Dear Widukind and colleagues,
I am an absolute beginner with Gothic, but I think it is very useful. As Gothic is by miles the earliest recorded of the Germanic languages, you can get an idea of how they might have developed from Indo-European. Gothic tends to indicate that Proto-Germanic was a pidginised version of I.E.. This can be seen from various aspects of the language :-
1] There are only two tenses, past and future, i.e. a simplification of I.E.. Further tenses had to be constructed in Germanic languages in the form of resolved or built-up tenses [ a string of auxiliary verbs ], e.g. ich werde gehen, I will go, Ich habe gemacht, I have done -- Ich werde gemacht haben, I will have done. These verbal forms make verbs easier to learn in Germanic languages, than Romance ones.
2] Gothic has both weak and strong verbs - I live, Iived [ ich lebe, ich lebte ] as well as strong verbs [ ich singe , ich sang, ich habe gesungen ], using ablaut or vowel-gradation. Weak verbs were a new invention in Germanic, much simpler and easy to learn and all new verbs added to English are weak.
3] Re-duplication of sounds.
The most widespread of the Germanic languages, English, was further pidginised through contact with old Norse. These simplifications have helped make English the world's major language.