1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Teutonic Languages

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TEUTONIC (GERMANIC) LANGUAGES,[1] a comprehensive term for a number of languages most of which are still spoken at the present time, namely English, Frisian, Dutch, Flemish, German (both High and Low) and the various Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Danish, Icelandic and the Norwegian dialects). The course of time has tended very largely to obscure the affinities between these languages, and in several cases they have been mutually unintelligible for many centuries. In their earliest known forms, however, they betray the most unmistakable traces of a common origin. To the languages enumerated above we have to add the now extinct Gothic, which in the 5th and 6th centuries was spoken over a large part of Europe.

Detailed accounts of the various Teutonic languages will be found in articles under the respective headings. Here it is possible only to give a brief summary of the chief characteristics of these languages as a group, and of the chief divergences noticeable in early times between the various members of the group. It should be noted at the outset that the written records of the various languages date from very different periods. Gothic is known to us almost entirely from Ulfilas' translation of the Bible, which dates from the 4th century. English written literature starts with the beginning of the 7th century, though earlier matter may be preserved in certain poems. The earliest known German and Dutch documents date from the 8th and 9th centuries respectively, while Frisian is practically unknown before the 13th century. Scandinavian written literature seems to have begun in the 12th century, but many poems are probably from two to three centuries older. In the North there are also a large number of inscriptions which are of great value for linguistic purposes. Most of them cannot be dated with certainty, but the forms of language which they present show all stages of development, from the type found in literary times back to one which is somewhat more archaic even than Gothic. It is probable that the earliest of them date from between the 3rd and 5th centuries. The inscriptions found in England and Germany are much fewer and less archaic. In the latter case, however, a good deal of linguistic evidence is available from the proper names and other Teutonic words which occur in early Latin and Greek writings. Much assistance may also be obtained from the loan-words borrowed by Teutonic languages from Latin and by other languages, especially Finnish and Slavonic, from Teutonic.

The Teutonic languages form a distinct and well-defined group of the Indo-European family. Their nearest affinities are on the one side with the Celtic and Italic (Latin, &c.) languages, and on the other with the Slavonic and Baltic languages. In regard to the fundamental distinction, however, by which the Indo-European languages as a whole fall into two main divisions, namely according to the treatment of certain guttural and palatal consonants, the Teutonic group belongs definitely, together with Celtic, Italic and Greek, to the western of these divisions.

The chief characteristic of the Teutonic languages as a whole lies in their treatment of the Indo-European explosive sounds. This characteristic, generally known as Grimm's Law, is due to sound-changes peculiar to Teutonic, though somewhat similar changes may be traced both in Armenian and Celtic. The most noteworthy phenomena are as follows:—

(1) The Indo-European voiced aspirates, bh, dh, gh (Lat. f, f, h; Gk. φ, θ, χ) became voiced spirants, ƀ, đ, ʒ. After nasals these spirants became explosives (b, d, g); and in the first two cases the same change took place initially, though hardly during the early centuries of our era, e.g. A.S. beran, O.N. bera : Lat. fero, Gk. φέρω; A.S. stigan : Gk. στείχω; O.N. miöðr (A.S. medu) : Gk. μέθυ.

(2) The I.-Eur. voiceless explosives, p, t, k, were preserved only after s (t also in the I.-Eur. groups pt and kt); e.g. A.S. stede, Goth. staps: Gk. στάσις; Goth. nahts: Lat. noctem. In all other cases they became voiceless spirants, f, þ, χ, (h). These new sounds remained (i.) initially, e.g. A.S. hwaet, O.N. hvat: Lat. quod; A.S. faeder, O.N. faðir : Lat. pater; (ii.) in combination with other voiceless sounds, e.g. Goth. saihs, O.H.G. sehs: Lat. sex; Goth. nahts: Lat. noctem; (iii.) immediately after the (original) accent, e.g. Goth. broþar, A.S. broðor : Lat. frater, Gk. φράτηρ; Goth. taihun, O.H.G. zehan: Lat. decem, Gk. δέκα. In all other cases they became voiced spirants (“Verner's Law”), identical with those arising from I.-Eur. bh, dh, gh (see above); e.g. A.S. faeder: Lat. pater, Gk. πατήρ; A.S. sweger, O.H.G. swigar (mother-in-law): Gk. ἑκυρά.

