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A case study in grammaticalized
inflectional morphology
Origin and development of the Germanic
weak preterite

Eugen Hill
Humboldt-Universitt zu Berlin

This paper deals with one of the oldest and most controversial problems in the
historical morphology of the Germanic branch of Indo-European: the origin and
historical development of the so-called weak preterite. In Germanic, the weak
preterite is the only means of forming the preterite tense of a derived verb. In
spite of two hundred years of research into the weak preterite and a large num-
ber of hypotheses concerning its origin, it is not even securely established how
the inflectional endings of this formation should be reconstructed for the com-
mon prehistory of the attested Germanic languages. Traditionally the inflectional
endings of the weak preterite are conceived of as reflecting free inflectional
forms of the verb do, only recently having been grammaticalized as inflectional
morphology for derived verbs. But it has never been possible to identify the in-
flectional forms in question satisfactorily within the paradigm of do. This paper
reconsiders the evidence of the Germanic daughter languages by taking into ac-
count West Germanic irregularities previously neglected or viewed as irrelevant.
It is shown that the West Germanic evidence provides a key to understanding
the origin and the later developments of the weak preterite inflectional endings.

Keywords: inflectional morphology, grammaticalization, Germanic conjugation,


weak preterite

0. Introduction

In Germanic conjugation systems, two different types of verbs are distinguished:


(a) the so-called strong or primary verbs, (b) the so-called weak or derived
verbs. The major difference between these two types involves the formation of the
preterite tense. Strong verbs form their preterite tense through apophony in the

Diachronica 27:3 (2010), 411458. doi 10.1075/dia.27.3.02hil


issn /e-issn  John Benjamins Publishing Company
412 Eugen Hill

root and a special set of personal endings. In some verbs the stem of the preterite
also shows reduplication; however, not all reduplicated preterites use apophony.
Representative examples are the strong verbs niman to take and ltan to allow
in one of the earliest attested Germanic languages, Gothic:
(1) 1sg. pres. nim-a pret. nam- pres. lt-a pret. lai-lt-
3sg. pres. nim-i pret. nam- pres. lt-i pret. lai-lt-.

The weak verbs form their preterite with a special set of endings which are quite
different from the personal endings of the strong verbs. Representative examples
are the weak verbs fiskn to fish and liban to love in Gothic:
(2) 2sg. pres. fisk-s pret. fisk-ds pres. libai-s pret. libai-ds
3sg. pres. fisk- pret. fisk-da pres. libai- pret. libai-da.

The origin of the strong preterite in Germanic is clear. The apophony in the root
and the traces of reduplication show that this formation is morphologically iden-
tical with an aspectual formation called perfect found in related languages such
as Greek and Sanskrit. As Greek and Sanskrit are attested at a much earlier date
than Germanic, it is reasonable to assume that the Germanic strong preterite was
a secondary development from the perfect. The personal endings of the Germanic
strong preterite support this assumption, as they are etymologically related to the
corresponding endings of the old perfect in Greek and Sanskrit. Compare, for ex-
ample, the 1sg. and 3sg. zero ending - in (1) above, which presupposes an older
short vowel, or two different short vowels, and corresponds to 1sg. -a, 3sg. -e in
Greek and 1,3sg. -a in Sanskrit. The development of a preterite tense out of an in-
herited perfective aspect formation is functionally easy to understand and seems
to be typologically common.
While the development of the strong preterite is historically quite clear, the
origin of the weak preterite is a mystery. In spite of a good two hundred years
of research into the weak preterite up to the most recent treatments by Ringe
(2006a,b) and Kiparsky (2009) it is not even securely established how the suf-
fixes of this formation should be reconstructed for the common prehistory of the
attested Germanic languages, i.e. Proto-Germanic (PGmc). In what follows, I clar-
ify the PGmc reconstruction, showing that this clarification makes it possible to
identify the source of the Germanic weak preterite in the system of conjugation
known to have existed in pre-Germanic times. I, first, lay out the undisputed facts
about the endings of the weak preterite in the singular indicative in 1. In 2 I
will discuss the corresponding suffixes in the plural which provide a key to the
origin of the whole formation. Next, the plural endings of the weak preterite in
the North and West Germanic languages will be investigated in 3, which leads
to the discussion about a sound change known from the inflection of nouns in

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 413

4. Finally, a new reconstruction of the plural endings will be suggested in 5 and


contrasted with the situation in Gothic in 6. In 7 I will summarize the results of
the investigation.
In treating the desinences of the Germanic weak preterite and their develop-
ment in the different branches of Germanic, I stress the following two points of
theoretical interest. First, I am going to show that even intricate problems in the
historical morphology of languages with rich inflectional systems can be resolved
on the basis of the following basic assumptions: (a) phonological change is regu-
lar and no unconditioned exceptions to its regularity need be assumed (cf. most
recently Blevins 2004, Hill 2009); (b) change in inflectional paradigms is strictly
conditioned by the grammatical structure of a language; the only mechanism of
this change is proportional analogy based on morphological relations between
surface forms (cf. Hill 2007). Second, if I succeed in reaching the first goal I will
at the same time demonstrate that the often observed changes in the phonological
body of a light verb after or during univerbation with its host are neither necessar-
ily irregular nor unpredictable. In contrast to a common impression about mor-
phologization, this kind of change seems to follow the same paths of phonologi-
cal and morphological development which are characteristic for all grammatical
structures of the language in question (cf. Hopper & Traugott 2003:156159).

1. The endings of the Germanic weak preterite in the singular of


the indicative

The reconstruction of the weak preterite endings in the indicative singular is quite
straightforward.
(3) Gothic Runic Norse1 Old Norse Old English Old Frisian
1sg. -da -do -a -de -de
2sg. -ds -er, -ir -des
3sg. -da -de, -dai -e, -i -d, -de -de
(Runic Norse -dai in the 3sg. is most plausibly explained as a
graphic variant of -de emerging through inverse spelling after the
monophthongization of diphthongs in word-final position (see Hill
2004:287); ON -er and -ir in the 2sg. as well as -e and -i in the 3sg.
are orthographic variants of the same morph; OE 1,3sg. -d of the oldest
sources is regularly weakened to -de in the later texts, is to be expected
also in the 2sg. but this form does not seem to be attested in the earliest OE

1. Runic Norse refers here and in the following sections only to the language of the inscriptions
in the Older Fuark, cf. Krause (1966, 1971), Antonsen (1975) and Looijenga (2003).

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414 Eugen Hill

documents; OE 2sg. -des is often augmented to -dest, like the 2sg. present; in
OFr the 2sg. is not attested.)

The material in (3) points to PGmc 1sg. *-d-C, 2sg. *-d-z, 3sg. *-d-C where
C represents a plosive or PGmc *n. The *-z in the 2sg. PGmc *-d-z identifies
the whole set of desinences as reflexes of the so-called secondary endings, thus
PIE 1sg. *-m, 2sg. *-s, 3sg. *-t, which in pre-Germanic times were used to form
the preterite indicative and the optative of the so-called present and aorist stems.
Accordingly, the PGmc endings of the weak preterite in the singular are to be re-
constructed as in (4):
(4) PGmc pre-Gmc
1sg. *-d-n *-dh-m
2sg. *-d-z < *-dh-s
3sg. *-d-t *-dh-d
(Pre-Gmc *-d in the 3sg. is the usual sandhi-variant of *-t after vowels if no
voiceless sound follows; pre-Gmc *-m > PGmc *-n, pre-Gmc *-s > PGmc
*-z and pre-Gmc *-d > PGmc *-t are sound changes securely established on
other grounds.)

The reconstruction PGmc 1sg. *-d-n, 2sg. *-d-z, 3sg. *-d-t does not directly
match the form of the weak preterite singular in the remaining Germanic lan-
guages given in (5). PGmc *-dn would hardly yield the attested endings of the
1sg. in OS -a, -e and OHG, ODu -a (cf. Schrijver 2003:201207).2 However, it may
be assumed that the genuine form of the 1sg. was secondarily replaced in this geo-
graphically related group of languages by the 3sg. Such a replacement would not
be unexpected in the system of Germanic conjugation. The 1sg. is always identical
with the more frequent 3sg. in the preterite of all classes of the strong verbs.
(5) Old Saxon Old High German Old Dutch
1sg. -da, -de -ta, -da -da
2sg. -das, -des -tes, -des -des, -dis
3sg. -da, -de -ta, -da -da
(The variants -da and -de in the OS 1 and 3sg. are in all probability merely
different spellings for approximately /-d/, the 2sg. -das and -des are to be
interpreted as /-ds/, cf. the detailed analysis of the data by Klein (1977);
OHG -tes, -des, ODu 2sg. -des, once written -dis, is a rare variant beside the

2. Schrijver (2003) provides the most recent comprehensive treatment of Proto-Germanic


unaccented long vowels and their development after the breakup of Proto-Germanic. I see no
reason to adopt the more conventional views of Stiles (1984, 1988), Jasanoff (2004) or Ringe
(2006a,b), as recommended by an anonymous referee, until they are shown to be superior to
the new approach. Note that Jasanoff s and Ringes papers do not address Schrijvers arguments.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 415

much more usual OHG -ts, -ds and ODu -dos, on which see below; in OS,
-dos is found beside -das and -des in the 2sg. too, but here the o-variant may
have been secondarily introduced into OS texts by OHG scribes; in OHG
d between vowels is regularly represented as t in the southern dialects but
remains unchanged in the north.)

Thus, the suffixes of the PGmc weak preterite in the singular indicative must have
been 1sg. *-d-n, 2sg. *-d-z, 3sg. *-d-t.

2. The endings of the Germanic weak preterite in the indicative plural and
the traditional approach to the origin of the formation

The difficulties begin as soon as one tries to reconstruct the endings of the weak
preterite in the plural of the indicative and throughout optative. Since the opta-
tive of the preterite is always based on the stem form of the plural indicative in
Germanic, it is sufficient to compare the endings of the plural indicative in the
following languages (6)
(6) Gothic Old Norse Old High German
1pl. -ddum -om, -um -tum
2pl. -ddu -o, -u -tut
3pl. -ddun -o, -u -tun
(The differences of vocalism in the Old Norse endings are merely
orthographic; for Old High German the endings of Bavarian and the
southern varieties of Franconian are used.)

This set of data clearly shows that the plural endings of the weak preterite in Gothic
do not match their counterparts in North and West Germanic. The Gothic endings
are longer by one syllable. Curiously enough, the forms of the Gothic weak preterite
endings in the plural seem to be the key to the origin of the Germanic weak preter-
ite. The Gothic endings correspond exactly with the inflectional forms of a strong
preterite, in particular with the strong preterite of the verb do which is not attested
in Gothic but well preserved in Old High German (OHG) and Old Saxon, cf. (7):
(7) Gothic PGmc OHG OS
1pl. -ddum *dd-ume ttum ddun
2pl. -ddu ~ *dd-ude > ttut
3pl. -ddun *dd-unt ttun ddun
(PGmc * > OHG, OS is a regular development; in Old Saxon the inherited
form of the 2pl. is systematically replaced by the 1 and 3pl. in the strong
preterite.)

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416 Eugen Hill

Since this striking similarity between the Gothic endings of the weak preterite in
the plural and the preterite inflections of PGmc do can hardly be accidental, it
is widely believed that the PGmc weak preterite must have originally been a peri-
phrastic formation consisting of a verbal noun and the preterite inflections of do
(cf. Tops 1974, Lhr 1984). Such constructions are known to frequently grammati-
calize to form a synthetic past tense. As an example consider the periphrastic per-
fect in Sanskrit, which originated from the combination of deverbal nouns in -am
with the perfect inflections of kr- do (3sg. perf. ca-kr-a). This periphrastic per-
fect was particularly frequent with secondary verb formations such as causatives,
desideratives or denominatives that originally had no perfect in Sanskrit (8):
(8) 3sg. present 3sg. perfect
gamaya-ti causes to go gamay-am ca-kr-a caused to go
dhraya-ti causes to hold ~ dhray-am ca-kr-a caused to hold
mantraya-ti speaks a mantra mantray-am ca-kr-a spoke a mantra

The only valid objection to the view that the PGmc weak preterite reflects a more
ancient periphrastic formation with inflections of do is the observation that not
all weak preterites in Germanic show endings beginning with PGmc *d < pre-Gmc
*dh as is the case with the inflections of do (see Ball 1969:165179). Compare
the examples from Gothic presented in (9), where ht, ft and ss in the weak preterite
cannot reflect velars, labials and dentals plus PGmc *d < pre-Gmc *dh by familiar
sound laws, but only velars, labials and dentals plus the reflex of pre-Gmc *t, as
shown by the corresponding preterite participles:
(9) infinitive 3pl. preterite preterite participle
waurkjan to work waurhtdun waurht- (< PGmc *wurhta- <
pre-Gmc *wrg-t-)
bugjan to buy bauhtdun bauht- (< PGmc *buhta- <
pre-Gmc *bhugh-t-)
aurban to need, have to aurftdun aurft- (< PGmc *urfta- <
pre-Gmc *trp-t-)
witan to know wissdun wiss- (< PGmc *wissa- < pre-
Gmc *wid-t-)

This problem can easily be solved when one considers that the great majority of
Germanic verbs forming a weak preterite have stems which end in a vowel both in
the weak preterite inflections and in the preterite participle (Lhr 1984:4546). As
the pre-Gmc *t in the preterite participle suffix, pre-Gmc *-t-, regularly develops
into PGmc *d by established sound laws, the original difference between the in-
flections of the preterite with pre-Gmc *dh > PGmc *d and the preterite participle

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 417

with pre-Gmc *t > PGmc *d would be lost by regular sound change. This point is
illustrated in (10) by verbs again taken from Gothic:
(10) infinitive 3pl. preterite preterite participle
mljan to write mli-ddun mli-d- (< PGmc *mli-da- < pre-
Gmc *mli-t-)
agjan to fear agi-ddun agi-d- (< PGmc *agi-da- < pre-
Gmc *aghi-t-)
lan to invite la-ddun la-d- (< PGmc *la-da- < pre-
Gmc *lot-t-)
wairn to value wair-ddun wair-d- (< PGmc *wer-da- <
pre-Gmc *wert-t-)

The pattern preterite part. -agi-d- ~ 3pl. preterite agi-ddun or preterite part.
la-d- ~ 3pl. preterite la-ddun could have served as a model for other verbs
in forming new preterite inflections on the basis of the inherited participles, so for
example preterite part. waurht- 3pl. preterite waurhtdun, preterite part. aurft-
3pl. preterite aurftdun or preterite part. wiss- 3pl. preterite wissdun. This
development may have occurred already in Proto-Germanic times. Note that the
weak preterite of the so-called preterito-present verbs like Gothic aurban to
need or witan to know is actually known to be of comparatively recent origin.
The synchronically irregular preterito-present verbs originally featured a strong
preterite, which was later reinterpreted as the present stem. The weak preterite
must therefore have developed out of the need for a new preterite. The mechanism
of development may well have been analogy. Thus, the shape of weak preterites
such as Go. waurhtdun, aurftdun or wissdun does not preclude the identifica-
tion of the weak preterite endings with preterite inflections of PGmc do.
Unfortunately, when one tries to apply this solution not only to the plural in
Gothic but to the set of endings deduced for all of Germanic two major problems
become apparent.
First, as just stated, the plural terminations of the weak preterite in North and
West Germanic are shorter by one syllable than their Gothic counterparts, in-
cluding the corresponding inflectional forms of do, cf. (6) above. The traditional
approach to this problem first proposed by Loewe (1894:371, 1898:356357,
1913), then advocated by Collitz (1912:170172, abandoned 1914:213214), Tops
(1978:361362), Rasmussen (1996:599) and Ringe (2006a:179185) rests on
the assumption that the shorter endings in North and West Germanic emerged
out of corresponding longer structures by haplology, which deleted the sequence
*-d- in PGmc 1pl. *-ddume, 2pl. *-ddude and 3pl. *-ddunt, which are pre-
supposed by the Gothic forms.

