Germanic languages

Germanic languages

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Germanic languages'
Start a new discussion about 'Germanic languages'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 (IE) language family
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic (also known as Common Germanic), which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

. Proto-Germanic, along with all of its descendants, is characterized by a number of unique linguistic features, most famously the consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

 change known as Grimm's law
Grimm's law
Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

. Early varieties of Germanic enter history with the Germanic peoples moving south from northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 in the 2nd century BC, to settle in north-central Europe.

The most widely spoken Germanic languages are English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, with approximately 300–400 million and over 100 million native speakers respectively. The group includes other major languages, such as Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 with 23 million and Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

 with over 6 million native speakers; and the North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

 including Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

, Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

, Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, and Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

 with a combined total of about 20 million speakers. The SIL
SIL International
SIL International is a U.S.-based, worldwide, Christian non-profit organization, whose main purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially those that are lesser-known, in order to expand linguistic knowledge, promote literacy, translate the Christian Bible into local languages,...

 Ethnologue lists 53 different Germanic languages.

Characteristics


Germanic languages possess several unique features, such as the following:
  1. The leveling of the Indo-European verbal system of tense
    Grammatical tense
    A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

     and aspect
    Grammatical aspect
    In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb is a grammatical category that defines the temporal flow in a given action, event, or state, from the point of view of the speaker...

     into the present tense
    Present tense
    The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

     and the past tense
    Past tense
    The past tense is a grammatical tense that places an action or situation in the past of the current moment , or prior to some specified time that may be in the speaker's past, present, or future...

     (also called the preterite
    Preterite
    The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

    )
  2. A large class of verbs that use a dental suffix
    Suffix
    In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

     (/d/ or /t/) instead of vowel alternation
    Apophony
    In linguistics, apophony is the alternation of sounds within a word that indicates grammatical information .-Description:Apophony is...

     (Indo-European ablaut
    Indo-European ablaut
    In linguistics, ablaut is a system of apophony in Proto-Indo-European and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages...

    ) to indicate past tense; these are called the Germanic weak verb
    Germanic weak verb
    In Germanic languages, including English, weak verbs are by far the largest group of verbs, which are therefore often regarded as the norm, though historically they are not the oldest or most original group.-General description:...

    s; the remaining verbs with vowel ablaut are the Germanic strong verb
    Germanic strong verb
    In the Germanic languages, a strong verb is one which marks its past tense by means of ablaut. In English, these are verbs like sing, sang, sung...

    s
  3. The use of so-called strong and weak adjective
    Adjective
    In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

    s: different sets of inflectional endings for adjectives depending on the definiteness
    Definiteness
    In grammatical theory, definiteness is a feature of noun phrases, distinguishing between entities which are specific and identifiable in a given context and entities which are not ....

     of the noun phrase
    Noun phrase
    In grammar, a noun phrase, nominal phrase, or nominal group is a phrase based on a noun, pronoun, or other noun-like word optionally accompanied by modifiers such as adjectives....

     (modern English adjectives do not inflect at all, except for the comparative and superlative; this was not the case in Old English
    Old English language
    Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

    , where adjectives were inflected differently depending on the type of their preceding determiner)
  4. The consonant shift known as Grimm's Law
    Grimm's law
    Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

     (which continued in German in a second shift known as the High German consonant shift
    High German consonant shift
    In historical linguistics, the High German consonant shift or second Germanic consonant shift is a phonological development that took place in the southern parts of the West Germanic dialect continuum in several phases, probably beginning between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD, and was almost...

    )
  5. Some words with etymologies that are difficult to link to other Indo-European families but with variants that appear in almost all Germanic languages; see Germanic substrate hypothesis
    Germanic substrate hypothesis
    The Germanic substrate hypothesis is an attempt to explain the distinctive nature of the Germanic languages within the context of the Indo-European language family...

  6. The sound change known as Verner's Law
    Verner's law
    Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z,...

    , which left a trace of Indo-European accent variations in voicing variations in fricatives
  7. The shifting of word stress onto word stems and later onto the first syllable of the word (though English has an irregular stress, native words always have a fixed stress regardless of what is added to them)


Germanic languages differ from each other to a greater degree than do some other language families
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

 such as the Romance
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 or Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

. Roughly speaking, Germanic languages differ in how conservative or how progressive each language is with respect to an overall trend toward analyticity. Some, such as Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, and to a lesser extent, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, have preserved much of the complex inflectional morphology inherited from the Proto-Indo-European language
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

. Others, such as English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

, and Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

, have moved toward a largely analytic type.

Another characteristic of Germanic languages is verb second
V2 word order
In syntax, verb-second word order is the rule in some languages that the second constituent of declarative main clauses is always a verb, while this is not necessarily the case in other types of clauses.- V2 effect :...

(V2) word order, which is quite uncommon cross-linguistically. This feature was not inherited from Proto-Germanic, but was probably already present in latent form, and may have begun with auxiliary verbs that were treated as sentence clitic
Clitic
In morphology and syntax, a clitic is a morpheme that is grammatically independent, but phonologically dependent on another word or phrase. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level...

s, which were generally placed second. The later parallel innovation of V2 word order in the individual languages may have been a result of the loss of noun declension, which tended to 'fix' word order into its most common form. It is now shared by all modern Germanic languages except modern English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 which has more or less replaced the earlier V2 structure with fixed Subject–verb–object word order.

Writing


The earliest evidence of Germanic languages comes from names recorded in the 1st century by Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 (especially from his work Germania
Germania (book)
The Germania , written by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus around 98, is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire.-Contents:...

), but the earliest Germanic writing occurs in a single instance in the 2nd century BC on the Negau helmet
Negau helmet
Negau helmet refers to one of 26 bronze helmets dating to ca. 450 till 350 BC, found in 1811 in a cache in Ženjak, near Negau, Duchy of Styria . The helmets are of typical Etruscan 'vetulonic' shape, sometimes described as of the Negau type. They were buried in ca...

.
From roughly the 2nd century AD, certain speakers of early Germanic varieties developed the Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic and Migration period Germanic dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones...

, an early form of the Runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

. Early runic inscriptions also are largely limited to personal names, and difficult to interpret. The Gothic language
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 was written in the Gothic alphabet
Gothic alphabet
The Gothic alphabet is an alphabet for writing the Gothic language, created in the 4th century by Ulfilas for the purpose of translating the Christian Bible....

 developed by Bishop Ulfilas
Ulfilas
Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila , bishop, missionary, and Bible translator, was a Goth or half-Goth and half-Greek from Cappadocia who had spent time inside the Roman Empire at the peak of the Arian controversy. Ulfilas was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work...

 for his translation of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 in the 4th century. Later, Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 priests and monks who spoke and read Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 in addition to their native Germanic varieties began writing the Germanic languages with slightly modified Latin letters. However, throughout the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

, Runic alphabets remained in common use in Scandinavia.
In addition to the standard Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

, many Germanic languages use a variety of accent marks
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

 and extra letters, including umlaut
Umlaut (diacritic)
The diaeresis and the umlaut are diacritics that consist of two dots placed over a letter, most commonly a vowel. When that letter is an i or a j, the diacritic replaces the tittle: ï....

s, the ß
ß
In the German alphabet, ß is a letter that originated as a ligature of ss or sz. Like double "s", it is pronounced as an , but in standard spelling, it is only used after long vowels and diphthongs, while ss is used after short vowels...

 (Eszett), IJ
IJ (letter)
The IJ is the digraph of the letters i and j. Occurring in the Dutch language, it is sometimes considered a ligature, or even a letter in itselfalthough in most fonts that have a separate character for ij the two composing parts are not connected, but are separate glyphs, sometimes slightly...

