Talk:Germanic substrate hypothesis

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What is the proposed name for the hypothetical language that allegedly affected Germanic in this way? The term "Folkish" is mentioned in the article, but I'm not quite sure what they meant by it-- whether it is the name of the foreign language or for the words derived from the non-IE language.

I guess "Folkish" might be as good a word as any, since, if the hypothesis is correct, there is no way to tell what the people/language would have been called at the time it was spoken. AFAIK, "Folkish" might be used for both the language and the words derived from it, similar to how "casa", "vaquero", "loco" etc. could be considered "Spanish words in the English language"... =S
I suppose it's as good as any – provided one forgets the use Hitler put to the word völkisch. As it stands, I admit it makes me feel very uncomfortable. QuartierLatin1968 16:01, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yes, there is that and there are the uses to which the English word "folkish" have been put by racists. --Saforrest 19:55, 20 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So what? Should the words "Nationalist" and "Socialist" become dirty words because they were used by Nazi's now? Kentynet (talk) 17:09, 2 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Since some scholars have proposed the term "Folkish" for the Germanic substrate language, it probably deserves a mention, along with some of the reasons for why the term has not quite caught on. For example, if you look up "folk" in the appendix of Indo-European word roots in the American Heritage Dictionary (the appendix is an abridged English translation of Pokorny) it gives a pretty strong pedigree for "folk," thus shooting down the main reason for using the term. As for the term's guilt by association, not only with the Nazis, but also with various sorts of neopagans, some of them racist, that could be mentioned as well. However, I don't think we should be using it as the term, since linguists apparently don't. Zyxwv99 (talk) 20:16, 2 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Everywhere in europe there was paleolithic substrate populations. It is not know if they were spoken by groups related geneticly, but as the human genenome project demonstates 3 major dominant "clines" of gradual % of genetic changes across 3 different spacial axis of europe, it is hard to see how they could not be related. THE Human genenome projrect also has demonstarted that 47% off all ethnic europeans are descended from the paleolithic population: which means the indo-europeans genes got diluted even as their language got adopted by the natives as they spread their elite dominance political structures & asssociated material technologies. One of the most interesting thing that comes from studing the NUMBER of isoglosses that differentiate the various daughter languages of the indo european group ( that were once just local dialects of INDO EURO)- is that only the ones at the periphery of the spread have features unique to themselves. ALBANIAN is shares phonemes in common with Armenian, celtic; & balto-slavic. See this following diagram: ( everywhere there is a "*" reprensents a shared or multiply shared phoneme. ALL the languages listed are arranged like a chain link fence of shared isoglossic similarities & differences where ever there is a .

                                              Germanic ( transbaltic)                    
                                                balto-slavic (trans carpathian)
  ( bifurcated into N & S by the alps):Italo-celtic * Albanian * Tocharian * Hittite 
                                          GREEK *  Thraco-Armenian * Indo-Aryan

Briefly this implies a radial dispersion from a central source in 2 waves, the first wave (CENTUMS) reaching the margins of the entire geographic continuim where they were found 200 BC & the 2nd ( statem inovators) only reaching the margins in the far south east : (ie: Aryan invasions of Persia/afganistan/Northern India is second wave). The unities are like a layer cake on east/west AND north south axis where the *s are;, a pre-statumized UR-Albanian is CENTRAL & this most likely implies a radiation from the hungarian basin, as none of the languages that wound up by saltwater had any common word for "sea" or "ocean", which would be unlikely if their story was a one of a long treck west from the region north of the black sea coast into europe, or eastaway from the black sea into the tarim basin ( tocharians) & down into persia & india ( aryans). GREEK, Thraco-ARMENIAN & INDO-ARYAN are particularly close, shareing 3 isogloses unique to them, but Greek moved off early & never got statemized. German shares phonemes with BALT, which shares other phomenes with Slavic, and all three are set off in a group from the rest by common phonemes: they represent another continuim. The one know ancient group not charted above is ILLYRIAN. From what little we know of its phonemes & its historic location; it is likely to be 1 of 2 things: either a peice of linguistic continum between celtic & Albanian; or ALBANIAN is that potion of Illyric that got statemized in the wave of statemizer inovators durring the 2nd wave of indo-european dispersal. While Albanian does not currently exist in the hungarian basin,( it is in a mountainous refugia) it IS near by there & before the southward movement of the slavs & germans, the hungarian basin ( the actual hungarian language MAGYAR is a late comer to the region & not indo-euro) must have been a place of ease of communication where many isoglos differences overlaped & NONE were unique to the local Indoeuropean patois language there: which is EXACTLT the phonemeic character of ALBANIAN:it has NO unique isoglosic distinctions; instead it shares features with its neighbors on any side of the above chart. there was substarte non 0 indo european languages in The british Isles & Europe west of eth Rhine, in the AEGEAN region & in Italy. In Persia it was elamite : now know to be a dravidian tongue, like much of what the Indo euros found in India proper. North Russia & scandinavia probably has Finnish groups. & there was hurrians in Turnekey before the Hittite & Armenians arrived there. THE DANIBIAN BASIN actually is the ONLY place where no substrates are recorded outside the ukraine. But living on teh ukrine required pastoral nomadism & teh anthroplogists are convinced this is an out growth of mixed farming: It is a later development, Hence the Kurgan culture cannot be the UR-Indo Europeans: they are just teh ones a that domeaticated teh horse & trecked east to trukistans & the tarim basin. ( teh tocharians_ that surrizingly spoke a conservative centum language that mor closely resembles celtic than Indo _Aryan does. Hence the Law of PARSIMONY PLACES THE ORIGIN of the INDOEUROPEAN LANGUAGE SPEAKERS IN The hungarian basin, & yes the germanic group has characteristics that sound as if a group of non Indo Euro- sppeakers were making the attemopt to speak it using phonemeic material from a substrate language. germanics patoise place f origin is on the margin, shows early conservative features & was isolated from the rest of the IE continueum by the Baltic sea.

the 3 gene major gene clines in europe are: from basque land to Lappland; from the causucus to the british isles; & the middle east to Ireland/Scotland and Belgium in 2 streams: up the danube/rhine to the rhine mouth;and 2):thru the coastal mediteranian & up the atlantic coast & irish sea to the North tip of Scotland: the local percentages of differences vary little along any of these routes, & yet europe is for all practiacl purporses VERY MIXED by now & has been since about1000 BC-500AD. political boarderes represent changes in gene frequencies but thse are small compared to say, Lapps & basques, Russians & spanish, Greeks & britons, Danes & italians.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 11:22, 6 June 2005

cleanup tag[edit]

I just added the cleanup tag ..... I was torn between it and wikify as I think the article is mostly fine it just needs some better formatting and layout. Dalf | Talk 05:48, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Bear -- brown?[edit]

On some website about Indoeuropean languages, perhaps a Wikipedia site, I read that these are cognates and probably are the result of yet another taboo on the bear's name (compare Slavic medvěd, literally "honey-eater"). What does everyone think?

Yes, that is the standard version, AFAIK. The original IE word for "bear" was lost for taboo reasons, and instead the animal was called "the brown one".--Wiglaf 14:56, 12 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's possible that Proto-Slavic had a word with b-r but the vowel was NOT E. Compare Russian berloga with Bulgarian bǎrloga (бърлога), which indicates that the Proto or Common Slavic root was BǏR/БЬР-. 22:17, 16 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please correct this here and in the article: The russian „medved" doesn't mean „honey-eater" but „honey-knowing", because „ved" means „wissen". In Baltic it is „medko", the „ko" meaning „loving". And in addition: The russian „berloga" may be a Rurik (i.e. viking) loan - because Russians have a certain feeling for this word. It is typically old and „russian", like for instance the Rurik-names „Oleg, Igor" and „Wladimir".

Overly broad[edit]

The article is over-broad in its statements. The actual substrate is less than one-third, under 30%, as I recall. The word "creole" is not correctly used; it should not be used in this article at all. The Grimm-Verner law does not come into full force until essentially AD 1 (the first Germanic sound shift). --FourthAve 11:57, 12 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Do you have a source for that dating? I would have thought Grimm-Verner would be considerably earlier. --Doric Loon 10:35, 8 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please, the word creole is appropriate, if you consider Vennemanns sub- and superstrat theory. Seen from above, i.e. the semitidic language (in Vennemanns notion), Germanic is creole! According to Grimm-Verner, this law is known to us only since AD 1. Whether it is older is unknown, since there are no older germanic Sprachdenkmäler. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:43, 23 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Leiden etc[edit]

I don't feel confident enough on this to make major changes to the article, but I suspect that they are needed. For one thing, the article focusses pretty much on Hawkins. I suspect the theory is older than Hawkins, certainly older than his 1990 book, and it is championed by others too. It has been particularly influential in the Netherlands. There is a group working in Leiden who are well inclined to the theory, and possibly the article should mention them. It should also mention that the new Etymologisch woordenboek van het Nederlands editied by Marlies Philippa (vol 1: Amsterdam UP 2003) claims to be the first etymological dictionary of any Western European language to take the theory up in its explanations. This suggests a level of respectability which the theory does not have elsewhere, and that ought to be made clear. On the other hand, there seems to be a majority of linguists who are sceptical. Incidentally, the Philippa dictionary suggests that 15% of native Germanic words in Dutch are substrat words, a more modest claim than Hawkins' 30%.--Doric Loon 10:35, 8 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I remain uncomfortable with this article. As for the 1st sound shift, the usual introductions to IE studies generally put it starting at 500 BC with AD 1 as the date it became complete. Elsewhere you read about "pre-proto-Germanic" to get around the arguments about what language they spoke before the 1st sound shift. See my speculations in Globular Amphora culture. --FourthAve 06:31, 13 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The newest Dutch etymologic dictionary of Marlies Philippa employs the categories "substrate" or "possible substrate", but it often remains unclear how these are employed in relation to PIE when possible cognates exist in Latin and/or Greek eg. Axe ~ Latin ascia and Greek axī́nē). The overwhelming majority of these "substrate" words have at least more than once been defined as Indo European. Other examples: "A" for river toponyms ~Latin Aqua (water); Aak (kind of ship) << *Nakwa ~Lat. Navis; Adel (noble) << *at-alo; words like alf, elft, Elbe etc. that derive from pie. *h2elbh- (white) and that relate to Latin albus and Greek alphos.

