View Full Version : Germanisms: German Words Used in the English Language

Saturday, November 18th, 2006, 07:28 PM

This is a dictionary of some German words used in the English language (Germanisms), each with a literal or German meaning, English definition and actual sample sentence(s) from literature and the Internet.

Some German words like kindergarten are so Anglicized that they are now considered English words borrowed from German. Such words are called loan words or loanwords. Loan word itself is a literal translation of the German Lehnwort, making it a loan translation, loan translation itself being a loan translation of Lehnübersetzung. Loan translations are also called calques.
Other German words like Waldsterben are still considered foreign words used in English and often describe a particular technical term. Foreign words are usually italicized.

I include mostly only entries which are derived from Modern German, although some come to English through Yiddish, in which case the entries are clearly so designated. I include Yiddish words if they are fairly close in meaning to their Modern German cognates.

Yiddish is a High German language written in Hebrew characters that is spoken by Jews and descendants of Jews of central and eastern European origin. Its grammar and much of its vocabulary are Germanic, but it has also borrowed many words from other languages such as Hebrew and Slavic. Yiddish became a separate language between the 9th and 12th centuries, so one cannot say it developed from Modern German, but rather it arose about the same time Old High German gave way to Middle High German. In other words Yiddish is a Germanic language in its own right just as for example German, English, Dutch and Swedish are. The word Yiddish comes from the Yiddish word yidish, which is short for yidish daytsh "Jewish German" [< Middle High German jüdisch diutsch "Jewish German"].

Another source of German words in the English language are the Pennsylvania Dutch, who are comprised of several groups of German emigrants who came from the lower Rhine provinces, Bavaria, and Saxony. They were not from the Netherlands as one might conclude from the name Pennsylvania Dutch; the Dutch part of the term is related to deutsch, which is German for "German".

Since 1869 many people have preferred the term Pennsylvania German.

According to Microsoft Encarta 2000 the Pennsylvania Dutch started arriving in 1863. However Merriam Webster says they arrived in the 1700s and that the term Pennsylvania Dutch entered the English language around 1824. And according to h2g2: "The first permanent settlement of Germans in America was founded in 1683, just outside Philadelphia." So the date given in Encarta is probably a typo.

Of course Dutch and deutsch are etymologically related [English Dutch < Middle English Ducch, Duch, Dutch duits, duitsch < Middle Dutch dutsch, duutsch, Old High German diutisc "popular, vernacular (language)", related to Old English theodisc "speech"]; [German deutsch < Middle High German diutisch, diutsch, tiutsch, tiusch < Old High German diutisc].

In addition to Pennsylvania Dutch another example of Dutch used to mean "German" is in David Copperfield (1849), an Entwicklungsroman by Charles Dickens: "Miss Betsey, looking around the room, slowly and inquiringly, began on the other side, and carried her eyes on, like a Saracen's head in a Dutch clock, until they reached my mother."

Then there is the term Dutch cheese, which can refer either to a cheese similar to Edam (therefore no doubt from the Netherlands), or to cottage cheese (schmierkase), in which case it is definitely Pennsylvania German.

Saturday, November 18th, 2006, 09:14 PM
Very interesting link cheers.

Saturday, November 18th, 2006, 10:05 PM
"Schadenfreude over a Blitzkrieg over Delicatessen such as Schnapps and Schnitzel in a Kindergarten is verboten."

"Waldsterben is caused by a Weltanschauung featuring über-Kriegsspiel, Foosball and a knackwurst in deep krummholz."


Gorm the Old
Sunday, November 19th, 2006, 01:44 AM
Sometimes the Germans had exactly the right word to express a shade of meaning for which there is no equivalent in English. No English word really communicates the feeling of Schadenfreude. "Shameful joy" is a pallid synonym.

"Blitzkrieg" was a German neologism of World War II. It describes perfectly the mode of warfare which served Germany so well in the early years of that war, a style of warfare to which the French, for example, sitting "safe and sound" behind the "impregnable" Maginot Line were totally unaccustomed.

Some foreign words are so perfectly suited to their purpose that it would be pointless to seek for an equivalent in one's own language. Better to adopt the foreign word.

Some nations, e.g. France and Portugal ,resent the "corruption" of the purity of their language by loan words and try to legislate them out of existence. Of course, this doesn't work. Others such as Iceland and 19th century Germany adopt the meaning of a foreign word but translate it into their own language.

In German, anyhow, these creations generally did not survive. Neither Selbstfahrer nor Kraftwagen is used much, if at all, today. An automobile is usually "das Auto". I doubt that modern German zoologists still call a millipede a "Tausendfüßler."

As languages evolve to meet the demands of new times and new circumstances, it is often necessary to borrow an especially apt foreign word or expression. " If the shoe fits, wear it." If the word fits, use it.

Sunday, November 19th, 2006, 05:48 PM
Sometimes the Germans had exactly the right word to express a shade of meaning for which there is no equivalent in English. No English word really communicates the feeling of Schadenfreude. "Shameful joy" is a pallid synonym.

I've usually tried to translate it with "malicious joy", which would fit it best. Not entirely, but it gets somewhat close to it.

I doubt that modern German zoologists still call a millipede a "Tausendfüßler."

Have to correct you there. A "Tausendfüßler", is, as far as I am aware still the way they are labelled. At least that is what we were brough up with and also what we learnt in biology. ;)

Sunday, November 19th, 2006, 08:29 PM
Have to correct you there. A "Tausendfüßler", is, as far as I am aware still the way they are labelled. At least that is what we were brough up with and also what we learnt in biology. ;)

Exactly. It's the generally used term. Another alternative would be the latin word, Myriapoda.

In German, anyhow, these creations generally did not survive. Neither Selbstfahrer nor Kraftwagen is used much, if at all, today.

Kraftwagen was hardly ever used in German. Automobil was, right from the start, the term for a car. The "Lastkraftwagen" (=truck) is nevertheless still a common German word and was never replaced by something else except its own short form: Lkw.

Adapting through translating is actually very common in some German dialects, such as the Austrian. A whole bunch, almost uncountable words, were adapted e.g. from the French and Italian and translated into something at least German sounding. Some examples from the Viennese:

French: "souper" - Viennese: "suppiren"
French: "pompes funèbres" - Viennese: Pomfineberer
French: "pousser" - Viennese: buserieren
French: "Pressant" - Viennese: "pressieren"
French: "toucher" - Viennese: "tuschen"
Italian: "cacio" - Viennese: "Gatsch"
Italian: "sposa" - Vienese: "Gspusi"
Italian: "stravagare" - Viennese: "strawanzen"
Italian: "teco-meco" - Viennese: "Techtelmechtel"
Italian: "seccare" - Viennese: "sekkieren"
Italian: "mescolanza" - Viennese: "Mischkulanz"

and so on, and so on.

