germany, probably including at least one coastal area, but leaving the extent unspecified. Probably the whole North German Plain. Therefore, the consensus is neither with Kossinna nor with Udolph and you're presenting a false dichotomy. (Ultimately, of course, the origins of Germanic have to be sought farther to the south and southeast, but that would lead us to a distant Pre-Proto-Germanic era.) --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:43, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Sanity check request English 'cow'[edit]

I tried to follow the account of the development of the labiovelars from PIE to Eng 'cow'. I drowned. Could someone check this for me? Readability in this respect is not great, could do with clearer presentation of relative chronology.CecilWard (talk)

I'm not really sure what you mean. I can't find the word cow anywhere on the page. Could you explain a bit more? CodeCat (talk) 20:35, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
This page is for discussion of improvements to the Proto-Germanic language article. If you are looking for general information about the history of the word, you would do better asking at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Language. —teb728 t c 02:25, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
clarification I tested the usability of the article with a test case, attempting to determine the prehistory of the Mod Eng word cow for example by following the sound changes given in respect of a path from PIE to ultimate Eng /k/.CecilWard (talk) 00:05, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
Such a detail would be more in the scope of Phonological history of English than this article, but: Ringe says the source of the development (PIE *gʷow- > PG *kū-) is unclear. He says it might have been the result of regular sound changes (PIE *gʷow- > PrePG *gʷuw- > *gū- > PG *kū-) if *o was raised to *u between a labiovelar and *w. —teb728 t c 03:01, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
Is it certain it's *kū- and not *kō-? By comparing other Germanic languages, it seems to might have had the same vowel as in "book" (?) 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 13:19, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
One possible reconstruction is given on Wiktionary here. CodeCat (talk) 17:09, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
I see, thanks... 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 23:30, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Schrijver (2003, in Bammesberger/Vennemann, Languages in prehistoric Europe) has an explanation for the unexpected * variant: it's from the nominative *kwō (replacing the expected nominative in *-z after the accusative *kwōn < PIE *gʷōm, in analogy to the likewise feminine stems in original PIE *-eh₂ > Post-PIE *, PIE acc. *-ām – already in PIE from Pre-PIE *-eh₂m by a variant of Stang's law, which is also responsible for the long vowel in *gʷōm –, which resulted in PGmc nom. sg. *, acc. sg. *-ōn), which became *k(w)ū in Northwest Germanic via regular sound change (with the nominative -z later re-added in North Germanic, the result kýr being regular due to z-umlaut and *-z > -R > -r; note that North Germanic reflects only the variant *: Danish and Swedish ko is the result of an early East Norse sound change which turned ū into ō in hiatus as in so "sow", see here). (In the same article, he disputes the "quantitative" theory of Proto-Germanic long-vowel endings, which operates with "overlong" vowels, which has become traditional, and instead vindicates the older "qualitative" model, arguing that in certain contexts, Pre-Proto-Germanic ā has not merged with ō.) --Florian Blaschke (talk) 12:41, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

No history of concept[edit]

This article needs a "history of the concept" section. ᛭ LokiClock (talk) 04:06, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

The "constructs" tag[edit]

I remember the article once had the ibid, the loc cit, etc. I don't see any now and a lot of work has obviously been done on the refs. There are a few that could be polished but I do not think the stated tag is now a need so I am taking it out. I will try to go thru all the refs looking for rogues. This article is getting good, I dare say.Dave (talk) 07:46, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

The Ringe swamp[edit]

There are a few errors concerning the Ringe reference. Bottom line: there is only one work by Ringe and it was published in 2006. Google lists it as two editions in one place and three in another. Google often makes very bad errors and this is one of them. I am sorry, I got suckered into it. I will correct these refs before I do anything else on WP. Because Google messed up, the editors did not know what to make of it, so they were unable to make consistent references. There is one reaction that needs to be discussed: on the pronouns the editor created a template with the ref built in. This is not a good idea for reasons I presented in the template discussion. In essence, references are article-specific material while templates are not. So, I am leaving the pronoun reference just the way it is. After you decide what to do you can fix it. For now I only go as far as the refs here.Dave (talk) 09:32, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

I assume that what you refer to is that From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic is the first volume of a planned three-volume A Linguistic History of English. —teb728 t c 18:18, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
Not at all. That is guesswork on your part and before you it was guesswork on my part and the part of all the other editors who worked on the article. That just goes to show you, never guess. Find out instead. (old saying). The entries on Google are previewable. If you preview the front matter of each book you will see that the book is one and same, with the same date, 2006, in all cases. It is a paperback. The page numbers similarly are the same. Whatever information Google supplies is off the wall. As far as "volume I" is concerned, that is not the title of the book, but is part of the SERIES title. Similarly, the part about the English language is part of the series title. Whether or not more are planned in the series I wouldn't know, and they are not saying. If you need more info on series, template:cite book. This is quite different from Volume 1, Volume 2, etc of the book. As to how Google made this mistake and many others, I happen to be in a position to know. I'm not going to tell you but it is all perfectly ordinary. Perhaps "Haste makes waste" covers it. Have you not noticed Google's high error rate (I think)? Just as you cannot depend on WP for truth and accuracy (Truth is not a requirement for WP) so you cannot depend on Google for validation. You really have to check everything.Dave (talk) 11:46, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
A new volume in the series has been published now ( See also (talk) 01:48, 18 February 2016 (UTC)

Map and Urheimat[edit]

(Partly in response to this edit) Is "Nordic Bronze Age.png" an appropriate map for the beginning of the article? Would "Pre-roman iron age (map).PNG" be better? Or even something else? It doesn't help that this article discusses very little about the Germanic Urheimat.

