Questions tagged [proto-germanic]

Proto-language for the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages

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5 answers
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Was there a Semitic influence on Proto-Germanic?

One of the hypotheses supported by Theo Vennemann and other linguists is that Proto-Germanic was influenced by some Semitic language. The evidence they present for their case includes: Loss of some ...
14 votes
2 answers
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Development of Old Norse 2nd and 3rd person sg. (present indicative) forms of "to be"

I was comparing the conjugations of "to be" in Old Norse and Proto-Germanic, and it looks like ON has flipped the 2nd and 3rd person singular forms. Is this what happened, or is there some ...
10 votes
5 answers
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Why is it called proto-Germanic?

Why have we named this proto language proto-Germanic? Apparently it developed in southern Scandinavia. Then expanded (via migration or contact?) towards what's now Germany. I wonder why linguists ...
10 votes
2 answers
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Why do phonemes such as /r/ and /ɾ/ evolve into uvular sounds like /ʀ/?

Forgive me if this seems vague, but this is mainly looking at the Germanic languages. Proto-Germanic probably used an alveolar of some sort, most likely a trill. In terms of Modern Germanic ...
9 votes
3 answers
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What are the Proto-Germanic words for sea, lake and a couple of others?

In Dutch "zee" means "sea" and "meer" means "lake", but in German "das Meer" means "sea" and "der See" means "lake". Similarly, verbs like to want, to need, to have, to desire, etc. are all mixed up. ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Origin of current order pattern in English/German

It is well-known, or better said, well-accepted, that the ancestral language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) was a OV language with a very limited (or nonexistent) use of subordinate clauses. In Proto-...
7 votes
2 answers
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How different were Proto-Italic and Proto-Germanic?

It's (generally) accepted that Proto-Indo-European (PIE) evolved into the subfamilies Proto-Italic, Proto-Germanic, and Proto-Iranian among others. English uses a Latin Writing system which evolved ...
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7 votes
4 answers
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Grimm's law: what motivates stop -> fricative sound change?

I am trying to understand the sound change that brought PIE *dent- to P.Gmc. *tanth-. Grimm's law seems to be the culprit for the consonant changes: Initial voiced stop /d/ devoiced to /t/ Terminal ...
6 votes
2 answers
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West Germanic Th-Stopping

This is just one example: In the word "father", there is the interdental voiced fricative. However, in Old English, the word is fæder with a voiced alveolar stop; it is also fader in Middle English. ...
6 votes
2 answers
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Are English 'gay' and Norwegian 'gøy' cognates?

Norwegian gøy means "fun" in both Bokmål and Nynorsk. Does this word have anything to do with English gay? Wiktionary says gay comes ultimately from Proto-Germanic ganhuz "sudden" via Old French gai ...
6 votes
3 answers
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Feminization suffix "-in" in German: etymology and relatives

The suffix "-in" in German modifies an actor noun into a specifically feminine form: Der Lehrer, die Lehrerin Most of the original nouns have the suffix "-er", which is widely used in the Germanic ...
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How does PIE *kʷ in **wĺ̥kʷos change to PGmc. *f in *wulfaz?

wĺ̥kʷos The word *wĺ̥kʷos is a thematic accented zero-grade noun perhaps derived from the adjective *wl̥kʷós ‘dangerous’ (compare Hittite walkuwa ‘dangerous’, Old Irish olc ‘evil’, Sanskrit [script?...
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6 votes
0 answers
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Why is the word "wherefore" not "whatfore" and the word "therefore" not "thatfore" and related anomalies

There is a pronominal adverb in many germanic languages that is a conjunction of the descendants of the proto-germanic words *hwar (where) + *furi (for/fore) which means something very similar to "for ...
5 votes
3 answers
541 views

Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)?

Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)? BACKGROUND: I suggested to a forum of linguists that a certain Semitic word (...
5 votes
1 answer
280 views

Possible extrapolation of old German word "hansa" to protogermanic and possibly common root with Sanskrit "sangha"

I came across a discussion about if "Lufthansa" means air-Swan, inspired by the sanskrit word hansa swan. Which is of course wrong as it has its origins in the old german word hansa for group or ...
5 votes
1 answer
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How did Proto-Indo-European *septm evolve into English "seven"?

