A Grammar of Proto-Germanic
Jonathan Slocum, ed.
III. INFLECTIONAL MORPHOLOGY
3.A.1. Introduction on Syntax
For understanding the syntax of Proto-Germanic it is highly important to note that Pre-Indo-European was an Active Language, and that the change to Accusative structure in Proto-Indo-European and its dialects was gradual. Moreover, Germanic separated early from the other Indo-European dialects, as I pointed out in 1953 and as others have since; more traits of Active Language structure were maintained in it than in the dialects that had been assumed to be the most archaic, that is, Indo-Iranian and Greek, on which Brugmann's Indo-European forms were based. While the reconstructions of Brugmann and later Indo-Europeanists have been predominant in subsequent handbooks of the parent language and also for explaining forms in the dialects, many of them do not apply to Proto-Germanic.
Moreover, the features that Germanic shares with Celtic on the one hand, Italic on the other, and with Balto-Slavic are chiefly lexical and relatively late, such as the adoption of the word for iron from Celtic; these will be discussed in the chapter on semantics. It is also important to note that there are no innovations common to these four dialects, a further indication that Germanic was independent of them in its early phase. Proto-Germanic must accordingly be treated as a stage in the development from Pre-Indo-European through Proto-Indo-European to distinct dialects.
Some characteristics of Active languages are stated here; others will be discussed in the chapters dealing with derivational morphology and with sentence structure. Active languages have three word classes: nouns, verbs, and particles. Nouns and verbs fall into two classes, either active/animate or inactive/stative. Some examples of the earlier active structure have survived throughout the Indo-European dialects in twofold designations for items that may be considered to be either in action or at rest. Among these are the two words for fire. The active word, reflected by Lat. ignis, Skt agnís, Lith. ugnìs, OCS ognь, indicated actual burning; its active role is supported by the use of the Sanskrit word also for the god of fire. The word reflected by Hitt. pahhuwar, Gk pûr, Umb. pir, Arm. hur, Toch. A por, as well as by the Germanic words as maintained by NE fire, indicated a state, as supported by its neuter gender. Other examples will be given in the chapter on semantics. When the dialects shifted from active to accusative structure, the reason for maintaining two words was lost, and typically only one was maintained.
As another characteristic of Active languages, sentences are constructed for the most part by pairing active nouns with active verbs and stative nouns with stative verbs, that is, through agreement rather than government. Accordingly, transitivity is not a characteristic and there is no inflection as for an accusative case. Relationships among nouns, also with verbs, are indicated by means of particles; furthermore, there is no distinct "adposition" part of speech.
In the course of time, agreement structure was gradually replaced by government structure in Proto-Indo-European and its dialects. Explanations for such changes are speculative; in my view, the linguistic change resulted from cultural change: as civilization developed, speakers began to understand causal relationships. For example, they began to account for increase in productivity of crops through proper planting, watering, and application of fertilizer, rather than through prayer to a crop deity. To represent such causal effects in the language, specific particles came to be joined to nouns and to verbs, some of which indicated transitivity; these and others provided the bases of inflection. Through accentuation, such groups of base words and particles became units. In time, loss of unaccented syllables and other changes clouded earlier structures, obscuring their origins, but residues are still evident in the dialects as noted below. By means of such events, the shift to government structure can be more readily understood.
Some of the particles remained independent, maintaining their function of indicating relationships of nouns and of verbs, while others were affixed to these (cf. Brugmann, Gdr. 1.3/2: 964-1009, Lehmann 2002: 87-99). Examples of reflexes in the Germanic languages that remained independent are: Go. ak, OE ac 'but'; OE and OHG nu 'now'. Among examples that were suffixed are: Go. -ei, a particle suffixed to demonstrative pronouns to produce relative pronouns as in the accusative singular þan-ei 'whom, which'; Go. -u and -uh, a question particle that is placed after words, as in:
Mark 10:38 maguts-u driggkan stikl þanei ik driggka?
can-you-two ? drink cup which I drink
"Can you two drink the cup which I drink?"
Other particles were adapted as prepositions, such as Go. af and OE of 'of', Go. bi, OE and OHG bī 'at, around', OHG zi 'to', which Hirt equated with the suffix in Gk oĩkon-de 'homeward' (Hirt 1932, II: 103).
In addition to the particles that have been maintained as independent forms, some have survived in suffixes and endings. It is assumed that the earliest such suffixes added were the single consonants called determinatives. Because they were added to roots in early Proto-Indo-European, their meanings are for the most part no longer distinguishable. Among examples are forms made from the Proto-Indo-European root *wer- 'turn, bend', as in the nouns Lat. vermis, Go. waúrms 'worm' and possibly the Lith. vérti 'to bend' (Pokorny 1959:1152-1160). Among forms derived from the root *wer- with determinatives are: Gk rémbō 'turn about in a circle,' Go. wairpan, ON verpa, OE weorpan, OHG werfen 'throw < turn' with PIE -b-determinative; Skt vartati 'turns', Go. wairþan, OHG werden 'become' with -t- determinative. Many such verbs made with determinatives could be cited, e.g. Go. giutan, ON gjóta, OHG giozzan 'pour', made with the -t- determinative from the root PIE gʰew- as in Gk khéō 'I pour'. But a semantic basis for its addition in the two roots and others cannot be identified.
Some particles developed into suffixes consisting of syllables that have survived with specific uses or meanings, such as the -to- and -no- suffixes on participles. Subsequently, many suffixes were based on full words, for example the widely used NE -hood, Du. -heid, NHG -heit suffix that indicates state or condition, as in childhood. The noun also remained independent in the older Germanic dialects, as in Go. háidus 'manner', OHG heit 'rank, state, condition'.
