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Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the
reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
proto-language In the tree model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and accoun ...
of the
Germanic branch
Germanic branch
of the
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
. Proto-Germanic eventually developed from
pre-Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eu ...
into three Germanic branches during the fifth century BC to fifth century AD:
West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic languages, Germanic family of languages (the others being the North Germanic languages, North Germanic and the extinct East Germanic languages, East Germani ...
, East Germanic and
North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia ...

North Germanic
, which however remained in
contact Contact may refer to: Interaction Physical interaction * Contact (geology)A geological contact is a boundary which separates one rock body from another. A contact can be formed during deposition, by the intrusion of magma, or through faulting ...
over a considerable time, especially the
Ingvaeonic languages North Sea Germanic, also known as Ingvaeonic , is a postulated grouping of the northern West Germanic languages that consists of Old Frisian, Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English languag ...
(including
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
), which arose from West Germanic dialects and remained in continued contact with North Germanic. A defining feature of Proto-Germanic is the completion of the process described by
Grimm's law Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift) is a set of sound laws A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a language change, change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement ...
, a set of sound changes that occurred between its status as a dialect of
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
and its gradual divergence into a separate language. As it is probable that the development of this sound shift spanned a considerable time (several centuries), Proto-Germanic cannot adequately be reconstructed as a simple node in a
tree model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed change ...
but rather represents a phase of development that may span close to a thousand years. The end of the Common Germanic period is reached with the beginning of the
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
in the fourth century. The alternative term "
Germanic parent languageIn historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes in ...
" may be used to include a larger scope of linguistic developments, spanning the
Nordic Bronze Age The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age, or Scandinavian Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 1700–500 BC. The Nordic Bronze Age emerged about 1700 BC as a continuation of the Battle Axe culture (the Scandinavian ...

Nordic Bronze Age
and
Pre-Roman Iron Age in Northern Europe The archaeology of Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultural region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, whi ...
(second to first millennia BC) to include "Pre-Germanic" (PreGmc), "Early Proto Germanic" (EPGmc) and "Late Proto-Germanic" (LPGmc). While Proto-Germanic refers only to the reconstruction of the most recent common ancestor of Germanic languages, the Germanic parent language refers to the entire journey that the dialect of Proto-Indo-European that would become Proto-Germanic underwent through the millennia. The Proto-Germanic language is not directly attested by any coherent surviving texts; it has been
reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
using the
comparative method In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
. Fragmentary direct attestation exists of (late) Common Germanic in early
runic inscriptions A runic inscription is an inscription Epigraphy ( grc, ἐπιγραφή, "inscription") is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language wit ...

runic inscriptions
(specifically the second-century AD
Vimose inscriptions Image:Kam-med-runer-fra-Vimose DO-4148 2000.jpg, The Vimose Comb is housed at the National Museum of Denmark. Finds from Vimose, on the island of Funen, Denmark, include some of the oldest datable Elder Futhark runic inscriptions in early Proto-Nor ...
and the second-century BC
Negau helmet The Negau helmets are 26 bronze helmet File:Tour du Doubs 2014 - Pontarlier - Jérémy Leveau.jpg, French cyclist Jérémy Leveau wearing a bicycle helmet A helmet is a form of protective gear worn to protect the Human head, head. More specif ...
inscription), and in
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
era transcriptions of individual words (notably in
Tacitus Publius Cornelius Tacitus ( , ; – ) was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars. He lived in what has been called the Silver Age of Latin literature Classi ...

Tacitus
' ''
Germania Germania ( , ), also called Magna Germania (English: ''Great Germania''), Germania Libera (English: ''Free Germania'') or Germanic Barbaricum Barbaricum (from the gr, Βαρβαρικόν, "foreign", "barbarian") is a geographical name used by ...
'', AD 90).


Archaeology and early historiography

Proto-Germanic developed out of
pre-Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eu ...
during the
Pre-Roman Iron Age The archaeology of Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultural region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, whi ...
of Northern Europe. According to the
Germanic substrate hypothesisThe Germanic substrate hypothesis attempts to explain the purportedly distinctive nature of the Germanic languages within the context of the Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern ...
, it may have been influenced by non-Indo-European cultures, such as the
Funnelbeaker culture The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture, in short TRB or TBK (german: Trichter(-rand-)becherkultur, nl, Trechterbekercultuur; da, Tragtbægerkultur; ) was an archaeological culture An archaeological culture is a recurring Assemblage (archaeology), ass ...

Funnelbeaker culture
, but the sound change in the Germanic languages known as
Grimm's law Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift) is a set of sound laws A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a language change, change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement ...
points to a non-substratic development away from other branches of Indo-European. Proto-Germanic itself was likely spoken after 500 BC, and
Proto-Norse Proto-Norse (also called Ancient Nordic, Ancient Scandinavian, Ancient Norse, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Proto-Scandinavian and Proto-North Germanic) was an Indo-European languages, Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is tho ...
from the second century AD and later is still quite close to reconstructed Proto-Germanic, but other common innovations separating Germanic from
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
suggest a common history of pre-Proto-Germanic speakers throughout the
Nordic Bronze Age The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age, or Scandinavian Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 1700–500 BC. The Nordic Bronze Age emerged about 1700 BC as a continuation of the Battle Axe culture (the Scandinavian ...

Nordic Bronze Age
. According to Musset (1965), the Proto-Germanic language developed in southern Scandinavia (Denmark, south Sweden and southern Norway), the ''Urheimat'' (original home) of the Germanic tribes. It is possible that Indo-European speakers first arrived in southern Scandinavia with the
Corded Ware culture#REDIRECT Corded Ware culture The Corded Ware culture comprises a broad archaeological horizon of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention ra ...

Corded Ware culture
in the mid-3rd millennium BC, developing into the
Nordic Bronze Age The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age, or Scandinavian Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 1700–500 BC. The Nordic Bronze Age emerged about 1700 BC as a continuation of the Battle Axe culture (the Scandinavian ...

Nordic Bronze Age
cultures by the early second millennium BC. According to Mallory, Germanicists "generally agree" that the ''
Urheimat In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes i ...
'' ('original homeland') of the Proto-Germanic language, the ancestral idiom of all attested Germanic dialects, was primarily situated in an area corresponding to the extent of the
Jastorf culture Archeological cultures of Central Europe in the Late Nordic group House Urns culture Oksywie culture late phase Jastorf culture Gubin, Poland, Gubin group of Jastorf Przeworsk culture Western Balt culture Eastern Balt forest zone cultures ...
. Early Germanic expansion in the
Pre-Roman Iron Age The archaeology of Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultural region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, whi ...
(fifth to first centuries BC) placed Proto-Germanic speakers in contact with the
Continental Celtic The Continental Celtic languages is the now-extinct group of the Celtic languages that were spoken on the continent of Europe and in central Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor ...
La Tène horizon. A number of Celtic loanwords in Proto-Germanic have been identified. By the first century AD, Germanic expansion reached the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
and the
Upper Rhine The Upper Rhine (german: Oberrhein ; french: Rhin Supérieur) is the section of the Rhine in the Upper Rhine Plain between Basel in Switzerland and Bingen am Rhein, Bingen in Germany. The river is marked by Rhine-kilometres 170 to 529 (the ...
in the south and the
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

Germanic peoples
first entered the historical record. At about the same time, extending east of the
Vistula The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest river in Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinc ...

Vistula
(
Oksywie culture 250px, Oksywie culture (brown) The Oksywie culture (German ') was an archaeological culture that existed in the area of modern-day Eastern Pomerania around the lower Vistula The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, ), the longest and largest river in Po ...
,
Przeworsk culture The Przeworsk culture () was an Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, N ...

