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Thread: Were English and German Once the Same Language?

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    Question Were English and German Once the Same Language?

    My Daughters English literature teacher speaks and teaches the Old English language. She said a few words to me and I understood them as German of which I can speak somewhat.She said to me that Old English is a Germanic language brought by the Saxons to England in the 5th and 6th centuries and at one time was almost the same Language as German. She also relayed to me that old English was originally written in Runes and has heavy influence from the Norsk languages! I understand that king Alfred converted all the bibles from Latin to Old English when he forced christianity on the Saxons in the late 800's. My question is when did this '"Germanic' old English become the English we speak today?

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    First of all, no, German and English are not very close at all, other than being Germanic languages, that is. They were probably not the same language any more recently than Ingvaeonic was the same as Danish. The Ingvaeonic split occured relatively early. So no, they're not very close, Standard German is 'High German'.

    As well, yeah, it became the English we speak today, when the Monasteries dotted throughout England gained enough influence to put in place a lot of Latin words into the language, then you get heavy Scandinavian influence in the 9th through the 11th centuries, then probably even moreso a heavy influence from French speaking Normans, from the 11th century onward all the way till the 14th century, the Royalty and Government at the time was almost all French speaking, and English was heavily influenced by French due to this.

    I'd blame the Normans mostly.

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    Here we go. I'm basically repeating stuff I've already posted at one time or another but here goes:

    modern national bounderies are modern inventions. Say if you live in Lvov it used to be Poland, then Russia (soviet union), now Ukraine. Nationalism must be seen only as an aspect of racialism. The race is eternal nationalities come and go. Second most modern European languages are modern inventions, especially English.

    Read Shakespear. That was written a few hundred years ago and the English is totally different. Read documents from the 1700s even here English is a bit different. English has a lot of illogical rules because scholars just made up rules out of thin air and it became English. the spelling is messed up because of conflicting rules and retention of old spellings. For example knife used to be prounced k-nif and we still spell it that way.

    If you read the Sagas written around 1200 or so, middle ages basically you can read about Vikings talking to Englishmen, and English talking to Germans. The language was mutually understandable back then. Yes there were regional differences, but you could understand it. I can't remember the exact date but for some reason there was a major sound shift in English way back in the day. Prior to this there wasn't many long vowels. Like in German you say name like "nom" in English its like "naym". Basically for some reason that shift happened which seperated English from other Germanic languages then very very recently people started making up rules and it was around this time that dictionaries and grammar books were written.

    With Spanish we see something similar. The King and Queen spoke their own dialect and used their manner of speech (based on Latin) to create Spanish. Modern German was invented by a bunch of intellectuals who took traits from various German dialects and combined them together into an "official" language. Modern Russian was similarly invented based on the old Slavonic language. French itself underwent a lot of major changes as well. Practically all the languages of Europe were invented and relatively recently. Yeah they are based on the way people spoke in that region. This is why I think it would make sense to create a language for our Folkish Asatru culture.

    You should also understand some very important traits have been stripped from English. First there is no formal and informal "you". The use of honorifics (still found in Japanese for example) has been taken away (that is referring to a person as lord Byron, Sir John, Mr. Smith etc.). I guess that was done to create a more egalitarian, we're all equal mode of thinking. I really suggest we bring those back into our speech.

    As dumb as English is though it seems superior compraed to most other languages of the world. That's why its been a desire of mine to perfect the language for our own use.

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    This is a piece of the Beowulf epos in very old English
    (or real Anglo (Danish)- Saxon (early German), which were anyway not that different):

    Ða wæs on burgum Beowulf Scyldinga,
    leof leodcyning, longe þrage
    55
    folcum gefræge (fæder ellor hwearf,
    aldor of earde), oþþæt him eft onwoc
    heah Healfdene; heold þenden lifde,
    gamol ond guðreouw, glæde Scyldingas.
    ðæm feower bearn forð gerimed
    60
    in worold wocun, weoroda ræswan,
    Heorogar ond Hroðgar ond Halga til;
    hyrde ic þæt wæs Onelan cwen,
    Heaðoscilfingas healsgebedda.
    þa wæs Hroðgare heresped gyfen,
    65
    wiges weorðmynd, þæt him his winemagas
    georne hyrdon, oðð þæt seo geogoð geweox,
    magodriht micel. Him on mod bearn
    þæt healreced hatan wolde,
    medoærn micel, men gewyrcean
    70
    þonne yldo bearn æfre gefrunon,
    ond þær on innan eall gedælan
    geongum ond ealdum, swylc him god sealde,
    buton folcscare ond feorum gumena.
    ða ic wide gefrægn weorc gebannan
    You can clearly see the transcribed runic letters (Ðð,þ,æ, etc) that are still common in modern Icelandic for example, also the other scandinavian languages still have a selected set of them.

