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Tuesday, October 19th, 2004, 11:19 PM
An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Role of Uralic Hunters and Gatherers in the Ethnohistory of the Early Germanic Area.

By Norbert Strade

Many theories about the prehistory of the Germanic area and its linguistic roots have been presented over the years. A theory in this field faces the problem of connecting the linguistic record with the archaeological findings. Until recently, the linguistic reconstructions and time estimates could only be brought into line with the archaeological cultures and their chronology by adapting one to the other. This has lead to a practice of letting the disciplines follow each other in a circular argumentation. During the latest decade (for historical linguistics) and a couple of decades (for archaeology), new views have emerged which for the first time make it possible to construct a picture in which a coordination of both disciplines can be based on their own internal results.

Beginning with the school of "New Archaeology" the view of the different cultural sequences as results of immigrations has changed - today the main emphasis lies on internal development, borrowing and diffusion. Simultaneously the viewpoint of historical linguistics has changed, too. Theories of language shift by immigration, which had been based solely on changing archeological cultures, are discarded, while processes of creolisation, together with substratum and adstratum influences, are playing a more prominent role. This paper deals with a new scenario for the ethnohistory of the Germanic area, based on these new archaeological and linguistic approaches.

An archaeological overview

With the exception of the southern parts of the area (the Elbe river valley and south of it), remains of ice age paleolithic cultures are rare, even though there are signs of human activity during the latest interglacial period in Denmark (some Clactonien tools from Jutland). Sites dating from earlier than the latest ice age would usually have been destroyed by the returning ice shield. The sequence of cultures in southernmost Scandinavia starts with the

**paleolithic Hamburg culture around 12.000 BCE (all dates are given in calibrated C-14), known from a few sites in Jutland. Its areastretches from the northern Netherlands to Denmark.

**It is followed by Bromme (9.700 - 9.000 BCE) in Denmark, southern Sweden and northern Germany, and Ahrensburg (9.000-8.300 BCE), which is sparsely documented in Denmark, but stretches from western Poland to Belgium.

**Maglemose (ca. 7.500 - ca. 6.000 BCE) is the first mesolithic culture in the area. It covers a large part of northern Europe, from England to northern Poland, including southern Sweden. **Kongemose (ca. 6.000 - 5200 BCE) is only found from Denmark up to central Halland in western Sweden. The hunter-and-gatherer phase ends with Ertebølle (5.200 - 4.200 BCE) found from northern Germany to Halland. **Ertebølle is followed by the neolithic Funnel Beaker culture which lasts until 2.800 BCE.

**Two cultures in Norway have to be mentioned here: Fosna and Komsa. Fosna (the few datable sites are from 7.800 - 6.200 BCE) stretches from southwestern Norway to the adjacent parts of the Swedish west coast. It is a mesolithic culture, found both on the coast and in the mountain areas, which subsistence probably was based on hunting and fishing, and especially at the mountain sites, reindeer hunting.
- **The mesolithic Komsa culture from northern Norway (ca. 8.000 BCE or older - 2.500 BCE) is a complex of phases with rather different properties.

These two cultures cannot be connected directly with the more southern ones, though Komsa has often been regarded as the result of an eastern immigration, but it has been connected with Fosna, too. It might well be a mixture of influences from both directions, since its area could be reached by both a western and an eastern immigration route. (Nuñez 1987, 1995).

The aforementioned southern Scandinavian cultures mark the change of postglacial environment from tundra to dense forest conditions with a climate warmer than at present. They show different types of adaptations to different environments: from a subsistence as reindeer hunters on the tundra, via a period with large game hunting and annual migrations between different sites - not unlike the subsistence system in northern Eurasia before the introduction of reindeer herding - to the Ertebølle type with a more sedentary way of life and seafood as a resource of growing importance. From the Kongemose period a common mesolithic cultural area existed in southern Scandinavia.

So far there is little information about the relationships between these cultures. The South Scandinavian sequence consists of clearly different sets, with different tool types and different artistic expressions. Pottery, is only found in the latest mesolithic culture, Ertebølle.

On the other hand there are no signs of large-style immigrations which could have replaced earlier cultures at each stage, and from Kongemose to Ertebølle (via the special phases Vedbæk (late Kongemose) and Norslund (early Ertebølle) there seems to have been continuation. Therefore it is quite possible that the different archeological cultures are visible signs of the adaptation of a genetically constant population to changing environments, with Fosna in Norway as a partly continuation of an earlier subsistence economy, due to the more northerly and cooler environment.