I have read some books and websites that suggest that, because of the lack of non-Germanic place-names in what is now southern Sweden and Denmark, this area is the Urheimat. Others suggest the Pre-Roman Iron Age Jastorf culture of northern Germany is where Proto-Germanic proper originated (as in, where Grimm's law occured), while the Nordic Bronze Age of southern Scandinavia is the home of pre-Proto-Germanic (essentially a Proto-Indo-European dialect that led to the development of Proto-Germanic). However, I am yet to see a source that actually discusses any of these theories in detail.

So, I pose two questions: which map would be appropriate and useful to demonstrate the origin of Proto-Germanic, and where can more information on the Urheimat be found? Hayden120 (talk) 15:51, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm delighted at your interest. The picture WAS oversize. My interest was in illustrating an otherwise pretty dull article. I thought some pictures of artifacts or remains of the speakers would be relevant. This was on my mind. Now, however, I freely admit my choices could be better. I invite you to illustrate the article! As maps are a subdivision of illustration, well, that goes for maps also. If you want to change the initial map, go right ahead, I won't object. I think what you want, if I understand you, is to shift the initial emphasis into the actual Proto-Germanic period. Fine. In brief, what I am currently doing is, improving the readability. Correctly formatted references. Tables. I'm only getting into content if there is some (to me) glaring deficit. Beyond your interest in illustration it is not clear to me what you are suggesting. Are you questioning the assignment of cultures to language phases? Also, I don't know what your search skills are. I almost never rely entirely on the Internet. If you care to go into this in depth and come up with some concrete changes I am sure the WP interested public would love to hear it. Oh, if there are alternative serious views, they probably should be presented as alternatives. I find I am doing a lot of presentation of development of these ideas in other articles. I don't know how much longer my interest in readability here will last but I am sure any serious editor would be delighted to collaborate with you.Dave (talk) 09:46, 21 January 2012 (UTC)Oh! one more thing. My guess is, the Urheimat is probably presented in another article. This one is already long. A common approach to lengthy articles that need more is to put in plenty of links to the other articles. Perhaps you would like to research that and put in some links possibly with intro sentences. If you are not as confident about the formatting yet, you can always imitate what has been done here and elsewhere. If you want to know a help topic just precede the search topic by help: or to look at a template by template: For Internet searches I find Google Books, advanced search fairly effective, and also a web search with pdf selected for the format, which brings up papers and theses and the like. Don't pay for any articles; they will soon beggar you. See what your library system has. Remember this is public education so this will get quite an audience. I find dated searches to be extremely useful, say all books on the topic between 1800 and 1850. Do you like to do research? If you are going to add or question material don't forget to put in your references. I hope you can use this article as a model when I finish. Ciao.Dave (talk) 09:46, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
Don't worry, the size of the image wasn't the issue. I just think it has little relevance to the Proto-Germanic language, especially when it is a drawing of a pre-Germanic woman (essentially a Proto-Indo-European). It would perhaps be more fitting on "Germanic peoples", which concerns the culture of the speakers. Putting it here is akin to putting a picture of lederhosen or a dirndl on "Bavarian language". In my opinion, the only illustrations relevant to language are linguistic maps, graphs/tables/trees, and pictures of artefacts and manuscripts bearing inscriptions or writing.
You beat the horse too hard. Don't worry, I don't agree at all. The woman falls into the Pre-Proto-Germanic phase and people are perfectly legitimate. There are mummies from the entire period. They looked too gloomy, however, I did not put them in. The culture of the people speaking the language is quite legitimate. So, in reply to your insistent latest, I insist completely contrary to you that the woman and any other cultural artifacts and any pictures of the places inhabited by the speaker are too legitimate. However, if the other sorts of pictures are available, I'd rather collaborate, if that turns out to be possible. Hmnn - maps - now that you have brought this up I am going to have to get into this. Those maps are NOT language maps, they are cultural maps. This article is following Kossina's Law, which has been disproven. The maps have been sort of slipped in as language maps, which they are not. According to your theory, this cultural material ought not to be relevant. However, they are our most likely bet, if we make the proper warnings about archaeological maps not being language maps. I may do that. For trees - well, if you can find any relevant, put them in. There are different theories you know. But if we identify whose theory we should be all right. Writing - we do slightly better there - we can get in some Elder Futhark. I presume you are going to take on illustrating this article. You are spending so much time on it you may just as well. I'm happy with any relevant pictures, whether I select them or not.Dave (talk) 22:59, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
