06 September 2011

MAJOR CHANGES FROM PIE (PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN) TO PGMC (PROTO-GERMANIC) : GRIMM'S LAW & VERNER'S LAW

by John Lawler
Program in Linguistics * University of Michigan
with Kevin McGowan
Copyright © 1993-1997 The Eclectic Company
For non-commercial use only 

PUBLISHED, EDITED, FORMATTED, IMAGES ADDED & CAPTIONS BY KENNETH S. DOIG
WESTERN INDO-EUROPEAN
 SUB-GROUPS, c. 1000 BC

  1. Major Changes from I-E to Germanic 

    1. Large number of words without known IE cognates. Some NE forms include broad, drink, drive, fowl, hold, meat, rain, and wife.

    2. Only two tenses: present and preterit (past)
    3. Preterit tense formed with dental suffix (d or t)
      1. "Strong" verbs change their tense by internal changes
        1. e.g., rise-rose, sing-sang
      2. "Weak" verbs change tense by adding the dental suffix (-ed)
    4. Weak & strong declensions of adjectives
        • lost in Modern English
    5. Regular stress of the first syllable
        • compare Latin Viri' - viro'rum or ha'beo - habe'mus
    6. I-E vowels underwent Germanic modification
    7. I-E stops underwent the "First Sound Shift" explained by Grimm's Law


  2. Grimm's Law
    1. Jacob Grimm, 1827
        1. German linguist attempted to explain why many Germanic words differed so systematically from their I-E cognates. His formulation (later refined) is called Grimm's Law or the First Sound Shift. High German underwent a Second Sound Shift, but that won't concern our study of English language history.
    2. I-E stops gradually assumed new sounds
    bh --> b
    dhh --> d
    ghh --> g
    ph --> f
    th --> (theta) (represented by these letters in many early Gmc dialects using Latin alphabets: Þþ for unvoiced "th" as in think  Ðð for the voiced version, "th" as in breathe. K.Doig)
    kh --> h


    bh --> p
    dh --> t
    gh --> k
  3. Verner's Law
    1. Karl Verner, 1875
      • Danish linguist wondered why not every I-E stop changed in the same way. His formulation established that Grimm's Law was consistent and could account for all known cognate evolution
    2. Intermediate step in Stage 1 shift:
    1. All voiceless stops changed once:
      ph --> f
      th --> theta
      kh --> h
      sh --> s z

    2. If the sound was in an initial position or immediately after a stressed verb, it changed no further.
    3. Those in other positions changed to voiced spirants (b, d, g)  
    4. Verner was dolichocephalic
    5. source



People have long speculated that their languages came from a single source; during the Renaissance, for example, scholars noted that languages seemed to group themselves in the ways they said "god": Latin deus, Spanish dios, vs. Swedish gud, English god, vs. Russian and Polish bog, etc. As early as 1767, physician James Parsons collected numbers from many European languages, as well as those of Iran and India, and found them to be quite similar; he concluded that they must have all come from one source: Noah’s Ark. But Sir William Jones, Chief Justice of India, took this observation a step further. As an educated man, he was trained in the classical languages, so that when he went to India and began to examine Sanskrit, he saw right away how similar it was to Greek and Latin, not only in vocabulary, but even in inflections and grammatical features. His address to the Bengal Asiatic Society in 1786 contained the first clear assertion of the existence of Proto-Indo-European:

"The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs, and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists." Sir Wm Jones (His address to the Bengal Asiatic Society 1786)
SPREAD OF ARYAN OR THE MORE MODERN &
POLITICALLY CORRECT TERM 'INDO-EUROPEAN'
TONGUES OVER EURASIA c. 800 BC

Building upon this observation, Rasmus Rask said that scholars had to do more than just use intuition to set up a proto-language; they had to find regularities and systematic developments. For example, he noticed that certain sounds in Greek (e.g., ph, as in phrater ‘brother’ and phero ‘I carry’) corresponded regularly to other sounds in Germanic (e.g. b, as in Eng. brother and bear). Jacob Grimm, famous as a collector of fairly tales, was the first to publish a systematic explanation of how Germanic must have diverged, in extremely consistent ways, from the proto-language. His explanation is now called "Grimm’s Law." 

The following fairy tale was created as a fun way for you to have a "Grimm encounter." It is designed so that you can discover the generalizations that Rask and Grimm came up with on your own. Notice that the earliest part of the story uses reconstructed Proto-Indo-European roots, the next section uses reconstructed Proto-Germanic words (that is, words that we assume were found in the ancestor of all the Germanic languages), followed by Old English, Middle English, and Modern English.

