The Info List - West Germanic Language

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The West Germanic languages
Germanic languages
constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic family of languages (the others being the North Germanic and the extinct East Germanic languages). The four most prevalent West Germanic languages
Germanic languages
are Afrikaans, English, German, and Dutch. The family also includes other High and Low German
Low German
languages including Yiddish, in addition to other Franconian languages, like Luxembourgish
and Ingvaeonic languages
Ingvaeonic languages
next to English, such as the Frisian languages
Frisian languages
and Scots. Additionally, several creoles, patois, and pidgins are based on Dutch and English as they were languages of colonial empires.


1 History

1.1 Origins 1.2 Existence of a West Germanic proto-language 1.3 The reconstruction of Proto-West-Germanic 1.4 Dating Early West Germanic 1.5 Middle Ages

2 Family tree 3 Comparison of phonological and morphological features 4 Phonology 5 West Germanic vocabulary 6 Notes 7 References 8 Bibliography 9 External links


The Germanic languages
Germanic languages
in Europe: North Germanic languages   Icelandic   Faroese   Norwegian   Swedish   Danish West Germanic languages   Scots   English   Frisian   Dutch   Low German   German Dots indicate areas where multilingualism is common.

Origins[edit] The West Germanic languages
Germanic languages
share many lexemes not existing in North Germanic and/or East Germanic—archaisms as well as common neologisms. Existence of a West Germanic proto-language[edit] Most scholars doubt that there was a Proto-West-Germanic proto-language common to the West Germanic languages
Germanic languages
and no others, though a few maintain that Proto-West-Germanic existed.[2] Most agree that after East Germanic broke off (an event usually dated to the 2nd or 1st century BC), the remaining Germanic languages, the Northwest Germanic languages, divided into four main dialects:[3] North Germanic, and the three groups conventionally called "West Germanic", namely

North Sea
North Sea
Germanic (Ingvaeonic, ancestral to Anglo-Frisian and also Old Saxon) Weser- Rhine
Germanic (Istvaeonic, ancestral to Old Frankish, its successors Low Franconian
Low Franconian
and several dialects of Old High German) Elbe
Germanic (Irminonic, ancestral to several dialects of Old High German, most probably including the extinct Langobardic language).

Although there is quite a bit of knowledge about North Sea
North Sea
Germanic or Anglo-Frisian (due to characteristic features of its daughter languages, Anglo-Saxon/ Old English
Old English
and Old Frisian), linguists know almost nothing about "Weser- Rhine
Germanic" and " Elbe
Germanic". In fact, these two terms were coined in the 1940s to refer to groups of archaeological findings rather than linguistic features. Only later were these terms applied to hypothetical dialectal differences within both regions. Even today, the very small number of Migration Period runic inscriptions from this area—many of them illegible, unclear or consisting only of one word, often a name—is insufficient to identify linguistic features specific to the two supposed dialect groups. Evidence that East Germanic split off before the split between North and West Germanic comes from a number of linguistic innovations common to North and West Germanic,[4] including:

The lowering of Proto-Germanic
ē (/ɛː/, also written ǣ) to ā.[5] The development of umlaut. The rhotacism of /z/ to /r/. The development of the demonstrative pronoun ancestral to English this.

Under this view, the properties that the West Germanic languages
Germanic languages
have in common separate from the North Germanic languages
Germanic languages
are not necessarily inherited from a "Proto-West-Germanic" language, but may have spread by language contact among the Germanic languages
Germanic languages
spoken in central Europe, not reaching those spoken in Scandinavia or reaching them much later. Rhotacism, for example, was largely complete in West Germanic at a time when North Germanic runic inscriptions still clearly distinguished the two phonemes. There is also evidence that the lowering of ē to ā occurred first in West Germanic and spread to North Germanic later, since word-final ē was lowered before it was shortened in West Germanic, whereas in North Germanic the shortening occurred first, resulting in e that later merged with i. However, there are also a number of common archaisms in West Germanic shared by neither Old Norse
Old Norse
nor Gothic. Some authors who support the concept of a West Germanic proto-language claim that not only shared innovations can require the existence of a linguistic clade but that there can be also archaisms that cannot be explained simply as retentions later lost in the North and/or East because this assumption can produce contradictions with attested features of these other branches. The debate on the existence of a Proto-West-Germanic clade was recently summarized:

