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[ Tatian ] [ Psalms ] [ St Emeramer Gebet ] [ Otfrid ] [ Das Ludwigslied ] [ Muspilli ] [ Notes ]


The OHG. Development of the General Germanic Vowel-system.


A. The Short Vowels of Accented Syllables


41. Before entering upon the history of the various vowels we shall here define and illustrate umlaut, a phenomenon of frequent occurrence in OHG.

By umlaut is meant the modification of an accented vowel through the influence of an i or j in the following syllable.

The only vowel, which underwent this modification in the period of OHG. treated in this book, was a, which became e ( 6). Examples are: ferit, goes, inf. faran; nom. pi. kelbir, calves, gesti, guests, beside nom. sing. kalb, gast; inf. nerien (Goth. nasjan), to save; brennen (Goth. branjan), to burn; heri (Goth. harjis), army; lengī, length, beside lang, long.


42. Germanic a generally remained unchanged in OHG. as OHG. OS. OE. Goth. faran ( 181), to go; OHG. OS gast, Goth. gasts, guest; OHG. tag, OS. dag, Goth. dags, day ; OHG. bant ( 178), OS. OE. Goth. band, he bound; OHG. OS. Goth. nam ( 179), he took; OHG. gab ( 180), OS. Goth. gaf, he gave.


43. a became e when followed by an i or j in the next syllable, for examples see 41. This i-umlaut of a did not, however, take place in the following cases :

1. Before ht, hs, or consonant + w, as maht, power, pl, mahti; wahsit, he grows, inf. wahsan; bi-scatwen from *scatwjan, to shade.

2. In Upper German before l + consonant, before hh, ch (=Germanic k, 84), and often before r + consonant, and before h (= Germanic h), as UG. haltit beside UFr. heltit, he holds, inf. haltan; UG. altiro beside UFr. eltiro, older; UG. sachit beside UFr. sehhit, he quarrels, inf. sachan, Goth. sakan; UG. warmen beside wermen, Goth. warmjan, to warm; slahit beside slehit, he strikes, inf. OHG. Goth. slahan.

3. In words ending in -nissi, -nissa, or -līh, as firstantnissi, understanding; krafftlīh, strong; tagalīh, daily.


44. Germanic e (usually written in order to distinguish it from the e which arose from the i-umlaut of a) generally remained in OHG., as OHG. OS. OE. weg, way; OHG. OS. OE. helm, helm; OHG. hlfan, OS. OE. helpan, to help; OHG. OS. OE. stelan, to steal; OHG. 랞an, OS. OE. etan, io eat.

Germ. e became i in OHG. when followed by a u in the next syllable, as hilfa, I help, biru, I bear, gibu, 1give, beside inf. hlfan, bran, gban ; OHG. sibun, OS. sebun, Lat. septem, seven; OHG. fihu, Lat. pecu, cattle; OHG. filu from an original form *pelu, much. This law has many exceptions due to new formations where the was regular, thus fhu beside fihu is due to levelling out the oblique stem form, as gen. fhes, dat. fhe.

On the OHG. change of e to i in the general Germanic combination eww (= Goth. iggw) and in the West Germanic combination eww from ewj, see 90.

On OHG. forms like lirnēn, to learn, wissa, I knew, skif, ship, skirm, protection, beside lrnēn, wssa, skf, skērm, see 38.

In a few words has become o through the influence of a preceding w, as wola (adv.), well, wolta, I would, worolt, world, beside wla, wlta, wralt.


45. Germanic i remained in OHG., as OHG. fisk, OS. OE. fisc, Goth. fisks, fish; OHG. wituwa, OS. widowa, OE. widewe, Goth. widuwō, widow; OHG. wian, OS.OE. Goth. witan, to know; OHG. biun, OE. biton, Goth. bitum, we bit; pp. OHG. gibian, OE. biten, Goth.bitans, bitten.


46. Germanic o, which arose from an older u ( 39), remained in OHG., as OHG. got, OS. OE. god, god; OHG. tohter, OS. dohtar, OE. dohtor, daughter; pp. OHG. gibotan, OS. gibodan, OE. geboden, offered, OHG. inf. biotan ( 177); pp. OHG. giholfan, OS. giholpan, OE. geholpen, helped, OHG. inf. hlfen ( 178); pp. OHG. OS. giboran, OE. geboren, OHG. inf. bran ( 179), to bear; pret. OHG. worhta, OE. worhte, he worked, beside OHG. inf. wurken from older *wurkjan.


