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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Classification of Languages         207
The same process has affected other types of word derivation in
Teutonic languages, especially German For instance we distinguish
between the adjectival and noun forms foul and filth, or between the
verb and adjectival forms fill and/^/Z (German fallen and voll) Simi-
larly we have noun-verb pairs such as* gold-gild, food-feed (Futter-
*utterri), tale-tell (Zahl-zahleri), brood-breed (Brut-bruteri) Other
related pairs distinguished by stem vowel change are fox-vixen and
elder-older.
In German the shifting of the root-vowels went on in historic times,
several hundred years after that of English. It did not reach com-
pletion before about AD 1150 Once the pattern became fashionable
it affected words which never had the z sound in the succeeding
syllable. No drift towards unification had set in before the printing-
press mummified the grammar of German Thus vowel-change now
crops up in the comparative and superlative of nearly all monosyllabic
adjectives (e.g hoch-hoher\ distinguishes the ordinary past of many
verbs from the subjunctive (e g. ich nahm-ich nahme)y the agent from
his activity (e g backen-Bdcker), the diminutive from the basic word
(Haw-Hauscheri), the noun-abstract from its adjective (gut-Gute\ the
verb from the adjective (e g, glatt-glatten> smooth-to smooth),
In many German dialects such mutation appears where standard
German does without Thus we meet Hund, Arm, Tag> for Hunde, Arme,
Tage, and Yiddish opposes tog-teg to the Tag-Tag e of common German
Apart from the disruption caused by an i or j sound in the succeeding
syllable, and the Ablaut inherited from primitive Indo-European,
modern German preserves several other vowel mutations Occasionally
the various types come together in the conjugational forms of a single
verb Thus we have ich sterbe (I die)—er stirbt (he dies)—stirbr (die1)—
er starb (he died)—er ist gestorben (he has died)—wenn er sturbe (if he
died) The backwardness of German root vowel behaviour is particu-
larly impressive if we compare it with both Old English and Modern
English.
GERMAN                         OLD ENGLISH                   ANGLO-AMERICAN
ich helfe                  ic helpe                    1
du hilfst                  thu hilpst
er hilft                     he hilpth
t  u?                         "\
wir helfen                we  j
ikr helft                   ge   V helpath
sie helfen                 hie J
In view of the prevailing ideology of the Third Reiclx, there is