All these words are used by young and old people and are far away from extinction.

Monday, November 20th, 2006, 06:45 AM
PS: After some hours of sleep I have to add now that "Kraftwagen" probably doesn't even exist. "Kraftfahrzeug", or short "Kfz" is in contrary still a used word in the German language, and is to find not just in the spoken language, but also in the names of the professions in the car industry like e.g. motor mechanic = Kfz-Mechaniker.

Monday, November 20th, 2006, 12:51 PM
Haha, I remember that a friend on the original version of a CV once accidentally put down KZ-Mechaniker (concentration camp mechanic) and didn't notice the error until we reminded him... :D

And of course, the instance where another friend was given a sort of ID-card from the council stating his profession, it said "Scheißer" (literally crapper, sh*tter) instead of "Schweißer" (joiner)...so he went back to the council and said, "Umm...I'm sorry to interfere with you, but I do not win my bread as a 'Scheißer'" ... :D

Enough off-topic from my side now, though. ;)

Gorm the Old
Monday, November 20th, 2006, 03:47 PM
Runa, "der Kraftwagen" does, indeed exist. It is to be found in the Oxford-Duden German dictionary and is defined as "motor vehicle". This may be apocryphal, though. I was once told that DKW stood for Deutsche KraftWagen, not for a motorcycle known as das kleine Wunder.

Monday, November 20th, 2006, 06:41 PM
Runa, "der Kraftwagen" does, indeed exist. It is to be found in the Oxford-Duden German dictionary and is defined as "motor vehicle". This may be apocryphal, though. I was once told that DKW stood for Deutsche KraftWagen, not for a motorcycle known as das kleine Wunder.

Searched for "Kraftwagen" in the German "Duden". Kraftwagen indeed exists, sorry, but it's only "officialese". So maybe the Oxford Dictionary is a bit wrong there when it claims that it is or was a commonly used word.

DKW (foudned by a Dane, not a German, by the way) originally stood for "Dampfkraftwagen". All their products had names after these three letters, like a special type of engine was called "Des Knaben Wunsch" ("the boy's wish"), a tiny little engine for a bicycle (not a motor bike!) was called "Das Kleine Wunder" ("the small wonder") and the air condition was called "Das Kühl Wunder" ("the cooling wonder").

Uí Fiachrach
Tuesday, November 21st, 2006, 04:03 AM

Similarities between modern Irish and German raise the question of the origins of these languages. There are Celtic names and place-names in France, Germany and farther east. Gaelic folklore, too, often deals with events on the European mainland. Such evidence indicates that important cultural influences in Ireland came originally through an historic homeland, shared with Germanic people north of the Alps.

[i] Early Migrations
When tribes broke away from the great Indo-European family, the language(s) they spoke gradually differentiated. In the West, Celtic, Teutonic (Germanic), Slavonic, and classical Latin and Greek subgroups were formed. In the East, there was the Indo-Iranian subgroup, which comprised Zend, spoken in Iran, and Sanskrit, the language from which modern-day Hindi derives.

Smaller migrations always occurred against the general trend. As recorded in Indian scripts from the 7th and 8th centuries, an Indo-European people, the Tocharians, went as far as the Tarim Basin in China. Archaeological discoveries have shown that these people had red hair: the mark of the Celt.

Within subgroups, languages which have developed separately over some hundreds of years - sister languages - are only mutually comprehensible with some effort. Two close Celtic languages are Irish and Scots Gaelic. When separated for a greater length of time, the languages are termed cousin languages - for example Irish and Welsh.

Germans and Celts seem to have had a common origin in the remaining population of Indo-Europeans coming to Temperate Europe. The two peoples were the most westerly of this migration. They maintained settlements in close proximity, in the pre-Roman period. In consequence, there was on-going interchange – with consequential effects of political and cultural development.

‘Celt’ was a general name used by certain tribes whom Caesar encountered. Gerhard Herrm said poetically that perhaps they saw themselves as “the people who came from the darkness” (ceilt – concealment). ‘Gaul’ may be the word ‘ceilt’, without the final ‘t’. The Celts devised the name ‘German’. It may derive from the Celtic gair (near) to mean neighbours or gaé (spear) to meaning spear-carrier or sharp-witted. The Roman word germanus (‘real’ or ‘authentic’) would have taken up the latter meaning.

Celtic migration westwards first moved from Bohemia and southern Germany to Gaul and from thence to Spain. Some groups then went south into Italy and others went back east, through Greece, to Galatia in Turkey and onwards. This last Celtic settlement lay to the south of Scythia, north of the Black Sea and now in the Ukraine. It was from Scythia that the Celts had originally come.

[II] Celts and Germans: historical Accounts
Historians like Strabo, the Greek, took the view that the Germans were the ‘real (or authentic) Celts’. The origins and Germanic-Celtic interrelations of early northern European tribes such as the Celtic Cotoni are unclear.

The Cimbri are usually referred to as German. Nonetheless, the names of both the Cimbri and of their king were indisputably Celtic. The tribal name is related to the Brythonic cymri (‘companions’) from which the name Cymru derives. The king was called Boiorix - ‘King of the Boii’ (a tribe of cattle-herders, which gave its name to Bohemia).

At the Battle of Aqua Sextiae, the Romans and their Celtic Ligurian allies were ranged against the Cimbri, Teutones and Ambrones. These tribes came from Jutland and not from Gaul and have all been regarded as Germanic.

Plutarch describes how, in Celtic style, the Ligurians heard the Ambrones rallying each other by calling out their individual and clan names during the fighting. The Ligurians then followed suit “for the Ligurians are known after their origins as Ambrones”. ‘Teutates’ was the Celtic god of the Northern Reaches.

These three tribes were either mistaken for Proto-Germans or were indeed linguistically close to them. They were hardly utter strangers to the rest of their northern neighbours: more likely the existence of dialect continua meant a degree of mutual comprehension.

Tacitus’ description of Celtic physical traits is similar to some descriptions of the Germans: nobody can now confirm whether he knew the difference between them. There is frequent confusion between Celts and Germans in classical texts. Western Proto-Celts were a significant grouping of tribes, of differing physical characteristics, from which early Celtic and Proto-Germanic peoples may have come.

[III] The golden Age of Gaelic Civilisation
In any event, Celtic adventurers continued to venture from their settlements, new and old - in Scythia, Spain and central Europe. Various groups reached Ireland, where they moulded into one people, and called themselves the Gael. In relative peace and isolation, they built a new civilisation, which extended to Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The territory was called the Gaeltacht - the Realm of the Gael. This is a mediaeval term like Frankreich - the Realm of the Franks. The Gael formed a highly developed society in which linguistic cohesion was maintained by highly qualified poets and bards.

