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Thread: Which Germanic Language is the Purest?

  1. #11
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    The amount of Gaelic loanwords in English is negligible.

    When it comes to vocabulary, Icelandic is indeed very pure, though not necessarily most like Old Germanic, as the vocabulary has nonetheless changed a lot. What makes it closest to Old Germanic is its conservative inflectional character. Yet as far as form and pronunciation of words go, in many cases Icelandic, like other Scandinavian languages, has drifted more from Old Germanic than for instance Dutch. Some examples:

    Old Germanic *drenkanan > Icelandic drekka and Dutch drinken
    Old Germanic *haƀukaz > Icelandic haukur and Dutch havik
    Old Germanic *hanhistaz/*hangistaz > Icelandic hestur and Dutch hengst
    Old Germanic *heltam > Icelandic hjalt and Dutch hilt
    Old Germanic *jēram > Icelandic įr and Dutch jaar
    Old Germanic *nahtz > Icelandic nótt and Dutch nacht
    Old Germanic *wrekanan > Icelandic reka and Dutch wreken
    Old Germanic *wurmaz > Icelandic ormur and Dutch worm

    But of course the reverse is often the case.

    And speaking of Dutch: it has a lot of loanwords, but also a lot of native alternatives. You can write long and complicated texts in Dutch while using only few loanwords. Dutch is also notable for having many mathematical and other scholarly terms that are not borrowed. For instance, whereas most Germanic languages have borrowed their common word for ‘geography’ from Latin geōgraphia (which is from Greek geōgraphķā), Dutch has aardrijkskunde (and Icelandic has landafręši).

    Frisian has a vocabulary that is hardly any more Germanic than that of Dutch, though it has, maybe even more so than the Scandinavian languages, undergone some drastic sound changes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sindig_og_stoisk View Post
    It is perfectly normal to use loan words for concepts and ideas that there is no word for in your own language. It does not have to be such a negative thing.

    If it were, we would all have to abandon our parent's language and begin speaking Old Norse, Gothic or even Sanskrit.
    Not necessarily. Both Icelandic and, to a lesser degree, Finnish invents new words from their already existing vocabulary. For example their words for 'computer', are respectively 'tölva' and 'tietokone', unlike the vast majority of other European languages, who have more or less directly adopted the Latin-originating word 'computer'.

    Try reading through an Icelandic or Finnish article about science or modern technology, and you'll be hard pressed to find any foreign-originating words.
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    IMHO the purest the frisian and the west low german dialects/languages. The iclandic, faroese, övdalian are so archaic, however the old norse was so different to proto-germanic and probably it had non-indoeuropean, maybe local finno-ugrian influence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Žoreišar View Post
    Not necessarily. Both Icelandic and, to a lesser degree, Finnish invents new words from their already existing vocabulary. For example their words for 'computer', are respectively 'tölva' and 'tietokone', unlike the vast majority of other European languages, who have more or less directly adopted the Latin-originating word 'computer'.

    Try reading through an Icelandic or Finnish article about science or modern technology, and you'll be hard pressed to find any foreign-originating words.
    And that is certainly also a viable option. The Danish playwright, writer, philosopher and historian Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) meticulously invented several hundreds of Danish words to replace German, French and Latin loan words. Today, many Danes mistakenly believes these words to be 'pure' and ancient Danish words when in fact they are early modern constructs.

    However, my point still stands: I do not believe it to be proper to use a term like 'pure' to describe a language where there are few loan words. Adopting loan words and inventing new words are both acceptable ways for a language to develop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donar Eijck View Post
    I believe Frisian has changed very little, but a Fries could explain that better.
    From what I have read there is a big difference between the Frisian spoken on the street. And that was is being taught academically. Alto in some rural areas they might still speak their own Frisian dialect with little outside influences. So they might consider relatively the purest of the West-Germanic languages/dialects.

    Flemmish on the other hand, is a bit more pure Dutch in my ears, I believe its the way we use to speak (without the soft G).
    That can easily be explained in the light of the language struggle with the Walloons.
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    Senior Member Hilderinc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sindig_og_stoisk View Post
    Much the same way that American English includes words such as "maize",
    Everyone uses the Germanic word corn, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilderinc View Post
    Everyone uses the Germanic word corn, though.
    Exactly in Afrikaans we call it 'koring' I believe the Proto-Germanic was 'kurnan' which is pretty similar in pronunciation.

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    However, my point still stands: I do not believe it to be proper to use a term like 'pure' to describe a language where there are few loan words. Adopting loan words and inventing new words are both acceptable ways for a language to develop.
    Why not? There are always more and more things that are being invented and people should make new words for their language and renew it and keep it fresh. I also think that words made for your language fits better into a conversation. I've noticed this when watching German news or reports. When the Anchor is talking and then slips some English word like "Team work" in and it sounds horrible. Also when people are speaking their native language and you hear words like nice,cool, fuck .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wulfaz View Post
    [...] the old norse was so different to proto-germanic and probably it had non-indoeuropean, maybe local finno-ugrian influence.
    I agree that Old Norse most likely had some vocabulary originating in Paleo-European languages (including Finnic languages) of the original settlers in our lands, but I don't see why this exclusively should pertain to Old Norse. After all, Proto-Germanic evolved in Scandinavia, and if Old Norse partially consisted of adopted Paleo-European vocabulary, then the other languages descended from Proto-Germanic should by all reason do so as well.
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    all you need to do is take the text from the front page of the national sections and only Icelandic has no latin loanwords. faroese has one and is probably the second purest living germanic language

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    history is of etruscan origin. political greek. it also seems to me that icelandic and faroese are the only european languages without the word idiot. this word originated in greek and from there to latin. it exists in finnish hungarian the baltic and I think most slavic languages. I wonder if it is in bask. there are not many words that are in all european languages

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