(3) The I.-Eur. voiced (unaspirated) explosives, b, d, g, became voiceless, p, t, k; e.g. A.S. etan : Lat. edere; A.S. aecer, Goth. akrs: Lat. ager, Gk. ἀγρός.

Among other consonantal changes we may note especially the following:—

(4) ʒw arising from I.-Eur. ghw or kw (see above) was reduced (except after nasals) before u (perhaps also before I.-Eur. o) to ʒ, and in all other cases to w; e.g. A.S. guð (war), O.H.G. gund: Gk. -φατος (cf. φόνος); A.S. sniweð (snows): Lat. niuit, Gk. νείφει.

(5) The I.-Eur. cons. group arising from combination of dental sound +t became ss, as in Celtic and Latin, e.g. A.S. sess (seat): sittan, Lat. sedere (cf. Sanscr. pp. sattas, Lat. obsessus).

(6) The treatment of I.-Eur. s was precisely parallel to that of the voiceless spirants f, þ, χ arising from I.-Eur. p, t, k (see above). It was preserved (i) initially, (ii) in combination with voiceless sounds, (iii) immediately after the (original) accent. In all other cases it became voiced (z). This voiced spirant subsequently became r in all Teutonic languages except Gothic, where however the distinction between voiced and voiceless spirants is not well preserved; e.g. A.S. ceosan, pp. coren (géuso- guséno): Gk. γεύομαι (cf. Lat. gustus); A.S. snoru, O.H.G. snura (daughter-in-law): Sanscr. snušā́, Gk. νυός.

Most of the other consonantal changes are in the nature of assimilation.

(7) ƀn, đn, ʒn before the accent became pp, tt, kk (probably through the intermediate stage bb, dd, gg); e.g. A.S. liccian, O.H.G. leckon (from liʒnā́-): Gk. λιχνεύω (cf. Goth. bi-laigon).

(8) ln became ll; e.g. A.S. full, Goth. fulls: Lith. pilnas.

(9) nw became nn; e.g. A.S. pynne, O.N. punnr: Lat. tenuis.

(10) đl became ll; e.g. A.S. st(e)all, O.N. stallr: Lat. stabulum (from stadhlom).

(11) In some combinations consonants are lost or new consonants developed; e.g. Goth. sunja (truth): Lat. praesentia (-sntjā); O.H.G. hunno (centurion) from hundn-, cf. Goth. hund: Lat. centum; A.S. stream, O.N. straumr from sroum-, cf. Gk. ῥεῦμα, Old Irish sruaim.

The following changes are found in all Teutonic languages, but took place apparently later than those enumerated above:—

(i) n was lost before χ (h), with compensatory lengthening of the vowel; e.g. A.S. pōhte, Goth. pāhta beside A.S. pencean, Goth. pagkjan.

(ii) Final explosives and nasals were lost; e.g. A.S. wile, Goth. wili: Lat. uelit; A.S. ēa, Goth. ahwa: Lat. aquam; Goth. kustu: Lat. gustum.

In its vowel-system the earliest known form of Teutonic did not differ greatly from the other I.-Eur. languages. Its chief peculiarities seem to have been as follows:—

(1) It had one vowel (a) corresponding to the two vowels a, o found in the other I.-Eur. languages; e.g. Goth. akrs, O.N. akr: Lat. ager, Gk. ἀγρός; Goth. ahtau, O.H.G. ahto: Lat. octo, Gk. ὀκτώ.

(2) It had also one vowel (ō) corresponding to the two vowels ā, ō, found in the other I.-Eur. languages, e.g. A.S. brōðor, Goth. bro par: Lat. frāter, Gk. φρ?τηρ; A.S. rōw (rest), O.H.G. ruowa: Gk. ἐρω(ϝ)ή.

The other I.-Eur. vowels, ē̆, ī̆, ū̆, were preserved in the earliest Teutonic. Soon after the beginning of our era, however, e began to change to i before a nasal followed by a consonant, e.g. Ptol. Φίννοι (A.S. Finnas, O.N. Finnar) against Tac. Fenni. The diphthong ei became ī; e.g. A.S., O.H.G. stīgan, O.N. stíga: Gk. στείχω (the ei of Goth. steigan is merely graphic).