The legal system in Gaelic times comprised the Brehon Laws. These comprised a great body of civil, criminal and military law. It outlined five main classes of people, with their rights, duties and privileges.

It was possibly through contact with their historic homeland in central Europe, that the Gael imported the Germanic legal practice of imposing fines for crimes of personal injury. Indeed, the old connections between the Celtic and Germanic peoples are still a race memory, celebrated at festival time in Germany today.

The forces of history eventually sundered the Gaeltacht, bringing to a virtual end the further growth of one of the great European cultures of the Middle Ages, with its refined outlook and great scholarship. Procuring arms in a country without a steel industry had always been difficult. Gaelic soldiers often went to battle unarmed, hoping to prise weapons from the invader. In addition, the Celtic trait of choosing personal honour and glory over coordinated military strategy told against the bravery of the Gaelic armies.

Connections with continental Europe faltered, as the Gaelic Order was dismantled in the 1600-1700s, although it has been said that the kings of Munster continued to visit the mainland later than their northern counterparts.

[IV] Routes to Ireland
The main routes by which the Celts had migrated to Ireland and how, over time, the Celtic culture took root are matters of debate. If our forebears were true to form, they came here by every means and route available. Examples from different records of Irish history bear this out. (The Latin names for countries are used in considering ancient connections with these places.)

From Germania via Belgica/Gallia or using Hispania as a stop-off Point. Herodotus wrote that Celtic people, including the Druids, migrated directly from the Danube basin towards Gaul. The Druids were an ancient caste who were said to have derived their philosophies from Pythagoras (c500BC) and to have traced their origins back to Japhet, son of Noah. Druidic training lasted twenty years and, as a discipline, memory and not the written word was used in the schools. Lessons covered the influence of the gods, astronomy (their theory did not offer a ‘flat-earth’ postulation) and moral philosophy.
From a Settlement in Hispania Míl, or Miles Hispaniae (the Soldier of Spain), is said by Macalister (RAS, Ancient Ireland, London, 1935) to have invaded from the sea c500 BC. His wife was called Scota, indicating her people originally came from Scythia. Migrations from there to Spain undoubtedly occurred both via the sea and overland, possibly through Turkmen territories. The Irish word turcach means ‘a rough character’
Direct Route. Nemed mac Agnomain is said, by Macalister (RAS, Lebor Gabála, Dublin 1938) to have come to Ireland directly from Scythia. He sailed from the northern shores of the Black Sea in thirty-four ships, each carrying thirty people. From there, he sailed through the Bosphorous, across the Mediterranean, by the Straits of Gilbralter and then north to Ireland. In Portugal today the ‘Algarve’ can be taken to mean the ‘unhospitable cliff’ (aill gharbh). (If the ancients did not possess a great knowledge of cartography and instrumentation, they certainly had an impressive knowledge of geography.)
Mythology and the Continental Connection
By which route did those Celts come, who had most influence on Ireland’s culture?

To come to Ireland by sea via Hispania, in the first option, would have been cheaper but not a method for any great numbers. That names and place-names of Gaelic relevance persist across Temperate Europe stands as witness to the route to Ireland from Germania, through Gallia, being the most important.

Oskar is a common German name. Oscar was the grandson of Fionn Mac Cumhail, one of the great warriors of Gaelic mythology. Lyons (formerly Lugdunum) was named after Lugh, God of Skills. Bregenz (formerly Brigantium) was the capital of a tribe which culted Brigid, Mother of the three Gods of Craftsmanship. Brigid is still a popular personal name. Fionn’s name is embedded in Wien.

‘Rhein’, or ‘Rih’ in Schwytzertütsch (Baden), means the ‘flowing’ (rith). That other great river, the ‘Donau’ means the ‘deep/dark river’ (domhain-abha). And ‘die Alpen’ means the ‘high mountains’ (ailp).

What other myths are set with central Europe as a background? There is the myth of Nuada, King and Champion of the Tuatha Dé Danann, in an epic battle with Streng of the Fir Bolg. The word ‘streng’ is pure German and means ‘the disciplined [champion]’. [The Tuatha Dé Danann were the people of Danu, Mother of the Gods. The Fir Bolg were an off-shoot of the Belgae. Bulga was the God of Lightning.]

The saga of the Táin Bó Froích (the Cattle Raid of Froích) tells how this hero goes on expedition to the Alps to recover his stolen wife and stolen cattle. There, he meets the Lombards (Long-Beards - Lang-Bärte).

There is also the tale of Labraid Loingsech (Labraid the Mariner), forebear of the Leinstermen, in his bid to overthrow Cobhthach Coel. In one version, Labraid receives help from the Franks, returning to Wexford before he joins battle with Cobthach and beats him, in 307 BC.

Although, as under the second option, very colourful leaders came to us from Hispania and all the kings of Ireland claimed descent from them, we do not have much information on the country itself. Gallicia housed a community of modest reach, which was well positioned as a port-of-call for Mediterranean traders bound northwards.

It is unlikely that any migration could have been mounted from Hispania, which would have been extensive enough to dominate Irish cultural identity. Interestingly, Arabic blood has, in living memory, clearly a featured in certain island communities off Ireland. In Mayo, the Irish word for a rock stack in the ocean is ‘spinc’. One may imagine the traders of long ago, telling stories of their homeland and of the awesome Sphinx.

The third option, the direct route from Scythia, is not a route for large or continual migrations to occur.

Linguistic Evidence: common Features between German and Irish
We have no real knowledge of the Celtic and Germanic languages spoken during Roman times. In line with the accounts of migration and of the place-names quoted, linguistic evidence hereunder, in IV.a-c, suggests that Irish may derive from a Celtic dialect, which was mutually comprehensible with Proto-German, as differentiation from Proto-Celtic into two subgroups was occurring. Perhaps it would be simplistic to seek a straightforward pattern of differentiation into linguistic subgroups.

Both languages possess grammatical forms and vocabularies, which indicate that there must have been substantial links, two thousand years ago. It would appear again that the route to Hibernia from Germania through Gallia was the most traversed.

Some examples both of modern Celtic languages - Gaelic (Irish and Scots), Welsh and Breton - and of German will demonstrate that considerable linguistic divergence has occurred. The following are translations of: "I see her. My brother saw you."