It seems at least some circular appreciation of a non-European PIE origin is required to interpret these substrate words as non-PIE. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:54, 3 December 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A link you might like[edit]

This is a fairly good etymology dictionary that could be useful here. - 19:03, 1 February 2006 (UTC) The Great Gavini talk

Substrate hypothesis[edit]

Some words mentioned in the table are found in Marathi,an Indo-European language from india.A few examples are as below: 1.Sea-Shiv(There is a legend that Lord Shive emerged from ocean,hence sagar-samudra-sea 2.King--(ki-ng),ng(serpent),there were naga kings in ancient india 3.Wife-Bie 4.Sword-(Tal-wor) 5.ship-shid 6.sail-vail 7.west-w(est) 8.east-e(ast) 9.north-n(orth) 10.bride-vride/vadhu 11.groom-varo 12.drink-dravya

This may throw more light on this hypothesis. dbkasarDbkasar

Do you have any sources for these? - The Great Gavini spricht mit mir 17:58, 6 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This information is from my own book recently published in Mumbai,India.Its title is'Marathichi ek bolibhasha-vishwabhasa engrazi'(English&Marathi).I have found that atleast 5000 basic words of English are connected with Marathi.I do not know German-but I believe there is lot of similarity between Germanic languages and Marathi.Here I am citing a few more examples-Berg(Buruj),Munich(muni),husband(hus-a-band),water(w-at-er),moon(mo-on),sky(aksy) and so on.I think we need to discuss with open mind all these so that we may come across some new finding.This information I am putting purely to enrich this site. Dbkasar 05:42, 7 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Maybe not - the comment on your user page about you adding a theory to English language that it is a dialect of Marathi suggests that you might not be a reliable source. - The Great Gavini spricht mit mir 15:50, 8 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Do you know the old Icelandic txt[edit]

Look for saganet and read some oldest sagas. I find information that its close to substratum. There is 25000 scaned pages. Lokk for Sagaszczaszczij Licozhron: (its top text) bozirca tejsza sacja odhroniat ot rozzicji. Mostly not jet documented. Site is java based do not give links to given page.Ciosek 21:06, 17 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

haf- example[edit]

I have removed this. Latin habeo is nothing to do with haf-, it relates perfectly correctly to the verb give'. --Pfold 12:20, 24 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Assuming the "haf-" example related to the verb "to have," it is nonethess the case that there is a Latin cognate. Capeo, capere ("take") is generally viewed as cognate with "have" (OE haebban).
Bob99 23:28, 18 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

etymology of 'folk' and other words[edit]

English 'folk' (now meaning 'people' but originally meaning 'armed group' (cf. Green, 1998, Language and History in the Early Germanic World, p. 90)) may come from the same root as Russian 'polk' (now meaning 'regiment'). Note the regular transformation of the common root's p- into the Germanic form's f-. Jacob Haller 03:46, 26 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Svensk etymologisk ordbok presents the same Slavic and a similar Lithuanian cognate; and suggests a probable connection with an IE root *pele, 'to fill' (from which 'full' is derived). This may or may not be so; I do not understand the references to Latin 'vulgus', and would like to see a reference to where this is found. Is this really found in a reliable source, or was it just introduced as a suggestion? (The modern German spelling 'Volk' really should have no bearing on this. Changes should rather reflect the Grimm laws; and besides, according to the quote supra, both the fsax. = Old Saxon and the fhty. = Old High German speling was 'folk', not 'volk'.)
Hence, I'll reinstate the demand for a reference. --JoergenB 19:59, 4 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would have to second the removal of "vulgus" from the suggestions. It does seem unsupported, as it does not match up with any known sound shift. It's entirely natural for words to end up looking similar to each other despite not having anything in common: Greek: 'ne' = yes, Korean: 'ne' = yes. For "vulgus" and "folk" to be related, it would have had to have been borrowed from Latin/other-IE language between the first and second phase of Grimm's Law. This seems highly unlikely as it would appear to be the only word to my knowledge to do so. At least the connection to the Slavic and IE root *pele are more likely than the presented hypothetical origin of "folk". What PIE root does "vulgus" come from anyways? Note, that due to Grimm's Law, the g->k change says that "Folk" would have to come from "vulgus" or a common root, but still again, it would have to be smack dap in between sound shifts. --Puellanivis 22:53, 4 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've removed the claim, since there's still no citation, and I can't find any reputable source that even suggests that there might be a connection to Latin vulgus. --Zundark 09:00, 18 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As for "folk, Volk, polk" see Vennemanns' book, actually a collection of his scientific articles. He traces it back to semitic "to divide". What he forgets, is Arabic "fariq = to divide", which also means "legion etrangere", see Hans Wehr. And this means that the germanic word "frank" has the same etymology. This word has no Indo-European Anschluss (Kluge). Is that a proof for Vennemanns superstrat-adstrat-substrat theory, Semitic-IndoEuropean-Vasconic? At least it nicely explains the two sound shifts and three types of gods! - (talk) 15:43, 27 April 2018 (UTC) -Reply[reply]

Non-comparative Examples?[edit]

Here we present English words with absolutely no comparative examples. How can one really SEE that "king" relates well amoung Germanic languages, but not with other IE languages, such as Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, and Russian?

The word "king" is mentioned as non indo-European. But the word comes from "kin" (as in "kinship"), which is also found in the Latin word "Genus", and proto-Germanic "kunjan".

I suppose I'm willing to redo the table for showing this; I would imagine, English, German, Dutch, and Swedish compared against Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, and Russian would be at least partly suitable. (In particular this should show a lack of reason to really consider "bear" as we would get "ursa", "Αρκούδα" (arkouda), "???", "medved"... with a wide range of variation in these words, it would be unacceptable to claim that any IE root really exists. Giving a PIE root for these words would be ideal also. --Puellanivis 20:13, 23 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Here is a go at a table giving some comparisons. The interesting thing I've noticed is that Russians "carp" and "keel" are either borrowed from a Germanic language, or came from the same "people". Also, there is very little comparitively between the Latin Greek, and Russian. I've put this here, because it's primative, and I don't have the background to really do a better job.

English German Dutch Swedish Latin Greek Russian
sea See zee sjö mare θάλασσα
ship Schiff schip skepp navis πλοίο
судно, корабль
(sudno, korabl)
strand* Strand strand strand litus, acta παραλία
ebb Ebbe eb ebb decessus, recessus άμπωτις
steer steuern besturen styr guberno κυβερνώ
sail segeln zeilen segel navigo πλέω
keel Kiel kiel köl carina καρίνα
north Norden noorden nord septentriones βορράς
south Süden zuidlijk syd australis, meridies νότος
east Osten oosten öst oriens ανατολή (anatoli) восток
west Westen westen väst occidens δύση
English German Dutch Swedish Latin Greek Russian
sword Schwert zwaard svärd gladius σπαθί
shield Schild schild sköld scutum ασπίδα
helmet Helm helm hjälm galea κράνος
bow Bogen boog båge arcus τόξο
English German Dutch Swedish Latin Greek Russian
carp Karpfen karper karp cyprinus κυπρίνος
eel Aal aal ål anguilla χέλι
calf Kalb kalf kalv vitulus μοσχάρι
lamb Lamm lam lamm agnus αρνάκι
bear Bär beer björn ursus άρκτος
stork Storch ooievaar* stork ciconia πελαργός, λελέκι
(pelargos, leleki)
English German Dutch Swedish Latin Greek Russian
king König konig kung rex βασιλεύϛ
knight* Knecht knecht knight* servitus υπηρέτης
thing Ding ding ting res πράγμα
English German Dutch Swedish Latin Greek Russian
drink trinken drinken dricka bibo πίνω
leap* laufen lopen löpa curro τρέχω
bone Bein* been ben os οστούν
wife Weib* wijf* (viv) uxor γυνή
bride Braut bruid brud nupta νύφη
(bride)groom (Bräuti)gam (bruide)gom (brud)gum maritus γαμπρός


  • English word "strand" does not match up well with the other Germanic languages. "Strand" in the other Germanic languages means exclusively "beach", while the English is only used "archaicly" as "beach".
  • Dutch word for "stork", "ooievaar" is a known variation.
  • knight/Knecht/knect/knight are all related, but in German and Dutch they mean "servant" while in English and Swedish they refer to a specifc title of nobleman, this is presumed to be the originating meaning.
  • German word "Bein" means leg, not bone.
  • Dutch word for "wijf" more means just a woman than a wife, the German word "Weib" is considered inappropriate to use for a wife now.
  • Swedish "viv" is an obsolete word now, and used mostly poetically or dialectally for "wife".

--Puellanivis 06:16, 24 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As for the comment above on Russian "киль" -- it is probably borrowed from Dutch or English. During the 18th century, Russian acquired a lot of nautical technology and terminology from Dutch and English as a consequence of Czar Peter's modernizing programs. Other examples are "кильватер" ("wake"), "вельбот" ("whaleboat") and "гардемарин" ("midshipman"). (talk) 12:36, 16 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Might be worth pointing out that "sjö" in Swedish really means lake and not sea. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:50, 12 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Swedish 'karp' is in full use. However, 'viv' nowadays is a somewhat obsolete word; could be used poetically or dialectally for 'wife', and in dialects also for the 'queen' of a cardpack. (Source for the latter: Hellquist: Svensk etymologisk ordbok.) JoergenB
Btw, I really like the table; but in what sense is a word like 'carp' (et cetera) an 'absolutely no comparative example'? The word in all probability is fairly recent in the Germanic languages, and very easily recognisable in both Romanic and Slavic languages. In some of the other cases, there exist suggestions of etymologies of higher or lower value; in some cases, like relating 'groom' etc. with lat. homo, they don't sound too stupid. (For many Germanic words, there are a number of rather queer suggested etymologies. Personnally, I think that applying Occam's razor supports the substrate theory.) JoergenB 17:52, 5 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The main thing is that "carp" is suggested as a universal Germanic substrate word. Thus, the reason why it is the same in all the Germanic languages, but you know, forgetting about Russian, it's different from other IE languages. This is percisely the reason why I wanted to see a table showing these words comparatively, because once you do so, you start losing some of the worth of them. Contact words can be assimilated into nearby languages like apparently Russian "karp" and "rytsar" (German: Ritter, English: Knight, c.f. Rider) But then you have to account for what words are contact words, and thus new. I doubt that anyone would say that all the languages in the world share "Jazz" in common, because they all stemmed from the same language... Thus, accountability is introduced. With this comparative table, more light can be shed on the topic. --Puellanivis 05:57, 16 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I disamiguated the entries for "Knecht" and "Bein", most of the other languages do not related well. According to, "knight" comes from O.N./O.G. "kneht" meaning boy page, or servant. Titles typically are poor choices for translation anyways. also says that "bone" is akin to O.G./O.N. "bein" meaning "bone", thus giving evidence that German mutated to have "Bein" mean "leg", rather than bone.

