History, archaeology, and human evolutionary genetics provide us with an increasingly detailed view of the origins and development of the peoples that live in Northwestern Europe. This book aims to restore the key position of historical linguistics in this debate by treating the history of the Germanic languages as a history of its speakers. It focuses on the role that language contact has played in creating the Germanic languages, between the first millennium BC and the crucially important early medieval period. Chapters on the origins of English, German, Dutch, and the Germanic language family as a whole illustrate how the history of the sounds of these languages provide a key that unlocks the secret of their genesis: speakers of Latin, Celtic and Balto-Finnic switched to speaking Germanic and in the process introduced a 'foreign accent' that caught on and spread at the expense of types of Germanic that were not affected by foreign influence. The book is aimed at linguists, historians, archaeologists and anyone who is interested in what languages can tell us about the origins of their speakers.

chapter 1|1 pages

What This Book Is and Is Not About

chapter 2|2 pages

Language Contact and Language Change

chapter 3|1 pages

Language Contact in Deep Time

chapter 4|7 pages

The Comparative Method

chapter 2|1 pages

The Anglo-Saxon Settlements

chapter 4|8 pages

The Reconstruction of British Celtic

chapter 8|15 pages

The Origin of Irish

chapter 10|3 pages


chapter 1|2 pages


chapter 2|1 pages

German and Dutch

chapter 3|7 pages

The High German Consonant Shift

chapter 4|9 pages

Making Sense of the HGCS

chapter 6|1 pages

Explaining the HGCS in General

chapter 7|2 pages

Germanic and Latin Up North

chapter 1|1 pages

Non-Aspiration of p , t , k

chapter 3|1 pages

Western Dutch

chapter 4|4 pages

Coastal Dutch

chapter 5|4 pages

Spontaneous Vowel Fronting

chapter 9|2 pages

Spoken Latin in the Low Countries

chapter 10|3 pages

Northern Old French Vowel Systems

chapter 12|3 pages

Romance Fronting and Germanic i -Umlaut

chapter 13|4 pages

Language and History in the Low Countries

chapter 14|2 pages

Towards Modern Dutch

chapter 1|1 pages

The Dawn of Germanic

chapter 2|3 pages


chapter 3|18 pages

Convergence to What?

chapter 4|17 pages

Saami and the Break-up of Germanic

chapter VI|6 pages