47. Germanic u remained in OHG., as OHG. OS. OE. sunu, Goth. sunus, son; OHG. OS. wurm, stem wurmi-, worm; OHG. huggen, OS. huggian, Goth. hugjan, to think ; OHG. wullīn, woollen, guldin, golden, beside wolla, wool, gold, gold; wurken from older *wurkjan, to work, beside pret. worhta; pret. pl. OHG. butun, OS. budun, OE. budon, Goth. budum, we offered, OHG. inf. biotan ( 177); pret. pl. OHG. buntun, OS. bundun, OE. bundon, Goth. bundum, we bound, OHG. inf. bintan ( 178), pp, OHG. gibunton, OS. gibundan, OE. gebunden, Goth. bundans, bound.


B. The Long Vowels of Accented Syllables


48. The ā, which arose from a according to 36, remained in OHG., as OHG. OS. Goth. fāhan, to catch, seize; OHG. OS. Goth. hāhan, to hang, beside OHG. pp. gihangan; pret. sing. OHG.dāhta, OS.thāhta, Goth. āhta, I thought, beside inf. OHG. denken, Goth. agkjan; OHG. OS. Goth. brāhta, I brought , beside OHG. bringan, to bring.


49. Germanic āē (= OS. ā, OE. āē, Goth. ē) became ā in OHG., as OHG. tāt, OS. dād, OE. dāēd, Goth. ga-dēs, deed; OHG. sāt, OS. sād, OE. sāēd, seed; OHG. rātan, OS. rādan, OE. rāēdan, to advise, Goth. ga-rēdan, io reflect upon; OHG. OS. bārun, OE. bāēron, Goth. bērum, we bore; OHG. inf. bran ( 179); OHG. sāun, OS. sātun, OE. sāēton, Goth. sētun, they sat, OHG. inf. sitzen ( 180, note 3).



50. Germanic ē, which cannot be traced back phonologically to Indo-Germanic ē ( 20), is of obscure origin. In the oldest historic periods of most of the Germanic languages, the two sounds are kept quite apart.

Germanic ē (= OS. OE. Goth. ē) became developed to ie during the OHG. period through the intermediate stages of ea, ia. ie (0tfrid ia, but beside this also ie) is the OHG. normal form from about the middle of the ninth century. All four stages occur at different periods, as e. g. hēr, hear, hiar, hier, OS. OE. Goth. hēr, here; OHG. mēta, &c., OS. mēda, OE. mēd, pay, reward; pret. sg. OHG. rēt, &c., OS. OE. rēd, OHG. inf. rātan ( 183), to advise; OHG. le, &c., OS. OE. lēt, he let, OHG. inf. lāan. For other examples in the preterite of the old reduplicated verbs, see 183.


51. Germanic ī remained in OHG. as also in the oldest periods of the other Germanic languages, as OHG. OS. OE. swīn, Goth. swein, pig; OHG. OS. OE. sīn, Goth. seins. his; OHG. bian, OS. OE. bītan, Goth. beitan, to bite.


52. Germanic ō became uo in stem syllables during the OHG. period through the intermediate stages oa, ua. Otfrid regularly has ua, but Tatian uo. The stage oa does not occur in Upper Franconian monuments. Examples are : OHG. fuo OS. OE. fōt, Goth. fōtus, foot; OHG. fluot, OS. OE, flōd, Goth. flōdus, flood, stream; OHG. fuor, OS. OE. Goth, fōr, I fared, OHG. inf. faran ( 181); OHG. suohhen, OS. sokian, Goth. sokjan, to seek; OHG. bluoian, OS. bloian, Goth. *blojan, to bloom, blossom.


53. Germanic ū remained in OHG. as also in the oldest periods of the other Germanic languages, as OHG. OS. OE. hūs, house, Goth. hūs in gudhūs, temple; OHG. OS. OE. rūm, Goth. rūms, room; OHG. dūsunt, OS. thūsundig, OE. ūsend, Goth. ūsundi, thousand; OHG. lūhhan, OE. lūcan, to lock, Goth. galūkan, to shut, close; OHG. dūhta ( 39), OS. thūhta, OE. ūhte, Goth. ūhta, it seemed, inf. OHG. dunken, Goth. ugkjan.


