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Thread: North Germanic ethnogenesis1900 days old

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    Default North Germanic ethnogenesis

    If there is anything that has been bugging me since i developed my interest in old Germanic languages.

    It's the unusual homogeneity of the northern branch of the family, there is no Germanic dialect in Scandinavia that can be traced further back than to common runic Norse.

    It seems to be a common view that the Germanic languages have their early origins in the north, which I find hard to believe, since if there has been Germanic spoken here since at least the bronze age we ought to see far more diversification if the language has been developing here for that long, but as stated no dialect, not even the most distant northern dalecarlian or west/ostrobothnian dialects display traits that can be traced further back than the early middle ages.

    This is similar to the Slavic languages that didn't spread until the early middle ages.

    The medieval norse languages were even closer, it's hard to grasp that the Norse dialect spoken on Gotland far to the east is very close to the dialect spoken in western Norway.
    All the dialectal differences seem to develop during or after the Viking period, and it concerns mostly consonant clusters and umlaut.

    The diversity of traits in the Germanic family seems to be far greater to the south, around the place where Germany and Denmark meet, there you can find the early origins of English, Frisian, Danish and Low German.

    Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and Norwegian were mutually intelligible up to the late middle ages when they started becoming their own languages, sped up by intense language contact with the low German speakers of the hanseatic league. By then the west Germanic branch had already split into distinct languages for long.

    Is it that farfetched that Scandinavia wasn't germanised until perhaps as late as the migration period? the language written in the elder futhark is sometimes described as being so close to common Germanic that it might as well have been the forerunner of both west and north Germanic.

    That implies a late split, and it's possible that the large scale land and power redistribution during the so called Vendel period could very well coincide with a large scale language shift.

    Oh, and another thing, north Scandinavians, Norwegians and Swedes, display some strange traits in their pronunciation that sort of contradicts the development of the Germanic languages. We stubbornly refuse the age-old vowel reduction some time during the middle ages and we don't have as strong a stress accent as Danish and English, the very force that created the Germanic languages in the first place. This is similar to what Italian and Welsh speakers do when they speak English. Was there another, perhaps more archaic IE-language spoken here before that has acted as a substrate in North Scandinavian?
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    Hello Hin, welcome to ABF!

    The Scandinavian languages obviously became what they are today, in Scandinavia, more likely in Sweden than in Denmark. This however doesn't mean that proto-Germanic evolved in Sweden or Norway first, and then spread to Germany, England etc. It's more likely that proto-Germanic spread from northern "Germania" to Scandinavia. On the other hand, Germans do have higher frequency of Y-DNA I1 than other, non-Germanic Europeans do, but this doesn't have to be an indication of evidence for proto-Germanic migrations from Scandinavia to Germany.

    Linguistic palaeontology is a bit difficult to use for the daughter languages of PIE, because a lot of the cognates in the languages may be loans since modern Germanic languages are younger than the subgroup branches of PIE. If cognates are found in Celtic and Indic, we can be sure those words have a common root back to proto-Indo-European, but within Germanic languages, there has been a lot of intelligible linguistic contact between Germans and Danes, Danes and Anglos, etc.
    Last edited by EliasAlucard; 2014-06-03 at 19:50.
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    Quoted for truth:
    Quote Originally Posted by Alaron View Post
    Anatolian Urhemait supporters are mostly butthurt Meds.
    For the lulz:
    Quote Originally Posted by drgs View Post
    Poland is a misunderstanding. It is a country which lies on the frontier between western and slavic world, and which combines elements of both.
    In fact, they are not even the Europeans in strict sense, meaning European as in bearing the responsibility and understanding of European interests. Poland has always been an subordinate country, on one side sucking German dick, on the other side -- Russian one, some kind of "novice" europeans, who are full of inferiority complexes, hysteria and obsessity neuroses. This is also true for all Baltic countries

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    Quote Originally Posted by EliasAlucard View Post
    Hello Hin, welcome to ABF!