Different scenarios have been given for the introduction of agriculture/animal husbandry. For almost 1.000 years the Ertebølle culture coexisted with neighbouring agriculturalists (of the Linear Band Ware culture) in Central Germany - with only little influx of borrowed items/technologies. About 4.200 - 4.000 BCE Ertebølle disappears and is replaced by the neolithic Funnel Beaker culture. The Funnel Beaker area covers large parts of northern and central Europe, developing different types. Some of them might be slightly older than the Scandinavian version.

Before the standstill south of the Ertebølle area the neolithic´Linear Band Ware culture is assumed to have advanced northward with a "speed" of 1 km per 10 years. This fits well with known advance speeds by slash-and-burn techniques and indicates therefore a step-by-step expansion of agriculturalist people(s). The transition situation in South Scandinavia is different. While earlier theories explained the change with an immigration of agriculturalists from the south, another scenario, too, has been proposed for several decades - a gradual cultural change from hunting and gathering to the neolithic way of life.

This scenario has only become more likely with time, since more and more indications are emerging for it. First of all, there are no signs of immigrations (like different anthropological types). These types would of course be difficult to detect as long as there is so little material for the bioanthropologists to analyze. Several other traits speak indirectly for a gradual change. First of all, the more sedentary lifestyle during the Ertebølle period with a probably increasing population suggests that there might have existed some so far undocumented types of food supply.

(Andersen 1970). Pollen analysis shows a marked regression of elm and ash beginning during Ertebølle, a feature that has been explained by cutting of leaves in order to feed domesticated animals. One of the problems connected with this is that there is no proof of domesticated animals on Ertebølle sites. (Troels-Smith 1967). Outside Scandinavia, in the Netherlands, there are simultaneous sites like Swifterband with mixed cultural indications and bones of domesticated animals. Some Ertebølle innovations show that especially the westernmost Ertebølle groups had contacts with most of northwestern Europe over a long time (Andersen 1970 p. 37).

On the other side of the transition profile there are several sites like e.g. Muldbjerg on Sealand, for a long time treated as Ertebølle, but later defined as Funnel Beaker. Muldbjerg is especially interesting because it is a hunting site with no signs of agriculture. This shows that hunting continued to be an important subsistence form even after the introduction of agriculture. (C.J. Becker 1970, 11-12).

Already back in 1970, S.H.Andersen described the situation as follows: "New archaeological-typological research indicates therefore that the various differences between older and younger stone age in a much higher degree than assumed earlier, are resultsof long-term, stable and successive developments inside the mesolithic cultures, caused by ecological and demographical pressure and stimulated by technological-economical influences from more southern, neolithic cultures" (Andersen 1970, 27; my translation).

In southern Sweden the transition happens around 4.000 BCE, and the total Scandinavian Funnel Beaker area stretches from Denmark up to the Mälar area in Sweden and to southern Norway. An interesting feature is the lack of domesticated animals at Swedish neolithic sites for a period of about 500 years (oldest findings are from 3.500 BCE). This seems to indicate that the neolithic economy was introduced gradually and started with grain production as an additional food source, while the source of animal protein continued to be hunted game.

In the inland of southwestern Sweden and southern Norway there is a long period of stability with a continuation of mesolithic subsistence contemporary with neolithic sites in the costal areas. The above mentioned 1.000 years delay in the expansion of the Neolithic at the southern border of the Ertebølle area has a parallel in the later Swedish scenario.

There is a delay of several thousand years before agriculture spreads to the area north of the so-called "Limes Norrlandicus", a natural (ecological) and cultural border in Central Sweden; the much later expansion happens first during Bronze Age, first of all along the coast and then moving inland through the river valleys. The picture in Norway is similar. This delay might be due to the fact that subsistence by neolithic forms of grain production alone is impossible in the northern areas, combined with a lack of necessity, as long as the basis for hunting is stable.

The interaction between agriculture and hunting and gathering in southern Scandinavia doesn't come to a stop with the mentioned transitions. During the Funnel Beaker period a new archaeological cultural complex emerges in the whole South Scandinavia - Baltic area, the so-called Pitted Ware culture. Its sites are situated in coastal areas and show a subsistence based on fishing, hunting andsmall-scale animal husbandry, but first of all on seal hunting - much like the historical Sea-Sami economy. In Denmark the earliest sites are so far dated to the Middle Neolithic (late Funnel Beaker), while some Swedish sites now can be dated to the Early Neolithic (early Funnel Beaker).