The reduced nasal sounds generally written . , arising from en, ne, em, me, &c., in unaccented syllables, became un, um (rarely nu, mu), e.g. A.S., Goth., &c. un- (negative prefix): Lat. in-, Gk. ἀ-, ἀν-; A.S., Goth. hund: Lat. centum, Gk. ἑ-κατόν. Similarly the reduced liquid sounds , became ur, ul (rarely ru, lu); e.g. A.S. furh: Lat. porca; Goth. pulan: Lat. tollo, Gk. τετλάμεν.

Accent.—In the I.-Eur. languages the position of the accent was originally free—i.e., any syllable in the word could bear the chief accent—variation occurring very frequently, e.g. between different cases of the same noun. This freedom of position must have been retained in Teutonic at the time when voiceless spirants (f, þ, χ, s) became voiced (see above). Eventually, however, as in Gaelic (Irish) and at one time also in the Italic languages, the first syllable of every word came to bear the chief accent, the only noteworthy exceptions being certain compound words, more especially verbs compounded with prepositions, which were probably long regarded as more or less independent words. This system of accentuation was intimately connected with the principle of alliteration, the essential characteristic of early Teutonic poetry and the dominant factor in family nomenclature. Alliteration in family names certainly dates from the very beginning of the Christian era, e.g. the S-names in one of the princely families of the Cherusci frequently mentioned by Tacitus, and there is also some evidence that Teutonic poetry was alliterative by this time. It is probable, therefore, that the change in the system of accentuation took place not later than the 1st century B.C.

The description of the phonetic characteristics given above applies in general to the Teutonic group of languages as a whole. So far as one can judge from the proper names, &c., which occur in Latin works, the description would probably be true for the time about the beginning of the Christian era. Dialectical differences no doubt already existed, but few of them were so clearly marked that they can now be traced with anything like certainty. The language of the earliest Runic inscriptions does not differ very markedly from this type. The principal changes which we can now detect are as follows:—

(1) e became i, (i) in the unaccented syllable of dissyllabic and in the least accented syllables of polysyllabic words; e.g. dohtriz (inscr.), O.N. doetr: Gk. θυγατέρες; (ii) in accented syllables when the following syllable contained i, j, or u; e.g. A.S. mid(d), O.N. miðr: Lat. medius.

(2) i became e when the following syllable contained a, ē, ō; e.g. A.S., O.H.G. wer, O.N. verr (stem wera-): Lat. uir.

(3) u became o when the following syllable contained a, ē̆, ō; e.g. (1 sing. pret.) worahtō (inscr.), A.S. wor(o)hte, O.H.G. wor(a)hta: A.S. wyrcean, O.H.G. wurchen.

(4) ē became ā always; e.g. -māriz (inscr.): Goth. -mers.

(5) final a, e, were lost; e.g. (1, 3 sing. pret.) was (inscr.); cf. Gk. λέλοιπ-α, .

(6) final long vowels were (in general) shortened (ī>i, ō>u); e.g. liuōu (inscr.). N. sing. fern. (cf. Gk. ἐχθρ?).

(7) final nasals and explosives were lost; e.g. worahtō, 1 sing. pret. (cf. Gk. ἐτίθην).

These changes appear to have operated in all the northern and western Teutonic languages during the first four centuries of our era, except the change ē>ā, which in the extreme west (Frankish) seems not to have taken place until the latter part of the 6th century. Several of them can be traced more or less clearly in Latin writings of the 1st century. The Gothic language, however, seems to have developed on quite different lines. The more important of its changes are as follows:—

(1) e became i always; e.g. wigs (road): A.S. weg. But i later became e (written ai in Ulfilas' orthography) before r, h; e.g. hairdeis (herdsman): O.H.G. hirti.

(2) u became o (written au) before r, h; e.g. baurgs: A.S. burg. (In Ulfilas' orthography the letters transcribed e, o are used for long vowels only.)

(3) ai, au became ē, ō; but the digraphs were still written.

(4) short vowels (except u) in final syllables were lost; e.g. dags, gasts: (N. inscr.) daʒaz, -ʒastiz.

(5) final nasals and explosives were lost; e.g. sunu (Acc. sing.): Sanscr. sūnum.

(6) final long vowels (including those which had become final through the last change) were (in general) shortened (ī>i, ō>a, ē>a); e.g. waurhta (1 sing. pret.): (N. inscr.) worahtō; liuba (N. sing. fem.): (N. inscr.) liuƀu.