    The Scandinavian languages obviously became what they are today, in Scandinavia, more likely in Sweden than in Denmark.
    .
    I don't agree, when the north Germanic languages show up in records it seems to be the Danes that "lead" the evolution, for instance the monodiphthongization started in the low Germanic languages, spread via Danish and then to Götaland in the early middle ages, I cant really think of anything similar going the other way, maybe apart from the "thick L", attributed to the Svear. But that never spread further south. Later northern novations such as palatization do not spread further down to Denmark.

    Interestingly I find the strong stress accent and lenition of modern Danish quite similar to what happened to IE when it became Germanic, If we imagine that the speakers that turned Proto-norse χaƀukaʀ into haukʀ spoke as reducing and slurry as danes it all makes sense.

    Dansk tunga.

    Quote Originally Posted by EliasAlucard View Post
    This however doesn't mean that proto-Germanic evolved in Sweden or Norway first, and then spread to Germany, England etc. It's more likely that proto-Germanic spread from northern "Germania" to Scandinavia. On the other hand, Germans do have higher frequency of Y-DNA I1 than other, non-Germanic Europeans do, but this doesn't have to be an indication of evidence for proto-Germanic migrations from Scandinavia to Germany.
    .
    I don't really consider DNA, that influential, a large group of folks can easily switch language without affecting their gene-pool. Most of the romance-speaking folks don't have that much "roman" input in them.

    Quote Originally Posted by EliasAlucard View Post
    Linguistic palaeontology is a bit difficult to use for the daughter languages of PIE, because a lot of the cognates in the languages may be loans since modern Germanic languages are younger than the subgroup branches of PIE. If cognates are found in Celtic and Indic, we can be sure those words have a common root back to proto-Indo-European, but within Germanic languages, there has been a lot of intelligible linguistic contact between Germans and Danes, Danes and Anglos, etc.
    The Germanic languages remained close long into the middle ages, English is loaded with Danish and Danish is loaded with low German.

    And, yes the Germanic language family is one of the younger branches


    The thing is, that the linguistic map of Europe was largely shaped during the migration period, it's during that time that the romance, Slavic and Germanic families diversify creating today's national laguages

    When the light of documented sources shine over southern Europe we can clearly see large scale language shifts and conquests, there were many branches of IE that died out wholly, is it that far fetched to consider a similar scenario in the north?, who knows what the slavs and germanics "swallowed", judging from their large and fast spread.

    Snorri Sturlasson claims that Odin and his Æsir were human beings that conquered today's Sweden in a distant past, probably during the migration period, and is it only "legend", that the Saxon and Danish royal houses counted them as ancestors?
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    Quote Originally Posted by HinGambleGoth View Post
    If there is anything that has been bugging me since i developed my interest in old Germanic languages.

    It's the unusual homogeneity of the northern branch of the family, there is no Germanic dialect in Scandinavia that can be traced further back than to common runic Norse.

    It seems to be a common view that the Germanic languages have their early origins in the north, which I find hard to believe, since if there has been Germanic spoken here since at least the bronze age we ought to see far more diversification if the language has been developing here for that long, but as stated no dialect, not even the most distant northern dalecarlian or west/ostrobothnian dialects display traits that can be traced further back than the early middle ages.

    ...

    The diversity of traits in the Germanic family seems to be far greater to the south, around the place where Germany and Denmark meet, there you can find the early origins of English, Frisian, Danish and Low German.

    Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and Norwegian were mutually intelligible up to the late middle ages when they started becoming their own languages, sped up by intense language contact with the low German speakers of the hanseatic league. By then the west Germanic branch had already split into distinct languages for long.
    There are multiple reasons for this, I think. For one thing, Scandinavia has always been more sparsely populated than continental Europe (more speakers, faster rate in language change, right?).

    Second, Scandinavia was also mostly populated in the south (Denmark, southern Norway and southern Sweden), which means that Old Norse and the homogeneity of the Scandinavian languages, is the result of a relatively small region of intelligibility. Of course this region wasn't small in that sense, obviously larger than modern Germany, but inhabited pretty much entirely by one tribe (Scandinavians are the same ethnicity anyway).

