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Ancient Germanic Tribes and Their Classification

According to Pliny the Elder, Germanic tribes could be divided into the following groups:

1. The Vindili/ˈvindilai/. They inhabited the eastern part of Germanic territory (the Goths, Burgundians, Vandals, etc.).

2. The Ingaevones /'inʤi:vəunz/(or Ingvaeones). They inhabited the north-western part of Germanic territory, i.e. the shores of the North Sea (the Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Frisians).

3. The Iscaevones (or Istaevones). These inhabited the western part of Germanic territory, on the Rhine (the Franks).

4. The Hermiones(or Herminones). These inhabited the southern part of Germanic territory, i.e. what is now Southern Germany (the Alemans, Bavarians, Thuringians, etc.).

5.The Peucini and Bastarni. These lived close to the Dacians, i.e. close to what is now Rumania.

6. The Hilleviones, who inhabited Scandinavia.

In the 19th century linguists accepted Pliny’s classification, introducing only one amendment: Group 5 was excluded.

The relation between the classification of Germanic tribes based on Pliny’s work and that of Germanic languages based on analyses made by 19th-century linguists appears in the following form:

· East Germanic (Vindili),

· West Germanic (Ingaevones, Iscaevones, Hermiones),

· North Germanic (Hilleviones).

In due course these groups of Germanic dialects, or languages, split into separate Germanic languages.

The traditional classification of Germanic languages was corrected in the 20th century. It has been discovered that Proto-Germanic originally split into two main groups and that the above-mentioned division represents a later stage of its history.

The earliest migration of the Germanic tribes from the lower valley of the Elbe river consisted in their movement north, to the Scandinavian peninsula, a few hundred years before our era. This geographical segregation must have led to linguistic differentiation and to the division of Proto-Germanic into the northern and southern, or continental, branches. At the beginning of our era some of the tribes, e.g. the Goths, returned to the mainland and settled closer to the Vistula basin, east of the other continental Germanic tribes. It is only from this stage of their history that the Germanic languages can be described under three headings: East Germanic, West Germanic and North Germanic [Rastorguyeva 1983].

Date: 2014-12-22; view: 5780

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