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My understanding (which could be wrong) is the following:
During and before the period of the fall of western Rome (roughly 400 AD), the Franks and the Alemanni were tribal people who moved around a lot. The Romans called both of those people "Germans", so they must have been quite similar. I assume they must have intermingled quite a lot, since they were in constant contact with one another.
Once the "Dark Ages" began, the Franks sort of stayed where France is now, and the Alemanni stayed where Germany is now, though the lines must have been blurry, since Charlemagne was a Frank, but I've heard Germans call him Karl der Grosse, and claim him as being German.
Right, so based on that background, how come the French and German language have evolved to be so different, or were they already very different back then? If so, why and how?
Defense of German heritage against Romans
The biggest reason for how the lands east of the Rhine retained their German identity (unlike the Gauls of modern day France who lost their Celtic identity) is the Battle of Teutoburg Forest where the Germans won a decisive victory against Roman invaders. After this battle, the Romans never seriously attempted to conquer German lands in Magna Germania even though sporadic raids and skirmishes continued. This also ensured that German lands would remain German for eternity (or at least till now).
Latin influence on Gaul
The original inhabitants of France were Celtic people who were referred to as Gauls and Belgae by the Romans. Eventually Gaul was conquered by Julius Caesar and soon a dialect of Italiano-Celtic origin began developing which can be referred to as Vulgar Latin.
This Vulgar Latin is the core of the modern French language but Gaulish still left its impacts on modern French - for example, the loss of unstressed syllables, the vowel system etc.
As you have noted, the Franks and Alemanni aka Suebi or Swabians were both Germanic tribes and Romans were not wrong in calling them both Germans even though they both spoke different dialects of German.
However they were not the only German tribes; there were dozens of them, many of whom spoke their own dialects of Proto-German. Chief among them were of course Franks, Alemanni, Angles (who settled in England and gave it their name), Dani (modern day Danes), Goths (From modern day Sweden, Swedes are considered by some as descendants of Goths. Divided into Visigoths who conquered Hispania and Ostrogoths who conquered Italia), Langobardes (later known as Lombards and gave Lombardy (Italy) their name), Saxones (Sailed to England and laid foundations of Anglo-Saxon states), Vandals (Who conquered North Africa).
Francia or Carolingian Empire
There once used to be a confederation of German Tribes which was called Frankland or Francia or Regnum Francorum or later Carolingian Empire (Under Karling Dynasty) which was ruled by a German Tribe named the Franks. It existed from 481 AD to 843 AD.
Eventually Gaul was conquered by German Tribes. The Franks settled down in Northern France while the Alemanni settled down in the Rhine region at the border of Modern France and Germany. The Alemanni were also later conquered by the Franks under Clovis I. Unlike the Franks who were converting to Catholicism and adopting local culture gradually, The Alemanni were however very conscious about their roots and remained pagan until the 7th century.
The Franks did give their own influences to the native language but linguists today believe only 500 French words have Frankish roots.
Division of Frankish Empire
Anyhow, after the death of Louis the Pious, the Carolingian Empire got embroiled in a Civil war between his sons which resulted in the division of the Empire.
It was only ended by the Treaty of Verdun, according to which Charles the Bald got West Francia which went on to become France and Louis the German got East Francia which went on to become Germany.
It must be noted that Latin Speakers were present only in West Francia. East Francia however remained the traditional heartland of the German People.
This division formed the line between East and West forever as from the 10th century, East Francia was known as the Kingdom of Germany which was further reinforced when the Salian dynasty took over the Holy Roman Empire.
In the end however, the Franks assimilated into the local Latin-speaking population and from Old Frankish and Italo-Gaulic, the French language was born.
East Francia, which contained the territories of the Alemmani, did not have any such political aspects to consider and therefore retained their dialects and language. Alemannian German is still spoken in various parts of Germany and also abroad e.g. in Switzerland etc.
The French language however remains distinct among the Romance languages which is due to Germanic influence from the Franks and Normans. I read somewhere that:
French is what happens when Germans learn Latin.
A good similar example for the case of the Carolingian dynasty would be the Yuan dynasty of China. The Yuans were Mongols who invaded China, but in the end, they were the ones who adopted the native Chinese culture and language rather than the other way around. Similarly the Ilkhanate adopted Turco-Persian identity. Their cousins in Mongolia however retained their Mongol identity.
The Franks were a German tribe, speaking a Germanic language. They conquered part of the Roman Empire roughly corresponding to modern-day France.
However, the common folk in that area spoke Latin, and never stopped just because their ruling class was now German. Over time their Latin language drifted until it became the language we now call "French".
This is sort of a mirror image of what happened a bit later in England, where the people spoke a Germanic language, but got conquered by a group of French-speaking people. Some words ended up getting borrowed, but the common folk of England never stopped speaking the Germanic language that evolved into what we today call English.
The only common ancestor these two language families really have is Proto-Indo-European. They probably split into their two distinct branches at least 3,000 years ago (possibly as much as 5).
So the reason German and French are so different is that they have been separate languages for thousands of years.
Actually the border between Germanic and Romance languages never correlated closely with any political borders until modern nationalistic governments forced schooling in the national languages. And it still includes at least two multi-lingual countries, Belgium and Switzerland.
People preferred to speak the language that everyone else in their area spoke and didn't bother to learn or teach their children whatever language or dialect might be spoken in the capital. Except that they might try to learn a different language if the local elite group spoke it, hoping to become assimilated into the local elite group.
If you look at and compare linguistic and political maps for the same era you will see that for many hundreds of years the linguistic border between French and German did not correspond very well to the political borders.
During and after the fall of Rome, northern Europe was overrun by "Germanic" tribes. But one of these ethnic German tribes, the Franks, became largely "Latinized" as a result.
There were two, possibly interrelated reasons for this. The first was that they colonized (and gave their name to) the part of Europe now known as "France," which the Romans had known (and colonized) as Gaul. The land that the Franks settled was heavily populated by people who (unlike the "Germans" further to the east), were heavily "Romanized." Thus, the Franks adopted large parts of the Gallic culture including important elements of the Latin language that morphed into modern "French."
A second, and possibly interrelated reason, was that an important Frankish king, Clovis converted to Christianity at the behest of his wife Clotilde, thereby separating himself further from other, "pagan," Germanic tribes, and tying his "French" kingdom more closely to "Latinized" Gauls and Romans (who still controlled the Catholic church after the fall of Rome).
It has been described to me that Europe only has one language, from Lisbon to Moscow, and it changes dialect very slowly as you progress. Supposedly, the borders don't matter so much.
This probably was true back in the day (~1800) with a bunch of exceptions (Basque? Greece?). Since then, some European countries ( for example, Spain, France, Florence ) have attempted to standardize their languages, but the intra-country language variation still exists.
Thus, the language spoken in Bas Rhin was very similar to that which is spoken in Baden. Both were somewhat different from the languages of Paris and Berlin. This local similarity continues today.
This means, altogether, that the reason German and French are different is because Paris is a significant distance from Germany.
In a nutshell, the French language has Latin and Greek roots in it just like that of English, Spanish, Canadian, Italian, and Greek whereas German, Icelandic, Russian and etc come from either other roots or are completely original in linguistic liniage.
The Last Lesson Extra Questions and Answers Short Answer Type
Why did Franz not go to school that day?
Franz had started very late for school on that day. He had also not learnt the rules for the participles and M.Hamel was going to ask questions on participles. He was dread of M.Hamel’s scolding. Therefore Franz didn’t want to go to school on that day.
What sights did Franz see on his way to school?
On his way to school, Franz found that the day was warm and bright. The birds were chirping at the edge of woods and in the open woods, the Prussian soldiers were drilling. When he passed the town hall there was a crowd in front of the bulletin board. Franz wondered what the matter could be. But he didn’t stop to read it.
What tempted Franz to stay away from school?
The day was bright and warm. The Prussian soldiers were drilling in the woods. The birds were chirping and M.Hafnel was going to ask questions on participles and Franz had not learnt anything about it. Franz was dreaded of his scolding. All this tempted Franz to stay away from school.
What had been put up on the bulletin board?
A war was going on between France and Prussia. The French districts of Alsace and Lorraine had fallen into the hands of Prussia. The teaching and studying of French had been banned in these districts. The notice for the same had been put up on the bulletin board.
What did Franz wonder about when he entered the class that day?
On that day there was no noise outside the class. Then he saw that M.Hamel was wearing his beautiful green coat, his frilled shirt and the little black coat. He wore this dress on inspection and prize distribution days. Then he saw the elderly people sitting on the back desks. All these sights wondered Franz.
What usual noises could be heard in the street when the school began ? How was the scene in the school in the morning of the last lesson different from that on other days?
Usually, when school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard in the street. There would be noise of opening and closing of desks and the lessons repeated in a loud voice. But on that particular day it was all very quiet. It was as quiet as Sunday morning.
Why were some elderly persons occupying the back benches that day? (2017 Delhi)
The French districts of Alsace and Lorraine had-fallen into the hands of Prussians. The studying and teaching of French had been banned there. M.Hamel was a teacher of the French language. He had been teaching in that school for the last forty years. Next morning he was leaving the school for good. Therefore, the old men were sitting on the back benches. It was their way of thanking M.Hamel for his faithful service.