The PIE *septm should have changed to Pre-PG *sefθen, by the Grimm's Law. Then, by the Verner's Law, it should have changed to *sebθen. Why did the *θ disappear for the word to develop into "sieben" ...
5 votes
2 answers
730 views

Is English "lake" Derived from Latin, or is it Indo-European?

I'm having a bit of trouble figuring this one out. Lake, meaning "A large, landlocked stretch of water." seems to have some confusion in the Wiktionary pages. I've looked in the American Heritage ...
5 votes
1 answer
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Would a Proto language be easy to learn?

Since English descends from Proto-Germanic, which descends from PIE, would either of those two languages be relatively easy to learn (compared to, say, Japanese), or has the language changed too much ...
5 votes
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How was excession expressed in Proto-Germanic?

The state of excession (of an adjective) is indicated differently accross Germanic languages. West Germanic Languages (E: too long, Du: te lang, G: zu lang) build it by the use of descendants from ...
4 votes
3 answers
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Not affected by Grimm's Law?

I've read that path comes from Old English pæþ from Proto-Germanic paþaz. The word is supposedly a cognate with Greek pátos as well as other Indo-European words beginning with the voiceless stop, and ...
4 votes
1 answer
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Umlaut in Gothic

It's said that Gothic had no umlaut, but there would seem to be, although I'm sure it's not, signs of a-umlaut. The digraph au in Gothic is thought to have represented three different sounds, one of ...
3 votes
3 answers
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Do "wise" and "wissen" share the same root?

A cursory search shows that the English adjective "wise" and the German verb "wissen" descend from the same root: the PIE *weyd- ("to see, to know"). I found this by using Etymonline to search the ...
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To what extent are Zero Period loans from Latin into Germanic evidence that the Germanic peoples acquired technologies from the Romans?

The Germanic roots of wine, street, cheese, and many other words were loaned into Proto-Germanic from Latin during the ‘zero period’. Can the fact that these were loaned from Germanic into Latin be ...
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1 answer
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Could someone illuminate for me how PGmc *suma and *sama(n) were derived?

Ie, I am assuming that they are both ultimately deriviative of PIE *sem-/*som-. So, how are they derived from this, in terms of morphemes, and their meanings? I have skimmed through both Ringe and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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When turned "to hear" into "to belong" in Germanic Languages?

In most Germanic languages the verbs for „to hear“ and „to belong [to]“ are the same or very closely related. It seems a plausible explanation, that in practice belonging to someone (G. gehören) meant ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Homophones in Proto-Germanic

Does anyone know reconstructed homophones in Proto-Germanic or where I could look them up? I am interested in clear homophones, not polysemes.
3 votes
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(proto-)Germanic evidence for Late Latin vowel length

I would like to find a list of borrowings illustrating the reflexes in (proto-)Germanic of Latin long and short vowels. In particular I would like to find substantiation to the standard claim that it ...
2 votes
1 answer
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When was Proto-Germanic spoken?

I am a conlanger and I would like to know when PGmc was spoken for a new Germanic/Italic conlang I am making.
2 votes
1 answer
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Was there a Proto-Germannic root of "miskunn"

I was not able to find an etymology of ON "miskunn" within PrG. Is the first syllable a prefix "mis-" indicating any "wrong kunn, lack of kunn" or a deformed "midi-" as in E "com-passion", G "Mit-leid"...
2 votes
1 answer
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What exactly is remarkable about Proto-Germanic *wrakjon?

wretch, n. and adj. Etymology: Old English wrecca , wræcca , = Old Saxon wrekkio , -eo (applied to the Magi), Old High German reccheo , reccho , etc., exile, adventurer, knight errant (Middle High ...
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1 vote
3 answers
357 views

Why does it seem that all Proto-Germanic words have PIE roots?

In Latin, there are words from Etruscan and unknown sources. In Proto-Germanic, pretty much all words are from Proto-Indo-European. Why is that? Are the Proto-Germanic peoples and language very ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why is /f/ easier to pronounce than /p/?

[Source:] Assistant Professor of Linguistics Andrew McKenzie, University of Kansas In particular, there is no real reason why certain changes happen while others don't. For instance, the * p ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Could Proto-Germanic *tīhaną be a "ē-grade" of *tungǭ zero-grade?