 We challenge you to figure out Grimm's Law!

Once upon a time there was a boy who lived alone in the forest clearing. Although there was a fresh stream and a small garden that grew , the boy was -sad because he had no kin. At when the was high and the folk sang the boy dreamed of a man and his and, because the girl called the dreamer , so the boy named himself, and thought of the man in his dream as . All the day long would search the hills and woods for bits of horn or to make a necklace he hoped to some day give a .
 On a when stars were bright and the people were silent, heard a new song. Even though the song made him glad, at the same time it made his chatter in fear. The singing voice sounded like that of his dream , but the song came from the . "Follow me , across the dell, past the cavern where the old dwell, across the where the gold grows, to the valley where the cool wind blows. There, if you are brave and true, will the wish of your be given you."

Early the next day, when the set and the sun rose, packed a -fur purse with and roots, and put on the necklace and with a walking peg that reminded him of his dream , the boy set off toward the west, across the dell, past the cave and across the , toward the valley where the cool wind blows. His was high and the song was in his ears, and the boy followed the path of the .

For many days traveled and in the sky the passed from full to dark and back to full again. All the while the folk were silent, and the boy traveled in safety. As he traveled, his listened to the -voice of the , which sang him forward past the cave, through the filled with . As the sun set the boy climbed a green knoll and settled in for the . He worked for a while on the necklace, adding to the animal pretty stones, and when he slept that his dreams were more real than ever before.

Map of migratory routes(A POSSIBLE IE PROTO-HOME. THIS IS FURTHER SOUTH THAN MOST BELIEVE. I'D SAY THERE WERE TWO (2) URHEIMATS, THE 1st OR ELDER IN ANATOLIA (PRESENT-DAY TURKEY) WHERE (WHAT WAS TO BECOME) HITTITE & RELATED DIALECTS REMAINED AS THE REST OF THE PIE GROUP MIGRATED NORTH & NE, (c. 8000 BC), TO THE NORTHERN SHORES OF THE BLACK & CASPIAN SEAS ON THE ASIAN STEPPELANDS IN A BROAD SWATH FROM THE bLACK/CASPIAN SEAS IN THE SOUTH, AS FAR AS 55 DEG N INTO CENTRAL ASIA. THE NUCLEUS WAS IN THE NORTHERN AREA OF THE BLACK SEA. THE DISPERSION STARTED c. 3500 BC & ENDED (ALONG WITH COMMON INDO-EUROPEAN TONGUE c. 2000 BC. THIS IS ALL CONJECTURE. K.DOIG)

Finally the sun rose on a beautiful day, yet the also remained in the sky, and Brother saw that he was above a beautiful valley, gold with corn and dappled with blossoms. From the knoll the boy could also see a crystal blue pond and a beautiful silver-green Beech tree. But also in the valley, near the tree, were a and a wolf, close together, as strange as that was. Brother was amazed, and unsure of what to do next. He played with his necklace of as he thought. While he was thinking, he suddenly heard the voice from the , singing again the words, "There, if you are brave and true, will the wish of your be given you." The boy took a deep breath and climbed down the hill, into the valley.

The boy crossed the corn- filled valley, slowly making his way past the blossoms and tall grasses, his thumping loudly. As Brother got closer to the and the wolf, he saw that they were tied to the tree with a silver cord. As he wondered at this he saw that the had no and the wolf’s fur was missing from her back.

The bear and the wolf looked at Brother with familiar eyes, and seemed to be asking for his help. Brother stood, pondering what to do next, when the singing moon spoke to him again. This time, though, it was not the voice of Father, but a lovely lady’s voice, singing, "Brother, son, you’ve traveled far, and proved the strength within your heart. Return, my child, what man once stole, and receive the wish within your soul." Suddenly the boy knew what to do. He took off the necklace of teeth and emptied the purse of corn and placed them before the captive animals. In a bright flash there stood Father and Sister, no longer a dream but real.
INDO-EUROPEAN LINGUISTIC-FAMILIES c. 2000 BC
As Brother stood, astonished with joy, his Father (for it was his Father that he dreamed of, and the dream girl, his Sister) explained, "I was hunting in the woods one day, and wandered to a place more lovely than I had ever seen. There I shot my arrow at animals who were sacred to the moon, for this was her glade which I had blundered into. For my transgression the goddess transformed myself and my daughter, who had also been in the wood gathering berries, into the animals, until one of my blood proved brave and true. That one was you, my own son!"

Reunited, the family returned home and, never again taking from the wood more than they needed, they lived in peace for ever after.
The End 
(From the- Proto Indo European Language  Demonstration & Exploration Website)

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