That North Germanic is .. a unitary subgroup [of Proto-Germanic] is completely obvious, as all of its dialects shared a long series of innovations, some of them very striking. That the same is true of West Germanic has been denied, but I will argue in vol. ii that all the West Germanic languages
Germanic languages
share several highly unusual innovations that virtually force us to posit a West Germanic clade. On the other hand, the internal subgrouping of both North Germanic and West Germanic is very messy, and it seems clear that each of those subfamilies diversified into a network of dialects that remained in contact for a considerable period of time (in some cases right up to the present).[6]

The reconstruction of Proto-West-Germanic[edit] Several scholars have published reconstructions of Proto-West-Germanic morphological paradigms[7] and many authors have reconstructed individual Proto-West-Germanic morphological forms or lexemes. The first comprehensive reconstruction of the Proto-West-Germanic language was published in 2013 by Wolfram Euler.[8] Dating Early West Germanic[edit] If indeed Proto-West-Germanic existed, it must have been between the 3rd and 7th centuries. Until the 3rd century AD, the language of runic inscriptions found in Scandinavia and in Northern Germany
were so similar that Proto-North-Germanic and the Western dialects in the south were still part of one language ("Proto-Northwest-Germanic"). After that, the split into West and North Germanic occurred. It has been argued that, judging by their nearly identical syntax, the West Germanic dialects were closely enough related to have been mutually intelligible up to the 7th century.[9] Over the course of this period, the dialects diverged successively. The High German consonant shift that occurred during the 7th century AD in what is now southern Germany
and Switzerland can be considered the end of the linguistic unity among the West Germanic dialects, although its effects on their own should not be overestimated. Bordering dialects very probably continued to be mutually intelligible even beyond the boundaries of the consonant shift. In fact, many dialects of Limburgish
and Ripuarian are still mutually intelligible today. Middle Ages[edit] During the Early Middle Ages, the West Germanic languages
Germanic languages
were separated by the insular development of Old and Middle English
Middle English
on one hand, and by the High German
High German
consonant shift on the continent on the other. The High German
High German
consonant shift distinguished the High German languages from the other West Germanic languages. By early modern times, the span had extended into considerable differences, ranging from Highest Alemannic in the South (the Walliser dialect being the southernmost surviving German dialect) to Northern Low Saxon in the North. Although both extremes are considered German, they are not mutually intelligible. The southernmost varieties have completed the second sound shift, whereas the northern dialects remained unaffected by the consonant shift. Of modern German varieties, Low German
Low German
is the one that most resembles modern English. The district of Angeln
(or Anglia), from which the name English derives, is in the extreme northern part of Germany between the Danish border and the Baltic coast. The area of the Saxons (parts of today's Schleswig-Holstein
and Lower Saxony) lay south of Anglia. The Anglo-Saxons, two Germanic tribes, were a combination of a number of peoples from northern Germany
and the Jutland
Peninsula. Family tree[edit]

Grouping of the main Germanic languages, including historical dialects, according to Friedrich Maurer.

Main article: List of West Germanic languages Note that divisions between subfamilies of Germanic are rarely precisely defined; most form dialect continua, with adjacent dialects being mutually intelligible and more separated ones not.

North Sea
North Sea
Germanic / Ingvaeonic languages

Anglo-Frisian languages

English Languages/Anglic

English Scots Yola (extinct) Fingalian (extinct)

Frisian languages

West Frisian East Frisian North Frisian

Low German
Low German
/ Low Saxon

Northern Low Saxon Schleswig
dialects Holstein
dialects Westphalian Eastphalia
dialects Brandenburg
dialects ("Märkisch") Pommeranian (moribund) Low Prussian (moribund) Dutch Low Saxon

Germanic / Istvaeonic languages / Netherlandic


West Flemish East Flemish Zeelandic Hollandic Brabantine East Dutch (Zuid-Gelders/Clevian) Limburgian


Germanic / Irminonic languages / High German


Alemannic, including Swiss German
Swiss German
and Alsatian Swabian Austro-Bavarian East Franconian South Franconian Rhine
Franconian, including the dialects of Hessen Ripuarian Thuringian Upper Saxon German Luxembourgish
(in lingusitic terms a Ripuarian dialect) Silesian (moribund) Lombardic aka Langobardic (extinct, unless Cimbrian
and Mocheno
are in fact Langobardic remnants.) High Prussian
High Prussian

(a language based on Eastern-Central dialects of late Middle High German/Early New High German)

Comparison of phonological and morphological features[edit] The following table shows a list of various linguistic features, and their extent among the West Germanic languages. Some may only appear in the older languages but are no longer apparent in the modern languages.