    What is nice to see here is the old, indeed very German system in forming the preterite/past form with the prefix 'ge' (gebannen, etc), which is still common in German but the English has lost completely.

    Shakespeare's Old English though looks another way like German, when he used 'thou hast' (you have / du hast), 'thou canst' (you can / du kannst), but it is already the more modern form of English.

    Even today you can see the close releations between English and German, in general all Germanic languages
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

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    Quote Originally Posted by velvet View Post
    This is a piece of the Beowulf epos in very old English
    (or real Anglo (Danish)- Saxon (early German), which were anyway not that different):



    You can clearly see the transcribed runic letters (Ðð,þ,æ, etc) that are still common in modern Icelandic for example, also the other scandinavian languages still have a selected set of them.

    What is nice to see here is the old, indeed very German system in forming the preterite/past form with the prefix 'ge' (gebannen, etc), which is still common in German but the English has lost completely.

    Shakespeare's Old English though looks another way like German, when he used 'thou hast' (you have / du hast), 'thou canst' (you can / du kannst), but it is already the more modern form of English.

    Even today you can see the close releations between English and German, in general all Germanic languages
    I thought I had read once that Beowulf was written in an Old English/ Runic type script .People do not realize that Old English as it was spoken in the 6th century cannot be understood by someone who just speaks modern English. It sounds much more like German (from which it evolved). Probably the christian church screwed it up as they have done to so many things Germanic

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    The English language as we know it today, has an overwhelming amount of Greek & Latin word roots.

    The history of the noun in the modern English is quite intriguing, as nouns in modern English are quite different from nouns in most other languages. Nouns in the Latin language and the Romance languages which stemmed from it could easily be identified by their endings, such as -a or -o. However, as the modern English language developed, nouns, especially the monosyllabic nouns, were not necessarily given these distinctive endings. This made it more difficult to identify a noun in the modern English language. However, many pollysyllabic nouns could be identified by endings such as -ing, -er, -ation, -ity, -ness, -ism, and -ist.
    Retrieved From:http://www.geocities.com/rwb7uncp/guide.htm

    It's amazing to look at how much the English language has evolved or maybe even devolved over the course of history.

    A History of the English Language
    Past Changes Precipitate Worldwide Popularity


    Lauralee B. York

    Rewritten August. 2, 1999
    The history of the English language is of significance because English is spoken more frequently than any other language except Chinese, according to the International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (410). A Germanic language, English is spoken by an estimated 1,500,000,000 people, and that number is ever increasing, according to An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Language and Languages (121).

    English is the chief language of world publishing, science and technology, conferencing, and computer storage as well as the language of international air traffic control (121). English is also used for purposes of international communications, and international politics, business communications, and academic communities (122).

    The history of English can be traced to the colonization of people from a family of languages which spread throughout Europe and southern Asia in the fourth millennium BC, (185). It is thought that a seminomadic population living in the steppe region to the north of the Black Sea moved west to Europe and east to Iran and India, spreading their culture and languages (186). According to The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, the European languages and Sanskrit, the oldest language of the Indian sub-continent, were tied to a common source. When a systematic resemblance was discovered in both roots and verbs and in grammar forms, by comparing similar features of the European languages and Sanskrit, a common source language was reconstructed named Proto-Indo-European (298).

    The Proto-Indo-European language was more complex than English today. According to The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, It is possible to reconstruct three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and up to eight cases (nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative, locative, instrumental). Adjectives agreed in case, number, and gender with the noun. The verb system was also rich in inflections, used for aspect, mood, tense, voice, person, and number. Different grammatical forms of a word were often related by the feature of ablaut, or vowel graduation: the root vowel would change systematically to express such differences as singular and plural or past and present tense, as is still the case in English foot/feet or take/took (Crystal 299).

