Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
population of central and southern Germany4 is markedly distinct.
But what if we ignore these finer distinctions and simply assume that the Teutonic or Baltic or North European racial type coincided in its distribution with that of the Germanic languages? Are we not on safe ground then? No, we are now in hotter water than ever. First of all, the mass of the German-speaking population (central and southern Germany, German Switzerland, German Austria) do not belong to the tall, blond-haired, long-headed5 Teutonic race at all, but to the shorter, darker-complexioned, short-headed6 Alpine race, of which the central population of France, the French Swiss, and many of the western and northern Slavs (e.g., Bohemians and Poles) are equally good representatives. The distribution of these Alpine populations corresponds in part to that of the old continental Celts, whose language has everywhere given way to Italic, Germanic, and Slavic pressure. We shall do well to avoid speaking of a Celtic race, but if we were driven to give the term a content, it would probably be more appropriate to apply it to, roughly, the western portion of the Alpine peoples then to the two island types that I referred to before. These latter were certainly Celticized, in speech and, partly, in blood, precisely as, centuries later, most of England and part of Scotland was Teutonized by the Angles and Saxons. Linguistically speaking, the Celts of to-day (Irish Gaelic, Manx, Scotch Gaelic, Welsh, Breton) are
Note 4. The High German now spoken in northern Germany is not of great age, but is due to the spread of standardized German, based on Upper Saxon, a High German dialect, at the expense of Plattdeutsch. [back]