How to classify the Germanic languages?

In my previous articles I told you a bit about the Nordic countries. But let’s take a look at their languages which with exception of Finnish all belong to the Germanic group within the Indo-European language Family. The linguists classify the Germanic languages into three groups. The first one is the West Germanic group with English, German, Dutch, Yiddish, Frisian and Afrikaans which is based on Dutch and being an official language in South Africa and Namibia is the only Germanic language being spoken exclusively outside of Europe. The second one is the North Germanic group with Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese. Gothic as a dead language is an exception forming the only language of the East Germanic group. But it’s interesting to emphasize which is the main difference between the West Germanic and the North Germanic languages. That’s the definite article. In the West Germanic languages you put it before the noun:

English                              German                       Dutch

the house                           das Haus                     het huis

The North Germanic languages use the definite article as a suffix standing after the noun:

Danish/Swedish/Norwegian                                Icelandic

hus(et)                                                                       hús(ið)

For those of you learning a North Germanic language I have the advice to learn each noun with the required suffix. If you are learning German you should also learn each noun with the article der, die or das.



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