Unless there are any objections, I will put this table into the article on Friday. It's been up for awhile for comment, and thanks SO much to the person who filled out Swedish. Some consideration, would it be good to have languages that are/were near German that are not IE? Such as Finnish or Estonian? Or just one? What about a Celtic language? Briton is a continental Celtic language, and likely the best bet there. Anyways, the table as is, is pretty good quality, I think. --Puellanivis 05:57, 16 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the cognates to bone in most Germanic languages (In Scandinavian probably from a Middle Low German borrowing) could mean both "bone" and "leg". 惑乱 分からん 18:02, 20 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Final formatting change. I'm concerned that the table is now fairly large, and may dominate the article unnecessarily. Is there any good compromise to getting this sort of comparative information into the article without highjacking all the attention? --Puellanivis 16:34, 22 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
However, the table seems rather random. There are few examples where Germanic differ significantly from a common ancestor in all the other language examples. Besides, it doesn't prove much, since you could in basically any attested IE language find a lot of basic vocabulary with no certain PIE origin. 惑乱 分からん 23:08, 26 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why not try looking somewhere other than Latin, Greek or Russian? Like Avestan xvara- for Germanic *swer-da 'sword' or Old Indic gárbha-, Avestan gərə-buš 'young animal; foetus' for Germanic *kalb-az 'calf'? Study IE neighbours closer to Germanic and see if you don't come up with fully plausible connections for the words in your list. Oh, and get a decent etymological dictionary. It might help you out. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:28, 21 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Right - and sanskrit. sea has a sanskrit corresponding samu with the same meaning. So in this table there are at least two columns missing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:06, 24 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Case reduction speculation[edit]

I've changed the claim that more than half of the cases were lost as compared to e. g. Sanskrit and Lithuanian. The latter languages have eight cases; the Germanic language or languages that emerged from whatever the formative process was contained at least four distinct cases (nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative), some still do. I remember having read about other cases in Anglo-Saxon; but I don't know to what extent these 'cases' really were different 'forms' and not just 'functions'. However, the n-g-d-a distinctions were fairly uniform; are preserved in full in modern Icelandic and to a slightly lesser degree in German; and cannot sensibly be believed to have been innovations spreading over the Germanic tribes after the formation of the language. Proto-IE may have had more than 8 distinct cases, but the two mentioned languages don't.

I am rather doubtful about the following suggestion:

(However, other Indo-European languages attested much earlier than the Germanic languages, such as Hittite, also have a reduced inventory of noun cases. It is not certain whether Germanic and Hittite have lost them, or whether they never shared in their acquisition.)

even as a 'not completely excluded' hypothesis. In fact, I'd very much like to see some source; for based on the given argument itself, IMO it were rather completely excluded. Hittite and a few other languages, such as Luwian, are classified as Anatolian. The Anatolian languages in general are believed to have splinted off from the other IE languages/dialects rather early; clearly well before the oldest found samples of Anatolian languages, which are dated from the middle of the second millenium b.Cr. This is no real proof that there were not later innovations of cases in the IE main group, which however never spread to the 'proto-proto-Germanic' group; but I beleve the case forms that did survive have been clearly recognised to correspond to certain forms in the neighbouring IE groups (e.g., Germanic dative pl. with Russian instrumental?). Moreover, Hittite also had other 'simplifications' (or alternatively 'non-complexifications') in noun declension, as a much simpler gender system; and Germanic hasn't.

Does anyone know more about this? Else, I'll remove the quoted parenthesis after a while. JoergenB 18:56, 5 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The claim being made in the article is simply wrong. Beyond the nominative, genitive, dative and accusative cases, Germanic possessed the vocative, locative and instrumental cases in e/o-stems, and the ablative was still productive as a source of adjectives and adverbs, if no longer an active case. Who writes these bloody articles, anyways? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:10, 21 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Usually – all too frequently fairly clueless, unfortunately – hobbyists, as scholars and even students rarely bother. I have simply removed the statement as it was – ancient – blatant OR that was not supported by the quotes in the footnotes. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:02, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
However, I'm pretty sure you're mistaken in your statement about the locative. As far as I have been able to find out, it was nowhere preserved as a distinct case form in Germanic, and is found only in scattered traces. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:15, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is there any work considering a social explanation?[edit]

Does anyone know if there has been any work on a social explanation for the emergence of Proto-Germanic? An analogy could be taken from the example given in the article on Primitive Irish, a poorly-attested dialect, not recognizably Irish, which preceded Old Irish. The article suggests that a change occurred because Ireland's conversion to Christianity meant the disappearance of druids as a professional class, replaced by Christian monks. The reasoning is baed on the fact that one function of the druids was to preserve an oral tradition defining the community's religious and legal culture. Because such functions typically employ extremely conservative language (look at legal English today), such professionals would have served as repositories of the most formal level of the community's language, the highest style or register of the language. (This is a function that professors and lawyers, not to mention TV news anchors, may be said to perform in contemporary Western Society.) After that level was replaced by Latin, significant and striking linguistic change occurred over a period of only about 200 years. A similar phenomenon can be seen with the lost of the highest register of Anglo-Saxon after the Norman Conquest, when Norman French replaced Old English for use in law and government.

While the following observation may, in itself, be original research (note that I have not added it to the article), one wonders whether a similar phenomenon could explain Proto-Germanic, at least in part. Note, for example, that the Germanic word for "king" is not cognate with the Celtic or Latin words (rix, rex), which are cognate with each other as well as with the corresponding Sanskrit term (though the Old English word for "kingdom," ric, does appear to be cognate). Remembering Caesar's description of Germanic tribes as having a lower level of material culture than the Celtic tribes, there is room to wonder about the possible existence of a social event in which a precursor to the Proto-Germanic population in some way became separated from its ruling class, which may have included separation from a class of professionals similar to druids or magi which had been charged with preserving an oral tradition in a conservative form of the language. Using the example of the transitions from Primitive Irish to Old Irish and from Old English to Middle English, the resulting loss of the most formal register or style of the language -- if it occurrred -- might have contributed to the development of Proto-Germanic. Does anyone know if there is any work considering this possible explanation?

-- Bob99 15:39, 13 November 2006 (UTC)Bob99Reply[reply]

What are you saying about Germanic words for "king"? English "rich man," Gothic "reiks," Old English "rice," Old Norse "rikr," etc. all come from the same root as "rix" and "rex" although they may be borrowings. Jacob Haller 06:31, 6 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The German word for rich probably isn't a cognate to "rex". Although, I don't see it unreasonable to think that the German word for "empire" (Reich) is related to Latn's "rex" Wold anyone have any reliable entymological data about the history of "reich" (rich) vs "Reich" (empire). Also, N.B. that the German word "Kaiser" (emperor) is actually a loan word from Latin "caesar" (which at the time would have been pronounced the same), so it would not be unreasonable to think that the word for empire itself was borrowed at the same time from the Latin word for "rex". In this case though, it would be a borrowing from Latin, and not a cognate, which means as far as usefulness in criticing the GSH it leaves much to be desired. In fact, the German words for "king" actually are English "king", German "König", ... which do not share any similarity to Latin "rex" at all. Also, any word in a Germanic language that is a cognate of a Latin word, will be effected by Grimm's Law at the very least. So, comparing "rich" with "rex", is a little fruitless. Except to say that it's a borrowing. --Puellanivis 16:44, 6 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
AFAIK, Gothic "kindins" (governor) is not cognate with English "king" or German "König." If so, the supposed common Germanic term is absent from the oldest attested Germanic literature; if not, it is still much rarer than other political terms including "reiks" (king, ruler, rich man), "thiudans," "frauja," etc. Jacob Haller 21:51, 6 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Svensk etymologisk ordbok (Hellqvist) does claim "rich" to be cognate with the Gothic "reiks" (ruler, master) - with no maybe; finds it rather probable that this is borrowed from Celtic (whence a cognate to "rex"); and not improbable that "Reich" comes from the same root, by the same route. He adds that the old Germanic word for "rich" is found in the following cognates: Icelandic auðugr, Ags. éadig, Ohg. (Old high German) ôtaks, Goth. audags (with a secondary meaning 'blessed'); related to the Ed- in names like Edgar, Edith, and Edward; Ags. "éad"; Protogermanic "*auð-"; no proposed further etymology. Apart from the names, he mentions the historical Swedish term Uppsala öd for certain (royal?) property, and the modern Swedish öde, meaning 'fate' (as in fatalism); the meaning perhaps developed as 'wealth' > 'properties' > 'inheritance' > 'luck' (my explanation summary). The auð- anyhow seems to be a better candidate for the substrate hypothesis discussion. --JoergenB 21:08, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A celtic borrowing of "rix" definitely makes more sense than borrowing it from Latin. While Latin certainly had a powerful effect on the world, Celtic has had a strong influence in the northern areas of Europe, and were the more likely contacts for Germanic loan words. While I do agree that "auð-" would be a better candidate for the substrate hypothesis, there aren't really any good attested modern examples of the word. Although, with English's heavy borrowing of French words, and now even German starting to pick up numerous English words, modern languages are probably not the best area to look at. I mean, if someone can tell me what "kyne" are, then I'd be happy to admit that I'm wrong, and that at least some people have an idea of even fairly recent Germanic language use. --Puellanivis 07:31, 8 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
wikt:rich, wikt:eadig, wikt:agan, wikt:kine. -lysdexia 02:53, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
I must not have made my point. There is not any serious dispute that Germanic words for "king" are not related to words of the same meaning in other, contemporaneous Indo-European languages (e.g., Latin "rex," Gaulish "rix" (not a borrowing from Latin), and also the Sanskrit "rig" (I think). This is not a matter of any controversy. The fact that the Germanic word for "king" is not related to that of contemporaneous Indo-European languages suggests that the percursors of proto-Germanic speakers may not have had a king. And since Indo-Europeans appear generally to have had kings (since there appears to have been a proto-Indo-European word for king), while proto-Germanic speakers had to invent their own word for "king," circumstances suggest the possibility of a social event in which a founding group in some way separated itself (whether by migration, by violence, or by some other means) from a king and/or a social class that supported a king. The analogies to developments in Primitive Irish becoming Old Irish and to Old English becoming Middle English are this: In the loss of a lingistic register having the highest prestige as a result of historically observable social changes in which the high-prestige registers stops being used (e.g., when the druidic oral tradition was replaced by the Latin learning of Irish monks or when Anglo-Saxon was replaced by Norman French as the language of government after the Norman Conquest), there has been rapid linguistic change. The fact that this may have happened in the precursor population to proto-Germanic speakers (as shown by the absence of the term rex/rix/rig for a "king") could explain why Germanic languages seem in some ways incongruous to neighboring Indo-European languages. The question was whether anyone knew of research along these lines.
Bob99 23:22, 11 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't know of research along these lines, which was my reason for not answering that part. I suspect most others also prefer to speak up when they have something positive to contribute with.
I'm sure you're aware of the danger of drawing conclusions from just one word, and in particular a missing one. (I guess you do recall the old jibe about the Proto-indoeuropeans having feet but no hands...) Therefore, I suppose that the research you would like to see is whether there was a systematic loss of words related to 'upper class functions' - or perhaps instead related to 'lower class functions'. (Isn't the theory mostly suggesting that the IE contribution would come from the superstratum rather than from the substratum? Your examples were the other way around, weren't they?) --JoergenB 17:33, 12 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You're right to point out the danger of generalizing from a single piece of evidence. In drawing analogies from the transition from Primitive Irish to Old Irish and from Anglo-Saxon to Middle English, the purpose was simply to point out that social change involving the loss of a standardized high-prestige form of a language may result in rapid language change. While this change involved significant vocabulary changes in the case of Anglo-Saxon to Middle English, the change from Primitive Irish to Old Irish appears to have been phonetic and structural without major lexical change. Thus, it is not clear that a vocabulary study would be enough. It may, instead, be that some of the unique aspects of proto-Germanic result from phonetic substrates as slang pronunciations and simplified grammar, uncorrected by contact with an archaic high-prestige register, developed. This could either be a counterexplanation to the substrate hypothesis or it could be a mechananism potentially supporting the substrate hypothesis -- depending on facts. First, one would need an analytical tool permitting a systematic comparative analysis of phonetic change. I do not know if such a tool exists, but it would be useful to apply such a tool to this problem. In addition, though elapsed time may raise, a study of intonation patterns of Germanic and non-Germanic Central European languages may be helpful if patterns and/or continua may be found. Speakers adopting a new language often retain the intonation of their native speech, as evidenced by the English of bilingual South Asian speakers. Comparisons of modern intonation patterns may be more doable.
Bob99 18:53, 13 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Henri Hubert, back in the 1920s, claimed that the Germanic languages were the result of a non-Indo-European people in Northern Europe learning a blend of several Indo-European dialects, due to long-term political and cultural interaction with their more advanced Indo-European neighbours, thus providing a social explanation for the phenomenon. Unfortunately, his book Les Germains, published posthumously in 1952, is still only available in French. I intend to incorporate Hubert's research into these pages as soon as I find the time. --RueHuyghens (talk) 11:32, 1 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Common Germanic or just West Germanic[edit]

