Around 800-700 BC some ancient tribes lived along the
North Sea and southern Scandinavia. They were later on called the Germanic
people. After about 500 years they spread towards the south and five main
groups were formed, North Germanic, North Sea Germanic, Rhine-Weser
Germanic, Elbe Germanic and East Germanic. They all developed their own
dialect. In a few centuries their population increased and to accommodate
themselves into a larger area of land they started moving all over. It was
called the great German tribal migration of the 4th century AD.
The North Germanic people moved towards Jutland and the
North Sea Germanic group crossed the North Sea and settled in England
(they were Angles, Saxons and Jutes). The Elbe group spread up to
Switzerland and Austria, the Rhine-Weser group spread further around the
river Rhine and Weser, and the East Germanic group that was centered
around Vistula and Oder moved to different locations. They had their own
dialect and when they mixed and migrated many more dialects appeared with
a considerable change in their own system of pronunciation and spellings.
People who settled in a particular area developed their own language. In
this way a number of languages appeared in Europe. They were all called
the Germanic languages.
There is no written record of the parent Germanic
language. The earliest record of its Runic language is between
200-600 AD where there are only short inscriptions on some object or on
the memorials of the dead. Another ancient record of a Germanic language
is the Gothic translation of the Bible written in the 4th century.
There are some parts of the Old Testament and more of the New Testament.
Some parts are translated into Latin. In fact, the knowledge and the word
formation of Gothic language came into light through these writings.
Germanic languages could be categorized into East Germanic, North
Germanic and West Germanic languages. They adopted the Latin
It is the national language of Germany and Austria and
also one of the four national languages of Switzerland. After the great
Germanic tribal migration of the 4th century AD the proto-Germanic
language took the shape of several Germanic languages. During the 6th
century there came a big change in the history of German language called
the “High German consonant shift” when the spellings and the
pronunciation of German words changed considerably. It used the Runic
alphabet of 23 letters, which was a derivative of the Northern Etruscan
writing system. There were striking differences in the spelling and
pronunciation of words between the dialects of German language called the
Low German (spoken around the Netherlandic area of North Germany),
High German (Southern Germany), East Middle German and West
Middle German (near Belgium). According to the development of German
language it could be divided into four periods: Old period (700 to 1000),
Middle period (1000 to 1300), Early Modern period (1300 to 1650) and
Modern period (1650 onward).