Etymological dictionary of the German language - PDF by Friedrich Kluge

Etymological dictionary of the German language

Etymological dictionary of the German language
Etymological dictionary of the German language

From the author introduction;

It cannot be denied that the study of German etymology is held in less esteem among us, and is pursued with less zeal, than that of French. This fact is not surprising; for how easily the results of Romance philology can be made evident to a man of classical training, who has in Latin the chief source, and in his own native German the most important subsidiary source of French entirely under his command! And what gratification there is in view through the medium of etymology, well-known words in a new light!

 If German etymology could be built up to the same extent as French, from the materials furnished by the better known civilised languages, it would certainly have long ago evoked the same appreciation as is now shown for French. But the perception of historical connections is made more difficult when the earlier stages of the language are not so accessible as Latin is for the history of Romance words.

Scientific knowledge of German etymology rests upon facts, whose coherence can only be explained by going beyond the limits of the chief civilised languages. It is impossible, however, for the student to go so far back unless all the difficulties are smoothed and explained, and all the necessary details for ascertaining the history of a word are placed before him.

In investigating a German word, we cannot and must not stop at Middle High German, the only earlier stage of our mother-tongue with which every educated man has some acquaintance; and even Old High German, the oldest literary period of German, is not, except in a very few cases, sufficient for the needs of the etymologist who knows how to appreciate the importance of philology in acquiring a knowledge of the history of the German language. It is these pre-historic periods of Germany that furnish the indispensable foundation for etymological inquiry. 

Not until we have obtained an insight into the difference between the High German and Low German system of consonants can we determine the relations of a German word to its Teutonic cognates; not until we have thoroughly mastered the relations of the Gothic consonants to those of the allied Aryan languages are we able to understand the comparison of a word with its Greek and Latin cognates. To explain the earlier stages of development in German, and to throw light upon them as a chief means of ascertaining the history of a word, is the task of historical grammar. The etymologist must, if he wants to produce conviction, presuppose general knowledge of the main crises in the history of our mother tongue. 

To the scientific acquisitions of the present century, we owe the knowledge of a primary period of the history of the German language, which is authenticated by no other record than the language itself. 

The literary records of the old Hindus, unlocked to the learned world at the end of the last century, led to the pregnant discovery that the Teutons, several millenniums before our era, spoke one and the same language as the ancestors of the Hindus and Persians, the Greeks and Albanians, the Italics and Kelts, the Slavs and Armenians, a fact which clearly proved that they were descended from the same tribe. 

The primitive seat of those tribes, which, in conformity with the utmost limits of the settlements of their descendants, have been designated Indo- Teutons, Indo- Kelts, and also Indo- Europeans, was the South of Europe, or more probably Asia. Scientific investigation, which has been endeavouring for more than half a century to unlock the common source of their language from the later records of the various Aryan tribes, bestows on it the highest praise for its wealth of forms, the development of which has been traced by German grammarians in our mother- tongue down to the present day. 

The vocabulary of this primitive speech is proved by some of its offshoots to have been exceedingly rich, and at the same time capable of extension; but its fundamental perceptions and ideas were limited. The fact that it expressed the most necessary relations and wants of life has made it the treasury from which the various Aryan languages have drawn their supply of words. Of this old hoard German too has preserved no small a portion, even down to the present time.

Compare our terms for expressing degrees of relationship with those of the allied languages, and these words, with slight divergences in sound, or with unchanged significations, will be found in the whole of the Aryan group.


the book details :
  • Author:Friedrich Kluge
  • Publication date:1891
  • Company: London, Bell

  • Download 35.5 MB - for the best experience, Read big files on your PC 

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