We need to know which roots are Common Germanic and which ones are West Germanic. We can't be sure, since Norse borrows some words from West Germanic (which would appear in West and North but not East) and Gothic loses some words from Common Germanic (which would appear in West and North but not East). We can argue over the distance between Anglo-Frisian and Dutch-German but it's clear that Dutch and German are very closely related. I'd suggest, if we want extensive tables, tracking English (or English and OE), one of the Dutch-German group (or OHG), one of the Scandinavian group (or Norse), and Gothic. Jacob Haller 03:11, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I can agree with that. It may entrely be a better choice to track OE, rather than Modern English, as we've borrowed a number of words from Latin already. So, for instance, comparing the German words for meats, would show incredible consistancy with most Germanic languages using the animal name, but English using a French term. Of course, the one benefit of tracking Modern English in the list, is that the average passer-by can look at the list, and identify the lines.
Norse is more Northern Germanic than Swedish? I simply chose Swedish because I have some familiarity with it. Of course, with Norwegian, we run into the wonderful problem of Nynorsk against Bokmål. If we use Bokmål, why not just use Danish, if we use Nynorsk, what do we tell people who complain that we don't have Bokmål? Adding Gothic would be incredibly nice, if you have a lot of experience with it, feel free to add it to the table, if you want me to add the line for you, then I can do that, or we can simply replace the Dutch lines, if you want. There's also a question of if we would like to include any other Indo-European languages? Sanskrit, I recall, is a typical example language as being close to the original Proto-Indo-European. Certainly, they all shouldn't be centum languages. We could likely remove either Greek or Latin to insert one, or we could add one more, Latin+Greek+Russian+??? --Puellanivis 06:00, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Old Norse certainly is more Northen Germanic than modern Swedish. Modern Norwegian is a different thing. Swedish, Danish and Bokmål all are strongly influenced by the fact that the Scandinavian cities mainly were built and run by Germans. Nynorsk is notably less so; but suffers on the other hand from being 'constructed' (or at least compiled) out of Norwegian dialects by Ivar Aasen and other linguists, who were very much aware of the German influence - and rather actively tried to combat it. Thus, IMO, the only logical choice for a relatively pure (and unconstructed) modern Nothern Germanic language is Icelandic.--JoergenB 21:27, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I certainly don't object to switching the Swedish above for Icelandic. I agree that Icelandic is likely the least interfered with Northern Germanic language. --Puellanivis 07:26, 8 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would use modern English as well as Old English, Old High German, Gothic, and any Scandinavian language, preferably an older (Old Norse?) or less changed (Icelandic?) one, and to indicate different meanings. However, Gothic is not completely attested. Mostly using Wright's glossary, we find ([th] and [hw] are one letter each):
Seafaring: marei (f) sea, skip (n) ship, sta[th]s (m) shore, ???, stiurjan -to establish, ???, ???, ???, ???, urruns (m) east [as well as the Ostro- in the Latinized form Ostrogothic; perhaps *austrja in the Gothic], ???. Jacob Haller 11:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Warfare: *mekeis (m) sword & hairus (m) sword [cf. Russian miech], skildus (m) shield, hilms (m) helmet, ???. Jacob Haller 11:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Animals: ???, ???, kalbo (f) calf, lamb (n) lamb, ???, ???. What about English fowl, Gothic fugls, etc.? Jacob Haller 11:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Communal: reiks (m) king, andbahts (m) officer/householder/agent, waihts (f) thing [hence modern English wight (m)]. zilch for three. Jacob Haller 11:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Miscellaneous: dragk (n) a drink & drigkan -to drink, hlaupan -to leap, ???, qens (f) & qino (f) woman, bru[th]s (f) bride, guma (m) man. Jacob Haller 11:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I generally tried to get cognates of each of the German languages, such that the meaning of "leap" does not match up with the meanings of "laufen", "lopen", or "löpa". --Puellanivis 14:38, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, checking the concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology for Gothic cognates. Jacob Haller 19:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Seafaring: saiws, skip, ???, ???, (du) stiurjan, ???, ???, ???, ???, ???, ???. Jacob Haller 19:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Warfare: [no change; cognates of 'sword' and 'bow' are unknown in Gothic]. Jacob Haller 19:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Animals: ???. ???, kalbo, lamb, ???, ???. Jacob Haller 19:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Communal: ???, ???, ???. Jacob Haller 19:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Miscellaneous: [no change; cognates of 'bone' and 'wife' are unknown in Gothic]. Jacob Haller 19:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Looks good, it is fairly unfortunate that we don't get a chance to get the words that are possible cognates, since Gothic is already lost. --Puellanivis 07:26, 8 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What to Look For[edit]

The article barely discusses distinguishing I-E from hypothetical P-G substrate words. Also we need tailored OR guidelines. (I very much doubt the hypothesis, but want the hypothesis fully presented; I don't want OR saying this is true or this is false but might accept OR comparing specific words following accepted principles, e.g. Grimm's law). Jacob Haller 07:59, 10 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We can't demonstrate that any given word is [i]Substratic[/i]; we can demonstrate that some words are not substratic either because (1) they were inherited from Indo-European predecessors of Germanic (2) they were borrowed from other known languages (3) they were borrowed from other unknown Indo-European languages or (4) they were newly-invented relatively recently. In each case we compare the Germanic languages to each other and to other Indo-European languages. Jacob Haller 07:59, 10 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(1) In these cases another Indo-European language will probably share the same root with different phonological transformations, e.g. English "hundred," Latin "centum," or Russian "sotnya." In this case Latin approximates the original Kentum form; English reflects Grimm's law, and Russian reflects Satem-izing processes (many Romance languages also reflect Satem-izing processes, so the Satem languages may not have any common influence independent of the Kentum languages).

(2 & 3) In these cases another Indo-European language will probably share the same word with the same phonology; the word will follow the other language's normal rules (and may or may not follow the Germanic language's rules as well), e.g. Gothic "reiks," 'Gallic' "rix," Latin "rex," and possibly Greek "arche." AFAIK, the word's consistent with Celtic or Italic. It might be inherited from pre-Germanic, or it might be borrowed from Celtic languages, Italic languages, or other languages, but it is very definitely Indo-European one way or the other. In some cases, non-Indo-European languages are also important, e.g. Hebrew or Aramaic borrowings through Biblical texts.

(4) Certainly English "loudspeaker" and possibly English "sword" fit here. (It is definitely absent from the Gothic; AFAIK, it is also completely absent from the earliest non-Gothic Germanic texts, and from Late Latin in Late Antiquity. Note that Late Latin and the Romance languages borrow many Germanic military terms. Gothic "hairus," Gothic "*mekeis" (attested only in the dative), Late Latin "spatha" and "semispatha," and other words including "sax," "scrama," etc. all describe swords or similar weapons). End of Haller's statement.

Infra, I'll give some comments on Jacob Haller's suggestions. However, since I guess I'm fairly new and unknown in the work with this article, I first want to stress that I'm not a professional linguist or philologist, and probably have less 'schooling' in the area than some other of you guys. My comments are from 'a more or less qualified amateur'.
Yes, representing the theory fairly, not proving or disproving it, sounds like the right thing to strive for. In any case, we can just hope to illustrate the discussion with a few examples; and, even then, often it is a matter of guesses and probabilities. If you pick any two (practically) unrelated languages, e.g. Maori and classical Greec, you'll still find striking examples of what seems to be close correspondances, due to chance similarities. The same could hold for most proposed IE etymologies of Germanic words. I think there are some roots, which can be followed reasonably far back in all three Germanic branches, are found in many different IE languages, and perfectly fit the Grimm laws and corresponding laws for the other languages; but that there are not so many of these as one first tend to believe. In Hellqvist, e.g., there are very often several suggested IE etymologies of the same word. Since seldom more than one of them could be correct, quite a lot of reasonably sounding suggested etymologies are wrong; we just don't know which ones, for sure. However, this of course also means, that if there are three suggested IE etymologies of a certain Germanic root, all three could be wrong, and the root in fact e.g. could be a pure innovation, or come from a non-IE substrate. No one could build a sensible hypothesis on just one root - not even on a central one, like the personal pronomial 'nostra-' :-) .
That was a long proclamation... Briefly, we speak of probabilities. Only by analysing a large number of words, one may reasonably establish conclusions. This can never be the aim of a Wikipedia article. We could examplify by the (4) categories of jacob Haller's; and I'd like to add a fifth:
(5) 'Not clearly either of the others; thus a candidate for the substrate hypothesis';
but except from some words in Haller class (2), we can only speak of probabilities, for single words. Also, any serious analysis will be 'as diachronical as possible'. Actually, if we only had access to the modern languages, the existence of a 'protoIE' group of dialects would be rather impossible to establish.
So, a final example collection might look like this: Collect examples which arguably fall into the 5 classes; and also (of course) with a special consideration for examples appearing in the literature. Give a 'synchronic' list (with the addition of Gothic, and perhaps of classical Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin); and various proposed Protogermanic roots. Explain in just one or two couple of examples how one employs older known forms and further arguments in order to make the reconstructions; and the troubles with reconstructing further backwards.
(We should not forgetting the structural discussion; but I think this will be easier. Possibly, a larger stress on verbal changes; new tense forming pre- and suffixes and mode forming auxiliary constructions; less on the loss of case forms, which IMO was not very drastic?)
The purposes of this should be (a) to explain the theory; (b) to give a little idea of the pro's and contra's; and (c), to communicate an idea of the difficulties of establishing results based on a few examples, and of some of the methods that are at hand. Is this too ambitious?--JoergenB 13:01, 10 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am not a linguist either. I wanted to put some approach on the table so thatg other people, including linguists, can improve it. That may make the word-lists more useful. Jacob Haller 05:39, 16 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The most important thing to remember her is that it is trivial to show evidence for a weak form of the Germanic Substrate Hypothesis. That weak form being simply, "Germanic languages share exclusive words and grammar features that are unlike any other IE language." So, I mean, it's not simply sufficient to show that Germanic languages share words that other languages don't, and grammatical features, that others don't. For instance, V2 word order, it is simply necessary to show that all Germanic languages have this feature in one form or another, or at least had it (Modern English), and that no other Indo-European language has it. Word-wise, the above table already demonstrates enough evidence that there are word sets where Germanc languages share stricking similarities that cannot be easily tracked to other IE languages through established phonetic laws. This substrate hypothesis however is much stronger suggesting that this similarity is from a borrowing from a now non-existant non-IE language. Unfortunately, I don't know if this even meets the criteria of WP:V, if Germanic languages spontaneously invented these words after having split from the other IE trees, then this would be essentially indistinguishable from them getting them from a currently non-existant, unattested language, IE or non-IE. We may want to change this article to allow for verifiability, by merely allowing for showing a weak form of the hypothesis, and then giving suggestions from others proposing sources, and causes of this substrate despite them being unverifiable. --Puellanivis 21:01, 10 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yeah, this may break down into (1) unique features of the Germanic languages and (2) adstratum-explanations. The better we can describe the unique features, the better we can present arguments for or against an adstratum-explanation (of which the substratum hypothesis is the most widely-presented). Jacob Haller 05:39, 16 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Certain unique features (e.g. case reduction) probably don't mean much. Maybe certain particles (ga+verb), and probably much of the vocabulary. Jacob Haller 05:39, 16 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More Words[edit]