Irish Gaelic: Feicim í. Chonaic mo dheartháir/bhráthair thú.
Scots Gaelic: Faic mi i. Chunnaic mo bhràthair thù.
Welsh: Rwyf yn gweld hi. Gwelodd fy mrawd ti.
Breton: Me he gwel. Va breur az' kwelas.
German: Ich sehe sie. Mein Bruder hat sie gesehen.
Scots prefer another idiom for the first sentence, saying “tha mi ga faicinn”. Irish Gaelic also has this structure: “tá mé á [ag a] feiceáil” - literally “I am at her seeing”.

It might be asked if any real links, in fact, do persist between Gaelic and the other languages. The answer is yes, most certainly, but they need to be specially demonstrated. There are certain tools for this purpose (please see Annex).

Ogham was the original, ancient form of writing in Ireland, with limited applications. The modern morphemic system of writing originated in Greece: Egyptian hieroglyphs and Phoenician symbols were modified. The Greek alphabet was then used by the Etruscans, followed by the Romans, with adaptations to express voiced plosive sounds.

Roman script was used in Ireland following the arrival of Christianity. An artistic Gaelic alphabet was also devised better to cater for phonology. Certain elements were imported from the runic (derived from ancient Greek) and Arabic alphabets. Germanic peoples adopted the runic alphabet (also called the futhork). The widely used Roman script has to a large extent now replaced the national ones.

[IV.a] Basic grammatical Structure
Irish is a pure language and the best-preserved dialect of ancient Celtic. The Celts were numerous and widespread and Proto-Celtic may have come from a last general development of Indo-European. Irish is as an important reservoir of Indo-European linguistic features.

Irish and German are synthetic, inflecting languages. Maintenance of good grammar was important in both cultures. This may have had more to do with keeping linguistic nuances distinct than some undefined linguistic conservatism, often suggested. Care about the proper use of Gaelic throughout the Gaeltacht was a matter of considerable effort and pride.

Both languages have article-noun-adjective declensions. Irish uses five cases and German four. This is because the Vocative case is inflected in Irish but not in German. Indo-European had up to eight cases. German uses the three genders (m, f, and n). Modern Irish has dropped the neuter gender used in Old Irish.

Irish and German conjugate verbs in Past, Present, Future and Conditional Tenses in the Active Voice. Both languages have a present and Past Tense in the Subjunctive Mood. Both languages use auxiliary verbs. Both use the Infinitive as a verbal noun. German, unlike Irish, has kept the Passive Voice: “Der Reiter ist vom Dichter beobachtet worden” means “The horseman was observed by the poet”. Both languages can express the Passive Voice, however, using special constructions in the Active Voice.

Vowel sounds in both languages, as is noted in Ireland, are pure rather than diphthongal. In Gaelic, vowels can be long (lá) or short (sa). In German, long (loben), half long (militär), and short (kalt) vowels have been described. (Schoolbooks of the 1960s were used in writing up this linguistic comparison.) Only long and short vowels tend to be distinguished in today’s German grammars. Pronunciation of written Irish and German are in many ways comparable, with eg the ‘ch’ sound being identical.

There is a standard practice in Gaelic to put a vowel between certain consonant pairs (where one of the consonants is usually an l, r or n). This vowel is called a helping or epenthetic vowel. ‘Dorcha’ (dark) is pronounced with a vowel sound between the ‘r’ and ‘ch’. In German, syllables end in a vowel when possible - syllabication - in a comparable process. Consonants within a word belong to the following syllable, whether open (ending in h or in a vowel) or closed (ending in a consonant). Note the German - adelig/adlig (noble). The ‘e’ is written in Süddeutschland.

There is an Indo-European characteristic to note. In Irish word pairs, the words which begin with ‘s’ denote good things and those which begin with ‘d’ denote bad things. Thus: sona (happy)/dona (bad), suairc (agreeable)/duairc (cheerless), subh (f, jam)/dubh (black, malevolent. m, something of greatest evil, potato blight). The German Sonne (f, sun) and Donner (m, thunder) may represent a corresponding formation.

[IV.b] Phrase Formation - some fifteen shared grammatical structures are shown.
(A) Verb to End of Phrase (a Similarity long quoted in Ireland)
Chuaigh sé go Corcaigh le péire bróga, den mhéad cheart dá mháthair, do cheannach
He went to Cork to buy a pair of shoes of the right size for his mother.
Ich sollte während der Pause nicht so viel Kohl essen
I ought not to have eaten so much cabbage during the break.
Ich möchte wieder einmal nach Hause gehen
I should like to go home again sometime.
(B) Special Uses of the present Tense (with ‘since’ and with the verb ‘to come’ plus the Infinitive)
Tá mé ag feitheamh anseo le trí uair
I have been waiting here for three hours.
Er wartet seit drei Stunden auch
He has also been waiting for three hours.
Tagaim anseo le brí an dlí a mhíniú dhíbh
I have come here to explain the meaning of the law to you.
Er kommt euch zu warnen
He has come to warn you.
(C) Passive Meaning attained with the Verb ‘to be’ and le/zu plus the Infinitive
Ní raibh duine le feiscint sa tsiopa
There was nobody to be seen in the shop.
Ist meine Schwester zu sprechen?
May my sister be spoken to?
(D) The Infinitive with and without a(do)/zu
Caithfidh mé dul ann anois
I must go there now.
Ní féidir é sin a dhéanamh
That can’t be done.
Ich muss lachen
I must laugh.
Ich wunche nach der Stadt zu gehen
I wish to go to town.
(E) Use of the subjunctive Mood
Usage in Irish and German is only sketched below. Whilst direct overlap is now limited, it is worthwhile to ponder some aspects of the Mood in the two languages.

Irish uses the Subjunctive Mood as Follows:
[i] Present Subjunctive
in the main clause to express a wish {see [V] below}; and
in subordinate clauses of
purpose; or
time; or
open condition (possible outcome not revealed).
Go dté tú slán - Go safely, now;

Imigí, go siúla mé abhaile - Go away, so that I may walk home;
Coimeád ciúin, go n-imí sé - Be quiet until he goes;
Muna dtaga tú anseo, ní rachfaidh mé ann - If you don't come here, I shall not go there.
[II] Past Subjunctive:
In subordinate clauses of closed condition (outcome unsure) {see [IV](a) below}; and
In subordinate clauses of purpose/time, with the verb in the main clause in the past tense.
Bheithfeá-sa sásta, dá léinn an leabhar - You would be pleased, if I read the book;
Chuaigh sé abhaile, sara bhfeictí é - He went home before he would be seen; Bhí siad ina suí sara ndéaradh sé focal - They were up before he would say a word.
German uses the Subjunctive Mood as Follows:
[III] Reported speech, where the main clause verb is in the past
Sie sagte, dass er gehe (present subj.) - She said that he was going;
Sie sagte, dass er gegangen sei (perfect subj.) - She said that he had gone;
Sie sagte, dass er gehen werde (future subj.) - She said that he would go (subj. only for reported speech of 3rd person - otherwise the conditional tense is used).
(The ‘dass’ may be dropped and the normal word order used in the subordinate clause.)