Old English Old Frisian Old Saxon Old Dutch Old Central German Old Upper German

Palatalisation of velars Yes Yes No No No No

Unrounding of front rounded vowels Yes Yes No No No No

Loss of intervocalic *-h- Yes Yes Developing Yes Developing No

Class II weak verb ending *-(ō)ja- Yes Yes Sometimes No No No

Merging of plural forms of verbs Yes Yes Yes No No No

Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law Yes Yes Yes Rare No No

Loss of the reflexive pronoun Yes Yes Most dialects Most dialects No No

Loss of final *-z in single-syllable words Yes Yes Yes Yes No No

Reduction of weak class III to four relics Yes Yes Yes Yes No No

Monophthongization of *ai, *au Yes Yes Yes Usually Partial Partial

Diphthongization of *ē, *ō No No Rare Yes Yes Yes

Final-obstruent devoicing No No No Yes Developing No

Loss of initial *h- before consonant No No No Yes Yes Developing

Loss of initial *w- before consonant No No No No Most dialects Yes

High German
High German
consonant shift No No No No Partial Yes

Phonology[edit] The original vowel system of West Germanic was similar to that of Proto-Germanic; note however the lowering of the two long front vowels.

Monophthong phonemes of West Germanic

Front Central Back

unrounded unrounded rounded

short long short long short long

Close i iː

u uː

Mid e eː

o oː


æ: a aː

The consonant system was also essentially the same as that of Proto-Germanic. Note, however, the particular changes described above, as well as West Germanic gemination. West Germanic vocabulary[edit] The following table compares a number of Frisian, English, Dutch and German words with common West Germanic (or older) origin. The grammatical gender of each term is noted as masculine (m.), feminine (f.), or neuter (n.) where relevant.

West Frisian English Dutch German Old English Old High German Proto-West-Germanic[10] Proto-Germanic

kaam comb kam Kamm m. camb m. camb m. kąbă [see inscription of Erfurt-Frienstedt], *kambă m. *kambaz m.

dei day dag Tag m. dæġ tac m. *dagă m. *dagaz m.

rein rain regen Regen m. reġn regan m. *regnă m. *regnaz m.

wei way weg Weg m. weġ weg m. *wegă m. *wegaz m.

neil nail nagel Nagel m. næġel nagal m. *naglă m. *naglaz m.

tsiis cheese kaas Käse m. ċēse, ċīese chāsi, kāsi m. *kāsī m. *kāsijaz m. (late Proto-Germanic, from Latin cāseus)

tsjerke church kirk (Scotland) kerk Kirche f. ċiriċe chirihha, *kirihha f. *kirikā f.

sibbe sibling[note 1] sibbe Sippe f. sibb f. "kinship, peace" sibba f., Old Saxon: sibbia sibbju, sibbjā f. *sibjō f. "relationship, kinship, friendship"

kaai f. key sleutel Schlüssel m. cǣġ(e), cǣga f. "key, solution, experiment" sluzzil m. *slutilă m., *kēgă f. *slutilaz m. "key"; *kēgaz, *kēguz f. "stake, post, pole"

ha west have been ben geweest bin gewesen

twa skiep two sheep twee schapen zwei Schafe n.

zwei scāf n.

*twai(?) skēpō n.

hawwe have hebben haben habban, hafian habēn *habbjană *habjaną

ús us ons uns ūs uns *uns *uns

brea bread brood Brot n. brēad n. "fragment, bit, morsel, crumb" also "bread" brōt n. *braudă m. *braudą n. "cooked food, leavened bread"

hier hair haar Haar n. hēr, hǣr hār n. *hǣră n. *hērą n.

ear ear oor Ohr n. ēare n. < pre-English *ǣora ōra n. *aura < *auza n. *auzǭ, *ausōn

doar door deur Tür f. duru turi f. *duru *durz

grien green groen grün grēne gruoni *grōnĭ *grōniz

swiet sweet zoet süß swēte s(w)uozi (< *swōti) *swōtŭ *swōtuz

troch through door durch þurh duruh


wiet wet nat nass wǣt naz (< *nat) *wǣtă / *nată *wētaz / *nataz

each eye oog Auge n. ēaġe n. < pre-English *ǣoga ouga n. *auga n. *augō n.

dream dream droom Traum m. drēam m. "joy, pleasure, ecstasy, music, song" troum m. *draumă m. *draumaz (< *draugmaz) m.

stien stone steen Stein m. stān m. stein m.