Different explanations have been given for the Pitted Ware culture and its relationship with its surroundings. One can see this culture, too, as the result of an adaptation to a special resource situation by the same people who were the bearers of the Funnel Beaker culture (especially seen on the background of the specialized hunting-related Funnel Beaker subsistence forms). The Swedish time frame makes it possible that the Pitted Ware culture might be a direct continuation of Ertebølle parallel with the development of Funnel Beaker. Yet another way to look at the Pitted Ware culture could be to compare it with similar-looking inventories in a large area stretching all the way to the Urals.

The different eastern forms of pitted ware are generally regarded as the earliest definable representations of Uralic-speaking people. Danish archaeologists use to regard both the changes inside the Funnel Beaker culture and the emergence of the Pitted Ware seal hunting culture, as well as the subsistence change to pastoralism during the following period, as results of a climatic change to a cooler environment. This would have affected the early neolithic agriculture as well as the hunting practices - especially the latter might have changed because the cooling brought an increase in seal populations everywhere in the Baltic region and made a subsistence based on this possible. (Nielsen 1981, 111 - 13 ).

From about 2.800 BCE a new archaeological culture is found in Denmark, the so-called Single Grave/Battle Axe culture, with a western and an eastern subtype. It is connected with related cultures, summarized as "Corded Ware", in a large area from Western Europe to Russia. Its Danish sites lie mostly on rather bad soils previously unused by the Funnel Beaker farmers, and pastoralism seems to play the main role, together with a shift from wheat to barley as the main grain sort.

Barley needs a larger agricultural area than wheat for the production of the same amount of grain, and it is supposed that the change to barley, combined with pastoralism finally ended the formerly strong position of hunting in the agricultural societies. (Nielsen 1981). The Battle Axe culture coexisted possibly for some time with Funnel Beaker, but the indications are unclear and this question has not been solved yet. Some 400 years later, about 2.400 BCE, the so-called Late Neolithic culture, which might be the result of a merger of all the mentioned groups, covers the area. The Late Neolithic culture develops gradually into Bronze Age, so cultural continuation is likely all the way through Iron Age.

The main question is, as with the earlier transitions, if the Battle Axe culture in southern Scandinavia was the result of an immigration/invasion or a local adaptation using techniques borrowed from neighbouring groups. Earlier standard theories connected the spread of the Battle Axe culture with the spread of an Indo-Europeanpeople and thus with the expansion of the IE language. If the explanation of Battle Axe as an internal development in a large interacting area due to climatic change is correct, then there is no need for an IE migration, nor is there any need to place the introduction of the IE language during this phase, since most of the Corded Ware area might already have been speaking IE dialects for a long time at this point.

A linguistic scenario

Earlier prehistorical paradigms used to consider every single change of an archaeological culture as a result of immigration of a new ethnic/linguistic group. (For a discussion of this method see Strade 1993). New Archaeology, on the other hand, has generally avoided to make statements about ethnicity. The truth might lie somewhere in between, and other disciplines, like linguistics and genetics, might shed some light on the questions concerned. Historical linguistics has for a long time followed archaeology with its immigration theories, by which the whole field ended up in circular argumentation of the type: Archaeology says there is an immigration, therefore there has been a language change. The language changed, so people must have immigrated to the area.

Returning to the question of prehistoric ethnicity in southern Scandinavia, what can be said about it from the viewpoint of historical linguistics? It is important to take the present day situation into account. With the exception of recent immigrations, only two language families have been present in Northern Europe during historical (and thus documented) times: Indo-European and Uralic.

The Uralic languages in the area consist of only one branch with two marked sub-branches, Sami-Finnic with the Sami languages on one side and the Baltic Finnic languages on the other. The branches of Indo-European in the area are Germanic, Baltic and Slavic. The Slavic sub-branch only reached its northernmost extension during historical times by pushing back/assimilating the native Uralic population of northern Russia. A similar process happend on the Scandinavian peninsula, where Germanic language and culture pushed back/assimilated the Sami element during its northward spread. (Sammallahti 1995, Strade 1995).

Before attempting to reconstruct the ethnic situation during prehistorical periods, the documentable situation at the onset of history should be summed up. The crucial element in this context is the situation during Viking Age, together with findings from earlier times which might show continuation into Viking Age. It has to be noted that earlier theories (still held by some archaeologists) consider the South Sami to be late immigrants to their present-day area and the Viking or Iron Age hunter-and-gatherer sites in the same area to be ethnically undefinable ("hunting people") or even "Germanic".

