English is just a minor Germanic dialect

Hythloday   Monday, October 06, 2003, 21:55 GMT
I'm English, and I find it really funny how so many of you speak or are learning to speak my language, which is really just a minor Germanic dialect with a few foreign words thrown in. How did it become so important?
Clark   Monday, October 06, 2003, 22:36 GMT
Could you explain if you think that English is only the languages of English people? If you do not, that is fine; I was just wondering because of the general perception I got when reaing your post, and because of the use of the words "my language."
Clark   Monday, October 06, 2003, 22:41 GMT
A question to all of the British/English people here:

Do you think that the English language is "your" language and the rest of the people who speak the language fluently do not really 'have' a language because they are not English or do not have English ancestors?
Juan   Monday, October 06, 2003, 23:30 GMT
It might have something to do with the States dominace in the fields of science, economy and military. I don't know, why do you think English is currently the lingua franca of the world?
Jim   Monday, October 06, 2003, 23:48 GMT
It might have something to do with the British Empire too.

What do you mean by "a minor Germanic dialect"?

In what way is English "minor"? It's one of the most widely spoken "dialects" in the world.

How is it a "dialect"? Whether or not Scots is a dialect or a language is a topic of debate but I've never heard anyone claiming that English is but a dialect before.

But, hey, Hythloday could be right and the linguists wrong. Germanic may be a language of which Engilsh is a minor dialect. Still most of us, myself included, would need a bit more convincing.
mjd   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 00:04 GMT
Whether English is a minor Germanic dialect or not has nothing to do with the fact that it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It allows people from all sorts of backgrounds to communicate with one another. In the future the lingua franca could change, but right now it is English. I don't think those who are learning English care whether it's "minor Germanic dialect" or not. I'm a bit puzzled by Hythloday's post.
Jim   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 01:27 GMT
Am I missing something here? Is there some meaning to the word "minor" that I haven't yet grasped?

Let's just assume, for arguement's sake, that English is a dialect of Germanic. How, though, is it minor?

What do you mean by "minor"? If it "has nothing to do with the fact that it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world." what is it that being minor does have to do with?

Is there some technical linguistic sense of the word that I don't know? I look it up in the dictionary and get:

minor (MUSIC)


Well, it's neither of the last two so I click on the first and here's what it says:

minor (UNIMPORTANT) adjective
having little importance, influence or effect, especially when compared with other things of the same type:


Then I ask myself "Does English fit this description?" It seems to me that of all the germanic languages ... or dialects if you like ... English has the most importance, the most influence and the most effect. Hence I'd conclude that English does not fit this description.

Either this dictionary has left some important detail out or English is not a minor Germanic language or dialect.
Ryan   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 02:35 GMT
English was once a minor Germanic dialect, but no longer so. Of course, English back then looked nothing like how it looks now. All major languages start out as minor dialects, at least so far in history they have. So I don't see what's so big about this thread at all.

Jim   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 03:41 GMT

You're right. English was once a minor Germanic dialect but is not so any more. And there's nothing big about this thread.
Clark   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 04:48 GMT
I would still like to know if this guy thinks only English people are the "ture" speakers of the language. I am a native speaker of English, but I am American. English is MY [true] language!

And what about the people like me who have English ancestors? Is English 'our' language? Or isn't it because we are only part English.

But, if Hythloday did not mean what I think he is implying, sorry.
mjd   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 05:37 GMT
I agree with Jim. The only reason I incorporated the word "minor" in my post was because I was addressing Hythloday's claim. Frankly, I haven't the slightest clue as to why he's using the adjective "minor" to describe the English language as it functions in today's world.....This is not the era of Beowulf...English has a huge impact around the world.
Jim   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 05:40 GMT
It's not so clear whether that is what he was implying or not. If it is then I dissagree too.
Jim   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 06:20 GMT
I hadn't seen mjd's post when I wrote mine so it doesn't seem to flow. When I wrote "It's not so clear whether that is what he was implying or not." I refered to Clark's comment that Hythloday seems to be implying that only English people are the "true" speakers of the language.


Okay, I've got ya, now.

So, "minor" is not a good description of English. I don't think "dialect" fits either. The only true part of Hythloday's claim that English is "really just a minor Germanic dialect" is that it is Germanic.

I visited the thread http://www.antimoon.com/forum/2003/3163.htm and found some Canadian English. I could understand most of it. There were a few words that I don't know though but this was a highly exaggerated piece of Canadian English anyway. Canadian English is a dialect I can understand it almost perfectly.

Clark wrote some Scots some time ago. This was rough going but I still could understand more than fifty percent without ever having studied Scots. Is Scots a seperate language or a dialect? Good question ... a dialect I'd suggest but this is borderline.

Give me an example of German, Dutch, etc. and I'd be lucky to understand a word ... though often things are very similar. How do you say "This beer is good." in German? I asked a German friend this once, it just sounded as if he were speaking English in a German accent. But on the whole, German is unintellegable for me.

English is a language not a dialect. It is a major language there is no sense in which it is minor. I can't argue that it's not Germanic with foreign words thrown in. But I wouldn't say "a few". English is a major Germanic language with a significant number of words imported from foreign languages, largely from Romance languages.
Simon   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 12:02 GMT
Yes, "minor" is a bit odd. German and Dutch do have some kind of international language status but very "minor" in comparison to English.

As an Englishman, I don't claim a monopoly on the English language. I just feel that sometimes the essential of this language with my country is overlooked. It is called English. It is not called Anglo-Saxon, British, American or anything else. It is called English and for a reason. Sure, it is now the vehicle of a global English-speaking culture essentially led by the US. But none of this takes away from the fact that the language has firm roots in the English land (England) and culture. Yes, the Irish may have contributed a lot to the US but you have the language of England as your principal language and not Irish (i.e. Gaelic).
Simon (corrections)   Tuesday, October 07, 2003, 12:05 GMT
essential "link"

Too often, England is reduced to a series of stereotypes. As the US's linguistic homeland, I think we deserve a higher status in American affections, perhaps comparable to Ireland or Israel.