Proto-Indo-European and Pre-Proto-Germanic are still very relevant to Proto-Germanic, of course, so I don't really want to shift anything. My question is simply asking what image would be most appropriate at the beginning of the article. As you noted in your edit summary, the current image doesn't explain the relevance it has to Proto-Germanic. It still doesn't. Does the map imply that Germanic originated there? In what form? Did Grimm's law occur there? It puzzles the reader.
Of course I do agree with all of that. In a way you are expecting me to play God on WP. I don't make the decisions around here. You do. I found the picture there. I made its presence better. I like a map, I like the color. If you are going to illustrate this article, perhaps you would like to add your judgement and find us a better. The caption could be made better. We could explain that Pre-Proto-Germanic is still considered Germanic and that it was the immediate ancestor of Proto-Germanic. Or, we could replace it with a later map. Or, you could pick another picture. I don't think you realize your own power. If you are waiting for me to bless anything, all I can do is say yes, I like it, or no, I don't like it. This is an initiative-taking type of thing. Take the initative. Make it better. What I look for is improvement. If I were looking for perfection I would be quite some time at that I fear.Dave (talk) 22:59, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
This begs another question: where did Proto-Germanic originate? This article barely discusses it (aside from vaguely alluding to southern Scandinavia), and it deserves at least a summary. There is no article on Wikipedia that discusses it in any level of detail. I do indeed enjoy research, and I have searched fairly thoroughly (books, journals, etc.) to find the answer to this, but I still haven't really gotten any closer to it. I don't think there is actually a consensus. The two main viewpoints are that it evolved in southern Scandinavia in the late Nordic Bronze Age and spread down into northern Germany, or that it evolved in the early Jastorf culture of northern Germany and spread up into Scandinavia (or a combination of both: Pre-Proto-Germanic originating in southern Scandinavia and Proto-Germanic proper, i.e. Grimm's law, in northern Germany). I'm curious if anyone else has any reliable, citable information on the subject. Pondering aside, your improvements to the article are much appreciated! Best regards, Hayden120 (talk) 16:08, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
Well you ended on a polite note. Thank you. Everything you said is true, but, you aren't seeing the forest for the trees. You begin by saying you can;t find anything. Then you present a piece on what you have found. You can too find something. You just found it. If you wanted to write that up formally with a ref or two it probably would be just fine. Actually, you have in fact found the problem, and on your first try. In the late 3rd Millenium BC a wave of persons riding horses and manufacturing Corded Ware, a pottery characteristic of the Indo-Europeans, entered north Europe: Scandinavia, Finland, the Baltic region, western Russia. There they stayed without too much subsequent interruption. Some 1500 years later Proto-Germanic appeared on the northern part of the range. The problem is, the Balto-Slavic languages also appear there. If you even hint that the latter had a common language with the Germanics all the Germans hit the roof. I am speaking of northern IE. My first article was on it and you better believe it was not on WP long. Years later I found the justifying references but by then I knew what a gigantic controversy it was so I did not press it. I have to warn you there are some staunchly Germanist editors on here whom you are not going to get past if you say the wrong thing about Pre-Proto-Germanic. No one in fact knows its borders. No one knows how Proto-Germanic happened to come out of it. Now, I am not going to say silly things such as the Hitler youth went on and in many ways the German people were no freer after the war than they were before it. All I am going to say is, we have to be sure that what we say is substantiated. What you said is good. I doubt if you are going to find more although you can try. Let us know if you find anything. Now I need to spend more time on the article and less on the discussion. Looking forward to your contributions.Dave (talk) 22:59, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
There are indeed many theories about this, but the problem for me is the lack of reliable sources and information used in the article. We need to present the different theories with due weight. Unfortunately I lack the resources to do it, and most of my knowledge about the geographic origins of Proto-Germanic comes from exchanges with other people also interested in the topic. From the tone of your reply, I'm getting vibes that you're trying to patronise me. I only had two simple concerns about the article. Although this has nothing to do with my questions, what exactly does the ancient dress of a woman have to do with the formation of a language? Language, culture and ethnicity of course go hand in hand to some degree, especially historically, but there is no need to cover anything but language on a language article. Showing bog bodies would be no more useful. As I said, the culture of the people who spoke Proto-Germanic (and its descendants) are covered on "Germanic people". As for writing, Proto-Germanic is not attested in any form aside from Proto-Norse Elder Futhark inscriptions, which is only arguably a very late form of Proto-Germanic. For the maps, a cultural map is the closest we can get to a linguistic map. It is only a rough approximation for a language that is only theoretical and reconstructed.