[IV] In ‘if’ sentences, where the ‘if’ clause is not in the present tense:
Wenn er anriefe, führe ich heute noch (the main clause verb is strong so the subjunctive may be used over the conditional) - If he phoned, I should go today; Wenn er käme, wäre Ich froh - If he came, I should be glad. {See [II](a) above.}
Wenn er angerufen hätte, wäre ich heute noch gefahren (both clauses are shown with the pluperfect subjunctive but the conditional perfect may be used in the main clause) - If he had telephoned, I should have gone today.
Wer das gesagt hätte, hätte gelügt - Anyone who said that would have been lying.
[V] Third-person commands may use the subjunctive as above
Es lebe Deutschland - Long live Germany. {See [i](a) above.}
[VI] Softening a suggestion may entail using the past subjunctive:
Wäre Ihnen das recht? Would that be alright by you, then?
[VII] als ob/wenn – as if
Sie sah aus als ob sie nicht heilig sei – She looked as if she weren’t holy.
[VIII] To express purpose after damit and (so) dass:
Sei ruhig, damit er das Bild aufhänge – Be quiet, so he may hang the picture.
The use of the subjunctive facilitates precision of thought. This finer aspect of language has been eroded to an extent in recent decades. In everyday parlance, the present subjunctive in Irish may be replaced in subordinate clauses by the future tense. The past subjunctive may be replaced by the conditional tense. In German, the past subjunctive can be replaced with the present. Both forms can be avoided altogether.

There are differences in when the Gael and the Teuton see doubt to arise and can use the subjunctive! This must be one of the more rewarding areas for grammatical comparison.

(F) Impersonal/Reflective Verbs
Impersonal verbs in both Irish and German can function as personal verbs.

Tá sé de dhíth orm – I lack
Is oth liom – I regret
Es fehlt dir an (+dat) – you lack
Es gelingt dir – you succeed.
Irish has no reflective verbs. However impersonal verbs, which take personal pronouns in the dative case, perform this function.

Is cuimhin liom - It is a memory with me (I remember)
There are reflective verbs to be viewed against the Irish construction, with personal pronouns in the dative or the accusative case.

Sich erinnern des Tages: to remember to oneself of the day (to remember the day).
Sie sehnen sich nach der Heimat - You cord (stretch) yourself towards the homeland (you long for home).
(G) Anticipatory Object
Pronouns can be used as an anticipatory object in the main clause.

Dúirt an máistir liom gur fearrde thú dul ar scoil ‘chuile lá.
The master said tome that you would be better off for it, to go to school every day.
Sie hat es fertiggebracht, ihre Geschichte zu erzählen.
She has managed it, to tell your story.
(H) Schlangenwörter
German grammars give the following example of a long compound word: Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftsdirektorsst ellvertret ersgemahlin or Steam-navigation-company's-manager's-deputy's-wife.

Irish can manage a concatenation of nouns. These are separated noun compounds - eg. Bus scoile pháistí lucht labhartha Ghaeilge na hÉireann or (The) school bus of the children of the people of the language of Gaelic from Ireland.

(I) Wortbildung
German will use a word root modified with prefixes or suffixes to form families of words eg.

widersprechen - to contradict
Gespräch - conversation
Zweigespräch - dialogue
Fernsprecher - telephone
Fürsprecher - intercessor
Irish, again, does a little of this:

teacht - to arrive
teachta - envoy
teachaireacht - message
teachtaire – messenger
teachtmhar - suitable
(J) Use of the definite Article for Parts of the Body
D'imigh na cosa uaigh - his feet went from under him; (occasional)
Baineadh an lámh ón uileann de - his arm was amputated at the elbow.
Ich wasche mir die Hände - I wash my hands.
(K) Use of the possessive dative Case
Tá an leabhar ag mo shean-chara - my old friend has the book (the book is at my old friend);
Bhí cara liom ann - a friend of mine was there (was a friend with me in it).
Er schüttelte seinem alten Freunde die Hand - he shook (at) his old friend the hand.
(L) Use of the verbal Noun
Both Irish and German can use the Infinitive form of the verb as a noun.

Slán gan mhoill dár gcaoineadh duairc - Banished our cheerless elegy.
Hoffen ist ein hartes Wort - To hope is a hard word (to have to accept).
(M) Omission of Articles
The indefinite article is not used after the verb ‘to be’.

Mise Raftaire file - I am Raftery, the poet.
That this poem actually begins erroneously with ‘Mise Raftaire an file’ has led many scholars to suggest that it was not, in fact, written by the great man himself.

Sie ist Musikerin – she is a musician.
(N) Idiom shows, in a way, how we see the world
The examples above cover some common ground, which has been kept between Irish and German. Neither has seen a period of linguistic decay, which brought about innovations to any exceptional degree. Structures do evolve, nonetheless, and these deserve attention.

In Irish, for example, the phrase “tá mé ag dul go dtí an chathair” is one way of saying “I am going to the city”. The phrase literally means: “I am (at) going until the city comes”. The Middle Irish ‘go dtí’ (‘until comes’) shows the introduction of a relativistic concept. Modern Irish speakers will not be aware of this underlying meaning.

[IV.c] Vocabulary
The sample list below contains over 120 leximes, found at random. These were sometimes inherited by both Irish and German from Indo-European, were taken from Latin or simply went from one language to the other. In all, a much greater, comparable vocabulary is indicated.

It is pronunciation, not spelling, which is most important. Although this study looks at linguistic similarities, which still persist, old spelling forms can be a useful guide to the origin of syllables.

Apart from established processes of linguistic change, slang usage can play a part. A common example of slang is the French word ‘tête’ (f, head). It derives from the Latin testa (f, jug).