C. The Diphthongs of Accented Syllables


54. Germanic ai (=OS. ē, OE. ā, Goth. i) became long close ē (through the intermediate stage of long open āē often written ae, ę in the oldest OHG. monuments) before r, old h ( 77), and w, as OHG. OS. ēr, before, Goth, ir, soon, early; OHG. mēro, OS. mēra, OE. māra, Goth. miza, greater; OHG. lēren, OS. lērian, Goth. lisjan, to teach, OHG. ēht, Goth. ihts, possession; pret. sg. OHG. OS. lēh, OE. lāh, Goth. lihr, I lent, OHG. inf. līhan ( 176); gen. OHG. OS. snēwes, OE. snāwes, of snow, Goth. sniws, snow, OHG. sēla older sēula, OS. sēola, OE. sāwol, Goth. siwala, soul; pret. sg. OHG. spēo from older *spēw, OE. spāw, Goth. spiw, OHG. inf. spīwan ( 176), to spit.

Germanic final ai also became ē in OHG., as OHG. OS. wē, OE. wā, Goth. wi, woe!; OHG. dē, Goth. i, they.

In all other cases Germanic ai became ei in OHG., as OHG. heil, OS. hēl, OE. hāl, Goth. hils, hale, whole, sound; OHG. stein, OS. stēn, OE. stān, Goth. stins, stone; pret. sing. OHG. steig, OS. stēg, OE. stāg, Goth. stig, OHG. inf. stīgan ( 176), to ascend; OHG. heian ( 183), OS. hētan, OE. hātan, Goth. hitan, to name, call.


55. Germanic au (=OS. ō, OE. ēa, Goth. u) became in OHG. long close ō (through the intermediate stages ao, long open ō,) before the consonants d, t, , s, n, r, 1, and old h ( 77), as OHG. tōd, OS. dōd, OE. dēa, Goth. duus, death; OHG. rōt, OS. rōd, OE. rēad, Goth. rus, red; pret. sg. OHG. go, OS. gōt, OE. gēat, Goth. gut, OHG. inf. gioan, to pour; pret. sg. OHG. OS. kōs, OE. cēas, Goth. kus, OHG. inf. kiosan ( 177), to choose; OHG. OS. lōn, OE. lēan, Goth. lun, pay, reward; OHG. OS. ōra, OE. ēare, Goth. uso, ear; OHG. kōl, from Lat. caulis, stalk; OHG. OS. hōh, OE. hēah, Goth. huhs, high; pret. sg. OHG. zōh, OS. tōh, OE. tēah, Goth. tuh, OHG. inf. ziohan ( 177), to draw, lead.

Before all other consonants and finally au became ou in OHG. in the course of the ninth century. Examples are: OHG. ouga, OS. ōga, OE. ēage, Goth. ugō, eye; OHG. houbit, OS. hobid, OE. hēafod, Goth. hubi, head; OHG. goumen, OS. gōmian, Goth. gumjan, to pay attention to, heed; pret. sg. OHG. boug, OS. bōg, OE. bēag, Goth. bug, OHG. inf. biogan, to bend; pret. sg. OHG. kou, OE. cēaw, OHG. inf. kiuwan ( 177), to chew.


56. Original eu ( 28) became iu in Gothic. In OS. it generally became eo (io) and in OE. eo. But it became iu

in OS. and īe in OE. when originally followed by an i or j in the next syllable.

In OHG. it became iu when originally followed by an i, j, or u in the next syllable. It also became iu in Upper German before labials and gutturals except old h ( 77), as OHG. OS. niuwi, OE. nīewe, Goth. niuja, stem form niuja-, older neujo-, new; OHG. liuhten, OS. liuhtian, OE. līehtan, Goth. liuhtjan, older *leuhtjan, to light; OHG. kiusit, OS. kiusid, OE. cīes, Goth. kiusi, he chooses, tests, OHG. inf. kiosan; OHG. diutisk, vulgaris, beside diota, people; OHG. kiusu, OE. cēose, I choose.

Upper German liup, dear, tiuf, deep, siuh, sick, ligan, to lie, beside Franconian liob, tiof, sioh, liogan; UG. and Fr. lioht, light, beside liuhten, to light.

In all other cases original eu became eo in OHG., which passed into io (Otfrid mostly ia) during the first half of the ninth century, as OHG. OS. lioht, OE. lēoht, Goth. liuha, a light, cp. Gr. leukoV, light, bright; OHG. OS. kiosan., OE. cēosan, Goth. khisan, to test, choose, cp. Gr. leuw from older leusw, I give a taste of.


[ Contents ] [ Intro ] [ Glossary ]
[ I ] [ II ] [ III ] [ IV ] [ V ] [ VI ] [ VII ] [ VIII ] [ IX ] [ X ] [ XI ] [ XII ] [ XIII ]