Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
2Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
In what ways does a knowledge of Proto-Indo-European and/or Proto-Germanic contribute to an understanding of Present-day English?

In what ways does a knowledge of Proto-Indo-European and/or Proto-Germanic contribute to an understanding of Present-day English?

Ratings:
(0)
|Views: 19|Likes:
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Ciaran Arthur. Originally submitted for English and Philosophy at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer Dr John Kirk in the category of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Ciaran Arthur. Originally submitted for English and Philosophy at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer Dr John Kirk in the category of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

More info:

Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

10/27/2013

 
In what ways does a knowledge of Proto-Indo-European and/or Proto-Germanic contribute to an understanding of Present-day English?
The Proto-Germanic language is a branch from its Indo-European source andis the language from whence all Germanic languages have their origin. Proto-Germanic has three branches of the geographical West, North and East Germaniclanguages. These branches of Germanic have certain shared characteristics that theyhave inherited from Proto-Germanic. As Old English belongs to the WesternGermanic group, and as Present-day English is descended from Old English, there areelements of Proto-Germanic that have been preserved in Present-day English. Thus aknowledge of the characteristics of Proto-Germanic is crucial in understanding theGermanic elements present in contemporary English.The first significant characteristic of Proto-Germanic that distinguishes theGermanic languages from all other families of languages is that of phonological soundshifts that ‘must have taken place sometime after the segregation of the Germanicfrom neighbouring dialects of the parent language.’ (Baugh & Cable, p.22) Proto-Germanic was the only language to undergo specific sets of sound shifts from itsIndo-European source. Languages which did not undergo these shifts, such as Latin,can be used to illustrate this difference. The first sound change, outlined by Grimm’sLaw, that occurred was the voiceless stops <p>, <t>, <k> and <kw> becoming thevoiceless fricatives <f>, <θ>, <x/h> and <xw/hw> respectively. Using the Latin word
 pēs
we can see how Northern, Eastern and Western Germanic underwent the shiftfrom <p> to <f>: Old Norse has
 fótr 
, Gothic has
 fotus
and Old English has
 fot 
(Wright, p.44). The Modern English word is
 foot 
and shows that is has inherited this phonological characteristic from Proto-Germanic. The same is true for the other threesound shifts. For example, the Latin
trēs
becomes
 þrír 
in Old Norse,
 þreis
in Gothic,
 þreo
in Old English and
three
in Modern English, thus demonstrating the shift from<t> in Indo-European to <θ> in Proto-Germanic (Wright, p.44). The Latin
canis
 becomes
hundr 
,
hunds
,
hund 
and
hound 
in Old Norse, Gothic, Old English andModern English respectively (Wright, p.44) showing the shift from <k> to <h>. Thefinal shift is from <kw>, as in Latin
quis
, to <hw> as in Old Norse
hverr 
, Gothic
has
,Old English
hwa
and Modern English
who
(though the Present-day Englishorthography was altered by Norman scribes from the Middle English period). Thus
 