, Ø
Ø
Ø — minuscule: "ø", is a vowel and a letter used in the Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Southern Sami languages.It's mostly used as a representation of mid front rounded vowels, such as ø œ, except for Southern Sami where it's used as an [oe] diphtong.The name of this letter is the same as the sound...

, Æ
Æ
Æ is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Icelandic...

, Å
Å
Å represents various sounds in several languages. Å is part of the alphabets used for the Alemannic and the Bavarian-Austrian dialects of German...

, Ä
Ä
"Ä" and "ä" are both characters that represent either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter A with an umlaut mark or diaeresis.- Independent letter :...

, Ü
Ü
Ü, or ü, is a character which can be either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter U with an umlaut or a diaeresis...

, Ö
Ö
"Ö", or "ö", is a character used in several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter O with umlaut to denote the front vowels or . In languages without umlaut, the character is also used as a "O with diaeresis" to denote a syllable break, wherein its pronunciation remains an unmodified .- O-Umlaut...

, Ð
Ð
A Latin capital letter D with a stroke through its vertical bar is the uppercase form of several different letters:*D with stroke , used in Vietnamese, some South Slavic , Moro and Sami languages...

,

{{Indo-European topics}}
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the
Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 (IE) language family
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic (also known as Common Germanic), which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

. Proto-Germanic, along with all of its descendants, is characterized by a number of unique linguistic features, most famously the consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

 change known as Grimm's law
Grimm's law
Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

. Early varieties of Germanic enter history with the Germanic peoples moving south from northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 in the 2nd century BC, to settle in north-central Europe.

The most widely spoken Germanic languages are English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, with approximately 300–400 million and over 100 million native speakers respectively. The group includes other major languages, such as Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 with 23 million and Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

 with over 6 million native speakers; and the North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

 including Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

, Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

, Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, and Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

 with a combined total of about 20 million speakers. The SIL
SIL International
SIL International is a U.S.-based, worldwide, Christian non-profit organization, whose main purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially those that are lesser-known, in order to expand linguistic knowledge, promote literacy, translate the Christian Bible into local languages,...

 Ethnologue lists 53 different Germanic languages.

Characteristics


Germanic languages possess several unique features, such as the following:
  1. The leveling of the Indo-European verbal system of tense
    Grammatical tense
    A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

     and aspect
    Grammatical aspect
    In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb is a grammatical category that defines the temporal flow in a given action, event, or state, from the point of view of the speaker...

     into the present tense
    Present tense
    The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

     and the past tense
    Past tense
    The past tense is a grammatical tense that places an action or situation in the past of the current moment , or prior to some specified time that may be in the speaker's past, present, or future...

     (also called the preterite
    Preterite
    The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

    )
  2. A large class of verbs that use a dental suffix
    Suffix
    In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

     (/d/ or /t/) instead of vowel alternation
    Apophony
    In linguistics, apophony is the alternation of sounds within a word that indicates grammatical information .-Description:Apophony is...

     (Indo-European ablaut
    Indo-European ablaut
    In linguistics, ablaut is a system of apophony in Proto-Indo-European and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages...

    ) to indicate past tense; these are called the Germanic weak verb
    Germanic weak verb
    In Germanic languages, including English, weak verbs are by far the largest group of verbs, which are therefore often regarded as the norm, though historically they are not the oldest or most original group.-General description:...

    s; the remaining verbs with vowel ablaut are the Germanic strong verb
    Germanic strong verb
    In the Germanic languages, a strong verb is one which marks its past tense by means of ablaut. In English, these are verbs like sing, sang, sung...

    s
  3. The use of so-called strong and weak adjective
    Adjective
    In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

    s: different sets of inflectional endings for adjectives depending on the definiteness
    Definiteness
    In grammatical theory, definiteness is a feature of noun phrases, distinguishing between entities which are specific and identifiable in a given context and entities which are not ....

     of the noun phrase
    Noun phrase
    In grammar, a noun phrase, nominal phrase, or nominal group is a phrase based on a noun, pronoun, or other noun-like word optionally accompanied by modifiers such as adjectives....

     (modern English adjectives do not inflect at all, except for the comparative and superlative; this was not the case in Old English
    Old English language
    Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

    , where adjectives were inflected differently depending on the type of their preceding determiner)
  4. The consonant shift known as Grimm's Law
    Grimm's law
    Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

     (which continued in German in a second shift known as the High German consonant shift
    High German consonant shift
    In historical linguistics, the High German consonant shift or second Germanic consonant shift is a phonological development that took place in the southern parts of the West Germanic dialect continuum in several phases, probably beginning between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD, and was almost...

    )
  5. Some words with etymologies that are difficult to link to other Indo-European families but with variants that appear in almost all Germanic languages; see Germanic substrate hypothesis
    Germanic substrate hypothesis
    The Germanic substrate hypothesis is an attempt to explain the distinctive nature of the Germanic languages within the context of the Indo-European language family...

  6. The sound change known as Verner's Law
    Verner's law
    Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z,...

    , which left a trace of Indo-European accent variations in voicing variations in fricatives
  7. The shifting of word stress onto word stems and later onto the first syllable of the word (though English has an irregular stress, native words always have a fixed stress regardless of what is added to them)


Germanic languages differ from each other to a greater degree than do some other language families
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

 such as the Romance
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 or Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

. Roughly speaking, Germanic languages differ in how conservative or how progressive each language is with respect to an overall trend toward analyticity. Some, such as Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, and to a lesser extent, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, have preserved much of the complex inflectional morphology inherited from the Proto-Indo-European language
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

. Others, such as English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

, and Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

, have moved toward a largely analytic type.

Another characteristic of Germanic languages is verb second
V2 word order
In syntax, verb-second word order is the rule in some languages that the second constituent of declarative main clauses is always a verb, while this is not necessarily the case in other types of clauses.- V2 effect :...

(V2) word order, which is quite uncommon cross-linguistically. This feature was not inherited from Proto-Germanic, but was probably already present in latent form, and may have begun with auxiliary verbs that were treated as sentence clitic
Clitic
In morphology and syntax, a clitic is a morpheme that is grammatically independent, but phonologically dependent on another word or phrase. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level...

s, which were generally placed second. The later parallel innovation of V2 word order in the individual languages may have been a result of the loss of noun declension, which tended to 'fix' word order into its most common form. It is now shared by all modern Germanic languages except modern English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 which has more or less replaced the earlier V2 structure with fixed Subject–verb–object word order.

Writing


The earliest evidence of Germanic languages comes from names recorded in the 1st century by Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 (especially from his work Germania
Germania (book)
The Germania , written by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus around 98, is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire.-Contents:...

), but the earliest Germanic writing occurs in a single instance in the 2nd century BC on the Negau helmet
Negau helmet
Negau helmet refers to one of 26 bronze helmets dating to ca. 450 till 350 BC, found in 1811 in a cache in Ženjak, near Negau, Duchy of Styria . The helmets are of typical Etruscan 'vetulonic' shape, sometimes described as of the Negau type. They were buried in ca...

.
From roughly the 2nd century AD, certain speakers of early Germanic varieties developed the Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic and Migration period Germanic dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones...

