Showing posts with label norwegian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label norwegian. Show all posts

27 November 2014

Why is English a Germanic language?

Image: Anglo-Saxon god Þunor (literally,
thunder), from Proto-Germanic,PGmc 
*Þunraz (*thunraz), Þórr in western
Old-Norse, Donar in OHG, cognate to
other Indo-European gods, seeming to be,
essentially the same personage. 

Published, edited, images added & annotations/comments (in red) by Kenneth S. Doig

Map/Karta/Mapa: Northwestern Europe, around the
Northsea. Whence the Scando-Germanic precursors to
the "Anglo-Saxons" (the English & many  eastern
Lowlanders (Scotland: Borders, Midlothian, etc.)
came. The semi-legendary year of the  "Anglo-Saxons'"
main invasion-arrival (Hengist & Horsa, brothers from the
Kimbric peninsula, modernday Denmark's Jutland, in
AD 449. At that time, they would have spoken various
 Common-Germanic dialects (Old-English 'OE', per se,
had yet to come into existence) came.

(websource: The Grammarphobia Blog}

Why is English a Germanic language?

Q: I’ve read that a majority of the words in English are derived from Latin or French? So why is English considered a Germanic (Gmc) language, not a Romance language?
A: Let’s begin with where linguists place English among the world’s languages.
English, Icelandic, Faroese, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Frisian, Flemish, Dutch, Afrikaans, German, and Yiddish are the living languages that are part of the Germanic family.
This family is divided into North-Germanic (NGmc) (Icelandic, Faroese, (or Faeroese), Norwegian, Swedish, Danish) and West-Germanic (WGmc) (English, Frisian, Flemish, Dutch, Afrikaans, German, Yiddish). The now defunct East-Germanic (EGmc) branch consisted of Gothic, which is extinct (also included; Vandalic, Lombardic/Langobardic. I believe that since, primarily, Gothic's very early attestation & equally importantly, scholars, antiquarians & archaeologists don't have the typical attributes/attestations of most ancient languages, in their graphogenesis. 

Many such ancient tongues have given us a scant few words, often scratched on bark, wood, carved in stone or crudely impressed into some malleable medium [claytablets, stylus, cuneiform]. The Gothic bishop, Ulfilas (or Wulfilas) of Thrace, but don't quote me on that, Thrace, a man of apparently mixed parentage, half-Gothic & half-Hellenic. Most of the EGmc may not be a separate branch from "Northwest-Germanic, i.e., NGmc, WGmc & Kimbro-Germanic[a] 

[a.k.a., as per prof. Gudmund Schütte, Univ. Hafniae, in his magnum opusOur Forefathers, the Gothonic Nations by Gudmund Schütte
Vol. 50, No. 2 (Feb., 1935), pp. 106-108 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
states good reasons for not calling Germanic, "Germanic", first of all, it is an exonym, we are virtually positive they never called themselves by this appellation, given them by the 'Graeco-Roman' world. "German", itself, is of uncertain etymology. 

It resembles older Celtic words meaning "neighbor", or from Italic, i.e., from Latin, germanus, meaning brother; literally from the same germ, {womb}. Hence Ibero-Romance, Castilian, Galician, Portuguese, Catalan, etc., with forms like hermano/hermana, Castilian-Spanish brother/sister, Portuguese irmão , etc.
 The following in blueletter is from OED 

Ptolemy. German measles attested by 1856.german (adj.)