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418 Eugen Hill

Second, as outlined in 1, the endings of the weak preterite in the singular of


the indicative are to be reconstructed as PGmc 1sg. *-dn, 2sg. *-dz, 3sg. *-dt;
however, these do not match the corresponding inflections of the strong preterite
of do preserved in West Germanic. The attested forms 1,3sg. preterite OHG teta,
OS deda, -e presuppose a reduplicated preterite with a long vowel or two differ-
ent long vowels in the root, such as PGmc *ded- vs. *ded- or *did- vs. *did-.
Loewe (1894:371, 1898:256257, 1913), Tops (1978:361362), Lhr (1984:49),
Rasmussen (1996:599) and Ringe (2006a:179185, b: 167168) solve this problem
by assuming a yet another haplology which would have operated already in Proto-
Germanic because the Gothic weak preterite singular endings do not show the
former reduplication either. Thus, by this analysis, the original form of the weak
preterite endings in the singular would have looked something like this: early-
PGmc 1sg. *-dedn, 2sg. *-dedz, 3sg. *-dedt, which by haplology developed
into the familiar 1sg. *-dn, 2sg. *-dz, 3sg. *-dt by Proto-Germanic times.
The major weakness of this solution is its reliance upon developments which
are not established as regular sound changes. As emphasized already by Sverdrup
(1929:2430), there is absolutely no independent evidence for haplology in se-
quences like *-dVdV- in Proto-Germanic. Moreover, one can easily find plenty of
words in any of the Germanic daughter languages that show no trace of haplol-
ogy, such as OHG erd-bibd < *era-bibu- earthquake, adal-lh < *aala-lka-
noble, OS dd-sisu < *dauu-sisu- obituary, while variants with haplology are
entirely lacking. Of course, not all formations of this kind need necessarily be as
old as Proto-Germanic. It is also possible that shortened variants were secondarily
eliminated from the language. But the complete absence of any traces of haplology
sharply contrasts with the situation in languages known to have undergone such a
development, just compare the numerous examples of it in Latin, such as trucdre
< *truci-cdre, antestr < *anti-testr, medilis < *medi-dilis etc. (cf. Leumann
1977:234235). Hence regular haplology in the plural forms of the weak preterite
such as 3pl. *mli-ddunt (Go. mliddun) assumed for the common prehistory
of North and West Germanic seems unlikely due to the lack of such haplology
in the inflectional forms of PGmc *missa-ddi- f. wrong-doing (Go. acc.pl.
missaddins) > OHG missatt, OE misdd, OS misdd.3
By contrast, Ringe (2006a:184185, b: 168) argues that irregular haplology
is a plausible explanation of the facts because examples of haplology operating
in many languages can easily be found. Yet the reason why linguists are often so

3. Note that the first part of this compound the PGmc adjective *missa- preserved in ON y-
miss alternate and Go. miss each other does not exist as a simplex in West Germanic. A
recent restitution of the original form of the second part with the word for deed OHG tt, OE
dd, OS dd is thus most unlikely.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 419

uncomfortable with solutions by means of irregular haplologies is not so much


that they doubt that haplology is possible. Rather it is because in the case of a
supposedly irregular development the contexts where it is possible and where it is
not are uncontrollable. There is a clear difference between explanations based on
established sound laws and explanations postulating irregular sound changes. If
one explains a particular feature of a reconstructed language like Proto-Germanic
by an already established sound law, whether it concerns haplology or not, one
can be sure that the proposed development is possible in the particular language
under discussion. It is true that one still cannot be sure that the proposed explana-
tion is correct, but it will then be clearly established as phonologically possible.
If one explains a particular feature of a reconstructed language by postulating an
irregular sound change in a hypothetical structure, one cannot be sure the pro-
posed development is possible in the language under discussion at all, until it is
demonstrated that the particular language in question shows sound changes of the
given kind somewhere else in its grammar or lexicon. For this reason, explana-
tions based on irregular sound changes in hypothetical structures are generally
viewed as hypotheses with a lower degree of probability than explanations based
on established sound laws. Thus, in my opinion, the two unavoidable yet random
haplologies within the framework of Loewes, Tops, Lhrs and Ringes approach
to the problem of the Germanic weak preterite seriously weaken their theory.
The second point that should be emphasized is that there is no reason to think
of haplologies as fundamentally irregular. Haplologies with the quality of regular
sound changes established on many secure cases are well known (see the detailed
treatment in Cardona 1968 or the telling case studies presented in Cowgill 1970
and Schrijver 1992). The impression of irregularity emerges in most cases from
the fact that haplologies frequently occur in derivational affixes, which can easily
be restored to their original shape on the model of those cases where no haplology
was possible. Take, for instance, the well understood haplology of -er- in Modern
German overlong feminine -er-in-formations: MHG zouberere wizard zou-
bererinne witch > Modern German zauberer ~ zauberin, where the feminine is
by one -er- shorter than its Middle High German antecedent. The sound change is
attested in many other cases, such as in Early Modern German wanderer ~ wan-
derin traveller, plauderer ~ plauderin chatter (cf. Grimm & Grimm 1889:1928,
1922:1653) or Modern German ruderer ~ ruderin rower. Beside these haplolo-
gized feminines, variants without haplology are sporadically attested. For instance,
one sometimes stumbles upon forms such as wandererin and rudererin in news-
papers but these variants do not render the haplology of -er- irregular. They can
be easily explained as spontaneous analogical creations on the model of shorter
forms where no haplology ever occurred, e.g. lehrer ~ lehrerin teacher, fahrer
~ fahrerin driver and many others. The fact that not every haplology we know

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420 Eugen Hill

of is already described as a regular sound change surely does not give us licence
to postulate irregular haplologies willy-nilly and not to take care to clarify the
conditions for the change. Thus, the fact that the present-day American English
vernacular shows some cases of haplology in syllables not bearing stress does not
mean that we can securely propose haplologies for Proto-Germanic or its daughter
languages without additional evidence pace Ringe (2006a:184185). Ringes refer-
ence to supposedly irregular haplologies in allegro forms is irrelevant here, since
there is no reason to assume that inflectional forms of the weak preterite were al-
legro forms in Proto-Germanic or later.
The traditional solution just described to the problem of the Germanic weak
preterite has implications for the original morphology of the inflections of do
used in the hypothetical periphrastic formation. The endings of the weak preterite
in the singular PGmc 1sg. *-d-n, 2sg. *-d-z, 3sg. *-d-t presuppose the so-called
secondary endings PIE 1sg. *-m, 2sg. *-s, 3sg. *-t, which in pre-Germanic times
were in use to form the preterite indicative of present and aorist stems but could not
be used with perfects. Consequently the strong preterite of do preserved in West
Germanic cannot reflect a pre-Germanic perfect like every other Germanic strong
preterite, but must originally have belonged to the present-aorist system. However,
since the strong preterite of do is a reduplicated formation cf. 3sg. OHG teta,
OS deda, -e and 3pl. OHG ttun, OS ddun it cannot reflect the old aorist of the
given root, for this aorist had no reduplication in Proto-Indo-European (PIE) or
later: cf. PIE 2sg. *dhh1-s, 3sg. *dhh1-d (Skt 2sg. dhas, 3sg. dhat, OCS 2,3sg. -d),
which would yield 2sg. *dh-s, 3sg. *dh-d in pre-Germanic. The present stem of
do was formed with reduplication in PIE cf. 1sg. Skt ddh-mi, Gr tth-mi
so that the strong preterite of do in West Germanic can be identified with the pret-
erite form of this present stem. Preterite forms of the present stems are traditionally
called imperfects. The imperfect of do is well attested in Sanskrit and Greek (11):
(11) present imperfect
Skt Greek Skt Greek
1sg. ddh-mi tth-mi -dadh-m e-tth-n
2sg. ddh-si tth-s -dadh-s e-tth-s
3sg. ddh-ti tth-si -dadh-t e-tth-
(Skt - in the imperfect, called augment, is the marker of the preterite
function of the inflectional forms, it is obligatory for this function in Vedic
Sanskrit but facultative in the closely related Avestan; in Greek the augment
- is obligatory in the classical language, but may be omitted in the earliest
texts, cf. Mumm 2004; thus, it may not be necessary to reconstruct an
augment for imperfect of do in pre-Gmc; the instead of in the 2 and
3sg. of the Greek imperfect must be an innovation, though this is little
understood as yet, cf. Hackstein 2002:92110.)

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 421

How the reduplicated present stem of do is to be reconstructed for PIE and,


consequently, for the prehistory of Proto-Germanic is a disputed matter. Watkins
(1969:36), Rasmussen (1987:1112, 1997:252253) and Ringe (2006a:189190,
b: 158160) reconstruct this formation with *e ~ *-apophony in the root: PIE sg.
*dhe-dhh1- ~ pl. *dh-dhh1- or *dhi-dhh1- ~ pl. *dh-dhh1- or, finally, *dh-dheh1-
~ pl. *dh-dhh1-. According to this line of thought, the singular inflections of the
imperfect are to be reconstructed approximately as given in (12), where the third
column shows the expected outcome in Proto-Germanic:
(12) PIE pre-Gmc PGmc
1sg. *dh-dheh1-m *dh-dh-m *ded-n
2sg. *dh-dheh1-s > *dh-dh-s > *ded-z
3sg. *dh-dheh1-d *dh-dh-d *ded-t
(PIE and pre-Gmc *-d in the 3sg. is, again, the sandhi-variant of the
desinence *-t when no voiceless sound follows.)

Other scholars in particular Lhr (1984:6465), Hararson (1993:3032), Rix


(2001:16, 136137) reconstruct the present stem of do with constant * in the
reduplication syllable and then, for theoretical reasons, *o ~ *-apophony in the
root: PIE sg. *dh-dhoh1- ~ pl. *dh-dhh1-. This reconstruction presupposes the
development in (13), where the third column again shows the expected outcome
in Proto-Germanic:
(13) PIE pre-Gmc PGmc
1sg. *dh-dhoh1-m *dh-dh-m *ded-n
2sg. *dh-dhoh1-s > *dh-dh-s > *ded-z
3sg. *dh-dhoh1-d *dh-dh-d *ded-t

Thus, according to the traditional account, the endings of the PGmc weak preterite
in the indicative singular yield either * or * in all three inflectional forms, but
not * and * which, as discussed above, must both be reconstructed due to the
shape of the endings attested in the Germanic daughter languages. In (14), the first
column shows the theoretical expectations of Ringes account before and after the
assumed haplology, the second the theoretical expectations of Lhrs account, and
the third the reconstruction based on the Germanic daughter languages.
(14) PGmc (Ringe) PGmc (Lhr) PGmc
early later early later
1sg. *-ded-n *-d-n *-ded-n *-d-n *-d-n
2sg. *-ded-z *-d-z *-ded-z *-d-z *-d-z
3sg. *-ded-t *-d-t *-ded-t *-d-t *-d-t.