Besides their adaptations in derivational morphology, particles were also the basis of inflectional endings, such as -s, the nominative singular ending as in Go. dags 'day'. In his discussion of such developments, Hirt pointed out that Bopp had already equated the -s ending with the Proto-Indo-European particle *so 'here', with reflexes in Skt sa, Go. sa, Gk ho; *so also became the basis of pronouns (Hirt 1932, II:9; cf. also Hirt 1927, 3:13-14; Lehmann 2002: 148-149). Hirt assumed that *so was the source of another case ending as well, that of the genitive singular as in Go. broþrs 'of the brother'. Then at the conclusion of his treatment he proposed that it was also the source of a derivational s- suffix, as maintained in NHG Fuchs 'fox', but he did not explain the basis of its development. We assume that, in the active stage of Pre-Indo-European and early Proto-Indo-European, *so was placed after nouns to indicate the subject and also the agent of reference in genitive constructions; when Proto-Indo-European became an Accusative language, it was attached as an ending, with eventual loss of the -o.
Comparable to the -s ending that came to indicate relationships for nouns, the -m ending that came to indicate first person in verbs has been related to the personal pronoun m- forms. Such combinations became fixed, so that nouns and verbs consisted of roots and endings. Some nominal residues from this period consisting only of root and ending survive among common words; they are referred to as root nouns (Brugmann 1906, II.1:130-146). PGmc fōts, Gk pōs, Lat. pēs, Skt pad- < PIE ped- is among the few nominal examples; PGmc ist, Lat. est < PIE ?es-t- is a verbal example. But most nouns and verbs have an additional suffix between the root or base and the ending, among them even reflexes of root nouns. While a reflex of PGmc fōts is maintained in OE fōt 'foot' without the subject marker, the Gothic cognate was an expanded u-stem noun, fotus. A reason for adding such suffixes may be illustrated by noting Latin verb forms: the common verb fer- < PIE bʰer- has as second and third singular forms fers, fert. If these endings were added directly to most Latin verb roots, e.g. laudare in the first conjugation and habēre in the second, the forms would be *lauds, *laudt and *habs, *habt, or more likely modified forms of them in view of the final consonant combinations. The inclusion of the suffixes -ā/a- and -ē/e- in these conjugations between the root and the endings, as in Lat. laudās, laudat 'praises', habēs, habet 'has', yielded transparent stems and endings.
The most frequent such suffix added to nouns and to verbs, PIE -e/o-, is not associated with any meaning. Its wide application may be understood when forms like those cited above are compared; endings may no longer be modified, as are those added directly, such as Lat. es, Gk eîs < PIE es-si 'thou art'. Already in Proto-Indo-European, most nouns and verbs included such affixes when inflected, whether simple vowels like -e/o-, -i-, -u-, or longer suffixes like -yo-, -wo-, -no-. Nominal and verbal inflections were labeled by them on the basis of the Indo-European form of the suffix, e.g. o-stems, yo-stems, etc. Eventually many of them became indistinct, especially in dialects that, like Germanic, introduced a strong stress accent on roots which led to weakening or loss of final syllables.
3.A.2. Inflectional Morphology; Classes of Words
The Proto-Germanic lexicon consists of two classes of inflected words and a number of uninflected classes. The two inflected classes are substantives and verbs. The uninflected classes are conjunctions, adverbs, interjections, and prepositions (earlier, postpositions).
Substantives, including nouns, pronouns, adjectives and numerals, are inflected primarily for case, secondarily for gender and number. The sub-class of nouns is inflected for case, gender and number. The sub-class of pronouns is inflected for case, but only defectively for number and gender as well as person. The sub-class of adjectives is inflected for gender, as well as for case and number; it is further distinguished by addition of suffixes to indicate comparison. Cardinal numerals have defective inflection in all three categories. Ordinal numerals are inflected like adjectives, e.g. Go. þridja as n-stem for the numeral 'third'.
Verbs are inflected for person and number, tense, mood and voice.
3.1. Inflection of Substantives.
Five cases are reconstructed for Proto-Germanic, with traces of a sixth; these are: nominative, vocative, genitive, dative, accusative, and instrumental. The nominative is the case used to indicate the subject, and never follows a preposition. The vocative is the case of address. The genitive indicates relationships among substantives, often possession. In addition to being governed by specific prepositions, the dative indicates the indirect object; the accusative, the direct object. The instrumental case has a distinct form in only one paradigm; it indicates a relationship involving means, similar to that of adverbs. Two further cases are reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European: the locative, which according to some specialists has left reflexes in certain Germanic paradigms, and the ablative, to which certain Germanic adverbs have been related.
There are three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. These categories are primarily grammatical, although there is also relationship to sex. That distinction is found largely with nouns referring to animate beings, as in Go. niþjis 'male relative', niþjō 'female relative'; frijōnds 'friend', frijōndi 'woman friend'; ON Freyr 'the god Frey', Freyja 'the goddess'. Gender distinction is also found in the third person pronouns.
Substantives are inflected for three numbers: singular, plural, and dual. The dual is strongly represented only in pronouns and in PGmc was losing ground there. Like gender, number is also primarily a grammatical category, not always a category with literal meaning, as the following examples from Old Saxon indicate:
- OS to godes hūsun (pl.) 'to the house of God'
- OS uuas im helpono (pl.) tharf 'he needed help'
- OS briost (pl.) 'breast'
- OS giscapu (pl.) 'fate'
With the exception of gender, the categories of inflection were less distinct in Proto-Germanic than in Proto-Indo-European and were reduced further in the dialects, where some of them were ultimately lost, such as gender in English with covert usage persisting primarily in the use of personal pronoun 'he, she, it'. Similarly, except in the personal pronouns only two cases remain in English, the genitive and the unmarked case. Further, the category of number is overt only in the noun, in a few verb forms like am, is in contrast with are, and in the indication of person in the third singular present, e.g. writes as opposed to write in the plural and other categories.
Inflection is indicated through the suffixes known as endings. As noted above, in Proto-Indo-European and early Proto-Germanic the endings were suffixed directly to roots. But affixes were added to roots already in Proto-Indo-European to form bases, also known as stems, and the endings were attached to these. When the stress accent was introduced, it generally fell on the root; weakly stressed syllables then were often reduced, so that the endings in Proto-Germanic and its dialects consisted of merged suffixes and the early endings. Classes of inflections in late Proto-Germanic were labeled by these. Three declensions then resulted:
- Root nouns (which are poorly attested);
- Consonant stems;
- Vocalic stems in two sets: the o/ā stems, and the vocalic resonant stems.