Irish German
aingeal (m, angel - Greek ‘angelos’ or messanger) Engel (m, angel)
ainm (m, name - Greek ‘onoma’) Name (m, name)
aintín (m, aunt - Latin ‘amita’) Tante (f, aunt)
angar (m, deprivation) Hunger (m, hunger)
áit (f, place) Ort (n, place)
as (from) aus (from)
a/márach (tomorrow) Morgen (n, morning)
asal (m, ass - Latin ‘asinus’) Esel (n, ass)
athair (m, father - Latin ‘pater’) Vater (m, father)

beirt (f, both - Old Norse ‘báthir’) beide (both)
béal (m, mouth: bh = v, mh = v) Maul (n, mouth)
bladar (m, cajolery) blasen (to blow)
bláth (m, flower - Old Norse ‘blóm’) Blume (f, flower)
bodhaire (m, deaf person - lenition, metathesis) taub (deaf)
bogadh (to move) Bogen (m, curve)
bád (m, boat) Boot (n, boat)
bord (m, table) Bord (m, shelf)
briste (broken) brechen (to break)
bruite (boiled) a/bruhen (scald)
buíon (f, band, troop) Bund (m, union)

cáis (f, cheese) Kase (m, cheese)
cancar (m, malignancy - Latin ‘cancer’ or crab) krank (sick)
an chill (f, the church) d’Chile {f, the church - Schwytzertütsch/Aargau (East)}
coinín (m, rabbit/little dog) Kaninchen (n, rabbit/little dog)
compánach (m, companion) Companie (f, company)
comh/arbacht (m, inheritance) Erbe (m, heir)
c/liste (clever) List (f, cunning)
clog (m, bell - mediaeval Latin ‘clocca’) Glocke (f, bell)
cling (f, tinkle) klingen (to ring)
coirb (f, basket) Korb (m, basket)
craic (f, conversation) Krach (m, crash, noise)
cú (m, four-legged beast, hound) Kuh (f, four-legged beast, cow)

díreach (direct) direkt (direct)
Domhnach (m, church - Latin ‘domus’or house) Dom (m, cathedral)
doras (m, door - Indo-European root in Greek ‘thura’) Tür (m, door)
dorcha (dark) dunkel (dark)
droch- (prefix, bad) Drück/eberger (m, shirker)
dúr (stupid) Tor (m, fool)

eas (m, waterfall - Indo-European root in Greek ‘hudór’) Wasser (n, water)

fada (long) Faden (m, thread)
fás (to grow - Indo-European root in Greek ‘auxanein’) wachsen (to grow)
fead (m, whistle) pfeifen (to whistle)
Féile (f, feastday) Feier (f, celebration)
feis (f, festival) Fest (n, festival)
fíor (true - Latin ‘verus’) wahr (true)
fios (m, knowledge) wissen (to know)
forleag (to overlay, printing term) Verlag (m, publishing firm)
forordaigh (to pre-ordain) verordnen (to prescribe)
fuinn/eog (f, window) Fen/ster (n, window)

gabhann sé (he goes) gehen (to go)
gáire (m, laugh) lachen (to laugh – metathesis, dental exhange)
gairdín (m, garden) Garten (m, garden)
géar (sharp, Gaé - spear, Old Irish) germanisch (spear-carrier - Latin ‘germanus’)
greim (m, grip) greifen (to grasp – intervocalic aspiration)

íosfaidh (shall/will eat) ess/en (to eat)

labhairt (to speak) labern (to blab)
last (load, m) Last (f, load)
léacht (m, lecture) Lektor (m, lecturer)
leathar (m, leather - Indo-European root in Welsh ‘lledr’) Leder (n, leather)
léine (m, shirt) Leinen (n, linen)
loch (m, lake) Loch (n, hole)
lochar (m, spoliation, Lit.) lochen (to perforate)
locht (m, fault) sch/lecht (bad)
log (m, place, Lit. - Latin ‘locus’) Lage (f, site)
loise (f, radiance, Lit.) los (free - Old Norse ‘lauss’)
loscadh {be (utterly) consumed by fire} löschen (to extinguish)
lúdramán (m, loafer) Luder (m, wretch)
luigh (to lie - Indo-European root in Latin ‘lectus’) liegt (lies)
lucht (m, people) Leute (f, people)

maighdean (m, maiden) Madchen (n, maiden)
maise (m, joy) Musse (f, leisure)
máistir (m, master) Meister (m, master)
manach (m, monk) Monch (m, monk)
marg (m, silver coin in Gaelic times) Mark (f, coin)
máthair (f, mother) Mutter (f, mother)
meas (m, act of measuring) messen (vt, to measure)
méinn (f, mind, disposition) Meinung (f, mind, opinion)
mó (more) mehr (more)
morg (to decompose) morsch (rotten)
muir (f, sea) Meer (n, sea)

nochtadh (to bare) nüchtern (clear-headed), nackt (naked)

obair (f, work) Arbeit (f, work- metathesis)
an oíche/oidhche (f, the night)/anocht (tonight) Nacht (f, night)
oideam (m, maxim) Idee (f, notion)
ord (m, order - Latin ‘ordo’) Ordnung (f, order)

pás (m, pass) Pass (m, pass)
pian (f, gs péine, pain) Pein (f, pain)
péire (m, pair) Paar (n, pair)
préachán (m, crow) s/prechen (to speak)
poc (m, he-goat) Bock (m, he-goat)
ponc (m, point) Punkt (m, point)

rá/radh (to say) reden (to speak)
raiste/rois (cainte) {m/f, burst (of speech)} Rutsch (m, slide)
rath (m, prosperity) ratlos (helpless)
riail (f, rule) Regel (f, rule)
ridire (m, knight) Reiter (m, horseman)
ríocht (m, kingdom) Reich (n, kingdom)/Rechte (f, right hand)
ritheann (runs or otherwise moves) rennen (to run)
rod (red, spirited) rot (red)
rothar (m, bicycle) Rad (n, wheel), Rohr (n, pipe)

sáith (f, sufficiency) satt (satisfied)
screadaíl (to scream - Old Norse ‘skraekja’) schreien (to cry)
scríobh (to write) schreiben (to write)
scoil (f, school - Greek ‘skholé’) Schule (f, school)
seacadadh (to send) schicken (to send)
searbh (sharp) scharf (sharp)
seift (f, device) schaffen (to manage)
siúl (to walk) Schuh (f, shoe)
slocach (rutted) schlagen, schlug (to beat)
slogadh (to swallow) schlucken (to swallow)
s/macht (m, control) Macht (f, power)
smig (f, chin) schmeckt (tastes)
sneachta (m, snow) Schnee (m, snow)
sníodh (to nit) schneiden (to cut)
srón (m, nose) schnarchen (to snore)
sona (happy) schön (beautiful)
sparán (m, purse) Sparkasse (f, savings-bank)
stad (m, stop) Stadt (f, town)
stráice (m, length) Strecke (f, length)
suí/suidhe (to sit) sitzen (to sit)

teach (m, house) Dach (n, roof)
teanga (m, tongue - Latin ‘lingua’) Zunge (f, tongue)
toil (f, will) wollen (to want)
trácht (m, traffic) tragen (to pull)
tuath (f, territory, people) Teutonisch (a Germanic tribe)

uair (f, hour, occasion) Uhr (f, clock)
umhal (humble, submissive – mh = bh = w) übel (sick, wicked)
um (at, around) um (at)

Germans became known as Teutons (from Tuath) and germanisch (from géar). The word Volk (n, people) may also have Celtic connections. With metathesis, the Gaelic word focal (m, word) resembles Volk. Das Volk, therefore, may have been distinctive tribes of ‘Speakers’. Perhaps they were noted to be using some new words by the main body of Proto-Celts. If so, this recognition of a special group may date back to the very origin of the Germanic peoples.

