64 votes

Why is English classified as a Germanic rather than Romance language?

Classification of languages is a historical thing, rather than a synchronic one. Just like genetic classification of humans—someone who marries into a new family and goes and lives with them is ...
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55 votes
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Why is “ß” not used in Swiss German?

It is because of the typewriter. A Swiss typewriter needs to support three languages: German, French, and Italian. Therefore on the Swiss typewriter, there was no ß key. It also has only lowercase ...
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44 votes
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Why does English not have a cognate of words like heter, in Swedish, or llama, in Spanish, etc?

English does have that verb which is etymologically related to the Swedish heter, Icelandic heiti, German heißen, etc. In English it is to hight, only it is archaic, still sometimes it is used ...
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30 votes

Why is “ß” not used in Swiss German?

The Swiss government has an explanation on p. 18. One contributing factor is typography, namely the rise of use of the Antiqua font, which was claimed to not include ß. I have no evaluation of the ...
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  • 66.5k
26 votes
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Why is it called proto-Germanic?

Roman authors, at the latest from the time of Caesar, used "Germani" to identify all the "Germanic" tribes on both sides of the Rhine. So this usage has been established for a long ...
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  • 22.6k
26 votes

Why is it called proto-Germanic?

It's also worth pointing out the term originates in German as Urgermanisch or Protogermanisch, and that the German for German is Deutsch, not Germanisch. It was intended to be more neutral w.r.t. ...
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  • 1,849
23 votes

Does the letter p in a word mean that the word is not Germanic?

Not always. Grimm's Law predicts that Proto-Indo-European *b would turn into Proto-Germanic *p. However, Proto-Indo-European *b is vanishingly rare, and some scholars argue it didn't actually exist in ...
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  • 50.9k
15 votes
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Do the words "angst" and "anxiety" share a common root?

Yes, Germanic angst and Latin anxiety are derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root, which was something like *h₂enǵʰ- "constrict, narrow". Philippa (2003-2009) confirm that they are cognates: ...
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  • 7,818
14 votes

Earliest recognition that Germanic and Romance languages are related

The question should probably be restated as something like "When did people begin to believe that Romance and Germanic languages were related with some scholarly basis for that belief?" The ...
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  • 10.4k
14 votes

Does the letter p in a word mean that the word is not Germanic?

No, because PIE *p does not always become f. It does not in the cluster sp, for example "spin" < *spen, "sprawl" < *sper. Germanic p regularly derives from b, e.g. "deep&...
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  • 66.5k
13 votes

Why is English classified as a Germanic rather than Romance language?

If you don't want to get into details of linguistics (which I take it you don't) the best way to see the family resemblance is to take a comparative look at English's closest linguistic relative found ...
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  • 293
13 votes

Why does English not have a cognate of words like heter, in Swedish, or llama, in Spanish, etc?

From my understanding of the other answers, I think English does have this idiom. Only, instead of a "word", in English "nothing at all" is used (or if you're a programmer, the empty string). The ...
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  • 291
12 votes
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Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)?

There are some very controversial theories by the German linguist Theo Vennemann postulating a contact between Phoenician and proto-Germanic in the 6th to 3rd century BCE. The evidence for such ...
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11 votes
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Does the English "Garden" come from the French "Jardin" or the German "Garten"?

First of all, a warning: all these etymologies are to some extent hypothetical. Especially when it gets back to Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European, there's no actual proof of how the language ...
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  • 50.9k
11 votes

Why is it called proto-Germanic?

The other answers have all touched on different aspects of the question, but I'll try to combine them. Thousands of years ago, the Romans named much of north-central Europe Germānia, and the people ...
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10 votes
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Why does German require extra commas that may be considered useless by speakers of other languages?

I think your question has a presupposition that is already wrong: It is not the language, and even less a language's grammar that makes orthography rules. Orthography is a set of prescriptive, ...
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  • 6,120
10 votes

Why are some Russian and Swedish words so strikingly similar? Два - två, по-шведски - på svenska, etc

You've mixed a bunch of words of very different origin with a bunch of quite weak and poorly defined assumptions (like no considerable interactions between Russians and Swedes). It comes as no ...
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  • 907
10 votes
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Is there a clear linguistic reason for Swiss German not being considered its own Germanic language?

Is the premise of the question actually true? Alemannic German actually is considered its own language for many purposes. For example, it has its own ISO code, Wikipedia etc. As far as I know, ...
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9 votes

Why does English not have a cognate of words like heter, in Swedish, or llama, in Spanish, etc?

English does have a word for it, it's called. e.g. Swedish: Jag heter Danny English: I'm called Danny Although I'm Danny, or My name's Danny sounds less 'weird' to me.
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9 votes
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What's up with the letter W?

"W" developed as a standard, distinct letter by about the 17th century, taking its sweet time getting there. It is the result of standardizing a ligature of "vv", ramming the letters together. Bear in ...
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  • 66.5k
9 votes

What's up with the letter W?

Don't take spelling too seriously, it's often conventional and arbitrary. Language is primarily a spoken thing rather than a string of written letters. Don't confuse sounds (phonemes) with their ...
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9 votes

When and where did the guttural 'r' originate?

Sort of. The short answer is that the uvular R of, say, German and Dutch is probably in origin an independent development from the French uvular (as it is in Northumbrian English.) It is true that ...
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9 votes
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GVS similarity in cognate words other Germanic Languages

The mainstream hypothesis is that the vowel found in words like white was pronounced as something like [iː] (a long close front vowel, like that in Modern German bieten) in Common Germanic, and then ...
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  • 16.5k
9 votes

Why are some Russian and Swedish words so strikingly similar? Два - två, по-шведски - på svenska, etc

@shabunc has treated the other examples already, so I will say something about the bear's service: The same idiom is also present in German Bärendienst and it is traced to a fable by La Fontaine ...
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9 votes
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Are Germanic languages closer to Italo-Celtic languages or Balto-Slavic languages?

The best answer is: There is no consensus about this. In the big tree of Indogermanic languages there are only two intermediate groupings that are generally accepted: Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic. ...
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8 votes

What's the relation between Germanic suffixes -ly, -lich, -lijk, ... and Turkic suffixes -lik -liq

Duden and other sources state that -lich is a grammaticalized form of the Middle High German līch ["body"] (which also gave rise to Leiche). -ly, -lich, -lijk (and Scandinavian forms) are actually all ...
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8 votes

Where did the use of the two auxiliaries in the Romance languages come from?

What we know is that the have perfect is a Sprachbund feature of Standard Average European. Where it originated is less clear. Because Romance languages are better documented in the late antiquity and ...
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8 votes
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Germanic Philology: "translate" a word from indoeuropean language to the germanic language

Verner's Law is not an exception, since Germanic did not emerge in one sudden leap from PIE, it is a complication, i.e. there is another law that has to be factored in. Grimm's Law happened, and then ...
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  • 66.5k
8 votes

Why are English and German West Germanic languages while Scandinavian Germanic languages are an own branch

The simple answer is that these groupings are not based on present-day similarities, but on a genetic relationship, i.e. a common ancestor. In the case of the Germanic languages, this is Proto-...
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