Germanic Philology

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Germanic Philology


in the broad sense, the study of the languages, literature, history, ethnography, religion, law, economy, and customs of the ancient Germanic peoples. The term is most commonly used to mean the study of the ancient and modern Germanic languages and dialects. Germanic philology is concerned with the preparation of standard, theoretical, and historical grammars and the compilation of explanatory, historical, etymological, and dialectal dictionaries of the Germanic languages, as well as with the publication and philological examination of monuments of ancient Germanic literature.

The first Germanic philologist was the Dutchman F. Junius (1589-1677). The founders of scientific Germanic philology were the Dane R. Rask (1787-1832) and the German J. Grimm (1785-1863). However, the collection of materials and description of Germanic languages had actually begun in the period of the Renaissance and the Reformation as a result of the development of national movements. The struggle to replace Latin with the native languages for teaching purposes in the schools and universities led in the 15th to 17th centuries to the publication in many countries of numerous grammars of individual Germanic languages and to increased interest in the collecting of old manuscripts. In his work on Icelandic (1818), Rask showed the common character of the Germanic languages and established their phonetic relationships with other Indo-European languages. J. Grimm published the first comparative grammars of the Germanic languages—German Grammar (1819-37) and History of the German Language (1848). In 1854, J. and W. Grimm began the publication of the multivolume historical German Dictionary, which was completed in 1961 under the editorship of T. Frings. The Germanic philologist K. Lachmann (1793-1851) published old Germanic texts.

In the 19th century Germanic philology was characterized by empiricism and a refusal to treat general linguistic problems, which was typical of the neogrammarians. Modern Germanic philology, particularly in the Soviet Union, is characterized by the use of the latest methods and the examination of general problems. Until World War I, Germany was the center of studies in Germanic philology. After World War II the discipline was intensively developed in the USSR, the German Democratic Republic, the United States, and Japan. The head of Soviet Germanic philology was Academician V. M. Zhirmunskii, who made a great contribution to its development. A general work on Germanic philology, Comparative Grammar of the Germanic Languages (vols. 1-4), edited by M. M. Gukhman, V. M. Zhirmunskii, E. A. Makaev, and V. N. Iartseva, was published in 1962-66.


Zhirmunskii, V. M. Vvedenie v sravnitel’no-istoricheskuiu gram-matiku germanskikh iazykov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Paul, H. “Geschichte der germanischen Philologie.” In Grundriss der germanischen Philologie, vol. 1, 2nd ed. Strassburg, 1901.
Streitberg, W., and V. Michels. Germanisch, fasc. 1. Berlin-Leipzig, 1927. (Grundriss der indogermanischen Sprach- und Altertumskunde. Part 2: Die Erforschung der indogermanischen Sprachen, vol. 2.)
Dünninger, J. “Geschichte der deutschen Philologie.” In Deutsche Philologie im Aufriss, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Edited by W. Stammler. Berlin, 1956.
Germanistik. Tübingen, 1960-67.
Demetz,P. “150 Jahre Germanistik.” Neues Forum, 1967, no. 158.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"Weak Stress and Poetic Constraints in Old English Verse." Journal of English and Germanic Philology 92: 495-508.
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Seda Gasparyan, English Department, Faculty of Romance and Germanic Philology. Yerevan State University, Alex Manoogyan 1, Yerevan 0025.
Among the topics are the Finnish licenciate degree in Germanic philology, the Technical University of Helsinki and its doctoral education, recollection and reflections of an academic emigrant, catching rhythms of the extended university sphere, a PhD in geoinformatics, and a doctorate in Germanic philology in Finland.
(Frye in effect runs around the new criticism, back to a method allied to the old Germanic philology, avoiding exegesis of verbal effects at all costs.) Levin, by classifying Joyce as "naturalism," was saying that Joyce had merely piled the old novel documentation higher and deeper.
Soon she entered the University of Hamburg, taking Germanic philology, Old-Icelandic philology and classical philology (majoring in Latin).
of Ferrara, Italy) and Zironi (Germanic philology, U.
The title may lead the reader to expect a focus on traditional Germanic philology, and indeed the work does include some very detailed discussions of phonological developments, but the editors announce in the introduction their dedication to a 'method pluralism' which allows the approaches of other branches of linguistics, and indeed of the cultural sciences generally, to shed their different lights on the history of these languages.
Liberman (Germanic philology, University of Minnesota) doesn't tell us the root of every word in English.
Anatoly Liberman's essay on dwarves is a piece of good, old-fashioned Germanic philology, which this reviewer is not equipped to evaluate on its merits, but which he found interesting, if anomalous to the rest of the volume.
1997 "The unbearable lightness of being a philologist", Journal of English and Germanic Philology 1997: 486-513.