Przeworsk culture
), Germanic speakers came into contact with early
Slavic
Slavic
cultures, as reflected in early Germanic loans in Proto-Slavic. By the third century, Late Proto-Germanic speakers had expanded over significant distance, from the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
to the
Dniepr } The Dnieper or Dnipro () is one of the major rivers of Europe A river is a natural flowing watercourse A watercourse is the channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physi ...
spanning about . The period marks the breakup of Late Proto-Germanic and the beginning of the (historiographically-recorded) Germanic migrations. The first coherent text recorded in a Germanic language is the
Gothic Bible The Gothic Bible or Wulfila Bible is the Christian Bible in the Gothic language spoken by the Eastern Germanic (Goths, Gothic) tribes in the early Middle Ages. The translation was allegedly made by the Arianism, Arian bishop and missionary Ul ...
, written in the later fourth century in the language of the
Thervingi The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi (sometimes pluralised Tervings or Thervings) were a Goths, Gothic people of the plains north of the Lower Danube and west of the Dniester River in the 3rd and the 4th centuries. (In the 5th century they are ...
Gothic Christians, who had escaped
persecution Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another individual or group. The most common forms are religious persecution Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individua ...
by moving from Scythia to
Moesia Moesia (; Latin: ''Moesia''; el, Μοισία, Moisía) was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans south of the Danube River. It included most of the territory of modern-day Central Serbia, Kosovo and the northern ...
in 348. The earliest available coherent texts (conveying complete sentences, including verbs) in
Proto-Norse Proto-Norse (also called Ancient Nordic, Ancient Scandinavian, Ancient Norse, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Proto-Scandinavian and Proto-North Germanic) was an Indo-European languages, Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is tho ...
begin in c. 400 in
runic inscriptions A runic inscription is an inscription Epigraphy ( grc, ἐπιγραφή, "inscription") is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language wit ...

runic inscriptions
(such as the Tune Runestone). The delineation of Late Common Germanic from Proto-Norse at about that time is largely a matter of convention. Early West Germanic text is available from the fifth century, beginning with the
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman author ...
Bergakker inscription The Bergakker inscription is an Elder Futhark inscription discovered on the scabbard of a 5th-century Migration Period sword, sword. It was found in 1996 in the Netherlands, Dutch town of Bergakker, in the Betuwe, a region once inhabited by the ...
.


Evolution

The evolution of Proto-Germanic from its ancestral forms, beginning with its ancestor
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
, began with the development of a separate common way of speech among some geographically nearby speakers of a prior language and ended with the dispersion of the proto-language speakers into distinct populations with mostly independent speech habits. Between the two points, many sound changes occurred.


Theories of phylogeny


Solutions

Phylogeny A phylogenetic tree (also phylogeny or evolutionary tree Felsenstein J. (2004). ''Inferring Phylogenies'' Sinauer Associates: Sunderland, MA.) is a branching diagram or a tree (graph theory), tree showing the evolutionary relationships among va ...

Phylogeny
as applied to
historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change Language change is variation over time in a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including s ...
involves the evolutionary descent of languages. The phylogeny problem is the question of what specific tree, in the
tree model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed change ...
of language evolution, best explains the paths of descent of all the members of a language family from a common language, or proto-language (at the root of the tree) to the attested languages (at the leaves of the tree). The
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
form a tree with Proto-Germanic at its root that is a branch of the Indo-European tree, which in turn has
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
at its root. Borrowing of lexical items from contact languages makes the relative position of the Germanic branch within Indo-European less clear than the positions of the other branches of Indo-European. In the course of the development of historical linguistics, various solutions have been proposed, none certain and all debatable. In the evolutionary history of a language family, philologists consider a genetic "tree model" appropriate only if communities do not remain in effective contact as their languages diverge. Early Indo-European had limited contact between distinct lineages, and, uniquely, the Germanic subfamily exhibited a less treelike behaviour, as some of its characteristics were acquired from neighbours early in its evolution rather than from its direct ancestors. The internal diversification of West Germanic developed in an especially non-treelike manner. Proto-Germanic is generally agreed to have begun about 500 BC. Its hypothetical ancestor between the end of Proto-Indo-European and 500 BC is termed
Pre-Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eu ...
. Whether it is to be included under a wider meaning of Proto-Germanic is a matter of usage. Winfred P. Lehmann regarded
Jacob Grimm Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm (4 January 1785 – 20 September 1863), also known as Ludwig Karl, was a German linguist, philologist, jurist, and folklorist Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or fo ...

Jacob Grimm
's "First Germanic Sound Shift", or Grimm's law, and
Verner's law Verner's law described a historical sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one ph ...
, (which pertained mainly to consonants and were considered for many decades to have generated Proto-Germanic) as pre-Proto-Germanic and held that the "upper boundary" (that is, the earlier boundary) was the fixing of the accent, or stress, on the root syllable of a word, typically on the first syllable. Proto-Indo-European had featured a moveable pitch-accent comprising "an alternation of high and low tones" as well as stress of position determined by a set of rules based on the lengths of a word's syllables. The fixation of the stress led to sound changes in unstressed syllables. For Lehmann, the "lower boundary" was the dropping of final -a or -e in unstressed syllables; for example, post-PIE ''*wóyd-e'' > Gothic ', "knows". Antonsen agreed with Lehmann about the upper boundary but later found
runic evidence
runic evidence
that the -a was not dropped: ''ékwakraz … wraita'', "I, Wakraz, … wrote (this)". He says: "We must therefore search for a new lower boundary for Proto-Germanic." Antonsen's own scheme divides Proto-Germanic into an early stage and a late stage. The early stage includes the stress fixation and resulting "spontaneous vowel-shifts" while the late stage is defined by ten complex rules governing changes of both vowels and consonants. By 250 BC Proto-Germanic had branched into five groups of Germanic: two each in the West and the North and one in the East.


Phonological stages from Proto-Indo-European to end of Proto-Germanic

The following changes are known or presumed to have occurred in the history of Proto-Germanic in the wider sense from the end of Proto-Indo-European up to the point that Proto-Germanic began to break into mutually unintelligible dialects. The changes are listed roughly in chronological order, with changes that operate on the outcome of earlier ones appearing later in the list. The stages distinguished and the changes associated with each stage rely heavily on . Ringe in turn summarizes standard concepts and terminology.


Pre-Proto-Germanic (Pre-PGmc)

This stage began with the separation of a distinct speech, perhaps while it was still forming part of the Proto-Indo-European dialect continuum. It contained many innovations that were shared with other Indo-European branches to various degrees, probably through areal contacts, and mutual intelligibility with other dialects would have remained for some time. It was nevertheless on its own path, whether dialect or language.


Early Proto-Germanic

This stage began its evolution as a dialect of
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
that had lost its laryngeals and had five long and six short vowels as well as one or two overlong vowels. The consonant system was still that of PIE minus palatovelars and laryngeals, but the loss of syllabic resonants already made the language markedly different from PIE proper. Mutual intelligibility might have still existed with other descendants of PIE, but it would have been strained, and the period marked the definitive break of Germanic from the other Indo-European languages and the beginning of Germanic proper, containing most of the sound changes that are now held to define this branch distinctively. This stage contained various consonant and vowel shifts, the loss of the contrastive accent inherited from PIE for a uniform accent on the first syllable of the word root, and the beginnings of the reduction of the resulting unstressed syllables.


Late Proto-Germanic

By this stage, Germanic had emerged as a distinctive branch and had undergone many of the sound changes that would make its later descendants recognisable as Germanic languages. It had shifted its consonant inventory from a system that was rich in plosives to one containing primarily fricatives, had lost the PIE mobile pitch accent for a predictable stress accent, and had merged two of its vowels. The stress accent had already begun to cause the erosion of unstressed syllables, which would continue in its descendants. The final stage of the language included the remaining development until the breakup into dialects and, most notably, featured the development of nasal vowels and the start of umlaut, another characteristic Germanic feature.


Lexical evidence in other language varieties

Loans into Proto-Germanic from other (known) languages or from Proto-Germanic into other languages can be dated relative to each other by which Germanic sound laws have acted on them. Since the dates of borrowings and sound laws are not precisely known, it is not possible to use loans to establish absolute or calendar chronology.


Loans from adjoining Indo-European groups

Most loans from
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
appear to have been made before or during the Germanic Sound Shift. For instance, one specimen *''rīks'' 'ruler' was borrowed from Celtic *''rīxs'' 'king' (stem *''rīg-''), with ''g'' → ''k''. It is clearly not native because PIE *''ē'' → ''ī'' is typical not of Germanic but Celtic languages. Another is *''walhaz'' "foreigner; Celt" from the Celtic tribal name ''Volcae'' with ''k'' → ''h'' and ''o'' → ''a''. Other likely Celtic loans include *''ambahtaz'' 'servant', *''brunjǭ'' 'mailshirt', *''gīslaz'' 'hostage', *''īsarną'' 'iron', *''lēkijaz'' 'healer', *''laudą'' 'lead', *''Rīnaz'' 'Rhine', and *''tūnaz, tūną'' 'fortified enclosure'. These loans would likely have been borrowed during the Celtic
Hallstatt Hallstatt ( , , ) is a small town in the district of Gmunden, in the Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Al ...

