Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; German Urgermanisch; also called
Common Germanic, German Gemeingermanisch) is the reconstructed
proto-language of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages.
Proto-Germanic developed from pre-Proto-Germanic into three branches
during the first half of the first millennium of the Common Era: West
1 Archaeology and early historiography 2 Evolution
2.1 Theories of phylogeny
2.2 Phonological stages from
2.2.1 Pre-Proto-Germanic (Pre-PGmc) 2.2.2 Early Proto-Germanic 2.2.3 Late Proto-Germanic
2.3 Lexical evidence in other language varieties
2.3.1 Loans from adjoining Indo-European groups 2.3.2 Loans into non-Germanic languages
2.4 Non-Indo-European substrate elements
3.1 Transcription 3.2 Consonants
3.2.1 Grimm's and Verner's law 3.2.2 Allophones 3.2.3 Labiovelars 3.2.4 Consonant gradation
3.3.1 Diphthongs 3.3.2 Overlong vowels 3.3.3 ē₁ and ē₂ 3.3.4 Nasal vowels
3.4 Phonotactics 3.5 Later developments
4.1 General morphological features 4.2 Consonant and vowel alternations 4.3 Nouns 4.4 Adjectives 4.5 Determiners 4.6 Verbs 4.7 Pronouns
5 Schleicher's PIE fable rendered into Proto-Germanic 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Sources 10 External links
Archaeology and early historiography
The expansion of the Germanic tribes
750 BC – AD 1 (after The Penguin Atlas of World History,
Settlements before 750 BC
New settlements 750–500 BC
New settlements 500–250 BC
New settlements 250 BC – AD 1
Some sources also give a date of 750 BC for the earliest expansion out
Merging of PIE "palatovelar" and "velar" plosives ("centumization"):
/ḱ/ > /k/ — *ḱm̥tóm "hundred" > *km̥tóm > *hundą /ǵ/ > /g/ — *wérǵom "work" > *wérgom > *werką /ǵʰ/ > /gʰ/ — *ǵʰóstis "stranger" > *gʰóstis > *gastiz "guest" The actual pronunciation of the "palatovelar" and "velar" series is not reconstructible; it may be that the "palatovelars" were actually plain velars, and the "velars" were pronounced even farther back (post-velar or uvular) so it may be more accurate to say that, for example, /k/ > /ḱ/ (see e.g. Ringe 2006, p. 87). Some also claim that the two series may not even have been distinct in PIE. See centum and satem languages.
Epenthesis of /u/ before the syllabic sonorants:
/m̥/ > /um/ — *ḱm̥tóm "hundred" > *kumtóm > *hundą /n̥/ > /un/ — *n̥tér "inside" > *untér > *under "among" /l̥/ > /ul/ — *wĺ̥kʷos "wolf" > *wúlkʷos > *wulfaz /r̥/ > /ur/ — *wŕ̥mis "worm" > *wurmis > *wurmiz
An epenthetic /s/ was inserted already in PIE after dental consonants when they were followed by a suffix beginning with a dental.
This sequence now becomes /TsT/ > /ts/ > /ss/ — *wid-tós "known" (pronounced *widstos) > *witstós > *wissós > *wissaz "certain" A single example exists where /tt/ was word-internal, in which case it remained (even after Grimm's law below)— *atta "dad" > *attô
Geminate consonants are shortened after a consonant or a long vowel — *káyd-tis "act of calling" (pronounced *káydstis) > *káyssis > *káysis > *haisiz "command"
Word-final long vowels are lengthened to "overlong" vowels — *séh₁mō "seeds" > *séh₁mô > *sēmô
Loss of laryngeals, phonemicising the allophones of /e/:
Word-initial laryngeals are lost before a consonant — *h₁dóntm̥ "tooth, acc." > *dóntum > *tanþų Laryngeals are lost before vowels:
/h₁V/ > /V/ — *h₁ésti "is" > *ésti > *isti /h₂e/ > /a/, /h₂V/ > /V/ otherwise — *h₂énti "in front" > (with shift of accent) *antí > *andi "in addition" /h₃e/ > /o/, /h₃V/ > /V/ otherwise — *h₃érō "eagle" > *órô > *arô
Laryngeals are lost after vowels but lengthen the preceding vowel: /VH/ > /Vː/ — *séh₁mō "seeds" > *sēmô > *sēmô
Two vowels that come to stand in hiatus because of that change contract into an overlong vowel — *-oHom "genitive plural" > *-ôm > *-ǫ̂; *-eh₂es "eh₂-stem nom. pl." > *-âs > *-ôz In word-final position, the resulting long vowels remain distinct from (shorter than) the overlong vowels that were formed from PIE word-final long vowels — *-oh₂ "thematic 1st sg." > *-ō
Laryngeals remain between consonants.