"of the same parents or grandparents," c.1300, from Old-French germain "closely related" (12c.), from Latin germanus "full, own (of brothers and sisters); one's own brother; genuine, real," related to germen (genitivegerminis) "sprout, bud," dissimilated from PIE *gen(e)-men-, from root *gene- "to give birth, beget" (see genus). Your cousin-german (also first cousin) is the son or daughter of an uncle or aunt; your children and your first cousin's are second cousins to one another; to you, your first cousin's children are first cousin once removed.
(Main article continues)
The other principal European language family is the Italic (popularly called Romance). This consists of the modern languages derived from Latin: Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Provençal, French, Italian, Rhaeto-Romance and Romanian.
These two families are branches of a single prehistoric language called Indo-European or Proto-Indo-European.
The language-group descended from Indo-European includes the Balto-Slavic, Albanian, Celtic, Italic, Greek, and Germanic families of languages.
It’s estimated that about half the earth’s population speaks a language from the Indo-European group, which is only one of several language groups that have been identified worldwide.
But back to English. Why do we call it a Germanic language?
As Calvert Watkins writes in The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, one of the dialects of Indo-European “became prehistoric Common-Germanic, which subdivided into dialects of which one was West-Germanic.”
This in turn, Watkins says, “broke up into further dialects, one of which emerged into documentary attestation as Old English. From Old English we can follow the development of the language directly, in texts, down to the present day.”
But while English is Germanic, it has acquired much of its vocabulary from other sources, notably Latin and French.
As Watkins explains: “Although English is a member of the Germanic branch of Indo-European and retains much of the basic structure of its origin, it has an exceptionally mixed lexicon. 

During the 1400 years of its documented history, it has borrowed extensively and systematically from its Germanic and Romance neighbors and from Latin and Greek, as well as more sporadically from other languages.”
Where exactly does our modern vocabulary come from? The website AskOxford cites a computerized analysis of the roughly 80,000 words in the old third edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

The study, published in 1973, offered this breakdown of sources: Latin, 28.34 percent; French, 28.3 percent; Old and Middle English, Old Norse, and Dutch, 25 percent; Greek 5.32 percent; no etymology given, 4.03 percent; derived from proper names, 3.28 percent; all other languages, less than 1 percent.

29 August 2014

Linguist makes sensational claim: English is a Scandinavian language

save image
Visual-definition of "north-germanic", created by me, using Snappy Words "Free Visual Dictionary"

Published, edited, annotations/commentary (in red) by Kenneth S. Doig

Linguist makes sensational claim: English is a Scandinavian language

November 27, 2012 (websource)
University of Oslo(University of Oslo. "Linguist makes sensational claim: English is a Scandinavian language." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2012. <>.)
"Have you considered how easy it is for us Norwegians to learn English?" asks Jan Terje Faarlund, professor of linguistics at the University of Oslo. "Obviously there are many English words that resemble ours. 

25 January 2014

Alternative Historical Linguistics : a new look at relatedness among Gmc tribes : are the Dutch [genetically] a non-Germanic people?

Published, edited & annotations (in red) by Kenneth S. Doig
The Ancient Teutons remained near the urheimat though considerably expanded their territory. Nowadays there are almost ten Germanic languages divided into three groups. Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese belong to the northern group. English, German, Dutch and Frisian compose the West-Gmc

23 October 2011


PUBLISHED & ANNOTATED BY KENNETH S. DOIG (all my annotations are in this color)

Scandinavian languages, also called North Germanic (NGmc) languages, group of Germanic languages consisting of modern standard Danish, Swedish, Norwegian (Dano-Norwegian [bokmål] and New Norwegian [nynorsk]), Icelandic, and Faroese. These languages are usually divided into East Scandinavian (Danish and Swedish) and West Scandinavian (Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese) groups.

c. 600 f.Cr
 (Today, this East-West classification has little meaning. I would reclassify & rename, to  "Insular-Scandinavian", "IS", & the other group, Continental-Scandinavian, "CS". The first group containing Icelandic & Faroese, the latter, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish & all dialects. The difference is simple, IS is still Old-Norse, especially Icelandic, highly inflected & synthetic marking nouns, pronouns, adjectives, determiners, articles, etc., for grammatical gender [masc, fem & neut], number, case [nom, acc, dat, gen].

Also retaining much or all of verbal inflection,tense, mood, voice, person, number, aspect & conjugation, whereas all the major spoken CS tongues inflect for tense but have lost all personal/number conjugation. One stills sees relics of conjugation & the subjunctive in Biblical verse, set phrases, poetry, etc. Example, the verb to be in Norwegian (bokmål).

