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CHAPTER VI

The First Sound-shifting, Verner's Law, and other Consonant Changes which took place in the Primitive Germanic language.

 

64. The first sound-shifting, popularly called Grimms Law, refers to the changes which the Indo-Germanic te tenues aspiratae, mediae, and mediae aspiratae underwent during the period of the Germanic primitive community, i.e. the Germanic parent language became differentiated into separate Germanic languages:Gothic, O. Norse, O. English, O. Frisian, O. Saxon (O. Low German), O. Low Franconian (O. Dutch), and O. High German.

 

65. The Indo-Germanic parent language had the following system of consonants:





 

Labial

Dental

Palatal

Guttural

Explosives

tenues

p

t

k

q

mediae

b

d

g

g

tenues aspiratae

ph

th

kh

qh

mediae aspiratae

bh

dh

gh

gh

Spirants

voiceless

 

s

 

 

voiced

 

z

j

 

Nasals

 

m

n

ń

ŋ

Liquids

 

 

l, r

 

 

Semi-vowels

 

w (u)

 

j (i)

 

 

note.1. Explosives are consonants which are formed by complete closure of the mouth passage, and maybe pronounced with or without voice, i.e. with or without the vocal cords being set in action; in the former case they are said to be voiced (e. g. the mediae), and in the latter voiceless (e. g. the tenues). The aspiratae are pronounced like the simple tenues and mediae followed by an h, e.g. like the th in English pothook, ph in haphazard, or dh in madhouse.

The palatal explosives are formed by the front or middle of the tongue and the roof of the mouth (hard palate), like g, k (c) in English get, good, kid, could; whereas the velars are formed by the root of the tongue and the soft palate (velum). The latter do not occur in English, but are common in Hebrew, and are generally also heard in the Swiss pronunciation of literary German. The palatal and velar nasals only occurred before their corresponding explosives, nk, ng ; ŋq, ŋg, &c.

2. Spirants are consonants formed by the mouth passage being narrowed at one spot in such a manner that the outgoing breath gives rise to a frictional sound at the narrowed part.

z only occurred before voiced explosives, e.g. *ozdos=Gr. οζος, OHG. ast, twig.

j was like the widely spread North German pronunciation of j in ja, not exactly like the y in English yes, which is generally pronounced without distinct friction, j occurred very rarely in the prim. Indo-Germanic language. In the Germanic, as in most other Indo-Germanic languages, the frictional element in this sound became reduced, which caused it to pass into the so-called semivowel.

3. The nasals and liquids had the functions both of vowels and consonants (cp. 13, 30-3). In like manner the semivowels, w (y) and j (i) are the consonants corresponding to u, i.

4. In the writing down of prim. Germanic forms the signs (=th in thin), (=th in then), b (=a bilabial spirant, which may be pronounced like the v in vine), ģ (=g often heard in German sagen), χ (= German ch).

 

66. The Indg. tenues p, t, k, q became in prim. Germanic the voiceless spirants f, , χ, χ (χw).

p > f. Lat. pēs, Gr.πους, Goth. fōtus, OE. OS. fōt, OHG. fuo, foot; Lat. piscis, Goth. fisks, OS. OHG. fisk, OE. fisc, fish; Lat. nepos, Goth. *nifa, OE. nefa, OHG. nfo, nephew.

t >. Lat. tu, Gr. Dor. τυ, Goth. u, OE. ū, OS. thū, thou; Lat. vertō, I turn, Goth. waran, OE. weoran, OS, werthan, to become; Lat. frāter, Goth. brōar, OE. brōor, OS. brōthar, brother.

k > χ. Lat. canis, Gr. κυων, Goth. hunds, OE. OS. hund, OHG. hunt, hound, dog; Lat. cor (gen. cordis), Gr. καρδια, Goth. harto, OE. heorte, OS. herta, OHG. hrza, heart; Lat. decem, Gr. δεκα, Goth. tahun, OS. tehan, OHG. zhan, ten; Lat. dūcō, I lead; Goth. tiuhan, OS. tiohan, OHG. ziohan, to draw, lead.

q > χ (χw). Lat. capiō, I take, Goth. hafjan, OE. hebban, OS. hebbian, OHG. heffen, to raise; Lat. vincō, I conquer; Goth. weihan, OHG. wīhan, to fight.