Any more candidates for distinctively, if not uniquely, Germanic roots? I'm thinking of English "middle" with its cognates and relatives. (I'm aware of other Germanic parallels but not non-Germanic ones).

I think it's en extended form from mid-, related to Latin medio-, Greek meso- and similar, apparently PIE with derivations also found in Sanskrit, Celtic and Armenian according to Elof Hellquist ... 惑乱 分からん 18:07, 20 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also Baltic: medis, medžias "forest" (< "border forest") (Lithuanian), median (Prussian), and Slavic: meža "borderline" (Russian) etc. --Uocila 07:31, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

Fundamental Question[edit]

In reviewing the article, I note what seems to be a major problem with the argument. That is, the discussion of how the development of proto-Germanic from proto-Indo-European may have been influenced by one or more archeological cultures. This is problematic because there is no reason to assume a correlation between language and material culture. The ambitious, and potentially very useful, project which has been outlined by some users in this discussion page is really a project to define with precision the characteristics which make proto-Germanic appear to stand somewhat apart from other Indo-European languages. To the extent there are differences, it is logical to consider one or more language substrates as a cause. It may be that thorough research will make it possible to set forth the characteristics one would expect to be found in the hypothetical substrate(s). These characteristics could then be compared to characteristics of known languages and language groups to determine whether any candidates possess the predicted characteristics. It is extremely unlikely, however, that the success of such a project would make it possible to correlate proto-Germanic to an archeological culture. Imagine, for example, how difficult it would be for a future archeologist to determine what languages were spoken in Europe during the late 20th and early 21st centuries (ignoring, for the purpose of this exercise, archeological evidence of writing or other recorded language). Bob99 17:40, 22 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think you quite understand the principle. Look, most historical linguists, arguing from comparable, analogous cases where the ancestor language is known, consider proto-languages as reflecting some linguistic reality: a speech form spoken in a specific place/region in a specific period of time by a delimited linguistic community. (Given that truly multilingual settlements such as Kupwar in India are rare, it's fair to assume that at least a single settlement, if not a whole region, has a dominant native language, even if other languages are spoken in the settlement/region, as well.) If we knew nothing about the history of English, we could advance various different arguments, independently of each other converging in a high probability that the ancestor of all Modern English dialects (Scots as well as Yola, Fingalian and certain traditional English dialects excluded) was spoken somewhere in the British Isles (more precisely Britain, more precisely England, even more precisely London?) in the mid-2nd millennium AD. Then we can go look for an archaeological correlate that fits the place, time period and aspects reconstructed of the original culture. Similarly, if we knew nothing about Latin and Italic and only about Medieval Romance, we could still produce various reasons why it is likely that Proto-Romance was spoken somewhere in Italy (we might guess Central Italy just because of its, well, central location, and happen to be right) about 2000 BP, and go look which archaeological culture fits the bill. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 23:10, 19 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I think this talk page needs to be archived as Talk:Germanic substrate hypothesis/archive01, and whoever does it, leaves a note at the top of the page as well on the comment line.

Creole is still controversial. --MarkTwainOnIce 06:27, 27 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I reverted the addition of Wiik's hypothesis for the second time, as the edit does not seem to be well formulated. Wiik's idea is not even published in peer-reviewed linguistic journals and it is rejected by practically every specialist in the world; the fact it is popular in Finland is scientifically irrelevant. In principle Wiik's model could be mentioned in this article, but in that case it should be made clear that his theory has been rejected by other linguists. --AAikio 07:04, 5 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is interesting, that before the inclusion of the Kalevi Wiik passage, the article did not even mention the possibiliy of a Finnic influence on the Germanic language. If the supposed non-Indo-European substrate was not Finnic. then what language family could it be? Wiik is notable as the main proponent of the Finnic influence.
This article is not about the established history of the Germanic languages, but about a fringe hypothesis. Wiik's theories may not be widely accepted, but neither is any material in this article. Besides, Wiik was only mentioned in one subsection, after "Some people claim ...".
I have once more restored the material. -- Petri Krohn 21:47, 5 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
P.S. Wikipedia does not have a scientific point of view. -- Petri Krohn 21:52, 5 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The article says who it would come from if not the Finnish. They battle-axe people, and the funnelbeaker people. It's not difficult to imagine that there were languages that existed in Europe before they were driven to extinction by the Indo-european speakers. A key example is the existence of Basque, which is a language isolate. Where did it happen to come from? It's likely more indigenous to Europe than IE languages. Also, the Iberian languages where known to not have been IE, as well as Etruscan, which was known to exist on the Italian pennisula before the advancement of Rome, and Latin. Typically, I would say that most Germanic substate hypotheses have that a culture existed where the Germans migrated to. They fused, keeping mostly the proto-Germanic language, although in someways hybridized, and the carryover to the modern age would be the non-IE words that are quite common throughout all of the Germanic languages, and features such as V2 word order that seem to show a strong grammatical process that defines Germanic languages as well. Thus, it need not be Finnish as the origin of these words at all, and if these Finnish words exist in Old Norse, but not in Old German, and Old Dutch, this would likely speak to a doubtful origin of Finnish as the origin of the substrate. Still, I must admit, this tends to be a fringe theory in the first place, and I can only hold that if Kalevi Wiik is notable enough to warrant a reasonable article, then his notions are certainly notable in this article. (I'm aware this defers the issue from here to the existence of the Wiik article.) --Puellanivis 22:09, 5 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is a long article on Wiik's theory on the Finnish Wikipedia: fi:Kalevi Wiikin teoria suomalaisten alkuperästä. According to Wiik, there were only three popultions in Europe, originating from three "refugia". He associates these populations to the Finnic, the Indo-European, and the Basque language families. -- Petri Krohn 05:00, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
P.S. It does not seem to pass Occam's razor, that the substrate language was a mysterious unknown language from and extinct unknown language family, rather than being from a known and existing language family. In fact the Germanic substrate hypothesis in its plain, non-Wiik form does not claim this, it associates the substrate to cultures, and avoids any speculation on languare. In fact we do not know what language any of the cultures mentioned spoke. -- Petri Krohn 05:17, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is not a valid application of Occam's Razor, because our data on the distant past is too fragmented. By analogy, if one had only three pieces of a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and could see a treetop, some grass and a part of a boat's mast, one couldn't invoke Occam's Razor and claim that there's nothing else in the picture. One of the main reasons why Wiik's three-language-theory has been so unanimously rejected by linguists and archaeologists is that it violates uniformitarianism: linguistic and ethnic diversity is known to be the greatest among hunter-gatherers everywehere in the world, and hence it makes little sense to claim that prehistoric Europe would have been entirely different in this resepct.--AAikio 09:46, 13 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is also an other law, that says that linguistic diversity is greatest near the equator and smallest near the poles. -- Petri Krohn 18:14, 20 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Doesn't the continued existence of Basque (and the survival of Iberian, Etruscan, Pictish, and so on well into the historical era), suggest that they were not wiped out all that determinedly? Back on topic: I'd tend to agree about Wiik's notableness being the determining factor. I know nothing about the man, his theories, or his reputation. It remains that he's got a Wikipedia page, and is a linguistics professor. He has written professionally about a Uralic / Finnic component in the substrate, thus he should at least be mentioned on this page (with extreme care taken regarding NPOV), and a description of his ideas should exist on Wikipedia (though I'd say not on this page). I dare not even begin the translation from fi: to en: of the existing page, but I suggest that might be somewhere to start. Paul.w.bennett 12:31, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Is there any evidence that Pictish was non-Indo-European? I'd agree that there probably were more non-Indo European language groups in Europe than just Basque and Finno-Ugric. Jacob Haller 16:45, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd rather say that there is no evidence that Pictish was Indo-European, and reasonable contemporary accounts that it was not Italo-Celtic. I've got it down as "Relatedness Unknown" on my mental linguistic family tree. Paul.w.bennett 18:33, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The �Iberian language should serve sufficiently as proof that there were languages other than Finnic-Urgalic, Indo-European, and Basque. While some have claimed that the Iberian Language was related to Basque this has not been demonstrated and is as disputed theory. As well, Etruscan is part of the Tyrrhenian Language Family, which is known to also be unrelated to Indo-European, and also unrelated to Basque. So, what is the case? That there are languages there that may have influenced the Germanic languages that were assimilated and thus became exitinct, or were there only three language trees running around in Europe, because that seems HIGHLY unlikely, given that we have actualy evidence against such a proposition. --Puellanivis 17:36, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It does not really matter whether Tyrrhenian language family (Tyrsenian) is different than Indo-European. The Wiik argumentation may easily be canning them together anyway. Either descending from a more distant common origin, or that Tyrsenian was an allied language following Indoeuropean to Italy. Ultimately, Tyrsenian may have been outside of the refugia anyway, for example being possibly descended from Semitics. South to the edge of the Ice was in any case other populations with other languages, and portions of such may have wandered to Europe after the Ice Age. Suedois 18:25, 20 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I say your first explanation is better. The purpose of this article seems to be to describe what is known or theorised about the language(s) that influenced Germanic. Some of the content may have come from families with documented members, and some may not. I say simply provide the reader with sufficient information to make their own decision. The answer need not entirely be Finnish, but part of the answer might be. We'd need time travel in order to be absolutely certain. Paul.w.bennett 18:33, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I certainly don't want to argue that Old Norse hasn't borrowed anything from Finnish. But as a proposal for the pan-Germanic vocabulary of non-IE origin, and the somewhat unique nature of the Germanic tree today... eh, I'd say that's a pretty iffy thing to present an argument for. I just don't really see that Finnish could mount any sort of reasonable demonstration to being the Germanic substrate. But I would think that taking the position that there was some language that went extinct in prehistory and is thus undocumented, is not unreasonable. --Puellanivis 21:38, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The reason Wiik considers only three "language families", is that during the ice age, the European population was isolated in three refugia, located by archeological evidence to the Iberian Peninsula, to the Balkans and to the Ukraine. Wiik's speculation is associating these to the "Basque", the Indo-European, and the Finno-Ugric language families.
It does not really matter if linguists were to group the Iberian language in a language family different from the Basque language. Wiik would still argue that these people and languages shared a common ancestor in the more distant past. (Anyway, they would need a time machine to make any sense of it.) -- Petri Krohn 00:15, 7 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Still, by postulating relationships that he does not even attempt to demonstrate (even though there is some material left for comparison in the case of Basque/Aquitanian, Iberian and Etruscan, let alone IE and Uralic), Wiik seriously undermines the credibility of his claim, and since it is thus untestable (hence immunised from investigation and criticism), it is not even a theory at all. It is simply Wiik speculation, if you pardon the pun, that flies in the face of – not only – mainstream historical linguistics. While Pictish is now apparently generally accepted as Celtic, Don Ringe has elaborated on Ante Aikio's point (see Neolithic Europe#Language) and refuted Krohn's objection by pointing to pre-colonial North America, which was quite comparable to Neolithic Europe as regards climate, terrain and general technological and social level, and linguistically extremely diverse and fragmented. Wiik and others who posit a linguistically uniform Neolithic Europe are simply uninformed. I agree with Ante and favour removing Wiik's ideas completely, and have indicated their fringe status in the article more clearly. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:38, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removing Wiik[edit]