, an early form of the Runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

. Early runic inscriptions also are largely limited to personal names, and difficult to interpret. The Gothic language
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 was written in the Gothic alphabet
Gothic alphabet
The Gothic alphabet is an alphabet for writing the Gothic language, created in the 4th century by Ulfilas for the purpose of translating the Christian Bible....

 developed by Bishop Ulfilas
Ulfilas
Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila , bishop, missionary, and Bible translator, was a Goth or half-Goth and half-Greek from Cappadocia who had spent time inside the Roman Empire at the peak of the Arian controversy. Ulfilas was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work...

 for his translation of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 in the 4th century. Later, Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 priests and monks who spoke and read Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 in addition to their native Germanic varieties began writing the Germanic languages with slightly modified Latin letters. However, throughout the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

, Runic alphabets remained in common use in Scandinavia.
In addition to the standard Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

, many Germanic languages use a variety of accent marks
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

 and extra letters, including umlaut
Umlaut (diacritic)
The diaeresis and the umlaut are diacritics that consist of two dots placed over a letter, most commonly a vowel. When that letter is an i or a j, the diacritic replaces the tittle: ï....

s, the ß
ß
In the German alphabet, ß is a letter that originated as a ligature of ss or sz. Like double "s", it is pronounced as an , but in standard spelling, it is only used after long vowels and diphthongs, while ss is used after short vowels...

 (Eszett), IJ
IJ (letter)
The IJ is the digraph of the letters i and j. Occurring in the Dutch language, it is sometimes considered a ligature, or even a letter in itselfalthough in most fonts that have a separate character for ij the two composing parts are not connected, but are separate glyphs, sometimes slightly...

, Ø
Ø
Ø — minuscule: "ø", is a vowel and a letter used in the Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Southern Sami languages.It's mostly used as a representation of mid front rounded vowels, such as ø œ, except for Southern Sami where it's used as an [oe] diphtong.The name of this letter is the same as the sound...

, Æ
Æ
Æ is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Icelandic...

, Å
Å
Å represents various sounds in several languages. Å is part of the alphabets used for the Alemannic and the Bavarian-Austrian dialects of German...

, Ä
Ä
"Ä" and "ä" are both characters that represent either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter A with an umlaut mark or diaeresis.- Independent letter :...

, Ü
Ü
Ü, or ü, is a character which can be either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter U with an umlaut or a diaeresis...

, Ö
Ö
"Ö", or "ö", is a character used in several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter O with umlaut to denote the front vowels or . In languages without umlaut, the character is also used as a "O with diaeresis" to denote a syllable break, wherein its pronunciation remains an unmodified .- O-Umlaut...

, Ð
Ð
A Latin capital letter D with a stroke through its vertical bar is the uppercase form of several different letters:*D with stroke , used in Vietnamese, some South Slavic , Moro and Sami languages...

,

{{Indo-European topics}}
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the
Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 (IE) language family
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic (also known as Common Germanic), which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

. Proto-Germanic, along with all of its descendants, is characterized by a number of unique linguistic features, most famously the consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

 change known as Grimm's law
Grimm's law
Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

. Early varieties of Germanic enter history with the Germanic peoples moving south from northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 in the 2nd century BC, to settle in north-central Europe.

The most widely spoken Germanic languages are English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, with approximately 300–400 million and over 100 million native speakers respectively. The group includes other major languages, such as Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 with 23 million and Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

 with over 6 million native speakers; and the North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

 including Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

, Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

, Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, and Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

 with a combined total of about 20 million speakers. The SIL
SIL International
SIL International is a U.S.-based, worldwide, Christian non-profit organization, whose main purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially those that are lesser-known, in order to expand linguistic knowledge, promote literacy, translate the Christian Bible into local languages,...

 Ethnologue lists 53 different Germanic languages.

Characteristics


Germanic languages possess several unique features, such as the following:
  1. The leveling of the Indo-European verbal system of tense
    Grammatical tense
    A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

     and aspect
    Grammatical aspect
    In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb is a grammatical category that defines the temporal flow in a given action, event, or state, from the point of view of the speaker...

     into the present tense
    Present tense
    The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

     and the past tense
    Past tense
    The past tense is a grammatical tense that places an action or situation in the past of the current moment , or prior to some specified time that may be in the speaker's past, present, or future...

     (also called the preterite
    Preterite
    The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

    )
  2. A large class of verbs that use a dental suffix
    Suffix
    In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

     (/d/ or /t/) instead of vowel alternation
    Apophony
    In linguistics, apophony is the alternation of sounds within a word that indicates grammatical information .-Description:Apophony is...

     (Indo-European ablaut
    Indo-European ablaut
    In linguistics, ablaut is a system of apophony in Proto-Indo-European and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages...

    ) to indicate past tense; these are called the Germanic weak verb
    Germanic weak verb
    In Germanic languages, including English, weak verbs are by far the largest group of verbs, which are therefore often regarded as the norm, though historically they are not the oldest or most original group.-General description:...

    s; the remaining verbs with vowel ablaut are the Germanic strong verb
    Germanic strong verb
    In the Germanic languages, a strong verb is one which marks its past tense by means of ablaut. In English, these are verbs like sing, sang, sung...

    s
  3. The use of so-called strong and weak adjective
    Adjective
    In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

    s: different sets of inflectional endings for adjectives depending on the definiteness
    Definiteness
    In grammatical theory, definiteness is a feature of noun phrases, distinguishing between entities which are specific and identifiable in a given context and entities which are not ....

     of the noun phrase
    Noun phrase
    In grammar, a noun phrase, nominal phrase, or nominal group is a phrase based on a noun, pronoun, or other noun-like word optionally accompanied by modifiers such as adjectives....

     (modern English adjectives do not inflect at all, except for the comparative and superlative; this was not the case in Old English
    Old English language
    Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

    , where adjectives were inflected differently depending on the type of their preceding determiner)
  4. The consonant shift known as Grimm's Law
    Grimm's law
    Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

     (which continued in German in a second shift known as the High German consonant shift
    High German consonant shift
    In historical linguistics, the High German consonant shift or second Germanic consonant shift is a phonological development that took place in the southern parts of the West Germanic dialect continuum in several phases, probably beginning between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD, and was almost...

    )
  5. Some words with etymologies that are difficult to link to other Indo-European families but with variants that appear in almost all Germanic languages; see Germanic substrate hypothesis
    Germanic substrate hypothesis
    The Germanic substrate hypothesis is an attempt to explain the distinctive nature of the Germanic languages within the context of the Indo-European language family...

  6. The sound change known as Verner's Law
    Verner's law
    Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z,...

    , which left a trace of Indo-European accent variations in voicing variations in fricatives
  7. The shifting of word stress onto word stems and later onto the first syllable of the word (though English has an irregular stress, native words always have a fixed stress regardless of what is added to them)


Germanic languages differ from each other to a greater degree than do some other language families
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

 such as the Romance
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 or Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

. Roughly speaking, Germanic languages differ in how conservative or how progressive each language is with respect to an overall trend toward analyticity. Some, such as Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

, and to a lesser extent, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, have preserved much of the complex inflectional morphology inherited from the Proto-Indo-European language
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

. Others, such as English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

, and Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

, have moved toward a largely analytic type.

Another characteristic of Germanic languages is verb second
V2 word order
In syntax, verb-second word order is the rule in some languages that the second constituent of declarative main clauses is always a verb, while this is not necessarily the case in other types of clauses.- V2 effect :...

(V2) word order, which is quite uncommon cross-linguistically. This feature was not inherited from Proto-Germanic, but was probably already present in latent form, and may have begun with auxiliary verbs that were treated as sentence clitic
Clitic
In morphology and syntax, a clitic is a morpheme that is grammatically independent, but phonologically dependent on another word or phrase. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level...

s, which were generally placed second. The later parallel innovation of V2 word order in the individual languages may have been a result of the loss of noun declension, which tended to 'fix' word order into its most common form. It is now shared by all modern Germanic languages except modern English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 which has more or less replaced the earlier V2 structure with fixed Subject–verb–object word order.

