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West Germanic. Around the beginning of our era the would-be West Germanic tribes dwelt in the lowlands between the Oder and the Elbe bordering on the Slavonian tribes in the





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Around the beginning of our era the would-be West Germanic tribes dwelt in the lowlands between the Oder and the Elbe bordering on the Slavonian tribes in the East and the Celtic tribes in the South. On the eve of their “great migrations” of the 4th and 5th c. the West Germans included several tribes. The Franconians occupied the lower basin of the Rhine. The Angles and the Frisians, the Jutes and the Saxons inhabited the coastal area of the modern Netherlands, Germany and the southern part of Denmark. A group of tribes known as High Germans lived in the mountainous southern regions of Germany. Hence the name High Germans contrasted to Low Germans – a name applied to the West Germanic tribes in the low-lying northern areas. The Franconian dialects were spoken in the extreme North of the Empire; in the later Middle Ages they developed into Dutch – the language of the Low Countries and the Flemish – the language of Flanders. The modern language of the Netherlands, formerly called Dutch, and its variant in Belgium, known as the Flemish dialect, are now treated as a single language, Netherlandish. About three hundred years ago the Dutch language was brought to South Africa by colonists from Southern Holland. Their dialects in Africa eventually grew into a separate West Germanic language, Afrikaans. This language has combined elements from the speech of English and German colonists in Africa and from the tongues of the natives. The High German dialects consolidated into a common language known as Old High German (OHG). Towards the 12th c. High German (known as Middle High German) had intermixed with neighboring tongues, esp. Middle and High Franconian, and eventually developed into the literary German language. Yiddish, an offshoot of High German, grew from the High German dialects which were adopted by numerous Jewish communities scattered over Germany in the 11th and 12th c. These dialects blended with elements of Hebrew and Slavonic and developed into a separate West Germanic language with a spoken and literary form. At the later stage of the great migrations period – in the 5th c. – a group of West Germanic tribes started out on their invasion of the British Isles. The invaders came from the lowlands near the North Sea: the Angles, the Saxons, Frisians and the Jutes. Their dialects in the British Isles developed into the English language.

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