Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
Celtic and most of the Germans of to-day are Germanic precisely as the American Negro, Americanized Jew, Minnesota Swede, and German-American are English. But, secondly, the Baltic race was, and is, by no means an exclusively Germanic-speaking people. The northernmost Celts, such as the Highland Scotch, are in all probability a specialized offshoot of this race. What these people spoke before they were Celticized nobody knows, but there is nothing whatever to indicate that they spoke a Germanic language. Their language may quite well have been as remote from any known Indo-European idiom as are Basque and Turkish to-day. Again, to the east of the Scandinavians are non-Germanic members of the racethe Finns and related peoples, speaking languages that are not definitely known to be related to Indo-European at all.
We cannot stop here. The geographical position of the Germanic languages is such7 as to make it highly probable that they represent but an outlying transfer of an Indo-European dialect (possibly a Celto-Italic prototype) to a Baltic people speaking a language or a group of languages that was alien to Indo-European.8 Not only, then, is English not spoken by a unified race at present but its prototype, more likely than not, was originally a foreign language to the race with which
Note 7. By working back from such data as we possess we can make it probable that these languages were originally confined to a comparatively small area in northern Germany and Scandinavia. This area is clearly marginal to the total area of distribution of the Indo-European-speaking peoples. Their center of gravity, say 1000 B.C., seems to have lain in southern Russia. [back]
Note 8. While this is only a theory, the technical evidence for it is stronger than one might suppose. There are a surprising number of common and characteristic Germanic words which cannot be connected with known Indo-European radical elements and which may well be survivals of the hypothetical pre-Germanic language; such are house, stone, sea, wife (German Haus, Stein, See, Weib). [back]