There are words which have an intriguing characteristic. Whilst they carry the same root in Irish and German - they have opposite meanings. The Irish word freagra (m) means answer but the corresponding German word Frage (f) means question. Similarly the Irish verb gheibheann siad means they get but the German verb sie geben means they give.

Numerals and personal Pronouns

sé/seasca (60)
Scots Gaelic:

daou (m)/div (f)
tri (m)/tier (f)
pevar (m)/peder (f)
zwo (coll.)
sechs (metathesis)
sieben (inter-vocalic b)
Personal Pronouns (nominative/accusative Cases)

sé (sí)
er (sie)
mer (coll.)
Brotherhood and a transparent system of determining one's honour (as reflected respectively by e.g. the relationship between kings and their people and the Brehon Laws) meant that, uniquely today, there is no du/Sie divide between the Gael . A plural sibh may be used only in addressing a Priest, on the understanding that he may be carrying the Sacred Host and, therefore, be not alone.

When Art MacMurrough and three other Irish Kings visited Richard II in Dublin, the English were horrified to see the royal guests sitting down to table with their minstrels and retinue. The Master of Ceremonies wrote: “They told me this was a praiseworthy custom in their country”. However, democratic conduct was foreign to the feudal English and the Kings were brought to separate table. The record of the Master of Ceremonies continues: “ The Kings looked at each other and refused to eat, saying I had deprived them of their old custom, in which they had been brought up.”

As regards the right to respect, the meanest clansman stood on an equal footing with his chieftain. It is interesting to note the pride of the chieftains in their upbringing.

Use and Formation of Words
(A) Names of Rivers take the definite article in both Irish and German:
an Life - the Liffey
‘einmal am Rhein’ - once by the Rhine.
So can the days of the week and the seasons. In Scots Gaelic, all the months are used with the definite article.

(B) Verbs 'to be'
ní raibh mé - I was not.
bhíos - I was.
Ich war (- metathesis) - I was.
du bist (‘bessen’ root) – thou art.
Is last é - it is a load.
Es ist (ein) last - it is a load.
(C) Prefixes common to Irish and German
ent-/emp- can mean 'away from' as in
kommen (to come)
entkommen (to escape)
teacht (to come)
imtheacht (or imeacht - to go)
More striking perhaps are:

for- (over, outer) - forshuíomh (m, superimposition)
ver- (away) - versetzung (f, transfer)
The prefix meanings here are close. But dictionary translations do not tell the full story, so:

forthreise (f, great strength)
fordhubhaigh (to darken)
forlíonadh (to complete)
verstärken (to strengthen)
verdunkeln (to darken)
vervollständigen (to complete)
úr (m, anything new)
úrchoill (f, greenwood)
úrscéal (m, novel)
ur- (original)
uraufführung (f, first performance)
urmensch (m, primitive man)
mí- (bad, dis-, mis-)
mísheachadadh (m, misdelivery)
míshlachtmhar – badly finished
miss- (mis-, dis-)
missdeuten (to misinterpret)
missbrauchen (to abuse)
um-/im-/iom/- (circum-)
umchasadh (m, vertigo)
uimfhilleadh (to fold around)
um- (around)
umsegeln (to sail around)
Umstände (m pl,circumstances)
a- (to, Latin ad)
an Ghaeltacht abú! (Gaeldom to victory!)
athdhéanamh (to redo, to do again/more)
a- (to)
ade, mein Schatz! (Farewell, my dearest!)
(D) Illision of Article and Preposition
an dem = am (to the)
in dem = im (in the)
bei dem = beim
auf das = aufs
in das = ins
ó an = ón (from the, singular)
ó na = óna/ósna (from the, plural)
fá an = fá’n
fá na = fána
de an = den
de na = dena/desna
The 's' in 'ósna' and 'desna' is an Indo-European remnant, sometimes used.
(E) Weak, strong and mixed Declensions
German has weak nouns which add -n or -en to the nominative singular to form other cases. Strong nouns add -s or -es to form the Genitive singular. Mixed nouns are strong in the singular (-s/-es) but weak in the plural (-n/en).

Irish has weak plurals which have an 'i' before the final consonant of the nominative plural or add a terminal 'a'. All other plurals are strong.

German strong Declensions modify the root vowel of the word in the plural:

Class 1 nouns (no addition to plural):
Klöster (n, cloister)
Äpfel (m, apple)
Class 2 nouns (add 'e' to plural):
Fuss, Füsse (f, foot)
Traum, Träume (m, dream).
Class 3 nouns (add 'er' and modify):
Amt, Ämter (n, office).
Irish Declensions have root vowel changes, in the genitive case singular or plural nominative, such as the following:

First Declension:
fear, fir (genitive singular and nominative plural) (m, man)
gaiscíoch, gaiscígh (genitive singular and nominative plural) (m, hero).
Second Declension:
bruíon, bríne (genitive singular) (f, struggle).
Third Declension:
crios, creasa (genitive singular) (m, belt) - the reverse of the First Declension vowel change.
(F) Formation of Nouns
The doers of an action add the suffix '-óir' to the noun in Irish, '-er' in German.

der Fischer - fisherman
der Bäker - baker
ealaíontóir - artist
intealltóir - engineer
German diminutive suffixes are -chen and -lein. A comparable Irish suffix is -ín.

Hamburg ist ein shönes Stätchen - Hamburg is a beautiful little town
Sie ist ein treues Schätzelein - she is a true wee treasure
cailín (m, girl, little woman)
poitín (m, an intoxicating drink, a potion)
These words begin the last syllable with an l sound and the German tch sound respectively. In Irish cailín is masculine and in German Mädchen (girl) is neuter because of these suffixes.

Roots of different origin can be used in the declension of single noun.