Writing


The earliest evidence of Germanic languages comes from names recorded in the 1st century by Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 (especially from his work Germania
Germania (book)
The Germania , written by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus around 98, is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire.-Contents:...

), but the earliest Germanic writing occurs in a single instance in the 2nd century BC on the Negau helmet
Negau helmet
Negau helmet refers to one of 26 bronze helmets dating to ca. 450 till 350 BC, found in 1811 in a cache in Ženjak, near Negau, Duchy of Styria . The helmets are of typical Etruscan 'vetulonic' shape, sometimes described as of the Negau type. They were buried in ca...

.
From roughly the 2nd century AD, certain speakers of early Germanic varieties developed the Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic and Migration period Germanic dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones...

, an early form of the Runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

. Early runic inscriptions also are largely limited to personal names, and difficult to interpret. The Gothic language
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 was written in the Gothic alphabet
Gothic alphabet
The Gothic alphabet is an alphabet for writing the Gothic language, created in the 4th century by Ulfilas for the purpose of translating the Christian Bible....

 developed by Bishop Ulfilas
Ulfilas
Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila , bishop, missionary, and Bible translator, was a Goth or half-Goth and half-Greek from Cappadocia who had spent time inside the Roman Empire at the peak of the Arian controversy. Ulfilas was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work...

 for his translation of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 in the 4th century. Later, Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 priests and monks who spoke and read Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 in addition to their native Germanic varieties began writing the Germanic languages with slightly modified Latin letters. However, throughout the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

, Runic alphabets remained in common use in Scandinavia.
In addition to the standard Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

, many Germanic languages use a variety of accent marks
Diacritic
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός . Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute and grave are often called accents...

 and extra letters, including umlaut
Umlaut (diacritic)
The diaeresis and the umlaut are diacritics that consist of two dots placed over a letter, most commonly a vowel. When that letter is an i or a j, the diacritic replaces the tittle: ï....

s, the ß
ß
In the German alphabet, ß is a letter that originated as a ligature of ss or sz. Like double "s", it is pronounced as an , but in standard spelling, it is only used after long vowels and diphthongs, while ss is used after short vowels...

 (Eszett), IJ
IJ (letter)
The IJ is the digraph of the letters i and j. Occurring in the Dutch language, it is sometimes considered a ligature, or even a letter in itselfalthough in most fonts that have a separate character for ij the two composing parts are not connected, but are separate glyphs, sometimes slightly...

, Ø
Ø
Ø — minuscule: "ø", is a vowel and a letter used in the Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Southern Sami languages.It's mostly used as a representation of mid front rounded vowels, such as ø œ, except for Southern Sami where it's used as an [oe] diphtong.The name of this letter is the same as the sound...

, Æ
Æ
Æ is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Icelandic...

, Å
Å
Å represents various sounds in several languages. Å is part of the alphabets used for the Alemannic and the Bavarian-Austrian dialects of German...

, Ä
Ä
"Ä" and "ä" are both characters that represent either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter A with an umlaut mark or diaeresis.- Independent letter :...

, Ü
Ü
Ü, or ü, is a character which can be either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter U with an umlaut or a diaeresis...

, Ö
Ö
"Ö", or "ö", is a character used in several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter O with umlaut to denote the front vowels or . In languages without umlaut, the character is also used as a "O with diaeresis" to denote a syllable break, wherein its pronunciation remains an unmodified .- O-Umlaut...

, Ð
Ð
A Latin capital letter D with a stroke through its vertical bar is the uppercase form of several different letters:*D with stroke , used in Vietnamese, some South Slavic , Moro and Sami languages...

, {{unicode
Yogh
The letter yogh , was used in Middle English and Older Scots, representing y and various velar phonemes. It was derived from the Old English form of the letter g.In Middle English writing, tailed z came to be indistinguishable from yogh....

, and the Latinized runes Þ and {{unicode
Wynn
Wynn is a letter of the Old English alphabet, where it is used to represent the sound ....

 (with its Latin counterpart W
W
W is the 23rd letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.In other Germanic languages, including German, its pronunciation is similar or identical to that of English V...

). In print, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 used to be prevalently set in blackletter
Blackletter
Blackletter, also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 to well into the 17th century. It continued to be used for the German language until the 20th century. Fraktur is a notable script of this type, and sometimes...

 typeface
Typeface
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

s (e.g. fraktur
Fraktur (typeface)
Fraktur is a calligraphic hand and any of several blackletter typefaces derived from this hand. The word derives from the past participle fractus of Latin frangere...

 or schwabacher
Schwabacher
The German word Schwabacher refers to a specific blackletter typeface. The term derives from the town of Schwabach.-Characteristics:The small-letter g and the capital-letter H have particularly distinctive forms.-History:...

) up until the 1940s (though see Antiqua–Fraktur dispute), whereas Kurrent
Kurrent
Kurrent is an old form of German language handwriting based on late medieval cursive writing, also known as Kurrentschrift or Alte Deutsche Schrift...

and since the early 20th century Sütterlin
Sütterlin
Sütterlinschrift , or Sütterlin for short, is the last widely used form of the old German blackletter handwriting . In Germany, the old German cursive script developed in the 16th century, replacing the Gothic handwriting at the same time that bookletters developed into the Fraktur typeface...

was used for German handwriting.

History


{{Unreferenced section|date=December 2008}}
{{Germanic tribes (750BC-1AD)}}
All Germanic languages are thought to be descended from a hypothetical Proto-Germanic
Proto-Germanic language
Proto-Germanic , or Common Germanic, as it is sometimes known, is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Germanic languages, such as modern English, Frisian, Dutch, Afrikaans, German, Luxembourgish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, and Swedish.The Proto-Germanic language is...

, united by subjection to the sound shifts of Grimm's law
Grimm's law
Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

 and Verner's law
Verner's law
Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z,...

. These probably took place during the Pre-Roman Iron Age
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

 of Northern Europe from ca. 500 BC, but other common innovations separating Germanic from Proto-Indo European suggest a common history of pre-Proto-Germanic speakers throughout the Nordic Bronze Age
Nordic Bronze Age
The Nordic Bronze Age is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian pre-history, c. 1700-500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia. Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of...

.

From the time of their earliest attestation, the Germanic varieties are divided into three groups: West
West Germanic languages
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

, East
East Germanic languages
The East Germanic languages are a group of extinct Indo-European languages in the Germanic family. The only East Germanic language of which texts are known is Gothic; other languages that are assumed to be East Germanic include Vandalic, Burgundian, and Crimean Gothic...

, and North
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

 Germanic. Their exact relation is difficult to determine from the sparse evidence of runic inscriptions, and they remained mutually intelligible throughout the Migration period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

, so that some individual varieties are difficult to classify.

The 6th-century Lombardic language
Lombardic language
Lombardic or Langobardic is the extinct language of the Lombards , the Germanic speaking people who settled in Italy in the 6th century. The language declined rapidly already in the 7th century as the invaders quickly adopted the Latin vernacular spoken by the local Roman population. E.g...

, for instance, may be a variety originally either Northern or Eastern, before being assimilated by West Germanic as the Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 settled at the Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

. The Western group would have formed in the late Jastorf culture
Jastorf culture
The Jastorf culture is an Iron Age material culture in what is now north Germany, spanning the 6th to 1st centuries BC, forming the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south...

, the Eastern group may be derived from the 1st-century variety of Gotland
Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

 (see Old Gutnish
Old Gutnish
Old Gutnish was the dialect of Old Norse that was spoken on the Baltic island of Gotland. It shows sufficient differences from the Old East Norse dialect that it is considered to be a separate branch...