Lat. quis, Goth. hras, OE. hwā, OS. hwē, OHG. hwēr (wr), who ?; Gr. λειπω (from *leiqō), I leave, Goth. leihran, OHG. līhan, to lend.

note.i. The Indg. tenues remained unshifted in the combination s + tenuis. sp. Lat. spuere, Goth. speiwan, OE. OS. OHG. spīwan, to vomit; Lat. con-spiciō, I look at, OHG. spēhōn, to spy.

st. Lat. est, Gr. εστι, Goth. OS. OHG. ist, is; Gr. στειχω, I go, Lat. vestīgium, footstep, Goth. steigan, OE. OS. OHG. stīgan, to ascend.

sk. Gr. σχια, shadow, Goth. skeinan, OE. OS. OHG. scīnan, to shine; Lat. piscis, Goth. fisks, OE. flsc, OS. OHG. fisk, fish.

sq. Gr. θυοσχόος, sacrificing priest, OE. scēawian, OS. scauwōn, OHG. scouwōn, to look, -view.

2. The t also remained in the Indg. combinations pt, kt, qt.

pt > ft. Gr. κλέπτης, Goth. hliftus, a thief; Lat. neptis, granddaughter, niece, OE. OHG. nift, niece.

kt > χt. Gr. όκτώ, Lat. octō, Goth. ahtu, OE. eahta, OS. OHG. ahto, eight; Gr. όρεκτός, stretched out, Lat. rēctus, Goth. rahts, OE. riht, OS. OHG. reht, right, straight.

qt > χt. gen. sing. Gr. νυκτός, Lat. noctis, nom. Goth. nahts, OE. neaht, OS. OHG. naht, night.

 

67. The Indg. mediae b, d, g, g became the tenues p, t, k, k (kw).

b > p. O. Bulgarian slabǔ, slack, weak, Goth. slēpan, OE. slāēpan, OS. slāpan, to sleep, originally to be slack; Lithuanian dubs, Goth. diups, OE. dēop, OS. diop, deep.

d > t. Lat. decem., Gr. δεκα, Goth. tahun, OE. tīen, OS. tehan, ten; Lat. dūcō, I lead, Goth. tiuhan, OE. tēon, OS. tiohan, to draw, lead; Lat. edere, Goth. itan, OE. OS. etan, to eat; Lat. vidēre, to see, Goth. OE. OS. witan, to know.

g > k. Lat. genu, Gr. γόνυ, Goth. kniu, OE. cnēo, OS. OHG. kneo, knee; Lat. gustō, I taste, Gr. γεύω, I let taste, Goth. kiusan, OE. cēosan, OS. OHG. kiosan, to test, choose; Lat. egō, Gr. έγώ, Goth. OS. ik, OE. ic, I.

g > k (kw). Lat. gelu, frost, Goth. kalds, OE. ceald, OS. kald, OHG. kalt, cold; Lat. augēre, Goth. ukan, OS. okian, to add, increase; Lat. jugum, Gr. ζυγόν, Goth. juk, OE. geoc, yoke.

Gr. βίος from *gĭwos, life, Lat. vīvos from *gwīwos, Goth. qius (gen. qiwis), OE. cwicu, OS. quik, OHG. quec, quick, alive; Gr. βαίνω from *βανjω, I go, Lat. veniō from *gwemjō, I come, Goth. qiman, OHG. quman, to come.

 

68. The Indg. tenues aspiratae became voiceless spirants in prim. Germanic, and thus fell together with and underwent all further changes in common with the voiceless spirants which arose from the Indg. tenues ( 66), the latter having also passed through the intermediate stage of tenues aspiratae before they became voiceless spirants. The tenues aspiratae were, however, of so rare occurrence in the prim. Indg. language, that they may be neglected in an elementary work of this kind.

 

69. The Indg. mediae aspiratae bh, dh, gh, gh probably became first of all the voiced spirants b, d, g, g(w). For the further development of these sounds during the prim. Germanic period, see 70, 71.

 

70. b, d initially, and b, d, g medially after their corresponding nasals, became the voiced explosives b, d, g:

b. Goth. baran, OE. OS. OHG. beran, to bear, Skr. bhrāmi, Gr. φέρω, Lat. ferō, I bear ; Goth. brōar, OE. brōor, OS. brōthar, OHG. bruoder, Skr. bhrtar-, Lat. frter, brother.

