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All Germanic languages are derived from Proto-Germanic, spoken in Iron Age Scandinavia. The West Germanic languages include the three most widely spoken Germanic languages: English with around 360–400 million native speakers;  [nb 2] German , with over 100 million native speakers;  and Dutch , with 24 million native speakers.
Heligolandic West Frisian language (spoken in the Netherlands) Clay Frisian (Klaaifrysk) Wood Frisian (Wâldfrysk) Noardhoeks South... Clay Frisian (Klaaifrysk) Wood Frisian (Wâldfrysk) Noardhoeks South Frisian (Súdhoeks) Southwest Frisian (Súdwesthoeksk) Schiermonnikoogs Hindeloopers Aasters Westers ...
Germanic languages, branch of the Indo-European language family. Scholars often divide the Germanic languages into three groups: West Germanic, including English, German, and Netherlandic ( Dutch ); North Germanic, including Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Faroese; and East Germanic, now extinct, comprising only Gothic and the languages of the Vandals, Burgundians, and a few other tribes.
- Which Languages Are Members of The Germanic Family?
- How Many People Speak Germanic Languages?
- Did All Germanic Languages Evolve from German?
- How Similar Are Germanic Languages?
- Which Germanic Language Should I Learn First?
Besides the obvious answer, German, there are at least 47 living Germanic languages around today. Most linguists talk about this language family in terms of three branches: the Northern, Eastern and Western Germanic languages. From these three branches, we can group all the Germanic languages we know today. The Northern Germanic languages (also known as Scandinavian or Nordic languages) include Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and Faroese. This whole branch descended from Old Norse,and still enjoys quite a bit of mutual intelligibility between the languages today. The Western Germanic languages include German, English, Dutch, Frisian, Pennsylvania Dutch, Luxembourgish, Yiddish and Afrikaans, along with a variety of disparate languages that often get lumped together as German or Dutch dialects. Unfortunately, all of the Eastern Germanic languageswent extinct starting in the 4th century, and the last living language of this branch died in the late 18th century.
Around 515 million people speak a Germanic language natively, with English accounting for around 360 million speakers. (The next biggest language of the group is German with approximately 76 million native speakers.) However, if we include the number of second-language speakers, then the number jumps up to around 2 billion speakers (mostly, again, from English).
While quite a few people still believe that all Germanic languages evolved from different German dialects, it would be more accurate to say that they are all linguistic siblings. In this case, German isn’t the parent language, but just another offspring of Proto-Germanic. This is why they seem so similar! So how does this look today? We’ve already spent a whole article delving into the Scandinavianlanguages, but to what degree can we compare the similarities and differences between the Western Germanic languages? Let’s have a closer look at German, Dutch, Afrikaans, and the other living languages from this branch.
Let’s start by taking a look at two of the biggest members of this branch: German and Dutch. I’ve often noticed that German speakers have this surprised, curious facial expression when they see Dutch words written out. That’s because, for German speakers, many words in Dutch look like incorrectly-spelled German words. For example, the German word finden (to find) is spelled vinden in Dutch. Or the German word Antwort (answer) is spelled antwoordin Dutch. Here are a couple other cognates (along with their English equivalents): But what about the other Western Germanic languages? As in all language families, the different languages often share common root words. Here are some prominent examples:
If you’re reading this article right now, the good news is that you already speak a Germanic language: English! Being an English speaker will give you a solid foundation for learning other languages in this family. Now if you’re keen on taking on a few others, where you start depends on your goals. If you want to speak to the greatest number of people, then you should start your journey with German. However, if the idea of tackling one of the most difficult languages to learn makes you worried, try starting with Dutch or Norwegian. They’re two of the easiest languagesfor English speakers to learn, and they’ll give you a great base for picking up additional Germanic languages in the future.
- History of Germanic Languages
- East Germanic Languages
- North Germanic Languages
- Most Popular Germanic Languages Spoken in The World
Linguists believe that all Germanic languages developed from the Proto-Germanic language, which began to develop sound changes during the Iron Age (around 500 BC). These changes moved throughout Europe with the spread of the Germanic tribes. The oldest, decipherable written Germanic language is the now-extinct Gothic language. These Gothic texts date back to the 4th century AD. Today, Germanic languages are divided into 3 branches: East, North, and West.
The East Germanic language branch consists of extinct languages, including: Burgundian, Gothic, and Vandalic. Crimean Gothic survived longer than the other languages and was used for communication until the 18th century.
North Germanic languages are sometimes referred to as the Nordic languages due to their main geographic distribution. These languages are spoken in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands. The following languages are considered North Germanic: Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Faroese, and Elfdalian. A total population of approximately 20 million people speaks these languages.
Of the above mentioned Germanic languages, the most popularly spoken in the world belong to the West Germanic branch and include: English, German, and Dutch.
- Amber Pariona
Thanks for A2A ‘Germanic’ is a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The Proto Indo-European language, considered the parent language of all the Indo-European languages, might have been spoken about 5000–6000 B.C.
- Probably the most obvious of these similarities is their origin. All these dialects evolved from a single root. From that single point, these dialects, through migration, traveled and eventually evolved into distinct versions.
- Verb Conjugation. This is another commonality when it comes to Germanic languages. When it comes to verb conjugation, there is a particular divide when using “weak” and “strong” verbs.
- Grammar. All Germanic languages also share similarities when it comes to their sentence and word structure. They all share the same three elements, which are: the root, the inflection, and the stem-forming suffix.
- Alphabet. While those that belong in the Germanic tribe are mostly illiterate, some of them were able to develop their unique writing system. Each has its distinct style called runic.
All Germanic languages have strong and weak verbs; that is, they form the past tense and past participle either by changing the root vowel in the case of strong verbs (as in English lie, lay, lain or ring, rang, rung; German ringen, rang, gerungen) or by adding as an ending -d (or -t) or -ed in the case of weak verbs (as in English care, cared ...
Germanic Languages ComparisonEnglishGerman (Deutsch)Dutch (Nederlands) Swedish (Svenska) Afrikaans (Afrikaans) Danish (Dansk) Norwegian (Norsk) Yiddish (ייִד...
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