Cowgill's law: /h₃/ (and possibly /h₂/) is strengthened to /g/ between a sonorant and /w/ — *n̥h₃mé "us two" > *n̥h₃wé > *ungwé > *unk
Vocalisation of remaining laryngeals: /H/ > /ə/ — *ph₂tḗr "father" > *pətḗr > *fadēr; *sámh₂dʰos "sand" > *sámədʰos > *samdaz
Velars are labialised by following /w/: *éḱwos "horse" > *ékwos > *ékʷos > *ehwaz
Labiovelars are delabialised next to /u/ (or /un/) and before /t/ — *gʷʰénti- ~ *gʷʰn̥tí- "killing" > *gʷʰúntis > *gʰúntis > *gunþiz "battle"
This rule continued to operate into the Proto-Germanic period.
Early Proto-Germanic This stage began its evolution as a dialect of Proto-Indo-European 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.
Loss of word-final non-high short vowels /e/, /a/, /o/ — *wóyde "(s)he knows" > *wóyd > *wait
A /j/ or /w/ preceding the vowel is also lost — *tósyo "of that" > *tós > *þas Single-syllable words were not affected, but clitics were — *-kʷe "and" > *-kʷ > *-hw When the lost vowel was accented, the accent shifted to the preceding syllable — *n̥smé "us" > *n̥swé > *unswé > *úns > *uns (not *unz, showing that loss occurred before Verner's law)
Grimm's law: Chain shift of the three series of plosives. Voiced plosives had already been devoiced before a voiceless obstruent prior to this stage. Labiovelars were delabialised before /t/.
Voiceless plosives become fricatives, unless preceded by another obstruent. In a sequence of two voiceless obstruents, the second obstruent remains a plosive.
/p/ > /ɸ/ (f) — *ph₂tḗr "father" > *fəþḗr > *fadēr /t/ > /θ/ (þ) — *tód "that" > *þód > *þat /k/ > /x/ (h) — *kátus "fight" > *háþus > *haþuz; *h₂eǵs- "axle" > (devoicing) *aks- > *ahs- > *ahsō /kʷ/ > /xʷ/ (hw) — *kʷód "what" > *hʷód > *hwat Since the second of two obstruents is unaffected, the sequences /sp/, /st/, /sk/, /skʷ/, /tt/ (only in *atta "dad") remain. The above also forms the Germanic spirant law:
/bt/, /bʰt/, /pt/ > /ɸt/ — *kh₂ptós "grabbed" > *kəptós > *həftós > *haftaz "captive" /gt/, /gʰt/, /kt/ > /xt/ — *oḱtṓw "eight" > *oktṓw > *ohtṓw > *ahtōu /gʷt/, /gʷʰt/, /kʷt/ > /xt/ — *nokʷtm̥ "night, acc." > *noktum > *nohtum > *nahtų
Voiced plosives are devoiced:
/b/ > /p/ — *dʰewbu- "deep" > *dʰewpu- > *dewpu- > *deupaz (reformed as a-stem) /d/ > /t/ — *h₁dóntm̥ "tooth, acc." > *tónþum > *tanþų; *kʷód "what" > *hʷód > *hwat /g/ > /k/ — *wérǵom "work" > *wérgom > *wérkom > *werką /gʷ/ > /kʷ/ — *gʷémeti "(s)he will step, subj." > *kʷémeþi > *kwimidi "(s)he comes"
Aspirated plosives become voiced plosives or fricatives (see below):
/bʰ/ > /b/ ([b,β]) — *bʰéreti "(s)he is carrying" > *béreþi > *biridi /dʰ/ > /d/ ([d,ð]) — *dʰóh₁mos "thing put" > *dṓmos > *dōmaz "judgement" /gʰ/ > /g/ ([g,ɣ]) — *gʰáns "goose" > *gáns > *gans /gʷʰ/ > /gʷ/ ([gʷ,ɣʷ]) — *sóngʷʰos "chant" > *sóngʷos > *sangwaz "song"
Verner's law: voiceless fricatives are voiced, allophonically at first, when they are preceded by an unaccented syllable:
/ɸ/ > [β] — *upéri "over" > *uféri > *ubéri > *ubiri /θ/ > [ð] — *tewtéh₂ "tribe" > *þewþā́ > *þewdā́ > *þeudō /x/ > [ɣ] — *h₂yuHn̥ḱós "young" > *yunkós > *yunhós > *yungós > *jungaz (with -z by analogy) /xʷ/ > [ɣʷ] — *kʷekʷléh₂ "wheels (collective)" > *hʷehʷlā́ > *hʷegʷlā́ > *hweulō /s/ > [z] — *h₁régʷeses "of darkness" > *rékʷeses > *rékʷezez > *rikwiziz; *kʷékʷlos "wheel" > *hʷéhʷlos > *hʷéhʷloz > *hwehwlaz Some small words that were generally unaccented were also affected — *h₁ésmi, unstressed *h₁esmi "I am" > *esmi > *ezmi > *immi; *h₁sénti, unstressed *h₁senti "they are" > *senþi > *sendi > *sindi (the stressed variants, which would have become *ismi and *sinþi, were lost)
All words become stressed on their first syllable. The PIE contrastive accent is lost, phonemicising the voicing distinction created by Verner's law.
