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The Anglo-Frisian Relationship as Contact and Linkage

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image of Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik

This note places Rolf Bremmer’s views on a possible ‘Anglo-Frisian’ branch of West Germanic in the context of theoretical discussions about subgrouping, and in this way provides further underpinning for Bremmer’s position. The key test for subgrouping as defined since Leskien 1876 has been synapomorphy, namely shared innovations unlikely to have arisen independently, and many features presented as support for an Anglo-Frisian branch do not conform to that. Bremmer’s views on the role of longstanding contact between English and Frisian and related varieties now finds support in the notion of ‘linkages’. The author concludes, with Bremmer, that the similarities between English and Frisian reflect a mixture of inheritance plus complex and ongoing contacts, but does not necessarily reflect a sub- branch of West Germanic.

Affiliations: 1: University of Wisconsin MadisonUSA


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