I don't see a place for Wiik's "theories" in this article, certainly not the way it is know with this rejected fringe-theory being the most discussed on this page. Somebody claimed that Wiik's writings have been peer-reviewed. Yes, there's a clique of 5-10 researchers, almost none of them actually being within the field of Finno-Ugric philology who hold closed seminars and review each other's papers. The academic community has rejected Wiik's hypothesis. This isn't even a controversial theory, it's a non-theory. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] JdeJ 20:50, 20 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I totally agree. Besides, I don't any peer reviewed publication by Wiik that would document his "theory" of linguistic prehistory. If anyone else knows, I'd be glad to hear more about it. --AAikio 21:21, 20 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It might help to have an article on theories about pre-Indo-European languages in Europe and address Wiik's, and other equally speculative theories, there. But here this is a speculative cause for a speculative process. A substrate is a plausible explanation for the unique features of the Germanic languages. Jacob Haller 22:36, 20 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A substrate of some kind is almost sure to exist in the Germanic languages. It's also sure that it is not Finnic. To the best of my knowledge, not one acadmic in the field has ever proposed such a thing, although quite many has taken the time to reject it. JdeJ 06:49, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you want to promote the anti-Wiik point-of-view, the best way to do it is create the article on Kalevi Wiik's theory on the origin of Finns, and include all the critisism. If a theory is "rejected by 99.9% of all academics in the field" it must be highly notable. Most likely the majority of academics have just ignored the theory, or are just ignorant of it. The notable exception is of course Aslak Aikio and Ante Aikio, who have spared no effort to reject the theory. As for notability we could even have an article on Aslak and Ante Aikio's critisim of Wiik's theory. As there are reliable sources for this, I would not mind if User:Ante Aikio contributed to the article. -- Petri Krohn 00:06, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nobody is promoting an anti-Wiik point of view, but some of us are trying to provide a factual view. Wiik's ideas are notable because they have received much coverage in the yellow press in Finland. That might merit its inclusion in the article Kalevi Wiik but I can't see why it should be expanded here. I don't know of a single linguist in either Finnic languages or Germanic languages who has supported this theory. Quite many have rejected it, as can be seen already from the few sources I provided. If you look at the article Egyptian pyramids you won't find a long paragraph about Erich von Däniken. That is not because his theories haven't received attention, it's because they have been rejected by all specialists in the field who has taken the time to look into them. That matches precisely the case of Wiik. JdeJ 06:49, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems that you too are more interested in "promoting the truth" and rejecting Wiik, than improving this article. Nowhere in this article is there any statement about "facts"; this is pure speculation and "fringe theory". I have reverted your deletions. If you want to include your Finnish languege links as references, please format them into in-line references. -- Petri Krohn 11:06, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In my view, being factual and correct is improving the article. I've provided a number of references from academics rebunking Wiik, can you provide one that supports his ideas? If not, I can only consider your deletion of academic sources as a form of vandalism. JdeJ 13:36, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The whole idea of a substrate hypothesis is a fairly uncommon theory. What I'm more interested in is showing Wiik's claims and the sources that contest his statements. "Truth" in Wikipedia is an affirmative defense for an edit. However, that "Truth" must be sourced, attributed, or fundamentally true by definitions, etc. I offered the wording "fringe theory" as Wiik's claims appear to not be widely accepted even among those who believe in this substrate hypothesis. Note however, that plate tectonics was once a "fringe theory". I believe it is best to present his argument, and the arguments against it. I do not feel that there is an absolutive truth in this argument, but Wiik's presentation does have a significant number of holes, which are addressed in the article that I have reverted to. --Puellanivis 17:10, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You didn't answer my question, I'm afraid. You removed three good sources showing that Wiik's hypothesis have been unanimously rejected by the scientific community. Why? And yes, knowing the truth is hard and nobody can ever be sure about it. Despite that, if there's a hypothesis supported by nobody inside the academic community and rejected by every expert who reviewed it, I don't see why we should include it. It's notable in the article Kalevi Wiik as he has gained fame in the yellow press for it. It's not notable here or in any article on language evolution. There's another theory, the Sun Language Theory that claims that all the languages of the World are descendants of Turkish. Why isn't that theory included here? It is just as relevant (Turkish as the substrate language) and just as accepted. JdeJ 17:27, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Your edits were reverted because other editors considered your deletions disruptive editing and POV-pushing. The references were also droped, because they did not meet the MoS requirements for in-line references. I have now restored your references and formated them as in-line references.
Your first reference is interesting: "Kantagermaanin suomalais-ugrilainen substraatti": edelleen perusteeton hypoteesi" (translation: "Fenno-Ugric substrate of Proto-Germanic" still an unfounded hypothesis). I have not read the source, but from the name of the article it is possible to make two conclusions:
  1. This article clearly makes Wiik a notable part of the subject matter of this article.
  2. I do not know if the critisism is aimed at Wiik only or the whole Germanic substrate hypothesis in general.
-- Petri Krohn 23:37, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I must add a correction to user Petri Krohn's note, who wrote that "Most likely the majority of academics have just ignored the theory, or are just ignorant of it. The notable exception is of course Aslak Aikio and Ante Aikio, who have spared no effort to reject the theory." This is false. Numerous Finno-Ugric specialists, as well as some archaeologists, have debunked Wiik's "theory". I am myself certainly no "notable exception" in this respect, and neither am I among the first scholars who have crtiticized Wiik's ideas. When I first wrote about Wiik's ideas in the magazine Kaltio, his speculations had already been quite uniformly rejected by linguists. User JdeJ already provided some references on this, and more could be provided. Hopefully I'll have time to make some substantial edits in the future, and add references documenting the total rejection of Wiik's ideas by Finno-Ugric scholars. In general, my opinion is that "theories" which have been discredited by scholars in a particular field should not receive major attention in a scholarly article; but when they have received much attention in the media, as in the case of Wiik, they should definitely be mentioned along with the referenced fact that specialists have rejected them as unscientific. Anything else would be biased and just mislead the lay reader. --AAikio 06:44, 24 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiik theories should not be removed from this article. They are documented, as are controversies around them. Which justifies mentioning them. Suedois 15:45, 26 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

At any rate, they should not be called "theories". A theory is a hypothesis that ihas been proposed, tested and accepted. Wiik's hypothesis was rejected, not accepted, by the academic community. It's definitely not a theory and it isn't really a hypothesis any more either. Wiik has done an admirable amount of academic work within his own field, but his attempts in this field (in which he has no experience) aren't academic in any sense of the word. JdeJ 18:48, 26 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
From Theory: "In science, a theory is a mathematical or logical explanation, or a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation."
Wiik's theories are theories. And his hypothesis remains hypothesis. Regardless of if a theory or hypothesis is shown to be inaccurate or wrong, it remains a theory, and it remains a hypothesis. Wiik's theory is that an unknown Urgo-Finnish language was the substrate for the Germanic languages. Just because many Athiests are using "theory doesn't mean that it hasn't been shown to be true" against Creationists, does not change that scientifically using "theory doesn't mean that it HAS been shown to be true." Creationists and other young earth believers have their theories for how things developed, and they are at odds with the vast amount of scientific theory. That does not mean that one is a theory, and the other is not. They are both theories. The word theory is used regardless of the factual value of the theory itself. One must look at the evidence supporting the theory, rather than just saying "it's not a theory, because it's not true/has been rejected" or "it's a theory therefore it's still not proven."
It's clear that you have an axe to grind about this issue. And while I can understand an emotional response to a topic, you should maybe settle down over this whole issue, because you're starting to enter the "fanatical" fringe from the way that you're approaching the argument. --Puellanivis 18:19, 27 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Puellanivis, who can't spell, creationism is postdictive not antedictive, not uniformitarian, thus cannot be a theory. To be antedictive, premises must first be proven. Otherwise they're not a theory. -lysdexia 04:04, 4 March 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
I've just found this useful bibliography documenting scholarly reactions to the ideas of Marcantanio and Wiik. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:33, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This, generally, is a low quality page, which in my opinion needs considerable re-working. The Germanic substrate hypothesis was inaugurated (chiefly) by Feist on rather dubious grounds, and has developed all sorts of speculation, little of which is verifiable. The references given here are not, generally, made to the major substrate studies, but instead to low-quality assessments. One would expect at least a reference to Meillet's General Characteristics of the Germanic Languages, Feist's earlier works (in German), and more recently Boutkan and others who have written on this issue in specialist linguistics journals/books. Bernard Mees, University of Melbourne

Everything you say is 100% true. Unfortunately, relatively few articles on Wikipedia come anywhere near the standard we would expect from a "normal" encyclopedia, not to mention academic papers. The system of every user being able to delete or add whatever he wants makes Wikipedia an ideal place to find an enormous mass of trivia, and an ideal place for arguments that often stem from nationalism. So you critic is spot on, and unfortunately its implications are just as valid for the whole project as for this article. JdeJ (talk) 10:54, 20 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To the OP, if you have access to these works please feel free to edit the article with them as sources. If you're unhappy with the quality or reliability of an article on Wikipedia you have only yourself to blame. ;-) Nagelfar (talk) 05:59, 9 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This page is NPOV? In a pig's eye! The whole page is simply an argument against the theory it describes, not even a disguised one. Troglo (talk) 06:39, 31 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The unbearable "bear" of the Slavs ;)[edit]