Who were the elderly persons sitting at the back benches ?
The elderly persons sitting at the back benches were the old Hauser who was wearing his three cornered hat, the former mayor, the former postmaster, and several others besides. Everybody was looking sad. Hauser had brought an old primer and he held it open on his knees with his spectacles lying across the pages.
“What a thunderclap these words were to me!” What were those words and what was their effect on Franz?
M.Hamel announced in the class that was his last class. The orders from Berlin had come to teach the German language in Alsace and Lorraine. These words came as a thunderclap to Franz. Now he started liking his books and M.Hamel in spite of his cranky nature.
How did Franz react to the declaration that it was their last lesson?
These words were like a thunderclap to Franz. He hardly knew reading and writing French. He used to waste his time on useless activities. He always considered his books a nuisance. Now he thought they were his best friends whom he couldn’t leave.
What had the narrator counted on to enter the school?
Usually, when the school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard in the street. There would be noise of opening and closing of desks and the lessons repeated in a loud voice, the teacher’s ruler would be rapping on the table. The narrator had counted on the commotion to get on his seat.
What was the mood in the classroom when M.Hamel gave his last French lesson?
The mood in the classroom was that of sadness. There was a pin drop silence in the class. Even the old people of the village had come to attend the class. They had come there to thank M.Hamel for his forty years of service.
How were the parents and M.Hamel responsible for the children’s neglect of the French language?
Not only the children themselves but also their par-ents and M.Hamel were to some extent responsible for the children’s neglect of the French language. The parents would send their children to work on a farm or at a mill so that they could get some extra money. M. Hamel would often ask them to water his plants instead of teaching them. And when he wanted to go fishing, he would give them a holiday.
What did M.Hamel ask Franz to recite and how did Franz fare in it?
M. Hamel asked Franz to recite the rules on participles. He wanted to recite it without any mistakes. But he mixed up on the very first words and stood there, holding on to his desk. His heart was beating and he didn’t dare to look up.
What happened when Franz heard his name called?
Franz heard his name called. It was his turn to recite the rules for participles. But Franz had not learnt those. But he wanted that he could recite it in a clear and loud voice. But he got mixed up on the first words and stood there, holding on to his desk, his heart was beating, and he dared not look up.
What was the trouble with the people of Alsace according to M. Hamel ? Now what, he thought, would give the Germans to mock at them?
According to M.Hamel, the people of Alsace used to shirk work. They often thought they had plenty of time. But now due to this attitude, they couldn’t learn their language any more. He said now the Germans would mock at them saying that they pretended to be the French. They couldn’t even speak or write their language.
What does M.Hamel say about the French language?
M.Hamel says that French is the most beautiful language in the world the clearest, the most logical. He asks his students to guard their language and never forget it. According to him when people are enslaved, they have the key to their prison as long as they hold fast to their language.
What did M.Hamel teach his students on the last day of school?
First of all, he taught his students grammar. After grammar, the students had a lesson in writing. Each student was given a new notebook. On each note-book, the words ‘France, Alsace, France, Alsace’ were written in beautiful handwriting. After the writing, the children had a lesson in history.
Franz was able to understand everything that day. Why?
On that day Franz was able to understand quite well. All that M.Hamel said seemed to him so easy. Franz thought he had never listened so carefully and also M. Hamel had never explained everything with so much patience.
What happened when the clock struck twelve?
When the clock struck twelve, the sound of Angelus (a prayer) could be heard. At the same moment, the trumpets of the Prussians returning from drill, sounded the windows. M.Hamel got up and wrote on the blackboard in very large letters ‘Long Live France!’.
What did M.Hamel do when the church-clock struck twelve?
M. Hamel now knew it was the time to dismiss the school. He stood up. He was looking very pale. He wanted to say something but he was so full of emotions that he couldn’t speak anything. He took a piece of chalk and wrote on the blackboard‘Long Live France!’
What was Franz expected to be prepared with for school that day?
He was expected to be prepared with rule of participles on that day.
What did Franz notice that was unusual?
Usually, when school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard out in the street. The opening and closing of desks could be heard and the children repeating their lesson in unison. But on that day, it was as quiet as Sunday morning.
What had been put on the bulletin board?
On the bulletin board, it was put from the next day only the German language would be taught in the schools of Alsace. The teaching of French was totally banned and the teachers teaching French were asked to leave the place.
What changes did the orders from Beilin cause in school that day?
Due to the orders from Berlin there was complete silence everywhere in the village school. Even the old people of the village had come there to thank M.Hamel for his faithful service of forty years.
How did Franz’s feelings about M.Hamel and school change?
Franz always hated M. Hamel because he would often scold him and give him corporal punishment also. He didn’t like his school also. But now his feelings about M. Hamel and his school completely changed. He felt sorry for M.Hamel that now he had to leave the place where he had spent forty years.
The people in this story suddenly realise how precious their language is to them. What shows you this? Why does this happen?
This story is set in the year 1870 in Alsace district of France. In the FrancoPrussian war (1870-71)France was defeated by Prussia and the French districts of Alsace and Lorraine went into the hands of Prussia. The Prussians there banned the teaching and study ing of the French language. The people of the village caine to attend the Last lesson by M.Hamel who had been teaching French there for the last forty years. In this way they pay their respect to their language French and also to their teacher MHamel.
Franz thinks, “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?” what does this mean?
This means that Prussians may thrust their language on the French people. They can also ban the studying and teaching of French. But they can never take away from them their love for the French language.
The Last Lesson Extra Questions and Answers Long Answer Type
Write the substance of this lesson.
This lesson teaches us two very important values of life. First, a person should have knowledge of his language and culture and second, he should never shirk his work. Franz is a young school going boy. But he hates his school and teacher. He doesn’t have . knowledge of even his mother tongue-French. His teacher M.Hamel would often scold him and punish him for not doing his homework, but all in vain.
And when the Prussians invade their country and ban the teaching and studying of the French language, Franz comes to know the value of his language. He curses himself for not learning his language. M.Hamel thinks most of the people of his village shirk work. They think they have plenty of time to do any work. The students often put off learning till tomorrow. According to M.Hamel when people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they have the key to their prison. In this way it is M.Hamel brings to light the values of life that this story teaches us.
What changes did Franz find in school when the orders from Berlin came?
The teaching and studying of the French language was banned in Alsace and Lorraine districts of France according to the orders from Berlin. Now Franz found that the whole atmosphere of the school was changed. Usually, when the school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard out in the street. The opening and closing of the desks could be heard.
The children would repeat their lessons loudly in unison, and the teacher could be seen rapping his ruler on the table. But now it was quite still. That day everything was as quiet as on Sunday morning. M.Hamel was wearing his best dress that he never wore except on inspection and prize days. But the most surprising thing for Franz was that the old people of village were sitting on back benches.
What did M.Hamel tell the class before starting his lesson? What effect did it have on Franz?
M.Hamel told his students that it was the last lesson he was going to give the children. The orders had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. He further said that the new teacher would come the next day. He wanted his students to be very attentive.
These words were like a thunderclap to Franz. It was going to be his last French lesson. But he hardly knew how to write it. Also, he would not be able to learn it any more. He was feeling sorry for not learning his lessons. His books that seemed such a nuisance to him were now his old friends that he could not give up. The idea that M.Hamel was going away for good made him forget all about his ruler and how cranky he was.
What did M. Hamel ask Franz to recite and what was the result? How did 1VL Hamel react to it?
M. Hamel asked Franz to recite the rule for participles. But Franz hadn’t learnt it. However, he wished he could recite the rule in a loud and clear voice, and without mistake. But he got mixed up on the first words and stood there, holding on to his desk and not looking up.
M.Hamel told him that he would not scold him. He further said his parents and he himself was responsible to some extent for all that. His parents were anxious to put him to some work to have some money and he would give his students a holiday when he wanted to go for fishing and sometimes instead of teaching, he would ask them to water his plants.
Give a brief character-sketch of M.Hamel.
M.Hamel was a teacher of the French language in a village of Alsace district of France. He had been teaching French for the last forty years in that village. Everyone in the village had a great respect for him. His students thought he was cranky, but we didn’t find him cranky in any part of this story.
He was very honest. When Franz failed to recite the rule for participles, he blamed himself for giving children unnecessary holidays.
He had great passion for his subject. He knew that it was now the last day of his school and he had to leave the district the next day for good. Even then he taught his students so well that they understood everything he had taught.
He had great love for the French language. He called it the most beautiful, the clearest and the most logical language of the world. Indeed M.Hamel was a. great patriot.
Our native language is a part of culture and we are proud of it. How does the presence of village elders in the classroom and M.Hamel’s last lesson show their love for French?
According to Hindi poet Methlisharan Gupt . The person who does not take pride in his language, culture and nation is like an animal and he is like a dead person. Every community has a natural attachment to its culture and language. It is our native language that we naturally learn from the lap of our mother . We can communicate in our native language more effectively and proficiently than in some other foreign language.