Word-initial /gʷ/ > /b/ — *gʷʰédʰyeti "(s)he is asking for" > *gʷédyedi > *bédyedi > *bidiþi "(s)he asks, (s)he prays" (with -þ- by analogy)
Assimilation of sonorants:
/nw/ > /nn/ — *ténh₂us "thin" ~ fem. *tn̥h₂éwih₂ > *tn̥h₂ús ~ *tn̥h₂wíh₂ > *þunus ~ *þunwī > *þunus ~ *þunnī > *þunnuz ~ *þunnī /ln/ > /ll/ — *pl̥h₁nós "full" > *fulnos > *fullos > *fullaz. This development postdated contact with the Samic languages, as is shown by the loanword *pulna > Proto-Samic *polnē "hill(ock), mound". /zm/ > /mm/ — *h₁esmi "I am, unstr." > *ezmi > *emmi > *immi
Unstressed /owo/ > /oː/ — *-owos "thematic 1st du." > *-ōz
Unstressed /ew/ > /ow/ before a consonant or word-finally — *-ews "u-stem gen. sg." > *-owz > *-auz
Unstressed /e/ > /i/ except before /r/ — *-éteh₂ "abstract noun suffix" > *-eþā > *-iþā > *-iþō
Unstressed /ej/ contracts to /iː/ — *-éys "i-stem gen. sg." > *-iys > *-īs > *-īz (with -z by analogy) /e/ before /r/ later becomes /ɑ/ but not until after the application of i-mutation. Some words that could be unstressed as a whole were also affected, often creating stressed/unstressed pairs — *éǵh₂ "I" > *ek > unstressed *ik (remaining beside stressed *ek)
Unstressed /ji/ > /i/ — *légʰyeti "(s)he is lying down" ~ *légʰyonti "they are lying down" > *legyidi ~ *legyondi > *legidi ~ *legyondi > *ligiþi ~ *ligjanþi (with -þ- by analogy)
The process creates diphthongs from originally disyllabic sequences — *-oyend "thematic optative 3pl" > *-oyint > *-oint > *-ain; *áyeri "in the morning" > *ayiri > *airi "early"; *tréyes "three" > *þreyiz > *þreiz > *þrīz The sequence /iji/ becomes /iː/ — *gʰósteyes "strangers, nom. pl." > *gostiyiz > *gostīz > *gastīz "guests"
Merging of non-high back vowels:
/o/, /a/ > /ɑ/ — *gʰóstis "stranger" > *gostiz > *gastiz "guest"; *kátus "fight" > *haþuz "battle" /oː/, /aː/ > /ɑː/ — *dʰóh₁mos "thing put" > *dōmoz > *dāmaz > *dōmaz "judgement"; *swā́dus "sweet" > *swātuz > *swōtuz /oːː/, /aːː/ > /ɑːː/ (â) — *séh₁mō "seeds" > *sēmô > *sēmâ > *sēmô; *-eh₂es "eh₂-stem nom. pl." > *-âz > *-ôz
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.