Reconstructed forms illustrating each of the noun classes are given in paradigms below. Reflexes in the dialects are included, to provide evidence for the Proto-Germanic forms that have been reconstructed. In the paradigms of the dialects attested forms are preferred. But our limited texts do not provide us with complete inflections for most nouns; accordingly some unattested forms are included without being starred, such as the Gothic nominative dags.
3.2. Inflection of Nouns
3.2.1. The Root Nouns
By the time of the Germanic dialects some of the endings had been lost, as in the nominative and accusative Old English forms of 'foot'. Others were replaced, such as that in the Gothic nominative singular fotus by u-stem endings. Old English and Old Norse have maintained enough of the inflection in some words, such as the word for 'foot', to reconstruct it for Proto-Germanic. In Old Norse, however, the genitive singular is based on that of the u-stems; in Old English it is based on that of the o-stems.
The endings of root nouns:
The forms of the word for foot:
The inflection of the noun for fire, an Indo-European r/n-stem, is of interest in showing that the paradigm was maintained in early Proto-Germanic, but then modified by analogy. Only the nominative/accusative singular forms are given for Old Norse and the West Germanic languages because the two other cases have adopted forms from the o-stems. In the Gothic nominative singular the -n has been extended by analogy with the genitive and dative.
|Nom/Acc.||fōr/fuir||fōn||fūrr, fȳrr, funi||fȳr||fiur|
3.2.2. The Consonant Stems
In the consonant stems a suffix ending in a consonant was added to the root. The most prominent of these suffixes was -en. This varied from -en- to -n- to -on- in accordance with the accent. Moreover, some of the nouns to which it was added ended in a vowel, so that the variants -ēn- and -ōn- arose; if these stood finally in a word, the -n was lost, leading to a great variety of endings. Such phonological variation in a paradigm is open to analogical modification so that it is difficult to reconstruct the original paradigm. According to Meillet this is best reflected in Gothic as illustrated in its forms for 'ox', most of which are reconstructed (1937:301ff.). To illustrate the regularization in the dialects, examples of forms of the Greek words for 'male' and 'stone' are given here; one vowel has been generalized in these.
|PIE ending||Gothic 'ox'||Greek 'male'||Greek 'stone'|
3.2.3. The n- stems
To illustrate the inflection for masculine nouns a complete set of forms of the word for man is given here with the endings reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European. The Nom/Acc. forms for the neuter nouns are given below; their genitive and dative forms are like those of the masculine nouns.
The forms show instances of analogical regularization, as discussed in the notes.
Except for the genitive plural ending -ē, the Gothic forms support those reconstructed for Proto-Germanic. (It may be useful to note here again that e and o in Gothic indicate long vowels so that a macron is superfluous, though often added in this grammar to be explicit; the Gothic short vowel counterparts are indicated by ai and au, often distinguished from the ái and áu diphthongs by an acute accent on the second member, e.g. aí aú.)
Many of the forms in the other dialects show the results of analogical extension. In the singular the Old Norse and Old English genitive and dative forms were taken over from the accusative. In the nominative/accusative plural the Old High German -o- of the ending is generalized from the singular. The Old Norse nominative plural ending is based on that of the o-stems, as is also the accusative plural ending. In the other dialects the form of the nominative was generalized to the accusative. In the genitive plural the Old English and Old High German forms were taken over from the feminine, as was the dative plural in Old High German.
The Proto-Germanic forms of the feminine are reconstructed largely on the basis of those in Gothic. In the other dialects the forms influenced one another; some were introduced from other inflections.
In the oblique cases the endings of the masculine may be compared with those of the feminine; except for the characteristic long stem vowel in the feminines, the two inflections are identical. In Old Norse the influence of the two inflections is reciprocal. Various explanations have been offered for the ū- vowel in the Old High German forms; by one of them it was introduced from the accusative singular in which the vowel resulted from u-modification, so that the Proto-Germanic accusative singular ending developed from -ōnum to -ūnum > -ūnu > -ūn. It then was taken over for the other cases in the singular and for the accusative plural.
3.2.4. The r- stems
In Proto-Indo-European the form of the stem in the r-stems varied considerably. With the strong tendency to regularization in Germanic, the variation gradually was eliminated; but regularization apparently was incomplete in Proto-Germanic: from the differing paradigms in the individual dialects, it seems that the process must have continued after the time of Proto-Germanic. Explanation of the individual forms is therefore problematic in the treatment of the dialects. The word atta has replaced the inherited word for father in Gothic except for one instance of the vocative form, fadar, so the word for brother is given here.
In the Gothic plural the nominative has adopted the u-stem ending, as have the dative and accusative, with -u- in the dative probably on the pattern of the accusative. In Old Norse the base vowel of the nominative plural was extended to the three other forms. The Old English and Old High German forms illustrate how endings of the o-stems were extended to other paradigms.
3.2.5. The nt- stems
A small number of nouns with the same suffix as that of the present participle preserved their autonomy in Proto-Germanic. The changes in base vowel in Old English provide evidence for the earlier inflection. In ON frændi 'relative' the back vowel of the nominative-accusative plural has been generalized to the other cases. The singular endings have been replaced by forms of the n-inflection; in Old English and Old High German the endings have been taken over from the o-stems as have the Gothic nominative and genitive singular, as well as the genitive and dative plural.
3.2.6. The s- stems
The s-inflection has been maintained even less distinctly than have the other consonantal declensions; it is chiefly of interest as a source of the prominent noun plural ending -er in Old High German and in the later language. While the stem suffix is attested in a few oblique singular forms in Old High German, one of them chalbire 'to the calf', the singular endings were in general replaced by those of the e/o-inflection, as also in Old English.
3.3. The Vowel Stems
In the vowel stems the endings were attached to specific vowels or to suffixes ending in vowels. In these declensions the forms developed distinctive endings. The resultant forms became the most prominent in the Germanic dialects. In masculine and neuter nouns the vowel was e/o; in the feminine nouns the vowel was ā in Proto-Indo-European. These have come to be used in the labels for the declensions concerned. Besides being suffixed to the roots of nouns, these vowels were also combined with resonants, to yield the suffixes -ye/o-, -yā- and -we/o-, -wā-. These came to have distinctive inflections in keeping with the allophonic variation of the resonants, e.g. [i y iy].
