Can someone please explain me, why does the subject call "Indogermanische Ursprache" in the german version of the article about Proto-Indo-European language?

If I'm not wrong, there was Indo-European language family, which is a successor of the Proto-Indo-European language. And the Germanic languages group is a part of that family.

So the particular subtree or branch can be the following:

Indo-European family
Germanic languages

So the question is what is the place of that "Indogermanische Ursprache" in that branch?

  • “Indogermanisch” is just the name for Indo-European that is traditionally used in German. These names go back to the nineteenth century.
    – Carsten S
    Jul 20 at 7:55
  • "Indo-European" is a name of the whole family which includes several subgroups such as Albanian, Armenian, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic etc. Is that even possible to call the whole that family just “Indogermanisch” ? Jul 20 at 8:20
  • A lot of language families are just called by "examples". C.f. Niger-Congo, Tai-Kadai, ... Jul 20 at 12:42
  • Of course, if those languages has common similarities, they probably could. However, Albanian, Armenian, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Indo-Iranian, and Italic are quite different. Actually, that is why every of those is a separated language group. Jul 20 at 13:03
  • @PavelPraulov, you will have to direct your complaints at nineteenth century linguists.
    – Carsten S
    Jul 21 at 7:21

We have these pairs:

English term - German term

  1. Proto-Indo-European language = Indogermanische Ursprache
  2. Indo-European languages = Indogermanische Sprachen
  3. Proto-Germanic language = Urgermanische Sprache
  4. Germanic languages = Germanische Sprachen
  5. German language = Deutsche Sprache

The name "Indogermanische Ursprache" or "Urindogermanisch" was invented in 19thcentury and is used only in German language and slowly becomes less used (but still is used more often than its alternative). Modern linguists prefer the term "Protoindoeuropäisch" because it is the international standard name, but both terms are misleading in some manner.

Quote from Indogermanische Ursprache:

Die Bezeichnung „indogermanisch“ ist so gemeint, dass die Sprachfamilie in einem Gebiet vorkommt, das von dem germanischen Verbreitungsgebiet im Westen bis nach Indien im Osten reicht; tatsächlich sind aber die meisten „indogermanischen“ Sprachen weder germanisch noch indisch, und auch die Ursprache steht in keinem besonderen Zusammenhang mit speziell den germanischen oder indischen Tochtersprachen. Ebenso wenig soll die Bezeichnung „indoeuropäisch“ bedeuten, dass diese Ursprache unbedingt in Europa entstanden sein müsse.

English Translation:

The designation "Indo-Germanic" is meant to imply that the language family occurs in an area extending from the Germanic region of distribution in the west to India in the east; in fact, however, most "Indo-Germanic" languages are neither Germanic nor Indian, and the original language has no particular connection with specifically Germanic or Indian daughter languages. Likewise, the designation "Indo-European" is not meant to imply that this original language must necessarily have originated in Europe.

Another quote from Indogermanische Sprachen - Die Bezeichnung

Die beiden gängigen Bezeichnungen sind Klammerbegriffe, die sich an der (vorkolonialen) geografischen Verbreitung der Sprachfamilie orientieren. Sie werden nach Wissen und Tradition des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts verwendet, als man vom Hethitischen und Tocharischen noch nichts wusste.

Der in der deutschsprachigen Linguistik gängige Ausdruck indogermanisch orientiert sich an den geographisch am weitesten voneinander entfernt liegenden Sprachgruppen des (vorkolonialen) Verbreitungsgebietes, den indoarischen Sprachen im Südosten (mit Singhalesisch auf Sri Lanka) und den germanischen Sprachen mit dem Isländischen im Nordwesten. Diese Bezeichnung wurde als langues indo-germaniques 1810 vom dänisch-französischen Geografen Conrad Malte-Brun (1775–1826) eingeführt, der eine Ausdehnung der Sprachfamilie vom Ganges bis zum Oceanus Germanicus (Nordsee) annahm. Später wird Heinrich Julius Klaproth den Begriff „indogermanisch“ in seiner 1823 erschienenen Asia Polyglotta im deutschsprachigen Raum einbringen. Franz Bopp jedoch, der Begründer der „Indogermanistik“, spricht in seiner schon 1816 erschienenen richtungsgebenden Schrift von den „indoeuropäischen“ Sprachen.

