Could Proto-Germanic *tīhaną be an ē-grade of *tungǭ zero-grade?
Gothic has -h- / -ng-:

  • huhrus – huggrjan
  • juhiza – juggs
  • ga-teihan – tuggo ?

1 Answer 1


It is of course right that Gothic has Verner's Law variants -χ- / -ng- (spelled <h> /<gg>, respectively), as seen in your first two examples.

It is also right that tuggo has a zero grade root. However, gateihan cannot be an -grade, as PIE *-ē- will develop to PGmc. *-ē₁-, which will result in Gothic -- as in Gothic nemun '(they) took' (from niman 'to take). The verb gateihan rather has the regular e-grade root (full grade), which in the present/infinitive of a strong verb of class I is regularly represented by -- (spelled <ei>), < PGmc. *-ī- < *-ei-.

So I guess that your real question is whether PGmc. *tīχan- 'to announce' could be the e-grade and PGmc. *tungō- 'tongue' the zero grade of one and the same root. The answer to this is no, at least according to standard textbook knowledge. The 'tongue' word is a cognate of Latin lingua < Old Latin dingua < PIE *dn̥ǵʰweh₂- (Casaretto 2004: 230). This is considered to be a pure nominal stem, without a verbal root. PGmc. *tīχan- is derived from the verbal root PIE *deyḱ- 'to show' (Lehmann 1986: 150) and compared to Latin dīcō 'I speak' etc. These two reconstructions are not reconcilable.


Casaretto, Antje (2004). Nominale Wortbildung der gotischen Sprache. Die Derivation der Substantive. Heidelberg: Winter.

Lehmann, Winfred P. (1986). A Gothic Etymological Dictionary. Leiden: Brill.

  • Also, would a long ē not be shortened before /ng/ in Germanic? I’m going purely off memory here and I can’t think of any actual sound change as such, but I can’t recall any Germanic words with a long vowel before a nasal cluster… Jan 5, 2021 at 19:16
  • @JanusBahsJacquet there's the notorious "einklich" pronounciation spelling for eigentlich, aeggshuly
    – vectory
    Jan 8, 2021 at 0:22
  • @vectory Proto-Germanic, I meant. There are plenty such words in modern Germanic languages (English round, German Gemeinde, Icelandic frændi, etc.), but those are all the result of later developments. Jan 8, 2021 at 0:25
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Understand I the relevance of your premise? If you are right then vowel quantity was not contrastive. Anyhow, cp. *fanhaną (/ˈɸɑ̃ː.xɑ.nɑ̃/), WGem *fą̄han. No PIE derivation. Incidently, cp. feint (Latin fictus "deceive", *finctus, fingo, "Cognates include Ancient Greek τεῖχος (teîkhos), Sanskrit देग्धि (degdhi) and English dough") also cp. täuschen "deceive", tauschen "change", Engl. mix, mix-up, make (dough), verfänglich, befangen, cepto "catch", Fangnetz (net, knot, nass?), Knete "play-doe; pay". I haven't got the hang of the concept but it's Fun!
    – vectory
    Jan 9, 2021 at 14:51
  • @vectory I don’t think vowel length was contrastive before nasal clusters in PGmc., no. So even if PIE *dn̥ɡ̑ʰú- did have a long e-grade *dēng̑ʰ(u?)-, it would not have ended up with an ē in Gothic if *V̄NC clusters were reduced to *VNC as I think they were: the relevant PGmc. form would be *teng-, which would remain in Gothic. Of course, the Verner variant with *-χ- could never arise in this root to begin with, since it never had a *k; but if the root had been *denk- instead, ē-grade *dēnk- would probably have yielded Gothic *teih[an]. Jan 9, 2021 at 17:00

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