Germanic languages

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Summary

The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of nearly 600 million people mainly in North America, Oceania, Western and Northern Europe.

Details

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 middle-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe. Proto-Germanic, along with all of its descendants, is characterized by a number of unique linguistic features, most famously the consonant change known as Grimm's law. Early varieties of Germanic enter history with the Germanic tribes moving south from northern Europe in the 2nd century BC, to settle in north-central Europe.

The most widely spoken Germanic languages are English and German, with approximately 400–500 million native English speakers and over 100 million native German speakers. They belong to the West Germanic family. The West Germanic group also includes other major languages, such as Dutch with 23 million, Low Saxon with approximately 5 million speakers in Germany and 1.7 million in the Netherlands, and Afrikaans with over 7.2 million native speakers. The North Germanic languages include Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese, which have a combined total of about 20 million speakers.Holmberg, Anders and Christer Platzack (2005). "The Scandinavian languages". In The Comparative Syntax Handbook, eds Guglielmo Cinque and Richard S. Kayne. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Excerpt at Durham UniversityCopyright: Attribute—Share Alike

External Links

  • WikipediaGermanic Lexicon Project'Hover & Hear' pronunciationsBibliographie der Schreibsprachen: Bibliography of medieval written forms of High and Low German and Dutch

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