Hello! I'm afraid the article is wrong in stating that the etymology of Russian "medved" ("bear" from Proto-Slavic *medvědь) is "the one who knows where honey is." All etymological dictionaries I have consulted so far (including Dersten's and Varmer's) state rather clearly that the term once meant "honey-eater" and has a nice parallel in Sanskrit /madh(u)vád-/ "honey-eater", from Proto-Indo-European */medh-u-h1ed-i-/ (PIE */medhu-/ "honey, mead", PIE */h1ed-/ "to eat").--Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 19:40, 23 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The etymology of berloga as "lair of ber" is controversial; Vasmer refutes it flat out. [6] Nought Availeth (talk) 05:33, 22 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the berloga stuff is dubious, and looks much more like a borrowing than anything else, there are a lot of Scandinavian +lag meaning "(place to) lay down" or "lay", such as "förlag" (publisher), "samlag" (coitus), or +laga, "pålaga" (additional taxation), "inlaga" (argumenting text) etc. etc.. I think "bærlaga" or "bærlag" was a viking word for "bears lair", and the "bærlag(a)" > "berloga" is just a phonetical adaption to Russian. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 14:27, 1 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Note however that there are also similar words in other Slavic languages "barłóg" in Polish, "barlaga" in Hungarian (most likely taken from Slavic), brlog in Slovenian - meaning it can't be simply borrowing from Russian. Also, in Polish we have "leże" and " ż" and "g" are transferable, "legnąć" "leżeć" (compare: "Legnica"), "polegnąć" (talk) 20:44, 12 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I believe this article should be merged with Germanic substrate hypothesis, since they cover the same topic. 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 18:56, 31 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. Since no objections have been raised for almost a year, I'll do the moving. Improvements can be applied in context. Eklir (talk) 18:33, 31 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Seafaring words[edit]

I think some examples given for seafaring may be wrong. Keel is quilla in Spanish (pronounced keellya), mast is mástil, ..... Unless they have a Germanic origin in Spanish (it may be, there are a few Spanish words of Germanic origin, via the Visigoths or even old Germanic French loans), the hypothesis of no relation with non Germanic languages doesn´t hold true for these examples.--Xareu bs (talk) 17:22, 22 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Real Academia Española ( traces these words to French. See quilla and maste (older form). A French dictionary I found traces quille and mât to Germanic languages. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 21:29, 21 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Slavic influence in proto-Germanic[edit]

|There is a good section on the Slavic influences in proto-Germanic: Proto-Slavic_borrowings#Slavicisms_in_Germanic, with words relating to craftsmanship. A good number of German surnames also extend from Slavic influence: Any name ending in 'ow, 'witz, 'itz, 'in can be generally said to have Slavic roots.

Perhaps this goes toward the theory that there was a common Balto-Germano-Slavic group at one point, as it is true that genetically the historical proto-Germanic populations came from the same genetic R1a stock of most Slavs and Balts.| CormanoSanchez (talk) 01:58, 12 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The correlation of genes with languages is far too weak to base subgrouping hypotheses on it. In fact, by acknowledging – as you do – extensive contact influence between Germanic and Slavic (as well as Germanic and Baltic), you erode the whole basis for claiming a descendance-based subgroup (as opposed to a language area). No doubt Germanic, especially East Germanic, had considerable contact with Baltic and Slavic already in the first few centuries AD, first in Poland (likely in the Vistula Basin), and later in the Ukraine (Gothic–Slavic contacts, mainly). No unambiguous evidence that supports a Germanic-Balto-Slavic subgroup remains when we subtract all possible loans. In any case, lexical parallels are poor evidence for subgrouping, especially since they are often not clearly old, and historical phonology and morphology reveal little if any connection between Germanic and Balto-Slavic. I'd say Germanic and Balto-Slavic are about as different as it gets with regard to historical phonology and morphology – also considering that the traditionally adduced (but really quite isolated anyway) -m-/-bʰ- dative/instrumental plural isogloss is highly suspect anyway. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 23:27, 19 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

King should be in controversy list?[edit]

King = shortening of OE cyn(n)-ing, that is, someone associated with a people (a kin). Or does whatsisname consider kin (and the suffix -ing, meaning someone associated with or son of) to be a non-Indo-European word too? (it did say that the words listed were only a sample, after all...) Gott wisst (talk) 07:57, 24 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Forget it, the point's already been made somewhere on this discussion... Also, I think the word "wife" has a cognate in Sanskrit... Can't remember what though. Gott wisst (talk) 07:01, 7 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
IIRC, the Sanskrit cognate to wife was rather strained both semantically and phonetically (i.e. differing from other ognates in several regards). 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 16:29, 24 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Hittite comparison[edit]

The article presents the argument that Hittite can be a used as a counterexample which could invalidate the hypothesis that the paucity of noun cases in Germanic is the result of pidginization. But the Hittites' kingdom was the result of the conquest of a non-Indo-European civilization called the Hatti, and Hittite had many Hatti and Hurrian loanwords; if that were so, wouldn't it suggest that Hittite could also have undergone grammatical simplification as the result of this inter-linguistic contact? AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 15:05, 12 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm no linguist, but yeah, it seems a plausible explanation to why Hittite lacked several grammatical functions present in Sanskrit and Ancient Greek. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 15:12, 27 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Would people please ponder the Paleolithic Continuity Theory, in the context of European Y-chromosomal lineages (like Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA). As sketched somewhat simplistically here:,56103.msg1523343.html#msg1523343

the geographic distributions of R1b / Centum-IE & R1a / Satem are strikingly strongly similar. This seemingly suggests, that the ancient Ice Age "super-ancestor" R1* = PIE, and that when these Paleolithic "proto-IE" peoples became isolated, for many millennia, during the depths of the last Ice Age (20-15 Kya), R1b / Centum-IE & R1a / Satem-IE evolved from that 'R1* / proto-IE common culture.

In this cultural context, the I1a Y-chromosomal lineages could correlate to the Germanic Substrate. If so, then the archaic "proto-Germanic" peoples were non-IE. That the Germanic Substrate creole (1) contains more words of IE origin; (2) and even words of both C-IE & S-IE forms; can be quickly explained, as resulting from (1) R1b & R1a clans containing more members, then as now; and (2) I1a clans living along the "cline" between C-IE (west) & S-IE (east). (Could that cline have come about specifically b/c the I1a clans were hemmed-in, in-between both those groups, roughly from the Rhine to the Oder, and thereby became a "buffer" between them ?) Such would also indicate, that this creolization came about after the split between R1b / Centum-IE & R1a / Satem — to wit, after the end of the last Ice Age (ie, Paleolithic period), which would be in the Mesolithic, when epi-Paleolithic peoples repopulated Europe.

Other simple suggestions (1) Bow (ship) = Bow (arrow) = Bough (tree limb) (2a) King = Kin-ig (cf. fog --> foggy), where the *ig ending means "full of or characterized by". Thus, the "king" is he who characterizes a clan of kin. (2b) Knight = Kin-ig-et (cf. wallet, baguette), where the *et ending is a diminutive (or, essentially the same suggestion, some other such suffix) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:19, 14 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Paleolithic Theory is rejected by the vast majority of linguists. The various Indo-European branches would be far more differentiated if the splits occurred in the Ice Age. Languages do not change as slowly as Alinei presumes. Especially before writing and education was widespread. Also, mtDNA studies of Paleolithic Europeans prove that maternal lineages have significantly changed. No success in extracting Paleolithic Y-DNA, but recent genetic research suggests that R1b1b2 evolved in southwest Asia about 4,000 to 8,000 years ago. The Paleolithic Theory was never credible based on linguistic grounds but now genetic research is also disproving it.Nicomer (talk) 03:05, 13 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is "Germanic substrate hypothesis" the right name?[edit]

Shouldn't this article be renamed to "Pre-Germanic substrate hypothesis" or "Non-Indo-European substrate hypothesis? After all, the whole point of the hypothesis is that the Germanic languages allegedly developed on a non-Germanic substrate. (talk) 16:12, 17 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A fair question. I assume the logic here is the same as that behind Goidelic substrate hypothesis. If a change is to be undertaken, I would suggest "Pre-Germanic substrate" (either with of without "hypothesis") analogous to Pre-Greek substrate. It seems to get more hits on GoogleBooks, at least. --Aryaman (talk) 18:54, 17 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's a substrate to germanic, that is, something that an indo-germanic language absorbed to become germanic. So it is a germanic substrate.--Wendy.krieger (talk) 10:35, 26 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Twelfty and Germanic[edit]

PIE has a decimal system, with words for ten and hundred. However, some of the descendent groups seemed to have adopted other counting systems. These may have come from the substrate, but with IE names. For example, celtic 20, and welsh 20-by-fives (with eg, three-fifteen = 18) etc. Another number system that makes its way into IE is sixty (cf 'shock = 60' from persian 'sixty'.

We see in germanic, in eg Norse, gothoc and Western, a use of a number system of the order of six scores, or 120 in number, eg E.V. Gordon "old norse" § 107 gives hundrað as 120, and 200 as hundrað ok átta tigir. OE has words like hundteontig (100), and hundendleoftig (110= elefty), and hundtwelftig (120), but nimbers past this are in hundreds. Gothic also has a word 'teentywise' for describing hundreds of five score.

