Was there German or English first?

English originated from Anglo-Saxon, a dialect formed from the German dialects of Fishing, Saxony, Juts and Frisians.That’s why German may spontaneously have the reflex to call “first”.

But if English is only a variation of German dialects, isn’t it itself a German dialect?And if the settlers of the British Isles used to be able to talk to the mainlanders, why not today? The relationship between English and German is not that simple.

In order to give an answer that meets the question, we need to look at where English and German have their roots, what influenced them and what we mean by English and German in the first place.

About 500 B.C., the Germanic sound shift has peeled out of the Urindo-Germanic language family, which houses the so-called Germanic languages.This is the basis on which both German and English are based.

From about 400 to about 600 the British Isles were settled by North Sea Germanic tribes, the most important of which are the Fishing and the Saxons, the Juts and the Frisians.These tribes took their dialects with them, from which Anglo-Saxon formed over the time, so the earliest form of English is not to date before 400.

Nevertheless, the underlying German dialects, and thus German in itself, must be older and thus the question must be answered unequivocally.So why this listing?

From about 600 to about 800, the High German laut shift, which was to produce High German, took place in contrast to the still existing old German, which is now called Low German.Thus, Hochdeutsch, the younger German, is probably also younger than Anglo-Saxon.

But English has not yet decided the question for itself, because there is still a long way to go from Anglo-Saxon to English.But German is not yet what it was supposed to be.

From 865 to 878 there was a lot of Time for Britain to be joined by the Danelag, who was able to assert himself on the island after more Viking trains.During the presence of the northern men, North Germanic dialects have had a great influence on Anglo-Saxon.

From 1066 to 1072 the Norman conquest of England took place.The subsequent Norman rule and the Norman-occupied ruling class had an even greater influence on the Anglo-Saxon, especially in the higher estates, where this language was soon considered mob-like and frowned upon.

From 1522 to 1545, the Luther Bible was circulated, which, due to its great influence, can be regarded as the foundation stone of the establishment of German as an umbrella language that should include all Lower and High German dialects.In addition, numerous word creations expanded the German vocabulary.

From 1590 to 1610, Shakespeare wrote his works, which were to have an even greater influence on English in terms of word creations than Luther in German.His work should not be underestimated in terms of language style either.

From 1838 to 1961 Grimm’s dictionary was written, which contributes not only to the standardization of the German language, but also to language maintenance.

From 1884 to 1928, the Oxford English Dictionary was first published, which takes over the task of Grimm’s legacy for the English language.

This list is just a snippet of the influences that have worked over the centuries.It does not claim to be exhaustive, but it still hopes to have listed some of the most important points.

English did not come out of German, at least if we speak of modern English and standard German, but rather they developed in parallel.The question of which of the two was first depends on where the linguistic boundaries of English and German are drawn, both in linguistic kinship and in temporal development.

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