(7) voiced spirants when final (also before s) became voiceless; e.g. baþ (3 sing. pret. of bidjan).

All these changes appear to have taken place before or during the 4th century. The effect of them must have been to render the Gothic language hardly intelligible to a person who spoke a northern or western language, whereas during the same period there is little evidence for differences among the latter languages themselves. At a later date Gothic underwent further changes which do not appear in Ulfilas' version, or only to a slight extent.

(1) i became a close e- sound; e.g. Venethae (Jordanes), for Winid-.

(2) u became a close o sound: e.g. Ρόγοι (Procopius): Rugii; later o became a in unaccented syllables; e.g. ūraz (for -us).

(3) ē became ī; e.g. leikeis for lekeis (not unfrequently in the MSS.).

(4) ō became ū; e.g. sunjus for sunjos.

The chief sound-changes in the northern and western languages seem to have taken place in the 6th and 7th centuries. Some of these changes were common to all the languages in question, some to English and Scandinavian, some to English and German, while others again occurred in only one of these languages or a portion of it.

I. Among the chief changes common to English, Scandinavian and German we may reckon (1) the loss of final a (in Scand. also before final consonants); e.g. A.S., O.N., O.H.G. horn (N. inscr. horna); (2) the loss of unaccented i, u after long syllables, e.g. A.S. hond, O.N. hönd, O.H.G. hant: Goth. handus; (3) the change z>r before vowels or g; e.g. A.S. dēor, O.N. dýr, O.H.G. tior: Goth. (plur.) diuza.

II. Among the most important of the changes common to English and Scandinavian must be classed (1) the affection (umlaut) of vowels by the vowels (generally i, u) of following syllables; e.g. A.S. cyn(n), O.N. kyn: O.H.G. kunni; A.S. geofu, O.N. giof: O.H.G. geba. In early German the only case of this kind was the affection of a by a following i and even this seems to have taken place much later. To the same category we must reckon (2) the early loss of h between sonants, e.g. A.S. sēon, sīan, O.N. siá: O.H.G. sehan; (3) the loss of n before s, e.g. A.S. ōs, O.N. áss: O.H.G. Ans—.

III. Among the chief changes common to English and German were the following: (1) The loss of final z; e.g. A.S. daeg, O.H.G. tag: O.N. dagr (N. inscr. dazaz). In short monosyllables, however, z became r in High German, as in Scandinavian; e.g. mir (Dat.): A.S. , O.-Sax. , O.N. mér, Goth. mis. (2) The change z>r before d (whereas assimilation took place in Scand.), e.g. A.S. hord, O.H.G. hort: O.N. hodd, Goth. huzd. (3) The change d>d in all positions (in Scand. only initially and after l), e.g. A.S. faeder, O.-Sax. fader (0.H.G. fater): O.N. faðir. (4) The lengthening of all consonants (except r) before j (in Scand. only gutturals), e.g. A.S. biddan, O.H.G. bitten: O.N. biðia.

The sound-changes peculiar to English, Scandinavian and German are treated in the articles dealing with these languages. It should be noted that the Frisian dialects agree with English not only in the phenomena enumerated above, but also in a number of changes peculiar to these languages. Such are (1) the change ā>ō before nasals, e.g. A.S. mōnað, O.Fr. mōnath: O.H.G. mānod; (2) the change ā>āē (later ē) in other positions, e.g. A.S. rāēd, O.Fr. rēd: O.H.G. rāt; (3) the labialization of a before nasals, e.g. A.S. mon, man, O.Fr. mon, man: O.H.G. man; (4) the change a>ae (e in Fris.) in close syllables (also in open syllables before front vowels), e.g. A.S. staef, O.Fr. stef: O.H.G. stap; (5) the diphthongization of vowels before h, e.g. A.S. cneoht, O.Fr. kniucht: O.H.G. kneht; (6) the loss of n before þ, e.g. A.S. ōðer, O.Fr. ōther: O.H.G. ander; (7) the palatalization of gutturals before front vowels, e.g. A.S. geldan, gieldan (Engl. yield), O.Fr. ielda: O.H.G. geltan. The noteworthy differences between the two languages in early times seem to have been very few: (1) a, e, i, are diphthongized before r followed by a consonant in English, but not in Frisian, e.g. A.S. earm: O.Fr. erm (cf. Goth. arms); (2) the diphthong ai became ā in English everywhere, but in Frisian only in open syllables (ē in close syllables); e.g. A.S. : O.Fr. ēth (Goth. aiþs), but A.S., O.Fr. āgun (Goth. aigun); (3) the diphthong au became (aeu, then) ēa in English, but ā in Frisian, e.g. A.S. ēage (ēge): O.Fr. āge (Goth. augo); (4) i was labialized in Frisian, but not in English, before (original) w in the following syllable; e.g. O.Fr. siunga: A.S. singan (cf. Goth. siggwan). Frisian texts of the 13th and 14th centuries show many characteristic changes which must have rendered the language almost, if not wholly, unintelligible to an Englishman of the same period; but it is hardly probable that these changes were for the most part of any great antiquity.