Word-final /m/ > /n/ — *tóm "that, acc. masc." > *þam > *þan "then"; *-om "a-stem acc. sg." > *-am > *-an > *-ą
/m/ > /n/ before dental consonants — *ḱm̥tóm "hundred" > *humdan > *hundan > *hundą; *déḱm̥d "ten" > *tehumt > *tehunt > *tehun
Word-final /n/ is lost after unstressed syllables, and the preceding vowel is nasalised — *-om "a-stem acc. sg." > *-am > *-an > *-ą; *-eh₂m > *-ān > *-ą̄ > *-ǭ; *-oHom "genitive plural" > *-ân > *-ą̂ > *-ǫ̂
Nasal /ẽː/ is lowered to /ɑ̃ː/ — *dʰédʰeh₁m "I was putting" > *dedēn > *dedę̄ > *dedą̄ > *dedǭ
Elimination of /ə/:
Unstressed /ə/ is lost between consonants — *sámh₂dʰos "sand" > *samədaz > *samdaz; *takéh₁- "to be silent" > (with added suffix) *takəyónti "they are silent" > *þagəyanþi > *þagyanþi > *þagjanþi /ə/ > /ɑ/ elsewhere — *ph₂tḗr "father" > *fədēr > *fadēr; *takéh₁- "to be silent" > (with added suffix) *takəyéti "(s)he is silent" > *þagəyiþi > *þagəiþi > *þagaiþi
Loss of word-final /t/ after unstressed syllables — *déḱm̥d "ten" > *tehunt > *tehun; *bʰéroyd "(s)he would carry, subj." > *berayt > *berai; *mélid ~ *mélit- "honey" > *melit ~ *melid- > *meli ~ *melid- > *mili ~ *milid-
/ɣʷ/ > /w/, sometimes /ɣ/ — *snóygʷʰos "snow" > *snaygʷaz > *snaiwaz; *kʷekʷléh₂ "wheels (collective)" > *hʷegʷlā > *hʷewlā > *hweulō
Long a is raised:
/ɑː/ > /ɔː/ — *dʰóh₁mos "thing put" > *dāmaz > *dōmaz "judgement"; *swā́dus "sweet" > *swātuz > *swōtuz /ɑːː/ > /ɔːː/ — *séh₁mō "seeds" > *sēmâ > *sēmô; *-eh₂es "eh₂-stem nom. pl." > *-âz > *-ôz That followed the earliest contact with the Romans since Latin Rōmānī was borrowed as *Rūmānīz and then shifted to *Rūmōnīz. Finnic loanwords preceding the change are also known:
Finnish hake- "to seek", from early Proto-Germanic *sākija- (later *sōkija-) Finnish raha "money", from early Proto-Germanic *skrahā "squirrel skin" (later *skrahō) Finnish kavio "hoof", from Pre-Proto-Germanic *kāpa- "hoof" (later *hōfa-) Finnish lieka "tether", from Pre-Proto-Germanic *lēgā- "to lie, be at rest" (later *lēgō-, as demonstrated by the later loan lieko "windfallen or decayed tree")
Early i-mutation: /e/ > /i/ when followed by /i/ or /j/ in the same or next syllable — *bʰéreti "(s)he is carrying" > *beridi > *biridi; *médʰyos "middle" > *medyaz > *midjaz; *néwios "new" > *newyaz > *niwjaz
This eliminates the remaining /ei/, changing it to /iː/ — *deywós "god" > *teywaz > *Tīwaz "Týr"; *tréyes "three" > *þreiz > *þrīz A number of loanwords in the Finnic and Samic demonstrate earlier *e, e.g.
Finnish teljo "thwart", from early Proto-Germanic *þeljō (later
Finnish menninkäinen "goblin", from early Proto-Germanic *menþingō
/e/ > /i/ when followed by a syllable-final nasal — *en "in" > *in; *séngʷʰeti "(s)he chants" > *sengʷidi > *singwidi "(s)he sings"
Finnic loanwords demonstrating earlier *e are again known: Finnish rengas "ring", from early Proto-Germanic *hrengaz (later *hringaz)
/j/ is lost between vowels except after /i/ and /w/ (but it is lost after syllabic /u/). The two vowels that come to stand in hiatus then contract to long vowels or diphthongs — *-oyh₁m̥ "thematic optative 1sg sg." > *-oyum > *-ayų > *-aų; *áyeri "in the morning" > *ayiri > *airi "early"
This process creates a new /ɑː/ from earlier /ɑjɑ/ — *steh₂- "to stand" > (with suffix added) *sth₂yónti "they stand" > *stayanþi > *stānþi
/n/ is lost before /x/, causing compensatory lengthening and nasalisation of the preceding vowel — *ḱónketi "(s)he hangs" > *hanhidi (phonetically [ˈxɑ̃ːxiði])
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 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 of
not 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 and early La Tène cultures when the Celts dominated
central Europe, although the period spanned several centuries.
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
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2017)
Numerous loanwords believed to have been borrowed from Proto-Germanic
are known in the non-
Voiced obstruents appear as b, d, g; this does not imply any
particular analysis of the underlying phonemes as plosives /b/, /d/,
/ɡ/ or fricatives /β/, /ð/, /ɣ/. In other literature, they may be
written as graphemes with a bar to produce ƀ, đ, ǥ.