    Third, it must be understood that languages also evolve as a matter of political borders. For example, one tribe suddenly has two kings who divide the people, and then these two kings erect artificial borders, and fight each other over resources and so on. So, what was originally one people with the same language, now becomes split between borders, and contact decreases between the borders. This speeds up the rate of language change, when contact between the borders of Sweden and Norway decrease. This is also why the Scandinavian languages are more similar to each other than they are to any other Germanic languages, and form their own branch, because Germanic folks in northern Europe have had much more contact between each other, than they've had with Germans, Dutch, Anglo-Saxons and so on. Contact preserves intelligibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by HinGambleGoth View Post
    Is it that farfetched that Scandinavia wasn't germanised until perhaps as late as the migration period?
    Based on the linguistic evidence, and R1a-Z284+, I think it's likely that Sweden was the proto-Germanic urheimat. Also, Scandinavians carry more Yamnaya autosomal DNA than Germans.
    Last edited by EliasAlucard; 2015-09-07 at 23:01.
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    Quoted for truth:
    Quote Originally Posted by Alaron View Post
    Anatolian Urhemait supporters are mostly butthurt Meds.
    For the lulz:
    Quote Originally Posted by drgs View Post
    Poland is a misunderstanding. It is a country which lies on the frontier between western and slavic world, and which combines elements of both.
    In fact, they are not even the Europeans in strict sense, meaning European as in bearing the responsibility and understanding of European interests. Poland has always been an subordinate country, on one side sucking German dick, on the other side -- Russian one, some kind of "novice" europeans, who are full of inferiority complexes, hysteria and obsessity neuroses. This is also true for all Baltic countries

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    Quote Originally Posted by EliasAlucard View Post
    There are multiple reasons for this, I think. For one thing, Scandinavia has always been more sparsely populated than continental Europe (more speakers, faster rate in language change, right?).
    This is what I was thinking of:

    Most normal spoken languages over the course of a thousand years undergo enough change that speakers at either end of the millennium, attempting a conversation, would have difficulty understanding each other. Languages like Church Latin or Old Indic (the oldest form of Sanskrit), frozen in ritual, would be your only hope for effective communication with people who lived more than a thousand years ago. Icelandic is a frequently cited example of a spoken language that has changed little in a thousand years, but it is spoken on an island isolated in the North Atlantic by people whose attitude to their old sagas and poetry has been one approaching religious reverence. Most languages undergo significantly more changes than Icelandic over far fewer than a thousand years for two reasons: first, no two people speak the same language exactly alike; and, second, most people meet a lot more people who speak differently than do the Icelanders. A language that borrows many words and phrases from another language changes more rapidly than one with a low borrowing rate. Icelandic has one of the lowest borrowing rates in the world.' If we are exposed to a number of different ways of speaking, our own way of speaking is likely to change more rapidly. Fortunately, however, although the speed of language change is quite variable, the structure and sequence of language change is not.
    — Anthony, David W., The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, ISBN: 069114818X, p. 22-23

    So, the reason the Germanic languages in continental Europe have more diversity (actually, they all belong to one branch: West Germanic; East Germanic is now extinct, and came from Götaland anyway), is because Germanic speakers in continental Europe were a larger population and borrowed more from other languages (Celtic, Italic etcetera). It's no coincidence that sparsely populated Scandinavia, has little linguistic diversity, whereas densely populated continental Europe has much higher linguistic diversity.
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    Quoted for truth:
    Quote Originally Posted by Alaron View Post
    Anatolian Urhemait supporters are mostly butthurt Meds.
    For the lulz:
    Quote Originally Posted by drgs View Post
    Poland is a misunderstanding. It is a country which lies on the frontier between western and slavic world, and which combines elements of both.
    In fact, they are not even the Europeans in strict sense, meaning European as in bearing the responsibility and understanding of European interests. Poland has always been an subordinate country, on one side sucking German dick, on the other side -- Russian one, some kind of "novice" europeans, who are full of inferiority complexes, hysteria and obsessity neuroses. This is also true for all Baltic countries

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    There're some pretty good recent reason why Danish is different. Our entire administration was German at some point, and German (not just low, but regular) had some significant influence on the vocabulary. Danish was also influenced a lot by French, via the elite.