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422 Eugen Hill

For Ringe, the * in the 2sg. and 3sg. of the weak preterite is the regular PGmc
outcome of the assumed development, but the * in the 1sg. is unexpected. In
order to account for the anomalous PGmc 1sg. *-dn instead of *-dn, Ringe
(2006a:192196) assumes a regular sound change PGmc *-n > *- > *- (accord-
ing to Ringe, the final nasal was lost already in Proto-Germanic). Unfortunately,
there is absolutely no further evidence for the assumed sound change in German-
ic. Moreover, such a sound law would be at variance with the most plausible and
widely accepted explanation of the nom.sg. of masculine -e/an-stems in ON -e, -i
< RuN -a for nasalised /-/ < PGmc *-n < PIE *-n as reflected in nouns like
Gr limen harbour, Lat lin spleen, Old Church Slavonic kor root (cf. Jasanoff
1980, 2002, Nedoma 1995:112113 and 2005, Hararson 2005). If one prefers the
original version of the sound law *-m > *-m before *-m became *-n in PGmc, as
suggested by Bazell (1937:5, 1939:66), the assumed development is not phonolog-
ically impossible, but still improbable due to the lack of independent evidence. The
rare 1sg. ON vilja, OHG wille, -a I want, which Bazell tried to explain, need not
reflect pre-Gmc *-m, as he believed, but can be easily explained as a regular 1sg.
present optative of ON vilja, OHG willen to wish (cf. Benediktsson 1983:54).
For Lhr, the * in the 1sg. of the PGmc weak preterite is expected but the * in
the 2sg. and 3sg. demands explanation. To account for the unexpected PGmc 2sg.
*-dz and 3sg. *-dt instead of 2sg. *-dz and 3sg. *-dt, Lhr (1984:4749) has to
assume that the original set of endings, pre-Gmc 1sg. *-dhdhm, 2sg. *-dhdhs,
3sg. *-dhdhd, was analogically reshaped to 1sg. *-dhdhm, 2sg. *-dhdhs, 3sg.
*-dhdhd on the model of imperfects of the so-called thematic present stems. In
pre-Germanic those imperfects must have had the following endings: 1sg. *-om,
2sg. *-es, 3sg. *-ed, cf. Gr 1sg.-on, 2sg.-es, 3sg.-e and OCS 1sg. - < *-om, 2sg.-e,
3sg.-e (note that the reconstructed consonants may be deduced on the basis of Skt
1sg.-am, 2sg.-as, 3sg.-ad where PIE *o and *e both yield a by a sound law). This de-
velopment is possible. Unfortunately, this does not render Lhrs solution preferable
to that of Ringe, because the suggested remodeling could also have worked in the op-
posite direction, i.e. from 1sg. *-dhdhm, 2sg. *-dhdhs, 3sg. *-dhedhd proposed
by Ringe to 1sg. *-dhdhm, 2sg. *-dhedhs, 3sg. *-dhedhd with a secondary 1sg.
Also important and requiring discussion are the implications of Lhrs and
Ringes approaches for the PGmc present of do. Like every other Germanic pret-
erite, the reduplicated preterite of do, which, according to Lhr and Ringe, is sub-
ject to the endings of the weak preterite, possesses a corresponding present stem.
This present stem is not preserved in Gothic or Old Norse, but is well attested in
West Germanic (15):
(15) OHG OS OE
1sg. tuo-m 1pl. tuo-ms 1sg. d-m 1pl. d-d 1sg. d-m 1pl. d-

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 423

2sg. tuo-s 2pl. tuo-t 2sg. d-s 2pl. d-d 2sg. d -s 2pl. d-
3sg. tuo-t 3pl. tuo-nt 3sg. d-t 3pl. d-d 3sg. d - 3pl. d-
(In the oldest OHG sources we find instead of uo which emerged later by a
regular sound change; for OE the form of the oldest Anglian sources is used,
in West Saxon the 1sg. is d, in the 2 and 3sg. regularly became ; OE and
OS lost the old form of the 1pl. which is preserved in OHG.)

The Proto-Germanic reconstruction is near to being uncontroversial (16):


(16) PGmc
1sg. *d-mi 1pl. *d-mez
2sg. *d-si 2pl. *d-e
3sg. *d-i 3pl. *d-ni

The only point of controversy here is the shape of the corresponding preterite par-
ticiple. Germanic verbs with reduplicated preterites formed their preterite parti-
ciple on the basis of the present stem, cf. Go. -rdan to decide with present 2pl.
-rd-i ~ preterite 3sg. -rai-r ~ preterite participle nom.pl. m. -rd-anai. How
the preterite participle of do is to be reconstructed for Proto-Germanic is not
immediately clear. OHG gi-tn, ODu gi-dn seem to reflect *dna- (< PGmc *d-
ana-), so does also OS in-dn, to-gi-dn found beside and-dn which presupposes
an older *dna-. The most archaic-looking Old English form ge-dn may equally
well reflect *dna- or *dna-.4 Note that OHG -tn, ODu and OS -dn cannot have
emerged out of an older *d-ana- by a recent contraction of *a. Such a contraction
would not yield but , due to the form of the corresponding infinitive PGmc *d-
anan > Proto-WGmc *dn > OHG tuon, OS dn (OE dn again is not informative,
the uncontracted variants OS dan, dan and OFr dw are probably recent).
Since OS -dn can easily be explained as a secondary creation motivated by
the corresponding infinitive dn, whereas no explanation by a secondary develop-
ment can be provided for the isolated OS -dn, this latter form must reflect the
original form of the preterite participle of do in Old Saxon. As OS -dn directly
matches OHG -tn and ODu -dn, while OE -dn is not informative, the preterite
participle of do is to be reconstructed for the common prehistory of the West
Germanic languages as *dna-, reflecting PGmc *d-ana- with * in the root. But
this necessarily means that the present of do originally must have had PGmc *
somewhere in its inflectional paradigm, though it is impossible to tell in which
particular inflectional forms (cf. Seebold 1970:159).
Lhrs reconstruction of the reduplicated present stem underlying the PGmc
reduplicated preterite of do and the endings of the weak preterite as pre-Gmc

4. OE can reflect PGmc * or * before a nasal, compare for instance PGmc *mne/an- moon
(Go. mna, OHG mno, ON mne, -i), which is reflected as mna in Old English.

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424 Eugen Hill

*dhdh- > PGmc *ded- with * in the root nicely matches the singular inflec-
tional forms of do, such as the tentatively proposed PGmc 1sg. *d-mi, if one
is prepared to assume secondary loss of the reduplication syllable in the PGmc
present. The latter development finds a parallel in the PGmc strong preterite forms
reflecting pre-Germanic perfects, cf. 3sg. pre-Gmc *bhe-bhndh-e ties together >
PGmc *band-e has tied together. The only problem is the different accentuation
of the reduplicated stems: the lost reduplication syllable of pre-Germanic perfects
was not accented, while Lhr has to assume the loss of an accented reduplication
syllable in the reduplicated present. A further and to my mind quite serious dif-
ficulty is the * which must have existed somewhere in the paradigm according to
the shape of the preterite participle PGmc *d-ana-.
Ringe, who ignores the preterite participle, has no explanation for the present
of do with its * in the inflectional forms, such as in the tentatively reconstructed
PGmc 1sg. *d-mi. He assumes that the PGmc present of do does not reflect the
pre-Germanic present stem of do whose imperfect he had recourse to for ex-
plaining the PGmc reduplicated preterite of this verb. Instead he believes that some
different formation with o-grade in the root aught to be reconstructed for the pre-
history of PGmc do. But as there is no trace of such an alternative o-graded pres-
ent stem of do elsewhere among the Indo-European languages, this ad hoc solu-
tion is hard to credit. Curiously enough, Ringes reconstruction of the reduplicated
present stem underlying the PGmc reduplicated preterite of do and the endings
of the weak preterite as pre-Gmc *dh-dh- would explain the peculiar * which
must be proposed due to the shape of the preterite participle PGmc *d-ana-.
To sum up, judging from the shape of the plural endings in Gothic, the Ger-
manic weak preterite must reflect an old univerbation of some verbal noun with
preterital inflections of the verb do. These preterital inflections are traditionally
identified with the reduplicated strong preterite of do attested in West Germanic.
This notion is called into question for the following reasons:
the endings of the weak preterite in the singular do not show the expected
reduplication; this problem can only be solved by the ad hoc assumption of an
irregular haplology in PGmc;
the endings of the weak preterite in the plural do not show the expected redu-
plication in North and West Germanic; this problem can only be solved by the
ad hoc assumption of a further irregular haplology in the common prehistory
of these branches;
according to the desinences of the Germanic weak preterite, the strong pret-
erite of do cannot reflect a pre-Germanic perfect like every other strong
preterite in Germanic, but rather has to be an old imperfect of the reduplicated

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 425

pre-Germanic present stem of do, the single pre-Germanic imperfect surviv-


ing in the Germanic conjugation system;
the root vocalism of the pre-Germanic reduplicated imperfect of do does not
match the vocalism of the weak preterite endings in the singular; this problem
can only be solved by ad hoc assumptions;
the present tense of do as attested in West Germanic cannot be satisfactorily
explained on the basis of the pre-Germanic reduplicated present stem which
is used for explaining the corresponding strong preterite and consequently the
endings of the weak preterite; this problem, again, can be only solved by ad
hoc assumptions.
Thus, the traditional account of the endings of the Germanic weak preterite
though perhaps not entirely impossible is severely flawed and the problems
cannot be solved through minor modifications. In what follows, an alternative
approach will be introduced which appears to be free of such shortcomings. Its
starting point is the same observation of similarity between the plural endings
of the weak preterite in Gothic and the corresponding inflectional forms of do
in West Germanic. As this evident similarity cannot be accidental, the Germanic
weak preterite must reflect a univerbation of a verbal noun with inflectional forms
of do. Where this explanation does differ is in its divergence from the traditional
direct identification of the weak preterite terminations in all of Germanic with the
West Germanic strong preterite of do. It will be shown that this direct identifica-
tion though the most straightforward explanation for Gothic is not the only
possible morphological analysis of the forms in question, and not even the easiest
one. To elucidate this, the plural endings of the weak preterite in North and West
Germanic must be examined in greater detail.

3. The endings of the weak preterite in North and West Germanic:


A close look

The first group of West Germanic dialects to be discussed is traditionally called


Old High German. Old High German is divided into two smaller units: so-called
Upper German spoken in the south and Franconian spoken more to the north.
The Upper German group of OHG consists of two distinct dialects: Bavarian in the
east and Alemannic in the west. In the plural endings of the OHG weak preterite,
we observe a clear difference between long and the u of unknown quantity.
The long is found in Alemannic 1pl. -tm, 2pl. -tt, 3pl. -tn. The length
of the vowel is securely established by the spelling, i.e. 1pl. -toom, 3pl. -toon

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426 Eugen Hill

in the OHG translation of the Benedictine Rule and 1,3pl. -tn in the works of
Notker Labeo.
In the Franconian dialect of the Isidore translation (c. 800) we find 1pl. -dom,
3pl. -don contrasting with 1pl. -um, 3pl. -un in the strong preterite. The situ-
ation is identical with that of Alemannic texts which do not use length marks or
double vowels, cf. the second Reichenau glossary or the interlineary gloss to St.
Lukes gospel, where 2pl. -tot and 3pl. -ton of the weak preterite are systemati-
cally contrasted with 2pl. -ut and 3pl. -un of the strong preterite. Thus, the 1pl.
-dom and 3pl. -don of the Isidore translation in all probability represent 1pl.
-dm, 3pl. -dn, corresponding to 1pl. -tm, 3pl. -tn of the Alemannic sources
(cf. Kirschstein 1962:110111, Matzel 1970:237239).
In the rest of Franconian OHG, the endings of the weak preterite in the plu-
ral appear either as 1pl. -tum, 2pl. -tut, 3pl. -tun (in East Franconian, e.g. the
language of the Tatian translation and the Rhenish Franconian of Otfrid) or as
1pl. -dum, 2pl. -dut, 3pl. -dun (in northern varieties).5 A few attestations of a
3pl. in -tun are found already in the earliest glosses from Wrzburg collected by
Hofmann (1963). In Bavarian, including the Vienna-Mondsee adaptation of the

5. In the Franconian New Testament glossary from Mainz, two occurrences of the 3pl. -ton
and one of -don are found side by side with five occurrences of the weak preterite with u.
The plural of the strong preterite is attested eight times, the desinences are always written with
u. According to Pietsch (1876:348) and Franck (1909:259260), the statistical difference sug-
gests an original system similar to that of the Isidore translation with 3pl. -don representing
-dn in the weak and -un for -un in the strong preterite. One only has to assume that -don
in the weak preterite was sporadically replaced with -dun by a later scribe. This assumption
is certainly possible, but it is also clear that the Mainz glossary cannot be considered as secure
evidence for a 3pl. of the weak preterite in -dn in a further variety of Franconian. This is even
less certain if one considers that the glossary exhibits some slight influence of Upper German,
possibly Alemannic, in the root vocalism (cf. Rosengren 1964:3439). This disqualifies both
occurrences of -ton, which may then possibly be instances of Alemannic influence upon the
text, leaving only the single attestation of -don due to its genuinely Franconian d. Three further
occurrences of 3pl. -ton in the weak preterite found in the Franconian Arator glossary from
Rome beside six -un and only one -on in the preterite of the strong verbs are also not proba-
tive due to the traceable Alemannic influence upon the phonology of the glosses (cf. Schlechter
1993). In the late OHG Georgslied, the language of which was identified as Franconian by de
Boor (1964) and Haubrichs (1979:147150), the 3pl. of the weak preterite in -ton is clearly
distinguished from the 3pl. of the strong preterite in -en which must be the weakening of an
original -un. The situation is identical with that found in the late Alemannic writings of Notker,
where the 1 and 3pl. of the weak preterite in -tn contrast with the corresponding inflections
of the strong verbs in -en. Unfortunately, the Franconian provenance of the Georgslied cannot
be proven. As Schtzeichel (1982:7895) shows, the features claimed to be diagnostically Fran-
conian by de Boor and Haubrichs are either doubtful or have recently been found in Upper Ger-
man sources as well, so that an Alemannic provenance of the monument is now equally possible.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 427

Franconian Isidore translation, the endings of the weak preterite in the plural have
the shape 1pl. -tum, 2pl. -tut and 3pl. -tun.
The u in the endings of the weak preterite is often lowered to o in more re-
cent Bavarian and Franconian texts due to the progressive loss of qualitative and
quantitative distinctions in final syllables. This makes it difficult to evaluate the
situation in some more recent sources (cf. especially Schatz 1907:171172, Franck
1909:259, Matzel 1966:6364).
No certainty is possible in the case of the Low Franconian dialect known as Old
Dutch. The available texts do not securely discriminate between o and u in word-
final position. Both the endings of the weak preterite and the desinences of the
strong preterite in the plural are usually written with o, but u-spellings also oc-
cur in both cases (van Helten 1902:132133, 181, 183, Quak 1992:105106, 113).
The situation in Old Frisian is also unclear, where all three persons end in -don
in the oldest sources and in -den in younger texts, exactly like -on and -en in
the corresponding inflections of the strong preterite (cf. van Helten 1890:219, 229,
237239; Boutkan 1996:116145). This seems to point to 1pl. *-dum, 3pl. *-dun
in the weak preterite like 1pl. *-um, 3pl. *-un in the strong verbs but an old can
hardly be excluded.
The rest of West Germanic seems to point to old 1pl. *-dum, 2pl. *-du, 3pl.
*-dun like the bulk of the Franconian and all of Bavarian OHG.
In Old Saxon, the endings of the weak preterite in the indicative plural are
written 1,3pl. -dun, sometimes also -don, but the spelling with o is even rarer
than in the strong preterite (cf. Galle 1993:249250).
In Old English, the endings of the 1,3pl. are written -dun in the earliest
texts, -don in more recent ones, like the corresponding desinences of the strong
preterite -un and -on. Both the variants -dun and -don also appear in Chris-
tian runic inscriptions, cf. the inscription on the Ruthwell Cross where two occur-
rences of the 3pl. weak preterite in -du(n) are found next to three occurrences of
the corresponding strong preterite form in -u(n). A 1 or 3pl. in -don is attested in
the inscription on the Overchurch Stone (for details see Ball 1991 and Bammes-
berger 1991). However, there seems to be clear positive evidence for an old *u in
the plural of the weak preterite in the prehistory of Old English. The continuants of
the --verbs (II weak class) show the labial mutation of *-- in their weak preterite
which can only be caused by an old *u in the endings, not by a reflex of *. Along-
side 3sg. -a-d ~ 3pl. -a-dun without such a mutation in Kentish and Anglian, we
find 3sg. -u-d ~ 3pl. -u-dun (later -o-de ~ -o-don) in West Saxon (cf. Campbell
1959:139 and Brunner 1965:335336). The easiest way to explain this difference
is to attribute the West Saxon -u- (> -o-) to the plural, reconstructing pre-OE 3sg.
*-a-d ~ 3pl. *--dun < Proto-NWGmc *--dun with subsequent generalization
of one variant each in the dialects.