*stainaz m.

Other words, with a variety of origins:

West Frisian English Dutch German Old English Old High German Proto-West-Germanic[10] Proto-Germanic

tegearre together samen tezamen zusammen

hynder horse paard ros (dated) Pferd n. / Ross n. hors n. eoh m. (h)ros n. / pfarifrit n. / ehu- (in compositions) *hrussă n. / *ehu m. *hrussą n., *ehwaz m.

Note that some of the shown similarities of Frisian and English vis-à-vis Dutch and German are secondary and not due to a closer relationship between them. For example, the plural of the word for "sheep" was originally unchanged in all four languages and still is in some Dutch dialects and a great deal of German dialects. Many other similarities, however, are indeed old inheritances. Notes[edit]

^ Original meaning "relative" has become "brother or sister" in English.


^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "West Germanic". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Robinson (1992): p. 17-18 ^ Kuhn, Hans (1955–56). "Zur Gliederung der germanischen Sprachen". Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur. 86: 1–47.  ^ Robinson, Orrin W. (1992). Old English
Old English
and Its Closest Relatives. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2221-8.  ^ But see Cercignani, Fausto, Indo-European ē in Germanic, in «Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung», 86/1, 1972, pp. 104–110. ^ Ringe, Don. 2006: A Linguistic History of English. Volume I. From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic, Oxford University Press, p. 213-214. ^ H. F. Nielsen (1981, 2001), G. Klingenschmitt (2002) and K.-H. Mottausch (1998, 2011) ^ Wolfram Euler: Das Westgermanische – von der Herausbildung im 3. bis zur Aufgliederung im 7. Jahrhundert — Analyse und Rekonstruktion (West Germanic: From its Emergence in the 3rd Century to its Split in the 7th Century: Analyses and Reconstruction). 244 p., in German with English summary, London/Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-9812110-7-8. ^ Graeme Davis (2006:154) notes "the languages of the Germanic group in the Old period are much closer than has previously been noted. Indeed it would not be inappropriate to regard them as dialects of one language. They are undoubtedly far closer one to another than are the various dialects of modern Chinese, for example. A reasonable modern analogy might be Arabic, where considerable dialectical diversity exists but within the concept of a single Arabic language." In: Davis, Graeme (2006). Comparative Syntax of Old English
Old English
and Old Icelandic: Linguistic, Literary and Historical Implications. Bern: Peter Lang. ISBN 3-03910-270-2.  ^ a b sources: Ringe, Don / Taylor, Ann (2014) and Euler, Wolfram (2013), passim.


