The First Germanic Sound Shift Grimm’s Law. Verner’s Law
1. The First Germanic Sound Shift Grimm’s Law Verner’s Law(1822)
demonstrated the significance of
laws of sounds as a proof of
He was the first to recognize the
languages now called Germanic.
But he did not see the complete
regularity of the development of
Jacob Grimm deepened and
systemized R. Rask’s observations.
The First Germanic Sound Shift is
named after him and is known as
sound change that affects all
which must be thought of as three
consecutive phases in the sense of a
languages with the corresponding words
of other IE languages (Russian, Latin,
Greek, Sanskrit, etc.), linguists find
correspondences between them, which
may be represented by the following
4. 1. IE voiceless stops changed to corresponding voiceless spirants/ fricatives.IE
p, t, k, kw
Latin: pēs, pedis,
Russian: под (pod).
f, Ѳ (þ), h, hw
Gothic: ƕa ("hwa"),
5. 2. The IE voiced stops [b, d, g] became the voiceless [p, t, k].2.
The IE voiced stops [b, d, g] became
the voiceless [p, t, k].
b, d, g, gw
• Lithuanian: gyvas
p, t, k, kw/k
Danish, Norwegian: ti
6. The IE aspirated voiced stops [bh, dh, gh] became unaspirated stops [b, d, g].IE
bh, dh, gh
• Sanskrit: mádhu 'honey‘
Ђ, ð, γ > b, d, g
Dutch, German: warm,
7. Germanic Consonant Shift• IE
p, t, k, kw
Germ. f, Ѳ (þ), h, hw
b, d, g, gw
Germ. p, t, k, kw/k
bh, dh, gh, ghw
Germ. b, d, g, gw
9. Exceptions to Grimm’s law:1.The IE [p, t, k] remained unchanged after the
• Lat. piscis
2.Only the first of a group of voiceless stops
changed to a spirant:
• Lat. octo
• Lat. noctis
prominent correlations between the Germanic
and other Indo-European languages of Europe
and western Asia.
The law was a systematic and coherent
formulation, well supported by examples. It is
important for historical linguistics because it
clearly demonstrates the principle that sound
change is a regular phenomenon and not a
random process affecting only some words.
11. Verner's law• Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in
1875, describes a historical sound change
in the Proto-Germanic language whereby
voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ,
when immediately following an unstressed
syllable in the same word, underwent
voicing and became respectively the
fricatives *b, *d, *z, *g, *gʷ [Ђ, ð, γ ].
12. The problem• When Grimm's law was discovered, a strange
irregularity was observed in its operation.
• Grimm's law apparently ‘fails’, i.e. where
instead of the expected voiceless spirants we
get something different. We find this in simple
words like OE fæder ‘father’ and mōdor
‘mother’. Judging by Lat. pater and māter, we
would expect *fæþer and mōþor.
• Karl Verner was the first scholar to point out
the factor governing these irregularities.
13. The Accent Shift• Karl Verner explains that the sound
quality depended upon the position of
the accent in the IE word.
• In Indo-European, accent was ‘free’; it
could occur on any syllable of the word.
• In Germanic, accent fell on the first
syllable of the lexical root.
spirants/ fricatives [f, θ, h] (< [p, t, k])
and [s] were voiced and became [Ђ, ð, γ ]
and [z]; and, later on, [Ђ, ð, γ ] > [b, d, g],
• Rus. свекровь
• IE *pa ter > Early PG *fa ar > *fa ðar >
Late PG faðar
15. Rhotacism• Besides the voiceless spirants [f, θ, h], the
consonant [s] is effected.
• After an unstressed vowel, [s] in Germanic
languages becomes voiced [z].
• This [z] becomes [r] in West Germanic and North
Germanic languages (but not in Gothic). This
change ([z > r]) is termed ‘rhotacism’ (the Greek
• Lith. ausis, Gth. auso > OE. ēare, ModE. ear
OE. māra, ModE. more