In this story, the Prussians invaded the French districts of Alsace and Lorraine. They banned the teaching and studying of the French language in these districts. All the teachers of the French language were asked to leave the districts of Alsace and Lorraine. M.Hamel is a teacher of the French language in a village in the district of Alsace. He had been teaching in a school the French language for the last forty years. The next day, he was leaving the village and school for good.
The elderly persons sitting at the back benches were the old Hauser who was wearing his three cornered hat, the former mayor, the former postmaster, and several others. Everybody was looking sad. Hauser had brought an old primer and he held it open on his knees with his spectacles lying across the pages. All these elderly persons had come to the school to pay their tribute to the selfless service of M.Hamel for forty years.
Is it possible to carry pride in one’s language too far? Explain ‘linguistic chauvinism’:
‘Linguistic chauvinism’ is a feeling of strong dislike or hatred that seduces person to believe that his language is better than others in every term. This wrong belief leads a person, a race and even a country to dislike the language of others. Powerful nations want to impose their languages onto the weaker nations. As language is the sole preserver of history, culture and arts of any nation or society, therefore attack comes first on language. To defend their act of linguistic aggression, powerful ones air the theory of linguistic unity. But their hidden sinister motive is not to bring unity and winning over others as friends.
They just want to display their superiority complex and bring disintegration and friction among different communities. The linguistic community whose language is under threat mounts a strong challenge to preserve their own language. But it should be kept in mind that every language 1 has its own beauty and we should be ready to em-brace other languages also. Linguistic chauvinism means taking too much pride in one’s language and hatred towards the others’ languages. It should be discouraged in every possible way.
What do you think is the theme of the story ‘The Last Lesson’? What is the reason behind its universal appeal?
Though the story discussed is located in a particular village of Alsace district of France which had passed into Prussian hands the story definitely has a universal appeal. It highlights the invader’s desire to thrust forcefully his language and culture on the’ subjugated community and taking away their language and also their identity. Taking away . mother tongue and forcing others to accept a foreign tongue is the first step of any colonial aggression.
To resist any such advancement, one needs to embrace his own language firmly. M. Hamel, the French teacher of the school while giving his last lesson to the class advises them to love their language and keep it alive. He says that when the people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to language it is as if they had the key to their prison.
The Prussians has banned the teaching and studying of French but they can never take away the love for the French language from the people. In this way the French people can retain their identity even before such constant pressure from new rulers. The theme definitely does not remain confined to the classroom of a school in Alsace district rather it gathers a universal significance as a roadmap to counter foreign aggression.
Everybody during the last lesson is filled with regret. Comment.
In the year 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war the French districts of Alsace and Lorraine fell into the hands of Prussians. They harmed the teaching and studying of the French language in these districts. All the teachers of the French language were ordered to leave these districts. M.Hamel is one such teacher who teaches French in one of the villages of Alsace district. He has to leave his village the next day for good. Now he is delivering his last lesson of the French language.
Not only the students but also the village elders have come to attend the last class of French. Everybody in the class is full of regret. M.Hamel blames himself for giving too much holidays to his students and in this way not teaching them properly. The students like Franz blames themselves not learning their language properly. The village elders are also full of regret. They have not learnt their language prop¬erly when they were young. Now they have come there to pay their tribute to M.Hamel’s for forty years of selfless service.
The people in this story suddenly realise how precious their language is to them? What shows you this? Why does this happen?
The people in this story didn’t take the study of their language seriously. They always used to think that they have ample time to learn their language. But in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, the French districts of Alsace and Lorraine came into the hands of Prussians. They imposed a ban on the teaching and studying of French. They ordered all the teachers of the French languages to leave these districts. They wanted that the people there study only the Ger¬man language.
Now the people in the story realise how precious their language is to them. Now they regret that they haven’t learnt their language well. They realise that they can’t no more learn their language. M.Hamel is a teacher of the French language in of the villages of Alsace. He is delivering his last lesson of the French language. Not only the students but also the elders of the village come there to attend his class. It shows the people’s love for their language.
The Last Lesson Extra Questions and Answers Extract Based
Read the following paragraph and answer the questions that follow :
Usually, when school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard out in the street, the opening and closing of desks, lessons repeated in unison, very loud, with our hands over our ears to understand better, and the teacher’s great ruler rapping on the table. But now it was all so still! I had counted on the commotion to get to my desk without being seen but, of course, that day everything had to be as quiet as Sunday morning.
(a) What was the great bustle when school began usually?
(b) What do you understand by ‘Counted on the commotion?
(c) What was the scene of the classroom that day?
(d) Name the chapter and the writer.
(a) When school began usually, there was a great bustle, which could be heard out in the street, the opening and closing of desks, lessons repeated in unison, very loud and teacher’s great ruler rapping on the table.
(b) Counted on the commotion’ means getting an advantage of hubbub, various heavy noises : disturbances spread out there.
(c) That day, there was no noise in the classroom, everything had to be as quiet as Sunday morning.
(d) The chapter is ‘The Last Lesson’ written by ‘Alphonse Daudet’.
My last French lesson ! Why, I hardly knew how to write ! I should never learn any more ! I must stop there, then! Oh, how sorry I was for not learning my lessons, for seeking birds’ eggs, or going sliding on the Saar! My books, that had seemed such a nuisance while ago, so heavy to carry, my grammar and my history of the saints, were old friends now that I couldn’t give up. And M. Hamel, too the idea that he was going away, that I should never see him again, made me forget all about his ruler and how cranky he was.
(a) How did Franz come to know that it was his last French lesson ?
(b) What did Franz usually do in place of learning his lessons ?
(c) Whom did Franz not give up then ?
(d) What feelings were appeared in Franz’s heart about M. Hamel ?
(a) M. Hamel himself announced, “My Children, this is the last lesson I shall give you. The order has come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine.” In this way, Franz came to know that it was his last French lesson.
(b) Franz usually went for seeking birds’ eggs or going sliding on the Saar ! Thus, he used to waste his time in place of learning his lessons.
(c) Franz couldn’t give up then his books, his grammar and his history of the saints. These were his old friends then after the announcement.
(d) Franz became very sad thinking that he should never see him again, he was going away. This made him forget all about his ruler and how cranky he was.
Then, from one thing to another,’ M. Hamel went on to talk of the French language, saying that it was the most beautiful language in the world the clearest, the most logical that we must guard it among us and never forget it, because when a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison. Then he opened a grammar and read us our lesson. I was amazed to see how well I understood it. All he said seemed so easy, so easy !
(a) What did M. Hamel say about the French language ?
(b) What advise did M. Hamel give about the language ?
(c) ‘Key to their prison’, explain the phrase.
(d) Why Franz was amazed to see how well he understood.it ?
(a) M. Hamel told about the French language that it was the most beautiful language in the world—the clearest, the most logical that we must guard it among us and never forget it.
(b) M. Hamel advised to guard the language among us and never forget it, because when a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.
(c) ‘Key to their prison’ means ‘an escape from the sla very/boundation’. This was referred by M. Hamel to the villagers.
(d) Franz was amazed to see how well he understood it because before that day, he was unable to understand anything regarding studies, actually he was careless then.
All at once the churchclock struck twelve. Then the Angelus. At the same moment the trumpets of the Prassians, returning from drill, sounded under our windows. Mi Hamel stood up, very pale, in his chair. I never saw him look so tall. “My friends”, said he, “I—I—” But something choked him. He could not go on.
(a) What is an ‘Angelus’ ?
(b) What did Franz listen under their windows ?
(c) ‘I never saw him look so tali’. What does this mean ?
(d) Why M. Hamel couldn’t speak ? What choked him ?
(a) An ‘Angelus’ is a Catholic denotion/prayers memorializing the incarnation. (Prayer for the honour of the God).
(b) Franz noticed the trumpets of the Prussians, returning from the drill, sounded under their windows.
(c) ‘I never saw him look so tall’ means that Franz never saw M. Hamel so tired, depressed and disappointed. He (M. Hamel) was looking very pale and apathetic and lifeless.
(d) M. Hamel couldn’t speak due to extensive sorrow and the wheeze (cough) choked his throat as he was internally agonized.
8 Answers 8
There were different Germanic tribes and thus the people living in the Germanic territory were called differently by the peoples around them.
In English it was chosen the overall expression for all Germanic tribes: German. In French and Spanish the "Alemannen" a south western tribe (and therefore locally closer to France and Spain) seemed to have left an impression: allemand, alemán.
For me, Saksa seems to follow the same pattern: the "Saxons" where the tribe in the North East, and therefore close to Finland.
The words deutsch, tedesco (ital.) and I suppose Tyskland as well derive from the Old High German word diutisc, "belonging to the people/of the people".
An addition: "deutsch" derives from the Proto-Germanic stem *þeodisk- ('*' indicates reconstruction), meaning "of the people" or "popular". It invaded (Late?) Latin via some Germanic dialect as "theodiscus" and was used in legal documents to refer to regional languages in contrast to Latin. At that time its use wasn't restricted to the languages of Germanic tribes nor the ones in modern Germany, Austria, etc.. It was instead used to refer to all popular languages.