), leaving southern Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 as the original location of the Northern group. The earliest coherent Germanic text preserved is the 4th century Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 translation of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 by Ulfilas
Ulfilas
Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila , bishop, missionary, and Bible translator, was a Goth or half-Goth and half-Greek from Cappadocia who had spent time inside the Roman Empire at the peak of the Arian controversy. Ulfilas was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work...

. Early testimonies of West Germanic are in Old Frankish
Old Frankish
Old Frankish is an extinct West Germanic language, once spoken by the Franks. It is the parent language of the Franconian languages, of which Dutch and Afrikaans are the most known descendants...

 (5th century), Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 (scattered words and sentences 6th century, coherent texts 9th century) and Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 (coherent texts 10th century). North Germanic is only attested in scattered runic inscriptions, as Proto-Norse
Proto-Norse language
Proto-Norse was an Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is thought to have evolved as a northern dialect of Proto-Germanic over the first centuries AD...

, until it evolves into Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 by about 800.

Longer runic inscriptions survive from the 8th and 9th centuries (Eggjum stone
Eggjum stone
The Eggja stone , listed as N KJ101 in the Rundata catalog, is a grave stone with a runic inscription that was ploughed up in 1917 on the farm Eggja in Sogndal, Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway.-Description:...

, Rök stone), longer texts in the Latin alphabet survive from the 12th century (Íslendingabók
Íslendingabók
Íslendingabók, Libellus Islandorum or The Book of Icelanders is an historical work dealing with early Icelandic history. The author was an Icelandic priest, Ari Þorgilsson, working in the early 12th century. The work originally existed in two different versions but only the younger one has come...

), and some skaldic poetry held to date back to as early as the 9th century.
By about the 10th century, the varieties had diverged enough to make inter-comprehensibility
Mutual intelligibility
In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is recognized as a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related languages can readily understand each other without intentional study or extraordinary effort...

 difficult. The linguistic contact of the Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 settlers of the Danelaw
Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

 with the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 left traces in the English language, and is suspected to have facilitated the collapse of Old English grammar that resulted in Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 from the 12th century.

The East Germanic languages were marginalized from the end of the Migration period. The Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

, Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

, and Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

 became linguistically assimilated by their respective neighbors by about the 7th century, with only Crimean Gothic lingering on until the 18th century.

During the early Middle Ages, the West Germanic languages were separated by the insular development of Middle English on one hand, and by the High German consonant shift
High German consonant shift
In historical linguistics, the High German consonant shift or second Germanic consonant shift is a phonological development that took place in the southern parts of the West Germanic dialect continuum in several phases, probably beginning between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD, and was almost...

 on the continent on the other, resulting in Upper German
Upper German
Upper German is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy.-Family tree:Upper German can be generally classified as Alemannic or Austro-Bavarian...

 and Low Saxon
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

, with graded intermediate Central German
Central German
Central German is a group of High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germany.-History:...

 varieties. By Early modern times, the span had extended into considerable differences, ranging from Highest Alemannic
Highest Alemannic German
Highest Alemannic is a branch of Alemannic German and is often considered to be part of the German language, even though mutual intelligibility with Standard German and other non-Alemannic German dialects is very limited....

 in the South to Northern Low Saxon
Northern Low Saxon
Northern Low Saxon is a West Low German dialect.As such, it covers a great part of the West Low-German-speaking areas of northern Germany, with the exception of the border regions where Eastphalian and Westphalian are spoken...

 in the North and, although both extremes are considered German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, they are hardly mutually intelligible. The southernmost varieties had completed the second sound shift, while the northern varieties remained unaffected by the consonant shift.

The North Germanic languages, on the other hand, remained more unified, with the peninsular languages largely retaining mutual intelligibility into modern times.

Classification


Note that divisions between and among subfamilies of Germanic are rarely precisely defined; most form continuous clines, with adjacent varieties
Variety (linguistics)
In sociolinguistics a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include languages, dialects, accents, registers, styles or other sociolinguistic variation, as well as the standard variety itself...

 being mutually intelligible and more separated ones not.

Diachronic


The table below shows the succession of the significant historical stages of each language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 (vertically), and their approximate groupings in subfamilies (horizontally). Horizontal sequence within each group does not imply a measure of greater or lesser similarity.

{{Germanic diachronic}}

Contemporary


{{main|List of Germanic languages}}

All living Germanic languages belong either to the West Germanic or to the North Germanic branch.
The West Germanic group is the larger by far, further subdivided into Anglo-Frisian on one hand, and Continental West Germanic on the other. Anglo-Frisian notably includes English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and all its variants, while Continental West Germanic includes German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 (standard register
Standard German
Standard German is the standard variety of the German language used as a written language, in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas...

 and dialects
German dialects
German dialect is dominated by the geographical spread of the High German consonant shift, and the dialect continuum that connects the German with the Dutch language.-German dialects in relation to varieties of standard German:...

) as well as Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 (standard register and dialects
Dutch dialects
Dutch dialects are primarily the dialects that are both cognate with the Dutch language and are spoken in the same language area as the Dutch standard language. Dutch dialects are remarkably diverse and are found in the Netherlands and northern Belgium....

).
  • West Germanic languages
    West Germanic languages
    The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

    • High German languages
      High German languages
      The High German languages or the High German dialects are any of the varieties of standard German, Luxembourgish and Yiddish, as well as the local German dialects spoken in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in neighboring portions of Belgium and the...

       (includes Standard German
      Standard German
      Standard German is the standard variety of the German language used as a written language, in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas...

       and its dialects
      German dialects
      German dialect is dominated by the geographical spread of the High German consonant shift, and the dialect continuum that connects the German with the Dutch language.-German dialects in relation to varieties of standard German:...

      )
      • Central German
        Central German
        Central German is a group of High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germany.-History:...

        • East Central German
          East Central German
          East Central German is the non-Franconian sub-group of Central German dialects, themselves part of High German. It comprises:*Standard German*Thuringian*Upper Saxon German*Lausitzisch-Neumärkisch, whose best-known form is the Berlinerisch dialect...

        • West Central German
          West Central German
          West Central German belongs to the Central, High German dialect family in the German language. Its dialects are thoroughly Franconian including the following sub-families:* Central Franconian...

          • Luxembourgish
            Luxembourgish language
            Luxembourgish is a High German language spoken mainly in Luxembourg. About 320,000 people worldwide speak Luxembourgish.-Language family:...

          • Pennsylvania German
            Pennsylvania German language
            The Pennsylvania German language is a variety of West Central German possibly spoken by more than 250,000 people in North America...

             (spoken by the Amish
            Amish
            The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

             and other groups in southeastern Pennsylvania
            Pennsylvania
            The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

            )
      • Upper German
        Upper German
        Upper German is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy.-Family tree:Upper German can be generally classified as Alemannic or Austro-Bavarian...

        • High Franconian
        • Alemannic German
          Alemannic German
          Alemannic is a group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family. It is spoken by approximately ten million people in six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy...

        • Austro-Bavarian German
          • Mócheno language
            Mócheno language
            Mócheno is an Upper German variety spoken in three towns of the Mocheni Valley , in Trentino, northeastern Italy....

          • Cimbrian language
            Cimbrian language
            Cimbrian refers to any of several local Upper German varieties spoken in northeastern Italy. The speakers of the language are known as Zimbern....

          • Hutterite German
            Hutterite German
            Hutterite German is an Upper German dialect of the Austro-Bavarian variety of the German language, which is spoken by Hutterite communities in Canada and the United States...

      • Yiddish
        Yiddish language
        Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

    • Low Franconian
      Low Franconian languages
      Low Franconian, Low Frankish, or Istvaeonic, is a group of several West Germanic languages spoken in the Netherlands, northern Belgium , in the northern department of France, in western Germany , as well as in Suriname, South Africa and Namibia that originally descended from Old Frankish.- The...

