Where Do the Germanic Languages Come From?

The Germanic languages are the most widely spoken in the world, with well over 500 million native speakers.

All Germanic languages are derived from Proto-Germanic, spoken in Iron Age Scandinavia. Consisting of English, German, Netherlandic (Dutch), Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Faroese, to name a few.

The most widely spoken Germanic language is English, which is also the world’s most widely spoken language with an estimated 2 billion speakers. Although English is the world’s most widely spoken language, the vast majority of people, 1.5 billion, speak it as a second language.

The Germanic Languages have their roots in Northern Germany, Sweden, Norway, and the British Isles. These areas of the world when the Romans could not establish a strong foothold in that area of the world. According to Language Taxonomy, all 47 living Germanic languages are children of Proto-Germanic.

The long-term linguistic effect of the Viking expansion into England was threefold: over a thousand Scandinavia words eventually became part of Standard English. Numerous places in the East and North-east of England have Danish names, and many English personal names are of Scandinavian origin.

Viking expeditions (blue line): depicting the immense breadth of their voyages through most of Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Northern Africa, Asia Minor, the Arctic, and North America. Lower Normandy, depicted as a ″Viking territory in 911″, was not part of the lands granted by the king of the Franks to Rollo in 911, but Upper Normandy.
Viking expeditions (blue line): depicting the immense breadth of their voyages through most of Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Northern Africa, Asia Minor, the Arctic, and North America. Lower Normandy, depicted as a ″Viking territory in 911″, was not part of the lands granted by the king of the Franks to Rollo in 911, but Upper Normandy.

How Similar Are the Germanic Languages?

Depending on which Germanic language you learn, you may have an easier or harder time understanding other Germanic languages. Part of that has to do with the linguistic “distance” between various languages.

Learning American English, for example, will prepare you to understand the English spoken in England, despite there being some differences between the two.

German and English are more clearly different, but there’s still enough mutual intelligibility that a German speaker and an English speaker could probably have a rudimentary conversation.

West Germanic languages tree
West Germanic languages tree

Viking Museum
Vikingemuseet

Sankt Clemens Torv 6, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark

Moesgaard Museum
Moesgaard Museum

The Viking Museum in Aarhus is a small “on-site” basement museum under the bank Nordea on Store Torv in the middle of Aarhus. The Viking Museum belongs to the Moesgaard Museum.

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Leif the Traveling Wayfinder
Leif the Traveling Wayfinder
Leif is a Wayfinder for travelers, nomads, wanderers, and adventurers on their journies through the world. For 8 years he was a Pathfinder for the Foreign Legion and circled the globe 3 times in their service.

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