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The second consonant shift





Germanic fracture (or breaking)

Rhotacism

The doubling of consonants

B) Unstressed vowels.

A) Stressed vowels.

Vowels

The Germanic languages are also marked by some peculiarities in the development of vowels as compared with other Indo-European languages.

1) The IE. ā(long [a]) > Gc. ō (long [o])

E.g. L māter, OE mōdor; U брат, OE brōþor.

2) The IE short [o] > Gc. short [a]

E.g. R гость, Gt Gasts.

Thus, the Indo-European vowels [a] and [o] got mixed in the Germanic languages. The IE long vowels [ō] and [ā] were both reflected as [ō] in the Germanic languages. The IE short vowels [o] and [a] were both reflected as [a].

Unstressed vowels underwent a gradual process of shortening and slurring until many of them were lost altogether. This process has continued with different intensity in different Germanic languages during all the investigated part of their history. Its results can be seen even in the oldest Germanic record.

 

All the consonants, except [r], were doubled (in spelling) or lengthened (in pronunciation) between a short vowel and the sound [j] (sometimes [l] or [r]),

E.g. Gt saljan, OE sellan, E sell Gt bidjan, OE biddan

But: Gt fōdjan, OE fēdan

 

In the final position the Germanic [z] was lost in the West-Germanic languages while it changed to [s] in the East-Germanic, and to [r] in the North-Germanic ones.

E.g. Gt dags, OE dæg, G Tag

In the middle position of the word Germanic [z] remained in Gothic and changed to [r] in the West-Germanic and North-Germanic languages. The change [z > r] is called rhotacism.

E.g. Gt maiza, OE mara, G mehr Gt batiza, OE betera

 

This is the process of formation of a short diphthong from a simple short vowel when it is followed by a specific consonant cluster. Thus,

a + r+cons., l+cons. => ea

æ + h+cons. => ea

e + h final => eo

Gt hargus, OE heard (hard)



Gt nachts, OE neaht (night)

Old Frisian herte, OE heorte (E heart)

 

The Germanic consonant shift is called the first to distinguish it from a second consonant shift, which occurred in High German dialects (that is, dialects of Southern Germany). This second shift may be illustrated by the following examples:

Common Germanic High Germanic

Gt badi (bed) Bett

OE bedd

OE dōn (do) tun

OE pōl (pool) Pfuhl

OE hopian (hope) hoffen

Gt taihun (ten) zehn

Gt itan (eat) essen

The full table of correspondences would appear to be the following:

Common Germanic High Germanic

Initially and after a After a vowel

consonant

 

b p p

d t t

g k k

p pf f

t z [ts] s

k kh ch [x]

 

The second consonant shift occurred between the 5th and 7th centuries AD, gradually spreading from South to North. A few hundred years later, between the 8th and 12th centuries, one more change took place, which gave the German consonants system its present shape. As we have seen, the common Germanic d developed into t in High German; as a result the German consonant system had no d-sound. Now a new d appeared, coming from the common Germanic þ.

Common Germanic High Germanic

Gt þreis (three) drei

Gt þu (you) du

Gt broþar (brother) Bruder

 





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