Unvoiced fricatives appear as f, þ, h (perhaps /ɸ/, /θ/, /x/). /x/
may have become /h/ in certain positions at a later stage of
Proto-Germanic itself. Similarly for /xʷ/, which later became /hʷ/
or /ʍ/ in some environments.
Labiovelars appear as kw, hw, gw; this does not imply any particular
analysis as single sounds (e.g. /kʷ/, /xʷ/, /ɡʷ/) or clusters
(e.g. /kw/, /xw/, /ɡw/).
The yod sound appears as j /j/. Note that the normal convention for
representing this sound in
Consonants The table below lists the consonantal phonemes of Proto-Germanic 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 allophones and are not independent phonemes. For descriptions of the sounds and definitions of the terms, follow the links on the headings.[note 3]
Type Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial– velar
Stop p b t d
k ɡ kʷ ɡʷ
Fricative ɸ (β) θ (ð) s z
x (ɣ) xʷ
[ŋ] was an allophone of /n/ before velar obstruents.
[ŋʷ] was an allophone of /n/ before labiovelar obstruents.
[β], [ð] and [ɣ] were allophones of /b/, /d/ and /ɡ/ in certain
positions (see below).
The phoneme written as f was probably still realised as a bilabial
fricative (/ɸ/) 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
Grimm's and Verner's law Main articles: Grimm's law and Verner's law Grimm's law as applied to pre-proto-Germanic is a chain shift of the original Indo-European plosives. 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.
Labiovelar reduction (near u) Grimm's law: Voiceless to fricative Grimm's law: Voiced to voiceless Grimm's law: Aspirated to voiced Verner's law Labiovelar dissolution
p > ɸ b > p bʱ > b, β ɸ > b, β
t > θ d > t dʱ > d, ð θ > d, ð
k > x ɡ > k ɡʱ > ɡ, ɣ x > ɡ, ɣ
labiovelars kʷ > k ɡʷ > ɡ ɡʷʱ > ɡʱ kʷ > xʷ ɡʷ > kʷ ɡʷʱ > ɡʷ, ɣʷ xʷ > ɡʷ, ɣʷ ɡʷ > b ɣʷ > w, ɣ
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
"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 in the north ... and
Verner's law is usually reconstructed as following
Grimm's law in
time, and states that unvoiced fricatives: /s/, /ɸ/, /θ/, /x/ are
voiced when preceded by an unaccented syllable. The accent 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
*bʰréh₂tēr > PGmc. *brōþēr "brother" but PIE *meh₂tḗr
> PGmc. *mōdēr "mother". The voicing of some /s/ according to
Verner's Law produced /z/, 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
"The resulting /x/ or /xʷ/ were reduced to /h/ and /hʷ/ 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. This phenomenon is termed 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 /b/, /d/, /ɡ/ and /ɡʷ/ 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 /b/, /d/, /ɡ/ and /ɡʷ/. 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 /b/, /d/, and /ɡ/ 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 /b/ and /d/ were stops [b] and [d].
A good deal of evidence, however, indicates that word-initial /ɡ/ was
[ɣ], subsequently developing to [ɡ] in a number of languages. This
is clearest from developments in Anglo-Frisian and other Ingvaeonic
languages. Modern Dutch still preserves the sound of [ɣ] in this
Labiovelars Numerous additional changes affected the labiovelar consonants.
Even before the operation of Grimm's law, they were reduced to plain velars next to /u/ 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 /u/, it was immediately converted to a plain velar. This caused certain alternations in verb paradigms, such as *singwaną [siŋʷɡʷɑnɑ̃] ‘to sing’ versus *sungun [suŋɡun] ‘they sang’. Apparently, this delabialization also occurred with labiovelars following /un/, showing that the language possessed a labial allophone [ŋʷ] as well. In this case the entire clusters [uŋʷxʷ], [uŋʷkʷ] and [uŋʷgʷ] are delabialized to [uŋx], [uŋk] and [uŋɡ]. After the operation of Verner's law, various changes conspired to almost completely eliminate voiced labiovelars. Initially, [ɡʷʰ] became [b], e.g. PIE *gʷʱédʱyeti > PGmc. *bidiþi ‘asks for’. The fricative variant [ɣʷ] (which occurred in most non-initial environments) usually became [w], but sometimes instead turned into [ɣ]. The only environment in which a voiced labiovelar remained was after a nasal, e.g. in *singwaną [ˈsiŋʷɡʷɑnɑ̃] ‘to sing’. These various changes often led to complex alternations, e.g. *sehwaną [ˈsexʷɑnɑ̃] ‘to see’, *sēgun [ˈsɛːɣun] ‘they saw’ (indicative), *sēwīn [ˈsɛːwiːn] ‘they saw’ (subjunctive), which were reanalysed and regularised differently in the various daughter languages.