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428 Eugen Hill

In Old Norse, 1pl. -om, -um, 2pl. -o, -u, 3pl. -o, -u may equally well
reflect both 1pl. *-dm, 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn and 1pl. *-dum, 2pl. *-du, 3pl.
*-dun. However, the u-mutation in the preterite of the II class weak verbs points
to an old *u: ON 1pl. klloom, -um, 3pl. klloo, -u called clearly reflect 1pl.
*kall-dum, 3pl. *kall-dun.
Thus, we have to assume 1pl. *-dm, 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn for the prehistory
of Alemannic and, partly, Franconian OHG (dialect of the Isidore translation),
but 1pl. *-dum, 2pl. *-du, 3pl. *-dun for Bavarian, other varieties of Franconian,
Old Saxon, Old English and Old Norse. The position of Old Frisian and the Low
Franconian dialect called Old Dutch is unclear.6
However, this traditional picture codified in Germanic handbooks requires
some modification for Continental West Germanic. There seems to be some indi-
rect evidence that the endings in * are to be posited not only for the prehistory of
Alemannic and a part of Franconian, but also for Bavarian and all other varieties
of Franconian OHG. This evidence is found in the innovative shape of the 2sg.
indicative found in all these dialects.
In OHG and closely related Old Dutch, the following sets of singular indica-
tive endings are attested (17):
(17) A B C D
1sg. -ta -ta -ta -ta
2sg. -tes -tas -tus -ts
3sg. -ta -ta -ta -ta
(All endings begin with d when following a vowel in northern varieties of
Franconian including Old Dutch.)

System A is only poorly attested, all known occurrences being traces in Franco-
nian sources: one in the Isidore translation (chi-minnero-des), another in the D-
manuscript of Otfrid (ga-ra-tes beside ga-ra-tos of the other manuscripts), and
a further attestation is preserved in the early Franconian glosses from Hildesheim
(altino-tes). The corresponding Old Dutch ending -des is attested twice (ir-ho-
dis, ge-heri-des). This 2sg. ending -tes or -des tallies with those found in all
other Germanic languages (Go. -ds, ON -er, -ir, OE -des, OS -das, -des) and is
certainly the oldest 2sg. ending of the weak preterite in OHG and Old Dutch but

6. Kiparsky (2009:116119) sees 1pl. *-dm, 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn as a recent replacement of
1pl. *-dum, 2pl. *-du, 3pl. *-dun with forms based on the present optative of do (OHG 1pl.
tm, 2pl. tt, 3pl. tn). According to Kiparsky, this replacement was possible because inflec-
tional forms of the weak preterite were still clearly analysable as compounds in the immediate
prehistory of the OHG dialects. If this is true, why then were 1pl. *-dum, 2pl. *-du, 3pl. *-dun
not just replaced with the preterite indicative of do (OHG 1pl. ttum etc.), which was readily
available in the language?

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 429

which must have been replaced by different endings in all known dialects as early
as by the beginning of the 9th century.
B is the system of scribe in the East Franconian translation of Tatian. The
origin of its 2sg. -tas is obvious. The inherited e in the 2sg. of the oldest system A
is replaced by the vowel a due to the influence of the 1sg. and 3sg., which both end
in a. The OHG system of conjugation had only one position which could have pro-
vided a model for this reshaping of the original pattern 1sg. -ta ~ 2sg. -tes ~ 3sg.
-ta into 1sg. -ta ~ 2sg. -tas ~ 3sg. -ta. This model is found in the corresponding
endings of the optative; compare the endings of the present optative of the strong
verbs and class I weak verbs 1sg. -e ~ 2sg. -s ~ 3sg. -e, the preterite optative of the
strong verbs 1sg. -i ~ 2sg. -s ~ 2sg. -i, and the present optative of the class II weak
verbs 1sg. -o ~ 2sg. -s ~ 3sg. -o. It seems reasonable to assume that the innovative
2sg. -tas had a long but this cannot be proven.
System C is again attested in Tatian, where it prevails in the text portions writ-
ten by the scribes and . The 2sg. -tus is also found in the Freising manuscript of
Otfrid which is slightly influenced by Bavarian. It is once attested in the Keronian
glossary which is an Alemannic adaptation of an older Bavarian original. The ori-
gin of the 2sg. -tus seems clear (cf. already Collitz 1914:221). The inherited e in
the 2sg. of the oldest system A is replaced by the vowel u due to the influence of
the corresponding ending in the plural 2pl. -tut. The model for the transformation
of the original pattern 2sg. -tes ~ 2pl. -tut into 2sg. -tus ~ 2pl. -tut is again pro-
vided by the inflection of the optative where the same desinences are used and the
2sg. always has the same vowel as the plural; compare the present optative of the
strong verbs and class I weak verbs 2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t, the preterite optative of the
strong verbs 2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t, and the present optative of the class II weak verbs
2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t. A similar relation is also found in the indicative present of the
weak verbs in classes II and III: 2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t and 2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t. In more
general terms, the affinity of the 2sg. to the 2pl. in the preterite is not surprising
in West Germanic: in the strong preterite, the 2sg. is the only singular form based
on the stem of the plural, cf. OHG neman to take preterite 1,3sg. nam but 2sg.
nmi like 2pl. nmut or ziohan to draw preterite 1,3sg. zh but 2sg. zugi like
2.pl. zugut.
System D predominates in the OHG sources. OHG -ts (length securely estab-
lished by the spelling -toos in the Benedictine Rule and -tst in Notkers writ-
ings) is the usual ending of the 2sg. of the weak preterite in all of Alemannic, oc-
curring already in the oldest sources such as the second Reichenau glossary. In the
Franconian Isidore translation two attestations of the corresponding 2sg. -dos
are found. The 2sg. -tos, -tost is always used by the scribes and in Tatian,
three occurrences are found in the text portions written by and (cf. detailed
presentation of the data in Sievers 1892:66). It is also the usual termination in all

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430 Eugen Hill

redactions of Otfrid (excepting the two occurrences of -tus mentioned above, see
Kelle 1869:9697). In Old Dutch, a 2sg. -dos is attested in many cases, but these
texts do not discriminate between o and u at the end of a word, so that this end-
ing is not necessarily a counterpart of OHG -ts but could also reflect an old form
with u.
This last 2sg. -ts, -ds constitutes no problem for Alemannic and the Fran-
conian dialect of Isidore where it can easily be explained along the same lines as
-tus in Bavarian. The original pattern 2sg. -tes ~ 2pl. -tt (with Franconian d in
Isidore) is transformed into 2sg. -ts ~ 2pl. -tt (again with d in Isidore) on the
model provided by the present optative of the strong verbs and class I weak verbs
2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t, preterite optative of the strong verbs 2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t, present
indicative and optative of the class II weak verbs 2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t and present
indicative of the class III weak verbs 2sg. -s ~ 2pl. -t. However, this simple ex-
planation cannot be applied to the Bavarian and Franconian dialects with a 2pl. in
-tut, -dut if the u in this last ending is considered to be original.
Attempts to account for the 2sg. of the weak preterite in OHG -ts, -ds with-
out influence from the plural do not lead to a plausible solution. First, the old idea
that pre-OHG * of the 1sg. *-d < PGmc *-dn was generalized throughout the
singular in the prehistory of OHG (most recently Hollifield 1980:151, Grnvik
1998:132133) is unconvincing for morphological and phonological reasons. The
usual point of departure for paradigmatic levelings of the assumed kind is the
more frequent 3sg. As shown by Schrijver (2003), PGmc *-n yielded OHG, OS
-o: cf. nom.sg. of masculine -e/an-stems (pre-)PGmc *-n > OHG, OS -o and gen.
pl. of masculine or neutral -a-stems pre-Gmc *-m > PGmc *-n > OHG, OS -o.
A generalization of the vowel of the old 1sg. PGmc *-dn should yield OHG 1 and
3sg. *-to, *-do and not the -ta, -da actually found in the texts. For this reason, it
has to be assumed that the old 1sg. of the weak preterite was replaced by the 3sg.
in OHG -ta, -da < PGmc *-dt on the model of the strong preterite, where the 1sg.
and the 3sg. are always identical.7
Second, Ringes (2006a:186) somewhat vague suggestion of deriving the in
the 2sg. of the weak preterite OHG -ts, -ds from the inflection of do in the
present (1sg. t-m, 2sg. t-s, 3sg. t-t in the oldest OHG sources) is extremely

7. It is certainly still possible to assume that first the vowel of the 1sg. pre-OHG *-d spread to
the 2sg. which became *-ds but not to the 3sg. which remained pre-OHG *-d and that it was
only then that the 1sg. was replaced by the reflex of the 3sg. But this complicated scenario is
contradicted by the fact that the last development is shared by Old Saxon as well, where the old
termination of the 2sg. is preserved in its original shape -das, -des < PGmc *-dz. Thus, until
one is prepared to assume that the closely related dialects of OHG and Old Saxon conducted the
replacement of the old 1sg. by 3sg. independently, one cannot explain the OHG 2sg. -ts, -ds
by influence of the old 1sg. PGmc *-dn.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 431

improbable. Since the particular paradigms the original inflection of the weak
preterite with u in the plural and that of do in the present would have no
structural patterns in common (18), one can hardly imagine why and how the
or s could be extracted out of the 2sg. of one paradigm and introduced into the
other, thereby replacing its e or es in the process.
(18) sg. pl. sg. pl.
1. -ta -tum t-m t-ms
2. -tes -tut t-s t-t
3. -ta -tun t-t t-nt

Thus, the most plausible way of explaining the 2sg. of the weak preterite in -ts,
-ds in the Bavarian and Franconian dialects of OHG with u in the indicative plu-
ral is to assume that these dialects, too, originally had not u but at least in the
2pl. of the weak preterite, as in Alemannic and the Isidore dialect of Franconian.
The situation in North and West Germanic is then as follows. The endings of
the weak preterite in the indicative plural are to be reconstructed as 1pl. *-dm,
2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn for the prehistory of OHG but as 1pl. *-dum, 2pl. *-du,
3pl. *-dun with short or long *u for Old Saxon, Old English and Old Norse. The
position of Old Frisian and the Low Franconian dialect called Old Dutch is unclear.
Since the OHG endings of the weak preterite in the plural cannot be explained
by a recent analogy for which there is no model in the language, their long must
be original. So one cannot avoid reconstructing 1pl. *-dm, 3pl. *-dn for the
common prehistory of North and West Germanic. In order to explain the situa-
tion in the languages with clear reflexes of *u instead of *, such as Old English
and Old Norse, I have assumed elsewhere (Hill 2004:292) that here the inherited
endings 1pl. *-dm, 3pl. *-dn were analogically modified on the model of the
corresponding inflections of the strong preterite: Proto-NWGmc 1pl. *-um, 3pl.
*-un reflecting PGmc 1pl. *-ume, 3pl. *-unt.
This explanation is clearly unsatisfactory for two reasons. First, a modification
of this kind would be unexpected in a Germanic language. Germanic is known to
tolerate similar differences in the inflection of verbs for long periods of time. The
endings of the so-called preterite-presents in the present tense, PGmc 1pl. *-ume,
3pl. *-unt (such as *witanan to know 1pl. *witume, 3pl. *witunt), do not
match any other class of presents, weak or strong, but they remain unchanged in
all known old Germanic languages including all dialects of North and West Ger-
manic. Second, an analogy on the model of the strong preterite, Proto-NWGmc
3sg. *- ~ 3pl.*-un (such as Proto-NWGmc *farana to go *fr ~ *frum),
would not reshape the original inflectional pattern of the weak preterite, early
Proto-NWGmc 3sg. *-d ~ 3pl.*-dn into 3sg. *-d ~ 3pl.*-dun, but could only
yield 3sg. *-d ~ 3pl.*-dun. For these reasons a simple modification of the 1pl.