25 August 2011

Norwegian (norsk/bokmål)

Published by Kenneth S. Doig

I speak fluent Swedish which is literally the same language as eastern Norwegian or bokmål. (note Norw and every European language I know of does not capitalize languages, since bokmål is a Norw word, that is how I write it. You could take a six-year-old from West-Central Sweden and drop it off in Oslo and it (that;s right "it", "child" is a neuter noun) would understand most Norwegian and within a few days could communicate easily. Below is a very basic summary of Norwegian. K.Doig
Liten fiskeby, Nord-Norge/Little fishing-village, North-

Norwegian (Norsk)

19 July 2011


Published by Kenneth S. Doig

History of Old Scandinavian

About 125 inscriptions dated from ad 200 to 600, carved in the older runic alphabet (futhark), are chronologically and linguistically the oldest evidence of any Germanic language. Most are from Scandinavia, but enough have been found in southeastern Europe to suggest that the use of runes was also familiar to other Germanic tribes. Most inscriptions are brief, marking ownership or manufacture, as on the Gallehus Horns (Denmark; c. ad 400): Ek Hlewagastiz Holtijaz horna tawido ‘I, Hlewagastiz, son of Holti, made [this] horn.’ A number of inscriptions are memorials to the dead, while others are magical in content. The earliest were carved on loose wooden or metal objects, while later ones were also chiseled in stone. Further information about the language is derived from names and loanwords in foreign texts, from place-names, and from comparative reconstruction based on related languages and later dialects.
The inscriptions retain the unstressed vowels that were descended from Germanic and Indo-European but were lost in the later Germanic languages—e.g., the i’s in Hlewagastiz and tawido (Old Norse would have been *Hlégestr and *táða) or the a’s in Hlewagastiz, Holtijaz, and horna (Old Norse *Høltir, horn). The scantiness of the material (fewer than 300 words) makes it impossible to be sure of the relationship of this language to Germanic and its daughter languages. It is known as Proto-Scandinavian, or Ancient Scandinavian, but shows few distinctively North Germanic features. The earliest inscriptions may reflect a stage, sometimes called Northwest Germanic, prior to the splitting of North and West Germanic (but after the separation of Gothic). Only after the departure of the Angles and Jutes for England and the establishment of the Eider River in southern Jutland as a border between Scandinavians and Germans is it reasonable to speak of a clearly Scandinavian or North Germanic dialect.

The emergence of Old Scandinavian, 600–1500

Inscriptions from the latter part of the Ancient period show North Germanic as a distinct dialect.

Differences between Norwegian Bokmål and Standard Danish

Published by Kenneth S. Doig

Danish and Norwegian Bokmål (the most common standard form of written Norwegian) are very similar languages, but differences between them do exist. The languages are mutually intelligible, with the primary differences being in pronunciation and in the sound system as a whole.

Mutual intelligibility

Generally, speakers of the three largest Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) can read each other's languages without great difficulty. This holds especially true of Danish and Norwegian. The primary obstacles to mutual comprehension are differences in pronunciation. Danish speakers generally do not understand Norwegian as well as the extremely similar written norms would lead one to expect. Some Norwegians also have problems understanding Danish, but according to a recent scientific investigation Norwegians are better at understanding both Danish and Swedish than Danes and Swedes are at understanding Norwegian. Nonetheless, Danish is widely reported to be the most incomprehensible language of the three.
In general, Danes and Norwegians will fluently understand the other language with only a little training.


In the Kingdom of Denmark–Norway (1536–1814), the official language was Danish. The urban Norwegian upper class spoke Dano-Norwegian, a form of Danish with Norwegian pronunciation and other minor local differences. After the two countries separated, Danish remained the official language of Norway, and remained largely unchanged until language reforms in the early 20th century led to the standardization of forms more similar to the Norwegian urban and rural vernaculars. Since 1929, this written standard has been known as Bokmål. Later attempts to bring it closer to and eventually merge it with the other Norwegian written standard, Nynorsk, constructed on the basis of Norwegian dialects, have failed due to widespread resistance. Instead, the most recent reforms of Bokmål (2005) have included certain Danish-like constructions that had previously been banned.

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