Modern English and German have many points in common, and if we go back to the earliest texts available in the two languages, the similarities are even more notable. How do we account for these similarities? The generally accepted explanation is that English and German are divergent continuations of a common ancestor, a Germanic language now lost. This book surveys the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the earliest known Germanic languages, members of what has traditionally been known as the English family tree. 'This well-structured, terse account of the early Germanic languages fills an obvious gap in reference books on historical linguistics.