Vowels of the GLs
Values of consonant letters in OE
In the majority of cases each of OE cons-nt letters represented a single phoneme, but a few of them had two or even more readings
Letter C stood for /k’/ before front vowels (cild, cæt); and for /k/ in all other positions (cnāwan)
Letter ʒ stood for
a) /Ɣ’/ before or after a front vowel
b) /Ɣ/ after r or between back vowels (sorʒian, draʒan)
c) for /g/ in other positions (gān, sinʒan)
Letters þ and ðindicated both /ð/ and /θ/
Letters f, s, þ, ð in the intervocal position all indicated the corresponding fricatives /v, z, ð/ In the initial or final position they all stood for corresponding unvoiced fricatives /f, s, θ/
// lufian, cēōsan, cweðan; þis, pāp, fif
GLs also had some specific features in the system of vowels.
IE /ŏ/ and /ǎ/correspond to GLs /ǎ/
//Greek octō - Goth ahtau
// RU ночь - DE nacht
IE /ō/ and to GLs /ō/
// Lat frāter – Goth brōþar
// Lat flōs – OE blōma (цветок)
/ŏ/ & /ā/ appeared in GLs from inner sources
In GLs the quality of a stressed vowel in some cases depended on the type of the sound that followed. This dependence is reflected in the notion of fracture. The fracture concerns two pairs of vowels: /e/ & /i/, /u/ & /o/.
| In the root syllable IE /e/ = G /i/
if followed by
1) /i/ 2) /j/ 3) nasal+consonant
else IE /e/ = G /e/
|| Lat medius – OE middle (средина)
Lat ventus – OE wind (ветер)
But Lat edere – OE etan (есть)
| IE /u/ = G /u/
if followed by
1) /u/ 2) nasal+consonant
else IE /u/ = G /o/
|| Lat sunus – OE sunu (сын)
In Goth the distribution of /e/ & /i/, /u/ & /o/ was influenced by the following consonants. Before /r/, /h/, /hw/ i®e, u®o
Vowel gradation, or Ablaut
Vowel gradations was inherited by GLs from ancient IE family of languages. There are distinguished 2 kinds of gradation: qualitative & quantative
Different vowels appear alternatively in various forms of one and the same word.
In IE /e/ and /o/
In GL /i/ and /a/
// везу – воз, беру – сбор
// Goth hilpan – halp (preterit sg)
// OE bindan – bånd (preterit sg)
is represented by the alternation of a short vowel with the corresponding long one and also alternation of a short vowel with the zero of the vowel
// беру – брать
// OE findan P2 fnden ® fundan
The origin of gradation
has been a matter of discussion for more than a 100 years. The prevailing theory is that it might be caused by different stressed conditions.
- the full stress brings the high degree /o/
- the weakened stress caused the medium degree /e/
- the unstressed position results in the zero of a vowel
Of all spheres of its application in GLs vowel gradation was used most constantly in deriving grammatical forms of strong verbs.
OE is so far removed from Mod E that one may take it for an entirely different language; this is largely due to the peculiarities of its pronunciation.
The survey of OE phonetics deals with word accentuation, the systems of vowels and consonants and their origins. The OE sound system developed from the PG system. It underwent multiple changes in the pre-written periods of history, especially in Early OE. The diachronic description of phonetics in those early periods will show the specifically English tendencies of development and the immediate sources of the sounds in the age of writing.