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Basic Grammatical Features of Germanic Languages. The Substantive

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Morphological structure of OE.

Lecture IX.




Semantic stylistic features contracting set expressions into units of fixed context are simile, contrast, metaphorand synonymy:

as like as two peas, as old as the hills and older than the hills (simile);

from beginning to end, for love or money, more or less, sooner or later (contrast);

a lame duck, a pack of lies, arms race, to swallow the pill, in a nutshell (metaphor); by leaps and bounds, proud and haughty (synonymy). A few more combinations of different features in the same phrase are: as good as gold, as pleased as Punch, as fit as a fiddle (alliteration, simile); now or never, to kill or cure (alliteration and contrast).

A proverb is a short familiar epigrammatic (clever, and amusing) saying expressing popular wisdom, a truth or a moral lesson in a concise and imaginative way. We never know the value of water till the well is dry. You can take the horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. Those who live in glass houses shouldn 't throw stones.

National idiomspresent a separate universal feature pertained to all languages. These idioms are formed on the basis of the component parts/ images characteristic of a definite national community and its language. Thus, only in English exist such idioms as to dine with Duke Humphry (остаться без обеда) or to accept the Chiltern Hundreds (слагать с себя полномочия члена парламента), and only in Ukrainian such idioms as передати куті меду (переборщить, пересолить), впіймати облизня (глотать слинки), ставити на карб (ставить на вид), пекти раків (краснеть как рак), утерти носа, давати гарбуза, etc.

All European nations and their languages have been influenced by Greek and Roman cultures and by Christianity. As a result, there are many not only words but also idioms borrowed from Greek, Hebrew and Latin (cf. Pandora’ s box, Herculian pillars, Gordian knot, to cross the Rubicon; I came, I saw, I conquered; wise Solomon, to be in (the) seventh heaven and many others).

Ukrainian English
Блудний син Prodical son
Куй залізо доки гаряче Strike the iron while it is hot
Крокодилячі сльози Crocodile’s tears
Нема диму без вогню No smoke without fire
Гратися з вогнем To play with fire


Slide 1.

The original structure of a substantive in Germanic, as well as in other Indo-European languages, presents itself as follows. A substantive consists of three elements: (1) the root, 2) a stem-building suffix, (3) a case inflexion.

The meaning of the root is the lexical meaning of the substantive.

The case inflexion expresses the relation between the thing denoted by the substantive and other things, or actions, etc., and also the category of number.

Stem-building suffixes were a means of classifying substantives according to their meanings.

Slide 2.

There is only one type of substantive in Gothic which is characterized by a distinct semantic feature. These are substantives denoting relationship and derived by means of the stem-forming suffix -r, e.g.: fadarfather', broþar 'brother', swistar 'sister', etc.

In Gothic we can clearly see the stem-building suffixes in several types of substantives in the dative plural, e.g.: dagam ‘to days’, gibom 'to gifts', gastim 'to guests', sunum 'to sons'.

Slide 3.

Vocalic stems: -a-, -o-, -i-, -u- stems. Strong declension of substantives (dative plural)

the root a stem-building suffix a case inflexion meaning
Dag- -a- -m to days
Gib- -o- -m to gifts
Gast- -i- -m to guests
Sun- -u- -m to sons


Each of these forms is easily divided into three elements. Thus, the form dagam consists of the root dag-, the stem-building suffix -a-, and the case inflexion -m; the form gibom consists of the root gib-, the stem-building suffix -o-, and the case inflexion -m, etc.

The original case inflexion (of the dative plural) was only -m, and the preceding vowel, -a-, -o-, -i- and -u- respectively, was the stem-building suffix.

Slide 4.

These suffixes are also clearly seen in the accusative plural of these substantives: dagans, gibos, gastins, sanuns. In some other case forms the suffixes are no longer visible, as in the nominative singular forms dags, giba, gasts; in the form sunusy however, the stem-building suffix -u- is clearly seen.

This originally three-part structure is changed into a two-part structure in the earliest documents of Germanic languages already.

The stem-building suffix, having lost its own meaning, coalesces (сливается) with the case inflexion in such a way that it сan no longer be identified. As a result, the stem of the substantive, which originally consisted of the root plus the stem-building suffix, now consists of the root alone.

Slide 5.

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