Bean (f, woman - linked to Arabic bint) has a plural mná (linked to Latin femina)
Kaufmann (m, storekeeper) has the plural Kaufleute.
(G) Formation of Adjectives
Irish can use a suffix to form an adjective:

-mhar: luachmhar - valuable, pianmhar - painful,
-ach: amadach - foolish, siúlach - fleet, seachtrach – extramural
-is: Spáinnis - Spanish, Rúisis - Russian
German uses similar suffixes (In Irish, mh = v and bh = v):

-bar: wonderbar - wonderful, fruchtbar - fruitful
-ach/-ich: schwach - weak, scharlach - scarlet, herzlich - heartfelt, ehrlich - honest,
-ig: dort - dortig (of that place), hier - hiesig (of this place), fertig - ready, patzig - snappish
-isch: hämisch - malicious, spanisch - Spanish, irdisch - earthly
Adjectives may lose a vowel in the syllable being inflected.

deacair (difficult) níos deacra (more difficult)
Eine üble Laune (a bad mood)
Rough hints for pronunciation (see p.2):
In the Irish 26-letter alphabet, d and t sound as in French. Vowels sound close to the German. Consonants may be reversibly softened with an added ‘h’ (grammar!). Thus: BH = W, CH = CH, DH = J, FH = -, GH = J, MH = BH/W, PH = V, SH = H, TH = H, SA = SA, SE = SCHE, SI = SCHI.

Wilhelm Reinmund – 14/12/2003
Annex: Some Tools of lexical Archaeology
Etymology determines the sources and development of words. Philology is the study of comparative and historic linguistics. This draft paper does not speak from either discipline, as such, but reviews very briefly some observed linguistic connections between modern Irish and German, in the context of certain historical and mythological records.

The study of words is called lexis. The subject is complex: only some of the more basic tools are noted here. Changes with languages occur all the time. The focus of investigation in the foregoing work is (i) syntax and roots which have not changed very much and (ii) root changes, which did not occur in both languages, as differentiation interfered with the process.

Changes such as the consonant shift from ‘p’ to ‘v’ in German were not total even within the one language. There is the German ‘Bock’ and the Irish ‘poc’, for example.

Ways to look for Comparison
Linguistic relationships have been briefly reviewed at three levels:

basic word structure (morphology - analytic, inflecting or agglutinating); and
phrase formation (syntax and idiom); which together comprise grammar and
Having regard to the basic elements of language, useful comparisons maybe made by making reference to several paths of change. Some of these are sketched below.

Linguistic groups establish their own body of leximes (items of vocabulary with a single referrant), though the physical tendency to use ‘m’ to begin the word for mother, for example, and the use of onomatopoeia affect this. Loanwords increase vocabulary too (‘asal’ in Irish and ‘ezel’ in German come from the Latin ‘asinus’).

Sometimes a new label is introduced by using a word in a different class - conversion. For example, in Proto-Celtic the verb ‘to taste’ may have been used to provide a noun for ‘chin’. Thus today ‘schmecken’ survives in German and ‘smig’ in Irish.

Semantic range identifies a set of ideas by a particular lexeme. ‘Fad’ is used to suggest length in Irish (‘fada’). In German it is used to mean something long - thread (‘Faden’).

Methatesis occurs when a morpheme it turned around as in the German ‘sechs’ (ks) and the Irish ‘seasca’ (sk).

Metonymy occurs when the name of a part is used for the whole, as in the German ‘Dach’ and Irish ‘teach’. Other slippages of meaning can occur.

Derivation (Wortbildung) is another way to introduce a label. By adding a morpheme (the smallest unit of vocabulary with meaning), new words can be made. Thus ‘Mench’ and ‘Urmensch’ (mankind and primitive man) in German and ‘scéal’ and ‘úrscéal’ (story and novel) in Irish.

‘Mench’ above is called a base and the prefix ur/úr was added. Suffixes also modify meaning as in ‘cailín’ in Irish and ‘Mädchen’ in German.

Dental consonant exchange is common. Dentals are those consonants included in the phrase ‘no dollars’. Thus the Irish ‘dúr’ and the German ‘Tor’.

A word may lose a final part of a word (apocope) or an internal part (syncope). Again allow this to be happening in Proto-Celtic, so that today the final element of Burg (castle) in German is lost and the dental ’r’ is exchanged for ‘l’ to give Baile (town) in Irish. The final syllables of Indo-European words are inflected (to show case and tense) and, except for the patterns of change, are generally not useful for tracing connections.

With lenition, the influence of neighbouring vowels may weaken consonants, as in the German ‘Fabel’ and the Irish ‘fabhal’. Aspiration of initial consonants may result in their being dropped altogether; in that way ‘p’ was lost from the Irish ‘athair’.

With calques one language takes the principle of a foreign word but translates its constituents elements – rather than adopting and modifying the foreign word. Thus Irish has ‘teach spéire’ and German has ‘Wolkenkratzer’ for skyscraper. Sometimes a word may enter a language by different routes as in the Irish ‘ilstórach’ (skyscraper).

A morpheme may be any discreet syllable (German ‘gut’, Irish ‘maith’) or an initial consonant cluster (as ‘bl’ in German ‘Bläser’ and Irish ‘blader’). Consonant clusters may be divided using an epenthetic or helping vowel. This occurs especially in Irish eg with the insertion of a vowel between ‘n’ and ‘m’ in the word ‘aimn’. The comparable German syllabication has been noted.

Vowels tend to be interchangeable as in the German ‘Balg’ (shell, case, skin) and the Irish bolg (stomach).

Communities bind together with a common language, from which common ideas and concepts emerge through syntax and idiom, as seen in phrase formation. Such communities are as large as the level of communication between groups within them. Thus, speech changes slowly as one goes a particular route from eg Paris to Lisbon but those in neither city will understand each other. This points to the existence of dialect continua. Linguistic change is unstoppable, as in the story of the Tower of Babel.

Gorm the Old
Tuesday, November 21st, 2006, 04:26 AM
Surely, this must be the last word on this subject. :O

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006, 01:39 PM
Wow an other great post.:)

Thursday, December 18th, 2008, 08:11 AM
Adapting through translating is actually very common in some German dialects, such as the Austrian. A whole bunch, almost uncountable words, were adapted e.g. from the French and Italian and translated into something at least German sounding. Some examples from the Viennese:

French: "souper" - Viennese: "suppiren"
French: "pompes funèbres" - Viennese: Pomfineberer
French: "pousser" - Viennese: buserieren
French: "Pressant" - Viennese: "pressieren"
French: "toucher" - Viennese: "tuschen"
Italian: "cacio" - Viennese: "Gatsch"
Italian: "sposa" - Vienese: "Gspusi"
Italian: "stravagare" - Viennese: "strawanzen"
Italian: "teco-meco" - Viennese: "Techtelmechtel"
Italian: "seccare" - Viennese: "sekkieren"
Italian: "mescolanza" - Viennese: "Mischkulanz"

and so on, and so on.

A fine list. :)

Then you probably also know the "Trottwa" aka trottoir for pavement.

And of course the "Barabli" aka parapluie for umbrellar. :)