    The Proto-Indo-European language is thought to have been spoken before 3,000 BC, and to have split up into different languages during the following millennium (298). The languages families include Celtic, Germanic, Italic, Indo-Iranian, Tocharian, Armenian, Anatolian, Albanian, Greek, Balto-Slavic, and Slavic languages. Yiddish, German, Afrikaans, Dutch, Flemish, Frisian, and English make up the West Germanic subgroup of the Germanic Branch (Crystal 186).

    Scholars renamed the language group the Indo-European family after 3,000 BC (298). Theorists suggest that the horse was a major element of the Proto-Indo-European and the Indo-European family of languages. They conjecture that the culture was spread by warriors who conquered from horse-drawn chariots. Others discount this theory, according the Dictionary of Languages (273). The Indo-European languages have been marked by a succession of changes affecting different languages. One change of note includes the centum/satem split. K followed by a front vowel became s or sh in Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit sata), Iranian (Persian sad), Slavonic (Russian sto), Baltic (Lithuanian simtas), Albanian (qind, pronounced chind) and Armenian. It remained k in Celtic (Welsh cant), Italic, Tocharian (kant), Greek (hetaton) and Germanic (with a subsequent move to h, English hundred).
    Full Article:http://linguistics.byu.edu/classes/l.../english2.html

    The Holy Roman Empire did kind of screw things up a bit.

    As a consequence of the colonisation patterns the Völkerwanderung, the routes for trade and communication (chiefly the rivers), and of physical isolation (high mountains and deep forests) very different regional dialects developed. These dialects, sometimes mutually unintelligible, were used across the Holy Roman Empire.

    As Germany was divided into many different states, the only force working for a unification or standardisation of German during a period of several hundred years was the general preference of writers trying to write in a way that could be understood in the largest possible area.

    When Martin Luther translated the Bible (the New Testament in 1521 and the Old Testament in 1534) he based his translation mainly on this already developed language, which was the most widely understood language at this time. This language was based on Eastern Upper and Eastern Central German dialects and preserved much of the grammatical system of Middle High German (unlike the spoken German dialects in Central and Upper Germany that already at that time began to lose the genitive case and the preterit tense). In the beginning, copies of the Bible had a long list for each region, which translated words unknown in the region into the regional dialect. Roman Catholics rejected Luther's translation in the beginning and tried to create their own Catholic standard (Gemeines Deutsch) — which, however, only differed from 'Protestant German' in some minor details. It took until the middle of the 18th century to create a standard that was widely accepted, thus ending the period of Early New High German.
    Retrieved From:http://www.101languages.net/german/history.html

    The version of Beowulf read in school is quite different from the original version. Comparing both versions, side by side, does help to understand some of the Old English.

    The Familiar Version of Beowulf Introduction

    PRELUDE OF THE FOUNDER OF THE DANISH HOUSE

    LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
    of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
    we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
    Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
    from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
    awing the earls. Since erst he lay
    friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
    for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
    till before him the folk, both far and near,
    who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
    gave him gifts: a good king he!
    To him an heir was afterward born,
    a son in his halls, whom heaven sent
    to favor the folk, feeling their woe
    that erst they had lacked an earl for leader
    so long a while; the Lord endowed him,
    the Wielder of Wonder, with world's renown.
    Famed was this Beowulf:[1] far flew the boast of him,
    son of Scyld, in the Scandian lands.
    So becomes it a youth to quit him well
    with his father's friends, by fee and gift,
    that to aid him, aged, in after days,
    come warriors willing, should war draw nigh,
    liegemen loyal: by lauded deeds
    shall an earl have honor in every clan.
    Forth he fared at the fated moment,
    sturdy Scyld to the shelter of God.
    Then they bore him over to ocean's billow,
    loving clansmen, as late he charged them,
    while wielded words the winsome Scyld,
    the leader beloved who long had ruled....
    In the roadstead rocked a ring-dight vessel,
    ice-flecked, outbound, atheling's barge:
    there laid they down their darling lord
    on the breast of the boat, the breaker-of-rings,[2]

    Retrieved From:http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/beowulf.html

    Beowulf (in Old English)