Consonant gradation Kroonen (2011) 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 and 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.
n-stems PIE PGM
nominative C_́C-ōn C_C-ō
genitive C_C-n-ós C_CC-az
neh2-presents PIE PGM
3p. singular C_C-néh2-ti C_CC-ōþi
3p. plural C_C-nh2-énti C_G-unanþi
The reconstruction of grading paradigms in Proto-Germanic explains
root alternations such as
Type Front Back
short long overl. short long overl.
Close i iː
Close-mid e eː
Type Front Back
short long short long overl.
Close ĩ ĩː ũ ũː
/e/ could not occur in unstressed syllables except before /r/, where it may have been lowered to /ɑ/ already in late Proto-Germanic times. All nasal vowels except /ɑ̃ː/ and /ũː/ occurred word-finally. The long nasal vowels /ɑ̃ː/, /ĩː/ and /ũː/ occurred before /x/, and derived from earlier short vowels followed by /nx/.
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 [ɑ] and [ɑː], or
perhaps [ɒ] and [ɒː]. Their timbres then differentiated by raising
(and perhaps rounding) the long vowel to [ɔː]. 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
Short: /ɑu/, /ɑi/, /eu/, /iu/ Long: /ɔːu/, /ɔːi/, (possibly /ɛːu/, /ɛːi/)
Note the change /e/ > /i/ before /i/ or /j/ in the same or following syllable. This removed /ei/ (which became /iː/) but created /iu/ from earlier /eu/. 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 /j/ 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, -wj- is geminated to -wwj- in parallel with the other consonants (except /r/). Overlong vowels Proto-Germanic had two overlong or trimoraic long vowels ô [ɔːː] and ê [ɛːː], 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.
Proto-Germanic Gothic Old Norse Old English Old High German
-ō -a -u > Ø -u / Ø
-ô -ō -a -o
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 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 salbōn ‘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 prosodic template; e.g., PGmc *arô ‘eagle’ ← PIE *h₃ér-ōn just as Lith akmuõ ‘stone’, OSl kamy ← *aḱmō̃ ← PIE *h₂éḱ-mon. Contrast:
contraction after loss of laryngeal: gen.pl. *wulfǫ̂ "wolves'" ← *wulfôn ← pre-Gmc *wúlpōom ← PIE *wĺ̥kʷoHom; ō-stem nom.pl. *-ôz ← pre-Gmc *-āas ← PIE *-eh₂es. 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 *-eh₂; ō-stem acc.sg. *-ǭ ← *-ān ← *-ām (by Stang's law) ← PIE *-eh₂m; ō-stem acc.pl. *-ōz ← *-āz ← *-ās (by Stang's law) ← PIE *-eh₂ns;
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, 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 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 end 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 [o]) in early North and West Germanic,
with a later raising to u (the 6th century
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:
Proto-Germanic Gothic Old Norse Old High German Old English
-ō -a -u > — -u / —
-ǭ -a -e
-ōn -ōn -a, -u -ōn -an
The distinct reflexes of nasal -ǭ versus non-nasal -ō are caused by
Northwest Germanic raising of final -ō /ɔː/ to /oː/, 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 /o/ (later /u/) while -ǭ became /ɔ/ (later /ɑ/).
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
há̇r "shark" < *hą̄haz < PG *hanhaz ǿ̇ra "younger" < *jų̄hizô < PG *junhizô (cf. Gothic jūhiza)
The phonemicity is evident from minimal pairs like ǿ̇ra "younger"
vs. ǿra "vex" < *wor-, cognate with English weary. The
inherited Proto-Germanic nasal vowels were joined in
English goose, West Frisian goes, North Frisian goos < Old
English/Frisian gōs < Anglo-Frisian *gą̄s < Proto-Germanic
En tooth <
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.
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
/e/ and /ɑ/ had been lost, and /e/ had merged with /i/ 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 1st
person plural present of verbs.
