The Germanic roots of the Old English sound system
This paper explores the phonological origins of Old English in light of the major theories proposed for grouping the early Germanic dialects and, in particular, for assigning Old English to a specific branch or subbranch of Germanic. Our survey demonstrates that the consonantal roots of Old English are ProtoGermanic, and that the accented vocalic roots are NorthWest Germanic (non-Gothic), but that the unaccented vocalic roots of Old English can, at best, be assigned to Proto-West Germanic. Our further phonological deliberations substantiate Hans Kuhn’s hypothesis of a NorthSea Germanic subgroup of West Germanic (consisting of Old English, Old Frisian and Old Saxon) rather than Henry Sweet’s theory of an Anglo-Frisian subgroup (without Old Saxon participation). But by positing phonological evidence which underpins the notion of a North-Sea Germanic <i>Sprachkreis</i> emerging prior to the Anglo-Saxon exodus from the Continent, our analysis dissociates itself from Kuhn’s chronological concept of NorthSea Germanic.