In the light of the latest archaeological, linguistic and anthropological research dealing with the earliest documented borderline between Sami and Germanic in southern Scandinavia, the following picture can be outlined: Linguistically there are no signs of a late immigration into the present South Sami area. On the opposite, the place of the South Sami language in the Sami dialectal chain and the occurence of spectacular archaisms in this language place South Sami safely in its end of the dialect area. (Strade 1997, in print).

Toponymic research, too, confirms Sami presence in Central Scandinavia at least back to Iron Age, using datable loans from Proto-Scandinavian (Bergsland 1964, 1990; Dahlstedt 1967). In a different approach, Leiv Olsen has shown that most names including the element "-finn-" in southern Norway point at Sami presence in that area during the same period. (L. Olsen 1995). Historical sources(local laws from early Middle Ages, and some sagas, originating from Viking Age) mention Sami in the whole area down to the vicinity of Oslo.

Archaeological research has stated Sami graves and dwelling sites from Late Viking Age - Early Middle Age in Härjedalen, and single finds of Sami character in Dalarna. (Zachrisson 1997).

All in all, the theory of a late Sami immigration to the South Sami areas can't be defended any longer. All the data point at Sami continuity at least back to Iron Age in all of Norway and for Sweden in the area north of the Limes Norrlandicus. Since there are no indications for an even earlier Sami immigration, it is most likely that there has existed a Sami (and before definitely Sami, Uralic) hunting and gathering culture all the way back to the first peopling of the area. The Proto-Sami linguistic area might possibly have been split into a western and an eastern subgroup for some time, only to be reunified later - but this doesn't speak against a Uralic hunter- and-gatherer cultural continuity. (Sammallahti 1997).

The prehistoric Sami area has been even larger than today, with the Sami-Germanic border moving north as the assimilation of the Sami into the Scandinavian culture continued. A similar scenario has been constructed for Finland and the eastern Baltic area, with the important difference that the Proto-Sami in Finland were only assimilated culturally (changed their subsistence economy to agriculture), while they retained the core of their Uralic language (thus becoming the modern Baltic Finnic group) (Sammallahti 1989; Strade 1992).

For the area south of the mentioned line the following can be said: Most indo-europeanists agree that the Germanic sub-branch of Indo-European shows many features which could best be explained with a substratum. Various candidates for a substratum have been proposed over the years, but recently a new one has been introduced: Uralic. In contrast to earlier substratum theories, this one is based on a complex system of regular sound changes, and it is also possible to coordinate it with certain archaeological phases. (Strade 1995, Wiik 1995).

According to this theory, the Germanic sub-branch is the result of the spread of Proto-Indo-European across an area with Proto-Uralic or a language closely related with it. In order to explain the heavy substratum influence one must assume that this change was the result rather of an internal language shift in an existing population than of the expansion of speakers of Indo-European. If the theory of Uralic continuity in Northern Scandinavia is correct this might imply that there was only one language shift in the whole area. The question is: What archaeological transition, if any, can be connected with this?

First, the time frames of the language families concerned have to be compared. Proto-Uralic is generally assumed to have split up into sub-branches around 4.000 BCE, and the western group (Finno-Ugrian), which is important in this context, not later than about 3.000 BCE.

On the Indo-European side there is still no full agreement about the time when Proto-Indo-European finally split up. Some, like Renfrew, place the date much earlier than traditionally assumed, but it mightbe safe to place the split not later than 3.000 BCE, at least in central and northern Europe. (Renfrew 1987).The earliest documented Germanic dates back to the first centuries CE, and it is difficult to estimate by internal reconstruction how long it took for the Germanic branch to separate from IE.

Fortunately Baltic Finnic shows some traits that make it possible to set an upper time limit for this development: As L. Posti described, the Finnic sound system is the result of strong Baltic and especially Germanic influence on the Proto-Finnic(/Sami) inventory (Posti 1954). The influence on Finnic by a definitely Germanic sound system has to be dated to the time before 500 BCE, with the start phase of the influence probably as long ago as 1.500 BCE. This fits archaeologically with the western Finnish Bronze Age culture, which indicates Germanic presence and/or strong influence in the area.

During this period we have to count with a fully developed Germanic system. It might be difficult to make any statements about the time frame of the changes which lead to the development of this system out of Proto-Indo-European. The Scandinavian Bronze Age culture, beginning around 1.800 BCE in its core area, was definitely Germanic. Since there is continuity from Scandinavian Bronze Age at least back to the Late Neolithic culture, it can be assumed that a separate Germanic culture and language has existed as early as 2.400 BCE.