Word-final short nasal vowels were however preserved longer, as is
Ending(s) PG Goth NGm WGm ON OHG OE
a-stem masculine accusative singular ą — a a? — — —
i-stem masculine accusative singular į i?
u-stem accusative singular ų u?
a-stem masculine nominative singular az s az r
i-stem nominative singular iz iz i i/— e/—
u-stem nominative singular uz us uz u u/—
1st person singular present of verbs ō a o > u o > u —
ō-stem adjective accusative singular ǭ ō ā a a e
ō-stem accusative plural ōz ōs ōz ar
3rd person singular past of weak verbs ē a e > i a i
a-stem dative singular ai ē ē e
short ja-stem neuter nominative singular ją i ja i > ī — i
short ja-stem masculine nominative singular jaz is > jis jaz r
i-stem nominative plural īz eis (=īs) īz ī ir
long ja-stem masculine nominative singular ijaz ijaz
long ja-stem neuter nominative singular iją i ija i
3rd person singular past subjunctive ī ī
adverb suffix ô ō ō ō a o a
genitive plural ǫ̂
ō-stem nominative plural ôz ōs ōz ar
u-stem genitive singular auz aus (=ɔ̄s)
adverb suffix ê ē ā a e
Note that some Proto-Germanic endings have merged in all of the
literary languages but are still distinct in runic Proto-Norse, e.g.
*-īz vs. *-ijaz (þrijōz dohtrīz "three daughters" in the Tune
stone vs. the name Holtijaz in the Gallehus horns).
Main article: Proto-Germanic grammar
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
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). 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.
Case Nouns in -a- Nouns in -i-
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative *wulfaz *wulfōz, -ōs *gastiz *gastīz
Vocative *wulf *gasti
Accusative *wulfą *wulfanz *gastį *gastinz
Genitive *wulfas, -is *wulfǫ̂ *gastīz *gastijǫ̂
Dative *wulfai *wulfamaz *gastī *gastimaz
Instrumental *wulfō *wulfamiz *gastimiz
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 and Old English, where the strong declensions have more distinct endings. In the proto-language, as in 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.
Case Strong Declension Weak Declension
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative *blindaz *blinda-tō *blindō *blindai *blindō *blindôz *blindô *blindô *blindǭ *blindaniz *blindōnō *blindōniz
Accusative *blindanǭ *blindanz *blindanų *blindōnų *blindanunz *blindōnunz
Genitive *blindas, -is *blindaizōz *blindaizǫ̂ *blindaizǫ̂ *blindiniz *blindōniz *blindanǫ̂ *blindōnǫ̂
Dative *blindammai *blindaizōi *blindaimaz *blindaimaz *blindini *blindōni *blindammaz *blindōmaz
Instrumental *blindanō *blindaizō *blindaimiz *blindaimiz *blindinē *blindōnē *blindammiz *blindōmiz
Proto-Germanic originally had two demonstratives (proximal *hi-
‘this’, distal *sa/sō/þat ‘that’) which could serve as both
adjectives and pronouns, although the proximal was obsolescent in
Gothic (e.g. Goth acc. hina, dat. himma, neut. hita) and obsolete
everywhere else. Ultimately, only the distal survived, evolved into
the definite article, and underlies the English determiners the and
that. In the North-West
Case Singular Plural
Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative *sa *þat *sō *þai *þō *þōz
Accusative *þanǭ *þǭ *þanz
Genitive *þas *þaizōz *þaizǫ̂
Dative *þammai *þaizōi *þaimaz
Instrumental *þanō *þaizō *þaimiz
See also: Germanic verb, Germanic strong verb, and Germanic weak verb
Proto-Germanic had only two tenses (past and present), compared to 5-7
in Greek, Latin,
Proto-Slavic and Sanskrit. Some of this difference is
due to 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,
*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), e.g. ga-ga-waírþjan "to reconcile". An example verb: *nemaną "to take" (class 4 strong verb).
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Active Passive Active Passive Active
Present 1st sing *nemō *nemôi? *nemai? *nema-ų ??? —
2nd sing *nimizi *nemazai *nemaiz *nemaizau? *nem
3rd sing *nimidi *nemadai *nemai *nemaidau? *nemadau
1st dual *nemōz (?) *nemandai *nemaiw *nemaindau? —
2nd dual *nemadiz (?) *nemaidiz (?) *nemadiz?
1st plur *nemamaz *nemaim —
2nd plur *nimid *nemaid *nimid
3rd plur *nemandi *nemain *nemandau
Past 1st sing *nam — *nēmijų (?; or *nēmį̄??) —
2nd sing *namt *nēmīz
3rd sing *nam *nēmī
1st dual *nēmū (?) *nēmīw
2nd dual *nēmudiz (?) *nēmīdiz (?)
