Gothic "jan" means a causative (e.g. driggkan "to drink" drankjan "to give drink to"). Gothic "ei" PGmc ī should turn into "ai" (e.g. dreiban "to drive" draibjan "to trouble"). Why Gothic fairweitjan doesn't have an ablaut?

  • [correction: Why doesn't Gothic fairweitjan have an ablaut?]
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


Not all Germanic class 1 weak verbs (that is, the ones formed with -j- or -ij-) are causatives; many are a second, occasionally more complicated category, which I'll just call "other".

The causatives derive from the PIE causative suffix *-éy-e/o-, which also put the verb root in the o-grade. PIE *o became Proto-Germanic *a, which is why you get a in inherited causatives where a corresponding plain verb, which usually just had the e-grade in PIE, might have i. (By analogy causatives created later, in Proto-Germanic or later still, received the vowel of the past tense singular of the plain verb. The Germanic past tense of strong verbs continues the PIE perfect, which usually had the o-grade in the singular, so the result was often the same.)

The other category ultimately continues PIE *-y-é/ó- and *-ey-é/ó-, which in the PIE stage put the verb root in the zero-grade, but by Proto-Germanic (*-(i)janą) just preserved the vowel of whatever stem they were applied to. You can still get (something that goes back to) an o-grade here occasionally if the stem had one for whatever reason (some nouns do, and this category is often denominal), but it's not typical or required.

Fairweitjan isn't a causative (of what verb? what would it mean?), but in this second category. No ablaut is expected.

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