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432 Eugen Hill

*-dm, 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn into *-dum, 2pl. *-du, 3pl. *-dun on the model of
the strong preterite is improbable.
A more promising explanation for 1pl. *-dm, 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn (in the
prehistory of OHG) beside 1pl. *-dum, 2pl. *-du, 3pl. *-dun (in the prehistory
of Old English, Old Saxon and Old Norse) is that neither of the two reconstructed
patterns is entirely original. If one assumes that the original inflection ran 1pl.
*-dm, 2pl. *-d but 3pl. *-dun or 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn but 1pl. *-dum, one
can easily explain the form of the weak preterite endings in all of the North and
West Germanic by paradigmatic leveling. In the prehistory of Alemannic and of
the Isidore dialect of Franconian, the vowel * would then be secondarily general-
ized over the whole paradigm, yielding 1pl. *-dm, 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn, while
in the prehistory of Old English, Old Saxon and Old Norse the vowel *u would
have ousted the old * leading to 1pl. *-dum, 2pl. *-du, 3pl. *-dun. Since the
corresponding desinences of the strong preterite are preceded by the same vowel
*u throughout the paradigm Proto-NWGmc 1pl. *-u-m, 2pl. *-u-d, 3pl. *-u-
n such leveling would not be unexpected. A clear advantage of this approach is
its simplicity in accounting for Bavarian and Franconian dialects of OHG which
attest 2sg. -ts, -ds presupposing original -tt, -dt in the 2pl. beside 1pl.
-tum, -dum and 3pl. -tun, -dun. By this analysis, these dialects simply preserved
the original distribution of the vowels in the plural of the weak preterite until the
analogical modification of the 2sg.
But how can the mixed inflection 1pl. *-dm, 2pl. *-d but 3pl. *-dun or 2pl.
*-d, 3pl. *-dn but 1pl. *-dum be motivated historically? The motivation is pro-
vided by a sound law which can be established on grounds entirely independent of
the weak preterite. As shown in 4, there was a regular sound change of unaccent-
ed *-n >*-n in the prehistory of North and West Germanic nouns. We have no
information about the original quantity of u in the endings of the weak preterite.
The 3pl. OHG -tun, -dun (in Bavarian and Franconian sources), OE -don and ON
-o, -u may equally well reflect older *-dun or older *-dn. Since unaccented *-n
regularly developed into *-n in all the Northwest Germanic languages, the origi-
nal set of endings (i.e., early Proto-NWGmc 1pl. *-dm, 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn)
would yield the assumed mixed paradigm 1pl. *-dm, 2pl. *-d, 3pl. *-dn in
the most recent prehistory of the attested dialects by a regular sound change.

4. Inflection of the weak feminines in *-n- in North and West Germanic

This section introduces the just-mentioned independent evidence for the sound
change *-n >*-n in the prehistory of North and West Germanic. The main ma-
terial will be case forms of the feminine stems in PGmc *-n-, discussed in 4.1.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 433

Next, in 4.2 and 4.3, I lay out common arguments against the proposed inter-
pretation of the data and introduce new evidence for the assumed sound law. The
reasons for rejecting the competing accounts which have been proposed in the
literature will be laid out in 4.4, while in 4.5 I will show how evidence from the
Runic inscriptions fits into the picture and what amendments it makes necessary.
Finally, the results of the aforementioned discussions are summarized in 4.6 where
their relevance for the main argument of this paper is highlighted.

4.1 Inflectional paradigm and the raising

The evidence for a sound change *-n >*-n in North and West Germanic prehis-
tory is found in the inflection of the feminine stems in PGmc *-n- such as *tungn-
tongue. The inflectional paradigm of this class is to be reconstructed for Proto-
Germanic and the common prehistory of North and West Germanic as in (19):
(19) sg.
PGmc Gothic early late
Proto-NWGmc Proto-NWGmc
Nom. *tungn- tugg *tung *tunga
Gen. *tungn-ez tuggns *tungniz *tungnz
Dat. *tungn-i > tuggn *tungn > *tungn
Acc. *tungn-un tuggn *tungnu *tungn
pl.
PGmc Gothic early late
Proto-NWGmc Proto-NWGmc
Nom. *tungn-ez tuggns *tungniz *tungnz
Gen. *tungn-n > tuggn *tungn > *tungno
Dat. *tungn-miz tuggm *tungmiz *tungmz
Acc. *tungn-nz tuggns *tungnnz *tungnz.
(The reconstructions are based on Gothic and what is known about word-
final sound changes in NWGmc. Unaccented PGmc * always develops
into * in Gothic, but in early Proto-NWGmc it only does so before a
consonant, cf. Schrijver (2003). The strange-looking acc.pl. in PGmc
*-n-nz < pre-Gmc *-n-ns, hypothetically assumed here, is an analogical
creation on the model of the masculine -e/an-stems with acc.pl. pre-Gmc
*-n-ns (synchronically regular alongside the dat.pl. in *-n-mis, cf. pre-Gmc
*-o-ns ~ *-o-mis, *-i-ns ~ *-i-mis and *-u-ns ~ *-u-mis in the vocalic
stems), which later may have been analogically replaced by pre-Gmc *-n-ns
> PGmc *-n-unz (needed to explain the variation ON are ~ rn eagle, cf.
van Helten 1905:225, Benediktsson 1968:1011, Johnsen 2005:254255).
However, the point is not essential for the problem under discussion because

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434 Eugen Hill

the feminines of no inflectional class distinguish nom. and acc.pl. in the


NWGmc languages and the attested forms functioning as acc.pl. may in
fact be reflexes of the old nom.pl.)

The assumed Proto-NWGmc paradigm reconstructed in (19) is reflected in OHG,


Old Saxon and Old Norse as follows (see Braune-Reiffenstein 2004:207211 and
Franck 1909:191195 for OHG, Galle-Tiefenbach 1993:216217 for OS, Noreen
1923:279281 for ON):
(20) early sg. late OHG OS ON
Proto-NWGmc Proto-NWGmc
Nom. *tung *tunga zunga tunga, -e tunga
Gen. *tungniz *tungnz zungn tungun, -on tungo, -u
Dat. *tungn > *tungn zungn tungun, -on > tungo, -u
Acc. *tungnu *tungn zungn tungun, -on tungo, -u
pl.
early late OHG OS ON
Proto-NWGmc Proto-NWGmc
Nom. *tungniz *tungnz zungn tungun, -on tungor, -ur
Gen. *tungn > *tungno zungno tungono, -uno > tungna
Dat. *tungmiz *tungmz zungm tungun, -on tungom, -um
Acc. *tungnnz *tungnz zungn tungun, -on tungor, -ur.
(In OS -un is the most frequent ending in the dat., acc. sg. and nom.,
acc. pl., whereas -on and -an, which are also attested, are due to the
influence of the weak masculines in one particular local dialect (cf. Foerste
1950:128130, Klein 1977:183186). The -n-feminines are inflected in a
similar way in Old Dutch (cf. van Helten 1902:155159, Quak 1992:8788)
but the failure of the sources to discriminate between u and o at the end of
a word makes the evidence of this language inconclusive for the problem
at hand. Regarding the paradigms of Old Swedish and Old Danish, which
are very close to the given ON inflection, see Noreen (1904:421425) and
Brndum-Nielsen (1966:224245). As already noted, the ON -o, -u must
reflect an old *-n due to u-mutation in roots containing a such as nom.
sg. gata ~ acc.sg. gto, -u street or nom.sg. saga ~ acc.sg. sgo, -u tale.
The lack of u-mutation in OSw and ODa cf. OSw, ODa nom.sg. gata ~
acc.sg. gatu is either regular (cf. Kock 1916:158160, 1918, Brndum-
Nielsen 1950:140142) or, more probably, due to a recent analogy in a
morphologically clear context. The model for this analogical leveling may
have been provided by the -n-stems with root vowels not sensitive to
u-mutation, such as OSw nom.sg. gudha ~ acc.sg. gudha female priest
or ODa nom.sg. kuna ~ acc.sg. kunu wife. The nom.-acc.pl. in -or, -ur
is an innovation of ON shared by OSw and ODa. The old nom.-acc.pl.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 435

corresponding to Go. -ns, OHG -n and OS -un, -on is known from some
isolated attestations, cf. ON skfo shavings, -kirkio churches, ODa kunu
alongside kunur, konor women, and the inflection of the weak adjective.
Most probably the old nom.-acc.pl. in -o, -u as preserved by the adjectives
was first differentiated in nom. pl. -or, -ur and acc.pl. -o, -u in the inflection
of nouns on the model of the masculine -e/an-stems nom.pl. -ar vs. acc.pl.
-a (the ON -n-stems contain not only feminines but also some masculines,
in particular personal names) but this difference was given up at a later stage
due to the influence of the large inflectional classes of feminines such as the
--stems with nom.-acc.pl. in -ar and the -i-stems with nom.-acc.pl. in
-er, -ir. The problem is discussed by Heusler (1913:80), Noreen (1913:174,
1923:280), cf. Brndum-Nielsen (1966:227). The gen.pl. in ON -na cannot
regularly reflect late Proto-NWGmc *-no but must have been transferred
from the weak masculines. Finally the gen.sg. in -ur as found in Old Gutnic
and a few ON texts of Norwegian provenance (e.g., OGu giptur wedding,
gatur street) is obviously the old form of nom. and acc.pl. secondarily
used as a gen.sg.; this must have been a recent innovation of the particular
dialects. Again the inflection of the numerous feminine --stems served as
the model, where the gen.sg., nom. and acc.pl. all end in -ar.)

The easiest account for the alternation ~ in OHG and the reflexes of * in Old
Saxon and Old Norse is to assume that late Proto-NWGmc unaccented * was
secondarily raised to * before tautosyllabic *n. This solution to the problem was
already proposed by Walde (1900:176177), and later used by Heusler (1913:80),
Prokosch (1939:253), Krahe-Meid (1969:67), von Kienle (1969:161) and, in more
recent times, Hararson (1989:8586) and Boutkan (1995:288289). The obvious
generalization nicely explains the distribution of and in OHG: is only found
in the gen.pl. -no where the n is not tautosyllabic and in the dat.pl. -m, where
not n but m follows.
However, this simple and elegant explanation has met with scepticism by
many Germanicists. This scepticism stems from two well known objections to
which we now turn.

4.2 Supposed lack of supporting evidence

The first objection against the Proto-NWGmc raising of unstressed * before a


tautosyllabic *n is that we do not find the assumed development in paradigmatic
forms of class II weak verbs such as the infinitive in OHG -n, OS -on and ON -a,
the present participle in OHG -nt-, OS -ond- and ON -and- and the 3pl. pres-
ent ending in OHG -nt, OS -od, ON -a (cf. Reis 1974:4244, Syrett 1994:220).
However, this is not a valid objection against the proposed sound change, since

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436 Eugen Hill

the forms in question clearly belong to a paradigm in which conditions for raising
were lacking in most forms, so that secondary leveling was always possible (cf.
Boutkan 1995:290). A clear trace of raising is found in a lexicalized present par-
ticiple of a class II weak verb where secondary leveling was less clearly indicated
by the morphological environment (cf. already van Helten 1891:468469). The
weak verb of class II Go. frijn to love has a present participle frijnds which
means loving as an adjective but friend as a noun. The West Germanic word
for friend (also relative, as secondary meaning) is friunt in OHG, in OS friund,
in OE frond, frond, in OFr frind, frind, all of which have to reflect *frijund-
or *frijnd-. Since *frijund- would be difficult to motivate as a present participle
of a class II weak verb, Proto-NWGmc *frijnd- must be the counterpart of Go.
frijnds with raising of unaccented * to * before a tautosyllabic *n.

4.3 Supposed lack of raising in Old English and Old Frisian

A second objection is the complete absence of raised forms in the inflection of


stems in PGmc *-n- in Old English and Old Frisian (see, for instance, Kortlandt
2006:46); compare the inflection of the tongue-word in these languages in con-
trast to OHG in (21):
(21) sg.
late OHG OE OFr
Proto-NWGmc
Nom. *tunga zunga tunge tunge
Gen. *tungnz zungn tungan tunga
Dat. *tungnz > zungn ~ tungan tunga
Acc. *tungn zungn tungan tunga
pl.
late OHG OE OFr
Proto-NWGmc
Nom. *tungnz zungn tungan tunga
Gen. *tungno zungno tung(e)na tungena
Dat. *tungmz > zungm ~ tungum tungum
Acc. *tungnnz zungn tungan tunga.

This loses much of its force if we bear in mind that the inflection of the PGmc
-n-stems is known to have undergone considerable remodeling in the common
prehistory of Old English and Old Frisian. Due to a secondary development only
partly shared by other West Germanic languages, the old difference between the
-n-feminines and the masculine stems in PGmc *-e/an- is lost in the oblique
cases of the singular and all of the plural. The shapes of the gen. and dat.pl. OE

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 437

tung(e)na, OFr tungena and OE, OFr tungum show that the endings adopted by
the -n-stems of both genders originally belonged at least partly to the -e/an-in-
flection and not the -n-inflection. The gen.pl. OE, OFr -(e)na cannot reflect the
corresponding ending of the -n-feminines of Proto-NWGmc *-no (< PGmc
*-n-n) but only that of the -e/an-stems *-ano (< PGmc *-an-n, cf. RN -ano).
The dat.pl. OE, OFr -um cannot reflect Proto-NWGmc *-mz of the -n-stems (<
PGmc *-n-miz) but only Proto-NWGmc *-umz (< PGmc *-an-miz or *-un-miz)
of the -e/an-inflection. Since the endings of the gen. and dat.pl. reflect endings of
the old -e/an-stems, the remaining case forms shared by masculines and feminines
could be of the same origin. Thus, the absence of raising in the inflection of OE,
OFr tunge can be explained by a well-known secondary development and does not
invalidate the proposed change of unstressed * to * before tautosyllabic *n in
late Proto-NWGmc.8

4.4 Competing solutions

Below I show that all other explanations proposed for the alternation ~ in
OHG and the reflexes of * in the inflection of the old -n-stems in Old Saxon and
Old Norse are less plausible than that proposed in 4.1.
The oldest account for the Proto-NWGmc *-n beside *-n- involves the re-
construction of a further class of weak feminines for Proto-Germanic (cf. Mller
1880:543545, later Streitberg 1889:220, 1896:258, Kluge 1913:207 and appar-
ently also Bammesberger 1990:171). Since the PGmc -n-stems are probably
-n-extensions of pre-Gmc stems in *--, and the -n-stems seem to reflect older
stems in *--, it is conceivable that stems in *--, which might be assumed for the

8. There seems to be some slight indirect evidence for such a raising in the prehistory of OE
and OFr -n-stems. It is known that Proto-NWGmc unstressed *, which usually yields a in Old
English and Old Frisian, probably became u (often written o) if followed by *u in the next sylla-
ble (cf. 3). The comparative adjective suffix, PGmc *-z-e/an- (m. and n.) ~ *-z-n- (f.), which
is reflected as -r-an in Old English and -r-a in Old Frisian, seems to have had two different forms
*-ar-an- and *-ur-an- due to the shape of the corresponding superlatives in OE, OFr -ast- (rare)
and OE, OFr -ust-, -ost- (common), confirmed by two occurrences of OFr letore later (on this
form cf. van Helten 1890:176177, Boutkan 1996:8182) and the fossilized comparatives to
adjectival adverbs which end in OE -ar and -ur, -or, OFr -or. In the inflection of the superlatives
there is hardly any source for u-mutation: nom.sg. f., nom.-acc.pl. n. in *-u (< PGmc *-) and
dat.pl. m.,n. in *-umz (< PGmc *-amiz) alone are probably not sufficient, for other strong adjec-
tives do not usually have u-mutation (cf. Hollifield 1984:54). It seems possible to attribute the
difference between a and u, o to the comparatives where it can be linked to the old inflectional
difference between the masculines and neuters in *-e/an- and the feminines in *-n-. Thus the
u-mutation can be explained to have originated in the oblique cases of the feminine compara-
tives, if they originally ended in *-n like in OHG, Old Saxon and Old Norse.

