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Thread: Difference Between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

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    Senior Member Eberhardt's Avatar
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    Difference Between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    I've been looking up the differences between these two ancient Germanic languages for a historically authentic novel I'm working on, but I'm not finding any. Possibly because I am restricted to internet sources for the immediate time period. If someone could point me in the right direction or state the differences between these two languages I'd appreciate it.

    I'm thinking the variation is very subtle.

    Thank you in advance.

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    Re: Difference between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    Norse is a branch of the Germanic language tree, like Low German and English are. Proto-Germanic is the root-language from which the various Germanic languages developed, among them the Norse tongue. Proto-Norse would be the precursor of Norse, and a descendent of proto-Germanic. That is at least how I understand it.

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    Re: Difference between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eberhardt
    I've been looking up the differences between these two ancient Germanic languages for a historically authentic novel I'm working on, but I'm not finding any. Possibly because I am restricted to internet sources for the immediate time period. If someone could point me in the right direction or state the differences between these two languages I'd appreciate it.

    I'm thinking the variation is very subtle.
    You are mistaken. The time-windows in which the plot was to play would differ considerably.

    Proto-Germanic (or Urgermanisch) is the "grandgreatmother" of all Germanic languages, including Old Norse. It a hypothetical language, reconstructed by comparision of the oldest written texts of their "daughter" languages which are available to us. In fact, it subsumes all forms of Germanic for which we have no hard evidence.

    This Proto-Germanic emerged around the middle of the first millenium B.C. and eveloped till around 1 A.D. From then on, Germanic began to split into clearly distinguishable subgroups, the number of which is under dispute.

    One of these subgroups, however, in any case must have been Proto-Norse (or Urnordisch), it encompasses the language of the so called North Germanics, from which the modern Scandinavians descend.

    You might say that the relation between Proto-Germanic and the oldest "hard-proof" Germanic languages (among which are Gothic, Old English, Old High German, Old Low German, Old Friesian and Old Norse) is similar to that between Proto-Norse and the modern Scandinavian languages.

    The difference between Proto-Norse and Old Norse is: the former is reconstructed-hypthetical, the latter does really exist in a number of texts written around 1000 A.D. There also exist carved inscriptions. But the farer one goes back, the fewer they become.

    You can say: when Gothic was written (4th and 5th century), Proto-Norse was spoken.

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    Senior Member Eberhardt's Avatar
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    Re: Difference between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Siegfried
    Norse is a branch of the Germanic language tree, like Low German and English are. Proto-Germanic is the root-language from which the various Germanic languages developed, among them the Norse tongue. Proto-Norse would be the precursor of Norse, and a descendent of proto-Germanic. That is at least how I understand it.
    I should have been more specific, but I realise all of this. I just was thinking that Proto-Norse would be very similar to Proto-Germanic since it was one of the first variations descended from the language.
    Quote Originally Posted by Spjabork
    The difference between Proto-Norse and Old Norse is: the former is reconstructed-hypthetical, the latter does really exist in a number of texts written around 1000 A.D. There also exist carved inscriptions. But the farer one goes back, the fewer they become.

    You can say: when Gothic was written (4th and 5th century), Proto-Norse was spoken
    I realise this as well, though I was looking for grammatical differences that could help me in giving a few characters in my novel names for the enscription on a Spear that I have named in Old Norse Alfgeirr (I use the correct character for the A, but it seems that it won't appear on this page) or "Elf-Spear". It might help others who would mean to help me as well if I explain the time period this novel takes place in: 836 A.D. (The period when Old Norse had just begun to be used, starting 36 years prior, before 800 A.D. was Proto-Norse and before that was Proto-Germanic).

    The spear will have the enscription of the warriors who bore the weapon before the current man, Vigolfr Audolfsson "Battle-Wolf, Noble-Wolf's son", so it will go back before 800 A.D. and I'd like to use Proto-Norse names for those warriors.

    I thank everyone who has helped so far.

    Edit: And I appologize for originally placing this thread in the Northern Germanic section, was in a bit of a hurry.

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    Re: Difference between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    By definition, Proto-Germanic is the stage of the language constituting the most recent common ancestor of the attested Germanic languages, dated to the latter half of the first millennium BC. The post-PIE dialects spoken throughout the Nordic Bronze Age, roughly 2500–500 BC, even though they have no attested descendants other than the Germanic languages, are referred to as pre-Proto-Germanic. That about a third of the vocabulary of Proto-Germanic has no unambiguous Indo-European etymology is not out of the ordinary for a language of ca. 500 BC, other branches showing a similar picture.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Germanic

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/theudiskon/
    Welcome to the Theudiskon project. The purpose of the project, of which this group is a part, is to research and re-construct Proto-Germanic, the common ancestor of the Germanic languages
    .

    Proto-Norse, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Ancient Nordic, Old Scandinavian or Proto-North Germanic was an Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is thought to have evolved from Proto-Germanic over the first centuries AD. It is the earliest stage of a characteristically North Germanic language, and the language of the oldest Scandinavian Elder Futhark inscriptions, spoken ca. from the 3rd to 7th centuries (corresponding to the later Roman Iron Age and the earlier Germanic Iron Age). It evolved into the dialects of the Old Norse language at the beginning of the Viking Age.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-norse

    I hope this helps.

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    Sv: Difference between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    I they would be of any help, I posted some links to on-line dictionaries earlier, including Old Norse and Old (proto-)Germanic:

    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=57247

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    Re: Difference between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    What is "Proto-Germanic"? As far as I know, Germanic language came upon the world out of Sweden almost overnight. Please, someone, list one Proto-Germanic word for me. The only Proto-Germanic I can think of might be Illyrian but I am not a linguist and we have great linguists here at Skadi.

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    Sv: Difference between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    As I understand it, proto-Germanic = Urgermanisch. It is a reconstructed language, just as Proto-Indoeurpean. See Gerard Köbler's Germanisches Wörterbuch.

    According to which,

    murþra- = murder (n.)
    murþjan or murþrjan = murder (v.)


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    Re: Difference between Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic?

    This might be a good question to ask on Theudiskon since it involves Proto-Norse, though arguably in the context you present, a date for this language would move it closer to Old Norse. The language did not make a complete shift in 800 AD on January 1st. It was of course gradual. Assuming the proto-norse is 7th or 8th century, it will hardly be different from Old Norse, and might even use the younger futhark. If the names were found on a spear that dated to say 400 or 500 AD then maybe one could make a case for a conservative Proto-Norse closer to Proto-Germanic. This would affect certain vowel lengths, whether or not umlaut is present and the thematic vowels in the nominative sg (=a= being the first lost).


    Quote Originally Posted by Eberhardt
    836 A.D. (The period when Old Norse had just begun to be used, starting 36 years prior, before 800 A.D. was Proto-Norse and before that was Proto-Germanic).

    The spear will have the enscription of the warriors who bore the weapon before the current man, Vigolfr Audolfsson "Battle-Wolf, Noble-Wolf's son", so it will go back before 800 A.D. and I'd like to use Proto-Norse names for those warriors.

    I thank everyone who has helped so far.

    Edit: And I appologize for originally placing this thread in the Northern Germanic section, was in a bit of a hurry.

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