      • Dutch
        Dutch language
        Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

         and its dialects
        Dutch dialects
        Dutch dialects are primarily the dialects that are both cognate with the Dutch language and are spoken in the same language area as the Dutch standard language. Dutch dialects are remarkably diverse and are found in the Netherlands and northern Belgium....

      • Afrikaans
        Afrikaans
        Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

         (a separate standard language
        Standard language
        A standard language is a language variety used by a group of people in their public discourse. Alternatively, varieties become standard by undergoing a process of standardization, during which it is organized for description in grammars and dictionaries and encoded in such reference works...

        )
    • Low German
      Low German
      Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

      • West Low German
      • East Low German
        East Low German
        East Low German is a group of Low German dialects, including various varieties known as Pomeranian and Prussian, spoken in Northeast Germany as well as by minorities in present northern Poland. Together with West Low German, it constitutes Low German...

        • Plautdietsch
          Plautdietsch
          Plautdietsch, or Mennonite Low German, was originally a Low Prussian variety of East Low German, with Dutch influence, that developed in the 16th and 17th centuries in the Vistula delta area of Royal Prussia, today Polish territory. The word is another pronunciation of Plattdeutsch, or Low German...

           (Mennonite Low German)
    • Anglo-Frisian
      Anglo-Frisian languages
      The Anglo-Frisian languages form a group of West Germanic languages consisting of Old English, Old Frisian, and their descendants...

      • Frisian group
      • English group
        • English
          English language
          English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

           and its dialects
        • Lowland Scots
          Scots language
          Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

        • Yola
          Yola language
          Yola is an extinct West Germanic language formerly spoken in Ireland. A branch of Middle English, it evolved separately among the English who followed the Norman barons Strongbow and Robert Fitzstephen to eastern Ireland in 1169....

           (extinct)
  • North Germanic
    North Germanic languages
    The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

    • West Scandinavian
      • Norwegian
        Norwegian language
        Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

         (of Western branch origin, but heavily influenced by the Eastern branch)
      • Icelandic
        Icelandic language
        Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

      • Faroese
        Faroese language
        Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

      • Greenlandic Norse
        Greenlandic Norse
        Greenlandic Norse is an extinct North Germanic language that was spoken in the Norse settlements of Greenland until their demise in the late 15th century...

         (extinct)
      • Norn
        Norn language
        Norn is an extinct North Germanic language that was spoken in Shetland and Orkney, off the north coast of mainland Scotland, and in Caithness. After the islands were pledged to Scotland by Norway in the 15th century, it was gradually replaced by Scots and on the mainland by Scottish...

         (extinct)
    • East Scandinavian
      • Danish
        Danish language
        Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

      • Swedish
        Swedish language
        Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

    • Gutnish
      Modern Gutnish
      Modern Gutnish is the native language of the Gotlandic people on the island of Gotland in present-day Sweden. It was both a spoken and written language until late medieval times. Today it exists as a spoken language, but is to some degree mixed with Swedish, Danish and German. It is an open issue...


Phonology


The oldest Germanic languages all share a number of features, assumed to be inherited from Proto-Germanic. Phonologically, this includes the important sound changes known as Grimm's Law
Grimm's law
Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

 and Verner's Law
Verner's law
Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z,...

, which introduced a large number of fricatives; late Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European may refer to:*Proto-Indo-European language, the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages.*Proto-Indo-Europeans, the hypothetical speakers of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language....

 (PIE) had only one, /s/.

The main vowel developments are the merging (in most circumstances) of long and short /a/ and /o/, producing short /a/ and long /ō/. This likewise affected the diphthong
Diphthong
A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

s, with PIE /ai/ and /oi/ merging into /ai/, and PIE /au/ and /ou/ merging into /au/. PIE /ei/ developed into long /ī/. PIE long /ē/ developed into a vowel denoted as /ē1/ (often assumed to be phonetically [ǣ]), while a new, fairly uncommon long vowel /ē2/ developed in varied and not completely understood circumstances. Proto-Germanic had no front rounded vowel
Front rounded vowel
A front rounded vowel is a particular type of vowel that is both front and rounded.The front rounded vowels defined by the IPA include:, a close front rounded vowel , a near-close near-front rounded vowel , a close-mid front rounded vowel , a mid front rounded vowel, an open-mid front rounded vowel...

s, although all Germanic languages except for Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 subsequently developed them through the process of i-umlaut.

Proto-Germanic developed a strong stress accent on the first syllable of the root (although remnants of the original free PIE accent are visible due to Verner's Law, which was sensitive to this accent). This caused a steady erosion of vowels in unstressed syllables. In Proto-Germanic this had progressed only to the point that absolutely final short vowels (other than /i/ and /u/) were lost and absolutely final long vowels were shortened, but all of the early literary languages show a more advanced state of vowel loss. This ultimately resulted in some languages (e.g. modern English) in the loss of practically all vowels following the main stress, and the consequent rise of a very large number of monosyllabic words.

Morphology


The oldest Germanic languages have the typical complex inflected morphology of old Indo-European languages, with four or five noun cases; verbs marked for person, number, tense and mood; multiple noun and verb classes; few or no articles; and rather free word order. The old Germanic languages are famous for having only two tenses (present and past), with three PIE past-tense aspects (imperfect, aorist, and perfect/stative) merged into one and no new tenses (future, pluperfect, etc.) developing. There were three moods: indicative, subjunctive (developed from the PIE optative mood
Optative mood
The optative mood is a grammatical mood that indicates a wish or hope. It is similar to the cohortative mood, and closely related to the subjunctive mood....

) and imperative. Gothic verbs had a number of archaic features inherited from PIE that were lost in the other Germanic languages with few traces, including dual endings, an inflected passive voice (derived from the PIE mediopassive voice
Mediopassive voice
The mediopassive voice is a grammatical voice which subsumes the meanings of both the middle voice and the passive voice.Languages of the Indo-European family typically have two or three voices of the three: active, middle, and passive. "Mediopassive" may be used to describe a category that covers...

), and a class of verbs with reduplication in the past tense (derived from the PIE perfect). The complex tense system of modern English (e.g. In three months, the house will still be being built or If you had not acted so stupidly, we would never have been caught) is almost entirely due to subsequent developments (although paralleled in many of the other Germanic languages).

Among the other innovations in Proto-Germanic (hence common to all Germanic languages) are the preterite present verbs, a special set of verbs whose present tense looks like the past tense of other verbs and which is the origin of most modal verb
Modal verb
A modal verb is a type of auxiliary verb that is used to indicate modality -- that is, likelihood, ability, permission, and obligation...

s in English; a past-tense ending (in the so-called "weak verbs", marked with -ed in English) that appears variously as /d/ or /t/, often assumed to be derived from the verb "to do"; and two separate sets of adjective endings, originally corresponding to a distinction between indefinite semantics ("a man", with a combination of PIE adjective and pronoun endings) and definite semantics ("the man", with endings derived from PIE n-stem nouns). The two sets of adjective endings were lost in English in the late Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 period but are still preserved (as a distinction between "strong" and "weak" endings) in most other Germanic languages.

Linguistic developments


The subgroupings of the Germanic languages are defined by shared innovations. It is important to distinguish innovations from cases of linguistic conservatism. That is, if two languages in a family share a characteristic that is not observed in a third language, that is evidence of common ancestry of the two languages only if the characteristic is an innovation compared to the family's proto-language
Proto-language
A proto-language in the tree model of historical linguistics is the common ancestor of the languages that form a language family. Occasionally, the German term Ursprache is used instead.Often the proto-language is not known directly...

.

