Nearly six thousand years ago, seafront clans in Denmark likely began speaking the earliest form of Germanic language-the first of six "signal events" that Ruth Sanders highlights in this marvelous tour of the German language. Blending linguistic, anthropological, and historical research, Sanders presents a brilliant biography of the language as it evolved across the millennia. She sheds light on the influence of such events as the Battle of Kalkriese, which
permanently halted the incursion of both the Romans and the Latin language into northern Europe, and the publication of Martin Luther's German Bible translation, which in effect forged from many regional dialects a single German language. The narrative ranges through the turbulent Middle Ages, the spread of
the printing press, the formation of the nineteenth-century German Empire, and Germany's twentieth-century military and cultural horrors. The book includes fascinating sidebars on topics such as the Gothic language (now extinct), the branching off of Yiddish, and the revolution of 1848. The first book on this topic for general readers, this engaging volume will appeal to everyone interested in German language, culture, or history.
Ruth H. Sanders is Professor of German at Miami University of Ohio.
Preface Introduction: What this book covers Chapter One: Germanic Beginnings: Early Ancestors in Denmark Timeline : From the earliest settlements in northern Europe to the beginning of the Christian era Sidebars: 1. Indo-European: Protolanguage and culture 2. The First Sound Shift 3. Language contact and language change: The case of Finland Chapter Two: The Germanic Languages Survive the Romans: The Battle of Kalkriese Timeline: From the beginning of the Christian era to the end of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages Sidebars: 1. The Germanic tribes 2. The Goths and the Gothic language 3. The Celts Chapter Three: A Fork in the Road: Germanic languages separate into Low and High Timeline: From the beginning of the Middle Ages to the Protestant Reformation Sidebars: 1. The Second Sound Shift 2. The Vikings: Raiders, traders, and neighbors 3. The Germanen go to England: The Anglo-Saxons and the English language 4. Yiddish: The creation of a new Germanic language Chapter Four: A perfect storm, and the birth of Standard German Timeline: From the beginning of the Reformation to the beginning of the First Industrial Revolution Sidebars: 1. The Thirty Years' War 2. The Reformation 3. The history of European printing Chapter Five: The German language gets a state Timeline: From the Unification of Germany to the beginning of World War I Sidebars: 1. The revolution of 1848 Chapter Six: Postwar Comeback Times Two: German Begins to Recover after a Fall from grace Timeline: From the end of World War I to the present Sidebars: 1. Spelling Reforms 2. Early Germanic language in a deep freeze: The case of Icelandic Bibliography