Putting reckoning by six-scores as particularly germanic, then the source is evidently not Indo-European but somewhere else, eg a substrate.--Wendy.krieger (talk) 12:35, 20 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the other hand one can argue that a system based around 12 is more practical than one based around 10, as groups of twelve can be easily divided into 2 halves, 4 thirds, 3 quarters, whereas base 10 only divides into 5 halves and 2 fifths. 60 is even better, as it allows for fifths as well. It is entirely possible the counting system was innovated without a substrate. Ekwos (talk) 19:44, 19 December 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


While looking at the table, I can't seem to notice that it doesn't appear very useful. There are few cases where the Germanic ord differ substantially from three other words that are cognate to each other, and there appear to be several words that are borrowed (mostly Latin from Greek, or Russian/Slavic from Germanic). The only good examples I could find in the table are "lamb"?, "drink", "bone" and "bride", then there are some examples with apparently at least two common cognates; sea, sail, north?, bear and wife. It is not known what words with asterisks are supposed to mean. (I guess semantic shift, although it's a bit sloppy.) The table should be remade with comparisions to derivations from common PIE roots in all other IE languages, and if one would like to mark semantic shift, it should be marked clearly in reference format. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 01:38, 22 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I suppose I'm having difficulty understanding what you're trying to say here, but the first four columns should all be similar because they are known cognates (except for the Dutch word for stork: "ooievaar", which is why it is marked with an asterisk). The last three columns are not known cognates, but rather are the equivalent word in the other language. While looking at Schiff/navis/ploio, note that the words for the known cognates of father are: Vater/pater/pateras. The table shows how the German words while common among all the Germanic languages is yet inconsistent with Vern's Law, and Grimm's Law for tracing back to PIE. --Puellanivis (talk) 23:41, 22 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't see how the table is illustrative in clarifying the hypothesis, when it shows four different language groups (Germanic, Latin, Greek, Slavic) having four different words for the same concepts. Also, words that seem to be borrowings(?) (Latin: guberno, carina, cyprinus, Russian: kil, karp) are misleading and should probably be replaced. Maybe the table is sourced, but it still doesn't appear very helpful. It doesn't give a reason why the substrate hypothesis should be valid, and as such, I doubt its place in the article. I.e. if the article should warrant a table, it should show why Germanic vocabulary differs from other IE language groups, and it doesn't currently, it mostly seems to be a listing of random words with not very much in common. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 01:15, 23 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So, you're complaining the the table shows four different language groups, where the Germanic entries have consistent forms, which is different from the other three language groups, and you're having difficulty understanding why this supports the hypothesis that the Germanic language tree uses different words from the rest of the Indo-European tree?
We use the dissimilarity of "pater/pateras/Vater" against "fuchin" to show that Mandarin Chinese is not part of the Indo-European language tree. Unlike Mandarin though, the Germanic languages are known to be Indo-European, so these dissimilarities have to have another reason. The Germanic Substrate Hypothesis is that it came from a non-Indo-European language. --Puellanivis (talk) 03:07, 24 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, One example: from the table: English: ebb, German: Ebbe, Dutch: eb, Swedish: ebb, Latin: decessus, recessus, Greek: άμπωτις (ampotis), Russian: отлив (otliv). This just shows that the Germanic languages are related. All other words are dissimilar, so it doesn't illustrate any relation between the three other language families, and it doesn't illustrate why the substrate hypothesis is a probable theory. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 13:45, 24 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm trying to understand how you cannot make the connection from "the Germanic languages have a consistent form which other Indo-European languages do not have," which you openly recognize from the table, to how this demonstrates "the Germanic languages have words that are not apparently Indo-European in origin." The Latin, Greek and Russian don't have to line up to each other either to make this point. They need merely suggest that the Proto-Indo-European word is not what the Proto-Germanic word derived from. Pointing to the question of where Latin/Greek/Russian got their particular word from does not deflect the point that the Germanic word is not apparently Indo-European. --Puellanivis (talk) 20:56, 24 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, now I at least understand what you mean. But I still don't see how the table is illustrative. It would be more interesting and illustrative to see how common words differ from common Indo-European cognates. (Several examples seem too specific to have common PIE cognates, though, such as eel, carp and stork. I'm also aware that this is just a hypothesis, where a hypothetized substrate language is apparently lost forever. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 12:40, 25 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Looking through the online etymology text for "carp" it seems that it was a Danube fish who's name was widely borrowed by nearly everyone from Gothic. The Latin word was also apparently "carpa", (I say "apparently" because I cannot find "cyprinus" or "carpa" in any Latin-English dictionary) this is based on the translations of "carpa" in Spanish, "carpe" in French, and "carpa" in Italian. As a result I'm starting to edge on taking that entry out, because nearly everyone copied from Germanic, but at the same time, if everyone essentially copied from it, then it is fairly clearly is a uniquely German word. The word also would have had to have been borrowed into Latin later than Grimm's law, (or the Latin word would still be "carpa" but the ProtoG word would be "!kharp-", or the Latin word would be "!garpa" but the ProtoG word would remain "*karp-").
But you are right... this is merely a hypothesis, no less a weak one, and no less a widely criticized one. I don't really know how we could really demonstrate in the table that "carp" was borrowed by Latin and Russian as opposed to all of them being related, and Greek being the odd candidate out with "kyprinos" (which still looks fairly borrowed.) --Puellanivis (talk) 21:07, 25 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe it should be revamped into something simpler, not primarily based on the root words in any particular languages, such as this. (Approximately what I had in mind.)
Proto-Germanic Germanic derivatives Common Indo-European equivalents Alternative (IE) etymology
*ebbaz (ebb, low tide) English: ebb, German: Ebbe, Dutch: eb, Swedish: ebb ? ?
*karpaz (carp) English: carp, German: Karpfen, Dutch: karper, Swedish: karp None, Vulgar Latin *carpa, Russian карп (karp) Germanic loanwords ?
*drinkan (to drink) English: drink, German: trinken, Dutch: drinken, Swedish: dricka *pi- : Latin: bibo, Greek: πίνω (pino), Russian: пить (pit') ?
*bainaz (bone) English: bone, German: Bein (archaic or compounds), Dutch: been, Swedish: ben *oss- : Latin: os, Greek: οστούν (ostoun), Russian: кость (kost') ?
*brudaz (bride) English: bride, German: Braut, Dutch: bruid, Swedish: brud *n?- Latin: nupta, Greek: νύφη (nyfi), Russian: невеста (nevesta) ?
It needs some proof-reading, though. Like fact-checking the Proto-Germanic variants, etc, but we wouldn't need to limit ourselves to any particular IE langages outside Germanic. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 21:16, 27 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't understand your reference to Verner's Law, either. It isn't mentioned a single time in the article. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 01:19, 23 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Verner's Law and Grimm's Law detail how proto-Germanic derived from proto-Indo-European. It's how we can see the direct similarity between "fader" (Germanic) and "pater/pateras" (Latin/Greek). Following a proto-Germanic word backwards through Verner's Law, and Grimm's Law, we can predict what the proto-Indo-European form is. Following the Germanic entries in this table back to what we would expect the proto-Indo-European forms to be, they do not match up with what we find in the other Indo-European languages. That's where it comes from. --Puellanivis (talk) 03:07, 24 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I could look up Verner's law in its own article, but there's no mention on how Verner's law is related to the substrate hypothesis. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 13:45, 24 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Verner's law is related just as far as Grimm's law is related to this hypothesis, as Verner's law is a rule for exceptions to Grimm's Law. --Puellanivis (talk) 20:56, 24 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also, why is the Greek example for 'ship' ploio rather than naus, which is directly cognate to the Latin navis? --Quadalpha (talk) 23:34, 4 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And there are a few other examples of non-obvious ways of making a correspondence table. --Quadalpha (talk) 23:36, 4 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think using four modern Germanic languages, three of them west Germanic, and using the modern meanings of the Germanic words instead of the eearliest attested meanings, is a serious mistake. It conceals the variation among the Germanic languages, and it compares the Germanic words to the wrong non-Germanic words. English guma, in bridegroom, first means man, and would contrast with vir, andros, etc. not maritus, gampros, zhenikh. Ananiujitha (talk) 03:59, 3 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The example with 'ūp' may be not relevant: this situation can be found in a few other examples, like 'at', -t in Nom.-Acc. Sg. in Neutra ('þat'), etc, and in all the three cases the voiceless stops can be better derived from i.-e. sandhi forms 'ūb', 'ad' and 'tod' passed through a normal consonant shift.

--Ahvalj (talk) 15:33, 1 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Funny, I was just about to mention the same point – years ago, I independently came to the same conclusion that it is highly likely that *ūp simply reflects the final voicing sandhi rule that can be reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European (mainly based on Indo-Iranian and Italic evidence, with other branches such as Celtic and Germanic perhaps providing more indirect confirmation), especially considering Latin sub (besides super) which patently displays the same voicing (just like Latin ab besides *apó). Therefore, one would reconstruct *(H)ub besides *(H)upó (which is also reflected in Germanic). --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:08, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually, it is not even clear how an alleged exception to the sound shift is relevant to the hypothesis – surely nobody intends to ascribe both the sound shift and its occasional absence to the effect of the substratum, I would suppose at least. Therefore, I have removed the example completely. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:34, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Greek forms in table[edit]

Not sure why predominantly modern Greek forms are used, instead of ancient Greek... AnonMoos (talk) 20:29, 20 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good point. I would even be inclined to use "u" rather than "y" to Romanise υ in order to make the etymological connection clearer. Instead we have "i" for η, which is pointless. We should really have a Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Greek to clarify such cases.—Greg Pandatshang (talk) 23:50, 28 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

the non-indo-european substrate is neolithic and middle eastern[edit]

given recent genetic analysis, there *should* be a neolithic substrate in the region that is common to both celtic and germanic (and possibly italic and greek) and ultimately has a middle eastern root, probably similar to something like sumerian. while that substrate may have mixed with something related to basque, i wouldn't expect it to have been subsumed by it. note that the words that have been pulled out are agricultural, seafearing, etc - this is very consistent with a neolithic migration from the south by boat. further, there are comparative religious roads to travel down in linking the vanir to a levantine root. it all adds up very cleanly, somebody just has to put this together; the problem in doing so is that it requires casting aside all white supremacism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:24, 18 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Since Germanic is thought to be formed in Scandinavia, the language of Y-haplogroup I-M253 is the best candidate for the substrate in Germanic. YOMAL SIDOROFF-BIARMSKII (talk) 02:01, 8 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
not really. it's certainly a good candidate for a substrate of the substrate, but it's historically rather removed. i get antsy when i see arguments that want to prioritize "nordic" peoples, because they're ultimately almost always either arbitrary (in the area of northern europe, we can trace multiple migrations from multiple directions. there's no good reason to pick that haplotype over others besides the always illusory ideas about "continuity" that are consistently proven wrong everywhere they're applied.) or not consistent with evidence (the substratum is clearly neolithic in origin, whereas this nordic haplotype clearly isn't).
as i mentioned up there, there's a broad confluence of mythological, genetic and archaeological evidence that creates a historical storyline of an invading warrior culture (indo-europeans, aesir in the old sources) making peace with an existing agricultural one (the vanir). the substratum seems to be cultural as much as it is linguistic, and represented by deities such as freyja. it seems reasonable to connect this substratum to the similar cultures that existed at the same time up the danube, which would give them near eastern origin. there's been talk of a semitic sub or super stratum, which i think is getting in the right direction, but one would have to speak of this substratum as diverging from a proto-semitic (or other transitional tongue) rather than as being derived from phoenician or jewish or arabic. again: it's easy to see why german nationalists reject this idea almost immediately.
that doesn't mean there couldn't have *also* been a "nordic substrate" but it would have been _underneath_ the near eastern one. the genetic analysis seems to make it clear that neolithic peoples came in first, then indo-european peoples did, so one would expect that kind of complex multi-layered substrate, rather than a simple one.
yet, as the neolithic substrate is the more recent one, it should also be interpreted as the dominant one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:55, 6 June 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's a correct way of thinking. An attempt on finding the commonalities in Pre-Germanic and Pre-Greek substrates was done not long ago by G. Kroonen in this paper. Kroonen links that common substrate to the Linear Pottery culture. I wonder if someone with better English skills than me could add it to the article. Finstergeist (talk) 20:34, 27 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The map[edit]

The map is nice and informative. But it includes Tocharians(?), in central Europe(?). This must be explained, and references must be given. By the way, many scientists believe that Tocharians come from the urnfield culture in central Europe - so it really is attractive. But without references to their arguments it must be removed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:56, 31 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]