Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 226
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 226
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 race—the 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 such 7 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]


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