Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Sub-Department

German

First Advisor

Kurt G Goblirsch

Abstract

The literature regarding the grouping of the Germanic languages will be reviewed and a potential solution to the problems of the division of the Germanic language will be proposed. This is however quite a complex task. Most of the Germanic languages share a great number of similarities, and individual languages often have features common to more than one group. Old Saxon, Old Low Franconian, and Old English are examples of languages that make the grouping much more complex than it appears on the surface. The grouping Germanic languages has been debated by linguists since the 19th century, and there are still dissenting views on this topic. Old English, Old Low Franconian and Old Saxon pose significant issues with regard to grouping, and the research for this thesis will attempt to clarify where these languages fit with other Germanic languages and what the best classification of the Germanic languages would be. The Stammbaum model and Wellentheorie will be reviewed among other methods like dialect geography and ethnography, but the listing of isoglosses will be the primary method employed in this study. The Germanic languages exist on a (dialect) continuum, and the divisions are much more fluid than the previous attempts at grouping would imply, even more so within West Germanic. Anglo-Frisian comprises North Sea Germanic, Old Saxon and Old Low Franconian form a transition zone, and Old High German constitutes the Elbe language.

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