1st plur *nēmum *nēmīm
2nd plur *nēmud *nēmīd
3rd plur *nēmun *nēmīn
Present Participle *nemandaz
Past Participle *numanaz
Proto-Germanic personal pronouns
First person Second person Third person
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative *ek *ik1 *wet *wit1 *wīz *wiz1 *þū *jut *jūz *iz *sī *it *īz *ijōz *ijō
Accusative *mek *mik1 *unk *uns *þek *þik1 *inkw *izwiz *inǭ *ijǭ *inz
Genitive *mīnaz *unkeraz *unseraz *þīnaz *inkweraz *izweraz *es *ezōz *es *ezǫ̂
Dative *miz *unkiz *unsiz *þiz *inkwiz *izwiz *immai *ezōi *immai *imaz
Instrumental *inō *ezō *inō *imiz
1 – Unstressed variant
Schleicher's PIE fable rendered into Proto-Germanic
*Awiz ehwōz-uh: awiz, hwisi wullō ne est, spihi ehwanz, ainą kurų wagą wegandų, ainą-uh mekǭ burą, ainą-uh gumanų ahu berandų. Awiz nu ehwamaz wiuhi: hert agnutai mek, witandī ehwanz akandų gumanų. Ehwōz weuhą: hludi, awi! hert agnutai uns witundumaz: gumô, fadiz, wullǭ awją hwurniudi sibi warmą westrą. Awją-uh wullō ne isti. Þat hehluwaz awiz akrą buki.
Proto-Germanic, with contemporary grammar and vocabulary
*Awiz ehwōz-uh: awiz, sō wullǭ ne habdē, sahw ehwanz, ainanǭ kurjanǭ wagną teuhandų, ainanǭ-uh mikilǭ kuriþǭ, ainanǭ-uh gumanų sneumundô berandų. Awiz nu ehwamaz sagdē: hertô sairīþi mek, sehwandē ehwanz akandų gumanų. Ehwōz sagdēdun: gahauzī, awi! hertô sairīþi uns sehwandumiz: gumô, fadiz, uz awīz wullō wurkīþi siz warmą wastijǭ. Awiz-uh wullǭ ne habaiþi. Þat hauzidaz awiz akrą flauh.
The Sheep and the Horses: a sheep that had no wool saw horses, one pulling a heavy wagon, one carrying a big load, and one carrying a man quickly. The sheep said to the horses: "My heart pains me, seeing a man driving horses". The horses said: "Listen, sheep, our hearts pain us when we see this: a man, the master, makes the wool of the sheep into a warm garment for himself. And the sheep has no wool". Having heard this, the sheep fled into the plain.
Ancient Germanic culture portal
Pre-Indo-European (other) Holtzmann's law Suebi
^ It is open to debate whether the bearers of the Neolithic
^ See e.g. Bloomfield, Leonard (1984). Language. Chicago and London:
The University of Chicago Press. pp. 298–299.
^ a b Comrie, Bernard (editor) (1987). The World's Major Languages.
New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 69–70.
ISBN 0-19-506511-5. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list
^ this includes common nouns such as framea "
Bennett, William Holmes (1980). An Introduction to the Gothic
Language. New York: Modern Language Association of America.
Campbell, A. (1959).
W.P. Lehmann & J. Slocum (eds.) A Grammar of Proto-Germanic (Online version) Proto-Germanic nominal and pronominal paradigms A dictionary of Proto-Germanic (in German) Another dictionary of Proto-Germanic Charles Prescott. "Germanic and the Ruki Dialects" Table: Germanic & PIE -ia and -ja stems compared across reference sources
v t e
Philology of Germanic languages
North East West — Elbe Weser-Rhine North Sea
Northwest Gotho-Nordic South
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic grammar Germanic parent language
Proto-Norse Old Norse Old Swedish Old Gutnish Norn Greenlandic Norse Old Norwegian Middle Norwegian
Gothic Crimean Gothic Vandalic Burgundian
Old Saxon Middle Low German Old High German Middle High German Frankish Old Dutch Middle Dutch Old Frisian Middle Frisian Old English Middle English Early Scots Middle Scots Lombardic
Afrikaans Alemannic Cimbrian Danish Dutch English Faroese German Icelandic Limburgish Low German Mennonite Low German Luxembourgish North Frisian Norwegian Saterland Frisian Scots Swedish West Frisian Yiddish
Germanic substrate hypothesis
West Germanic gemination
Germanic verb Germanic strong verb Germanic weak verb Preterite-present verb Grammatischer Wechsel Indo-European ablaut
English (phonology) Scots (phonology) German Dutch Danish Icelandic Swedish
v t e
History of English
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Germanic Proto-West-Germanic Anglo-Frisian languages Old English Anglo-Norman language Middle English Early Modern English Modern English
Great Vowel Shift low unrounded vowels low back vowels high back vowels high front vowels diphthongs changes before historic /l/ changes before historic /r/ trisyllabic laxing
rhoticity flapping t-glottalization l-vocalization consonant clusters h-dropping wh th th-fronting ð (eth) þ (thorn) th-stopping