The following innovations are common to the Northwest Germanic
Northwest Germanic
Northwest Germanic is a proposed grouping of the Germanic dialects, representing the current consensus among Germanic historical linguists. It does not challenge the late 19th-century tri-partite division of the Germanic dialects into North Germanic, West Germanic and East Germanic, but proposes...

 languages (all but Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

):
  • The lowering of /u/ to /o/ in initial syllables before /a/ in the following syllable ("a-Umlaut", traditionally called Brechung)
  • "Labial umlaut" in unstressed medial syllables (the conversion of /a/ to /u/ and /ō/ to /ū/ before /m/, or /u/ in the following syllable)
  • The conversion of /ē1/ into /ā/ (vs. Gothic /ē/) in initial syllables
  • The raising of final /ō/ to /u/ (Gothic lowers it to /a/)
  • The monophthongisation of /ai/ and /au/ to /ǣ/ and /ō/ in non-initial syllables (however, evidence for the development of /au/ in medial syllables is lacking)


  • The development of an intensified demonstrative ending in /s/ (reflected in English "this" compared to "the")
  • The use of /ē2/ in the preterite
    Preterite
    The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

     of Class VII strong verbs in North and West Germanic, while Gothic uses reduplication
    Reduplication
    Reduplication in linguistics is a morphological process in which the root or stem of a word is repeated exactly or with a slight change....

     (e.g. Gothic haihait; ON, OE hēt, preterite of the Gmc verb *haitan "to be called") as part of a comprehensive reformation of the Gmc Class VII from a reduplicating to a new ablaut pattern, which presumably started in verbs beginning with vowel or /h/ (a development which continues the general trend of de-reduplication in Gmc); there are forms (such as OE dial. heht instead of hēt) which retain traces of reduplication even in West and North Germanic

The following innovations are also common to the Northwest Germanic
Northwest Germanic
Northwest Germanic is a proposed grouping of the Germanic dialects, representing the current consensus among Germanic historical linguists. It does not challenge the late 19th-century tri-partite division of the Germanic dialects into North Germanic, West Germanic and East Germanic, but proposes...

 languages, but represent areal changes:
  • Proto-Germanic /z/ > /r/ (e.g. Gothic dius; ON dȳr, OHG tior, OE dēor, "wild animal"); note that this is not present in Proto-Norse and must be ordered after West Germanic loss of final /z/
  • Germanic umlaut
    Germanic umlaut
    In linguistics, umlaut is a process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vowel or semivowel. The term umlaut was originally coined and is used principally in connection with the study of the Germanic languages...



The following innovations are common to the West Germanic languages:
  • Loss of final /z/ (except in short monosyllables)
  • Change of voiced dental fricative /ð/ to stop /d/
  • Change of voiceless dental fricative /þ/ to stop /d/ after /l/ (except when /þ/ is word-final)
  • West Germanic gemination
    West Germanic Gemination
    West Germanic gemination is a sound change that took place in all West Germanic languages, around 300 AD. All single consonants except were geminated before . The second element of the diphthongs iu and au was still underlyingly at this time and therefore was still considered a consonant, so...

     of consonants, except r, before /j/ in short-stemmed words (gemination of /p/, /t/, /k/ and /h/ is also observed before liquids), but not if /j/ (or a liquid) is vocalised (becomes syllabic) word-finally
  • The simplification of /ngw/ to /ng/
  • A particular type of umlaut /e-u-i/ > /i-u-i/
  • Loss of /j/ before /i/ and /w/ before /u/ in endings
  • The change of /b/ or /g/ to /w/ before nasal consonant
  • Changes to the 2nd person singular past-tense: Replacement of the past-singular stem vowel with the past-plural stem vowel, and substitution of the ending -t with -i
  • Short forms (*stān, stēn, *gān, gēn) of the verbs for "stand" and "go"; but note that Crimean Gothic
    Crimean Gothic
    Crimean Gothic was a Gothic dialect spoken by the Crimean Goths in some isolated locations in Crimea until the late 18th century....

     also has gēn
  • The development of a gerund
    Gerund
    In linguistics* As applied to English, it refers to the usage of a verb as a noun ....



The following innovations are common to the Ingvaeonic
Ingvaeonic
Ingvaeonic , also known as North Sea Germanic, is a postulated grouping of the West Germanic languages that comprises Old Frisian, Old English and Old Saxon....

 subgroup of the West Germanic languages:
  • The so-called Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law
    Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law
    In historical linguistics, the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law is a description of a phonological development in some dialects of West Germanic, which is attested in Old English, Old Frisian, and Old Saxon...

    , which (e.g.) converted *munþ "mouth" (cf. Old High German
    Old High German
    The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

     mund) into *mūþ (cf. Old English mūþ).
  • The loss of the Germanic reflexive pronoun
    Reflexive pronoun
    A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun that is preceded by the noun, adjective, adverb or pronoun to which it refers within the same clause. In generative grammar, a reflexive pronoun is an anaphor that must be bound by its antecedent...

  • The reduction of the three Germanic verb
    Verb
    A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

    al plural
    Plural
    In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

     forms into one form ending in
  • The development of Class III weak verbs into a relic class consisting of four verbs (*sagjan "to say", *hugjan "to think", *habjan "to have", *libjan "to live")
  • The split of the Class II weak verb ending *-ō- into *-ō-/-ōja-
  • Development of a plural ending *-ōs in a-stem nouns (note, Gothic also has -ōs, but this is an independent development, caused by terminal devoicing of *-ōz; Old Frisian
    Old Frisian
    Old Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine and Weser on the European North Sea coast. The Frisian settlers on the coast of South Jutland also spoke Old Frisian but no medieval texts of this area are known...

     has -ar, which is thought to be a late borrowing from Danish
    Danish language
    Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

    )
  • Merger of the accusative and dative in first and second person pronouns (also shared by Old Low Franconian)
  • Possibly, the monophthong
    Monophthong
    A monophthong is a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation....

    ization of Germanic *ai to ē/ā (this may represent independent changes in Old Saxon and Anglo-Frisian)


The following innovations are common to the Anglo-Frisian subgroup of the Ingvaeonic languages:
  • Raising of nasalized a, ā into o, ō
  • Anglo-Frisian brightening: Fronting of non-nasal a, ā to æ,ǣ when not followed by n or m
  • Metathesis
    Metathesis (linguistics)
    Metathesis is the re-arranging of sounds or syllables in a word, or of words in a sentence. Most commonly it refers to the switching of two or more contiguous sounds, known as adjacent metathesis or local metathesis:...

     of CrV into CVr, where C represents any consonant and V any vowel
  • Monophthongization of ai into ā

Vocabulary comparison


Several of the terms in the table below have had semantic drift. For example, the form Sterben and other terms for die are cognates with the English word starve. There is also at least one example of a common borrowing from a non-Germanic source (ounce and its cognates from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

).
English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

Scots
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

West Frisian
West Frisian language
West Frisian is a language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. West Frisian is the name by which this language is usually known outside the Netherlands, to distinguish it from the closely related Frisian languages of Saterland Frisian and North Frisian,...

Afrikaans Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 (Limburgish)
Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 (Groningen
Gronings
Gronings, in the dialect itself called Grunnegs or Grönnegs, is a collective name for some Friso-Saxon dialects spoken in the province of Groningen and around the Groningen border in Drenthe and Friesland. Gronings and the strongly related varieties in East-Frisia have a strong Frisian influence...

)
Middle
German
Middle German
In linguistics, Middle German can refer to a few variants of the German language:* Middle Low German , the northern dialects in the 11th-15th centuries...

