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Is English a Germanic language?

Is English a Germanic language?
german language expert
(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

A world full of over seven billion people can get confusing at times. There are so many things around us and with capitalism, the number of products being produced every year is only expected to rise. With so many things to purchase and use, if we had not come with a system to name things, we would never have found what we needed. However, not all things are named according to a system. There are scientific names for both plants and animals but they don’t favor those who have not studied zoology or botany. It is true that those people don’t know the complicated names of things anyway but for other objects, humans needed a better system.

The best way humans learn something is by way of association and that’s how they started naming things too. We may not know which was named first the fruit or the color orange but we do know that one of them was named after the other. This proves that people like naming things after other objects or even people. This is a very effective system to make things sound simple and easier to remember. But history can be complicated and there are more inaccuracies in it than we realize. As a result, a few names might not be accurate or incorrectly named after the wrong person or place.

A lot of people, incorrectly, assume that French fries are from France. This is why the name is still in use almost everywhere in the world. But in truth, it was Belgium that invented the potato dish which we call French fries today. The name was given to the dish by American soldiers when they were introduced to it by Belgian soldiers during the World War I. Since Belgian solders spoke French, the Americans assumed it was a French delicacy and started calling them the French fries. The name stuck and even after all these years, it is still in use all over the world.

There was a system devised to name languages so they would be divided in to perfect categories and people would be able to understand the classification. But like scientific names for plants and animals, these too are only understandable to linguists. Other people can find them confusing and may start assuming connections between languages that are not related in anyway. However, anyone who wishes to develop a better understanding of a language can study about its family and find out the meaning behind its name.

Germanic language

The English Language:

The world’s second most spoken language by number of total speakers is officially recognized in the 67 sovereign states. It has the highest number of students and its importance is increasing with every passing day. The popularity of English in various countries can be listed as the influence of the British when they colonized those states. A lot of states adopt the language of their colonial rulers and the people of those 67 countries were no different. Even in states where it isn’t officially recognized, it enjoys a high status. It is the lingua franca of the world in a way because whenever travelers have to talk to a native, the first thing they ask about is whether or not the locals can understand and speak English.

Is English a Germanic Language?

Indo-European is the most influential family of languages. 46% of the world’s total population speaks an Indo-European tongue. It covers most of Europe and some areas of Asia. It is also represented in the Americas. Seven tongues of this family have over a 100 million speakers. English, the world’s most prominent tongue also falls under this category.

Germanic language

But when we discuss about subgroups, this family is divided into Germanic groups. English falls in the West Germanic subgroup and shares it with German and Dutch. Although English and Dutch have some German influence, that’s not why the group is named Germanic. There are multiple reasons behind the name of the group. One of them, and probably the most important, is that the most famous historical linguists were German. They were the ones who wrote texts about different tongues and compiled them according to their similarities and features. Another theory is that the group is named after the Germanic people who lived in Northern Europe and spoke the earlier languages of this family. These people continue to speak Germanic languages and spread out in different regions of Europe. It could also be that the pioneers of linguistics who were also German named the group after their ancestors.

One thing, however, is clear that English is not a Germanic language because it originated from German. The members of the group affect each other in various ways but for the most part, their similarities can only be noticed by linguists. This is why the three members of the West Germanic group are considered separate tongues and not the dialect of the same vernacular.

If you are interested in learning the history of English, you can find out all the vernaculars that affected it one way or another. But at the end of the day, each language gets affected by other tongues and still continue to maintain its individuality. So, English is under threat from German or any other vernacular and will continue to gain popularity over the internet and in real life. However, it will also continue to be related to German and Dutch.

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