    Who knows, Icelandic may sound totally different from Old Norse! We can see this in the local dialects, they may have evolved in a few hundred years, but the pronunciation may be very different from each other. This applies to people who have lived in small villages in isolation, not just people who had significant contact with foreigners. People of two isolated villages in opposite ends of the country may speak very different dialects, so they just cannot both represent the original pronunciation. Icelandic may be archaic, but there's no real reason to think that it represents the original Germanic language. You could say the same about Faroese, it's different from Icelandic - the languages may be similar, but many of the words which are the same, are possible the result of influence by Danish!!! They basically speak a form of evolved Norwegian language. Danish is related to Swedish, but since some forms of Norwegian has been influenced by Danish, it is actually much easier for some Danes to understand (some types of) Norwegian rather than Swedish. The pronunciation and vocabulary is more similar, as represented by bokmål.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaM View Post
    The pronunciation and vocabulary is more similar, as represented by bokmål.
    No the pronunciation of Norwegian Bokmål is more like Swedish than Danish.
    I have even heard of Danes who can't tell differences between spoken Norwegian and Swedish, but it might be very few danes.

    Whenever I try to read a Danish text with my voice I sound like a Norwegian as I find the danish pronunciation will all their "stöd" hard to speak.
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    The approximate extent of Old Norse and related languages in the early 10th century
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_...se,_ca_900.PNG

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_...es#Middle_Ages

    The modern Swedish dialect groups. The two islands south of Finland that has Östsvenska mål/Eastern Swedish tounge is Dagö and Ösel in Estonia, but I believe those accents are extinct there. It's interesting that the borders of Sveamål, Götamål and Norrlandsmål does not exactly follow the borders of Svealand, Götaland and Norrland. Värmland landscape is in Svealand but is still counted as Götaland historically. Sydsvenska mål are Scanian accents.
    http://i162.photobucket.com/albums/t...pslndfx4ny.png

    Proto-Norse
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Norse_language

    Old Norse
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Norse

    Edit: fixed spelling error.
    Last edited by Janos; 2015-09-08 at 16:15.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janos View Post
    No the pronunciation of Norwegian Bokmål is more like Swedish than Danish.
    I have even heard of Danes who can't tell differences between spoken Norwegian and Swedish, but it might be very few danes.

    Whenever I try to read a Danish text with my voice I sound like a Norwegian as I find the danish pronunciation will all their "stöd" hard to speak.
    I don't deny that, but some Norwegian has a pronunciation which is more similar to Danish than Swedish is. Danes who are used to Swedish will understand Swedish more easily, obviously. For some reason, Danish doesn't have tones and the words are differentiated by stød instead - but it's generally the very same words which is differentiated by tones in Swedish. In any case, some kind of Norwegian is easy to understand, while another form of Norwegian is incomprehensible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaM View Post
    I don't deny that, but some Norwegian has a pronunciation which is more similar to Danish than Swedish is. Danes who are used to Swedish will understand Swedish more easily, obviously. For some reason, Danish doesn't have tones and the words are differentiated by stød instead - but it's generally the very same words which is differentiated by tones in Swedish. In any case, some kind of Norwegian is easy to understand, while another form of Norwegian is incomprehensible.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UAOCGLfaV4

    As for Scanian/Sydsvenska mål the only similarities to Danish I see are the french r, that a short u in some of Scanian dialects is pronounced as this, and that t, k and p inside some words are transformed into d, g and b (mad instead of usual swedish mat = food), though younger people don't have this consonant transformation.

    My finnish ex-gf had in the beginning hard to distinguish Scanian from Danish as neither of them are heared much in Finland, and for the pecularities I wrote above.

    Is there Danish accents with diphthongs or rolling r? A pecularity for many of the Götamål accents (except Gothenburg and the northern parts of the dialect area) is to have a french r in the beginning of the word and when r is double-written after a short vowel.
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