The first attested usage of "deutsch" (or rather "diutisc") is from a Middle High German poem called "Annolied" composed in the late 11th century. Here, "diutisc" is used as an umbrella term for Franconians, Saxons and Bavarians.
The words related to Niemcy in the Slavonic languages mean something like "mute", nie meaning "not" and m being a root for "to speak", like mówić in Polish for example. This is due to the fact that Slavonic languages are on a basic level mutually understandable, so the Polish tribes could talk to all their neighbours which were other Slavonic tribes, except the Germans.
West Germanic languages Edit
German is a language of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland and has regional status in Italy, Poland, Namibia and Denmark. German also continues to be spoken as a minority language by immigrant communities in North America, South America, Central America, Mexico and Australia. A German dialect, Pennsylvania German, is still used among various populations in the American state of Pennsylvania in daily life.
Dutch is an official language of Aruba, Belgium, Curaçao, the Netherlands, Sint Maarten, and Suriname.  The Netherlands also colonized Indonesia, but Dutch was scrapped as an official language after Indonesian independence. Today, it is only used by older or traditionally educated people. Dutch was until 1984 an official language in South Africa but evolved in and was replaced by Afrikaans, a partially mutually intelligible  daughter language of Dutch.
Afrikaans is one of the 11 official languages in South Africa and is a lingua franca of Namibia. It is used in other Southern African nations, as well.
Low German is a collection of very diverse dialects spoken in the northeast of the Netherlands and northern Germany.
Scots is spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster (where the local dialect is known as Ulster Scots). 
Frisian is spoken among half a million people who live on the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany.
Luxembourgish is a Moselle Franconian dialect that is spoken mainly in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where it is considered to be an official language.  Similar varieties of Moselle Franconian are spoken in small parts of Belgium, France, and Germany.
Yiddish, once a native language of some 11 to 13 million people, remains in use by some 1.5 million speakers in Jewish communities around the world, mainly in North America, Europe, Israel, and other regions with Jewish populations. 
Limburgish varieties are spoken in the Limburg and Rhineland regions, along the Dutch–Belgian–German border.
North Germanic languages Edit
In addition to being the official language in Sweden, Swedish is also spoken natively by the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, which is a large part of the population along the coast of western and southern Finland. Swedish is also one of the two official languages in Finland, along with Finnish, and the only official language in the Åland Islands. Swedish is also spoken by some people in Estonia.
Danish is an official language of Denmark and in its overseas territory of the Faroe Islands, and it is a lingua franca and language of education in its other overseas territory of Greenland, where it was one of the official languages until 2009. Danish, a locally recognized minority language, is also natively spoken by the Danish minority in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.
Norwegian is the official language of Norway. Norwegian is also the official language in the overseas territories of Norway such as Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Bouvet island, Queen Maud Land and Peter I island.
Icelandic is the official language of Iceland.
Faroese is the official language of the Faroe Islands, and it is also spoken by some people in Denmark.
Germanic languages by share (West Germanic in yellow-red shades and North Germanic in blue shades): [nb 4]
|Language||Native speakers [nb 5]|
|German||100  [nb 6]|
|Low German||4.35–7.15 |
|Frisian languages||0.5 |
|Other Germanic languages||0.01 [nb 7]|
|Total||est. 515 [nb 8]|
All Germanic languages are thought to be descended from a hypothetical Proto-Germanic, united by subjection to the sound shifts of Grimm's law and Verner's law. These probably took place during the Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe from c. 500 BC. Proto-Germanic itself was likely spoken after c. 500 BC,  and Proto-Norse from the 2nd century AD and later is still quite close to reconstructed Proto-Germanic, but other common innovations separating Germanic from Proto-Indo-European suggest a common history of pre-Proto-Germanic speakers throughout the Nordic Bronze Age.
From the time of their earliest attestation, the Germanic varieties are divided into three groups: West, East, and North Germanic. Their exact relation is difficult to determine from the sparse evidence of runic inscriptions.
The western group would have formed in the late Jastorf culture, and the eastern group may be derived from the 1st-century variety of Gotland, leaving southern Sweden as the original location of the northern group. The earliest period of Elder Futhark (2nd to 4th centuries) predates the division in regional script variants, and linguistically essentially still reflect the Common Germanic stage. The Vimose inscriptions include some of the oldest datable Germanic inscriptions, starting in c. 160 AD.
The earliest coherent Germanic text preserved is the 4th-century Gothic translation of the New Testament by Ulfilas. Early testimonies of West Germanic are in Old Frankish/Old Dutch (the 5th-century Bergakker inscription), Old High German (scattered words and sentences 6th century and coherent texts 9th century), and Old English (oldest texts 650, coherent texts 10th century). North Germanic is only attested in scattered runic inscriptions, as Proto-Norse, until it evolves into Old Norse by about 800.
Longer runic inscriptions survive from the 8th and 9th centuries (Eggjum stone, Rök stone), longer texts in the Latin alphabet survive from the 12th century (Íslendingabók), and some skaldic poetry dates back to as early as the 9th century.
By about the 10th century, the varieties had diverged enough to make mutual intelligibility difficult. The linguistic contact of the Viking settlers of the Danelaw with the Anglo-Saxons left traces in the English language and is suspected to have facilitated the collapse of Old English grammar that, combined with the influx of Romance Old French vocabulary after the Norman Conquest, resulted in Middle English from the 12th century.
The East Germanic languages were marginalized from the end of the Migration Period. The Burgundians, Goths, and Vandals became linguistically assimilated by their respective neighbors by about the 7th century, with only Crimean Gothic lingering on until the 18th century.
During the early Middle Ages, the West Germanic languages were separated by the insular development of Middle English on one hand and by the High German consonant shift on the continent on the other, resulting in Upper German and Low Saxon, with graded intermediate Central German varieties. By early modern times, the span had extended into considerable differences, ranging from Highest Alemannic in the South to Northern Low Saxon in the North, and, although both extremes are considered German, they are hardly mutually intelligible. The southernmost varieties had completed the second sound shift, while the northern varieties remained unaffected by the consonant shift.
The North Germanic languages, on the other hand, remained unified until well past 1000 AD, and in fact the mainland Scandinavian languages still largely retain mutual intelligibility into modern times. The main split in these languages is between the mainland languages and the island languages to the west, especially Icelandic, which has maintained the grammar of Old Norse virtually unchanged, while the mainland languages have diverged greatly.
Germanic languages possess a number of defining features compared with other Indo-European languages.
Some of the best-known are the following:
- The sound changes known as Grimm's Law and Verner's Law, which shifted the values of all the Indo-European stop consonants (for example, original * /t d dʰ/ became Germanic * /θ t d/ in most cases compare three with Latintres, two with Latin duo, do with Sanskritdha-). The recognition of these two sound laws were seminal events in the understanding of the regular nature of linguistic sound change and the development of the comparative method, which forms the basis of modern historical linguistics.
- The development of a strong stress on the first syllable of the word, which triggered significant phonological reduction of all other syllables. This is responsible for the reduction of most of the basic English, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish words into monosyllables, and the common impression of modern English and German as consonant-heavy languages. Examples are Proto-Germanic *strangiþō → strength, *aimaitijō → ant, *haubudą → head, *hauzijaną → hear, *harubistaz → German Herbst "autumn, harvest", *hagatusjō → German Hexe "witch, hag".
- A change known as Germanic umlaut, which modified vowel qualities when a high front vocalic segment ( /i/ , /iː/ or /j/ ) followed in the next syllable. Generally, back vowels were fronted, and front vowels were raised. In many languages, the modified vowels are indicated with a diaeresis (e.g., ä ö ü in German, pronounced /ɛ ø y/ , respectively). This change resulted in pervasive alternations in related words — still extremely prominent in modern German but present only in remnants in modern English (e.g., mouse/mice, goose/geese, broad/breadth, tell/told, old/elder, foul/filth, gold/gild ).
- Large numbers of vowel qualities. English also shares this charactistic, with around 11–12 vowels in most dialects (not counting diphthongs). Standard Swedish has 17 pure vowels (monophthongs),  standard German and Dutch 14, and Danish at least 11.  The Amstetten dialect of Bavarian German has 13 distinctions among long vowels alone, one of the largest such inventories in the world. 
- Verb second (V2) word order, which is uncommon cross-linguistically. Exactly one noun phrase or adverbial element must precede the verb in particular, if an adverb or prepositional phrase precedes the verb, then the subject must immediately follow the finite verb. This is now largely absent in modern English, except in sentences beginning with "Here is," "There is," "Here comes," "There goes," and related expressions, as well as in a few relic sentences such as "Over went the boat" or "Pop Goes The Weasel", but is found in all other modern Germanic languages.
Other significant characteristics are:
- The reduction of the various tense and aspect combinations of the Indo-European verbal system into only two: the present tense and the past tense (also called the preterite).
- A large class of verbs that use a dental suffix ( /d/ or /t/ ) instead of vowel alternation (Indo-European ablaut) to indicate past tense. These are called the Germanic weak verbs the remaining verbs with vowel ablaut are the Germanic strong verbs.
- A distinction in definiteness of a noun phrase that is marked by different sets of inflectional endings for adjectives, the so-called strong and weak adjectives. A similar development happened in the Balto-Slavic languages. This distinction has been lost in modern English but was present in Old English and remains in all other Germanic languages to various degrees.