Hallstatt
and early La Tène cultures when the Celts dominated central Europe, although the period spanned several centuries. From East Iranian came *''hanapiz'' 'hemp' (compare Khotanese ''kaṃhā'', Ossetian ''gæn(æ)'' 'flax'), *''humalaz'', ''humalǭ'' 'hops' (compare Osset ''xumællæg''), *''keppǭ'' ~ ''skēpą'' 'sheep' (compare Pers ''čapiš'' 'yearling kid'), *''kurtilaz'' 'tunic' (cf. Osset ''kwəræt'' 'shirt'), *''kutą'' 'cottage' (compare Pers ''kad'' 'house'), *''paidō'' 'cloak', *''paþaz'' 'path' (compare
Avestan Avestan , also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian ...
''pantā'', gen. ''pathō''), and *''wurstwa'' 'work' (compare Av ''vərəštuua''). The words could have been transmitted directly by the
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
s from the Ukraine plain, groups of whom entered Central Europe via the Danube and created the Vekerzug Culture in the Carpathian Basin (sixth to fifth centuries BC), or by later contact with Sarmatians, who followed the same route. Unsure is *''marhaz'' 'horse', which was either borrowed directly from
Scytho-Sarmatian The Scythian languages ( or ) are a group of Eastern Iranian languages of the classical and late antique period (the Middle Iranian period), spoken in a vast region of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, compri ...
or through Celtic mediation.


Loans into non-Germanic languages

Numerous loanwords believed to have been borrowed from Proto-Germanic are known in the non-Germanic languages spoken in areas adjacent to the Germanic languages. The heaviest influence has been on the
Finnic languages The Finnic (''Fennic'') or more precisely Balto-Finnic (''Balto-Fennic''; Baltic Finnic, ''Baltic Fennic'') languages, are a branch of the Uralic language family The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language fam ...

Finnic languages
, which have received hundreds of Proto-Germanic or pre-Proto-Germanic loanwords. Well-known examples include PGmc *''druhtinaz'' 'warlord' (compare Finnish '), *''hrengaz'' (later *''hringaz'') 'ring' (compare Finnish ', Estonian '), *''kuningaz'' 'king' (Finnish '), *''lambaz'' 'lamb' (Finnish '), *''lunaz'' 'ransom' (Finnish '). Loanwords into the Samic languages,
Baltic languages The Baltic languages belong to the Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages sha ...

Baltic languages
and
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
are also known.


Non-Indo-European substrate elements

The term
substrate Substrate may refer to: Physical layers *Substrate (biology), the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the surface or medium on which an organism grows or is attached **Substrate (locomotion), the surface over which an organism loco ...
with reference to Proto-Germanic refers to lexical items and phonological elements that do not appear to be descended from Proto-Indo-European. The substrate theory postulates that the elements came from an earlier population that stayed amongst the Indo-Europeans and was influential enough to bring over some elements of its own language. The theory of a non-Indo-European substrate was first proposed by Sigmund Feist, who estimated that about a third of all Proto-Germanic lexical items came from the substrate.
Theo Vennemann Theo Vennemann Hofname, genannt Nierfeld (; born 27 May 1937 in Oberhausen-Sterkrade) is a Germany, German historical linguistics, historical linguist known for his controversial theories of a "Vasconic substratum, Vasconic" and an "Atlantic (Semit ...
has hypothesized a
Basque Basque may refer to: * Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to th ...
substrate and a
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
superstrate in Germanic; however, his speculations, too, are generally rejected by specialists in the relevant fields.


Phonology


Transcription

The following conventions are used in this article for transcribing Proto-Germanic reconstructed forms: * Voiced obstruents appear as ''b'', ''d'', ''g''; this does not imply any particular analysis of the underlying phonemes as plosives , , or fricatives , , . In other literature, they may be written as
grapheme In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...

grapheme
s with a
bar Bar or BAR may refer to: Food *Bar (establishment) A bar is a long raised narrow table or bench designed for dispensing beer or other alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drinks. They were originally chest high, and a bar, often brass, ran the len ...
to produce '''', '' đ'', ''''. * Unvoiced fricatives appear as ''f'', ''þ'', ''h'' (perhaps , , ). may have become in certain positions at a later stage of Proto-Germanic itself. Similarly for , which later became or in some environments. * Labiovelars appear as ''kw'', ''hw'', ''gw''; this does not imply any particular analysis as single sounds (e.g. , , ) or clusters (e.g. , , ). * The yod sound appears as ''j'' . Note that the normal convention for representing this sound in
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
is ''y''; the use of ''j'' does not imply any actual change in the pronunciation of the sound. * Long vowels are denoted with a macron over the letter, e.g. ''ō''. When a distinction is necessary, and are transcribed as ''ē¹'' and ''ē²'' respectively. ''ē¹'' is sometimes transcribed as ''æ'' or ''ǣ'' instead, but this is not followed here. * Overlong vowels appear with circumflexes, e.g. ''ô''. In other literature they are often denoted by a doubled macron, e.g. ''ō̄''. * Nasal vowels are written here with an
ogonek 100px, Ogonek The ( Polish: , "little tail", the diminutive of ; lt, nosinė, "nasal") is a diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The t ...

ogonek
, following Don Ringe's usage, e.g. ''ǫ̂'' . Most commonly in literature, they are denoted simply by a following n. However, this can cause confusion between a word-final nasal vowel and a word-final regular vowel followed by , a distinction which was phonemic. Tildes (''ã'', ''ĩ'', ''ũ''...) are also used in some sources. * Diphthongs appear as ''ai'', ''au'', ''eu'', ''iu'', ''ōi'', ''ōu'' and perhaps ''ēi'', ''ēu''. However, when immediately followed by the corresponding semivowel, they appear as ''ajj, aww, eww, iww''. ''u'' is written as ''w'' when between a vowel and ''j''. This convention is based on the usage in . * Long vowels followed by a non-high vowel were separate syllables and are written as such here, except for ''ī'', which is written ''ij'' in that case.


Consonants

The table below lists the consonantal phonemes of Proto-Germanic, ordered and classified by their reconstructed pronunciation. The slashes around the phonemes are omitted for clarity. When two phonemes appear in the same box, the first of each pair is voiceless, the second is voiced. Phones written in parentheses represent
allophone In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of e ...
s and are not themselves independent phonemes. For descriptions of the sounds and definitions of the terms, follow the links on the column and row headings. Notes: # was an allophone of before velar obstruents. # was an allophone of before labiovelar obstruents. # , and were allophones of , and in certain positions (see below). # The phoneme written as ''f'' was probably still realised as a bilabial fricative () in Proto-Germanic. Evidence for this is the fact that in Gothic, word-final ''b'' (which medially represents a voiced fricative) devoices to ''f'' and also Old Norse spellings such as ''aptr'' , where the letter ''p'' rather than the more usual ''f'' was used to denote the bilabial realisation before .


Grimm's and Verner's law

Grimm's law as applied to pre-proto-Germanic is a
chain shift In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed chang ...
of the original Indo-European
plosives In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
. Verner's Law explains a category of exceptions to Grimm's Law, where a voiced fricative appears where Grimm's Law predicts a voiceless fricative. The discrepancy is conditioned by the placement of the original Indo-European word accent. ''p'', ''t'', and ''k'' did not undergo Grimm's law after a fricative (such as ''s'') or after other plosives (which were shifted to fricatives by the Germanic spirant law); for example, where Latin (with the original ''t'') has ''stella'' "star" and ''octō'' "eight", Middle Dutch has ''ster'' and ''acht'' (with unshifted ''t''). This original ''t'' merged with the shifted ''t'' from the voiced consonant; that is, most of the instances of came from either the original or the shifted . (A similar shift on the consonant inventory of Proto-Germanic later generated
High German The High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten), or simply High German (; not to be confused with Standard High German which is imprecisely also called ''High German''), comprise the varieties Variety may refer to: Science and te ...
. McMahon says:
"Grimm's and Verner's Laws ... together form the First Germanic Consonant Shift. A second, and chronologically later Second Germanic Consonant Shift ... affected only Proto-Germanic voiceless stops ... and split Germanic into two sets of dialects,
Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic langua ...
in the north ... and
High German The High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten), or simply High German (; not to be confused with Standard High German which is imprecisely also called ''High German''), comprise the varieties Variety may refer to: Science and te ...
further south ...")
Verner's law is usually reconstructed as following Grimm's law in time, and states that unvoiced fricatives: , , , are voiced when preceded by an unaccented syllable. The
accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (phonetics), prominence given to a particular syllable in a word, or a word in a phrase ** Pitch accen ...
at the time of the change was the one inherited from Proto-Indo-European, which was free and could occur on any syllable. For example, PIE > PGmc. *''brōþēr'' "brother" but PIE > PGmc. *''mōdēr'' "mother". The voicing of some according to Verner's Law produced , a new phoneme. Sometime after Grimm's and Verner's law, Proto-Germanic lost its inherited contrastive accent, and all words became stressed on their root syllable. This was generally the first syllable unless a prefix was attached. The loss of the Proto-Indo-European contrastive accent got rid of the conditioning environment for the consonant alternations created by Verner's law. Without this conditioning environment, the cause of the alternation was no longer obvious to native speakers. The alternations that had started as mere phonetic variants of sounds became increasingly grammatical in nature, leading to the grammatical alternations of sounds known as
grammatischer Wechsel In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
. For a single word, the grammatical stem could display different consonants depending on its grammatical case or its tense. As a result of the complexity of this system, significant levelling of these sounds occurred throughout the Germanic period as well as in the later daughter languages. Already in Proto-Germanic, most alternations in nouns were leveled to have only one sound or the other consistently throughout all forms of a word, although some alternations were preserved, only to be levelled later in the daughters (but differently in each one). Alternations in noun and verb endings were also levelled, usually in favour of the voiced alternants in nouns, but a split remained in verbs where unsuffixed (strong) verbs received the voiced alternants while suffixed (weak) verbs had the voiceless alternants. Alternation between the present and past of strong verbs remained common and was not levelled in Proto-Germanic, and survives up to the present day in some Germanic languages.


