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Germnic Phonology The vowelThe seprtion nd development of PG from PIE took long period of time

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9.Proto-Germanic Phonology. The vowel.
The separation and development of PG from PIE took a long period of time. This process can be divided into two main periods:

I-Early PG XV/V BC- I/IV AD  Separation of PG from the West IE (Centum branch) to its stabilization as a separate system

It possessed a lot of linguistic features typical of PIE:

-the existence of the fixed and movable stress types
-there didn’t exist any difference between a stressed and an unstressed syllable
-the three-morphe structure of the word

-the existence of two tense-aspect stems in the system of the verb: the Infect and Perfect stems

II-Late PG IV/VII AD-XI/XVI AD   From stabilization of PG to its dispersal into separate groups of Germanic dialects

It acquired a lot of specific features of its own:

-the dynamic stress fixed on the first root syllable
-the opposition between stressed and unstressed syllable

-the three-morpheme structure of the word developed into the two-morpheme structure

-PG tense forms developed from PIE tense-aspect stems

It is believed that certain dialectal peculiarities appeared in early PG. They deepened in late PG causing further division of the linguistic language areal. After the Age of Migrations there developed the territorial dialects from the former tribal Germanic dialects. The territorial Germanic dialects gave birth to the languages of different Germanic nationalities. Formation of Old Germanic languages is connected with formation of Germanic tribes and tribal units and their gradual consolidation.
Vowels System
Short vowels:

/i/ as in PGmc
witum 'we know', cf. Go. witum, ON vitom, OE witom, OHG wizzum
/e/ as in PGmc erþō 'earth', cf. Go. aírþa, OE eorþ, OHG erda
/a/ as in PGmc af 'from', cf. Go. af, ON af, OE of, OHG aba, ab
/u/ as in PGmc ufar 'over', cf. Go. ufar, ON yfir, OE ofer, OHG ubir, ubar
Long vowels:
ī/ as in PGmc swīnaz 'pig', cf. Go. *swein, ON svīn, OE swīn, OHG swīn
/ē/ as in PGmc sēþiz 'seed', cf. Go. mana-sēþs, ON sāđ, OE sǣd, OHG sāt
/ō/ as in PGmc flōduz 'flood', cf. Go. flōdus, Run. flodu, ON flōđ, OHG flout
/ū/ as in PGmc fūla 'foul', cf. Go. fūls, ON fūll, OE fūl, OHG fūl
/ei/ as in PGmc
steig-, cf. Go. steigan, ON stīga, OE stīgan, OHG stīgan 'climb'
/ai/ as in PGmc
staig, cf. Go. stáig, OHG steig 'climbed'
/eu/ as in PGmc
beud-, cf. Go. -biudan, OE bēodan, OHG biotan 'bid, offer, order'
/au/ as in PGmc
baud-, cf. Go. báuþ, ON bauþ 'offered'

10.The umlaut in Old Germanic languages.
Umlaut is a form of assimilation, the process by which one speech sound is altered to make it more like another adjacent sound. If a word has two vowels, one far back in the mouth and the other far forward, more effort is required to pronounce the word than if the vowels were closer, and therefore one possible linguistic development is for these two vowels to be drawn closer together.Germanic umlaut is a specific historical example of this process that took place in the unattested earliest stages of Old English, Old High German, and some other old Germanic languages. Whenever a back vowel (/a/, /o/ or /u/, whether long or short) occurred in a syllable and the front vowel /i/ or the front glide /j/ occurred in the next, the vowel in the first syllable was fronted. So, for example, pre-Old English *mūsi "mice" shifted to *mȳsi, which eventually developed to modern mice, while the singular form *mūs lacked a following /i/ and was unaffected, eventually becoming modern mouse. The fronted variant caused by umlaut was originally allophonic (i.e. a variant sound automatically predictable due to the context), but later became phonemic (a separate sound in its own right) when the context was lost but the variant sound remained. In this case, when final i was lost, the variant sound -ȳ- became a new phoneme in Old English:







Original form[4]






Loss of final -z

West Germanic[citation needed]





Germanic umlaut

Pre-Old English





Loss of i after a heavy syllable

Pre-Old English





Unrounding of ø̄ (> ē)

Most Old English dialects





Unrounding of ȳ (> ī)