I am not here to illustrate the article, make metaphors about playing God, or discuss the Hitler Youth. I just have two concerns. I'm going to lay out what I think needs to be improved as simply as I can:
  • The initial map, regardless of whether it is changed for another or not, needs to state what relevance it has to Proto-Germanic (and be sourced). Why show a map at the beginning of the article where the "language [is] unknown"?
  • More information is needed on the Urheimat in the article aside from a vague suggestion (and use more than one source).
Now, if I had the solution to these, I would have fixed them myself. I don't, so I'm asking if anyone else has any information. Please don't think I'm attacking your work, because it is very much appreciated. Thanks, Hayden120 (talk) 03:43, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
I thought so. Too much confrontation for me. I'm not here to be the target of your confrontation. You are trying to slip me into a place where I don't belong. Point number 1. Why would I think you are attacking my work? It isn't my work. Although I did some work on it many years ago it is basically as I found it. I'm trying to improve it so it fits in with other articles. Point Number 2. My main concern was the format. I see you have managed to discover one of its weak points: the unreferenced association of archaeological culture maps with language phases. This objection could have been discussed more succinctly but sometimes you have to have a "discovery" period of problems. Point Number 3. Frankly I was hoping you would take some of this work on. I see I have failed at recruiting you. Now I seem to have been recruited. Actually I'm happy about the tags. They allow me to jump out of this article without being the awful villain who put the tags on. You put them on. Point Number 4. Now, between you and me, I do not believe you put the right tags on. They should have been "accuracy" tags, and "relevance" tags, more along the lines of what we have been discussing. However, I will accept those tags. Point Number 5. What is really wrong, as you point out, is that the article makes assumptions about the Urheimat without much of a presentation. That can be fixed. I don't think the maps can be evaluated or referenced without a presentation on Urheimat. That was next on my list to do, but right now I am working on the tree. It appears as though I may not get everything in this session. I'll see. In case I don't I am going to tag that section. Final point. I'm NOT patronizing you. At least, I don't intend to. In the course of my cleanup I was going to attend to format and play along with the content just as it was. Although the article has a class B rating there was nothing to indicate that content problems existed. I knew they did, of course. As I have been trying to explain, there are a good many other editors, some of whom worked on this article. Sometimes tagging the article does not work. Other editors may not accept the tags or accept the problems. I know how WP is supposed to work but typically it does not work that way. You seemed to be unaware of this people side of WP. You think this is MY work and I am trying to resist criticism. That is a common motivation but it is not mine in this article at this time. Final point. I am not sure I can take on this problem right now. However at least I have someone who agrees there is a problem: you. So, I am supplementing your tags with more tags and also I am creating a section in this discussion to discuss the tags. Let's hope it works out all right. Well I think we are done with this discussion. In your further comments, don't address me, address the WP audience. You are not commenting on my work. This is not my work. Personally, I appreciate your backing me up on the Urheimat problem. You think I'm patronizing. I think you are confrontational. Let's just leave it at that. I may respond to any tags you care to put on or I may, like you, defer to someone else. I may not respond to your further comments depending on the tone. If you think something really needs to be pointed out to me personally and not to the reading public you can always send me a message. Ciao.Dave (talk) 11:39, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't necessarily think you're being patronising, but I was getting vibes that you were. I have been on Wikipedia for almost seven years, so I know how things function. By your "work", I mean the improvements to the article. I just wanted to make use of the opportunity to say thank you for them. Why are you taking this personally? You have done nothing wrong, I haven't "recruited" you, nor did I even bring up your name. I didn't direct this discussion at you, but just anyone who is involved and interested in this article. I guess I'm the "awful villain" for adding the tags. Face-smile.svg If anyone is unhappy about them, they can always replace them with information and sources. No problems there. If I had the means to tend to these concerns, I would. I raised it here because I cannot, and simply used the tags to highlight exactly what I'm talking about. I'm not deferring anything to anyone, but instead pointing out what I cannot correct myself. Sorry for seeming confrontational. I guess I have a tendency to be direct, and I don't appreciate patronising when I start to feel it. I will continue doing research and try to add anything of relevance, but otherwise I can't make any promises to be especially productive. Regards, Hayden120 (talk) 12:14, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Linguistic definitions[edit]