Die Wortbildungen indogermanisch und indoeuropäisch sind also nicht so zu verstehen, dass der rechts stehende Wortteil -germanisch / -europäisch das Grundwort einer Zusammensetzung darstellte und folglich alle beteiligten Völker so einordnen würde. Auch die international üblichere Bezeichnung indoeuropäisch ist nicht wesentlich präziser als indogermanisch und muss analog dazu verstanden werden als „Sprachen, die in einem Bereich von Europa bis Indien vorkommen“. Persisch, Kurdisch oder Armenisch sind Beispiele für „indoeuropäische“ Sprachen, deren Heimat weder in Europa noch in Indien liegt, dasselbe gilt für die ausgestorbenen Sprachen Hethitisch und Tocharisch.

Völlig veraltet ist die im 19. Jahrhundert auch in der britischen Linguistik verbreitete Bezeichnung arische Sprachen. In der englischsprachigen Literatur wird arisch (Aryan) allerdings weiterhin für die Untergruppe der indoiranischen Sprachen verwendet.

In Englisch:

The two common terms are bracket terms based on the (pre-colonial) geographic distribution of the language family. They are used according to knowledge and tradition of the early 19th century, when Hittite and Tocharian were not yet known.

The term Indo-Germanic, common in German-language linguistics, is oriented to the geographically most distant language groups of the (pre-colonial) distribution area, the Indo-Aryan languages in the southeast (with Sinhala on Sri Lanka) and the Germanic languages with Icelandic in the northwest. This designation was introduced as langues Indo-Germaniques in 1810 by the Danish-French geographer Conrad Malte-Brun (1775-1826), who assumed an extension of the language family from the Ganges to the Oceanus Germanicus (North Sea). Later, Heinrich Julius Klaproth will introduce the term "Indo-Germanic" in his Asia Polyglotta published in 1823 in the German-speaking world. Franz Bopp, however, the founder of "Indo-Germanic studies," speaks of the "Indo-European" languages in his landmark writing published as early as 1816.

The word formations Indo-Germanic and Indo-European are therefore not to be understood in such a way that the word part -Germanic / -European standing on the right represented the basic word of a composition and would classify consequently all involved peoples in such a way. Also the internationally more usual designation Indo-European is not substantially more precise than Indo-Germanic and must be understood analogously as "languages, which occur in an area from Europe to India". Persian, Kurdish or Armenian are examples of "Indo-European" languages whose homeland is neither in Europe nor in India, the same applies to the extinct languages Hittite and Tocharian.

Completely obsolete is the term Aryan languages, which was also widely used in British linguistics in the 19th century. In English-language literature, however, Aryan continues to be used for the subgroup of Indo-Iranian languages.

  • Thank you for the given explanation. Jul 21 at 19:33
  • Even if the term "Indo-European" does not fully describe the whole gamma of languages it covers, it is much more meaningful than the term "Indogermanische" ("Indo-Germanic") which is as outdated as it is confusing and misleading. Jul 21 at 19:39
  • 1
    @PavelPraulov: The German term »indogermanisch« is not outdated. I just wrote, that it becomes less often used. But I also wrote that it "still is used more often than its alternative". It is the standard term in German-language linguistics. And "confusing" and "misleading" are properties of both terms. You, as a non-German-native speaker just are used to one of both terms, so the other appears strange to you. But it isn't. You should accept that the German term "indogermanisch" ist the correct and proper translation for the English term "Indo-European". Jul 21 at 20:48
  • 1
    @PavelPraulov Hubert Schölnast is right, indogermanisch is still often used. However, the Nazi propaganda machine enthusiastically took up this phrase and so a somewhat "unpleasant flavor" is left. Therefore the neutral term "indoeuropäisch" is favored by many people. Both are definitely synonyms. In my simple-minded opinion also indoeuropäisch is inadequate because it reduces the non-European group of languages to the Indian languages.
    – Paul Frost
    Jul 23 at 14:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.