- Some words with etymologies that are difficult to link to other Indo-European families but with variants that appear in almost all Germanic languages. See Germanic substrate hypothesis.
- Discourse particles, which are a class of short, unstressed words which speakers use to express their attitude towards the utterance or the hearer. This word category seems to be rare outside of the Germanic languages. English doesn't make extensive use of discourse particles an example would be the word 'just', which the speaker can use to express surprise. 
Note that some of the above characteristics were not present in Proto-Germanic but developed later as areal features that spread from language to language:
- Germanic umlaut only affected the North and West Germanic languages (which represent all modern Germanic languages) but not the now-extinct East Germanic languages, such as Gothic, nor Proto-Germanic, the common ancestor of all Germanic languages.
- The large inventory of vowel qualities is a later development, due to a combination of Germanic umlaut and the tendency in many Germanic languages for pairs of long/short vowels of originally identical quality to develop distinct qualities, with the length distinction sometimes eventually lost. Proto-Germanic had only five distinct vowel qualities, although there were more actual vowel phonemes because length and possibly nasality were phonemic. In modern German, long-short vowel pairs still exist but are also distinct in quality.
- Proto-Germanic probably had a more general S-O-V-I word order. However, the tendency toward V2 order may have already been present in latent form and may be related to Wackernagel's Law, an Indo-European law dictating that sentence clitics must be placed second. 
Roughly speaking, Germanic languages differ in how conservative or how progressive each language is with respect to an overall trend toward analyticity. Some, such as Icelandic and, to a lesser extent, German, have preserved much of the complex inflectional morphology inherited from Proto-Germanic (and in turn from Proto-Indo-European). Others, such as English, Swedish, and Afrikaans, have moved toward a largely analytic type.
The subgroupings of the Germanic languages are defined by shared innovations. It is important to distinguish innovations from cases of linguistic conservatism. That is, if two languages in a family share a characteristic that is not observed in a third language, that is evidence of common ancestry of the two languages only if the characteristic is an innovation compared to the family's proto-language.
The following innovations are common to the Northwest Germanic languages (all but Gothic):
- The lowering of /u/ to /o/ in initial syllables before /a/ in the following syllable: *budą → bode, Icelandic boðs "messages" ("a-Umlaut", traditionally called Brechung)
- "Labial umlaut" in unstressed medial syllables (the conversion of /a/ to /u/ and /ō/ to /ū/ before /m/, or /u/ in the following syllable) 
- The conversion of /ē1/ into /ā/ (vs. Gothic /ē/) in stressed syllables.  In unstressed syllables, West Germanic also has this change, but North Germanic has shortened the vowel to /e/, then raised it to /i/. This suggests it was an areal change.
- The raising of final /ō/ to /u/ (Gothic lowers it to /a/). It is kept distinct from the nasal /ǭ/, which is not raised.
- The monophthongization of /ai/ and /au/ to /ē/ and /ō/ in non-initial syllables (however, evidence for the development of /au/ in medial syllables is lacking).
- The development of an intensified demonstrative ending in /s/ (reflected in English "this" compared to "the")
- Introduction of a distinct ablaut grade in Class VII strong verbs, while Gothic uses reduplication (e.g. Gothic haihait ON, OE hēt, preterite of the Gmc verb *haitan "to be called")  as part of a comprehensive reformation of the Gmc Class VII from a reduplicating to a new ablaut pattern, which presumably started in verbs beginning with vowel or /h/  (a development which continues the general trend of de-reduplication in Gmc  ) there are forms (such as OE dial. heht instead of hēt) which retain traces of reduplication even in West and North Germanic
The following innovations are also common to the Northwest Germanic languages but represent areal changes:
- Proto-Germanic /z/ > /r/ (e.g. Gothic dius ON dȳr, OHG tior, OE dēor, "wild animal") note that this is not present in Proto-Norse and must be ordered after West Germanic loss of final /z/
The following innovations are common to the West Germanic languages:
- Loss of final /z/. In single-syllable words, Old High German retains it (as /r/), while it disappears in the other West Germanic languages.
- Change of [ð] (fricative allophone of /d/) to stop [d] in all environments.
- Change of /lþ/ to stop /ld/ (except word-finally).  of consonants, except r, before /j/. This only occurred in short-stemmed words due to Sievers' law. Gemination of /p/, /t/, /k/ and /h/ is also observed before liquids.
- Labiovelar consonants become plain velar when non-initial.
- A particular type of umlaut /e-u-i/ > /i-u-i/.
- Changes to the 2nd person singular past-tense: Replacement of the past-singular stem vowel with the past-plural stem vowel, and substitution of the ending -t with -ī.
- Short forms (*stān, stēn, *gān, gēn) of the verbs for "stand" and "go" but note that Crimean Gothic also has gēn.
- The development of a gerund.
The following innovations are common to the Ingvaeonic subgroup of the West Germanic languages, which includes English, Frisian, and in a few cases Dutch and Low German, but not High German:
- The so-called Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law, with loss of /n/ before voiceless fricatives: e.g. *munþ, *gans > Old English mūþ, gōs > "mouth, goose", but German Mund, Gans.
- The loss of the Germanic reflexive pronoun *se-. Dutch has reclaimed the reflexive pronoun zich from Middle High German sich.
- The reduction of the three Germanic verbalplural forms into one form ending in -þ.
- 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" cf. the numerous Old High German verbs in -ēn).
- The split of the Class II weak verb ending *-ō- into *-ō-/-ōja- (cf. Old English -ian < -ōjan, but Old High German -ōn).
- Development of a plural ending *-ōs in a-stem nouns (note, Gothic also has -ōs, but this is an independent development, caused by terminal devoicing of *-ōz Old Frisian has -ar, which is thought to be a late borrowing from Danish). Cf. modern English plural -(e)s, but German plural -e.
- Possibly, the monophthongization of Germanic *ai to ē/ā (this may represent independent changes in Old Saxon and Anglo-Frisian).
The following innovations are common to the Anglo-Frisian subgroup of the Ingvaeonic languages:
- Raising of nasalized a, ā into o, ō. : Fronting of non-nasal a, ā to æ,ǣ when not followed by n or m. of CrV into CVr, where C represents any consonant and V any vowel. of ai into ā.
The oldest Germanic languages all share a number of features, which are assumed to be inherited from Proto-Germanic. Phonologically, it includes the important sound changes known as Grimm's Law and Verner's Law, which introduced a large number of fricatives late Proto-Indo-European had only one, /s/.
The main vowel developments are the merging (in most circumstances) of long and short /a/ and /o/, producing short /a/ and long /ō/. That likewise affected the diphthongs, with PIE /ai/ and /oi/ merging into /ai/ and PIE /au/ and /ou/ merging into /au/. PIE /ei/ developed into long /ī/. PIE long /ē/ developed into a vowel denoted as /ē1/ (often assumed to be phonetically [æː] ), while a new, fairly uncommon long vowel /ē2/ developed in varied and not completely understood circumstances. Proto-Germanic had no front rounded vowels, but all Germanic languages except for Gothic subsequently developed them through the process of i-umlaut.
Proto-Germanic developed a strong stress accent on the first syllable of the root, but remnants of the original free PIE accent are visible due to Verner's Law, which was sensitive to this accent. That caused a steady erosion of vowels in unstressed syllables. In Proto-Germanic, that had progressed only to the point that absolutely-final short vowels (other than /i/ and /u/) were lost and absolutely-final long vowels were shortened, but all of the early literary languages show a more advanced state of vowel loss. This ultimately resulted in some languages (like Modern English) losing practically all vowels following the main stress and the consequent rise of a very large number of monosyllabic words.
Table of outcomes Edit
The following table shows the main outcomes of Proto-Germanic vowels and consonants in the various older languages. For vowels, only the outcomes in stressed syllables are shown. Outcomes in unstressed syllables are quite different, vary from language to language and depend on a number of other factors (such as whether the syllable was medial or final, whether the syllable was open or closed and (in some cases) whether the preceding syllable was light or heavy).
- C- means before a vowel (word-initially, or sometimes after a consonant).
- -C- means between vowels.
- -C means after a vowel (word-finally or before a consonant). Word-final outcomes generally occurred after deletion of final short vowels, which occurred shortly after Proto-Germanic and is reflected in the history of all written languages except for Proto-Norse.
- The above three are given in the order C-, -C-, -C. If one is omitted, the previous one applies. For example, f, -[v]- means that [v] occurs after a vowel regardless of what follows.
- Something like a(…u) means "a if /u/ occurs in the next syllable".
- Something like a(n) means "a if /n/ immediately follows".
- Something like (n)a means "a if /n/ immediately precedes".
- ^ abc The Gothic writing system uses the spelling ⟨ai⟩ to represent vowels that derive primarily from four different sources:
- Proto-Germanic /ai/
- Proto-Germanic /eː/ and /æː/ before vowels
- Proto-Germanic /e/ and /i/ before /h/, /hʷ/ and /r/
- Greek /ɛ/ .