This section does not fit the organization. It repeats everything already said with some additional references. In article archaeology I think we start with the latest material on top. Linguistic definitions is therefore a remnant of a previous version. As I recall the material on the linguistic stages from Ringe was not originally there. So, we are dealing with some sort of older introductory section. I suggest we break it up and supplement the newer introductory material with it. It is out of order in the place it is now. The article was presenting material on loans. Suddenly it presents Linguistic Definitions, which has nothing at all to do with anything immediately before and after. Then it goes back to loans. One of the disadvantages of this method of article development is that there is often no central theme of organization. No one dares to remove anything that went before. But, I think some changes in the direction of better organization are warranted here.Dave (talk) 02:33, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

  • "The post-PIE dialects spoken throughout the Nordic Bronze Age, roughly 2500–500 BC, even though they may have no attested descendants other than the Germanic languages, are referred to as ..." Whoa. Too much of a jump. First of all, archaeological cultures are not to be associated with languages or ethnic groups except in cases where such a connection can be clearly demonstrated. Such a view is known as Kossinna's Law, after the pre-WWII German linguist and nazi. He didn't originate it, but he theorized about it and therefore took the blame for it. For cultures of the historic period, it happens quite frequently, in fact, more often than not, that peoples speaking different languages share the same culture. For example, the Scythians in some places were Iranian speakers; in others, central Asian. They all rode horses and used the Scythian bow. That bow is still used for practice in central Asia. Take another one: the Lapps and the Swedes both share modern Swedish culture. To return to the Germanics, the editors or anyone else have no idea what languages were spoken in the Nordic Bronze Age and whether they were dialects or languages, even presuming they were PIE. Such a hypothesis is tentative and needs lots of demonstration, which is off the topic here, We can;t just assume it. Second, what makes anyone think only one language was spoken there? Third, what makes anyone think the Germanic languages descended from these languages, whatever they are? Fourth, the dates are oversimple. By 500 northern Europe was in the Iron Age. Fifth, archaeological definitions are not linguistic ones. I know of some archaeologists who vehemently deny that archaeology is useful to any degree in ascertaining language. So, we're going too far too fast. The view is oversimple. I'm taking it out, as it would belong under archaeology anyway. I know this seems to contradict my view about the removed picture. I guess I would have to say, my understanding is complex and is not represented by various single statements.Dave (talk) 03:00, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I just encountered something new in this section. I have to beg off for time to study it. It's the phylogenetic network article. I doubt if we want to go into much detail on that, but it may determine what sort of introductory thing is said in this article. It's the current 3rd paragraph. It looks like a genuine alternative theory. Unfortunately it was not written by a native English speaker so the English is not very good. We don't want to get into linguistic definitions here. This particular view may have an article or not, I need to check. In any case it presents a view of the evolution of Germanic languages so an introduction probably does belong here, just not in that spot. What is the true proto-Germanic? Maybe it involves a network of proximate languages. So, I will be reading this article in detail and you won't see me here while I do. I am still on cleanup of this article, however, and will be back before long, as soon as I figure out what to do. If you got discussion I will read it later.Dave (talk) 04:10, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Urheimat section needed[edit]

There are some new tags on the article. User Hayden has pointed out that nothing verified or substantial has been said about Urheimat. We agree there is a need. Moreover, the maps make assumptions that need to be substantiated. This subsection is for discussion of that topic and those tags. My own thought is that a Germanic urheimat article may be needed. If we can address this criticism satisfactorily I see no reason at this moment why the article should not be moved to class A.Dave (talk) 11:49, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Illustrations needed[edit]

We need some illustrations for this article. Would anyone care to find us some pictures? If you know of any linguistic maps also that would be nice. The current maps are cultural rather than linguistic.Dave (talk) 11:49, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

New link[edit]

I will throw this link in when I get back to this article (I'm on Tree model). No time right now.Dave (talk) 14:08, 24 January 2012 (UTC) [[6]]

Reorg warranted[edit]

That single paragraph under Linguistic definitions turned out to reference a major development in phylogeny based on new software and new assumptions as well as the innovation of a new concept, the phylogenetic network. Fortuitously the work was done on Indo-European. A network is like a tree, except more than one path may exist between nodes. In biology it is like the insertion of different genes into a species to produce a hybrid species. But, the authors have prefered to go over to a network analogy, probably because computers have networks and they developed the idea using computer software.

They have resurrected an idea as far as I can see proposed by Calvert Watkins: northern Indo-European, explicitly stating that a common Germanic-Balto-Slavic is a possibility for part of the network. I see Watkin's student, Craig Melchert, is making some contributions to this effort. Watkins' subsequent work abandoned this idea, presenting instead the direct descent from Indo-European. It was Melchert who overthrew the the Centum-satem division of the family, as a result of which the feature is only an isogloss and not a genetic division. There are no centum languages phylogenetically speaking so Germanic cannot be one of them and can be closely related to Balto-Slavic, a formerly satem group.

So, I think there is enough significant current material to better introduce the phylogeny rather than just giving up on it as most people had. This network makes the archaeology more significant, but that needs to be done right. Moreover, the article is not distinguishing between phonological, lexical and morphological items in the evolution half. Most of the archaeology is going in a new Urheimat article, if I do it, which well I might. But, the phylogeny needs to be beefed up, more than one obscure paragraph under Linguistic definition. So, I am reorganizing the first half of the article and renaming some items to reflect what they really are and where they really should fit. Right now I'm trying get Tree model caught up. After that I will be coming back here and getting this caught up. Then I will do Urheimat. Subsequently I will try to find the proper illustrations without straining the credulity too much.Dave (talk) 13:28, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