3.3.1. The o- stems
The full reflex of the Proto-Germanic nominative singular ending is found in Runic inscriptions, e.g. Krogstad stainaz 'stone', and of the accusative singular, as in the form staina from the Tune inscription.
The genitive singular ending of the o-stems was -sa. It was added to both stem-vowels -a- and -e-. The -asa form has reflexes in the general North Germanic form, as in the Valsfjorden example godagas, and also in Old Saxon, e.g. dagas. The -esa form has reflexes in Gothic, and in the other West Germanic forms.
The dative form has the ending -i; PGmc -ai > -a in Gothic and -e in the other dialects. The accusative form underwent regular development.
In Old High German and Old Saxon some forms in -u are attested that are considered relic forms of the instrumental; the ending is derived from PIE -ō.
The nominative plural forms in Gothic, Old Norse, and Old High German are regular reflexes of the Proto-Germanic form. The Old English and Old Saxon forms on the other hand must have been derived from a longer form, such as PGmc -ōzez, which is parallel to the Vedic extended plural -āsas. By another explanation, the Germanic form may have arisen independently as a double plural like that in children.
The genitive plural forms reflect PIE -o-om > -ōm except for that of Gothic with -ēm. Numerous explanations have been proposed for -ēm, as from other PIE forms than genitives, but since the form occurs in Gothic alone it must have an explanation from patterning there. I assume it was a spontaneous change in which the front vowel ē was introduced in contrast with the back vowel of the nominative (Lehmann 1968).
The dative plural forms must be derived from the Proto-Indo-European instrumental ending -mis in view of the forms of the personal names Vatvims and Aflims recorded in inscriptions and Runic, e.g. Stentoften dat. pl. hagestumz 'stallions'.
The accusative plural forms in Gothic, Old Norse, and Old High German are direct reflexes of PIE -ons; the Old English form is based on the nominative.
The nominative/accusative neuter has the same origin as the accusative singular masculine; the -a is preserved in Gallehus horna. Similarly, the nominative/accusative plural has the same origin as the nominative singular feminine, i.e. PIE -ā > PGmc -ō. In North Germanic it developed first to -u, as indicated in the form bǫrn < *barnu; it was also maintained in the West Germanic dialects after short syllables, as in OE hofu. The genitive and dative neuter forms are like those of masculine nouns. The neuter genitive and dative forms are like those of masculine nouns.
3.3.2. The ā- stems
The suffix of the ā-stems developed in early Indo-European from -e/o- followed by a laryngeal. Initially, then, their inflection was like that of the e/o-stems, since the laryngeal consonant was comparable to others like s. As the laryngeal that modified vowels, it changed the preceding vowel to a, e.g. ah₂ > ā. The combination of the contracted ā with the endings led to considerable differences, as the following illustrate.
As these examples may indicate, most of the forms of this declension underwent regular changes in the dialects, though some forms within the declension were replaced, such as the Old Norse and Old English dative singular; the Old High German genitive singular was replaced by analogy with the Old High German accusative. In West Germanic, -u was lost after long syllables, as in OE ār 'honor'. The expected ending -u was preserved in the Opedal Runic form liubu 'dear'.
Other forms were replaced by those of another inflection. The Old Norse inflection introduced i-stem forms in the nominative and accusative plural gjafar. The Old High German genitive plural was taken over from the n-stems.
3.3.3. The yo- and yā- stems
The two suffixes were frequent in Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Germanic and did not lead to separate declensions until the allophonic system of the resonants broke down and the resultant phonemes underwent separate developments. Distinct declensions resulted, not only for the nouns ending in these suffixes as opposed to those ending in -o/ā-, but also for nouns with short as opposed to long stem syllables; /y/ would have had the allophone [y] after short stem syllables, [iy] after long. The paradigms illustrate the developments.
Masculine nouns with long stem vowels and -iyo-; PGmc herdiyas 'shepherd'
Masculine nouns with short stem vowels and -yo-; PGmc heryaz 'army'
The difference between nouns with long and short stems is most clearly evident in the genitive singular forms. Upon the loss of the final vowel, the -e- before -s became -i-, yielding -iyis, -yis. In -iyis the -y- was lost, and the -ii- fell together with -ī-, as indicated by Gothic -ei-. In the short stems, -yis was maintained.
These inflections are also of interest in indicating the effects of analogy as sound changes disrupt the original alignments. In Gothic the nominative singular form harjis was remodeled on the form of the genitive after the pattern of the long stems. In Old High German the nominative singular form was probably taken over from the accusative. By the ninth century the -j- was lost; except for the mutated stem vowel and the nominative singular, the forms agreed with those of the o-stems.
3.3.4. The wo- and wā- stems
By the time of the dialects, these stems had merged with the -o/ā-stems. Old Norse stem vowels, however, illustrate the modifying effect of the suffix consonant, e.g. hǫrr < PGmc harwas 'flax'. Although subsequent sound changes and analogical modifications have given rise to complex paradigms, the Proto-Germanic inflections can be reconstructed with allophonic variations of -w- parallel to those of -y-. Proto-Germanic forms for harwas are given here; after long bases, the suffix would have been -uw-.
3.3.5. The i- and u- stems
The -i- and -u- stems are comparable to the -o- stems, with -i- and -u- occupying the place of -o-. Their combinations with other vowels, however, led to differences. If the principal accent came to stand on the stem-vowel, the syllables would have had the shape -ey- in Proto-Indo-European; in this way the nominative plural differed from that of the o-stems, and is reconstructed as -ey-es. The suffix could also have o-grade, as in the feminine genitive singular, reconstructed as -oy-so-. The dative singular was taken over from the o-stems in Gothic.
The full reflex of the Proto-Germanic nominative ending is found only in Runic inscriptions, e.g. Gallehus hlewagastiz. In Old High German the stem vowel was lost after long stems before modification of the base vowel, so that the singular does not have umlaut. The feminine survives in a few forms, but in general it has merged either with the masculine or with other declensions.