Allophones

Some of the consonants that developed from the sound shifts are thought to have been pronounced in different ways (
allophone In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of e ...
s) depending on the sounds around them. With regard to original or Trask says:
"The resulting or were reduced to and in word-initial position."
Many of the consonants listed in the table could appear lengthened or prolonged under some circumstances, which is inferred from their appearing in some daughter languages as doubled
letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy ...

letters
. This phenomenon is termed
gemination In phonetics and phonology, gemination (), or consonant lengthening (from Latin 'doubling', itself from ''Gemini (constellation), gemini'' 'twins'), is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singleton consonan ...

gemination
. Kraehenmann says:
"Then, Proto-Germanic already had long consonants … but they contrasted with short ones only word-medially. Moreover, they were not very frequent and occurred only intervocally almost exclusively after short vowels."
The voiced phonemes , , and are reconstructed with the pronunciation of stops in some environments and fricatives in others. The pattern of allophony is not completely clear, but generally is similar to the patterns of voiced obstruent allophones in languages such as Spanish. The voiced fricatives of Verner's Law (see above), which only occurred in non-word-initial positions, merged with the fricative allophones of , , and . Older accounts tended to suggest that the sounds were originally fricatives and later "hardened" into stops in some circumstances. However, Ringe notes that this belief was largely due to theory-internal considerations of older phonological theories, and in modern theories it is equally possible that the allophony was present from the beginning. Each of the three voiced phonemes , , and had a slightly different pattern of allophony from the others, but in general stops occurred in "strong" positions (word-initial and in clusters) while fricatives occurred in "weak" positions (post-vocalic). More specifically: * Word-initial and were stops and . * A good deal of evidence, however, indicates that word-initial was , subsequently developing to in a number of languages. This is clearest from developments in
Anglo-Frisian The Anglo-Frisian languages are the West Germanic languages which include Anglic (English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxo ...
and other
Ingvaeonic languages North Sea Germanic, also known as Ingvaeonic , is a postulated grouping of the northern West Germanic languages that consists of Old Frisian, Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English languag ...
. Modern Dutch still preserves the sound of in this position. * Plosives appeared after
homorganic In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of ever ...
nasal consonants: , , , . This was the only place where a voiced labiovelar could still occur. * When geminate, they were pronounced as stops , , . This rule continued to apply at least into the early West Germanic languages, since the
West Germanic gemination West Germanic gemination was a sound change that took place in all West Germanic languages around the 3rd or 4th century AD. It affected consonants directly followed by , which were generally lengthened or geminated in that position. Because of Si ...
produced geminated plosives from earlier voiced fricatives. * was after or . Evidence for after is conflicting: it appears as a plosive in Gothic ' "word" (not *''waurþ'', with devoicing), but as a fricative in Old Norse '. hardened to in all positions in the
West Germanic languages The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples a ...
. * In other positions, fricatives occurred singly after vowels and diphthongs, and after non-nasal consonants in the case of and .


Labiovelars

Numerous additional changes affected the labiovelar consonants. # Even before the operation of
Grimm's law Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift) is a set of sound laws A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a language change, change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement ...
, they were reduced to plain velars next to due to the boukólos rule of PIE. This rule continued to operate as a surface filter, i.e. if a sound change generated a new environment in which a labiovelar occurred near a , it was immediately converted to a plain velar. This caused certain alternations in verb paradigms, such as *''singwaną'' 'to sing' versus *''sungun'' 'they sang'. Apparently, this delabialization also occurred with labiovelars following , showing that the language possessed a labial allophone as well. In this case the entire clusters , and are delabialized to , and . # After the operation of
Verner's law Verner's law described a historical sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one ph ...
, various changes conspired to almost eliminate voiced labiovelars. Initially, became , e.g. PIE * > PGmc. *''bidiþi'' 'asks for'. The fricative variant (which occurred in most non-initial environments) usually became , but sometimes instead turned into . The only environment in which a voiced labiovelar remained was after a nasal, e.g. in *''singwaną'' 'to sing'. These various changes often led to complex alternations, e.g. *''sehwaną'' 'to see', *''sēgun'' 'they saw' (indicative), *''sēwīn'' 'they saw' (subjunctive), which were reanalysed and regularised differently in the various daughter languages.


Consonant gradation

posits a process of consonant mutation for Proto-Germanic, under the name ''consonant gradation''. (This is distinct from the consonant mutation processes occurring in the neighboring Samic languages, Samic and Finnic languages, Finnic languages, also known as consonant gradation since the 19th century.) The Proto-Germanic consonant gradation is not directly attested in any of the Germanic dialects, but may nevertheless be reconstructed on the basis of certain dialectal discrepancies in root of the ''n''-stems and the ''ōn''-verbs. Diachronically, the rise of consonant gradation in Germanic can be explained by Kluge's law, by which geminates arose from stops followed by a nasal in a stressed syllable. Since this sound law only operated in part of the paradigms of the ''n''-stems and ''ōn''-verbs, it gave rise to an alternation of geminated and non-geminated consonants. However, there has been controversy about the validity of this law, with some linguists preferring to explain the development of geminate consonants with the idea of "expressive gemination". The origin of the Germanic geminate consonants is currently a disputed part of historical linguistics with no clear consensus at present. The reconstruction of ''grading'' paradigms in Proto-Germanic explains root alternations such as Old English ' 'star' < *''sterran-'' vs. Old Frisian ' 'id.' < *''steran-'' and Norwegian (dial.) ' 'to swing' < *''gubōn-'' vs. Middle High German ' 'id.' < *''guppōn-'' as generalizations of the original allomorphy. In the cases concerned, this would imply reconstructing an ''n''-stem nom. *''sterō'', gen. *''sterraz'' < PIE *''h₂stér-ōn'', *''h₂ster-n-ós'' and an ''ōn''-verb 3sg. *''guppōþi'', 3pl. *''gubunanþi'' < *''gʱubʱ-néh₂-ti'', *''gʱubʱ-nh₂-énti''.


Vowels

Proto-Germanic had four short vowels, five or six long vowels, and at least one "overlong" or "trimoric" vowel. The exact phonetic quality of the vowels is uncertain. Notes: # could not occur in unstressed syllables except before , where it may have been lowered to already in late Proto-Germanic times. # All nasal vowels except and occurred word-finally. The long nasal vowels , and occurred before , and derived from earlier short vowels followed by . PIE ''ə'', ''a'', ''o'' merged into PGmc ''a''; PIE ''ā'', ''ō'' merged into PGmc ''ō''. At the time of the merger, the vowels probably were and , or perhaps and . Their timbres then differentiated by raising (and perhaps rounding) the long vowel to . It is known that the raising of ''ā'' to ''ō'' can not have occurred earlier than the earliest contact between Proto-Germanic speakers and the Romans. This can be verified by the fact that Latin ' later emerges in Gothic as ' (that is, ''Rūmōnīs''). It is explained by Ringe that at the time of borrowing, the vowel matching closest in sound to Latin ''ā'' was a Proto-Germanic ''ā''-like vowel (which later became ''ō''). And since Proto-Germanic therefore lacked a mid(-high) back vowel, the closest equivalent of Latin ''ō'' was Proto-Germanic ''ū'': ''Rōmānī'' > *''Rūmānīz'' > *''Rūmōnīz'' > Gothic '. A new ''ā'' was formed following the shift from ''ā'' to ''ō'' when intervocalic was lost in ''-aja-'' sequences. It was a rare phoneme, and occurred only in a handful of words, the most notable being the verbs of the third weak class. The agent noun suffix *''-ārijaz'' (Modern English ''-er'' in words such as ''baker'' or ''teacher'') was likely borrowed from Latin around or shortly after this time.