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438 Eugen Hill

immediate prehistory of Proto-Germanic due to the evidence of related languages


such as Sanskrit or Old Church Slavonic, were also extended by *-n-, thus giving
birth to PGmc stems in *-n-. These -n-stems were then crossed with the stems
in *-n-, which led to the mixed paradigms found in West Germanic and Old
Norse. In my opinion, this explanation is severely compromised by the complete
lack of any trace of the alleged PGmc stems in *-n- in Gothic. Furthermore, pro-
ponents of this theory cannot account for the peculiar distribution of -n and -n-
in OHG, thereby leaving it to chance.
Attempts to explain the reflexes of *-n instead of *-n in North and West
Germanic in purely structural terms are not promising and need not be discussed
extensively. The idea expressed by Streitberg (1889:220), Boer (1918:199200),
Prokosch (1921:475) and Benediktsson (1968:2930) that *-n can be accounted
for by contamination of *-n with *-un (< pre-Gmc *-n-) in the inflection of the
-e/an-masculines is unconvincing because contaminations of this kind are un-
known in Germanic. Jellinek (1891:8587) appealed to analogy on the basis of a
nom.sg. in Proto-NWGmc *-u < *-, as in the inflection of the --stems. Given
that such a hypothetical nom.sg. of -n-stems in *-u left no traces in the attested
North and West Germanic languages, this explanation is generally rejected. Again,
neither of these hypotheses explains the distribution of -n and -n in the OHG
inflectional paradigm.
Kuryowicz (1968) suggested an explanation based on the well-established de-
velopment PGmc *-# > Proto-NWGmc *-# (as found, for instance, in the 1sg.
present of strong verbs and in the nom.sg. of the --stems). The PGmc 1.sg. pres-
ent in *- yields Go. -a but Runic Norse -u, OE, OHG, OS -u. The PGmc --stems
nom.sg. in *- becomes Go. -a but OE, Runic Norse -u plus u-mutation in the root
in Old Norse where no vowel is preserved. Kuryowicz proposed that the interplay
of * and * in the inflection of the strong feminine --adjectives was second-
arily introduced into their -n-inflected weak counterparts and then spread to the
nouns. This scenario is improbable due to the fact that the distribution of * and
* in the paradigm of the --stems at best marginally touches on their distribution
in the -n-inflection (for instance in the dat.sg.) but does not match it, compare
the representative paradigms in OHG (nouns are used because the original inflec-
tion of strong adjectives was changed by intrusion of pronominal endings):
(22) --stems -n-stems
sg. pl. sg. pl.
Nom. geba geba zunga zungn
Gen. geba gebno zungn zungno
Dat. gebu gebm zungn zungm
Acc. geba geba zungn zungn.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 439

In all three attempts discussed so far, *n instead of *n in the West Germanic


word for friend, relative, which can be only explained by raising, has to be sepa-
rated from the analogous problem in the inflection of the weak feminines. A uni-
fied solution to both instances of unexpected *n is therefore clearly preferable.
Some scholars attribute the change of Proto-NWGmc unstressed * to * in
the inflection of the -n-stems to u-mutation of unstressed *, which is secure-
ly established for Old Norse and can be plausibly assumed for Old English and
Old Frisian (see van Helten 1891:463464, followed by Bethge 1900:567, Hirt
1931:48, 1932:68, Voyles 1992:7475 and many others). Compare for Old Norse
the case forms of the abstract nouns in PGmc *-u-, such as nom.sg. fgnor
delight < Proto-NWGmc *fagnuz or the nom.sg.f. of the class II weak verbs
past participle kllo called < Proto-NWGmc *kalldu. For Old English see the
discussion about the West Saxon weak preterite of the class II weak verbs in 3pl.
-u-dun above. Since in the inflection of the -n-stems two case endings originally
contained or may have contained *u PGmc acc.sg. *-n-un and acc. pl. *-n-
unz (if it actually existed) reflexes of Proto-NWGmc *-n in OHG, Old Saxon
and Old Norse would be regular in these cases if one assumes that u-mutation
was a development which dates back to Proto-Northwest-Germanic times. Rais-
ing in OHG friunt, OS friund alongside Go. frijnds friend can then be explained
along similar lines: this raising would have originated in the acc.sg. and pl. which
ended in PGmc *-un und *-unz.9
The difficulty of this approach lies in the fact that reflexes of *-n- are also
found in the gen. and dat.sg. as we as in the nom.pl. of the -n-stems, where
no old *u followed. In Old Norse a recent process of paradigmatic leveling would
appear to present an obvious explanation for this anomaly, the monotonous
inflection of the -e/an-stems (cf. sg. nom. m. -e, n. -a, gen.,dat.,acc. -a) provid-
ing a suitable model. But such leveling would be surprising in OHG where a very
similar alternation is found in the -e/an-stems. Note, for instance, the inflection of
OHG haso hare in Alemannic and Bavarian with the supposed original inflec-
tion of zunga tongue after hypothetical early u-mutation:

9. A similar account is presented in Lhr (2000:155): OE frond, OFr frind, OHG friunt, OS
friund owe their vocalism to the acc.pl. *frijund-unz, which reflects older *frijand-unz with
*a already shortened secondarily in Proto-Germanic from * (here contracted from older
*-ja-) before *n + consonant. According to Lhr, this shortened *a is preserved in ON nom.pl.
frndr < *frijand-iz, whereas Go. frijnds received its secondarily from the verb frijn. The
weak point of this account is the need for shortening the * as a product of contraction in Proto-
Germanic, which seems to be supported by no other instances. As ON nom.pl. frndr can
easily reflect a form with old * in its second syllable, I prefer to operate with PGmc *frijnd- for
the prehistory of all other Germanic words for friend, relative.

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440 Eugen Hill

(23) sg. pl.


Nom. haso zunga hasun *zungn
Gen. hasin *zungn hasno zungno
Dat. hasin *zungn hasm zungm
Acc. hasun zungn hasun zungn.10

Since the alternation -in- ~ -un- is not leveled out in the declension of the mascu-
lines, there is no reason why the alternation -n- ~ -n- with the same distribution
in the paradigm should be eliminated in the singular of the corresponding femi-
nines. Other inflectional classes of OHG feminine nouns always preserve the dif-
ferentiation between the acc.sg. on the one hand and the gen. and dat.sg. on the
other. The only exceptions are abstract nouns in -(n), whose acc., gen. and dat.
sg. merged by regular sound change. However, the inflection of the -(n)-abstracts
can hardly have influenced the zunga-type, which mostly consists of feminine ad-
jectives paradigmatically tied to corresponding masculines and neuters with haso-
inflection.
Thus, van Heltens hypothesis of Proto-NWGmc raising of unaccented * to
* caused by an old *u in the following syllable does not yield a satisfactory expla-
nation for the -n-inflection in Northwest Germanic because it does not account
for raising in the following case forms of OHG:
(24) gen.sg. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-niz < PGmc *-nez
dat.sg. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-n < PGmc *-ni
nom.pl. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-niz < PGmc *-nez.

To surmount this, Reis (1974:4244), Snyder (1978:6466, 118119) and Hol-


lifield (1984:4851) assume that the proposed early raising of unstressed * was
induced not only by old *u, which is lacking in the given case forms, but also by an
old *i before it was lost in Proto-Northwest-Germanic:
(25) gen.sg. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-niz < PGmc *-n-ez
dat.sg. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-n < PGmc *-n-i
nom.pl. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-niz < PGmc *-n-ez.

As this extension of the proposed sound law is clearly contradicted by the corre-
sponding dat.pl. OHG zungm < early Proto-NWGmc *-miz < PGmc *-n-miz
without raising, Reis and Hollifield suggest a further modification of their rule:
unaccented Proto-NWGmc * is raised to * only before *n if a high vowel *u or
*i followed:

10. The gen.pl. in -no and dat.pl. in -m in the declension of the masculine -e/an-stems are
obviously taken from the -n-feminines.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 441

(26) acc.sg. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-nu < PGmc *-n-un
gen.sg. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-niz < PGmc *-n-ez
dat.sg. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-n < PGmc *-n-i
nom.pl. OHG zungn < early Proto-NWGmc *-niz < PGmc *-n-ez.

The introduction of *n into the conditioning of the proposed sound change clearly
separates the assumed development from the instances of u-mutation of Proto-
NWGmc * in Old Norse, Old English and Old Frisian. As shown by case forms
of the -u-stems like ON nom.sg. fgnor delight < Proto-NWGmc *fagnuz or
the nom.sg.f. of the past participle of --verbs kllo called < Proto-NWGmc
*kalldu, u-mutation was not restricted to the position before *n. But if the raising
of Proto-NWGmc * before *n must be separated from u-mutation in Old Norse,
Old English and Old Frisian, there is no need to involve the vocalism of the fol-
lowing syllable at all. The traditional assumption that unaccented * was raised to
* before a tautosyllabic *n in late Proto-Northwest-Germanic is thus the most
economical explanation for the case forms of -n-feminines like dat.sg. OHG
zungn, OS tungun, ON tungo, -u beside Go. tuggn and for the West Germanic
word for friend OHG friunt, OS friund beside Go. frijnds.
Of course, this interpretation of the data destroys the neat parallelism in the
development of the medial syllables between the -e/an- and the -n-stems in
Northwest Germanic. For the masculine -e/an-stems it has been repeatedly as-
sumed that their acc.sg. and nom.pl. in OHG -un, -on corresponding to Go. -an
and -ans and thus reflecting *-an-u < PGmc *-an-un and *-an-iz < PGmc *-an-ez
developed the attested form by raising of an unaccented *a before *n followed by a
high vowel. It seems natural to assume a similar development for the correspond-
ing case forms of the -n-stems, thus reconstructing OHG acc.sg. and nom.pl.
-n < *-n-u and *-n-iz. The fact is, however, that unaccented *a and * do not
behave similarly in medial syllables before nasals in Proto-Northwest-Germanic.
While PGmc *-amiz and *-amez produced Proto-NWGmc *-umz > OHG -um
with raising of *a to *u in the dat.pl. of -a-stems and in the 1pl. present of strong
verbs, no raising is found in PGmc *-miz and *-mez, which yielded *-mz >
OHG -m in the dat.pl. of the --stems and in the 1pl. present of the class II weak
verbs. If unaccented *a and * behave differently before *m, there is no necessity to
expect them to behave similarly before *n. Thus, raising of Proto-NWGmc unac-
cented * to * before a tautosyllabic *n remains perfectly plausible.

4.5 The Runic evidence

The assumed sound law Proto-NWGmc unaccented * > * before a tautosyllabic


*n needs a correction in one important respect. Clear evidence suggests that North

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442 Eugen Hill

Germanic did not participate in this. In the Runic Norse inscriptions on the stones
of Stenstad (5th c. ce) and Rosseland (5th c. ce) the forms igijon and agilamudon
are found, which seem to attest the gen. or dat. sg. of the -n-inflected proper
names *Ingijo and *Agilamundo, still ending in -on, without any trace of rais-
ing (cf. Krause 1971:89). The interpretation of the inscriptions is uncontroversial:
the inscription of Stenstad reads igijon halaR I.s stone and that from Rosseland
reads ek wagigaR irilaR agilamudon I W., the runecarver, for A. or I W., A.s
runecarver (cf. Krause-Jankuhn 1966:154156, 18586, Antonsen 1975:4950,
Looijenga 2003:347). Runic Norse igijon and agilamudon are repeatedly cited as
counterevidence to early raising of Proto-NWGmc * in the literature, cf. some-
what tentatively Gutenbrunner (1951:66, 101102), then more assertively Holli-
field (1984:48), Syrett (1994:221) and Nedoma (2005:161). If this raising operated
in Proto-Northwest-Germanic times, it is difficult to see why it is absent in Runic
Norse as late as in the 5th c. ce. Boutkan (1995:288290) feels obliged to assume
that West Germanic and North Germanic underwent raising of unaccented *
before tautosyllabic *n independently from each other. Grnvik (1976:138146,
1998:2122) postulates a North Germanic sound change *-n > *-u after the split
up Proto-Northwest-Germanic (cf. similarly already Kock 1898:253254, cf. Stiles
1984:1314, dAlquen 1988:179180).
A second piece of evidence against the Proto-Northwest-Germanic date of
the proposed raising is provided by the shape of the lexicalized participle cor-
responding to Go. frijnds, OHG friunt, OS friund friend, relative. In Old Norse
this noun is attested as frnde kinsman. The unexpected i-mutation in the syn-
chronic root can only be explained as analogical transfer from the pl. frndr.
The latter form occurs without contraction in the earliest poetical texts and hence
must be read disyllabically as frendr (cf. Noreen 1923:115, 287), which presup-
poses *frijand-iz with *a < * without raising before the tautosyllabic *n. Thus, the
conditions of North Germanic raising of unaccented * before *n as observed in
the inflections of the weak feminines must be different from the corresponding
West Germanic development.
The easiest way to explain the North Germanic data is to assume there was
comparatively recent regular raising of unaccented Proto-NWGmc * before any
nasal at the end of a word. As already noted above, in the Old Norse inflection of
the weak feminines such raising occurs not only before *n, as in West Germanic,
but also in the dat.pl. where *m follows:
(27) late
Proto-NWGmc OHG ON
dat.sg. *-n zungn gto, -u
dat.pl. *-mz zungm gtom, -um.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 443

Raising of unaccented * before word-final *m seems to have operated also in the


dat.pl. of the strong feminines in PGmc *--miz > late Proto-NWGmc *-mz
> ON -om, -um (with u-mutation in the root, cf. gifom, -um presents) and in
the 1pl. pres. of class II weak verbs PGmc *--mez > late Proto-NWGmc *-mz
> ON -om, -um (again with u-mutation, cf. kllom, -um we call). Although the
latter instances of raising may be explainable by analogy, and there seems to be no
unequivocal additional evidence for raising before *n outside the weak feminines,
the suggested explanation accounts for all relevant facts of Old Norse grammar so
straightforwardly that it is clearly superior to all known alternatives.