Declension.—The I.-Eur. languages seem originally to have had three numbers and eight cases, though it is by no means clear that each of the latter had a distinct form in every class of stems. In Teutonic there is scarcely any trace of the dual in nouns. Of the cases all the early Teutonic languages preserved four, viz. the Nominative, Accusative, Genitive and Dative. The Vocative also was kept in Gothic and the Instrumental to a considerable extent in early German, while the earliest Anglo-Saxon preserved many traces of the locative.

The case endings are best preserved in the earliest Northern inscriptions and in Gothic. As an illustration we may take those of the I.-Eur. o-declension:—

Goth. N. sing. -s  A.  - G.  -is  D.  -a  N. plur.  -ōs  A. -ans G. ē D. -am
N. inscr. -az -a -as -ē -ō
cf. Greek  -ος -ον -ονς (-ους) -ων

As examples of the forms found in the inscriptions may be given N. erilaz, A. staina, G. A(n)suʒisalas, D. Woduride. In the other classes of stems also the declension conforms to the general I.-Eur. types. Whatever changes have taken place have usually tended towards simplification; thus there are but few traces of stem-variation (ablaut) between different cases of the same noun.

The treatment of adjectives was somewhat more peculiar. In addition to the old type of declension which conformed to that of Adjectives. the demonstrative pronoun and not, as in Greek and Latin, to that of substantives, almost every adjective was inflected also after the model of n-stems. This type of inflection occurs chiefly in conjunction with the demonstrative pronoun (definite article) and it is thought that its origin is to be found in substantival (appositional) sage.

The comparative of adjectives is formed partly by a suffix -izan- (e.g. Goth. sutiza, A.S. lengra), which is apparently extended from the suffix -ios-, -is- found in the other I.-Eur. languages and probably to be compared with Gk. ἡδίων (from swādisōn), and partly by a suffix -ōzan- (e.g. Goth. swinþoza) which is peculiar to Teutonic. Similarly the superlative is formed partly by a suffix -ista- (e.g. Goth. hauhists, A.S. lengest) corresponding to -isto- in other I.-Eur. languages (e.g. Gk. ἥδιστος), and partly by a new formation -ōsta- (e.g. Goth. armosts).

Most of the I.-Eur. demonstrative pronouns are found in Teutonic, and the peculiarities of their inflection are in general well preserved. Pronouns. The most important are Goth. is, O.H.G. er: Lat. is; A.S. he: Lith. szis; Goth. sa, so, þata: Gk. , , τό. The last of these (as in Greek) has become a definite article in all except the Scandinavian languages. The interrogative pronouns are Goth. hwas, A.S. hwā: Sanscr. kas, and O.H.G. hwer: Lat. quis. The place of the relative pronoun is supplied by the demonstrative or by indeclinable forms. The inflection of the personal and reflexive pronouns is for the most part peculiar to Teutonic, e.g. Goth. 1 sing. N. ik, A. mik, G. meina, D. mis; 1 plur. N. weis, A.D. uns (unsis), G. unsara. The majority of these forms are common to all the Teutonic languages, though there is a variation between -e and -i which is probably due to accentual causes; e.g. A.S. ic, mec, me; O.N. ek, mik, mer; O.H.G. ih, mih, mir.