I remain unconvinced about the attempt to connect Germanic closely to Balto-Slavic. They have nothing substantial in common in historical phonology and morphology (Eugen Hill has recently effectively demolished the dative/instrumental plural isogloss by rendering it plausible that the endings were originally -mos and -mis, with -bʰos and -bʰis phonetically conditioned variants, via regular dissimilation, already in PIE: traces of the -endings turn up in the m-languages, and vice versa – I can send you a paper as PDF). Only lexicon displays some connections, and these could well be areal – Germanic loanwords in Baltic and Slavic, and perhaps vice versa, essentially. The words in question are usually not even attested in all of Balto-Slavic. A hypothetical Proto-Germano-Balto-Slavic reconstruction would differ in no meaningful sense from PIE (unlike Proto-Balto-Slavic, which is clearly distinct from PIE and has its own identity and characteristics both in phonology and morphology: Proto-Balto-Slavic reconstructs look clearly distinct and conspicuously resemble attested Baltic). In contrast, there are many more developments which Italic and Celtic have in common, but it appears that not all of them are old; some of them are later convergence, but the residue is still impressive, both phonological as well as some morphological developments. Still, it is troubling that the Lex Rix (patently early as it involve laryngeals and even presupposes three distinct ones) is apparently not shared by Celtic. That makes me inclined to think that there was no Proto-Italo-Celtic (which would be hardly distinct, either) and that Pre-Proto-Celtic and Pre-Proto-Italic have simply always been in close geographical contact to each other, part of a (conservative) Western Indo-European dialect continuum (in Pannonia?) that may have shaded into (at least as conservative) Northern Indo-European with Pre-Proto-Germanic as part. Proto-Balto-Slavic has more in common with Proto-Indo-Iranian than with (Pre-)Proto-Germanic.
Ever since the discovery of Tocharian and Anatolian, it has been clear that centum IE is not a genetic unit. However, about satem IE I am not so sure. At least the "satem core", Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian, is also suspected by others to be a valid unit. It seems to be the part of PIE that remained close to the steppe Urheimat after the other branches left. Balkan Indo-European – another area which displays some common innovations and may be a genetic unit – is also close to the Ukraine, and Armenian and Albanian share satem characteristics too (exceptions in Albanian may be explainable as regular sound changes and perhaps loans, as in Balto-Slavic). Even if satem IE on the whole may not be a genetic unit, "satem core" and "Balkan satem" (including Dacian and Thracian?) could be units. So could "Balkan centum" Graeco-Phrygian – even though Phrygian strikingly exhibits the apparently archaic mediopassive endings in -r, unlike Greek.
Trees and networks have both important uses; they are compatible with each other. They visualise different aspects: tree models show divergence, network models convergence, like the wave model. Prehistoric contacts are no doubt important: for example, if we can posit early contacts between Germanic and Balto-Slavic in the first three centuries AD in Poland (in the Vistula basin?) or so, that is certainly worthy information. But trees are equally important, because they show the gradual differentiation of a family and are informative for "centre of gravity" and Urheimat issues. For example, the convergence around the North Sea involving medieval English, Dutch, Low German, Frisian and North Germanic except Icelandic and Faroese is very much relevant to anyone familiar with the modern Germanic languages, but so is the knowledge that in the early medieval period, the morphological resemblances between northern West Germanic and continental North Germanic did not exist yet and that the original relationships, visualised by the tree, were still much more apparent. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:07, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Uniform Germanic[edit]

Hello Anomie, that statement for Germanic is an introductory characterization. Nobody would question it (except maybe you). It's been notoriously true for at least a few centuries, and is standard in the field. It is, in other words, general information. Because of that circumstance, the whole Wave Theory was invented. It isn't really necessary to put a citation there; in fact, since the topic is covered below and elsewhere, I would rather not. There isn't anyone who would postulate a uniform Germanic; never has been. There were problems with it right from the start of historical linguistics. I see a box about fascistic administration on your user page. Interesting. I'm so delighted you share my view. However, even though you are not one of those, or at least don't want to be, I am going to oblige you just as soon as I get back to this article. So many linguistics articles need so much work! It would have been better to go slower and work more carefully.Dave (talk) 17:23, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Proper method of reconstruction certainly leads to a uniform proto-language. Think of Proto-Germanic as the most recent common ancestor of all the Germanic languages and dialects. It could have been spoken in a very limited region, perhaps as small as a single settlement, and strictly speaking comprised only the speech of a single generation, before it spread and started to diverge and break up into distinct dialects. A single speech community, perhaps a valley, certainly not all of Northern Germany. But compare the history of Romance: Descendants of (early Popular) Latin – i. e. Proto-Romance, the spoken language of classical Rome – absorbed related Italic languages and dialects, including rural Latin dialects. There was no Romance yet in the days of Livius Andronicus and Plautus; there was only Pre-Proto-Romance, essentially what we know as Old Latin. The same should have happened in other cases, such as Proto-Germanic: it was probably just part of a much larger "Northern Indo-European" dialect continuum, including close relatives. It was just one dialect that got lucky, becoming a prestige dialect for some reason. Think of the London dialect of English. Learning a closely related language is easy, after all, making these processes commonplace. The Nordic Bronze Age and Corded Ware cultures seem to have been Indo-European-speaking, but they are too early to be identified with anything Germanic. But Northern Indo-European makes sense. Only the Pre-Roman Iron Age can be plausibly identified with Proto-Germanic and early Germanic.
A less likely possibility is that Proto-Germanic was either a language island, a pocket among unrelated or only distantly related languages, or spoken on an actual island (Bornholm?). But there is no reason to think that the uniformity of proto-languages is a mere methodological artifact, as there are historical precedents – we can observe analogous processes happening all the time in recorded history. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:18, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Cowgill's Law[edit]

In Cowgill's Law, the superscripts are too small. It looks as though it says "PIE H2 (and possibly H2)..." instead of "PIE H3..." like it really does. I had to go into "Edit Article" view to tell what the first one was. Can someone fix this? (I would, if I knew how.) (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 05:15, 24 March 2012 (UTC).

