Old English and Its Closest Relatives: A Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages

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Stanford University Press, 1992 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 290 pages
At first glance, there may seem little reason to think of English and German as variant forms of a single language. There are enormous differences between the two in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, and a monolingual speaker of one cannot understand the other at all. Yet modern English and German have many points in common, and if we go back to the earliest texts available in the two languages, the similarities are even more notable.

How do we account for these similarities? The generally accepted explanation is that English and German are divergent continuations of a common ancestor, a Germanic language now lost. This book surveys the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the earliest kown Germanic languages, members of what has traditionally been known as the English family tree: Gothic, Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old English, Old Frisian, Old Low Franconian, and Old High German.

For each language, the author provides a brief history of the people who spoke it, an overview of the important texts in the language, sample passages with full glossary and word-by-word translations, a section on orthography and grammar, and discussion of linguistic or philological topics relevant to all the early Germanic languaes but best exemplified by the particular language under consideration. These topics inclued the pronunciation of older languages; the runic inscriptions; Germanic alliterative pietry; historical syntax, borrowing, analogy, and drift; textual transmission; and dialect variation.


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User Review  - jsburbidge - LibraryThing

This is a handy hook for anyone interested in comparative linguistics or in the deeper roots of the English language. Robinson's coverage goes beyond formal grammar and vocabulary to cover the varying natures of the Germanic family's literatures and surviving early documents. Read full review

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The earliest surviving inscriptions (Manuscripts or Runes) are demonstrative of the close ties of
Old English, Old Norse and of the earliest Germanic Languages,
Skaldic verse was an ancient genre
. The beginning of vernacular manuscripts in the early twelfth
century helped to produce a written language, There is much more...
This is an excellent book because Orrin 'Rob' Robinson gives us the fundamentals to study the
origins of Languages of extreme importance!
Dag Stomberg
St. Andrews, Scotland


English and German I The Comparative Method
Linguistics Archeology and History 13 Dialects
Grammar 28 Further Reading
Gothic Texts 47 Readings 51 Some Aspects
A Brief History of the Norsemen 69 Old Norse
A Brief History of the AngloSaxons 136 Old English
A Brief History of the Frisians 176 Old Frisian
The Tribal Foundations of Old High German 222
Similarities Between Gothic and Old Norse
Similarities Within West Germanic 256 Features
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