Proto-Germanic Language

Proto-Germanic Language

Proto-Germanic (often abbreviated PGmc.), Common Germanic or Ur-Germanic, as it is sometimes known, is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Germanic languages, including English. By definition, Proto-Germanic is the stage of the language constituting the most recent common ancestor of the attested Germanic languages. Proto-Germanic is itself descended from Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

Although Proto-Germanic was reconstructed as a node in the tree model of language development, its main innovations must have followed a logical and therefore a chronological sequence, leading to the hypothesis that, over its estimated life of nearly one thousand years, roughly 500 BC to 500, it underwent phases of development. Each phase but the last featured some, but not all, of the common innovations. Moreover, the final phases, and perhaps the initial, were already divided into dialects, some of which would lead to distinct languages, which began at the point of mutual unintelligibility. That point is often difficult to determine, and as such there may have never been any uniform Proto-Germanic.

The Proto-Germanic language is not directly attested by any surviving texts but has been reconstructed using the comparative method. However, a few surviving inscriptions in a runic script from Scandinavia, the Vimose inscriptions, dated to c. 200, may represent a stage of Proto-Norse or, according to Bernard Comrie, late Common Germanic immediately following the "Proto-Germanic" stage.

Words in Proto-Germanic written in this article are transcribed using the system described below under transcription.

Read more about Proto-Germanic Language:  Evolution of Proto-Germanic (PGmc), Morphology, Schleicher's PIE Fable Rendered Into Proto-Germanic

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