Discussion of r sounds missing?[edit]

Like the heading says.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:11, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean. What discussion would there be? As far as I know, everyone agrees that there was one rhotic sound in Germanic, an alveolar trill. CodeCat (talk) 13:35, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, I guess it might be post Proto-Germanic that there was a split whereby Gothic -az equates to ON -r. The Runic alphabets show two R sounds don't they? I was hoping to see something about it here, as the eventual split is not easy to date I understood?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 13:34, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
It's certain that it didn't occur in Proto-Germanic, because Gothic keeps /z/ (and devoices it to /s/ word-finally). So if anything, it should go into the "later developments" section as it's not relevant to Proto-Germanic itself. This is discussed in more detail on the West Germanic languages and North Germanic languages articles though. CodeCat (talk) 14:17, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Vennemann's Theory[edit]

As controversial as it is, I think there should at least be a mention of Theo Vennemann's Theory. It at least deserves a mention.JoelDick (talk) 21:04, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

Given that the theory is not accepted by anyone, we should not mention it in accordance with WP:DUE. CodeCat (talk) 21:36, 25 May 2014 (UTC)
I would hardly say it's not accepted by ANYONE. It hasn't been disproven. It does warrent mention, in accordance with Wikipedia:Fringe theoriesJoelDick (talk) 13:29, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

Ptolemys map from 2nd century only show Germaina and Germania Magna[edit]

All you do is tell your lies here. Engish language did not exist until the Norman's( Orginally a tribe from Scandinavia) brought it over from present day France over sometime in the late 13th century. Facts are 1. German language did not exist until 8th century!. Why see ptolemy's maps from 2nd century AD, Germania (Mostly Roman, Christians and where latin speakers and writers, and Germania Manga which includes the area's of Schleswig-Holstein ( East and northern side, Non Christians, most likey did not speak latin). Charlemange was note: First German king in mid 8th century who started the use of the German language see Monk "Abogran". So how could these Anglo Saxon mythical tribes speak OLD ENGLISH when the German language did not exist in the 5th century its IMPOSSIBLE!. Attila the hun also traveled up the Danube and then the Rhine and was killed in Gaul (France) no where near the Angles. No Huns made it that far ever, And the later Avars around the 8th and 9th century had bases in Hungary and Bulgaria. Mongols in the 13th century also never made it to Schleswig-Holstein area. Please supply some artifacts some copies of the actual documents from 1000-1500 years ago. And shame me in front of the whole world. Also the slavic tribes see Arrived in 9th century but yes all the Germanic and Germans tribes left for Britannia in the 5th century AD. My history is not the best but I believe only two unarmed Saxon tribes arrived by ship in the city of present day Wessex around 460,470AD but Saxony is near Czech Republic?. All English old documents like the dooms day book 1066, Bede the Monk, as example are in latin, all your churches before say the 16th century where all christian and later Catholic. I could go and on but you really should know better. OLD ENGLISH. Thou shall be quite now. ROMANS spoke and wrote in latin. SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN WAS IN GERMANY MANGA they where not Christens like you!. OLD ENGLISH is mostly a latin based language — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:32, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

"Consonant gradation"[edit]

There's a stranded section at Consonant gradation#Proto-Germanic that has nothing to do with the Uralic phenomenon. Anyone opposed to moving it here instead? Or perhaps at our more general article Consonant mutation. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 19:53, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

OK, in the absense of any opposition I am going ahead and transferring it here. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 15:38, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Introductory paragraphs sounds confused[edit]

"Although Proto-Germanic was reconstructed as a node in the tree model of language development, its main innovations must have followed a logical and therefore a chronological sequence, leading to the hypothesis that, over its estimated life of nearly one thousand years, it underwent phases of development. Each phase but the last featured some, but not all, of the common innovations. Moreover, the final phases, and perhaps the initial, were already divided into dialects, some of which would lead to distinct languages, which began at the point of mutual unintelligibility." What is meant by the "perhaps the initial"? By definition, as a proto-language, the initial phase cannot be "divided into dialects", because the proto-language consists of precisely what can be reconstructed in common for the Germanic languages. Also, how can "diverging languages" "begin at the point of mutual unintelligibility"? Surely they begin as mutually intelligible, then diverge and later become unintelligible. Probably what is meant is that the "dialects" only became "distinct languages" once they have become mutually unintelligible, but it is a confusing way of wording it --I'm already familiar with the concepts in this article and I misunderstood what this sentence meant the first time I read it. I'm going to edit this paragraph to hopefully provide more clarity --if someone else wants to work on it, it would be nice to discuss how to improve our introductory paragraphs. They are the first thing a reader of this article encounters. (talk) 06:42, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Overlong vowels[edit]