 (Luxemburgish)
German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

Norwegian (Bokmål)
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

Norwegian (Nynorsk)
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

apple aiple apel appel appel appel Appel Abbel Apel Apfel aplus epli epli äpple æble eple eple
board buird board bord bord bórdj/telleur Boord Bred Briet Brett baúrd borð borð bräde bord bord bord
beech beech boeke beuk beuk beuk Boeoek / Böök Beukenboom Bich Buche bōka/-bagms beyki bók(artræ) bok bøg bok bok / bøk
book beuk boek boek boek book Book Bouk Buch Buch bōka bók bók bok bog bok bok
breast breest boarst bors borst boors Bost Bôrst Broscht Brust brusts brjóst bróst / bringa bröst bryst bryst bryst
brown broun brún bruin bruin broen bruun broen brong braun bruns brúnn brúnur brun brun brun brun
day day dei dag dag daag Dag Dag Do Tag dags dagur dagur dag dag dag dag
dead deid dea dood dood doed doot dood dout tot dauþs dauður deyður död død død daud
die (starve) dee stjerre sterf sterven stèrve starven / döen staarven stierwen sterben diwan deyja doyggja døy / starva
enough eneuch genôch genoeg genoeg genóg noog genog genuch genug ganōhs nóg nóg/nógmikið nog nok nok nok
finger finger finger vinger vinger veenger Finger Vinger Fanger Finger figgrs fingur fingur finger finger finger finger
give gie jaan gee geven geve geven geven ginn geben giban gefa geva ge / giva give gi gje(va)
glass gless glês glas glas glaas Glas Glas Glas Glas glas glas glas glas glass glas
gold gowd goud goud goud goud / góldj Gold Gold Gold gulþ gull gull guld / gull guld gull gull
good guid gód goed goed good goot goud gutt gut gōþ(is) góð(ur) / gott góð(ur) / gott god god god god
hand haund hân hand hand hand Hand Haand Hand Hand handus hönd hond hand hånd hånd hand
head heid holle hoof / kop hoofd / kop kop Kopp Heufd / Kop Kopp Haupt / Kopf háubiþ höfuð høvd / høvur huvud hoved hode hovud
high heich heech hoog hoog hoeg hoog hoog / höch héich hoch háuh hár høg / ur hög høj høy / høg høg
home hame hiem heim / tuis heem, heim / thuis thoes Tohuus Thoes Heem Heim háimōþ heim heim hem hjem hjem / heim heim
hook / crook heuk hoek haak haak haok Haak Hoak Krop / Kramp Haken kramppa haki / krókur krókur / ongul hake / krok hage / krog hake / krok hake / krok
house hoose hûs huis huis hoes Huus Hoes Haus Haus hūs hús hús hus hus hus hus
many mony mannich / mennich baie / menige menig minnig Mennig Ìnde manch manags margir mangir / nógvir många mange mange mange
moon muin moanne maan maan maon Maan Moan Mound Mond mēna máni / tungl máni måne måne måne måne
night nicht nacht nag nacht nach Nach / Nacht Nacht Nuecht Nacht nótt nótt nátt natt nat natt natt
no (nay) nae nee nee nee(n) nei nee nee / nai nee(n) nee / nein / nö nei nei nej / nä nej / næ nei nei
old (but: elder, eldest) auld âld oud oud aajt (old) / gammel (decayed) oolt / gammelig old / olleg aalt alt sineigs gamall (but: eldri, elstur) / aldinn gamal (but: eldri, elstur) gammal (but: äldre, äldst) gammel (but: ældre, ældst) gammel (but: eldre, eldst) gam(m)al (but: eldre, eldst)
one ane ien een een ein een aine een eins áins einn ein en en en ein
ounce unce ûns ons ons óns Ons Onze Unze unkja únsa únsa uns unse unse unse / unsa
snow snaw snie sneeu sneeuw sjnie Snee Snij / Snèj Schlue Schnee snáiws snjór kavi / snjógvur snö sne snø snø
stone stane stien steen steen stein Steen Stain Steen Stein stáins steinn steinur sten sten stein stein
that that dat daardie / dit dat / die dat / tot dat / dit dat / dij dat das þata það tað det det det det
two / twain twa twa twee twee twie twee twij / twèje zoo / zwou / zwéin zwei/zwo twái tveir / tvær / tvö tveir / tvey / tvær / tvá två to to to
who wha wa wie wie wee wokeen wel wien wer Ƕas / hwas hver hvør vem hvem hvem kven
worm wirm wjirm wurm worm weurm Worm Wörm Wuerm Wurm maþa maðkur / ormur maðkur / ormur mask / orm  orm makk / mark / orm   makk/mark/orm
English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

Scots
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

West Frisian
West Frisian language
West Frisian is a language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. West Frisian is the name by which this language is usually known outside the Netherlands, to distinguish it from the closely related Frisian languages of Saterland Frisian and North Frisian,...

Afrikaans Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 (Limburgish)
Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 (Groningen
Gronings
Gronings, in the dialect itself called Grunnegs or Grönnegs, is a collective name for some Friso-Saxon dialects spoken in the province of Groningen and around the Groningen border in Drenthe and Friesland. Gronings and the strongly related varieties in East-Frisia have a strong Frisian influence...

)
Middle
German
Middle German
In linguistics, Middle German can refer to a few variants of the German language:* Middle Low German , the northern dialects in the 11th-15th centuries...

 (Luxemburgish)
German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

Norwegian (Bokmål)
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

Norwegian (Nynorsk)
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...


See also

  • Germanic verb
    Germanic verb
    The Germanic language family is one of the language groups that resulted from the breakup of Proto-Indo-European . It in turn divided into North, West and East Germanic groups, and ultimately produced a large group of mediaeval and modern languages, most importantly: Danish, Norwegian, and...

     and its various subordinated articles
  • Language families and languages
  • Non-Indo-European roots of Germanic languages
  • List of Germanic and Latinate equivalents
  • Germanisation
    Germanisation
    Germanisation is both the spread of the German language, people and culture either by force or assimilation, and the adaptation of a foreign word to the German language in linguistics, much like the Romanisation of many languages which do not use the Latin alphabet...

     and Anglicisation
    Anglicisation
    Anglicisation, or anglicization , is the process of converting verbal or written elements of any other language into a form that is more comprehensible to an English speaker, or, more generally, of altering something such that it becomes English in form or character.The term most often refers to...

  • Germanic name
    Germanic name
    Germanic given names are traditionally dithematic; that is, they are formed from two elements, by joining a prefix and a suffix. For example, King Æþelred's name was derived from æþel, for "noble", and ræd, for "counsel". Many of these names are still used today, while others have fallen out of use...

  • Germanic placenames
    Germanic placenames
    -Wal/Gal:Many region names in Europe derive from the original Germanic word for stranger or foreigner, rendered as "wal" or "gal" . Germanic w became gu when borrowed into Old French...

  • German name
    German name
    German names consist of one or several Vornamen and a Nachname . The Vorname is usually gender-specific.-Forenames:...

  • German placename etymology
    German placename etymology
    Placenames in the German language area can be classified by the language from which they originate, and by their age.- Suffixes :# -ach, . Examples: Echternach, Salzach....

  • Isogloss
    Isogloss
    An isogloss—also called a heterogloss —is the geographical boundary of a certain linguistic feature, such as the pronunciation of a vowel, the meaning of a word, or use of some syntactic feature...

  • Germanic substrate hypothesis
    Germanic substrate hypothesis
    The Germanic substrate hypothesis is an attempt to explain the distinctive nature of the Germanic languages within the context of the Indo-European language family...


External links


{{Germanic languages}}
{{Germanic philology}}

{{DEFAULTSORT:Germanic Languages}}