Adamus, Marian (1962). On the mutual relations between Nordic and other Germanic dialects. Germanica Wratislavensia 7. 115–158. Bammesberger, Alfred (Ed.) (1991), Old English
Old English
Runes and their Continental Background. Heidelberg: Winter. Bammesberger, Alfred (1996). The Preterite of Germanic Strong Verbs in Classes Fore and Five, in "North-Western European Language
Evolution" 27, 33–43. Bremmer, Rolf H., Jr. (2009). An Introduction to Old Frisian. History, Grammar, Reader, Glossary. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: Benjamins Publishing Company. Euler, Wolfram (2002/03). "Vom Westgermanischen zum Althochdeutschen" (From West Germanic to Old High German), Sprachaufgliederung im Dialektkontinuum, in Klagenfurter Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft, Vol. 28/29, 69–90. Euler, Wolfram (2013) Das Westgermanische – von der Herausbildung im 3. bis zur Aufgliederung im 7. Jahrhundert – Analyse und Rekonstruktion (West Germanic: from its Emergence in the 3rd up until its Dissolution in the 7th Century CE: Analyses and Reconstruction). 244 p., in German with English summary, Verlag Inspiration Un Limited, London/Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-9812110-7-8. Härke, Heinrich (2011). Anglo-Saxon Immigration and Ethnogenesis, in: „Medieval Archaeology” No. 55, 2011, pp. 1–28. Hilsberg, Susan (2009). Place-Names and Settlement History. Aspects of Selected Topographical Elements on the Continent and in England, Magister Theses, Universität Leipzig. Klein, Thomas (2004). "Im Vorfeld des Althochdeutschen und Altsächsischen" (Prior to Old High German
High German
and Old Saxon), in Entstehung des Deutschen. Heidelberg, 241–270. Kortlandt, Frederik (2008). Anglo-Frisian, in „North-Western European Language
Evolution“ 54/55, 265 – 278. Looijenga, Jantina Helena (1997). Runes around the North Sea
North Sea
and on the Continent AD 150–700; Text & Contents. Groningen: SSG Uitgeverij. Friedrich Maurer (1942), Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur germanischen und frühdeutschen Sprachgeschichte, Stammes- und Volkskunde, Strassburg: Hüneburg. Mees, Bernard (2002). The Bergakker inscription and the beginnings of Dutch, in „Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik” 56, 23–26. Mottausch, Karl-Heinz (1998). Die reduplizierenden Verben im Nord- und Westgermanischen: Versuch eines Raum-Zeit-Modells, in "North-Western European Language
Evolution" 33, 43–91. Nielsen, Hans F. (1981). Old English
Old English
and the Continental Germanic languages. A Survey of Morphological and Phonological Interrelations. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft. (2nd edition 1985) Nielsen, Hans Frede. (2000). Ingwäonisch. In Heinrich Beck et al. (eds.), Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (2. Auflage), Band 15, 432–439. Berlin: De Gruyter. Page, Raymond I. (1999). An Introduction to English Runes, 2. edition. Woodbridge: Bogdell Press. Page, Raymond I. (2001). Frisian Runic Inscriptions, in Horst Munske et al., "Handbuch des Friesischen". Tübingen, 523–530. Ringe, Donald R. (2012). Cladistic principles and linguistic reality: the case of West Germanic. In Philomen Probert and Andreas Willi (eds.), Laws and Rules on Indo-European, 33–42. Oxford. Ringe, Donald R. and Taylor, Ann (2014). The Development of Old English – A Linguistic History of English, vol. II, 632p. ISBN 978-0199207848. Oxford. Robinson, Orrin W. (1992). Old English
Old English
and Its Closest Relatives. A Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages. Stanford University Press. Seebold, Elmar (1998). "Die Sprache(n) der Germanen in der Zeit der Völkerwanderung" (The Language(s) of the Germanic Peoples during the Migration Period), in E. Koller & H. Laitenberger, Suevos – Schwaben. Das Königreich der Sueben auf der Iberischen Halbinsel (411–585). Tübingen, 11–20. Seebold, Elmar (2006). "Westgermanische Sprachen" (West Germanic Languages), in Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde 33, 530–536. Stifter, David (2009). "The Proto-Germanic
shift *ā > ō and early Germanic linguistic contacts", in Historische Sprachforschung 122, 268–283. Stiles, Patrick V. (1995). Remarks on the “Anglo-Frisian” thesis, in „Friesische Studien I”. Odense, 177–220. Stiles, Patrick V. (2004). Place-adverbs and the development of Proto-Germanic
long *ē1 in early West Germanic. In Irma Hyvärinen et al. (Hg.), Etymologie, Entlehnungen und Entwicklungen. Mémoires de la Soc. Néophil. de Helsinki 63. Helsinki. 385–396. Stiles, Patrick V. (2013). The Pan-West Germanic Isoglosses and the Subrelationships of West Germanic to Other Branches. In Unity and Diversity in West Germanic, I. Special
issue of NOWELE 66:1 (2013), Nielsen, Hans Frede and Patrick V. Stiles (eds.), 5 ff. Voyles, Joseph B. (1992). Early Germanic Grammar: pre-, proto-, and post-Germanic Language. San Diego: Academic Press

External links[edit]

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Germanic languages
Germanic languages
at Curlie (based on DMOZ)

v t e

Germanic languages
Germanic languages
and dialects

West Germanic

Anglo- Frisian



dialects Yola Fingallian



East Frisian

Saterland Frisian Wangerooge Frisian Wursten Frisian

North Frisian

Söl'ring Fering Öömrang Heligolandic Mooring Halligen Frisian Strand Frisian Eiderstedt Frisian

West Frisian

Clay Frisian Wood Frisian

Low German

East Low German

Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian

Mecklenburgish West Pomeranian

Brandenburgisch East Pomeranian-West Prussian

Western East Pomeranian Eastern East Pomeranian Bublitzisch Pommerellisch

Central Pomeranian

West Central Pomeranian

Low Prussian

Mennonite Low German

West Low German

Dutch Low Saxon

Stellingwarfs Tweants Gronings Drèents Gelders-Overijssels

Achterhooks Sallaans Urkers


Northern Low Saxon

East Frisian Low Saxon Schleswigsch Holsteinisch Hamburgisch Ollnborger North Hanoveranian Dithmarsch Emsländisch