The way I see it, the article fails to explain why overlong vowels have to be necessarily reconstructed for PGmc. Examples of outcomes of regular long vowels in the literary daughters are given while there are no examples of overlong vowels and how they contrast with regular long vowels, especially in word final positions. -- (talk) 13:15, 12 May 2016 (UTC)

It says "Trimoraic vowels are distinguished from bimoraic vowels by their outcomes in attested Germanic languages: word-final trimoraic vowels remained long vowels while bimoraic vowels developed into short vowels." I've added a table of outcomes, though one was already present in the article further below. CodeCat (talk) 15:57, 12 May 2016 (UTC)

Lehman's dates[edit]

I object in the strongest way to the uncritical addition of a solid date of 2500 BCE for PGmc by Lehman without corroboration; look at Germanic parent language, which notes many dates, none as early as that and some as late as 500 BCE. This is not solid data and that cite is not current, despite claims that it "was updated in 2014" the fact remains that Lehman died in 2007 and his work is significantly older. Ogress 03:34, 20 May 2016 (UTC)

Your objections mean nothing. Your argument is that any citation from 2014 is too old to be valid. That is NOT a wikilaw. I added very vital information to the article. Probably one of the most important. Why it was absent is baffling. With my addition, I left a citation. A valid citation to a major American University Linguistics Department. I followed all the rules. Your reverts are therefore little more than vandalism, and can get your account and IP blocked.DEUTSCHBLUT (talk) 20:34, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
Jesus christ, Blood and Iron, take it down a notch. I'm trying to have a civil discussion with you.
Also, no, you cannot "get my account and IP blocked".
You keep harping on dates but, as I noted in my comments above, Germanic parent language notes a wide range of dates, none as early as that and some as late as 500 BCE and Lehmann himself stretched it to the Common Era. Also I think you better recheck your quote, because it actually says "On setting the upper boundary of a comprehensive description of Proto-Germanic grammar, Lehmann (2005) wrote: (...) a grammar of Proto-Germanic must be a description of the language from approximately 2500 B.C. to the beginning of the common era[.]"[1] Lehman also wrote, "Possibly the most important conclusion based on archeological evidence with relevance for linguistic purposes is the assumption of 'one huge cultural area' which was undisturbed for approximately a thousand years, roughly from 1500–500 B.C. Such a conclusion in a stable culture permits inferences concerning linguistic stability, which are important for an interpretation of the Germanic linguistic data." [2]
Additionally, how do you deal with this bit: 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.[3]
Also, in what universe is dating PGmc to 2500 BCE "Probably one of the most important." [sic] "vital" pieces of information on that page? I'd argue the page is full of "vital" information - about the PGmc language's evolution, grammar, vocabulary, etc. So how about you respond to the issue at hand before you threaten me? Ogress 22:49, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
You are not being civil. You are a deranged troll and are vandalizing wikipedia. And, prepare to be banned!DEUTSCHBLUT (talk) 23:19, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
WP:CIVIL please, DEUTSCHBLUT. You are forgetting one important thing about Wikipedia: it's all about consensus. If we agree to do something, then we do it, if we disagree, then it doesn't happen. There is clearly a disagreement here among editors, so you'll have to sort that out. Threatening and hurling insults doesn't help your case. CodeCat (talk) 23:58, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
Isn't Lehmann simply talking about the initial separation of PGmc from the other Indo-European branches? Cf. Ringe (2006: 67):
Even the last common ancestor of Germanic and Italo-Celtic was probably spoken at least 5,000 years ago.
So some kind of a separate pre-Germanic language has definitely existed in 2500 BCE, though it may not have yet developed the most distinctive features of later Proto-Germanic. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 15:25, 21 May 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Sorry to disagree with you, Ogress, but Anthony even mentions 3300 BCE. Nevertheless, the talkpage-manners of DB (misplaced name, by the way), are abominable. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 04:47, 23 May 2016 (UTC)

Still, Ogress is correct in that Grimm's law is considered to be the defining transitional point. Even sourced statements with such opposing claims require (numerous) exceptional references. Bataaf van Oranje (Prinsgezinde) (talk) 07:02, 24 May 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ Lehman, Winfred (2007). A Grammar of Proto-Germanic. Austin: Linguistics Research Center, University of Texas. 
  2. ^ Language Contact and Inference in the Germanic Period In: Kolb-Lauffer, et al. (eds). Sprachliche Interferenz 278–91. Quoted from Van Coetsem (1994)
  3. ^ Davis (2006) p. 40; Van Coetsem (1994) 145–46; Gutenbrunner (1986) pp. 182–97.