    1-21
    HWÆT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum,
    þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,
    hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
    oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
    monegum mægþum meodosetla ofteah,
    egsode eorlas, syððanærest wearð
    feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,
    weox under wolcnum weorðmyndum þah,
    oð þæt him æghwylc ymbsittendra
    ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
    gomban gyldan; þæt wæs god cyning!
    Ðæm eafera wæs æfter cenned
    geong in geardum, þone God sende
    folce to frofre; fyrenðearfe ongeat,
    þe hie ær drugon aldorlease
    lange hwile; him þæs Liffrea,
    wuldres Wealdend woroldare forgeaf,
    Beowulf wæs breme --- blæd wide sprang---
    Scyldes eafera Scedelandum in.
    Swa sceal geong guma gode gewyrcean,
    fromum feohgiftumon fæder bearme,

    22-46
    þæt hine on ylde eft gewunigen
    wilgesiþas, þonne wig cume,
    leode gelæsten; lofdædum sceal
    in mægþa gehwære man geþeon.
    Him ða Scyld gewat to gescæphwile
    felahror feran on Frean wære;
    hi hyne þa ætbæron to brimes faroðe,
    swæse gesiþas, swa he selfa bæd,
    þendenwordum weold wine Scyldinga---
    leof landfruma lange ahte.
    Þær æt hyðe stod hringedstefna
    isig ond utfus, æþelingesfær;
    aledon þa leofne þeoden,
    beaga bryttan on bearm scipes,
    mærne be mæste. Þær wæs madma fela
    of feorwegum frætwa gelæded;
    ne hyrde ic cymlicor ceol gegyrwan
    hildewæpnum ond heaðowædum,
    billum ond byrnum;him on bearme læg
    madma mænigo, þa him mid scoldon
    on flodes æht feor gewitan.
    Nalæs hi hine læssan lacum teodan,
    þeodgestreonum, þon þa dydon,
    þe hine æt frumsceafte forð onsendon
    ænne ofer yðe umborwesende.

    Retrieved From:http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/beowulf-oe.html
    Now, Middle English works such as The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer are fairly easy to understand.

    Excerpt in Middle English
    1. Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
    2. Ther was a duc that highte Theseus;
    3. Of Atthenes he was lord and governour,
    4. And in his tyme swich a conquerour,
    5. That gretter was ther noon under the sonne.
    6. Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne,
    7. What with his wysdom and his chivalrie;
    8. He conquered al the regne of Femenye,
    9. That whilom was ycleped Scithia,
    10. And weddede the queene Ypolita,
    11. And broghte hir hoom with hym in his contree,
    12. With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee,

    Retrieved From:http://www.canterburytales.org/canterbury_tales.html

    Excerpt in Modern English
    1 Once on a time, as old tales tell to us,
    2 There was a duke whose name was Theseus:
    3 Of Athens he was lord and governor,
    4 And in his time was such a conqueror
    5 That greater was there not beneath the sun.
    6 Full many a rich country had he won;
    7 What with his wisdom and his chivalry
    8 He gained the realm of Femininity,
    9 That was of old time known as Scythia.
    10 There wedded he the queen, Hippolyta,
    11 And brought her home with him to his country.
    12 In glory great and with great pageantry,
    Retrieved From:http://www.canterburytales.org/canterbury_tales.html

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    When you look at old English using that spelling it looks foreign, but if you put the words into modern spelling you would recognize them much better.

    The Latin and Greek in English are mostly in medical terms, scientific words etc. the basic everyday lexicon is mostly Germanic. As far as some of the lost complexities some of it may have use but I never understood what the point of arbitrary genders for nouns was. I see language mainly as a tool. Even modern English too much time is spent on learning absurd spelling and grammatical rules that run against the grain of logic. This time could be spent learning or doing something more productive.

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    English is a mutt language. Sometimes even within the same word, we mix root from different sources.

    "tele" is from the Greek word for distance. "disto" is from the Latin.

    "visio" is the Latin word for seeing. "opti" is from the Greek.

    In our single word "television" we are blending parts from two different languages.

    (It's kind of fun to imagine, if things had gone another way, we'd be sitting down in the evening to watch the distopticon.)

    The Wycliff Bible, translated into Old English from Latin in the 1300's, is interesting and instructive to look over:

    In the bigynnyng God made of nouyt heuene and erthe.

    Forsothe the erthe was idel and voide, and derknessis weren on the face of depthe; and the Spiryt of the Lord was borun on the watris.

    And God seide, Liyt be maad, and liyt was maad.

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