Could Proto-Germanic *tīhaną be an ē-grade of *tungǭ zero-grade? Gothic has -h- / -ng-: huhrus – huggrjan juhiza – juggs ga-teihan – tuggo ?
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1 answer
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Proto-Indo-European *nepōts cognate in Old English

From Proto-Indo-European word *nepōts (Latin nepos, Sanskrit napāt) I need to determine what is its cognate in Old English. More precisely, I need to determine whether the result is nefa (Grimm's Law) ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why Gothic fairweitjan doesn't have an ablaut?

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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Is "sagon" or "sago" the reconstructed proto-germanic term for "story"?

I found somewhere that "sagon" is the reconstructed proto-germanic word for "story", which later became "saga" in Norse. But in other places I find "sago" instead as the reconstructed proto-germanic ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why did 'r' disappear in English "speak" (compare German "sprechen") and in German "Welt" (compare English "world")?

I cannot help but notice some 'r'-s seem to have randomly disappeared in both German and English. What is going on there?
1 vote
1 answer
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Did Grimm's law take effect only 2500 years ago?

Some of the indo-european languages* are documented to be up to 3800 years old, like Hethitic, or 3600 years for Greek. So one would expect that the others are not substantially younger. (* I refer to ...
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Why do Germanic languages signal stressed short vowels by writing orthographically closed syllables?

In learning spelling and pronunciation rules for English, German, and Swedish, I always assumed that Germanic languages tend to distinguish stressed short and long vowels according to orthographic ...
1 vote
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Why does Old Norse ‘Óláfr’ have á instead of ei?

The Proto-Germanic (PG) diphthong *ai generally becomes ei in Old Norse (ON), except regularly before an original *h and commonly before r (but only from PG *r, not from rhotacised PG *z). Examples ...
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Why Proto-Germanic *frēgō is reconstructed?

Why Proto-Germanic *frēgō is reconstructed on the following forms (not *fragō PIE o-grade of *frehnaną )? from wiktionary
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a-stem genitive singular in NW Germanic languages

This is a classic problem and I'm not sure I expect a good answer to it, but it's worth it anyway. The question is partly about what appears to be some specious reasoning around Verner's Law forms and ...
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1 vote
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Why was 'thwart' assigned to PIE *terkw- "to twist"?

thwart (adv.) [...] c. 1200, from a Scandinavian source, probably Old Norse þvert "across," originally neuter of thverr (adj.) "transverse, across," (cognate with Old English þweorh "...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Why does PIE *weydtos give PGmc wīsaz not wīssaz?

Why does PIE *weydtos give PGmc wīsaz not wīssaz? compare Pgmc *stassiz, *gawissiz, *kwissiz
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Is it not plausible that English "wraith" could be connected to Proto-Germanic "*wraith-" or its derivatives?

For wraith, OED has: 1510s, "ghost," Scottish, of uncertain origin. Weekley and Century Dictionary suggest Old Norse vorðr "guardian" in the sense of "guardian angel." ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is Proto-Balto-Slavic zero-grade from long zero-grade i? [closed]

Is Proto-Balto-Slavic zero-grade from long zero-grade i pílˀnas wilkás źírˀna śírˀnāˀ Is Proto-Germanic zero-grade from long zero-grade u fullaz wulfaz kurną hurną
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Petwor and fedwor?

In Proto-Germanic, the word for four is *fedwor. But, in Proto-Indo-European, it was *kwetwores. In pre-Grimm Germanic times, it was pronounced *petwor. Hmm. When was this word a petwor, and why did ...
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Why are Proto-West Germanic hwaʀ and OHG wēr cognate?

Why are Proto-West Germanic hwaʀ and OHG wēr cognate? What is the kind of mutation a > ē?
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1 answer
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Is there evidence for expletives (ie. dummy subjects) in Proto-Germanic? What can we say about the situation in IE?

I am aware that obligatory expletives did not exist in early ON and perhaps also not in early OHG, but my knowledge of the specifics is hazy. In OE at least, I believe expletives in conjunction with ...
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What semantic notions underlie PIE *meh₂d- ('wet') and Proto-Germanic *matōną, *matjaną (“to feed, eat”)?

I was reading the etymology of amadouer when I lighted on these attested morphemes: Etymology From Middle French amadouer (“to coax, lure”), from a- + *madouer (“to lure, give food to”), from ...
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