In the Tomstad Runic inscription the full ending of the nominative singular was maintained in waruz 'protection', and the accusative singular in the Kjølevig inscription form magu 'kinsman'. The singular endings are as expected, though the Old English dative is taken over from the genitive. The vocative singular, which survives in Gothic, has the same form as the accusative singular. The plural forms are also as expected, though with influences among them; the Old High German nominative has been taken over in the accusative, which, however, is still reflected in the form situ 'custom' in Otfrid.
Forms of neuter u-stems are found only in the singular in Gothic, e.g. nominative faíhu, genitive faíháus, dative faíháu 'cattle'; cf. also filu 'much'. In the other dialects they have fallen together with other declensions, or survive in relic forms.
3.3.6. Development of Noun Inflection in Proto-Germanic
The forms given above indicate the general course of development of noun inflection in Proto-Germanic: whereas in the early period the endings clearly distinguished the various cases, after the stress accent was introduced the endings were weakened and some were lost. As one result, the root noun inflection was virtually eliminated.
But as endings were lost, markers for case and number evolved from what were originally derivational suffixes. New inflections developed from these, such as the ye/yo-stems and especially the n-stems. Loss also contributed to a reduction of case forms. Evidence for the vocative survived only in Gothic and for the instrumental in a few paradigms, so these forms must have been reduced in use by late Proto-Germanic. While some scholars have assumed that the locative was the basis of many Proto-Germanic dative forms, it is more likely, in accordance with Meillet (1964:294), that a zero-grade form of the dative was the basis of these, so that the locative need not be recognized for Germanic generally. Similarly, the ablative need not be recognized on the basis of the few adverbial forms that have been accounted for as reflexes of it; the adverbial endings may have been independent of the ablative case, as supported by semantic evidence.
The changes in inflection of nouns were paralleled by those in pronouns, although these were more conservative in the retention of inherited categories. Both of these influenced the inflection of adjectives, as will be noted below.
3.4. Inflection of Pronouns
From comparison of the forms in the various Indo-European dialects, it is obvious that in early Proto-Indo-European there was no pronominal inflection paradigm, but instead a series of forms. For example, the base changes from the nominative to that of oblique forms, e.g. I vs. me, and what is more, the form of some of the most frequent pronouns, e.g. that for I, varies from dialect to dialect, cf. Skt ahám, Gk égō. Further, as a complete paradigm of demonstratives was introduced, the base selected varied from dialect to dialect; for example, the bases in Germanic differ from those in Italic. As a result of the relatively recent emergence of pronominal inflection in Indo-European, etyma are reconstructed here in Proto-Germanic for the pronouns actually attested, rather than on the basis of reconstructions in Proto-Indo-European.
It is instructive to recall the structural reasons for the infrequency of pronouns in early Proto-Indo-European; most important of these is the indication of subjects by verbal endings in the early language. When verb forms no longer distinguished subjects unambiguously, as when the first and third singular preterite indicative merged, pronouns came to be used more frequently. Similarly, as the affixes marking nominal cases merged, agreement was indicated by pronouns, and subsequently also by pronominal adjectives, which developed full inflections in the individual Indo-European dialects.
Moreover, the development of a strongly structured paradigm of the noun led to a similar paradigm for pronouns, in which various particles were added, such as ge in Greek (e)mége and Proto-Germanic mek(e) in the accusative, and by the "freezing" of a form in the genitive of personal pronouns, and so on.
The non-paradigmatic set of pronouns in Indo-European can be understood most readily from scrutiny of the Hittite pronoun, which was largely clitic. Although pronouns in Germanic maintain traces of their former clitic uses, in that they generally occupy positions in the sentence that do not carry primary stress, they may also be fully stressed. By the time copious material in the dialects becomes available, pronouns are among the most frequent forms, with fully developed paradigms; the forms reconstructed here for Proto-Germanic are based on these, even though they may be relatively recent, having become regularized as the pronominal paradigms emerged.
3.4.1. Personal Pronouns
Personal pronouns are those without a noun as antecedent, as a consequence of which they lack gender. A full inflection, including dual forms, existed for first and second person; in addition the third person had three singular forms, used as reflexives, also for first and second person.
First Person Pronouns
The nominative singular posited is probably a reflex of PIE egom. In Runic inscriptions, besides the simple form ek, variants are attested, as in hate-ka 'my name is' (Lindholm) and haite-ga (Kragehul). The Kragehul form may be related to the Indo-European form with -gh, cf. Skt ahám. The Germanic variation in vowel reflects forms with primary stress, ON ek, and those with lesser degrees of it, OE ic.
The genitive singular form is based on the possessive adjective extended by a suffix, the source of which is unclear. In the dative singular PIE me was extended by a suffix that cannot be determined with assurance, possibly -so as in Umbrian seso. As noted above the accusative forms are reflexes of PIE me to which a particle -ge was added. Old English mē is taken over from the dative.
The nominative plural is based on PIE wey-, cf. Skt vay-ám 'we', to which the plural suffix was added in Germanic. In the genitive plural of the dialects other than Old Norse, the adjectival suffix -ero- was added to the base ns-, and the final -o was lengthened in parallel to that of the genitive singular. In Old Norse the suffix was added to the nominative base we(y)-. The different forms indicate the lateness of the formation. In the dative and accusative plurals, -is was extended from the dative in Gothic to the reflex of PIE ns-, cf. Skt nas, and -ih from the accusative in Old English and Old High German. These forms are instructive in indicating how Germanic pronominal forms were expanded.
The nominative dual form is based on PIE wed; similar reflexes are found in OCS vě and Lith. vèdu 'both of us'. Forms of the dual are not attested in Old High German, apart from one isolated instance, but reflexes of them survive in the contemporary Bavarian second plural: nominative os, genitive enker, accusative enk. The genitive dual has the same affix as the genitive plural. The dative and accusative dual endings were extended in Gothic and Old Norse by that of the dative plural.
Second Person Pronouns
The second singular forms are remarkably parallel to those of the first singular in development. Only the forms with special change will be discussed.
In the accusative singular the -ge particle was added to te, as in the first person; in Gothic the vowel of the nominative was extended to the accusative.
For the nominative plural compare Avestan yūs, Lith. jū̃s. The vowel was modified after that of the first person in the dialects other than Gothic. In the dative and accusative plural forms PGmc wiz < PIE wes was reduplicated, possibly to distinguish it from the first person plural nominative. The initial w was lost by dissimilation, with *iRwiR > *iðwiR > yþr in Old Norse. In pre-Old English and Old High German *izwis > *iwis and thereupon the forms attested.
