Class 1, Question 2

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Class 1, Question 2

Post  Marc on Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:29 am

Provide as comprehensive a description as possible of the characteristics of Proto-Germanic (sounds,grammar, words, etc) and explain which characteristics we can still see in modern English.


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Re: Class 1, Question 2

Post  Sandie on Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:23 am

• The Proto Germanic language family is recognized by linguists as an offshoot from a still earlier language system which compromises the ‘’Indo-European’’ group of languages
• The Proto was added to say that the language was reconstructed by specialists
• The Proto-Germanic is said to be the hypothetical Grundsprache (common language from which others sprang from of English
• The speakers of the earliest form of a distinct Germanic branch of Indo-European appear to have inhabited an area covering parts of what are now Denmark and southern Sweden.
• The family was divided in three sub-categories: North, East and West Germanic.
• This division occurred because of where the people who spoke these languages were situated
• These Germanic dialects came to be known as Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian (from North Germanic)), the no longer extant Gothic
• The sounds and pronunciation in Proto-Germanic work differently from Indo-European and it is what made the former a distinct language from the latter
• Some differences: First consonant shift and Grimm’s law (change in function of manner of articulation)
• Another characteristic: word stress
• Use of grammar: related to verb use and forms. The language had only two different forms to make distinctions of tenses normally referred to as ‘present’ and ‘past’ tense forms. (some writers use preterit instead of past)
• In addition to these tense forms, others tenses had to be indicated by the use of another verb (such as have)
• The present and the past verb forms may have had more than one meaning.
• Moreover, adjectives also had a great importance in Proto-Germanic grammar.
• The great majority of adjectives in Germanic may occur in two different forms depending on the grammar of the sentence in which they appear (as most frequently, by the attachment to it also of a word such as ‘this’ or ‘my’ to specify a particular instance of whatever is the noun signifies), the adjective will appear in one of the forms. In other situations, the other form of the adjective will be used. Some linguists refer to the first type as weak adjectives whereas they refer to the second types as strong.
• In addition to sounds, verbs, and adjectives, Proto-Germanic also had their own features concerning words. It is said that Indo-European and Proto-Germanic shared many similar words in their separate lexicons.
• For example ‘mother’ and ‘father’ were borrowed from Indo-European
• However, Proto-Germanic also either borrowed words from other non indo-European tribes or created their own innovations with pre-existing words in their lexicon. For example, words such as ‘black’ and ‘womb’.

Mugglestone, L. The Oxford History of English
Morris, L. It’s a Long Story
Fennell, B.A. A History of English


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