Publication Date

Summer 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Linguistics and Language Development


Soteria Svorou


Germanic, Gothic, Old English, Old High German, Old Norse, Proto-Germanic

Subject Areas



Historical Glottometry, introduced by Alexandre François (2014), is a wave-based quantitative approach to language subgrouping that is used to calculate the overall strength of a linguistic subgroup using metrics that capture the contributions of linguistic innovations of various scopes to language diversification, in consideration of the reality of their distributions. It primarily achieves this by acknowledging the contribution of areal diffusion to language diversification, which has traditionally been overlooked in cladistic (tree-based) models. In this thesis, the development of the Germanic language family, from the breakup of Proto-Germanic to the latest period of the early attested daughter languages (namely Gothic, Old English, Old Norse and Old High German), is accounted for using Historical Glottometry. It is shown that this approach succeeds in accounting for several smaller, nontraditional subgroups of Germanic by accommodating the linguistic evidence unproblematically where a cladistic approach would fail.