In the dual, the vowel of the nominative was modified after that of the first person pronoun in the dialects other than Gothic, while the oblique cases have the same suffixes as the first person pronouns.
As in the other Indo-European dialects, the reflexive was used for all numbers and genders in the third person. It was not maintained, however, in Old English. For the first and second person, forms of the personal pronoun were employed, e.g. mik. For the third person PIE se- was extended with the endings of the first and second singular pronouns. The accusative was taken over for the dative in Old High German.
3.4.2. Demonstrative Pronouns
The most widespread demonstratives as well as definite articles in the Indo-European dialects are based on *so-/to-. Forms from *so- occur only in the masculine and feminine nominative singular; forms from *to-, elsewhere. These roots were originally sentence connectives, as application of their reflexes in Hittite and to some extent in Sanskrit show. In late Proto-Indo-European and early Proto-Germanic, endings were added to them and their forms were modified by analogy, especially in the Germanic dialects.
The demonstrative constructed on Proto-Germanic *sa-, *þa-
|Inst. (or Dat.) Sg.||tei||þ(i)ē/ō||þē||Dat. þvī, þī||Dat. þỹ||diu|
The Proto-Germanic forms are fairly transparent; many are direct reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European forms. Some have modifications, like the masculine accusative singular, but the principal modifications have been in the dialects. Regularization is most obvious in the Old High German forms. These details must be left to the treatments of the individual dialects.
3.4.3. Demonstratives with Further Extensions; Relative Pronouns
In keeping with the archaic position of Proto-Germanic, particles were appended to demonstratives to create relative pronouns, although different dialects used different particles in this role. In Gothic a particle -h, -uh was added throughout the paradigm, yielding sah, sōh, þatuh, etc. Although the source of the -u is unclear, -h is derived from PIE kʷe, which is reflected in Latin as -que, where it is found in compound pronouns, e.g. quisque 'whoever'. The Old Norse paradigm sia, siā, þetta comprises several such extensions; the form siā illustrates one extension, -a, subsequently lengthened, presumably the same particle as that in Gothic þana < PGmc þanōn.
In Old Norse and the West Germanic dialects, the particle -se yielded the most widespread compound, with the two components clearly evident in Runic sasi, susi, þatsi where only the first component is inflected. The second (-se) component is also found in Lat. ipse 'this, he'. As in Latin, the Germanic -se component eventually came to be inflected. The early form *þe-se is reflected in OE nom.sg.masc. þes, but the oblique case forms þisses, þissum, þisne show final inflections. Detailed analysis of the development of this compound to the widely used this of English, dieser of German, and so on, is a concern of the individual dialects.
The relative pronoun in Gothic also shows compounding with the particle -ei added to the demonstrative, as in saei 'which, that'. The particles es and at are used to indicate the relative pronoun in Old Norse; in the West Germanic dialects, on the other hand, reflexes of PIE te/o- are the basis of the relative pronoun, e.g. OE þe, OS the, OHG the, de, thie. These illustrate further that various particles were used in Proto-Germanic to indicate demonstrative and relative reference, so that no specific pronouns can be reconstructed for the early language for these categories.
3.4.4. The Anaphoric Pronoun
A demonstrative based on various pronominal stems that is less emphatic than forms based on Proto-Germanic so is found in the dialects. In Gothic and Old High German this is es, er in the nominative singular masculine, in contrast with OE he, OS he, ON hann. Due to such diversity, a complete paradigm cannot be reconstructed for Proto-Germanic; instead, forms from various roots were selected, and complete paradigms were constructed in the dialects around one or more of these, with endings in general taken from the *so paradigm. The roots are:
- PIE ei-, i-; cf. Lat. is 'he', Go. is
- PIE sye-, syā-; cf. Skt sya, syā 'that', OHG sie
- PIE to-; cf. Gk tó, ON þat, þeir
PIE ke/o- (cf. Oscan e-kas 'these') was extended by -eno-, producing*hēno, from which ON hana and its paradigm developed. As the variety illustrates, a paradigm cannot be reconstructed for Proto-Germanic, but instead a number of pronominal forms were in anaphoric use.
3.4.5. The Interrogative Pronoun
Forms based on the stem PIE kʷo-, kʷey- are found throughout the Indo-European dialects for the singular, although there are no distinct forms for the feminine. The forms in the Germanic dialects have undergone considerable modification, by analogy with forms of demonstratives. Moreover, Gothic includes the feminine forms nominative & accusative hʷo, dative hʷizai, which are probably patterned on the demonstrative sa rather than on reflexes of Proto-Indo-European kʷā. These attest further to the regularizing of paradigms in the individual dialects. The masculine (animate) and neuter forms are as follows:
In the nominative, the Gothic form is a regular reflex of the Proto-Indo-European form, as are the neuter forms. In the Old English form the final consonant is lost, with subsequent lengthening of the final vowel; in the Old High German form the vowel of the oblique cases has been introduced. In Old Norse a compound form has been introduced. The forms of the other cases are patterned after those of the demonstrative except in the instrumental and the Old Norse dative.
As in the demonstrative, various compound forms of interrogatives are attested. In Gothic and Old Norse a compound interrogative is based on the interrogative particle Go. hʷar, ON huar 'where' plus a reflex of PGmc -yos, e.g. Go. hʷarjis, ON huerr 'who'; it is inflected like a strong adjective. The form huerr has replaced the simple interrogative in the Old Norse nominative.
Reflexes of PGmc hwe/a-ter- are found in all the dialects. The West Germanic forms are based on the -e- form, OE hweðer, OHG hwedar 'which of two'; the forms in the other dialects are based on the -a- form, Go. hʷaþar, ON huaþarr. A reflex of the kʷo- form is also attested in OE hwæþer, suggesting that in the other dialects one form was generalized throughout the paradigm.
Reflexes of a compound with PGmc līko- 'body' as second component are attested through all the dialects, but with varying first elements: PIE kʷi in Go. hʷileiks, OE hwilc; PIE kʷey- in ON hvīlīkr; PIE kʷo- in OE hwelc, OHG hwelih. The vowel in question resulted from regularization in the dialects.