Diphthongs

The following diphthongs are known to have existed in Proto-Germanic: * Short: , , , * Long: , , (possibly , ) Note the change > before or in the same or following syllable. This removed (which became ) but created from earlier . Diphthongs in Proto-Germanic can also be analysed as sequences of a vowel plus an approximant, as was the case in Proto-Indo-European. This explains why was not lost in *''niwjaz'' ("new"); the second element of the diphthong ''iu'' was still underlyingly a consonant and therefore the conditioning environment for the loss was not met. This is also confirmed by the fact that later in the
West Germanic gemination West Germanic gemination was a sound change that took place in all West Germanic languages around the 3rd or 4th century AD. It affected consonants directly followed by , which were generally lengthened or geminated in that position. Because of Si ...
, -''wj''- is geminated to -''wwj''- in parallel with the other consonants (except ).


Overlong vowels

Proto-Germanic had two overlong or trimoraic long vowels ''ô'' and ''ê'' , the latter mainly in adverbs (cf. *''hwadrê'' 'whereto, whither'). None of the documented languages still include such vowels. Their reconstruction is due to the comparative method, particularly as a way of explaining an otherwise unpredictable two-way split of reconstructed long ''ō'' in final syllables, which unexpectedly remained long in some morphemes but shows normal shortening in others. Trimoraic vowels generally occurred at morpheme boundaries where a bimoraic long vowel and a short vowel in hiatus contracted, especially after the loss of an intervening Glottal consonants, laryngeal (-''VHV''-). One example, without a laryngeal, includes the class II weak verbs (''ō''-stems) where a -''j''- was lost between vowels, so that -''ōja'' → ''ōa'' → ''ô'' (cf. *''salbōjaną'' → *''salbôną'' → Gothic ' 'to anoint'). However, the majority occurred in word-final syllables (inflectional endings) probably because in this position the vowel could not be resyllabified. Additionally, Germanic, like Balto-Slavic, lengthened bimoraic long vowels in absolute final position, perhaps to better conform to a word's Prosody (linguistics), prosodic template; e.g., PGmc *''arô'' 'eagle' ← PIE *' just as Lith ''akmuõ'' 'stone', OSl ''kamy'' ← *''aḱmō̃'' ← PIE *'. Contrast: * contraction after loss of laryngeal: gen.pl. *''wulfǫ̂'' "wolves'" ← *''wulfôn'' ← pre-Gmc *''wúlpōom'' ← PIE *'; ō-stem nom.pl. *''-ôz'' ← pre-Gmc *''-āas'' ← PIE *'. * contraction of short vowels: a-stem nom.pl. *''wulfôz'' "wolves" ← PIE *''wĺ̥kʷoes''. But vowels that were lengthened by laryngeals did not become overlong. Compare: * ō-stem nom.sg. *''-ō'' ← *''-ā'' ← PIE *'; * ō-stem acc.sg. *''-ǭ'' ← *''-ān'' ← *''-ām'' (by Stang's law) ← PIE *'; * ō-stem acc.pl. *''-ōz'' ← *''-āz'' ← *''-ās'' (by Stang's law) ← PIE *'; Trimoraic vowels are distinguished from bimoraic vowels by their outcomes in attested Germanic languages: word-final trimoraic vowels remained long vowels while bimoraic vowels developed into short vowels. Older theories about the phenomenon claimed that long and overlong vowels were both long but differed in tone (linguistics), tone, i.e., ''ô'' and ''ê'' had a "circumflex" (rise-fall-rise) tone while ''ō'' and ''ē'' had an "acute" (rising) tone, much like the tones of modern Scandinavian languages, Baltic, and Ancient Greek, and asserted that this distinction was inherited from PIE. However, this view was abandoned since languages in general do not combine distinctive intonations on unstressed syllables with contrastive stress and vowel length. Modern theories have reinterpreted overlong vowels as having superheavy syllable weight (three mora (linguistics), moras) and therefore greater length than ordinary long vowels. By the end of the Proto-Germanic period, word-final long vowels were shortened to short vowels. Following that, overlong vowels were shortened to regular long vowels in all positions, merging with originally long vowels except word-finally (because of the earlier shortening), so that they remained distinct in that position. This was a late dialectal development, because the result was not the same in all Germanic languages: word-final ''ē'' shortened to ''a'' in East and West Germanic but to ''i'' in Old Norse, and word-final ''ō'' shortened to ''a'' in Gothic but to ''o'' (probably ) in early North and West Germanic, with a later raising to ''u'' (the sixth century Salic law still has ''maltho'' in late Frankish). The shortened overlong vowels in final position developed as regular long vowels from that point on, including the lowering of ''ē'' to ''ā'' in North and West Germanic. The monophthongization of unstressed ''au'' in Northwest Germanic produced a phoneme which merged with this new word-final long ''ō'', while the monophthongization of unstressed ''ai'' produced a new ''ē'' which did not merge with original ''ē'', but rather with ''ē₂'', as it was not lowered to ''ā''. This split, combined with the asymmetric development in West Germanic, with ''ē'' lowering but ''ō'' raising, points to an early difference in the articulation height of the two vowels that was not present in North Germanic. It could be seen as evidence that the lowering of ''ē'' to ''ā'' began in West Germanic at a time when final vowels were still long, and spread to North Germanic through the late Germanic dialect continuum, but only reaching the latter after the vowels had already been shortened.


''ē₁'' and ''ē₂''

''ē₂'' is uncertain as a phoneme and only reconstructed from a small number of words; it is posited by the comparative method because whereas all provable instances of inherited (PIE) *''ē'' (PGmc. *''ē₁'') are distributed in Gothic as ''ē'' and the other Germanic languages as *''ā'', all the Germanic languages agree on some occasions of ''ē'' (e.g., Goth/OE/ON ''hēr'' 'here' ← late PGmc. *''hē₂r''). Gothic makes no orthographic and therefore presumably no phonetic distinction between ''ē₁'' and ''ē₂'', but the existence of two Proto-Germanic long ''e''-like phonemes is supported by the existence of two ''e''-like Elder Futhark runes, Ehwaz and Eihwaz. Krahe treats ''ē₂'' (secondary ''ē'') as identical with ''ī''. It probably continues PIE ''ēi'', and it may have been in the process of transition from a diphthong to a long simple vowel in the Proto-Germanic period. Lehmann lists the following origins for ''ē₂'': * ''ēi'': Old High German ', ' 'ham', Goth ' 'side, flank' ← PGmc *''fē₂rō'' ← *''pēi-s-eh₂'' ← PIE *'-. * ''ea'': The preterite of Germanic strong verb, class 7 strong verbs with ''ai'', ''al'' or ''an'' plus a consonant, or ''ē₁''; e.g. OHG ' 'to plow' ← *''arjanan'' vs. preterite ''iar'', ''ier'' ← *''e-ar-'' * ''iz'', after loss of -''z'': OEng ', OHG ' "reward" (vs. OEng ', Goth ') ← PGmc *''mē₂dō'' ← *''mizdō'' ← PIE *'. * Certain pronominal forms, e.g. OEng ', OHG ' 'here' ← PGmc *''hiar'', derivative of *''hi''- 'this' ← PIE *' 'this' * Words borrowed from Latin ''ē'' or ''e'' in the root syllable after a certain period (older loans also show ''ī'').


