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German: Biography of a Language [NOOK Book]

Overview

Thousands of years ago, seafront clans in Denmark began speaking the earliest form of Germanic language--the first of six "signal events" that Ruth Sanders highlights in this marvelous history of the German language.
Blending linguistic, anthropological, and historical research, Sanders presents a brilliant biography of the language as it evolved across the millennia. She sheds light on the influence of such events as the bloody three-day Battle of Kalkriese, which permanently ...
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German: Biography of a Language

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Overview

Thousands of years ago, seafront clans in Denmark began speaking the earliest form of Germanic language--the first of six "signal events" that Ruth Sanders highlights in this marvelous history of the German language.
Blending linguistic, anthropological, and historical research, Sanders presents a brilliant biography of the language as it evolved across the millennia. She sheds light on the influence of such events as the bloody three-day Battle of Kalkriese, which permanently halted the incursion of both the Romans and the Latin language into northern Europe, and the publication of Martin Luther's German Bible translation, a "People's" Bible which in effect forged from a dozen spoken dialects a single German language. The narrative ranges through the turbulent Middle Ages, the spread of the printing press, the formation of the nineteenth-century German Empire which united the German-speaking territories north of the Alps, and Germany's twentieth-century military and cultural horrors. The book also covers topics such as the Gothic language (now extinct), the vast expansion of Germanic tribes during the Roman era, the role of the Vikings in spreading the Norse language, the branching off of Yiddish, the lasting impact of the Thirty Years War on the German psyche, the revolution of 1848, and much more.
Ranging from prehistoric times to modern, post-war Germany, this engaging volume offers a fascinating account of the evolution of a major European language as well as a unique look at the history of the German people. It will appeal to everyone interested in German language, culture, or history.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An approachable overview of the evolution of the German language and a history of its speakers."-eLanguage

"Ruth Sanders has written a biography of the German language and its speakers for the generalist and the specialist. She punctuates the broad sweep of historical recollections with vivid vignettes of daily life, and she supplements insights culled from traditional linguistic and historical research with the latest findings of genetic and archaeological studies. Ancient cultures come tantalizingly close in this engaging narrative."--Katherine R. Goodman, Brown University

"An ingenious telling of just how German emerged from the primordial Germanic soup, and how many other ways it could have been."--The Economist

"For any scholar of linguistics, this book offers rich material."--Organiser, New Delhi

"Specialists and the intellectually curious will find here a wealth of information; the book has a very widespread appeal...An excellent bibliography and plentiful unobtrusive footnotes make this a fine reference work. This is an exhilarating and enlightening read." --Catholic Library World

"This is a book remarkable in numerous respects...Will strongly appeal to a great variety of readers because of the demonstrated value of its content and the expert as well as pleasing way the array of data is presented. Part of the reason for this is that the author superbly succeeds throughout in what she herself has stated as her objective: to present a "narrative." She does indeed "narrate," while less initiative writers might just have presented another set of casual academic lectures." --German Politics and Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199889167
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/21/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,047,755
  • File size: 19 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Ruth H. Sanders is Professor of German at Miami University of Ohio.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: What this book covers
Chapter One: Germanic Beginnings: Early Ancestors in Denmark
Timeline : From the earliest settlements in northern Europe to the beginning of the Christian era
Sidebars:
1. Indo-European: Protolanguage and culture
2. The First Sound Shift
3. Language contact and language change: The case of Finland

Chapter Two: The Germanic Languages Survive the Romans: The Battle of Kalkriese
Timeline: From the beginning of the Christian era to the end of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages
Sidebars:
1. The Germanic tribes
2. The Goths and the Gothic language
3. The Celts

Chapter Three: A Fork in the Road: Germanic languages separate into Low and High
Timeline: From the beginning of the Middle Ages to the Protestant Reformation
Sidebars:
1. The Second Sound Shift
2. The Vikings: Raiders, traders, and neighbors
3. The Germanen go to England: The Anglo-Saxons and the English language
4. Yiddish: The creation of a new Germanic language

Chapter Four: A perfect storm, and the birth of Standard German
Timeline: From the beginning of the Reformation to the beginning of the First Industrial Revolution
Sidebars:
1. The Thirty Years' War
2. The Reformation
3. The history of European printing

Chapter Five: The German language gets a state
Timeline: From the Unification of Germany to the beginning of World War I
Sidebars:
1. The revolution of 1848
Chapter Six: Postwar Comeback Times Two: German Begins to Recover after a Fall from grace
Timeline: From the end of World War I to the present

Sidebars:
1. Spelling Reforms
2. Early Germanic language in a deep freeze: The case of Icelandic
Bibliography

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