57 votes
Accepted

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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
32 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 ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
28 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. ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
  • 2,077
26 votes
Accepted

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 ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
24 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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
18 votes
Accepted

Do the words "angst" and "anxiety" share a common root?

Yes, Germanic angst and Latin anxiety are are derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root, which was something like *h₂enǵʰ- "constrict, narrow". Philippa (2003-2009) confirm that they ...
Cerberus's user avatar
  • 7,976
15 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&...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
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 ...
TKR's user avatar
  • 10.9k
13 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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
12 votes
Accepted

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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

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, ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
12 votes

Development of Old Norse 2nd and 3rd person sg. (present indicative) forms of "to be"

I am not an expert on Old Norse, but my guess that in Old Norse happened something similar as in the development of the German language: The second person singular acquired a new -t from the start of ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
12 votes

Development of Old Norse 2nd and 3rd person sg. (present indicative) forms of "to be"

It is certainly puzzling, and not only to you. The problem has frustrated many scholars and is thus described on page 724 of The Nordic Languages: An International Handbook of the History of the North ...
pinnerup's user avatar
  • 1,013
12 votes

Why are modal verbs in English defective?

The simple answer is that they cease to be "verbs" and become some other category entirely. In the formal study of syntax, we could say they have category T ("tense") instead of ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
11 votes
Accepted

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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
11 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 ...
shabunc's user avatar
  • 919
10 votes
Accepted

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, ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
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 ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
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 ...
Alex Foreman's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

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 ...
brass tacks's user avatar
  • 18.1k
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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

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. ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
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-...
David Vogt's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Are English 'gay' and Norwegian 'gøy' cognates?

According to the Norske Akademis Ordbok, gøy is from English “gay”.
melissa_boiko's user avatar
8 votes

Why is it called proto-Germanic?

Names are to a good part conventions. It is historically long established to name the group of languages consisting of the Scandinavian languages (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic; but not ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
7 votes

Why is "och" (and) not spelled "og" in Swedish?

In the earliest Swedish written using the Latin alphabet, such as the Äldre Västgötalagen from about 1250, the word is spelt 'ok'. It seems to have changed to 'och' during the later middle ages or ...
Graham Asher's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

History of "have", "avoir", "haben", etc. as auxiliary

Areal features develop when languages from different groups or branches are in contact with each other. There are a few main mechanisms - common substrate, common superstrate, parallel development. ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar

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