Nasal vowels

Proto-Germanic developed nasal vowels from two sources. The earlier and much more frequent source was word-final ''-n'' (from PIE ''-n'' or ''-m'') in unstressed syllables, which at first gave rise to short ''-ą'', ''-į'', ''-ų'', long ''-į̄'', ''-ę̄'', ''-ą̄'', and overlong ''-ę̂'', ''-ą̂''. ''-ę̄'' and ''-ę̂'' then merged into ''-ą̄'' and ''-ą̂'', which later developed into ''-ǭ'' and ''-ǫ̂''. Another source, developing only in late Proto-Germanic times, was in the sequences ''-inh-'', ''-anh-'', ''-unh-'', in which the nasal consonant lost its occlusion and was converted into lengthening and nasalisation of the preceding vowel, becoming ''-ą̄h-'', ''-į̄h-'', ''-ų̄h-'' (still written as ''-anh-'', ''-inh-'', ''-unh-'' in this article). In many cases, the nasality was not contrastive and was merely present as an additional surface articulation. No Germanic language that preserves the word-final vowels has their nasality preserved. Word-final short nasal vowels do not show different reflexes compared to non-nasal vowels. However, the comparative method does require a three-way phonemic distinction between word-final ''*-ō'', ''*-ǭ'' and ''*-ōn'', which each has a distinct pattern of reflexes in the later Germanic languages: The distinct reflexes of nasal ''-ǭ'' versus non-nasal ''-ō'' are caused by the Northwest Germanic raising of final ''-ō'' to , which did not affect ''-ǭ''. When the vowels were shortened and denasalised, these two vowels no longer had the same place of articulation, and did not merge: ''-ō'' became (later ) while ''-ǭ'' became (later ). This allowed their reflexes to stay distinct. The nasality of word-internal vowels (from ''-nh-'') was more stable, and survived into the early dialects intact. Phonemic nasal vowels definitely occurred in
Proto-Norse Proto-Norse (also called Ancient Nordic, Ancient Scandinavian, Ancient Norse, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Proto-Scandinavian and Proto-North Germanic) was an Indo-European languages, Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is tho ...
and Old Norse. They were preserved in Old Icelandic down to at least 1125, the earliest possible time for the creation of the ''First Grammatical Treatise'', which documents nasal vowels. The PG nasal vowels from ''-nh-'' sequences were preserved in Old Icelandic as shown by examples given in the ''First Grammatical Treatise''. For example: * ''há̇r'' "shark" < ''*hą̄haz'' < PG ''*hanhaz'' * ''ǿ̇ra'' "younger" < ''*jų̄hizô'' < PG ''*junhizô'' (cf. Gothic ') The phonemicity is evident from minimal pairs like ''ǿ̇ra'' "younger" vs. ''ǿra'' "vex" < ''*wor-'', cognate with English ''weary''.Einar Haugen, "First Grammatical Treatise. The Earliest Germanic Phonology", ''Language'', 26:4 (Oct–Dec, 1950), pp. 4–64 (p. 33). The inherited Proto-Germanic nasal vowels were joined in Old Norse by nasal vowels from other sources, e.g. loss of ''*n'' before ''s''. Modern Elfdalian still includes nasal vowels that directly derive from Old Norse, e.g. ' "goose" < Old Norse ' (presumably nasalized, although not so written); cf. German ', showing the original consonant. Similar surface (possibly phonemic) nasal/non-nasal contrasts occurred in the West Germanic languages down through Proto-Anglo-Frisian of 400 or so. Proto-Germanic medial nasal vowels were inherited, but were joined by new nasal vowels resulting from the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law, which extended the loss of nasal consonants (only before ''-h-'' in Proto-Germanic) to all environments before a fricative (thus including ''-mf-'', ''-nþ-'' and ''-ns-'' as well). The contrast between nasal and non-nasal long vowels is reflected in the differing output of nasalized long ''*ą̄'', which was raised to ''ō'' in Old English and Old Frisian whereas non-nasal ''*ā'' appeared as fronted ''ǣ''. Hence: * English ''goose'', West Frisian language, West Frisian ', North Frisian language, North Frisian ' < Old English/Frisian ' < Anglo-Frisian ''*gą̄s'' < Proto-Germanic * En ''tooth'' < Old English ', Old Frisian ' < Anglo-Frisian ''*tą̄þ'' < Proto-Germanic * En ''brought'', WFris ' < Old English ', Old Frisian ' < Anglo-Frisian ''*brą̄htæ'' < Proto-Germanic ''*branhtaz'' (the past participle of ).


Phonotactics

Proto-Germanic allowed the following clusters in initial and medial position: * Non-dental obstruent + ''l'': ''pl'', ''kl'', ''fl'', ''hl'', ''sl'', ''bl'', ''gl'', ''wl'' * Obstruent + ''r'': ''pr'', ''tr'', ''kr'', ''fr'', ''þr'', ''hr'', ''br'', ''dr'', ''gr'', ''wr'' * Non-labial obstruent + ''w'': ''tw'', ''dw'', ''kw'', ''þw'', ''hw'', ''sw'' * Velar + nasal, ''s'' + nasal: ''kn'', ''hn'', ''sm'', ''sn'' It allowed the following clusters in medial position only: * ''tl'' * Liquid + ''w'': ''lw'', ''rw'' * Geminates: ''pp'', ''tt'', ''kk'', ''ss'', ''bb'', ''dd'', ''gg'', ''mm'', ''nn'', ''ll'', ''rr'', ''jj'', ''ww'' * Consonant + ''j'': ''pj'', ''tj'', ''kj'', ''fj'', ''þj'', ''hj'', ''zj'', ''bj'', ''dj'', ''gj'', ''mj'', ''nj'', ''lj'', ''rj'', ''wj'' It allowed the following clusters in medial and final position only: * Fricative + obstruent: ''ft'', ''ht'', ''fs'', ''hs'', ''zd'' * Nasal + obstruent: ''mp'', ''mf'', ''ms'', ''mb'', ''nt'', ''nk'', ''nþ'', ''nh'', ''ns'', ''nd'', ''ng'' (however ''nh'' was simplified to ''h'', with nasalisation and lengthening of the previous vowel, in late Proto-Germanic) * ''l'' + consonant: ''lp'', ''lt'', ''lk'', ''lf'', ''lþ'', ''lh'', ''ls'', ''lb'', ''ld'', ''lg'', ''lm'' * ''r'' + consonant: ''rp'', ''rt'', ''rk'', ''rf'', ''rþ'', ''rh'', ''rs'', ''rb'', ''rd'', ''rg'', ''rm'', ''rn'' The ''s'' + voiceless plosive clusters, ''sp'', ''st'', ''sk'', could appear in any position in a word.


Later developments

Due to the emergence of a word-initial stress accent, vowels in unstressed syllables were gradually reduced over time, beginning at the very end of the Proto-Germanic period and continuing into the history of the various dialects. Already in Proto-Germanic, word-final and had been lost, and had merged with in unstressed syllables. Vowels in third syllables were also generally lost before dialect diversification began, such as final ''-i'' of some present tense verb endings, and in ''-maz'' and ''-miz'' of the dative plural ending and first person plural present of verbs. Word-final short nasal vowels were however preserved longer, as is reflected
Proto-Norse Proto-Norse (also called Ancient Nordic, Ancient Scandinavian, Ancient Norse, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Proto-Scandinavian and Proto-North Germanic) was an Indo-European languages, Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is tho ...
which still preserved word-final ''-ą'' (''horna'' on the Golden Horns of Gallehus, Gallehus horns), while the dative plural appears as ''-mz'' (''gestumz'' on the Stentoften Runestone). Somewhat greater reduction is found in Gothic language, Gothic, which lost all final-syllable short vowels except ''u''. Old High German and Old English language, Old English initially preserved unstressed ''i'' and ''u'', but later lost them in long-stemmed words and then Old High German lost them in many short-stemmed ones as well, by analogy. Old English shows indirect evidence that word-final ''-ą'' was preserved into the separate history of the language. This can be seen in the infinitive ending ''-an'' (< *''aną'') and the strong past participle ending ''-en'' (< *''-anaz''). Since the early Old English fronting of to did not occur in nasalized vowels or before back vowels, this created a vowel alternation because the nasality of the back vowel ''ą'' in the infinitive ending prevented the fronting of the preceding vowel: *''-aną'' > *''-an'', but *''-anaz'' > *''-ænæ'' > *''-en''. Therefore, the Anglo-Frisian brightening must necessarily have occurred very early in the history of the Anglo-Frisian languages, before the loss of final ''-ą''. The outcome of final vowels and combinations in the various daughters is shown in the table below: Note that some Proto-Germanic endings have merged in all of the literary languages but are still distinct in runic
Proto-Norse Proto-Norse (also called Ancient Nordic, Ancient Scandinavian, Ancient Norse, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Proto-Scandinavian and Proto-North Germanic) was an Indo-European languages, Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is tho ...
, e.g. ''*-īz'' vs. ''*-ijaz'' (''þrijōz dohtrīz'' "three daughters" in the Tune stone vs. the name ''Holtijaz'' in the Golden Horns of Gallehus, Gallehus horns).


