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German with English cognates

Cognates are words of common origin. German “Hand” and English “hand”, for instance.
These are obviously the same word. But sometimes cognates are not so obvious. Languages
change over time. “humbug” used to be very offensive, the same way “bullshit” is now, but
now “humbug” just sounds quaint and silly. The English word “land” in German is “Land”.
German capitilises nouns. If you have taken even 5 minutes to look at German you would
know that English speakers can’t understand German without training. If English and
German have so many words in common, then why can’t English speakers understand
German if they haven’t specifically learned it?

Because languages change over time. Let’s go back in time 2000 years to Scandanavia.
There live there a people we now call the Germanic people. Over the following centuries
they migrated south into central Europe. As people move around they take their language
with them. As people speak the language changes as people pronounce things differently,
interpret things differently, use words differently and create new words. The migration
started around the start of the first century AD. Two centuries into the migration speakers
of the language of the Germanic tribes would probably still understand people from other
parts of the Germanic realm.

The divergence of the original Germanic language first into dialects and then eventually
into separate languages took centuries. But it was a gradual process with no hard lines. If
you look at a colour spectrum, when does blue turn into green? Eventually it’s clear that the
colour is no longer blue, but at what point? People probably wouldn’t even agree. Same
with languages. At what point would Germanic tribes people say that the people in another
area of the Germanic speaking realm spoke another language. People probably remarked
that the people “over there” spoke weirdly and eventually they would have just said “Saxon”
or “Norse” or some other name associated with the people.

So about five centuries after the migration the Germanic languages were largely separate.
If you spoke one of the languages you probably wouldn’t understand the others without

practise or training. And they diverged more over time. But not change is absolute or
binary. It’s a slow shift. Eventually those languages that we now call Old Norse and Old
Saxon spawned their own languages. All modern Germanic languages like English, German,
Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic (among a few others) are descended from
these older languages which are themselves descended from the original language of the
Germanic tribes.

All these languages are either more similar or less similar to other Germanic languages
depending on where they developed. Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are close to each
other. Dutch and German are close to each other, and English and Frisian used to be very
close to each other (but then William the Conqueror took over England and English
borrowed a lot of French words, but thats a story for another time). Like orange being close
to red and purple being close to blue while still being recognised as different colours, same
with languages. Its all a matter of degree.

Let’s go back to the beginning where I talked about modern English and modern German.
Despite being separated by 2000 years, there are some words that are still remarkably
similar, such as “fish” / “Fisch”, “hound” / “Hund”, “winter” / “Winter”, “summer” / “Sommer”.
So to recap, all modern Germanic languages are descended from the language spoken by
the Germanic tribes that was spoken in Scandanavia. It started to diverge during the
Germanic migrations and were effectively separate languages by 500 AD. Words like “fish” /
“Fisch” are called cognate because they are descended from the same original word.

The words for fish are still recognisable, but cognates are not always recognisable. Consider
for instance the words “sad” and the German word “satt”. The German word means “full”
(the opposite of hungry). This is because the original meaning was “satisfied” and came to
mean “satisfied because you have eaten food until you are food”. But in English it came to
mean “full” as in “the cart is full”. Once it meant “full” (in the sense of loaded up, like a
cart) it started to gain the sense of “heavy” because a full cart is heavy. And then the
meaning took another shift when it became associated with emotions.

We still talk about a “heavy heart” to this day. Once the word “sad” had come to mean
“heavy” then it was obvious to just say “sad heart”. This phrase became so popular that
people eventually stopped saying “sad heart” and started just saying “sad”. And that is how
the word “sad” is related to a word in German meaning you have eaten enough food.
Linguists call this “semantic shift”. Semantics deal with the meanings of words. “Semantic
shift” means a meaning changes over time.

So sometimes cognates can mean the same thing as with “land” and “Land” and sometimes
cognates can mean something very different like “sad” and “satt”. And sometimes cognates
can mean something similar but not exactly the same as with English “lust” and German
“Lust”. It can be used in a sexual sense in German but it has more a sense of energy or
desire than purely a sexual desire. Now that I have explained all this you can appreciate
this silly thing I wrote a while ago where I took a Wikipedia article about German written in
German and replaced all the German words with their English cognates.

You see, I decided it was a very funny thing to do and I knew my linguistic nerd friends
would understand the concept. But now I am a writer and I wanted to give proper context
for this very nerdy thing that I wrote. I hope you enjoy.

Here follows the original thing I wrote

An article about the German language in German replaced with English cognates. If a
cognate doesn’t exist, I tried to create one that is as close to what the real one would be if
it existed

Dutch Speech

The dutch speech beteewise dutch offcurted Dt., Dtsch., is a West Germanic Speech. Ye
speechroom umfetch Dutchland, Eastern Empire, the German Swiss, Lightstone,
Littlecastle, East Belgium, South Tirol, that Else Sazo and Lutheringen sowhy North
Sleswich. Outerthem is she a minihoodspeech in any european and outer-european lands to
byspell in Romania and South Africa, sowhy national speech in african Namibia.

The standard speech, that standard dutch, set sik out standard variants the roof speech
tosame. The dutch speechroom bestand orspringlike alone out an fulltale fan high dutch
and nether dutch mouth arts, the innerhalf the continental west germanic dialect
continuums mid-one-other bind sind.

The Germanistics is the academic discipline of ghostwitship the the dutch speech and dutch
speechish literature and your historical and againstwart forms erforced, documented and

The article translated into English

The German Language or German shortened to Dt., Dtsch., is a West Germanic language.

Its usage area includes Germany, Austria, German Switzerland, Liechenstenstein,
Luxembourg, East Belgium, Southern Tirol, Alsace and Lorraine as well as North Schleswig.
Besides this, it is a minority language in a few european and outside european countries,
such as Romanian and South Africa, as well as a national language in african Namibia.

The standard language, Standard German, consists of standard varities of the common
German lingua francas brought together. The german usage area consisted originally of only
a multitude of High German and Low German dialects, which are themselves connected by
being part of the continental west germanic dialect continuum.

Germanistics is the academic discipline in the Humanities where the german language and
german language literature in its current and historical forms is researched, documented
and disseminated.

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