In addition, various indefinites derived from interrogatives, e.g. Go. hʷazuh 'each', OE ǣghwā 'each', OHG etewer 'someone', vary from dialect to dialect, hence a common Proto-Germanic etymon cannot be reconstructed.
3.5. Inflection of Adjectives
One of the characteristics of Germanic is the development of two adjectival inflections: one preserves the inflections assumed for late Proto-Indo-European; the other is a new inflection based on n-stems. As one of their uses in the proto-language, n-stems referred to specific individuals, as in Latin personal names like Catō, Catōnis literally 'the wise one'. The n-inflection of adjectives, called "weak" by Jacob Grimm in contrast with the inherited inflection called "strong," indicated a specific item in accordance with the Proto-Indo-European meaning, much as the definite articles did later.
3.5.1. The Strong Inflection of Adjectives
It is assumed that adjectives were originally inflected like nouns in Proto-Indo-European; the reflex of this inflection in Germanic is the strong declension. Both have the same stems, consonantal and -i-, -o-, -u- as well as -yo-. But as adjectives were frequently used in conjunction with demonstrative pronouns, some inflections were taken over from these. It is unclear how many of the endings were so modified in early Germanic. When all the dialects agree on a pronominal ending, as in the genitive, dative and accusative singular masculine, as well as in the plural forms and the nominative/accusative singular neuter, they may have been inherited from the parent language. In the feminine Gothic is more conservative, maintaining noun endings except in the genitive singular, and the genitive and dative plural.
The following inflection of *halbs 'half' may be assumed for late Proto-Germanic, with reflexes in the dialects.
3.5.2. The Weak Inflection of Adjectives
The basis of the endings was presented in section 3.3.2 above.
3.5.3. The Comparison of Adjectives
Adjectives are also inflected in comparative and superlative degrees. The formations are treated in derivational morphology, section 4.8
3.6. The Numerals
The first three cardinal numerals are inflected; the cardinals are listed in section 6.6.1. The ordinal numerals are inflected in the weak declension.
3.7. Inflection of Verbs
3.7.1. Origin of the Tense System
As noted above, verbs are inflected for tense, mood, number, and person. They also have nominal forms, the infinitive and participles. Four forms of the bases are listed as the principal parts, as illustrated here by the Old High German forms of the verb 'to see': infinitive sehan, preterite 1/3 singular sah, preterite 1 plural sāhum, past participle gisehan. From these, presumably all forms of the verb can be identified or produced.
There are two major classes of verbs, as determined by their inflection for tense. The class in which the inflections for tense are indicated by a change of vowel in the base is called "strong," after a term introduced by Jacob Grimm; sehan, sah is an example. The other class, where differences of tense are indicated by a dental suffix, is called "weak," also after Grimm; because the same base is used throughout the preterite, only three principal parts are given, as for OE legan, legde, gilegd 'lay'. Both classes are inflected in two moods, indicative and subjunctive, which are distinguished by endings, as are also singular and plural number, first, second and third person. Verbs also have an imperative, and medio-passive forms have survived in the present of Gothic. Paradigms for these are given below.
In previous grammars the inflections have been related to those of Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, as by Prokosch (1939:147-159). Since the discovery of Hittite, on the other hand, it has become clear that the Germanic inflections are continuations of the pattern in Proto-Indo-European; the more complex inflections in Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, on the other hand, are later developments in these dialects.
The Germanic verb system was formed when the early language still maintained characteristics of Active language structure. Active languages distinguish three classes of verbs: active/animate, stative/inanimate, and a small class of involuntary or impersonal verbs. Characteristic verbs of these classes were pointed out in 1897 by Delbrück, but he did not associate them with an earlier structural type (Gdr. 4:178-213, 417-478). Among active verbs he listed those for 'eat', 'bite', 'creep'; among stative verbs he listed those indicating joy, sorrow, satisfaction (cf. Lehmann 1993:218-223, 2002:77-81). The small class has three subsets: verbs referring to natural phenomena like raining; verbs referring to psychological states or conditions, like being disgusted; verbs referring to necessity, obligation or capability, like 'it is necessary'. Moreover, lacking a verb for 'have', the meaning was expressed in the proto-language with the pronoun in the dative and the third singular of the verb 'to be', as in Latin mihi est 'to me is = I have'.
When the tense system was introduced, the two large classes were combined to make up the Germanic conjugation, in which the preterite originally indicated a state, as do the Hittite preterite and originally the Greek and Sanskrit perfect. The impersonal verbs were the basis of the preterite-presents, so named because they arose from preterite forms but came to have present meaning.
3.7.2. The Strong Verb System
The arrangements of the strong verbs in seven classes reflect the earlier distinction. In verbs of the first five classes, the present tense forms are continuations of active inflection in accordance with their active/animate meanings, e.g. Class I Go. steigan 'climb', Class II kiusan 'choose', Class III hilpan 'help', Class IV niman 'take, accept', Class V lisan 'read'; the preterite is based at least in part on the perfect of Proto-Indo-European, which indicated state as the result of completed action.
Unlike the first five strong verb classes, the sixth and seventh have the base form in the preterite. The evidence for this arrangement in the sixth and seventh classes was recognized by Prokosch (1939:150-151), following Brugmann and Wood, but was not explained. The basis is now clear. Many verbs of these two classes indicate a state rather than action, e.g. standan 'stand', haitan 'call, be called'. Their meanings then corresponded to that of the early Indo-European stative, and accordingly their base form was used to make the Germanic preterite rather than the present, e.g. PIE stā-, Go. stōþ 'stood', PIE kēyd-, OE hēt 'was called'; they then formed a new present tense form, as illustrated with the infinitives above.
This explanation receives support from the weak preterite, which was based on the addition of a *dh-suffix that indicated state (Lehmann 1943). It receives additional support from verbs that maintained the inflection of the perfect (stative) but shifted their meaning, such as Gk oîda, Go. wait 'I know' from the base *weid- 'see'; rather than retention as preterite of the root, the form shifted in meaning from 'I have seen' to 'I know'. Further discussion is included below, as in treatment of the sixth and seventh classes of the strong verbs.