4.6 Conclusions

Thus, Proto-NWGmc unaccented * underwent regular raising to * before a tau-


tosyllabic *n in the common prehistory of the West Germanic languages. In North
Germanic unaccented * developed into * by a similar, but independent sound
law before nasals in word-final position. As a result of these developments, the plu-
ral endings of the weak preterite Proto-NWGmc 1pl. *-dm, 3pl. *-dn must have
turned into 1pl. *-dm, 3pl. *-dn in West Germanic (with subsequent paradigmat-
ic leveling in the dialects) and 1pl. *-dm, 3pl. *-dn in the prehistory of Old Norse.

5. Morphology of the recontructed endings

As has just been shown, a careful investigation of the weak preterite endings in
North and West Germanic leads to the following reconstruction of the early Pro-
to-Northwest-Germanic endings and their PGmc antecedants (28):
(28) early
Proto-NWGmc PGmc
1sg. *-d 1pl. *-dm 1sg. *-d-n 1pl. *-d-me
2sg. *-dz 2pl. *-d 2sg. *-d-z 2pl. *-d-e
3sg. *-d 3pl. *-dn 3sg. *-d-t 3pl. *-d-nt.

It becomes immediately clear that the endings of the weak preterite reconstructed
in this way nearly perfectly match the corresponding inflections of do in the
present as is shown in (29):
(29) PGmc PGmc
1sg. *-d-n 1pl. *-d-me 1sg. *d-mi 1pl. *d-mez
2sg. *-d-z 2pl. *-d-e 2sg. *d-si 2pl. *d-e
3sg. *-d-t 3pl. *-d-nt 3sg. *d-i 3pl. *d-ni.

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444 Eugen Hill

There are only two differences between the paradigms. First, the long vowel pre-
ceding the inflectional endings is sometimes * and sometimes * in the endings
of the weak preterite, whereas in the present inflections of do only * appears
throughout the paradigm. Second, the inflectional endings used in the two sets of
inflections are similar but not identical: cf. 1sg. weak preterite *-n ~ do-present
*-mi, 2sg. weak preterite *-z ~ do-present *-si etc. Both can be easily explained.
The endings of the weak preterite are attested in all three branches of German-
ic: in the only well documented East Germanic language, Gothic, and in all known
North and West Germanic languages. The present of do is preserved only in West
Germanic, attested at a much later date than Gothic. The PGmc reconstruction of
the do-inflections is thus less secure and it can be assumed that the old differ-
ence between * and * was secondarily eliminated here by paradigmatic leveling
after the breakup of Proto-Germanic.11 As already stated above, this assumption
finds a clear confirmation in the corresponding preterite participle PGmc *d-
ana- done with * in the root.
The different sets of inflectional endings regularly reflect the old pre-German-
ic contrast between the so-called secondary endings typically used outside of the
present indicative and the so-called primary endings used in the present indica-
tive (30). That this contrast is to be reconstructed for the immediate prehistory of
Proto-Germanic is clearly shown by the similar differences between the optative
and the indicative present, such as PGmc 3sg. opt. *-ai-t ~ ind. *-e-i (cf. OS -e-
~ -i-d) and 3pl. opt. *-ai-nt ~ ind. *-a-ni (cf. OS -e-n ~ -a-d).
(30) PIE Sanskrit and Doric dialect of Greek
secondary primary secondary primary
1sg. *-m *-mi 1sg. -m -n -mi -mi
2sg. *-s *-si 2sg. -s -s -si -si
3sg. *-d *-ti cf. 3sg. -d - -ti -ti
1pl. *-me *-mes 1pl. -ma -mes -mas -mes
3pl. *-nd *-nti 3pl. -n -n -nti -nti

11. Note that the similar alternation in the present inflection of the ordinary strong and a part
of the weak verbs attested in hundreds of cases and never leveled out does not render the
proposed leveling in the present of do improbable. The inherited parallelism between the two
cases was virtually nonexistent at the given stage of language development. In Proto-West-Ger-
manic times the stem of the ordinary strong verbs in the present ended in *i (2sg., 3sg. and 2pl.)
alternating with *u (1sg. and pl.) and *a (3pl.). The corresponding inflectional forms of do
must have had * (< PGmc *) in alternation with *. The latter pattern of alternation must have
been completely isolated in the language. Due to its isolation, Proto-WGmc *d- ~ *d- could
have become subject to leveling on the model of the class II weak verbs with * throughout the
paradigm.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 445

PGmc
non-present present
indicative indicative
1sg. *-n *-mi
2sg. *-z *-si
3sg. *-t *-i
1pl. *-me *-mez
3pl. *-nt *-ni.

Thus, the differences between the inflectional endings in the endings of the weak
preterite and the inflectional forms of do in the present are not surprising but
rather to be expected if one makes the assumption, now quite natural, that both
formations simply reflect two different tense forms of one and the same old forma-
tion with apophony in the root PGmc *d- ~ *d- < pre-Gmc *dh- ~ *dh-. Then
the endings of the weak preterite would reflect a tense form outside the indicative
present, i.e. did, whereas the present inflections of do would simply have main-
tained their original function, i.e. do or does, as in (31):
(31) pre-Germanic
did do ~ does
1sg. *dh-m 1pl. *dh-me 1sg. *dh-mi 1pl. *dh-mes
2sg. *dh-s 2pl. *dh-te 2sg. *dh-si 2pl. *dh-te
3sg. *dh-d 3pl. *dh-nd 3sg. *dh-ti 3pl. *dh-nti.

The relationship of the type pre-Gmc 3sg. *dh-d ~ 3pl. *dh-nd did versus 3sg.
*dh-ti ~ 3pl. *dh-nti does, do is well-known in the older Indo-European lan-
guages. As in Sanskrit and Greek, originally every present stem could be inflected
with both primary and secondary endings. Present stems inflected with second-
ary endings like pre-Gmc 3sg. *dh-d ~ 3pl. *dh-nd did as just reconstructed
above are called imperfects. Old imperfects are, as a rule, lost in Proto-Germanic.
They are ousted by reflexes of Proto-Indo-European perfects, which though
originally purely aspectual adopted the semantics of a simple preterite. Prob-
ably for this reason we do not find a reflex of pre-Gmc 3sg. *dh-d ~ 3pl. *dh-nd
did outside the periphrastic formation of the weak preterite in any of Germanic
daughter languages. It was only preserved in the suffixes of the weak preterite due
to the fact that the derived secondary verbs of pre-Germanic had no old perfects to
compete with them because only primary verbs could have a perfect in PIE.
Before the suggested reconstruction can be seen as the solution to the problem
of the weak preterite endings in Proto-Germanic, the reconstructed verbal stem
PGmc *d- ~ *d- < pre-Gmc *dh- ~ *dh- found in these endings and in the
West Germanic present of do needs to be checked against what is known about
the morphological behavior of the underlying PIE verbal root. It is a commonplace

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446 Eugen Hill

in Indo-European studies that verbal roots of PIE originally only formed a small
part of morphologically possible stems and there was considerable variation be-
tween the individual roots concerning the choice of formations to be constructed.
According to the situation found in the oldest Indo-European languages, such as
Sanskrit or Greek, only two old verbal stem formations can be securely recon-
structed for the verbal root PIE *dheh1 do (cf. Rix 2001:136138):
the root-aorist PIE sg. *dhh1- ~ pl. *dhh1- which is reflected in Sanskrit 3sg.
dha-t, Greek 3sg. -th (inscriptions) and OCS 2,3sg. -d;
the reduplicated present PIE sg. *dhi-dhh1- ~ pl. *dh-dhh1- or sg. *dh-
dhoh1- ~ pl. *dh-dhh1-12 with reflexes in Sanskrit 3sg. ddh-ti, Greek 3sg.
tth-si and, morphologically modified but still clearly reduplicated, Lithu-
anian 1sg. ded and OCS 1sg. -ded.
Reconstructed pre-Gmc *dh- ~ *dh- clearly cannot be identified directly with
either formation. The PIE aorists had no present tense and could not be inflected
with primary endings, whereas pre-Gmc *dh- ~ *dh- must have been a pres-
ent stem according to its function as present of do in West Germanic. Phono-
logically, PIE *dhh1- ~ *dhh1- would yield not pre-Gmc *dh- ~ *dh- but rather
pre-Gmc *dh- ~ *dha- ~ *dh-, and there is no way for a stem alternant with * to
emerge. PIE *dhi-dhh1- ~ *dh-dhh1- or *dh-dhoh1- ~ *dh-dhh1- is a present stem
which could be inflected with both primary and secondary endings but it has
reduplication, which is lacking in pre-Gmc *dh- ~ *dh-.
However, some pre-Germanic present stems are known not to directly reflect
a PIE present or aorist stem, but rather a modal formation based on such a pri-
mary stem and secondarily reinterpreted as a new primary present stem in pre-
Germanic times (cf. Bammesberger 1982a, b, Hill 2004:281282). This modal for-
mation, called subjunctive, had full grade in the root, a so-called thematic vowel
*-e- ~ *-o- as a suffix, was inflected with primary endings like a present stem and
was semantically prospective. So the subjunctive of the root aorist PIE *bhi d- ~
*bhid- to split (cf. Sanskrit 1sg. a-bhedam, 3sg. a-bhed), to be reconstructed as
3sg. *bhi d -e-ti is about to split, looked like a 3sg. indicative present of an ordi-
nary present stem. Because of this formal similarity of a prospective subjunctive
with a present indicative, a sentence such as, for instance, the dog is about to split
(*bhi d -e-ti) the bone could be reinterpreted by the listener as the dog is biting
(*bhid-e-ti) the bone, giving rise to the new present stem pre-Gmc *bhi d-e- ~
*-o- reflected in Go. beitan, OE, OS btan, OHG bzzan all meaning to bite. Simi-
larly the root-aorist PIE *gus- ~ *gus- to choose, to prefer (cf. Sanskrit part.
med. jusn-) had a subjunctive *gus-e- ~ *-o- whose 3sg. *gus-e-ti is about

12. Concerning this uncertainty cf. 2 above.

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 447

to choose (a dish) (cf. Sanskrit jsati) was reinterpreted as present indicative is


tasting (a dish) leading to the new present stem pre-Gmc *gus-e- ~ *-o-, which
is reflected in Go. kiusan, OE cosan, OHG kiosan to taste. The root-aorist PIE
*rh1dh- ~ *rh1dh- to succeed (cf. Sanskrit 1sg. a-rdham) formed the subjunc-
tive *rh1dh-e- ~ *-o- with 3sg. *rh1dh-e-ti is about to succeed (cf. Sanskrit
rdhati) which was reinterpreted as is preparing, is counselling yielding pre-
Gmc *rdh-e- ~ *-o- which is reflected in ON ra, OE rdan, OHG rtan to
counsel. The morphological properties and the semantics of these Germanic pri-
mary present stems can only be understood with reference to the subjunctive of
old root-aorists.
Now one can try to explain the mysterious pre-Gmc *dh- ~ *dh- in the same
way. The root-aorist PIE *dhh1- ~ *dhh1- (cf. Sanskrit 3sg. dha-t) had a subjunc-
tive *dhh1-e- ~ *-o- (cf. Sanskrit 3sg. dha-ti, Old Avestan di-t). This PIE sub-
junctive *dhh1-e- ~ *-o- would develop in the following way:
(32) Proto-Indo-European after laryngeal developments
1sg. *dhh1oH 1pl. *dhh1omes 1sg. *dh 1pl. *dhomes
2sg. *dhh1esi 2pl. *dhh1ete 2sg. *dhesi 2pl. *dhete
3sg. *dhh1eti 3pl. *dhh1onti 3sg. *dheti 3pl. *dhonti

pre-Germanic
1sg. *dh 1pl. *dhmes
2sg. *dhsi 2pl. *dhte
3sg. *dhti 3pl. *dhnti.13

If the old subjunctive was reinterpreted as present indicative of an ordinary pres-


ent stem, the corresponding imperfect with preterital semantics and secondary
personal endings should have been created:
(33) pre-Germanic
1sg. *dhm 1pl. *dhme
2sg. *dhs 2pl. *dhte
3sg. *dhd 3pl. *dhnd.

13. The assumed contraction in the 1pl. *dhh1omes, 3pl. *dhh1onti > 1pl. *dhmes, 3pl.
*dhnti seems to directly contradict the development of pre-Gmc 3sg. perf. *h1e-h1d-e ate to
PGmc *t-e (OHG z, ON t). However, PGmc *t-e can be a recent innovation on the basis of
the corresponding plural *t-unt < pre-Gmc *h1e-h1d-t. A possible model for this is provided
by the strong verbs of class VI, where pres. *a ~ pret. sg. * ~ pret. pl. * could have served as a
model for pres. *e ~ pret. sg. * ~ pret. pl. * in the inflection of to eat (cf. Cowgill 1960:491
493, Lindeman 1968:76, Schumacher 2001:186187, Hill 2004:285286).