Recently J. Koivulehto presented a strong case of a whole new set of Uralic etymologies with IE parallels, centred around Baltic Finnic, which show that there had been language contact between the North European Uralic language area and speakers of Indo-European much earlier. These etymologies include convincing material (probably not common heritage but loanwords; my comment) with Uralic representations of different Indo-European laryngeals (Koivulehto 1991). This means that the contact must have happened during the earliest reconstructable phase of Indo-European, before its split into sub-branches. On the other hand, some of the old etymologies also show Germanic traits, so that the IE language during the later part of the contact period might be called "Pre-Germanic IE".

While the influence by Germanic on Baltic Finnic during Bronze Age shows that Germanic was a fully developed branch at that time, the earlier contacts give the lower limit in the relative sequence for the development of this branch. The most likely scenario for the early loans is a long phase of neighbourhood with close contacts between the IE and Uralic groups.

One candidate for the early IE loans in Finnic is Proto-Baltic, which is assumed to have spread for some time to western Finland during the Battle Axe phase, but the loans of Pre-Germanic character are unlikely to result from a direct contact in Finland. It is more likely that they originated at the southwestern rim of the Uralic area where Uralic neighboured to the area that later would give rise to the Germanic language. With this we are back at the archaeological context in South Scandinavia. If the Uralic - IE contacts in this area are older than the specifically Germanic sub-branch, how old are they, and where exactly did they happen?

The theory of a Uralic substratum in Germanic finds the reason for the language change from the Uralic substratum language to IE in the transition from a hunter-and-gatherer economy to an agricultural/animal husbandry subsistence (Nuñez 1987; Sammallahti 1989; Strade 1992 ). This view is consistent with the development in historical times, during which the agricultural economy continuously expanded into the area of Uralic hunters and gatherers (Sami), simultaneously inducing language change to Germanic. As a result, the originally Sami population was assimilated or retreated (probably a combination of both). It is only logical to extrapolate this development back in time and to base our view of the introduction of agriculture to the area south of the Limes Norrlandicus on a similar scenario.

This means that the transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic, or from Ertebølle to Funnel Beaker culture was the turning point for the language change in southern Scandinavia and for the emergence of the Germanic sub-branch on a Uralic substratum. As mentioned earlier, the economical change seems to have happened gradually over a very long time, beginning during the mesolithic phase and continuing well into the neolithic.

I'd like to propose the following set of phases:

Phase I - Coexistence: Agriculture extends to the southern rim of the Ertebølle area and the diffusion of some agricultural techniques begins. The language of the agricultural area (Linear Band Ware) is Proto-IE. The Ertebølle area population speaks Proto-Uralic or a closely related language. Time frame: about 5.000 - 4.000 BCE. During this period the earliest loan contacts between the two languages/language families happen.

Phase II - Change of subsistence economy: The people in the Ertebølle area switch to agriculture/animal husbandry as the main subsistence. Contacts with the agricultural area become very close, possibly including immigration of small groups of agriculturalists. Agriculture spreads to the Limes Norrlandicus, and the resulting material culture is of the Funnel Beaker type. The IE language of the agriculturalists achieves high-status and is dominating. Time frame for the beginning of the agricultural period 4.200 - 4.000 BCE.

Phase III - Language coexistence in the same area / bilingualism - A long phase of linguistic coexistence and bilingualism is necessary in order to explain the strong substratum influence on IE by Uralic. It is difficult to give a time estimate - I propose a period of about 1.000 years. At the end of this period the Uralic substratum language has disappeared and the IE language has developed into Early Proto-Germanic. Time frame about 4.000 - 3.000 BCE. The Pre-Germanic loans happen during this period.

Phase IV - Stabilization of the Germanic linguistic and cultural area - Begins with the start of the Middle Neolithic period (Middle Neolithic Funnel Beaker) and continues with the emergence of the Single Grave/Battle Axe culture (Corded Ware). It ends with the Late Neolithic culture. Time frame: 2.800 - 1.800 BCE. - By the end of this period Proto-Germanic is fully developed.

Phase V - Germanic expansion - During Bronze Age, the Germanic area begins to expand north and east (to the south only much later, during Iron Age). Time frame 1.800 - 500 BCE. - Strong Germanic influence on Proto-Sami-Finnic, which results in the emergence of Baltic Finnic as a separate group. The expansion of Germanic leads to the development of sub-branches like Proto-Scandinavian and Proto-East Germanic.

