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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Bir<Fs-Eye View of Teutonic Grammar   265

make these substitutions, we see that there is only one essential dif-
ference between the flexion of the German and the Old English verb
In German the plural ending -en, corresponding to the -on of the Old
English past, is also the corresponding plural* ending of the present

FIG  30 — EARLIEST TEUTONIC INSCRIPTION
(See p 76 for translation and Fig 17 for code of Runic signs )

tense. Otherwise the behaviour of the German verb is essentially like
that of the English verb in the time of Alfred the Great

If we go back a little further to the earliest Teutonic document, i e
the Gothic Bible of Bishop Ulfilas (Fig 28),, we meet a more formidable
array of verb-flexions The example printed below shows that the
Gothic verb had separate endings for all three persons of the plural as
for the singular It also had dual forms of the first and second person
The separate pionoun, not always used m the written language, is in
brackets

ANGLO-AMERICAN
	GOTHIC
	GERMAN
	DUTCH

I take
	(ik)       nima
	ich    nehme
	ik      neem

you take it takes
	(thu)     mmis (ita)      numth
	du     mmmst
 es       mmmt
	"   jneemt
 het J

we (two) take
	(wit)     nimos
	
	

you (two) take
	(jut^)    nimats
	
	

we    "\
	(weis)   mmam
	wir    nehmen
	W1J      "]

you   > take
	(jus)      nimith
	ihr    nehmt
	jullie fnemen

they J
	(ija)       mmand
	sie     nehmen
	Z1J       J

Thus a levelling process has gone on throughout the history of the
verb in all the Teutonic languages In Dutch and in German it has
stopped short at the stage which English had reached at the Battle of
Hastings In Norwegian, in Danish, and in non-literary Swedish, it has
led to the disappearance of all personal flexions The survival of the
third person singular -s of the English present tense is offset by the
fact that English—unlike the Scandinavian languages—has lost the
flexion of its infinitive As far as the verb is concerned, the grammar of
the Teutonic languages offers few difficulties for anyone who knows
English You have to remember sound-changes (see p 231) which
* Excluding the familiar form of the second person.
I*