indoeuropean

Report
Indo-European and Germanic
English’s Ancestors
The Indo-European Language Families
• 1786: Sir William Jones (judge, philologist) announces to
the Asiatick Society of Calcutta that Sanskrit had to be
related to Greek and Latin
• cultural anxiety for European colonial power
• based on cognates (related words in different languages)
• PIE = Proto-Indo-European
Sanskrit
Greek
Latin
Gothic
English
PIE
pita
pater
pater
fadar
father
pəter-
patam
poda
pedem
fotu
foot
ped-
bhratar
phrater
frater
fotu
brother
bhrater-
bharami
phero
fero
baira
bear (=
“carry”)
bher-
Migration and development
•
•
•
•
•
human speech: 100,000 to 20,000 BCE
common IE language spoken ca. 5000-3000 BCE
migrations ca. 3000 BCE
in-law words: patriarchal society
common words for horses, dogs, sheep, pigs,
wheeled vehicle, body parts, farming, tools,
weapons, law, religion, social status, numerals to
100
• shared words for cold, winter, honey, wolf, snow,
beech, pine
• but not: ocean, palm, elephant, camel
• near Black Sea? Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia
Indo-European Language Families
The Germanic language family
• late records (ca. 300 CE: Scandinavian inscriptions,
Gothic Bible) – rely on historical reconstruction of
Proto-Germanic (common Germanic original)
Distinctive features of Germanic:
1. First-syllable stress
• Indo-European: moveable stress (compare MnE
photograph/photographer,
Shakespeare/Shakespearean)
• Germanic: stress on first syllable whenever
possible: seven, mother, forehead, hollow
• see both in MnE (explain, avoid – loanwords)
2. Two-tense verb system (verbal inflection in past
tense only)
• (unique to the Germanic branch of IE):I talk, I talked
• other tenses require a verb phrase: I will talk, I would
talk; cf. French je parlerai (I will talk), je parlerais (I
would talk), Latin dicebatur (it was being said) =
synthetic verb forms (one word)
3. Dental suffix for past tense (of most verbs)
• talked, bragged, boasted
• past participle: I have talked
• (German ic glaube “ I believe,” ic glaubte “I
believed”)
• new verbs in English also add –ed: I spammed the
list, I texted him
4. Words unique to Germanic language family
• some words common to Germanic and other IE
languages (mother, Latin mater, Italian madre)
• some words common to Germanic branch only:
earth, loaf, meat, drink, begin, bed
• some words common to West Germanic
languages: ghost
• some words common to English and Frisian
only: key
• some words in English only: dog, log, pig
• (reasons unknown)
5. Grimm’s and Verner’s Laws (sound changes
from IE to Germanic)
• some related words in English:
• tooth, toothy, dental
• heart, hearty, cordial, cardiac
• lip, labial
• foot, pedal
• genuflect, knee
• choleric, gall, cholesterol, melancholy, cholera
• thyroid/door
Grimm’s Law (1)
b
f
p
Latin lubricus, English slippery
Latin pes, English foot
Latin frater, English brother
Grimm’s Law (2)
d
θ
t
Latin decem, English ten
Latin tertius, English third
Latin thyroid, English door
Grimm’s Law (3)
g
h
k
Latin genus (knee), OE cneo, MnE knee
Latin canis, English hound
Ancient Greek χήν, English goose
• NB This is not about borrowing from Latin into
English!
• Latin preserves the IE consonants
• Grimm’s Law happened shortly after Germanic
broke away (~2000 years ago)
Verner’s Law (not on test)
• in certain stress environments:
f>b
θ > d (death/dead)
s > z (was/were)
h>g

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