Westphalian Eastphalian

Low Franconian

Standard variants

Dutch Afrikaans

West Low Franconian

Hollandic West Flemish

French Flemish

Zeelandic East Flemish Brabantian Surinamese Dutch Jersey Dutch Mohawk Dutch Stadsfries Bildts Yiddish

East Low Franconian



Southeast Limburgish

South Guelderish


Low Dietsch

High German



Namibian German Namibian Black German Brazilian German Unserdeutsch Barossa German Belgranodeutsch Parana Volga German


Eastern Western Litvish Poylish Ukrainish Galitzish Scots Yiddish Alsatian Yiddish Klezmer-loshn Ganovim Balagole Katsoves Lachoudisch

Yenish Rotwelsch


Central German

West Central German

Central Franconian



Moselle Franconian

Luxembourgish Transylvanian Saxon Hunsrückisch


Lorraine Franconian Palatine

Volga German Pennsylvania German



East Central German

Thuringian Upper Saxon Lusatian-Neumarkish


Silesian High Prussian Wymysorys Pragerisch

High Franconian

South Franconian East Franconian

Main Franconian Vogtlandian

Upper German


Low Alemannic

Alsatian Coloniero

High Alemannic

Swiss German

Highest Alemannic

Walser German



Northern Bavarian Central Bavarian

Viennese German

Southern Bavarian

South Tyrolean Cimbrian Mòcheno Hutterite German


Standard German

German Standard German Austrian Standard German Swiss Standard German

North Germanic

West Scandinavian



Bergensk Kebabnorsk Sognamål Trøndersk Valdris Vestlandsk Vikværsk


Elfdalian Insular Scandinavian

Faroese Icelandic Gronlandsk Norn

East Scandinavian


Åland Estonian Finlandic Gotlandic Jamtlandic Kalix Kiruna Luleå Norrland Ostrobothnian Småländska South Swedish


Stockholm Rinkeby Uppländska Västgötska Westrobothnian


Bornholmsk Gøtudanskt Insular Danish Jutlandic South Jutlandic Perkerdansk


East Germanic


Crimean Gothic

Burgundian Vandalic

Italics indicate extinct languages Bold indicates languages with more than 3 million speakers Languages between parentheses are varieties of the language on their left.

v t e

Philology of Germanic languages


North East West — Elbe Weser-Rhine North Sea

Northwest Gotho-Nordic South


Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic
grammar Germanic parent language

Historical languages


Proto-Norse Old Norse Old Swedish Old Gutnish Norn Greenlandic Norse Old Norwegian Middle Norwegian


Gothic Crimean Gothic Vandalic Burgundian


Old Saxon Middle Low German Old High German Middle High German Frankish Old Dutch Middle Dutch Old Frisian Middle Frisian Old English Middle English Early Scots Middle Scots Lombardic

Modern languages

Afrikaans Alemannic Cimbrian Danish Dutch English Faroese German Icelandic Limburgish Low German Mennonite Low German Luxembourgish North Frisian Norwegian Saterland Frisian Scots Swedish West Frisian Yiddish

Diachronic features

Grimm's law Verner's law Holtzmann's law Sievers' law Kluge's law Germanic substrate hypothesis West Germanic gemination High German
High German
consonant shift Germanic a-mutation Germanic umlaut Germanic spirant law Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law Great Vowel Shift

Synchronic features

Germanic verb Germanic strong verb Germanic weak verb Preterite-present verb Grammatischer Wechsel Indo-European ablaut


English (phonology) Scots (phonology) German Dutch Danish Icelandic Swedish

v t e

History of English

Proto-Indo-European Proto-Germanic Proto-West-Germanic Anglo-Frisian languages Old English Anglo-Norman language Middle English Early Modern English Modern English

Phonological history


Old English


Great Vowel Shift low unrounded vowels low back vowels high back vowels high front vowels diphthongs changes before historic /l/ changes before historic /r/ trisyllabic laxing


rhoticity flapping t-glottalization l-vocalization consonant clusters h-dropping wh th th-fronting ð (eth) þ (thorn) th-stopping

Authority control

GND: 4447499-4 BNF: