Law of Verner
The law of Verner is a law of Phonétique history whose discovery marked one of the major stages of the compared Linguistique; it indeed supplements the Loi of Grimm and makes it possible to explain the apparent irregularities of them, making it thus really reach the statute of “law”. It is Karl Verner (1846 - 1896), linguist Danish, which, in 1875, found the solution with the apparent problem: whereas the law of Grimm provides that the Occlusive S deaf persons of the Indo-European become fricative deaf in Germanic commun run, in certain cases these fricative is sound. However, the comparison with other languages IE shows well that the starting phoneme is deaf. The problem was important since it did not make it possible the law of Grimm to be systematic and without exception, which is the condition sine qua non so that sound changes are described as law.
General mechanismsNote: the transcriptions quoted between hooks are in API. Let us étymons Proto-Germanic S are in Transcription of the Germanic languages (to also consult Transcription of the Indo-European and Transcription of the Indian languages so necessary).
Verner, to include/understand the origin of these apparent irregularities of the law of Grimm in the Germanic languages, took into account the place of the Indo-European Pitch (which is known to us, inter alia, by the Sanskrit vedic and the Greek ), by comparing the words for “father” and “brother”:
Indo-European *ph2tér- and *bhréh2ter- ;
- Sanskrit pitár- and brā́tar- ;
- Greek πατέρ- and φράτερ-
- Gothic fadar and broþar .
If the law of Grimm had applied correctly, one would have in Gothic *faþar and broþar , since IE *t passes to Germanic þ . The passage of *t with or with is explained by the place of accent IE: this one strikes in *bhréh2ter- the vowel located before the consonant likely to be modified by the law of Grimm and protects it from a secondary evolution, which one finds if not everywhere else, except with the initial one. The law of Verner is stated as follows: “fricative Germanic the voices except with the initial one and except if the preceding Syllabe were tonic in IE”. This last mention has its importance since accent IE was entirely modified in Germanic common, by a change of nature (the pitch became tonic stress) common and both do not coincide more). It should be added to that fricative the IE *s is also concerned and that it is voiced in, except if the vowel which precedes is tonic. This consonant, on the other hand, does not come from a former occlusive deaf person IE. Except for Gothic, it passed to.
One can summarize the modifications undergone by the consonants concerned thus (one indicates in Germanic column the “1” the effects of the first consonant shift, that described by Grimm): Legend: has represents any dull syllable, á any syllable tonic. Are indicated between brackets the symbols of the Transcription of the Germanic languages; the symbols between hooks follow the API.
ExamplesThe law of Verner frequently appears in the conjugation of the strong verbs, in which an accented alternation is notable: whereas the accent falls normally on the radical , with the plural indicative preterite, the subjunctive preterite and the past participle, it strikes the final: thus in Old English wearþ , “it became” (of *wárþi ; cf Sanskrit vavárta , “it turned”) but wurdon , “we became” (of *wurđumí ; cf Sanskrit vavr̥timá ).
One also explains why one has in English a singular preterite of the verb to Be (“to be”) was and plural were : the first form goes back to *ás , the second with *as > *az > *ar , by Rhotacisme. Thus one finds in the Germanic languages an alternation/. One of the most famous examples, in addition to was / were , is as old English with the verb cēosan “to choose”, whose singular preterite is ceās and plural curon , directly related to the shapes of old high German kos / kurum , of the verb kostōn ; it is enough to pose an alternation *géus- / *gus- (radical “to taste” that one finds in Latin: gustus ).
The nominal system offers also some examples: “ten” is said in Indo-European *déḱm̥ , which gives regularly Latin decem , Greek δέκα, Sanskrit dása and Lituanien dẽšimt , for example. The place of the accent guarantees gotic the taíhun , of *dékum > *téχun (law of Grimm) then, noted taíhun . If the accent had struck the final, there would have been *teǥum . The accent moved however in the construction of the name “decade”, formed on the same radical widened *deḱḿ̥t- , that is to say Greek δεκάδ- and gotic tiǥu , written tigu- (is attested only in the plural tigjus ), since *dekúmd gives *teχúnđ (Grimm) > *tiǥu- (Apophonie and falls of the final consonants). It should be noted with the passage that IE *e passes into gotic regularly to, except front χ , χw and R where it is open writes aí of it, which explains double alternation:
- *déḱm̥ > tɛχu (N) ;
- *deḱḿ̥ (T) > tiǥu- .
- Extension of the law: Germanic commun run;
- chronology: after the Law of Grimm;
- effects: þ, χ, χw, S > đ, ǥ, ǥw, Z/_ .
- Law of Grimm;
- Second consonant shift;
- Germanic Languages and Proto-Germanic;
- Phonetic history;
- Linguistic compared.
- Return to Verner, Gilles Bernard, the liking of the languages n°1, ED. Harmattan, 1990 (file pdf, 16p, 159 Kibi)
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