Conjugation.—The Teutonic verb-system is simpler than that of most of the I.-Eur. languages. The old Middle Voice is preserved only in Gothic, where it is used as a passive. In the other Teutonic languages only one or two isolated forms remain. In place of the two old moods, Conjunctive and Optative, there is but one, which is generally called Conjunctive, though its forms are mostly of Optative origin. Again, there are only two tenses, Present and Preterite, the latter of which is derived partly from the I.-Eur. Perfect, partly from Aorist or Imperfect formations. A few old Perfects, however, which have no Presents, retain their original meaning and are generally known as Preterite-presents, e.g. Goth. wait, A.S. wāt, “I know”: Gk. οἶδα. In place of the Future the Teutonic languages use either perfective verbs (generally compounded with a preposition) or a periphrasis consisting of the Infinitive with an auxiliary verb.

The conjugation of the Pres. Indic. Act. corresponds in general to that of most of the I.-Eur. languages, e.g. Goth. 1 sing. baira, 2 bairis, 3 bairip, 1 plur. bairam, 2 bairip, 3 bairand, cf. Gk. φέρω, Sanscr. bharasi, bharati, Gk. φέρομεν, φέρετε, φέροντι (φέρουσι). Gothic had also forms for the 1, 2 dual, bairos, bairats, which have not been satisfactorily explained. In the other languages there is scarcely any trace of the dual. The conjugation of verbs corresponding to the Greek verbs in -µι is preserved best in Old High German; e.g. 1 sing. habē-m (-n), 2 habēs, 3 habēt, 1 plur. habēmēs, 2 habēt, 3 habēnt, cf. Gk. 1 sing. τίθημι, Lat. 2 sing. habēs, 3 habet, 1 plur. habēmus, 2 habētis, 3 habent. A number of archaic forms are preserved in the “verb substantive,” e.g. Goth. 1 sing. im, 2 is, 3 ist, 3 plur. sind.; O.N. 1 plur. erum; cf. Gk. 1 sing. εἰμί, 2 ἐσσί, εἶ, 3 ἐστί, 1 plur. ἐσμέν, 3 εἰοί. The forms of the Conjunctive (Optative) correspond in general to those of the other I.-Eur. languages; e.g. Goth. 2 sing. bairais, 3 sing. bairai; Gk. 2 sing. φέροις, 3 sing. φέροι. So also the Imperative, e.g. 2 sing. bair: Gk. φέρε; but the origin of the 3 sing. and 3 plur. forms in Gothic (bairadau, bairandau) is not quite clear. The Gothic Passive is conjugated as follows in the Pres. Indic.: 1, 3 sing. bairada, 2 sing. bairaza, 1, 2, 3 plur. bairanda; cf. Gk. 3 sing. φέρεται, 2 sing. φέρῃ (from φέρε(σ)αι), 3 plur. φέρονται.

The Preterite formations are of two types, usually termed “strong” and “weak.” The latter belong to verbs whose past participle has a stem -đa- (I.-Eur. -tó-; see below), the former to the remaining verbs. The singular of the strong Preterite is derived from the I.-Eur. Perfect, while the plural, which in most verbs has a different stem, may come either from the Perfect or from Aorist formations. In the plural the endings were originally accented; hence many verbs show differences not only in the stem vowel but also in the consonants (by Verner's Law, see above) between the two numbers; e.g. A.S. sing. waes, wearð, plur. wāēron, wurdon. Reduplication is preserved in Gothic only in a limited number of verbs (e.g. haldan, pret. haihald); in the other languages it is rare. The inflection is as follows: Goth. 1 sing. -bauþ, 2 -baust, 3 -bauþ, 1 dual -budu, 2 -buduts, 1 plur. -budum, 2 -buduþ, 3 -budun; cf. Gk. 1 sing. οἶδα, γέγονα, 2 οἶσθα, 3 οἶδε, γέγονε, 1 plur. ἴσμεν, γέγαμεν. Except in Gothic and Scandinavian the 2 sing. has generally a form (originally Aorist) similar to the plur., e.g. A.S. bude. The stem of the Conjunctive also agrees with that of the plur., e.g. Goth. 1 sing. -budjau, 3 sing. -budi.

The “weak” Preterite seems originally to have arisen out of a periphrastic formation of which the second part consisted of Imperfect or Aorist forms of the verb seen in A.S. dōn, O.H.G. tuon (related to Gk. τίθημι), and probably identical with the Pret. A.S. sing. dede (dyde), plur. dāēdon; O.H.G. sing. teta, plur. tātun. The short reduplication-syllable, however, is lost in the sing., while the long syllable of the plur. (and dual) is preserved only in Gothic. The inflection of the Indic. is as follows:—

sing. Goth. 1 nasida, 2 -des, 3 -da; A.S. nerede, -des(t), -de, O.H.G. nerita, -tōs, -ta. O.N. lagða (early inscr. -ō), -ir, -i.

plur. 3 Goth. nasidedun, A.S. neredon; O.H.G. neritun; O.N. lögðu.

