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Old Germanic system of vowels.
The changes in vowels touched the three most important IE vowels (a, e, o). They could be long or short. The main change which happened to the vowels concerned only those which were stressed and these changes appeared to be the following IE a, o appeared in other PG as a single vowel a. IE long a and long o appeared in PG in one single sound long o.
I à E :vir-wair
E à I :ventus-wind
U à O :iugum-ok
Also there were processes when diphthongs became monophthongs ( ai – a; ei – e) and monophthong became diphthongs ( e- eo). Also we observe the processes of Ablaut and Umlaut.
Ablaut and its functions.
The term ablaut was coined in the early 19th c. by the linguist Jacob Grimm. The process of Ablaut or Gradation is an independent vowel change accompanying a change in grammatical function. For example, the vowel change in English from I and A to U in sing (present tense)-sang (preterit)—sung (past-participle) referred to as an ablaut. In the G language gradation was preserved and could be seen the most vividly on the example of strong English verbs while the other IE language also had the examples of ablaut on other parts of speech. Gradation is not confined (ограниченный) to verbs. We see the alternation of e and o grades in the Greek lego(I speak) and the related noun logos(speech). And the same alternation lies behind the MnE: bind-band; ride-rode.
Front mutation. Umlaut.
Umlaut – is a modification of the vowel which causes it to be pronounced more to the front of the mouth to accommodate (вмещать) a vowel in the following syllable, especially when it’s an inflectional suffix: woman-women; long-length; old-elders. Umlaut may be derived into two kinds: front mutation, velar umlaut. Front mutation is the most important type of umlaut, which is caused by an i/j. Having brought about a complete change in vowel quality (one phoneme is replaced by another), the i/j or I disappear or change toe.
a > enamian-nemnon
o + i/j > emohti-mehta
u > yfullian-fyllan
Umlaut – is a modification of the vowel which causes it to be pronounced more to the front of the mouth to accommodate (вмещать) a vowel in the following syllable, especially when it’s an inflectional suffix: woman-women; long-length; old-elders. Umlaut may be derived into two kinds: front mutation, velar umlaut. Velar umlaut is a type of assimilation, caused by back vowels u, o, a of the following syllable:
I > iosifon-siofon
e > eohefon-heofon
a > easaro-seary
The structure of a substantive in the Germanic Languages
The morphological system of substantives in Germanic Languages as well as other Indo-European languages is based on the common principles. The substantive consists of three main elements: root, stem-building suffix, case inflection.
The ‘’root’’ of the word keeps lexical meaning. The case inflection expresses number and case. But the role of a stem-building suffix is quite unclear. It posses not to keep a lexical meaning. The only suffix which had definite meaning was the one found in the substantives which had common semantics of kinship (родство). All this substantives were built with the help of stem-building r: trodar modar Goth. fadar swistar Comp. Lat. mater, Russ. матери дочери (examples)
In the earliest documents of the Germanic languages this original three element structure began to change. The stem-building no had definite meaning was united with the root of a word, building up a common element-the stem (основа).
MORPHOLOGICAL classification of nouns
Proto-Germanic language did not have any fixed system or set of case-inflexions used for all nouns. Some nouns followed one pattern and others another pattern that is why they were different declensions. The type of declension was based on the Indo-European grouping of nouns according to the stem-building suffix.
Strong declension it combined the nouns with vocalic stems –a-long o-i-u this words belongs to strong declension. Weak declension united substantives with –n- in the stems. Stems in other consonants -r -stems possessed a small number of nouns denoting family relationship. Another small group of nouns is known as -s-- stems. In OE this -s- changed into-r-(rhotacism). Root declension The first type of declension was characterized by absents of stem-building suffix. It means that the case inflexion was added immediately to the root this fact explains the difference between the type of building plural in the majority of nouns and those like goose‚ mouse (mice), man – men (manni-menn)
Proto-Germanic nouns unlike Modern English had the system of gender: masculine‚ feminine‚ neuter. Masculine and neuter words generally share their endings. Feminine words have their own subset of endings. The main thing about Proto-Germanic gender is that it never corresponded to the semantics of the word.
Gender and number there were different endings depending on whether the noun was in the singular (one ring) or plural (many rings).
Types of nouns. Old Germanic nouns were divided as either strong or weak. Weak nouns have their own endings. Weak nouns are easier than strong, since they had begun to lose their declensional system. There are nine classes of noun stems in Germanic languages according to the stem-building suffix. These suffixes were lost long ago, so this division is a historical one. There were the following classes
with the stem in -o -day
with the stem in -a- give
with the stem in -i - guest
with the stem in -u -sun
with the stem in -n-name
with the stem in -r-father
with the stem in -nt- friend
with the stem in -s-egg
The substantive .The category of case in comparison with the modern one.
Like all other PIE languages PG were highly inflected. PG inherited its system of inflection from PIE. But reduced the number of cases from 8-5: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Instrumental, Accusative. The N case indicated the subject of the sentence. The G indicated possession. The D indicated the indirect object of the sentence. The A ind. the direct object of the sentence. The I indicates the agency whereby smth was done.
PG Also had two extra cases Vocative and Locative. The presents of which could have been observed by the presents of preposition at. In the OE the most widely used 4 case inflexions: um (Dat.pl.), a (Gen.pl.), es (Gen.sing.), as (Nom.‚ Acc. pl.)
The modern one have two cases (some nouns denoting living beings and some nouns denoting lifeless things), an noninflected form called the common case and an inflected form called the genitive case. The genitive is formed by adding -'s (singular) and only '( the apostrophe) to plural forms ending in-s . As to its use the genitive case falls under : the dependent genitive and the absolute genitive.
The substantive. THE CATEGORY OF NUMBER IN comparison with the modern one.
Substantives in PIE were divided into three numbers: singular, plural and dual. There were different endings depending on whether the noun was in singular (e. g. “hryng”, one ring) or plural (“hryngas”, many rings). There also was specific dual number – an inflected form expressing two, indicating that there were two of a thing (we two, you two, they two). In modern English there are only two numbers: singular (song, girl) and plural (songs, girls).
The substantive. THE CATEGORY OF GENDER IN comparison with the modern one.
All Germanic nouns had grammatical gender: every noun had to be masculine, feminine or neuter. This grammatical gender had no necessary connection with sex or animacy. The words “he”, “she” and “it” had to be used in accordance with grammatical gender, not in accordance with sex or animacy. Thus, OE wif (wife) was neuter and wifman (woman) was of masculine gender. Masculine and neuter words generally shared their endings. Feminine words had their own subset of endings.
In modern English the category of gender is doubtful, because it is hardly ever expressed by means of grammatical forms. There is only a suffix –ess, which expresses feminine gender in some peculiar occasions: actor – actress, waiter – waitress.
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