I'm trying to understand the relative chronology of Grimm's Law and Verner's Law. I understand that there are different views, and that it is not easy to work out. I believe Ringe argues that the Verner's Law happens after all of Grimm's, Voyles however says that the Verner's happens in the middle of Grimm's.

Is there an article that sums up the latest views and the pros and cons for each?

  • IMHO one of the best on this is Collinge, N. E. 1985. The laws of Indo-European. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. There are chapters on Grimm's and Verner's laws there.
    – Alex B.
    May 23, 2013 at 0:55

2 Answers 2


The consensus is that Grimm's law occurs before Verner's law. You will in the field of Indo-European linguistics always find someone who claims the opposite of what the consensus says. So it's important to know what the consensus is.

Here's an argument in favor of the traditional approach:

Verner's law turns voiceless fricatives into voiced fricatives. You can read more about that in my 2011 paper "The phonetics and phonologization of Verner’s law". But, Verner's law also targets Proto-Indo-European */k/. How is that possible? Well, Grimm's law turns Proto-Indo-European */k/ into a voiceless fricative */χ/, so if we order Grimm's law before Verner's law, then the outcome follows: */k/ > */χ/ > */ɣ/. You can read more about that in my 2009 paper "The development of voiced labiovelars in Germanic". My papers are here: http://folk.uio.no/sverrej/

I would like to know how those people who order these laws differently will explain these facts.


The traditional view is that Germanic b/d/g were at least medially voiced fricatives (v/dh/gh) after Grimm's Law and that Verner's law voiced f/s/th/kh after unstressed vowels to match them. Professor Kortlandt of Leyden university puts the alternative, that Verner's law comes before Grimm's. He believes that IE b/d/g were actually ?p/?t/?k in IE (as still in many English and Danish accents) and that therefore IE bh/dh/gh were actually closer to b/d/g. He sees Verner's Law as a voicing of p/t/k to b/d/g after unstressed vowels. Ned

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