Early Middle English





Great Vowel Shift

Early Modern and Modern English





11.The inflectional system of Proto-Germanic: General concept

The Proto-Germanic lexicon consists of two classes of inflected words and a number of uninflected classes. The two inflected classes are substantives and verbs. The uninflected classes are conjunctions, adverbs, interjections, and prepositions (earlier, postpositions).Substantives, including nouns, pronouns, adjectives and numerals, are inflected primarily for case, secondarily for gender and number. The sub-class of nouns is inflected for case, gender and number. The sub-class of pronouns is inflected for case, but only defectively for number and gender as well as person. The sub-class of adjectives is inflected for gender, as well as for case and number; it is further distinguished by addition of suffixes to indicate comparison. Cardinal numerals have defective inflection in all three categories. Ordinal numerals are inflected like adjectives, e.g. Go. þridja as n-stem for the numeral 'third'.Verbs are inflected for person and number, tense, mood and voice.Five cases are reconstructed for Proto-Germanic, with traces of a sixth; these are: nominative, vocative, genitive, dative, accusative, and instrumental. The nominative is the case used to indicate the subject, and never follows a preposition. The vocative is the case of address. The genitive indicates relationships among substantives, often possession. In addition to being governed by specific prepositions, the dative indicates the indirect object; the accusative, the direct object. The instrumental case has a distinct form in only one paradigm; it indicates a relationship involving means, similar to that of adverbs. Two further cases are reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European: the locative, which according to some specialists has left reflexes in certain Germanic paradigms, and the ablative, to which certain Germanic adverbs have been related.There are three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. These categories are primarily grammatical, although there is also relationship to sex. That distinction is found largely with nouns referring to animate beings, as in Go. niþjis 'male relative', niþjō 'female relative'; frijōnds 'friend', frijōndi 'woman friend'; ON Freyr 'the god Frey', Freyja 'the goddess'. Gender distinction is also found in the third person pronouns.Substantives are inflected for three numbers: singular, plural, and dual. The dual is strongly represented only in pronouns and in PGmc was losing ground there. Like gender, number is also primarily a grammatical category, not always a category with literal meaning, as the following examples from Old Saxon indicate:OS briost (pl.) 'breast'/OS giscapu (pl.) 'fate'With the exception of gender, the categories of inflection were less distinct in Proto-Germanic than in Proto-Indo-European and were reduced further in the dialects, where some of them were ultimately lost, such as gender in English with covert usage persisting primarily in the use of personal pronoun 'he, she, it'. Similarly, except in the personal pronouns only two cases remain in English, the genitive and the unmarked case. Further, the category of number is overt only in the noun, in a few verb forms like am, is in contrast with are, and in the indication of person in the third singular present, e.g. writes as opposed to write in the plural and other categories.Inflection is indicated through the suffixes known as endings. As noted above, in Proto-Indo-European and early Proto-Germanic the endings were suffixed directly to roots. But affixes were added to roots already in Proto-Indo-European to form bases, also known as stems, and the endings were attached to these. When the stress accent was introduced, it generally fell on the root; weakly stressed syllables then were often reduced, so that the endings in Proto-Germanic and its dialects consisted of merged suffixes and the early endings. Classes of inflections in late Proto-Germanic were labeled by these. Three declensions then resulted:
Root nouns (which are poorly attested);
Consonant stems;
Vocalic stems in two sets: the
o/ā stems, and the vocalic resonant stems.
Reconstructed forms illustrating each of the noun classes are given in paradigms below. Reflexes in the dialects are included, to provide evidence for the Proto-Germanic forms that have been reconstructed. In the paradigms of the dialects attested forms are preferred. But our limited texts do not provide us with complete inflections for most nouns; accordingly some unattested forms are included without being starred, such as the Gothic nominative dags.

12. The verb categories in Old Germanic languages.

Grammatical categories of verbs in Old Germanic languages and Old English: person; number; tense; voice; mood.
The Present tense had several functions, it indicated:1)the action that coincides with the moment of speaking (Present Progressive): E.g. ic cweþe on wordum.“I am saying with words”. 2) permanent action: E.g. Sume gað on twam fotumsume on feower fotum. Sume fleoð mid fyðerum sumeon flodum. – “Some go on two feet, some on four,some fly with wigs (feathers), and some swim in water”.3) indicated a future action: E.g. Ic lufige tō dæǯ oððe tō mer ǯen.– I will love today or tomorrow.
Mood:indicative/optative/imperative Gothic examples: hait-am „we name, hait-a-i-ma„we would name.
Voice:active/medio-passive e.g. the verb „hātan „to be named, which literary meant „to name itself.
Passive voice:bēōn (wesan)/weorþan +PII of transitive verbs/bēōn (wesan)+PII/weorþan +PII (10-13% in the records of the VIII cen. and 35-40% forms were recorded atthe end of OE period)The analytical passive forms of the verbs wereformed in ME, which connected with the process of grammaticalization (the loss of lexicalmeaning by the auxiliary verbs wurthen and ben(wesen)).Along with this process the was also a process of loosing agreement between the nominative predicate and the subject.Therefore PII loses its case forms in ME and turns into an unchangeable form and that was said in formed and reverence– and this was said politely and respectably.Perfect forms bēōn (to be), habban (to have) + Participle II

Grammaticalization of Perfect constructions haban+PII and ben+PII took place during Middle English period. Thus, in contrast to Old English Participle II stopped correlating with habban in person and number. Another peculiar feature was the contact position between the auxiliary and PII. Haban+PII was mostly used with transitive verbs, whereas ben+PII was recorded with the verbs of state and motion.

Ablaut Classes - Alphabetical List
German Strong-Verb Vowel Patterns

a - ie - a (Class 7)

ei - i - i (Class 1a)

a - u - a (Class 6)

ei - ie - ie (Class 1b)

e - a - e (Class 5)

i - a - o/u (Class 3a)

e - a - o (Class 3b/4)

ie - o - o (Class 2)

e - o - o (Class 3b/4)

[x] - ie - [x] (Class 7)

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