- Proto-Germanic /au/
- Proto-Germanic /oː/ and /uː/ before vowels
- Proto-Germanic /u/ before /h/, /hʷ/ and /r/
- Greek /ɔ/ .
- In Old High German, /iu/ (from Proto-Germanic /eu/,/iu/) became /io/ before a non-high vowel in the next syllable.
- In Old English, /æ/ (from Proto-Germanic /a/) became /a/ before /a/ in the next syllable.
The oldest Germanic languages have the typical complex inflected morphology of old Indo-European languages, with four or five noun cases verbs marked for person, number, tense and mood multiple noun and verb classes few or no articles and rather free word order. The old Germanic languages are famous for having only two tenses (present and past), with three PIE past-tense aspects (imperfect, aorist, and perfect/stative) merged into one and no new tenses (future, pluperfect, etc.) developing. There were three moods: indicative, subjunctive (developed from the PIE optative mood) and imperative. Gothic verbs had a number of archaic features inherited from PIE that were lost in the other Germanic languages with few traces, including dual endings, an inflected passive voice (derived from the PIE mediopassive voice), and a class of verbs with reduplication in the past tense (derived from the PIE perfect). The complex tense system of modern English (e.g. In three months, the house will still be being built or If you had not acted so stupidly, we would never have been caught) is almost entirely due to subsequent developments (although paralleled in many of the other Germanic languages).
Among the primary innovations in Proto-Germanic are the preterite present verbs, a special set of verbs whose present tense looks like the past tense of other verbs and which is the origin of most modal verbs in English a past-tense ending (in the so-called "weak verbs", marked with -ed in English) that appears variously as /d/ or /t/, often assumed to be derived from the verb "to do" and two separate sets of adjective endings, originally corresponding to a distinction between indefinite semantics ("a man", with a combination of PIE adjective and pronoun endings) and definite semantics ("the man", with endings derived from PIE n-stem nouns).
Note that most modern Germanic languages have lost most of the inherited inflectional morphology as a result of the steady attrition of unstressed endings triggered by the strong initial stress. (Contrast, for example, the Balto-Slavic languages, which have largely kept the Indo-European pitch accent and consequently preserved much of the inherited morphology.) Icelandic and to a lesser extent modern German best preserve the Proto–Germanic inflectional system, with four noun cases, three genders, and well-marked verbs. English and Afrikaans are at the other extreme, with almost no remaining inflectional morphology.
The following shows a typical masculine a-stem noun, Proto-Germanic *fiskaz ("fish"), and its development in the various old literary languages:
Declension of a-stem noun *fiskaz "fish" in various languages   
Proto-Germanic Gothic Old Norse Old High German Middle High German Modern German Old English Old Saxon Old Frisian Singular Nominative *fisk-az fisk-s fisk-r visk visch Fisch fisc fisc fisk Vocative *fisk fisk Accusative *fisk-ą fisk fisk Genitive *fisk-as, -is fisk-is fisk-s visk-es visch-es Fisch-es  fisc-es < fisc-æs fisc-as, -es fisk-is, -es Dative *fisk-ai fisk-a fisk-i visk-a visch-e Fisch-(e)  fisc-e < fisc-æ fisc-a, -e fisk-a, -i, -e Instrumental *fisk-ō fisk-a — visk-u — — fisc-e < fisc-i  fisc-u — Plural Nominative, Vocative *fisk-ôs, -ôz fisk-ōs fisk-ar visk-a visch-e Fisch-e fisc-as fisc-ōs, -ās fisk-ar, -a Accusative *fisk-anz fisk-ans fisk-a visk-ā Genitive *fisk-ǫ̂ fisk-ē fisk-a visk-ō fisc-a fisc-ō, -ā fisk-a Dative *fisk-amaz fisk-am fisk-um, -om visk-um visch-en Fisch-en fisc-um fisc-un, -on fisk-um, -on, -em Instrumental *fisk-amiz — — — — — — — —
Strong vs. weak nouns and adjectives Edit
Originally, adjectives in Proto-Indo-European followed the same declensional classes as nouns. The most common class (the o/ā class) used a combination of o-stem endings for masculine and neuter genders and ā-stems ending for feminine genders, but other common classes (e.g. the i class and u class) used endings from a single vowel-stem declension for all genders, and various other classes existed that were based on other declensions. A quite different set of "pronominal" endings was used for pronouns, determiners, and words with related semantics (e.g., "all", "only").
An important innovation in Proto-Germanic was the development of two separate sets of adjective endings, originally corresponding to a distinction between indefinite semantics ("a man") and definite semantics ("the man"). The endings of indefinite adjectives were derived from a combination of pronominal endings with one of the common vowel-stem adjective declensions – usually the o/ā class (often termed the a/ō class in the specific context of the Germanic languages) but sometimes the i or u classes. Definite adjectives, however, had endings based on n-stem nouns. Originally both types of adjectives could be used by themselves, but already by Proto-Germanic times a pattern evolved whereby definite adjectives had to be accompanied by a determiner with definite semantics (e.g., a definite article, demonstrative pronoun, possessive pronoun, or the like), while indefinite adjectives were used in other circumstances (either accompanied by a word with indefinite semantics such as "a", "one", or "some" or unaccompanied).
In the 19th century, the two types of adjectives – indefinite and definite – were respectively termed "strong" and "weak", names which are still commonly used. These names were based on the appearance of the two sets of endings in modern German. In German, the distinctive case endings formerly present on nouns have largely disappeared, with the result that the load of distinguishing one case from another is almost entirely carried by determiners and adjectives. Furthermore, due to regular sound change, the various definite (n-stem) adjective endings coalesced to the point where only two endings (-e and -en) remain in modern German to express the sixteen possible inflectional categories of the language (masculine/feminine/neuter/plural crossed with nominative/accusative/dative/genitive – modern German merges all genders in the plural). The indefinite (a/ō-stem) adjective endings were less affected by sound change, with six endings remaining (-, -e, -es, -er, -em, -en), cleverly distributed in a way that is capable of expressing the various inflectional categories without too much ambiguity. As a result, the definite endings were thought of as too "weak" to carry inflectional meaning and in need of "strengthening" by the presence of an accompanying determiner, while the indefinite endings were viewed as "strong" enough to indicate the inflectional categories even when standing alone. (This view is enhanced by the fact that modern German largely uses weak-ending adjectives when accompanying an indefinite article, and hence the indefinite/definite distinction no longer clearly applies.) By analogy, the terms "strong" and "weak" were extended to the corresponding noun classes, with a-stem and ō-stem nouns termed "strong" and n-stem nouns termed "weak".
However, in Proto-Germanic – and still in Gothic, the most conservative Germanic language – the terms "strong" and "weak" are not clearly appropriate. For one thing, there were a large number of noun declensions. The a-stem, ō-stem, and n-stem declensions were the most common and represented targets into which the other declensions were eventually absorbed, but this process occurred only gradually. Originally the n-stem declension was not a single declension but a set of separate declensions (e.g., -an, -ōn, -īn) with related endings, and these endings were in no way any "weaker" than the endings of any other declensions. (For example, among the eight possible inflectional categories of a noun — singular/plural crossed with nominative/accusative/dative/genitive — masculine an-stem nouns in Gothic include seven endings, and feminine ōn-stem nouns include six endings, meaning there is very little ambiguity of "weakness" in these endings and in fact much less than in the German "strong" endings.) Although it is possible to group the various noun declensions into three basic categories — vowel-stem, n-stem, and other-consonant-stem (a.k.a. "minor declensions") — the vowel-stem nouns do not display any sort of unity in their endings that supports grouping them together with each other but separate from the n-stem endings.
It is only in later languages that the binary distinction between "strong" and "weak" nouns become more relevant. In Old English, the n-stem nouns form a single, clear class, but the masculine a-stem and feminine ō-stem nouns have little in common with each other, and neither has much similarity to the small class of u-stem nouns. Similarly, in Old Norse, the masculine a-stem and feminine ō-stem nouns have little in common with each other, and the continuations of the masculine an-stem and feminine ōn/īn-stem nouns are also quite distinct. It is only in Middle Dutch and modern German that the various vowel-stem nouns have merged to the point that a binary strong/weak distinction clearly applies.
As a result, newer grammatical descriptions of the Germanic languages often avoid the terms "strong" and "weak" except in conjunction with German itself, preferring instead to use the terms "indefinite" and "definite" for adjectives and to distinguish nouns by their actual stem class.
In English, both two sets of adjective endings were lost entirely in the late Middle English period.
Note that divisions between and among subfamilies of Germanic are rarely precisely defined most form continuous clines, with adjacent varieties being mutually intelligible and more separated ones not. Within the Germanic language family are East Germanic, West Germanic, and North Germanic. However, East Germanic languages became extinct several centuries ago.
The table below shows the succession of the significant historical stages of each language (horizontally) and their approximate groupings in subfamilies (vertically). Vertical sequence within each group does not imply a measure of greater or lesser similarity.
- ^1 There are conflicting opinions on the classification of Lombardic. It has also been classified as close to Old Saxon.
- ^2LateMiddle Ages refers to the post-Black Death period. Especially for the language situation in Norway this event was important.