Morphology

Reconstructions are tentative and multiple versions with varying degrees of difference exist. All reconstructed forms are marked with an asterisk (*). It is often asserted that the Germanic languages have a highly reduced system of inflections as compared with Greek language, Greek, Latin, or Sanskrit. Although this is true to some extent, it is probably due more to the late time of attestation of Germanic than to any inherent "simplicity" of the Germanic languages. As an example, there are less than 500 years between the Gothic Gospels of 360 and the Old High German Tatian of 830, yet Old High German, despite being the most archaic of the West Germanic languages, is missing a large number of archaic features present in Gothic, including dual and passive markings on verbs, reduplication in Class VII strong verb past tenses, the vocative case, and second-position (Wackernagel's Law) clitics. Many more archaic features may have been lost between the Proto-Germanic of 200 BC or so and the attested Gothic language. Furthermore, Proto-Romance and Middle Indic of the fourth century AD—contemporaneous with Gothic—were significantly simpler than Latin and Sanskrit, respectively, and overall probably no more archaic than Gothic. In addition, some parts of the inflectional systems of Greek language, Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit were innovations that were not present in Proto-Indo-European.


General morphological features

Proto-Germanic had six cases, three genders, three numbers, three moods (indicative, subjunctive (PIE optative), imperative), and two voices (active and passive (PIE middle)). This is quite similar to the state of Latin, Greek, and Middle Indo-Aryan languages, Middle Indic of AD 200. Nouns and adjectives were declined in (at least) six cases: vocative, nominative, accusative, dative, instrumental, genitive. The locative case had merged into the dative case, and the ablative may have merged with either the genitive, dative or instrumental cases. However, sparse remnants of the earlier locative and ablative cases are visible in a few pronominal and adverbial forms. Pronouns were declined similarly, although without a separate vocative form. The instrumental and vocative can be reconstructed only in the singular; the instrumental survives only in the West Germanic languages, and the vocative only in Gothic. Verbs and pronouns had three numbers: singular, dual (grammatical number), dual, and plural. Although the pronominal dual survived into all the oldest languages, the verbal dual survived only into Gothic, and the (presumed) nominal and adjectival dual forms were lost before the oldest records. As in the Italic languages#Morphology, Italic languages, it may have been lost before Proto-Germanic became a different branch at all.


Consonant and vowel alternations

Several sound changes occurred in the history of Proto-Germanic that were triggered only in some environments but not in others. Some of these were grammaticalised while others were still triggered by phonetic rules and were partially allophonic or surface filters. Probably the most far-reaching alternation was between [*f, *þ, *s, *h, *hw] and [*b, *d, *z, *g, *gw], the voiceless and voiced fricatives, known as Grammatischer Wechsel and triggered by the earlier operation of Verner's law. It was found in various environments: * In the person-and-number endings of verbs, which were voiceless in weak verbs and voiced in strong verbs. * Between different grades of strong verbs. The voiceless alternants appeared in the present and past singular indicative, the voiced alternants in the remaining past tense forms. * Between strong verbs (voiceless) and causative verbs derived from them (voiced). * Between verbs and derived nouns. * Between the singular and plural forms of some nouns. Another form of alternation was triggered by the Germanic spirant law, which continued to operate into the separate history of the individual daughter languages. It is found in environments with suffixal -t, including: * The second-person singular past ending *-t of strong verbs. * The past tense of weak verbs with no vowel infix in the past tense. * Nouns derived from verbs by means of the suffixes *-tiz, *-tuz, *-taz, which also possessed variants in -þ- and -d- when not following an obstruent. An alternation not triggered by sound change was Sievers' law, which caused alternation of suffixal -j- and -ij- depending on the length of the preceding part of the morpheme. If preceded within the same morpheme by only short vowel followed by a single consonant, -j- appeared. In all other cases, such as when preceded by a long vowel or diphthong, by two or more consonants, or by more than one syllable, -ij- appeared. The distinction between morphemes and words is important here, as the alternant -j- appeared also in words that contained a distinct suffix that in turn contained -j- in its second syllable. A notable example was the verb suffix *-atjaną, which retained -j- despite being preceded by two syllables in a fully formed word. Related to the above was the alternation between -j- and -i-, and likewise between -ij- and -ī-. This was caused by the earlier loss of -j- before -i-, and appeared whenever an ending was attached to a verb or noun with an -(i)j- suffix (which were numerous). Similar, but much more rare, was an alternation between -aV- and -aiC- from the loss of -j- between two vowels, which appeared in the present subjunctive of verbs: *-aų < *-ajų in the first person, *-ai- in the others. A combination of these two effects created an alternation between -ā- and -ai- found in class 3 weak verbs, with -ā- < -aja- < -əja- and -ai- < -əi- < -əji-. I-mutation was the most important source of vowel alternation, and continued well into the history of the individual daughter languages (although it was either absent or not apparent in Gothic). In Proto-Germanic, only -e- was affected, which was raised by -i- or -j- in the following syllable. Examples are numerous: * Verb endings beginning with -i-: present second and third person singular, third person plural. * Noun endings beginning with -i- in u-stem nouns: dative singular, nominative and genitive plural. * Causatives derived from strong verbs with a -j- suffix. * Verbs derived from nouns with a -j- suffix. * Nouns derived from verbs with a -j- suffix. * Nouns and adjectives derived with a variety of suffixes including -il-, -iþō, -į̄, -iskaz, -ingaz.


Nouns

The system of nominal declensions was largely inherited from PIE. Primary nominal declensions were the stems in /a/, /ō/, /n/, /i/, and /u/. The first three were particularly important and served as the basis of adjectival declension; there was a tendency for nouns of all other classes to be drawn into them. The first two had variants in /ja/ and /wa/, and /jō/ and /wō/, respectively; originally, these were declined exactly like other nouns of the respective class, but later sound changes tended to distinguish these variants as their own subclasses. The /n/ nouns had various subclasses, including /ōn/ (masculine and feminine), /an/ (neuter), and /īn/ (feminine, mostly abstract nouns). There was also a smaller class of root nouns (ending in various consonants), nouns of relationship (ending in /er/), and neuter nouns in /z/ (this class was greatly expanded in German language, German). Present participles, and a few nouns, ended in /nd/. The neuter nouns of all classes differed from the masculines and feminines in their nominative and accusative endings, which were alike.


Adjectives

Adjectives agree with the noun they qualify in case, number, and gender. Adjectives evolved into strong and weak declensions, originally with indefinite and definite meaning, respectively. As a result of its definite meaning, the weak form came to be used in the daughter languages in conjunction with demonstratives and definite articles. The terms "strong" and "weak" are based on the later development of these declensions in languages such as German language, German and Old English language, Old English, where the strong declensions have more distinct endings. In the proto-language, as in Gothic language, Gothic, such terms have no relevance. The strong declension was based on a combination of the nominal /a/ and /ō/ stems with the PIE pronominal endings; the weak declension was based on the nominal /n/ declension.


Determiners

Proto-Germanic originally had two demonstratives (proximal *''hi-''/''hei-''/''he-'' 'this', distal *''sa''/''sō''/''þat'' 'that') which could serve as both adjectives and pronouns. The proximal was already obsolescent in Gothic (e.g. Goth acc. ', dat. ', neut. ') and appears entirely absent in North Germanic. In the West Germanic languages, it evolved into a third-person pronoun, displacing the inherited ''*iz'' in the northern languages while being ousted itself in the southern languages (i.e. Old High German). This is the basis of the distinction between English ''him''/''her'' (with ''h-'' from the original proximal demonstrative) and German '/' (lacking ''h-''). Ultimately, only the distal survived in the function of demonstrative. In most languages, it developed a second role as definite article, and underlies both the English determiners ''the'' and ''that''. In the North-West Germanic languages (but not in Gothic), a new proximal demonstrative ('this' as opposed to 'that') evolved by appending ''-si'' to the distal demonstrative (e.g. Runic Norse nom.sg. ''sa-si'', gen. ''þes-si'', dat. ''þeim-si''), with complex subsequent developments in the various daughter languages. The new demonstrative underlies the English determiners ''this'', ''these'' and ''those''. (Originally, ''these'', ''those'' were dialectal variants of the masculine plural of ''this''.)


