G. Kroonen, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden, 2013) outlines the phonetic changes from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic in its introduction. However, it does not outline the changes from Proto-Germanic to the descendant forms it lists under each definition:

*hardu- adj. 'hard, severe' – Go. hardus adj. 'id.', ON harðr adj. 'id.', Far. harður adj. 'id.', Elfd. ård adj. 'id.', OE heard, hard adj. 'id.', E hard, OFri. herd adj. 'id.', OS hard adj. 'id.', Du. hard adj. 'id.', OHG hart, herti adj. 'id.', G hart adj. 'id.'

I would like to figure out the phonological shifts from Proto-Germanic *hardu- all the way to, for example, German hart. What do professional linguists do in this situation?

So far, I have worked step-wise from Wikipedia – from Proto-Germanic to West Germanic, to Old High German, to Middle German to German. However, this process does not seem rigorous.

What reference works do linguists have for these changes? G. Kronnen (2013) xli contains a nice diagram from all the changes from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic: the phonetic changes from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic

I would like a book with summaries like this for various langauge pairs: Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic, Proto-Germanic to Proto-West-Germanic, Proto-West-Germanic to Old High German, etc. etc. etc..

  • Can you read in German?
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 13:24
  • Yes, no problem with German.
    – yNnfgpvVPc
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 13:29
  • 1
    Well, you could always start with the four-volume set Sprachgeschichte degruyter.com/serial/HSKSG-B/html or Salmons A history of German (2nd ed.) historyofgerman.net/index.html and work with dictionaries. The reason why "such changes are not outlined" is because they are obvious (I used to assign such problems to my undergrad students)
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 19:07
  • Oh, I wanted to infer these rules initially too, but I got put off by all the rules in the jump from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic. If later stages are less complex, then I could do it myself. Thanks for the advice!
    – yNnfgpvVPc
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


The book: N.E. Collinge's THE LAWS OF INDO-EUROPEAN may be what you're looking for.
Otherwise, you also have this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_sound_laws_in_the_Indo-European_languages
Collinge's book is of course much more detailed.

  • Whilst this is useful, I would like something organised into language stages. Maybe linguists just find reference dictionaries for every stage. So, I would need to find a linguistic dictionary for West Germanic, Old High German, Middle High German etc.. and get the changes from the introduction to each.
    – yNnfgpvVPc
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 10:47

Fortson, Indo-European Language and Culture is organized like you’re looking for.

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