- ^3 From Early Northern Middle English.  McClure gives Northumbrian Old English.  In the Oxford Companion to the English Language (p. 894) the 'sources' of Scots are described as "the Old English of the Kingdom of Bernicia" and "the Scandinavian-influenced English of immigrants from Northern England and the English Midlands in the 12-13c [. ]." The historical stages 'Early—Middle—Modern Scots' are used, for example, in the "Concise Scots Dictionary"  and "A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue". 
- ^4 The speakers of Norn were assimilated to speak Modern Scots varieties (Insular Scots).
- ^5 Modern Gutnish (Gutamål), the direct descendant of Old Gutnish (Gutniska), has been marginalized by the Gotlandic dialect/accent of Standard Swedish (Gotländska).
All living Germanic languages belong either to the West Germanic or to the North Germanic branch. The West Germanic group is the larger by far, further subdivided into Anglo-Frisian on one hand and Continental West Germanic on the other. Anglo-Frisian notably includes English and all its variants, while Continental West Germanic includes German (standard register and dialects), as well as Dutch (standard register and dialects).
Modern classification looks like this. For a full classification, see List of Germanic languages.
- (written by a native English speaker) English is in fact damn hard – or else there wouldn’t be so many foreigners speaking incorrectly, right? (this is a typical logical fallacy…)
- English is the easiest language on the planet Earth – just stick words together and off you go! (slight exaggeration, of course it’s not THAT simple!)
- It’s easy only for beginners when you’re getting into your advanced English learning/improving stage you have to brace yourself for some pretty mind-bending/head-wracking English grammar stuff… (I’ll call BS on this one too – grammar is NEVER head-wracking if acquired through speech patterns.)
- (includes Standard German and its dialects)
- and its dialects (a separate standard language) (an official minority language)
- (or English)
- and its dialects in Scotland and Ulster
- (last remaining dialect of East Frisian)
- West Scandinavian
- (of Western branch origin, but heavily influenced by the Eastern branch)
The earliest evidence of Germanic languages comes from names recorded in the 1st century by Tacitus (especially from his work Germania), but the earliest Germanic writing occurs in a single instance in the 2nd century BC on the Negau helmet. 
From roughly the 2nd century AD, certain speakers of early Germanic varieties developed the Elder Futhark, an early form of the runic alphabet. Early runic inscriptions also are largely limited to personal names and difficult to interpret. The Gothic language was written in the Gothic alphabet developed by Bishop Ulfilas for his translation of the Bible in the 4th century.  Later, Christian priests and monks who spoke and read Latin in addition to their native Germanic varieties began writing the Germanic languages with slightly modified Latin letters. However, throughout the Viking Age, runic alphabets remained in common use in Scandinavia.
In addition to the standard Latin script, many Germanic languages use a variety of accent marks and extra letters, including the ß (Eszett), Ĳ, Ø, Æ, Å, Ä, Ü, Ö, Ð, Ȝ, and the Latinized runes Þ and Ƿ (with its Latin counterpart W). In print, German used to be prevalently set in blackletter typefaces (e.g., fraktur or schwabacher) until the 1940s, when Kurrent and, since the early 20th century, Sütterlin were used for German handwriting.
Yiddish is written using an adapted Hebrew alphabet.
Several of the terms in the table below have had semantic drift. For example, the form sterben and other terms for die are cognates with the English word starve. There are also at least three examples of a common borrowing from a non-Germanic source (ounce and devil and their cognates from Latin, church and its cognates from Greek).
Which Language Has The Most Words?
The question of which language has the most words is a shockingly controversial one — even linguists themselves often try to steer clear of this debate. Yet when we begin to compare languages, the search to find out which one has the most words becomes inevitable. Despite its seeming simplicity, this is no easy question, and trying to answer it is an ambitious undertaking.
Can We Rely On Dictionaries To Find Out Which Language Has The Most Words?
If we were to base our answer solely on the strict number of dictionary entries, English is among the largest languages by word count. It has more than 200,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary, including 171,476 words in use and 47,156 obsolete words.
This is largely due to invasions of England by the Vikings and then the Normans, as well as colonization and waves of exploration that supplemented the English vocabulary with multitudes of foreign words. Today, with English used as the lingua franca in our global world, new words are being added every day.
Meanwhile, French — for which the dictionary Larousse lists some 59,000 words — appears at first glance to be a language with a much smaller vocabulary. But is it that simple? The fact that words commonly used for years such as burrata, yuzu or covoiturer only recently entered Larousse casts doubt on the idea that dictionaries should be the most valid reference for our measuring. For instance, the dictionary Littré has 132,000 active words, which is more than double the number of entries in Larousse, even though they’re for the same language. And these dictionaries are limited to one country’s words, but French is used far beyond the borders of France. Surely the listings for French would differ between dictionaries made in Québec versus Togo.
Now it’s obvious that this measurement, supposedly a straightforward numbers game, is more complex when you really dig in. But let’s not give up yet!
Is There Another Way To Measure?
If attempting to find the total number of words is complicated, we can still seek an answer another way. Perhaps a language’s capacity to describe, through its vocabulary and idiomatic expressions, is a better measure of breadth.
At the heart of this controversy is the debate over what a word actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, a word is “a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.” Linguists go a step further and call these smallest meaning-producing units morphemes. Since a word is often constructed of several morphemes — some of which are words in themselves — it can often be difficult to establish firm boundaries between words.
Should we take into account the changes resulting from the inflection of verb roots as different words? This is the case with beso, besito, besar (kiss, peck on the cheek, embrace) in Spanish. A secondary question arises due to the fact that one word can have multiple meanings. There are countless of these in English: the word walk, for example, refers to both the verb (to walk) and the noun (a walk).
Furthermore, some languages make it common practice to create new words by joining other words together. German, with its many Lego-like composite nouns, is a typical case. But can we really say that the simple linking of two nouns forms an entirely new word? Is Unabhängigkeitserklärung, which translates as “declaration of independence,” a whole new word when it’s merely composed of two commonplace words?
Similarly, Turkish, an agglutinative language, allows the construction of words from many suffixes stuck together. The very colorful muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine, which means “as though you are from those whom we may not be able to easily make into a maker of unsuccessful ones,” has 70 letters. Should we regard it as a separate entry, or count it solely on the root word muvaffakiyet (success)?
What About Languages That Use Other Writing Systems?
The problem gets worse for languages where combinations are necessary. The Chinese aren’t concerned about the concept of a word because the basic unit is a character (or a logogram, from a technical perspective). It is its use, combined with another logogram, that creates meaning. 中国 (Zhōngguó) is the word for China. “Empire of the Middle,” although more colorful, is only a literal translation of each character, yet it combines the words middle and empire. Does this mean that Zhōngguó is not a word in its own right?
Rather than measuring languages against one other, why don’t we ask how foreign languages enrich one another? So, while English is a clear contender for having the most words and German and Turkish have a large capacity for infinite combinations, all languages end up influencing others. Each of them represents a unique universe, comparable to a piece of a puzzle in which every language contributes towards completing the big picture. Perhaps a more enlightening exercise than counting words would be to ask this: How many languages do you need to speak before you can convey the full range of human experience?
Alsace: culturally not quite French, not quite German
alsace-1895454_640 licensed under Creative Commons CC0 and adapted from the original.
Being an English language assistant gives you insight into a new culture. Laura Leichtfried, a language assistant in Alsace, France, tells us about the region.
Alsace is a region in north-eastern France that borders Switzerland and Germany. In fact, it is so close to Germany that you can travel by tram from the regional capital Strasbourg, to Kehl, the nearest German city, in just 15 minutes. Although Alsace is part of France, its borders have not always been clear. The region has been passed between French and German control several times since 1681, when Strasbourg was conquered by French forces.
As a result, Alsatian culture is a unique mix of French and German influences. Here are a few things you might not know about the region.
1. Alsace is not Germany, but not quite France either
The relationship between Alsace and the rest of France remains complex to this day. In 2011, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy made an awkward slip when he commented on being in Germany, when he was actually in the Alsatian town of Truchtersheim.
Even though Alsace is part of France, it is sometimes perceived as a cultural exception, in part due to its long periods spent under German influence. In 1871, Alsace was annexed to the new German Empire following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The occupation lasted until 1918 when, after Germany's defeat in the First World War, the region was ceded to France under the Treaty of Versailles. The region was then occupied once by Germany during the Second World War. During this time, people from Alsace were made German citizens by decree from the Nazi government. A complex history to say the least.
2. Almost half of the regional population speaks Alsatian
Alsatian is a Germanic dialect spoken in Alsace. Even though the French government forbade the use of Germanic languages in schools in 1945, the dialect saw something of a revival in the 1970s when a number of independent movements fought against the state's crackdown on regional languages.
In 1985, Alsatian was recognised as one of the country’s regional languages and, in 1999, the national statistical agency counted 548,000 adult speakers in France, making it the second most-spoken regional language in the country after Occitan, which is spoken in southern France and Monaco.
I knew very little about Alsatian before arriving in Strasbourg. The first time I came across it was on my first few walks around the city, when I noticed that most roads had two names – one in French and the other in Alsatian. This duality is also present in the names of certain tram stops, such as Langstross/Grand Rue, where the French translation follows the Alsatian, which is arguably more recognisable.
