Verner's law

Named after its discoverer, the Danish linguist Karl Verner and named in 1875 by Verner's law formulated this ( uncommon: according to Duden " Verner law, occasionally Verner'sches Act") describes an effective in Primitive Germanic except the first ( Germanic ) sound shift, namely the voiced Will ( sonication ) of the newly created voiceless fricatives ( fricatives ) * f, * þ, * χ * χ ʷ, * s under certain conditions. Jacob Grimm called this in his time not yet unexplained exception from the first sound shift " grammatical change." With the declaration of the newly acquired Neogrammarians found a confirmation of the required of them ( postulated ) Ausnahmslosigkeit the sound laws.


According to the traditional view, the Indo-European voiceless plosives ( explosives ) by the first sound shift either voiceless fricatives ( fricatives ) * f, * þ, were * χ * χ ʷ, or their voiced equivalents * Ƀ, * š, * Ǥ, * Ǥ ʷ; mutatis mutandis, the sibilant was inherited * s replaced by the voiced z *. Verner now found out that the voiced variant always occurred when the Indo- plosive followed the tuning pitch (accent ). He went ahead, it remained voiceless fricative, as in word-initial or in so-called " covered position " (a pre- s- going, a second plosive follows ).

Here is the standard example: the comparison between Latin frater and pater and Sanskrit bhrātar and pitar shown that the two words brother and father medially an Indo-Germanic * t lay behind. So what it comes to different results d and t in NHG? The rules of the first sound shift only the form brother had to explain: The Indo-European * t þ moved to *, which is converted to the Old High German back regularly to d.

The t in father could not explain so - you would expect similar to the shape of Vader 's brother. Only with Verner's knowledge of the process is clear: Since the word in Indo-European after t was emphasized (* ph ₂ tér ) attacks, ( traditional view) after the first sound shift Verner's law and makes * þ ð to *, which (via d ) in Old High German is regularly t.

Euler ( 2009:54 ), however, sees the Frikatisierung under Verner conditions not before but after the softening ( Verner's Law ) as a more natural, simplified * t> * t ʰ > * ie > * ð. Detail in the following paragraphs.


Traditional view

According to the traditional doctrine - even after the conviction of Karl Verner himself - followed those described by Verner's law changes the first sound shift. It is clear that Verner's law presupposes the old Indo-European stress conditions. Its validity must therefore have lain (stress on the root syllable ) before the advent of the Germanic Initial emphasis. These in turn have then relatively soon led to the weakening of suffixes and Nebentonsilben and thus to the rapid decay of morphological systems, which can be observed in the Germanic individual languages ​​since the beginning of their lore often.

The traditional - and in many textbooks today - order adopted was thus:

New Reflections on the dating

The order was placed traditionally adopted in recent years ( since about 1998) [ by whom? ] With the following two main arguments are: ( 1 ) Several linguists pointed out that Verner's Law certainly have been true before the first sound shift can. At least there is no positive evidence for the traditionally adopted reverse order. ( 2 ) The discovery of arguments for the dating of Grimm 's Law only to the (outgoing ) 1st century BC ( cf. Gemeingermanisch ). In particular, the tribal name " Cimbri " and the ancient name of the river Waal ( Vacalus ) indicate the change of anlautendem k h until shortly before the Christian era down (although these examples are by no means conclusive - even if one could exclude the possibility that, for example, Celtic mediation played a role - as a urgermanisches [h ] or [ χ ] it was already shown in Latin only as , because the Latin was after Meiser at this time already long since been silenced and in Latin there was no better match for the Germanic sound). Conversely, the previous main argument for this ( though by no means the only, cf * Walha - out Volcae ) for the early dating of this change on the mid-1st millennium BC - Cannabis namely the change of the Greek word in Germanic * hanapaz ( > NHG hemp) - as no longer viable and at least not necessarily [ why? ].

The late date of the adopted Grimm 's law to the late 1st century BC is again - under validity of the above traditional order - an enormously rapid change in the late Gemeingermanisch around the time of advance: Within a few decades would have the first three of the above five profound changes in quick succession have been completed. Only in this way would be explain that all Germanic languages ​​have these changes, although the Germanic language unit in the East began to dissolve the birth of Christ through the replacement of the East Germanic. Such a rapid language change nevertheless seems less plausible. He had - pointedly said - had the consequence that the grandchildren would have the own grandfather understood any more. However, rapid language change is demonstrated, for example, in Latin or Frühaltirischen.

