Building a polyglot profile: Why is it very appealing to learn Germanic languages?
Germanic languages are among the oldest languages in the world. Nowadays, they are known as German, Dutch, and English. Since the last century, there has been a high tendency of learning the modern Germanic languages for a reason or another. Most people tend to have an integrative motivation to learn them. Many learners find Germanic languages beneficial for building profiles of polyglots. When one is learning or just reading about them, they will discover that these languages share a sense of similarities between them. These similarities that Germanic languages share can, for instance, be in terms of phonology, morphology, and semantics. An English speaker who is attending German language classes may notice that some words in English and German share the same meaning while there is a slight difference in how they are spelled. For example, the verb ‘zu gehen’ in German means ‘ To go’ in English. If you might notice, ‘gehen’ sounds quite similar to ‘go’. There are even other words that are morphologically similar with some little difference in the graphic presentation of a phoneme or two, such in ‘Linguistiks’ in German, which refers to ‘Linguistics’. The pronunciation of such these two words is identical since there is the same phoneme, which is /k/. Another very overt example that can any English speaker notices is the notion of the auxiliary in German. In the present, the auxiliary (is) is represented as ‘ist’ in German. There is one phoneme /t/ added. The same case can also be with the auxiliary ‘have’, which is ‘habben’ in German. Now, let’s imagine an English-German speaker is learning Dutch as a foreign language. Do you think it will be the same case for a language learner who was not exposed to either English or Dutch before? Normally, the input that the German-English speaker has been exposed to will enrich his experience of learning Dutch because of the common sense of similarity mentioned above. To illustrate this point, the following examples represent different vocabulary that bears the notion of what we call in linguistics by the mutual intelligibility:
English: the water is still.
Dutch: Het water is still.
German: Das Wasser ist still.
The adjective ‘still’ in English, Dutch, and German means calm or not moving. The noun ‘water’ in English is as similar as in Dutch ‘water’ except for the pronunciation of the letter ‘W’. In English, the /w/ sound in the word water is a labio-velar approximant sound, while in Dutch it is a labio-dential fricative sound. However, the mutual intelligibility is still there and the speaker can easily detect the meaning. The word ‘Wasser’ undergoes the same interpretation. This can be proved by phonological tests, such as Minimal Pair as the following demonstration shows:
Dutch: / ‘vatɐ/
German: / ‘vasɐ/
Although /t/ and /s/ are pronounced differently, they are the same representation of the same phoneme /t/.
All in all, Germanic languages are worthy to learn because of the common sense of intelligibility between numerous language items of each language of them. Thus, they are an accurate choice for learners who are willing to start learning new different languages in the future.