Although I have been told by almost every French person I’ve met in Strasbourg that it is only the older generations who speak Alsatian fluently, many Alsatian words have made their way into young people’s everyday vocabulary. For example, I first learned the word 's’gilt', which means 'cheers', at a wine-tasting in the village of Obernai, and have since heard it used by both young and older people in bars in Strasbourg.
3. Alsatian is influenced by French and German, and isn't just spoken in Alsace
Alsatian plays with German and French words and can sometimes be a combination of the two. You can say 'ça geht's?' to your friends when you see them, which is a direct mixture of 'ça va?' in French and 'wie geht's?' in German, to mean 'how are you?'. I also learnt that if someone drinks a few too many blanches (wheat beers), they might quickly develop a 'beer buche', or beer belly to you and me.
A fun fact is that Alsatian is still spoken by some Amish people in the state of Indiana in the US, who emigrated from the region in the 1830s.
4. Alsatian cuisine is neither completely French nor German
To me, the best part of any new culture is the food, and Alsatian cuisine is one of my favourites. It is notoriously heavy, as it features potatoes and spaetzle, a Germanic mini-pasta, as its main carbohydrate, often served with meat, cheese and cream.
Perhaps the most famous dish of the region is choucroute – sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, eaten with a selection of pork-based meats, such as knacks (a sausage typical of the region), smoked pork, salt pork and back bacon. Another popular dish is tarte flambée, also called flammekueche, which is composed of dough, similar to that of a pizza, rolled out very thin and topped with crème fraiche, sliced onions and lardons (cubes of fatty pork). Tarte flambée can also come as a dessert, with toppings like banana and Nutella or apple, cinnamon and Calvados (apple brandy).
Although many traditional Alsatian dishes contain pork, I have made many vegetarian friends in Strasbourg and they manage relatively well to find food that suits them. For vegetarians, there is always the option of cheese (Alsatians are partial to a good Munster, a very strong but tasty cheese with an odour that will take over your fridge) with potatoes in a gratin form or with spaetzle.
For those with a sweeter tooth, at Christmas time you can find many different types of bredele (traditional Alsatian biscuits) in a variety of flavours and shapes such as cinnamon stars, almond swirls and, my personal favourite, vanilla biscuits with a jam centre. You should also look out for the many different flavours of pain d'épices, or gingerbread.
Another Christmas tradition takes place on 6 December, St Nicholas's Day. Alsatian children eat a manala, which is a brioche (enriched sweet bread) in the shape of a little man. If you have been good, you receive a manala. Dare to be bad, and you may end up with a lump of coal.
Alsace is the only region in France to celebrate 26 December as a public holiday, a tradition inherited from their time as part of Germany.
5. Alsace is deeply attached to its cultural traditions
You cannot miss the famous emblem of Alsace: the stork, or 'cigogne', which is native to the region and is thought to be a symbol of fertility, as well as bringing good luck. The bird itself can occasionally be glimpsed flying around, or in the small zoo in the Orangerie park in Strasbourg. You are, however, most likely to see it in the form of tourist memorabilia – from stork key rings to stork hats, handmade artisan pottery with storks painted on them or stork-shaped soft toys. I am even the proud owner of a stork hat.
Strasbourg is very proud of its pottery. Each piece is hand-painted with beautiful flowers, timber houses or people in traditional Alsatian dress. The pottery is made to withstand extremely high temperatures in the oven. You can buy cake tins for making kougelhopf (a traditional, dense cake with a hole in the middle) and casserole dishes, in which to cook typical Alsatian dishes like baeckoeffe, a substantial casserole made with a mix of sliced potatoes, onions, mutton, beef and pork.
6. Alsatian wines are some of the best in France
The regional wine of Alsace is almost always white, due to the cooler climate. My personal favourite is Crémant d’Alsace, an Alsatian sparkling wine, which is just as good, if not better, than champagne (although it cannot strictly be called champagne as it isn’t produced in the Champagne region of France). Other famous types of Alsatian wine include Riesling, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. A dinner party is never complete without a dessert wine such as Gewürztraminer to finish off the meal. S’gilt!
Applications for the 2017-18 British Council English Language Assistants programme are now open and will close on 28 February 2017.
Follow #LanguageAssistant and @Langasst on Twitter for more information.
5. Simplicity of the English Language
I’ve written about this subject previously on my blog – check out this article! – and I have to tell you my friend, it did cause some pretty controversial exchange of opinions and heated debates (check out comments on the above link!).
Too bored to read into those lengthy comments?
Now, here’s the list of it all:
One way or another , I personally feel that English IS relatively simple (despite of all the irregularities that are driving others NUTS but I just laugh at it all because contextual learning takes care of it) language and I believe that this factor definitely contributes to its worldwide popularity.
5 big reasons why US and UK English sound so different
We may share a language but there’s nothing similar when it comes to hearing someone from the US speak to someone from the UK. Everything from putting a z everywhere to words that are spelt the same but sound entirely different when you say them – there’s a whole ocean of linguistic differences (plus an actual physical ocean) between the world’s two major English-speaking players. But never fear! If you’re learning English in London and want to know what makes your accent different from your friend learning in New York, here’s what you need to know.
1. American English is actually older
This isn’t something you should tell to a British person, because we’re the country that gave birth to America as we know it today – but this fact really is true. When the first settlers set sail from England to America, they took with them the common tongue at the time, which was based on something called rhotic speech (when you pronounce the r sound in a word). Meanwhile, back in wealthy southern cities of the UK, people from the new higher classes wanted a way to distinguish themselves from everyone else, so they started changing their rhotic speech to a soft r sound, saying words like winter as “win-tuh” instead of “win-terr” . Of course, these people were posh and everyone wanted to copy them, so this new way of speaking – which British people now refer to as Received Pronunciation – spread across the rest of the south of England. It also explains why many places outside the south of England still have rhotic pronunciation as part of their regional accents. Basically, if you speak English from London, you sound more posh. Win.
2. British English is more like French
French has influenced English in more ways than English speakers would care to admit. The first time was when William the Conqueror invaded Britain in the 11th Century (more on the history of English here), bringing Norman French with him and making it the high language – used in schools, courts, universities, and the upper classes. It didn’t stick around, but instead evolved into Middle English, which was a mashup of all the linguistic influences around at the time. The second time was during the 1700s, when it became super trendy in the UK to use French-style words and spelling. Of course, Americans were already living their lives across the Atlantic and didn’t take part in this trend at all. This is why British English has more linguistic similarities to French than American English, and also explains our obsession with croissants. Or maybe that’s just me.
3. American spelling was invented as a form of protest
The American and British dictionaries are very different, because they were compiled by two very different authors with two very different perspectives on language: the UK’s dictionary was compiled by scholars from London (not Oxford, for some reason) who wanted to just collect all known English words, while the American one was made by a lexicographer called Noah Webster. Webster wanted American spelling to not only be more straightforward but different from UK spelling, as a way of America showing its independence from the former British rule. He dropped the letter u from words like colour and honour – which had developed from the French influence in England – to make them color and honor instead. He did the same to words ending in -ise to make them -ize , because he thought American English spelling should reflect the way it was said. Plus, z is a much cooler letter to write, so there’s that.
4. American English likes to drop words completely
Sometimes there are differences in American English that make no sense to speakers of British English – like when Americans remove entire verbs from a sentence. When an American person tells someone they’ll write a letter to them, they say “I’ll write them”. When you ask an American if they want to go shopping, they might say “I could”. In the UK these replies would sound really weird, as we would say “I’ll write to you” and “I could go ”. Dropping the verb might be because Americans want to say stuff faster – or maybe it’s because the British just like to spell out exactly what they’re saying. Nobody’s right here, but if we were to declare a winner it would be British English, because frankly the American way doesn’t make sense. Not that I’m biased.
5. The two types of English have borrowed words from different languages
It’s clear that British and American English have evolved differently when you consider the cultural influences that have affected each independently, and how they’ve borrowed words from those languages. For some reason this is very common with words for food: examples include coriander (British, derived from French) and cilantro (American, derived from Spanish), and aubergine (British, derived from Arabic) and eggplant (American, so called because it looks like a purple egg). There are many more examples, but the important thing to remember is to get it right in the country you’re studying in. After all, you don’t want to be asking British people for some aluminium foil and pronouncing it aloo-minnum . Let’s just not even go there.
French in the Delaware Valley
The French-American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia reports significant French business investment in the Delaware Valley, and underscores the continuing globalization of American companies. In fact, the French-American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia has grown since 1989 to become the second largest chapter in the 23-city network. They also rank as the largest of 14 bi-national chambers of commerce in the region.
There is an FACC membership category to suit companies of every size. Business leaders from almost every industry are represented: banking, insurance, pharmaceutical, technology, strategic consulting, accounting, law, manufacturing, media, advertising, design, travel, real estate and education. Their membership also features many small and medium-sized businesses, including fine restaurants, art galleries, gourmet food importers and a local winery.
Visit the FACC web site to see some of their members.
Useful links about French in the Delaware Valley:
And One More Thing.
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