"Ruth Sanders has written a biography of the German language and its speakers for the generalist and the specialist. She punctuates the broad sweep of historical recollections with vivid vignettes of daily life, and she supplements insights culled from traditional linguistic and historical research with the latest findings of genetic and archaeological studies. Ancient cultures come tantalizingly close in this engaging narrative."---Katherine R. Goodman, Professor of German Studies, Brown University
Thousands of years ago, seafront clans in Denmark began speaking the earliest form of Germanic language---the first of six "signal events" that Ruth H. Sanders highlights in this marvelous history of the German language.
Blending linguistic, anthropological, and historical research, Sanders presents a brilliant biography of the language as it evolved across the millennia. She sheds light on the influence of such events as the bloody three-day Battle of Kalkriese, which permanently halted the incursion of both the Romans and the Latin language into northern Europe, and the publication of Martin Luther's German Bible translation, a "People's" Bible that in effect forged from a dozen spoken dialects a single German language. The narrative ranges through the turbulent Middle Ages, the spread of the printing press, the formation of the nineteenth-century German Empire that united the German-speaking territories north of the Alps, and Germany's twentieth-century military and cultural horrors. The book also covers topics such as the Gothic language (now extinct), the vast expansion of Germanic tribes during the Roman era, the role of the Vikings in spreading the Norse language, the branching off of Yiddish, the lasting impact of the Thirty Years' War on the German psyche, the revolution of 1848, and much more.
Ranging from prehistoric times to modern postwar Germany, this engaging volume offers a fascinating account of the evolution of a major European l...
Ruth H. Sanders is Professor of German at Miami University of Ohio.
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