The Germans extended over substantial parts of northern, western, and
central Europe. What happened to the previous inhabitants?
Did the Germans eradicate them, or drive them away, or amalgamate with
them? Eric Röth has found astonishing connections between the
Veneti, Balts, Celts, and Illyrians:
It is nonsense to speak about a uniform and indivisible Indo-European language, because nowhere else exists such an intimate connectedness as between the Venetic and Old Germanic languages.
There is a considerable connectedness between Germanic and Latin. This means that a substantial part of the people from whom the Romans descended, had lived in closest contact with the people from whom the Old Germans developed.
The settlement of ancient inhabitants was permanent. They became accustomed to Germans but retained many manners and customs, as well as an ancient word-stock. Ancient names of places, rivers, mountains, peoples, local characteristics and specialties, and religious centers can be recognized from such names even now.
The German literary language is not influenced by the word-stock of dialects. The language of the ancient inhabitants is still alive and acting, in spite of its outward German form. But different voice forms are valid for it. Linguists estimate the number of words whose meaning and origin are not elucidated to be more than one third of the word-stock. The etymology of other words is questionable. Christianization (interpretatio christiana) to give pagan words a christian meaning has played its part. The words raised from folk use into the literary language remain unexplained.
Nations were formed far earlier than we imagine. The proto-Germans fused with the previous inhabitants into the present Germans. The contribution of the pre-German people in the present German one is considerably higher than we assume now.
Page Created: October 26, 2001
Page Updated: October 27, 2001
©Copyright 2001 Gary L. Gorsha