126.96.36.199 The First Five Classes of Strong Verbs
The five classes are traditionally labeled by the vocalism of their bases. The first class has a base vowel -ei- plus a consonant, as in the principal parts of the Gothic verb steigan, staig, stigum, stigans 'climb'. The second class has a base vowel -eu- (Gothic i < e) plus a consonant, as in the principal parts of the Gothic verb kiusan, kaus, kusum, kusans 'choose'. The third class has a base vowel -e- and one of the resonants l, m, n, r plus a consonant, as in the principal parts of the Gothic verb hilpan, halp, hulpum, hulpans 'help'. The fourth class has a base vowel -e- followed by one of the resonants, as in the principal parts of the Gothic verb stilan, stal, stēlum, stulans 'steal'. The fifth class has a base vowel -e- followed by one of the other consonants, as in the principal parts of the Gothic verb lisan, las, lēsum, lisans 'read'.
188.8.131.52 The Sixth and Seventh Classes of Strong Verbs
The original verbs of the sixth and seventh classes have, as noted above, the base form in the preterite because their meaning was stative. Since new forms were created for the present, and these vary, they must be noted individually. The forms of the seventh class verbs have many special problems. The base form in verbs of the sixth class is parallel to that of the fourth and fifth classes, but the vowel was long, consisting originally of -e- plus a laryngeal, as in the base given as PIE stā- < stex- 'stand', cf. Gk hístāmi, hístēmi. In Germanic this was followed by *nt > nd and þ, as in the principal parts of the Gothic verb standan, stōþ, stōþum standans. The base form in most of the verbs of the seventh class is parallel to that of the first three classes, again with long vowel, as in the principal parts of the Old High German verbs heizan, hiaz, hiazum, giheizan 'call', loufan, lief, liefum, giloufan 'leap', and rātan, riet, rieten, giratan 'advise'.
3.7.3. The Four Classes of Weak Verbs
The four classes of weak verbs are distinguished by their suffixes, and also by their meaning. Class 1 has a -ja- suffix based on PIE -éye/o- with -a- from PIE -o- in the root, as in PGmc lagjan 'lay' in contrast with PGmc ligan 'lie'; as in this verb they have causative or factitive meaning. While many in this class are based on verbal roots, others are based on nominals, such as hailjan 'heal'. Class 2 has a suffix based on -ō- from PIE -ā- as in salbōn 'anoint' and are chiefly denominatives; cf. OHG salfs 'a salve'. Class 3 has an -ái- suffix, as illustrated by the Go. preterite habáida (cf. the infinitive haban) and OHG habēta, though not in the other dialects, as in OE hæfde 'had'. Class 4 has a -nō- suffix based on PIE -nā-, as in Go. waknōda, with a shortened form in ON vaknaþe 'wakened'; the vowel was also weakened in the present, as in Go. wakna, ON vakna 'I waken'. Verbs of the class have inchoative or middle meaning.
3.8. The Inflected Forms
The present tense inflected forms may be illustrated by the Proto-Germanic verb neman, forms of which are among the best attested in Gothic, including the dual, and also in the other dialects. Gothic forms are listed for comparison:
The forms of the preterite are as follows:
The forms of the weak verbs are comparable to those of the strong verbs in the present, although the suffixes must be noted. Proto-Germanic examples in the present singular are as follows (with the plural forms being like those of the strong verbs):
|Class 1||Class 2||Class 3||Class 4|
Singular forms of the weak verb preterite are as follows (with the plural forms being like those of strong verbs):
|Class 1||Class 2||Class 3||Class 4|
Forms of the passive present have also been attested in Gothic, where the subjunctive endings are based on the innovated -áu in the first singular. Only occasional examples are attested in the other dialects.
There are three non-finite forms: the infinitive, e.g. neman, lagjan; the present participle, e.g. nemands, lagjands; the past participle, e.g. numans, lagiþs. The present participle is inflected like a weak adjective; the feminine nominative ends in -ī, e.g. nemandī, lagjandī.
3.9. The Preterite-Presents
As noted above, the third class of verbs as developed from the stative stage has preterite forms with present meanings, and in accordance with the emphasis on morphology in the 19th century it was labeled "preterite-present." As with wáit, earlier 'I have seen', their basic meaning in the Indo-European perfect was stative but corresponded to an activity in the present rather than in the past. Similarly, PGmc dars corresponds to Gk tharséō 'I am courageous'; from a meaning corresponding to 'I am in a state of being courageous', the meaning 'I dare' developed.
The preterite-present verbs are inflected like the first six classes of strong verbs. Because the endings are like those of the strong verb preterite, only the first singular and first plural present, and also the first singular preterite and the past participle are given here, listed by classes.
Some of them are found in other Indo-European dialects as well, notably the equivalent of wáit: Skt véda, Gk oĩda 'I know'. These are o-grade forms of the Proto-Indo-European base weid- 'see'. It is instructive to note that the Lat. vīdī 'I have seen' was continued as the regular perfect form of videō 'I see'. In Sanskrit, Greek and Germanic, on the other hand, the completed action was treated as a state, and then shifted semantically to 'I know'. The shift in the other verbs is comparable, as is clear from their vocalism. The principal parts of Gothic preterite-present verbs are as follows:
|Pres. Sg.||Pres. Pl.||Pret.||Past Ptc.||Gloss|
|þarf||þurfum||þaúrfta||þaúrft||'have need of'|
3.10. The Uses of the Forms
The uses of the indicative tense verb forms are comparable to those in the current Germanic languages, which mark the basic contrast between present time and past time. Present tense forms are also employed to express future time; but compound forms with auxiliaries gradually replace them, for the most part, in the dialects.
There may be some retention of aspect, especially in the preterite forms.
The subjunctive forms are used to indicate uncertainty, as well as in some subordinate clauses. Fuller treatment will be given in the section on the structure of sentences.
The uses of the imperative, the infinitive and the participles are comparable to those in the current languages.
The uses of the nominal forms are comparable to those in the current Germanic languages. As exemplified above, duals are maintained in some inflections; they invariably represent two entities, so that the plurals are less coverable in the relevant paradigms.