A remaining problem

Finally, one feature has to be mentioned which seems to contradict the Uralic substratum theory. Among the clearest signs of a non-IE influence is the large amount of apparently non-IE words in Germanic. They have been estimated at about 30% of the Germanic vocabulary. Similar amounts of unconnectable words are found in other languages, too, but the significance of the Germanic words lies in their placement in certain semantic fields, like terms for seafaring, stratified society, war, and local, especially maritime, animals and plant species.

For most of these terms a Uralic connection is unlikely. There is only one other non-IE language in Europe, namely Basque, and perhaps the different Caucasian groups should be taken into account, too, in the search for the source of these apparent loanwor ds. Some efforts have been made to connect the mentioned non-IE groups with certain geographical and botanical names all over Europe, but they can't account for the bulk of problematic Germanic words.

The semantic fields covered by the mentioned words are important. Their source must be a stratified society with high status and extensive trade connections (especially by sea). This does not fit at all with any hunter-and-gatherer culture. On the other hand, the non-IE words do not show any clear connection with the phonetic changes from IE to Germanic, and they are too well-defined culturally to be the result of a native substratum.

The best explanation for the time being might be to regard them as loanwords which entered Pre- or Proto-Germanic via trade- and probably cultural connections. The best candidate for long-range connections of this type might be the spread of the megalithic culture over large parts of western Europe and the Mediterranean, in southern Scandinavia centred around the Funnel Beaker period. Since it is unknown how many (if any other than Basque or its predecessor Aquitanian) non-IE languages have existed south and southwest of the Germanic area, one can only speculate about the localization of some now extinct western European non-IE language(s) which might have conveyed the mentioned terminology.

Map of megalithic area in W. Europe (Ill. 3) (Nielsen 1981, 79)

No systematical attempts have yet been made to find possible Uralic loanwords in Germanic, except for later loans, like a few Sami terms in Scandinavian languages. If the scenario of a language change by Uralic hunters and gatherers to Indo-European as a result of the introduction of agriculture is correct, there might only exist very few loans.

When language change goes from low status to high status (as it is common in the kind of relationship concerned here), it can be expected that the original low status language will make a clear impact on the phonology, and probably also the grammatical system of the acquired language, but it will not leave many loanwords. [[ This presumes a drastic difference in numbers and cultural level in a very early primitive time. Such encounters as between indians of the new world and large scale immigration of Europeans. Such was not the case and it is unimmaginable that large amount of loan words from Uralic didn't get into Germanic and vica versa. There are plenty of examples that this was the case. Fred Hamori]]

The only semantic field in which some loans from a hunter-and-gatherer substratum might occur are names of native animals and plants and possibly a few geographical terms. This remains to be examined. [[ Seems like no one seriously checked into this and are simply presuming a lot of biased concepts. We should not assume that all Uralic languages were on a common level of development. The Sami remained, perhaps because no one wanted their lands, but the southern Uralic was absorbed and may have already had basic agriculture introduced by early Anatolian immigrants, but were absorbed by the invading Germanics over time. Fred Hamori]]

Source: http://www2.4dcomm.com/millenia/hunters.html


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Friday, November 26th, 2004, 02:30 PM
They have been estimated at about 30% of the Germanic vocabulary.

This was the result of an out-of-date-study which counted non-IE-etymologizable words in modern (!) texts. If you take common Germanic word roots their amount diminishs to ca.10%. Even sea-related denominations like ship, boat, mast can be interpreted through IE roots.

The Germanic tribes inhabited a peripheral position in the Indo-European world, so expect them traditing some word roots which disappeared in all other IE groups. In fact there is no indication of large-scale structural differences in word composition or lexicostatistics. Compare e.g. the Ligurian substrate with -asco/-esco elements or the Pelasgian substrate in Greece which seems to have had many 3-syllabic words and often end on -assos/-ossos/-nthos.

For those common Germanic words which have no relative in another IE group I´ve found none that can be interpreted via Uralic languages, neither in a German nor an English etymological dictionary.

Concerning early Germanic loan words in Uralic languages E.Seebold states that they can be explained through contacts in the late iron age. The Germanic character of the Nordic bronce age is also insecure despite it has a high degree of historic plausability.

The argument between the German and Scandinavian researchers on the topic of Germanic ethnogenesis goes now on for a while.