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448 Eugen Hill

It becomes immediately clear that this paradigm is almost identical to the pre-
Gmc present 3sg. *dh-ti ~ 3pl. *dh-nti does, do versus the imperfect 3sg.
*dh-d ~ 3pl. *dh-nd did reconstructed above, cf. (31). There are only two mi-
nor differences between the two inflectional patterns. First, the 1sg. present of the
former subjunctive should be *dh- and not the form *dh-mi actually required
by OE, OS d-m, OHG tuo-m. However, *dh- could have easily been replaced
by *dh-mi in pre-Germanic since *-mi is the regular primary counterpart of
the secondary ending *-m found in the 1sg. imperfect *dh-m. Second, the 2pl.
present and imperfect of the former subjunctive should have the form *dh-te and
not *dh-te as actually indicated by OHG present tuo-t, weak preterite -t-t and
tentatively reconstructed above. However, the 1 and 3pl. both have pre-Gmc *
yielding PGmc *, so that this vowel in the 2pl. can easily be explained by para-
digmatic leveling. As we have no evidence for the 2pl. from outside of Northwest
Germanic, this leveling can have operated rather late, possibly after the breakup of
Proto-Germanic, and there is no need to reconstruct Proto-Grmc *d-e < pre-
Gmc *dh-te at all.
Thus, the somewhat strange-looking present pre-Gmc *dh-ti ~ *dh-nti
does, do with the corresponding imperfect *dh-d ~ *dh-nd did, both re-
constructed entirely on the basis of North and West Germanic evidence, finds a
plausible morphological explanation as a present stem grown out of an ancient
subjunctive of the root-aorist PIE *dhh1- ~ *dhh1- in the same way as many other
present stems of pre-Germanic.

6. Integrating Gothic through the optative

As just demonstrated, North and West Germanic presuppose the following re-
construction of the PGmc endings of the weak preterite and their prehistory (34):
(34) Proto-Germanic pre-Germanic
1sg. *-d-n 1pl. *-d-me 1sg. *dh-m 1pl. *dh-me
2sg. *-d-z 2pl. *-d-e < 2sg. *dh-s 2pl. *dh-te
3sg. *-d-t 3pl. *-d-nt 3sg. *dh-d 3pl. *dh-nd.

This reconstruction successfully explains the weak preterite endings in the sin-
gular of the oldest attested Germanic language Gothic too. However, as already
stated, there is a serious disagreement between the Northwest Germanic lan-
guages and Gothic in the plural of the weak preterite, where Gothic has redupli-
cated structures formally identical with the reduplicated preterite of do in West
Germanic (cf. 7 above) but sharply different from the corresponding North and
West Germanic weak preterite endings. Clearly these reduplicated endings of Go.,

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 449

1pl. -ddum, 2pl. -ddu and 3pl. -ddun, are incompatible with 1pl. *-dme,
2pl. *-de and 3pl. *-dnt, as reconstructed for Proto-Germanic on the basis of
Northwest Germanic evidence.
This problem can be solved by integrating into the emerging picture the op-
tative mood of the Germanic weak preterite. According to the theory proposed
above, the endings of the weak preterite reflect inflectional forms of the pre-Ger-
manic imperfect of do which developed out of a Proto-Indo-European aorist
subjunctive. As imperfects could not have their own optative in Proto-Indo-Eu-
ropean, one wonders how the optative could be formed given that the inflectional
forms of the imperfect in question were already employed as endings for a peri-
phrastic preterite tense formation, i.e., the forerunner to the Germanic weak pret-
erite. The only formation capable of forming an optative with preterite tense refer-
ence in pre-Germanic was the old perfect which later developed into the preterite
tense of strong or primary verbs. Such a perfect was available also in the case of
do: it is preserved as a reduplicated strong preterite in West Germanic, cf. its in-
flectional paradigm in OHG and what is to be assumed for Proto-Germanic (35):
(35) Old High German Proto-Germanic
indicative optative indicative optative
sg. pl. sg. pl. sg. pl. sg. pl.
1 teta ttum tti ttm *deda *ddume *ddn *ddme
2 tti ttut tts ttt < *dedta *ddude *ddz *ddde
3 teta ttun tti ttn *dede *ddunt *ddt *ddnt
(The OHG 1sg. and 3sg. indicative developed out of the corresponding
PGmc forms through contraction known also from the preterite of the so
called verba pura in ON such as ON ra to row and s to sow with
the preterite 1sg. rera, sera and 3sg. rere, sere (cf. Hill 2004:259266);
the OHG 2sg. indicative is replaced by a form based on the stem of the
indicative plural and the entire optative like in every strong preterite of West
Germanic; the 2sg. optative has the unexplained desinence OHG -s instead
of expected -i, again like in every other strong preterite.)

It seems reasonable to assume that the task of forming the optative of the weak
preterite was taken over by the optative inflections of this strong preterite. Then
the original inflectional paradigm of a weak preterite in Proto-Germanic times is
to be reconstructed as follows (36):
(36) indicative optative
1sg. *-d-n 1pl. *-d-me 1sg. *-dd-n 1pl. *-dd-me
2sg. *-d-z 2pl. *-d-e 2sg. *-dd-z 2pl. *-dd-de
3sg. *-d-t 3pl. *-d-nt 3sg. *-dd-t 3pl. *-dd-nt.

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450 Eugen Hill

Such an inflection based on two strongly divergent stems must synchronically


have been felt to be severely irregular. As the plural inflections of the Germanic
strong preterites are always formed from the same stem as the whole optative, such
a mixed paradigm could change in the following two ways.
First, it was possible to homogenize the paradigm by introducing the optative
stem into the plural of the indicative. This way was presumably taken by Gothic: 1pl.
ind. -ddum is then secondarily created to match the 1pl. opt. -ddeima on the mod-
el of the strong preterites such as gave 1pl. ind. gbum ~ 1pl. opt. gbeima or said
1pl. ind. qum ~ 1pl. opt. qeima. Similarly the 3pl. ind. -ddun would be based
on the inherited 3pl. opt. -ddeina due to synchronically regular gbun ~ gbeina
or qun ~ qeina and so on. Restructuring of a received indicative on the basis
of an oblique mood is not common among the languages of the world, but Gothic
is known to have undergone a similar development elsewhere in its conjugation. In
the inflection of to be, the present indicative forms, Go. 1pl. sijum and 2pl. siju
can only be explained as innovations on the basis of the corresponding optative 2sg.
sijais, 3sg. sijai, 1pl. sijaima etc. The details of the process deserve further investiga-
tion, but the onset sij- clearly marks the mentioned forms of the indicative, which
have nothing in common with 1 and 2pl. present indicative of to be in the rest of
Germanic, as depending on the optative pre-Gmc 1sg. *sii -m, 2sg. *sii -s, 3sg.
*sii -d (cf. Sanskrit s(i)yam, s(i)yas, s(i)yad and Old Latin siem, sis, siet). If Gothic
modified the inherited indicative in accordance with the stem shape of the optative
in the present of to be, it can have in the inflection of the weak preterite as well.
Second, it was possible to create a new optative on the basis of the stem of the
indicative plural. In North and West Germanic, the optative of the weak preterite
has the marker ON -e-, -i-, OHG -t-, -d-, OS, ODu -di, -e, OE, OFr -de. At first
glance, the vowel of this optative seems identical with the reflexes of PGmc *-- in
the optative of the strong preterite, but this similarity is clearly secondary. In OHG
(cf. Braune Reiffenstein 2004:272) -t, -d in the 3sg., where no other consonant
followed, is not shortened as in the optative of the strong preterite (cf. the spell-
ing -dii in Isidore beside -i in the strong preterite); nor is this *-- weakened
in the most recent texts (cf. the spelling -t in Notkers writings beside -e in
the strong preterite). The vowel e in OE -de of the weak preterite optative can-
not reflect PGmc *-- due to the consistent spelling -d in the earliest glossaries
which distinguish between -i and - at the end of a word (cf. Bammesberger
1982c). Thus, the Proto-Northwest-Germanic endings of the weak preterite in the
optative must have contained an overlong vowel not capable of secondary shorten-
ing in OHG with a timbre somewhere between i (due to the spellings -dii, -ti
and -t in OHG documents) and open e (due to -d in the oldest Old English
sources). This mysterious overlong vowel in the optative of the weak preterite can
be explained if one assumes that Proto-Northwest-Germanic homogenized the in-

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A case study in grammaticalized inflectional morphology 451

herited irregular inflectional paradigm of the weak preterite by replacing the redu-
plicated optative with an optative analogically created on the model of the strong
preterite. Strong preterites like went Proto-NWGmc 3sg. ind. *fr ~ opt. *fr- or
ate Proto-NWGmc 3sg. ind. *t ~ opt. *t- could have provided a model for the
weak preterite Proto-NWGmc 3sg. ind. *-d opt. *-d-. On the basis of the new
3sg. *-d-, which must have been created in this way, the remaining paradigmatic
forms of the weak preterite optative could emerge. A sequence Proto-NWGmc *
at the end of a word could have developed into an overlong monophthong with
i-timbre in OHG. All one has to assume is a secondary contraction of both unac-
cented long vowels. This is certainly impossible to prove since there seem to be no
other instances of Proto-NWGmc * anywhere else in the grammar, but a recent
contraction of long vowels as a source for an overlong monophthong is a plausible
assumption. In the earliest Old English sources, the hypothetical Proto-NWGmc
* would lead to - after contraction. Since this - is known to reflect pre-OE
* (< PGmc unaccented * and *ai), it can also reflect an overlong *e emerging
through a recent contraction of *.
Thus, the proposed explanation of the endings of the Germanic weak preter-
ite on the basis of an old subjunctive reinterpreted as present and imperfect of a
primary verb offers a simple explanation for the mixed paradigm found in Gothic
and the strange overlong vowel attested in the optative of this formation in West
Germanic.

7. Conclusions

The above investigation of the weak preterite endings in all Germanic languages
and their dialects leads to the following conclusions: The Germanic weak preterite
is a periphrastic formation which consists of a verbal noun and grammaticalized
inflections of an old verbal stem belonging to the verbal root meaning do. Ac-
cording to the form of the personal endings in its inflections, this old verbal stem
has to be a pre-Germanic imperfect. According to the shape of its root, this pre-
Germanic imperfect can be identified as the primary present stem preserved as
the present of do in West Germanic. Morphologically, this primary present stem
can only be explained as a reinterpreted subjunctive of a well-known Proto-Indo-
European root-aorist. Since imperfects could not have an optative of their own,
the inflectional paradigm of the weak preterite secondarily adopted the optative
inflections of the corresponding reduplicated perfect, which is known to be pre-
served as the strong preterite of do in West Germanic. In this way, all paradig-
matic forms of the weak preterite and the verb do in all forms of Germanic can
be satisfactorily accounted for without any residue or remaining problems.

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452 Eugen Hill

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Zusammenfassung

Das Thema dieses Aufsatzes ist eines der meist diskutiertesten Probleme in der historischen
Morphologie der germanischen Sprachen: die Entstehung und Entwicklung des sogenannten
schwachen Prteritums. Das schwache Prteritum ist die einzige Mglichkeit der Prteritum-
bildung germanisch abgeleiteter Verben. Trotz einer Forschungsgeschichte von fast zweihun-
dert Jahren und der groen Zahl von Hypothesen zur Entstehung des germanischen schwa-
chen Prteritums ist es immer noch nicht geklrt, wie die Flexionsausgnge dieser Bildung
fr die gemeinsame Vorgeschichte der germanischen Einzelsprachen zu rekonstruieren sind.
Diese Ausgnge werden traditionell als Flexionsformen des Verbs tun aufgefasst, die erst in

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458 Eugen Hill

urgermanischer Zeit als Flexionsmorphologie der abgeleiteten Verben grammatikalisiert wur-


den. Bisher ist es allerdings nicht gelungen, die Flexionsausgnge des schwachen Prteritums
mit konkreten paradigmatischen Formen des Verbs tun zu identifizieren. In dem vorliegenden
Aufsatz wird versucht, das Problem der Flexionsausgnge unter Bercksichtigung derjenigen
Besonderheiten des schwachen Prteritums in den westgermanischen Sprachen zu lsen, die in
der bisherigen Diskussion entweder nicht bercksichtigt oder als irrelevant betrachtet wurden.
Es wird gezeigt, dass dem westgermanischen Befund bei der Rekonstruktion der Herkunft und
Weiterentwicklung des schwachen Prteritums im Germanischen eine Schlsselrolle zukommt.

Rsum

Le sujet de larticle est un des problmes les plus discuts de la morphologie historique des
langues germaniques: la gense et le dveloppement du prtrit faible. Le prtrit faible est la
seule technique pour former un prtrit des verbes drivs germaniques. Malgr presque deux
sicles de recherche et malgr le grand nombre dhypothses concernant son origine du prt-
rit, il nest toujours pas clair comment on doit reconstruire les dsinences flexionnelles de cette
formation dans la prhistoire commune des diverses langues germaniques. On considre ces
dsinences, par tradition, comme des formes flexionnelles du verbe faire. Elles nauraient subi
la grammaticalisation qu lpoque proto-germanique, et font maintenant partie de la morpho-
logie flexionnelle des verbes drivs. Jusqu prsent, on na pas russi assimiler les dsinences
flexionnelles du prtrit faible des formes paradigmatiques concrtes du verbe faire. On tente,
dans cet article, de rsoudre le problme de lorigine de ces dsinences flexionnelles laide des
particularits du prtrit faible des langues germaniques occidentales. On na pas pris ces der-
nires en considration dans la discussion jusqu prsent, ou alors elles ont t considres insi-
gnifiantes. On y montre que les langues germaniques occidentales jouent une position-clef dans
la reconstruction de lorigine et du dveloppement du prtrit faible des langues germaniques.

Authors address
Eugen Hill
Humboldt-Universitt zu Berlin
Institut fur deutsche Sprache und Linguistik
Historisch-vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft
Unter den Linden 6
D-10099 BERLIN, Germany
eugen.hill.ryb@googlemail.com

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