chapter  2
Indo-European
Pages 8

The history of the German language begins, strictly speaking, with the appearance of the first written documents in the eighth century A.D. But German does not exist in isolation; it has close connections with other languages. In particular it shares with most European languages and some Asiatic ones a common origin in a language usually known among German scholars as Indo-Germanic and outside Germany as Indo-European. This ancient prehistoric language is, of course, entirely undocumented, but by comparing the oldest extant forms of its more important descendants nineteenthcentury scholars were able to reconstruct some of its essential features.