North Sea Germanic

North Sea Germanic
Ingvaeonic
Geographic
distribution
Originally the North Sea coast from Friesland to Jutland; today, worldwide
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
Subdivisions
nort3175[1]
The distribution of the primary Germanic languages in Europe in around AD 1:
  North Sea Germanic, or Ingvaeonic
  Weser-Rhine Germanic, or Istvaeonic
  Elbe Germanic or Irminonic

North Sea Germanic, also known as Ingvaeonic k/, is a postulated grouping of the northern West Germanic languages, consisting of Old Frisian, Old English and Old Saxon and their descendants.

Ingvaeonic is named after the Ingaevones, a West Germanic cultural group or proto-tribe along the North Sea coast, mentioned by both Tacitus and Pliny the Elder (the latter mentioning that tribes in the group included the Cimbri, the Teutoni, and the Chauci). It is not thought of as a monolithic proto-language but rather as a group of closely related dialects that underwent several areal changes in relative unison.

The grouping was first proposed in Nordgermanen und Alemannen (1942) by German linguist and philologist Friedrich Maurer as an alternative to the strict tree diagrams that had become popular following the work of 19th-century linguist August Schleicher and assumed the existence of a special Anglo-Frisian group. The other groupings are Istvaeonic, from the Istvaeones, including Dutch, Afrikaans and related languages; and Irminonic, from the Irminones, including the High German languages.

Characteristics

Linguistic evidence for Ingvaeonic are common innovations observed in Old Frisian, Old English and Old Saxon such as the following:

  • The so-called Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law: converted *munþ "mouth" into *mūþ (compare Old English mūþ).
  • The loss of Germanic third-person *s- reflexive pronouns[2]
  • The loss of person distinctions in plural forms of verbs, reducing three forms into one form ending in [3]
  • The development of Class III weak verbs into a relic class consisting of four verbs (*sagjan "to say", *hugjan "to think", *habjan "to have", *libjan "to live")
  • The split of the Class II weak verb ending *-ō- into *-ō-/-ōja-
  • Development of a plural ending *-ōs in a-stem nouns
  • Possibly, the monophthongisation of *ai to ē/ā, and *au to ō/ā (but that may represent independent changes in Old Saxon and Anglo-Frisian)

Several, but not all, of the characteristics are also found in Dutch. It did not generally undergo the nasal spirant law (except for a few words), it kept the three plural endings distinct and it did not have the -s plural. However, it underwent near-full monophthongisation (some instances of -ei- persisted), lost the reflexive pronoun (even if it later regained it by borrowing) and had the same four relic verbs in weak class 3.

Other Languages