It is to be observed that the stem of the weak Preterite almost always conforms to that of the past participle. Such forms as Goth. pret. waurhta are probably derived from the past part. waurhts (stem waurhta-) on the analogy of pret. nasida beside past part. nasiþs (stem nasida-), where the resemblance between the two formations is due to the regular operation of the sound laws. The inflection of the Conjunctive agrees with that of the strong Preterite, e.g. Goth. nasidedjau.

The Infinitive is formed from the present stem with an ending -an (e.g. A.S. beran), and probably was originally a case-form of a verbal noun. In the western languages we find also the Dative of a stem -anja- used after a preposition; e.g. A.S. to cēosenne, O.H.G. zi nemanne.

The Present Participle has a stem -and- (I.-Eur. -ont-) identical with the ending of the 3 plur. Indic., as in the other I.-Eur. languages; but the Participles in actual use were declined as -an- or -ja- stems, e.g. G. bairanda, A.S. berende. The unextended stem survives only in substantives, e.g. A.S. wīgend, “warriors.” The stem of the Past Participle (Passive) is formed by the suffixes -to- and -no- (Teut. -đa-, -na-), as in the other I.-Eur. languages. The former occurs as a living formation only in connexion with the verbs whose Present stem ends in -ja-, -ō-, -ē- (in Gothic also -na-); e.g. Goth. nasips, salbo þs (: nasjan, salbon). The Past Participle in use with other classes of verbs has a stem -ena- or -ana-, the former in English and Scandinavian, the latter in Gothic and German; e.g. A.S. borenn, O.N. borinn, Goth. baurans, O.H.G. (gi)boran. Remains of old Participles in -to-, -no- formed otherwise than those in living use may be found in adjectives; e.g. A.S. (e)ald : alan (cf. Lat. altus), full : Lat. pleo (cf. Lith. pilnas).

The above sketch will suffice to show that in regard to morphology the Teutonic group of languages has many characteristic features which distinguish it from other languages of the same stock. On the other hand the morphological differences which exist among the Teutonic languages themselves are on the whole comparatively slight and due mainly to the operation of syncretism and other simplifying processes. In more recent times these processes have been carried still further, so that e.g. the Danish verb has lost all inflection of person and number, while distinction of gender has wholly disappeared in English. In the earlier stages of the Teutonic languages differences of phonology are more marked than those of morphology, and afford surer criteria for determining the relations of these languages to one another. It is customary among scholars to classify the whole group in three main divisions, an eastern or Gothic, a northern or Scandinavian, and a western which includes English, Frisian and German. We have noticed above that Gothic began at an early date to show marked divergences from the other languages. The Scandinavian languages also certainly underwent a considerable number of peculiar changes before the beginning of their literatures. But it is to be remembered that from the 6th century to the 9th the Scandinavian peoples were practically cut off from communication with other Teutonic nations by the Slavonic occupation of Mecklenburg and eastern Holstein. The earliest of the more striking sound-changes peculiar to Scandinavian, viz. the loss of initial j-, is not thought to have taken place before the 7th century, while the most characteristic features in its morphology, i.e. the development of the post-positive article and of the new medio-passive, belong in all probability to a later period. If we confine our attention to changes which probably took place before the middle of the 7th century it will be seen that the English and Frisian languages may fairly be described as lying about midway between Scandinavian and German, though they had already developed well-marked characteristics of their own. They are doubtless to be regarded as the representatives of the old language of the maritime districts, and it is probable that languages of this type were at one time spoken along the whole of the coast between the present frontiers of Belgium and Denmark. On the other hand the special characteristics of German in all probability developed in the interior and those of Scandinavian round the Baltic and the Cattegat. From the 8th century onwards the High German (southern) dialects of German differed greatly from those spoken further north owing to the operation of the changes generally known as the “second sound-shifting.” The northern dialects, however (Old Saxon and Low Frankish), were essentially German, though both were more or less affected by Frisian influence.