Verbs

Proto-Germanic had only two tenses (past and present), compared to 5–7 in Ancient Greek, Greek, Latin, Proto-Slavic and Sanskrit. Some of this difference is due to deflexion (linguistics), deflexion, featured by a loss of tenses present in Proto-Indo-European. For example, Donald Ringe assumes for Proto-Germanic an early loss of the PIE imperfect aspect (something that also occurred in most other branches), followed by merging of the aspectual categories present-aorist and the mood categories indicative-subjunctive. (This assumption allows him to account for cases where Proto-Germanic has present indicative verb forms that look like PIE aorist subjunctives.) However, many of the tenses of the other languages (e.g. future, future perfect, pluperfect, Latin imperfect) are not cognate with each other and represent separate innovations in each language. For example, the Greek future uses a ''-s-'' ending, apparently derived from a desiderative construction that in PIE was part of the system of derivational morphology (not the inflectional system); the Sanskrit future uses a ''-sy-'' ending, from a different desiderative verb construction and often with a different ablaut grade from Greek; while the Latin future uses endings derived either from the PIE subjunctive or from the PIE verb * "to be". Similarly, the Latin imperfect and pluperfect stem from Italic innovations and are not cognate with the corresponding Greek or Sanskrit forms; and while the Greek and Sanskrit pluperfect tenses appear cognate, there are no parallels in any other Indo-European languages, leading to the conclusion that this tense is either a shared Greek-Sanskrit innovation or separate, coincidental developments in the two languages. In this respect, Proto-Germanic can be said to be characterized by the failure to innovate new synthetic tenses as much as the loss of existing tenses. Later Germanic languages did innovate new tenses, derived through periphrastic constructions, with Modern English likely possessing the most elaborated tense system ("Yes, the house will still be being built a month from now"). On the other hand, even the past tense was later lost (or widely lost) in most High German dialects as well as in Afrikaans. Verbs in Proto-Germanic were divided into two main groups, called "Germanic strong verb, strong" and "Germanic weak verb, weak", according to the way the past tense is formed. Strong verbs use ablaut (i.e. a different vowel in the stem) and/or reduplication (derived primarily from the
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
perfect), while weak verbs use a dental suffix (now generally held to be a reflex of the reduplicated imperfect of PIE *''dheH1-'' originally "put", in Germanic "do"). Strong verbs were divided into seven main classes while weak verbs were divided into five main classes (although no attested language has more than four classes of weak verbs). Strong verbs generally have no suffix in the present tense, although some have a ''-j-'' suffix that is a direct continuation of the PIE ''-y-'' suffix, and a few have an ''-n-'' suffix or infix that continues the ''-n-'' infix of PIE. Almost all weak verbs have a present-tense suffix, which varies from class to class. An additional small, but very important, group of verbs formed their present tense from the PIE perfect (and their past tense like weak verbs); for this reason, they are known as preterite-present verbs. All three of the previously mentioned groups of verbs—strong, weak and preterite-present—are derived from PIE thematic verbs; an additional very small group derives from PIE athematic verbs, and one verb ''*wiljaną'' "to want" forms its present indicative from the PIE optative mood. Proto-Germanic verbs have three moods: indicative, subjunctive and imperative. The subjunctive mood derives from the PIE optative mood. Indicative and subjunctive moods are fully conjugated throughout the present and past, while the imperative mood existed only in the present tense and lacked first-person forms. Proto-Germanic verbs have two voices, active and passive, the latter deriving from the PIE mediopassive voice. The Proto-Germanic passive existed only in the present tense (an inherited feature, as the PIE perfect had no mediopassive). On the evidence of Gothic—the only Germanic language with a reflex of the Proto-Germanic passive—the passive voice had a significantly reduced inflectional system, with a single form used for all persons of the dual and plural. Note that, although Old Norse (like modern Faroese language, Faroese and Icelandic language, Icelandic) has an inflected mediopassive, it is not inherited from Proto-Germanic, but is an innovation formed by attaching the reflexive pronoun to the active voice. Although most Proto-Germanic strong verbs are formed directly from a verbal root, weak verbs are generally derived from an existing noun, verb or adjective (so-called denominal verb, denominal, deverbal and deadjectival verbs). For example, a significant subclass of Class I weak verbs are (deverbal) causative verbs. These are formed in a way that reflects a direct inheritance from the PIE causative class of verbs. PIE causatives were formed by adding an accented suffix ''-éi̯e/éi̯o'' to the ''o''-grade of a non-derived verb. In Proto-Germanic, causatives are formed by adding a suffix ''-j/ij-'' (the reflex of PIE ''-éi̯e/éi̯o'') to the past-tense ablaut (mostly with the reflex of PIE ''o''-grade) of a strong verb (the reflex of PIE non-derived verbs), with Verner's Law voicing applied (the reflex of the PIE accent on the ''-éi̯e/éi̯o'' suffix). Examples: * ''*bītaną'' (class 1) "to bite" → ''*baitijaną'' "to bridle, yoke, restrain", i.e. "to make bite down" * ''*rīsaną'' (class 1) "to rise" → ''*raizijaną'' "to raise", i.e. "to cause to rise" * ''*beuganą'' (class 2) "to bend" → ''*baugijaną'' "to bend (transitive)" * ''*brinnaną'' (class 3) "to burn" → ''*brannijaną'' "to burn (transitive)" * ''*frawerþaną'' (class 3) "to perish" → ''*frawardijaną'' "to destroy", i.e. "to cause to perish" * ''*nesaną'' (class 5) "to survive" → ''*nazjaną'' "to save", i.e. "to cause to survive" * ''*ligjaną'' (class 5) "to lie down" → ''*lagjaną'' "to lay", i.e. "to cause to lie down" * ''*faraną'' (class 6) "to travel, go" → ''*fōrijaną'' "to lead, bring", i.e. "to cause to go", ''*farjaną'' "to carry across", i.e. "to cause to travel" (an archaic instance of the ''o''-grade ablaut used despite the differing past-tense ablaut) * ''*grētaną'' (class 7) "to weep" → ''*grōtijaną'' "to cause to weep" * ''*lais'' (class 1, preterite-present) "(s)he knows" → ''*laizijaną'' "to teach", i.e. "to cause to know" As in other Indo-European languages, a verb in Proto-Germanic could have a preverb attached to it, modifying its meaning (cf. e.g. ''*fra-werþaną'' "to perish", derived from ''*werþaną'' "to become"). In Proto-Germanic, the preverb was still a clitic that could be separated from the verb (as also in Gothic, as shown by the behavior of second-position clitics, e.g. ''diz-uh-þan-sat'' "and then he seized", with clitics ''uh'' "and" and ''þan'' "then" interpolated into ''dis-sat'' "he seized") rather than a bound morpheme that is permanently attached to the verb. At least in Gothic, preverbs could also be stacked one on top of the other (similar to Sanskrit, different from Latin language, Latin), e.g. ''ga-ga-waírþjan'' "to reconcile". An example verb: ''*nemaną'' "to take" (class 4 strong verb).


Pronouns


Schleicher's PIE fable rendered into Proto-Germanic

August Schleicher wrote Schleicher's fable, a fable in the PIE language he had just reconstructed, which, though it has been updated a few times by others, still bears his name. Below is a rendering of this fable into Proto-Germanic. The first is a direct phonetic evolution of the PIE text. It does not take into account various idiomatic and grammatical shifts that occurred over the period. For example, the original text uses the imperfect tense, which disappeared in Proto-Germanic. The second version takes these differences into account, and is therefore closer to the language the Germanic people would have actually spoken. Reconstructed ''Proto-Germanic'', phonetic evolution derived from reconstructed PIE only : Reconstructed ''Proto-Germanic'', with more probable grammar and vocabulary derived from later Germanic languages : ''English'' :


See also

* Pre-Indo-European (disambiguation) * Holtzmann's law * Suebi


Notes


References


Sources

* * * Wolfram Euler, Euler, Wolfram / Badenheuer, Konrad (2021). ''Sprache und Herkunft der Germanen. Abriss des Frühurgermanischen vor der Ersten Lautverschiebung.'' , 271p., in German with English summary, Verlag Inspiration Un Limited, Verlag Inspiration Un Ltd., second edn., Berlin/London, . * * * * Fulk, R. D. ''A Comparative Grammar of the Early Germanic Languages''. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2018. * * * Kapović, Mate, ed. ''The Indo-European Languages'', second edn. London: Routledge, 2017. . * Krahe, Hans & Wolfgang Meid. ''Germanische Sprachwissenschaft'', 2 vols. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1969. * * * * * * * * Ringe, Donald A. (2017). ''A History of English'', vol. 1: ''From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic''. second edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press, (1st edn. 2006). *


External links


W.P. Lehmann & J. Slocum (eds.) ''A Grammar of Proto-Germanic'' (Online version)

Proto-Germanic nominal and pronominal paradigms



Another dictionary of Proto-Germanic
* Charles Prescott
"Germanic and the Ruki Dialects"


Germanic & Proto-Indo-European, PIE ''-ia'' and ''-ja'' stems compared across reference sources {{DEFAULTSORT:Proto-Germanic Language Germanic languages Pre-Roman Iron Age Proto-languages, Germanic