from the first sound shift of Grimm’s Law we can see that some words in Present-dayEnglish are inherited from Proto-Germanic. There are, however, examples of ModernEnglish words that defy this rule such as
 pedestrian
from the Latin
 pes
. However,words such as these are examples of borrowings into English and are not of a nativeGermanic origin.The second phonological development in Grimm’s Law is that of the voicedstops <b>, <d>, <g> and <gw> becoming the voiceless stops <p>, <t>, <k> and<kw>. The first of these shifts can be seen in the Latin
lūbricus
becoming
 sleipr 
inOld Norse,
 sliupan
in Gothic,
 slæpan
in Old English and
 slippery
in Modern English(Wright, p.46). The Latin word
decem
became
tío
in Old Norse,
taíhun
in Gothic,
tīen
in Old English and
ten
in Modern English (Wright, p.46), illustrating the secondof these shifts. The third shift from the voiced stop <g> to the voiceless stop <k> can be shown by the Latin
 genu
. This became
knē 
in Old Norse,
kniu
in Gothic,
cnēo
inOld English and is preserved as
knee
in contemporary English. The final shift invoiced to voiceless stops is from <gw> to <kw> as can be seen using the Latin
vīvos
(originally
 gwīwos
). This became
kvikr 
in Northern Germanic,
qius
in EasternGermanic and
cwicu
in Western Germanic and it is retained in Present-day English as
quick 
.The third and final shift demonstrated by Grimm’s Law is that of all voicedaspirated stops (<bh>, <dh>, <gh>, <gwh>) initially becoming voiced fricatives and,eventually, voiced stops (<b>, <d>, <g>, <g>/<w>). Evidence of the first of theseshifts can be seen in the Indo-European word
bher 
and the Germanic:
bera
in Old Norse,
báiran
in Gothic,
beran
in Old English and
bear 
in Modern English, showingthe progression of <bh> to <b>. The Indo-European word
reudh
became
rauđr 
,
rauþs
and
rēad 
in Northern, Eastern and Western Germanic respectively and is preserved as
red 
today (Brinton, p.134), showing the second of these shifts. The thirdshift was from <gh> to <g> as seen in the change from the Indo-European
 ghostis
: inOld Norse the word is
 gestr 
, in Gothic it is
 gasts
and
 giest 
in Old English and isretained as
 guest 
in Present-day English (Wright, p.48). The final shift that can beseen in the Germanic languages is that of <gwh> to <g>/<w>. The Indo-Europeanword
 g(w)her 
is
warm
in Modern English and has the form of 
varmr 
in Old Norse,
warmjan
in Gothic and
wearm
in Old English. From these three phonological
 
changes shown by Grimm’s Law we can clearly see examples of how some ModernEnglish words have preserved Germanic characteristics that are not common to other families of languages. Though most Old English words were lost or replaced in theMiddle English period, Present-day English still retains phonological similarities withProto-Germanic through inherited traits from Old English.Another phonological rule which is applied to all Germanic languages isknown as Verner’s Law. This law explains why ‘the expected consonant did notalways appear in the Gmc. Languages…that the differences depended on the positionof the stress in the original IE form of the word’ (Mitchell, p.38). As Joseph Wrightexplains, ‘a uniform interchange took place between the voiceless and voicedspirants’ (Wright, p.50). Thus we see <p>, <t>, <k> and <s> becoming <β>/<b>,>/<d>, >/<g> and <z>/<r> respectively. Evidence of Verner’s Law asexceptions to Grimm’s Law can be seen throughout the Germanic family of languagesas in the Old Norse
elli
>
aldinn
(where <ll> becomes <ld>, cf. Gordon, p.281), theGothic
háubiþ
from the Sanskrit
kapálam
(where <p> became <ъ
>,
cf. Bennett, p.60)and the Old English
 snīþan
>
 snidon
(where <þ> becomes <d>, cf. Mitchell, p.39).The shift of the stress from the stem vowel to the second syllable causes a change inthe medial consonant. This can be demonstrated by showing the difference betweenSanskrit
 pitár 
and the Old Norse
 fāđir 
, Gothic
 fāder 
and Old English
 f 
ǣ
der 
(
stressadded, Wright, p.51). This is preserved in Present-day English as
 fāther 
and theaccent lies on the stem vowel. The Germanic languages underwent individualvariations on this law but the changes that they all underwent was when the ‘medial or final spirants <f>, <þ>, <x>, <xw>, <s> became <ъ>, <đ>, <
ʒ
>, <
ʒ
w>, <z> when thevowel next preceding them did not…bear the principle accent of the word’ (Wright, p.50). Evidence of Verner’s Law in Modern English can be seen in the changing of the word
 seethe
to
 sodden
, where the stress of the word is altered and the medialconsonant is changed from <th> to <dd> as a result. As Old English followed bothGrimm’s Law and Verner’s Law, and as there are still examples of both laws inModern English, a study of Proto-Germanic phonology is still relevant tounderstanding the Germanic elements that Present-day English has inherited.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->