The Gothic and Scandinavian languages have one or two characteristics in common, the most important of which is the treatment of intervocalic j and w in a number of words. In the former case we find Goth. -ddj- and O.N. -ggi-, whereas in German a diphthong developed; e.g. Goth. twaddje (Gen. of twai, “two”), O.N. tveggia: O.H.G. zweio. In the latter case both Goth. and Scand. had ggw (O.N. ggv), while a diphthong appears both in English and German, e.g. Goth. triggws (“true”), O.N. tryggr: A.S. getrīowe, getrīewe, O.H.G. gitriuwi. It may also be noted that Gothic and Scandinavian preserved the ending -t in the 2 sing. of the strong Preterite, while English and German had a different form with the stem of the plur. (see above). On the ground of these common characteristics some scholars hold that Gothic and Scandinavian are more closely related to one another than to the other Teutonic languages. But, whatever may have been the case originally—and the evidence is far from conclusive—it is clear that by the 4th or 5th century the Scandinavian languages had far more resemblance to English and German than to Gothic.

The languages of the Vandals, Gepidae and other eastern tribes seem to have been practically identical with Gothic. That of the Burgundians, so far as we can judge from the slight evidence at our disposal, had at least as much in common with southern German as with Gothic, which may be due to the fact that this tribe, though originally located in the basin of the Oder, had moved westwards by the 4th century. The early divergence of the eastern languages in general from those of the north and west is perhaps to be ascribed in part to the great extension southwards of the territories of the eastern tribes in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Yet it is not to be overlooked that all dialectical divergences within the Teutonic group seem to be of relatively recent origin, as compared, e.g., with the special characteristics of some of the Greek dialects. Indeed there is scarcely one of them of which we can say with certainty that it dates from before the beginning of our era.

Authorities.-J. Grimm, Deutsche Grammatik (Göttingen, 1819, 1822, 1837; 2nd ed. Berlin, 1870-78, Gütersloh, 1890); W. Thomsen, Über den Einfluss d. germ. Sprachen auf die finnisch-lappischen (transl. by E. Sievers), Halle, 1870; O. Schade, Altdeutsches Wörterbuch (Halle, 1872-82); K. Verner, Afhandlinger og Breve (reprints), (Copenhagen, 1903); K. Brugmann and B. Delbrück, Grundriss d. vergl. Grammatik d. indogerm. Sprachen (Strassburg, 1886-1900; 2nd ed. 1897); and A Comparative Grammar of the Indo-Germanic Languages (London, 1888-1895); W. Braune, Gotische Grammatik (Halle, 1880, 4th ed. 1895); and Althochdeutsche Grammatik (Halle, 1886, 2nd ed. 1891); E. Sievers, Angelsächsische Grammatik (Halle, 1882, 3rd ed. 1898); and Altgermanische Metrik (Halle, 1893); A. Noreen, Altnordische Grammatik (Halle, 1884; 2nd ed. 1892); Utkast till Föreläsningar i urgermansk Judlära (Upsala, 1890); Abriss d. urgerm. Lautlehre (Strassburg, 1894); “Geschichte d. nord. Sprachen” in H. Paul's Grundriss der germanischen Philologie, vol. i. (2nd ed. Strassburg, 1898); F. Kluge, Nominale Stammbildungslehre d. altgerm. Dialekte (Halle, 1886); “Vorgeschichte d. altgerm. Dialekte” in Paul's Grundriss (see above), vol. i.; W. Streitberg, Urgermanische Grammatik (Heidelberg, 1896); Gotische Grammatik (Heidelberg, 1897); F. Dieter, R. Bethge, O. Bremer, F. Hartmann and W. Schlüter, Laut- u. Formenlehre d. altgerm. Dialekte (Leipzig, 1900); Th. Siebs, “Geschichte d. friesischen Sprache” in Paul's Grundriss (see above), vol. i.; K. D. Bülbring, Altenglisches Elementar-Buch (Heidelberg, 1902); J. Wright and E. M. Wright, Old English Grammar (Oxford, 1908); W. Wilmanns, Deutsche Grammatik (Strassburg, 1893-); (A. Fick) A. Torp und H. Falk, Wortschatz d. germ. Spracheinheit (Göttingen, 1909).

  1. The following abbreviations are used: A.S. = Anglo-Saxon; O.H.G. = Old High German; O.N. = Old Norse; I.-Eur. = Indo-European. The symbol “:” denotes relationship between two forms or sets of forms.