Against this background, the thesis Verner's law could - possibly long - applicable before the Grimm 's Law, have been adopted. Then the following sequence would be to accept:

In German, the steps 4 and 5 mark the transition from the Old High German to Middle High German.

Against this early date, a phonological argument are led into the field: With the traditional sequence can limit the effect of Verner's Law to a phonetically belong together According to group, namely the voiceless fricatives. If you want, however, begin the first sound shift after Verner's law, then it must be assumed that two phonetically totally different volume groups, namely the voiceless plosives * p, * t and I * k one hand and the fricative s on the other hand worked.

Consequences of early dating of Verner's Law

The objection, in this hypothetical sequence is the time interval between the advent of the initial stress and the steps four and five too large, is refuted by the finding of the Icelandic and Walliser German. In these Germanic, relatively isolated idioms exist today - 2000 years after the onset of the initial emphasis - vocalic Nebentonsilben and archaic Flexionsysteme with Postdetermination as they are historically documented as in Old High German, Old English and Gothic. From these facts, the presumption can win: If initial emphasis and such morphological systems have been proven for 2000 years, compatible with each other, they may also have been for 3,000 years compatible.

With this relative chronology, the change of the late Gemeingermanisch in the 1st century BC, less dramatic dar. It is thus understandable why all Germanic languages ​​have the changes 1st to 3rd fully completed. Given the separation of East Germans by all the Germans in the 2nd or 1st century BC, this community is in fact difficult to explain in today mainly adopted late dating of Grimm's law. Even with the new relative chronology is the implementation of Grimm's Law in all Germanic languages ​​not easy to explain. An obvious and given the empirical findings very plausible the spread of the first sound shift within the Germanic language area from east to west in the late 1st millennium BC: the Waal, whose phonetically late shifted ancient name is an important evidence for this late date, located in the extreme west of the former Germanic language area.

In any case, marked Grimm's law then not more the beginning of the Germanic, but on the contrary one of the last of all the Germanic tongues completed changes. The previously referred to as Proto-Germanic or Gemeingermanisch idiom would be more accurately be described as latest Gemeingermanisch. The language spoken by the Germans in the late Bronze Age or Iron Age, in turn, would have a far more archaic character and Possible far more than traditionally assumed their Indo-European predecessor.

Acceptance of early dating

The early dating of Verner's Law has not yet found general acceptance. Authors of recent publications (about Schaffner 2001, Stricker 2005), usually sticking to the traditional chronology. A detailed summary of the discussion includes the new monograph by Wolfram Euler ( 2009, pp. 54f and 61-64 ), which mentions other arguments for the early dating, quotes: " The early dating ... implies a more harmonious and simpler sequence of sound changes: The attenuation aspirated aspirated Tenues to mediae in unstressed position is phonologically a tiny step, which also is closer than the assumption that voiceless fricatives were sonorisiert in unstressed position. " The early dating is thus " epistemologically preferable because ... in cases of doubt, that hypothesis is more plausible that requires fewer and simpler assumptions ".

Euler leads to two further arguments for the early dating: After the latest state of research was the first sound shift, at least in the western part of the Germanic language area, BC not yet completed even in the 1st century. " Had Verner's Law and the shift in emphasis but only afterwards happen, then would the Germanic language in the last decades before the birth of Christ have been in a to almost rush of wrapping process ... you avert your gaze, however, from this point into the past, then is a long period of time in which the phonological changes in the order presented here can be done. " (2009: pp. 54f. ). Another argument Euler concerns the relationship of the early Germanic Exchange of initial stress and the spirantization: " The alternative sequence [= early dating ] also means that the shift of accent may already be done on the root syllable, as the Tenues were not spirantisiert, so before the First sound Shift. (...), the shift can even speak the causa movens have been for the spirantization and a spirantization with continuous initial emphasis appears in any case obvious as a spirantization quite independent of the accent, as the previous order, it presupposes yes. " (2009: 62).