Goth. *kambs, OE. comb, OHG. camb, comb, Skr. jmbhas, tooth, Gr. γόμφος, bolt, nail, prim. from *gombhos.

d. Goth. dags, OE. dg, OS. dag, day, Skr. ni-dāghs, older *ni-dhāghs, hot season, summer, Indg. form *dhoghos; OE. dāēd, OS. dād, deed, related to Gr. θή-σω, I shall place, Skr. dhma, law, dwelling-place, root dhē-, put, place.

Goth. OE. OS. bindan, to bind, Skr. bndhanam, a binding, root bhendh-.

g. Goth. aggwus, OS. OHG. engi, narrow, cp. Lat. angō, Gr. άγχω, I press tight, root ańgh-; Goth. laggs, OE. long, OS. OHG. lang, Lat. longus, long.

 

71. b, d, g remained in other positions, and their further development belongs to the history of the separate languages. See 85.

 

Verners Law

 

72. After the completion of the first sound-shifting, and while the principal accent was not yet confined to the root-syllable, a uniform interchange took place between the voiceless and voiced spirants, which may be thus stated:

The medial or final spirants f, , χ, χw, s regularly became ƀ, đ, ʓ, ʓw, z when the vowel next preceding them did not, according to the original Indg. system of accentuation, bear the principal accent of the word.

The ƀ, đ, ʓ, ʓw, which thus arose from Indg. p, t, k, q, underwent in the Germanic languages all further changes in common with the ƀ, đ, ʓ, ʓw from Indg. bh, dh, gh. ɡh.

Verner's law manifests itself most clearly in the various forms of strong verbs, where the infinitive, present participle, present tense, and preterite (properly perfect) singular had the principal accent on the root-syllable, but the indic. pret. plural, the pret. subj. (properly optative), and past participle had the principal accent on the ending, as prim. Germanic *wrō > OE. weore, I become == Skr. vrt-mi, I turn; pret. *wra > OE. wear, I became, Skr. va-vrta, I have turned; pret. pl. *wurđum > OE. *wurdum (wurdon is the 3. pers. pl. used for all persons), we became=Skr. va-vrtim-; pp. wurđan >OE. worden=Skr. va-vrtān-; OS. birid=Skr. bhrati, he bears; 2. pers. sg. pres. indic, passive Goth. baraza= Skr. bhrasē. Or to take examples from noun-forms we have, e.g. Skr. pitr-, Gr. -πατέρ- = prim. Germ. *fađer-, Goth. fadar, OE. fder, OS. fader; Gr. έ-κατόν, Lat. centum= prim. Germ. *χunđm, Goth. OE. OS. hund, hundred.

The combinations sp, st, sk, ss, ft, fs, hs, and ht were not subject to this law.

Note.The primitive Germanic system of accentuation was like that of Sanskrit, Greek, &c., i.e. the principal accent could fall on any syllable; it was not until a later period of the primitive Germanic language that the principal accent was confined to the root-syllable.

From what has been said above it follows that the interchanging pairs of consonants due to Verner's law are: fƀ, đ, sz, χʓ, χwʓw.

fƀ. Goth. arf, I need, pl. (arbum; OHG. inf. heffen, to raise, pret. pl. huobun, pp. gihaban.

đ. OE. inf. weoran., to become, snīan, to cut, pret. pl. wurdon, snidon, pp. worden, sniden.

sz. Prim. Germ. *kuso, I test, pret. 1. pl. *kuzum, pp. *kuzan-, inf. OE. cēosan, OHG. kiosan, to choose, pret. pl. OE. curon, OHG. kurun, pp. OE. coren, OHG. gikoran.

The West Germanic languages and Old Norse regularly developed this z to r.

χʓ. Inf. OE. tēon (from *tēohan), OHG. ziohan, to draw, pret. pl. OE. tugon, OHG. zugun, pp. OE. togen, OHG. gizogan.

χwʓw. Prim. Germ. *sχwan-, to see, pret. 1. pl. *sāēʓwum, pp. *seʓwan-, cp. OE. sēon (from *seo(hw)an, pret. pl. sāēgon, pp. sewen.

ʓw became ʓ before u, in other cases it became w, as Goth. magus, a boy, beside mawi from *ma(ʓ)w, a girl; Goth. siuns, OE. sēon (sīon), OS. siun, from *se(ʓ)wns, a seeing, face; Goth. sniws, OE. snāw (with -w from the oblique cases), from *snai(ʓ)was, prim. form *snoighs, snow.

