From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic

From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic

From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic

From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic

Synopsis

This book is the first since 1897 to describe the earliest reconstructable stages of the prehistory of English. It outlines the grammar of Proto-Indo-European, considers the changes by which one dialect of that prehistoric language developed into Proto-Germanic, and provides a detailed account of the grammar of Proto-Germanic. The first volume in Don Ringe's A Linguistic History of English will be of central interest to all scholars and students of comparative Indo-European and Germanic linguistics, the history of English, and historical linguists. The next volume will consider the development of Proto-Germanic into Old English. Subsequent volumes will describe the attested history of English from the Old English period to the present.

Excerpt

This volume began as part of a set of handouts for a course in the linguistic history of English at the University of Pennsylvania. It occurred to me that they contained much information considered standard among “hard-core” Indo-Europeanists but largely unknown to colleagues in other subdisciplines, and that they might therefore be made the basis of a useful book. Most of the first draft was written during the academic year 2002–3, when I chaired the School of Arts and Sciences Personnel Committee at Penn, to relax and unwind.

I emphasize that this is not intended to be a traditional handbook in which the focus is always on attested languages. Instead I have tried to give a coherent description of various stages in the prehistory of English and of the changes that transformed one stage into the next. I also wish to emphasize that this book is not intended primarily for traditional ‘philologists’, though it seems likely that they will find it useful. My intended readership includes especially those who have not undertaken serious study of Indo-European or comparative Germanic linguistics, nor of the history of English, but want reliable information on what specialists in those disciplines have collectively learned over the past century and a half. In attempting to make this information available I have modelled Chapters 2 and 4 in part on the ‘grammatical sketches’ of unfamiliar languages which were produced in abundance in the middle of the twentieth century, and I have tried to employ terminology that a modern theoretical linguist might be expected to understand. I foresee that my colleagues in historical linguistics will find both tactics disconcerting; but the volume is not primarily intended for them.

Since I have tried to present a coherent account of material that is generally agreed on, the overall picture of the grammar of Proto-Indo-European and the development of Proto-Germanic presented in this volume is relatively conservative. I have included innovative suggestions on a small scale when they seemed necessary, giving references to earlier publications; I hope that I have not forgotten to reference any distinctive views of previous researchers that I have accepted. Conclusions that are almost universally accepted in . . .

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