As a contribution to the ongoing discussion of the genesis of the Germanic
language, this book investigates the strong verbs of Proto-Germanic using a
new approach that combines historical and typological morphology with
quantitative etymology. It reveals that the morphological peculiarities and
the etymological problems of the strong verbs have been considerably
The first part of the book explains how drastically the inherited verb
system was transformed when it was uniformized and simplified around a
functionalized verbal ablaut. In particular, it is shown that the systemic
position of ablaut is typologically different from that in the verb
morphology of the Indo-European parent language. Moreover, the origin of
the lengthened grade preterits and other well-known morphological problems
of the strong verbs are discussed. After developing a methodological
framework, the second part of the book presents a quantitative analysis of
the etymological situation of the strong verbs. It demonstrates that the
etymological relations of the strong verbs are significantly less clear
than commonly assumed, as almost half of them have no accepted etymology. A
comparative quantification of the primary verbs of Sanskrit and Ancient
Greek, both of which possess much better etymological connections within
the Indo-European language family, underlines the significance of the
Germanic data and the validity of the analytical framework.
Taken together, the investigations presented in this book put the Germanic
strong verbs in a new and markedly different light. Their largely obscure
etymological situation in combination with their far-reaching morphological
restructuring has telling implications for the prehistory of the Germanic
languages and suggests new pathways for future research.
Of interest to:
Students and Researchers of the History of German, English, and Other
Germanic and Indo-European Languages.
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