Note.1. Causative verbs had originally suffix accentuation, and therefore also exhibit the change of consonants given above. Examples are: Goth. waran, to becomefra-wardjan, to destroy ; OE. līan, to golāēdan from *laidjan, to lead, OE. ā-rīsan, to ariserāēran from *raizjan, to raise.

2. It is best to defer giving many examples of Verner's law in OHG. until after the H G. sound-shifting has been treated. See 87.

 

Other Consonant Changes

 

73. Every labial + t became ft, as Goth. skapjan, OE. scieppan, OHG. skephen, to create, beside Goth. ga-skafts, creation, OE. ge-sceaft, OHG. gi-scaft, creature; Goth. giban, OHG. gban, to give, beside Goth. fra-gifts, a giving, OE. OHG. gift, gift.

Every guttural + t became ht, as OE. OHG. magan, to be able, beside pret. sing. Goth. mahta, OE. meahta, OHG. mahta; Goth. warkjan, OE. wyrcan, OHG. wurken, to work, beside pret. and pp. Goth. warhta, warhts, OE. worhte, -worht, OHG. worhta, gi-worht; Goth. briggan, OE. OHG. bringan, to bring, beside pret. and pp. Goth. brāhta, *brāhts, OE. brōhte, brōht, OHG. brāhta, brāht.

Every dental + t became ss, s (st), as Goth. OE. witan, to know, beside pret. Goth. wiasa, OE. wisse, OHG. wissa (wssa).

The ss became simplified to s after long syllables and before r, and then between the s and r there was developed a t, as Goth. hitan, OE. hātan, to call, command, beside OE. hāēs from *haissi-, command; Goth. OE. witan, to know, beside Goth. unweis, unknowing, OE. OHG. wīs, wise; Goth. gu-blōstreis, worshipper of God, OHG. bluoster, sacrifice, cp. Goth. blōtan, to worship; OE. fōstor, sustenance, cp. Goth. fōdjan, to feed.

Instead of ss (s) we often meet with st. In such cases the st is due to the analogy of forms where t was quite regular, e. g. regular forms were Goth. last, thou didst gather, inf. lisan; Goth. slōht, thou didst strike, inf. slahan; OE. meaht, OHG. maht, thou canst, inf. magan; then after the analogy of such forms were made 2. pers. sg. Goth. wist for *wis, OE. wāst for *wās, OHG. weist for *weis; regular forms were pret. sg. Goth. warhta, OE. worhte, OHG. worhta, Goth. inf. warkjan, to work; then after the analogy of such forms were made OE. wiste, beside wisse, OHG. wsta, beside wissa (wssa).

 

74. Guttural n (ŋ) disappeared before χ, as Goth. OHG. fāhan, from *faŋχanan, to seize, catch; OHG. pret. dāhta, beside denken, to think. See 36, 37, 39.

 

75. The consonants, which arose from the Indo-Ger-manic explosives (t, d), were dropped in prim. Germanic, as Goth. hra, what = Lat. quod; Goth. bara, OHG. bre, from an original form *bhroit, he may bear.

 

76. Original final -m became -n in prim. Germanic. This -n, as also final Indg. -n, disappeared in dissyllabic and polysyllabic words. For examples see 57.

 

77. x became an aspirate (written h) initially before vowels, and probably also medially between vowels.

 

78. The remaining Indg. consonants suffered no further material changes which need be mentioned here. Summing up the results of 65-73 we arrive at the following system of consonants for the close of the prim. Germanic period:

 

 

Labial

Inter-dental

Dental

Palatal and Guttural

Explosives

voiceless

p

 

t

k

voiced

b

 

d

g

Spirants

voiceless

f

s

χ

voiced

ƀ

đ

z

ʓ

Nasals

 

m

 

n

ŋ

Liquids

 

 

 

l, r

 

Semi-vowels

 

w

 

 

j (palatal)

 

To these must be added the aspirate h.

 

[ Contents ] [ Intro ] [ Glossary ]
Chapters
[ I ] [ II ] [ III ] [ IV ] [ V ] [ VI ] [ VII ] [ VIII ] [ IX ] [ X ] [ XI ] [ XII ] [ XIII ]