Germanic languages

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Sound Changes in Germanic Languages

Sound Changes from PIE to Common Germanic

These may not be 100% accurate.

  • ḱ, ǵ, ǵʰ → k, g, gʰ

Grimm's law

  • bʰ, dʰ, gʰ, gʷʰ → β, ð, ɣ, β/ɣ
  • b, d, g, gʷ → p, t, k, kʷ/k
  • p, t, k, kʷ → f, θ, x, xʷ

Verner's law

  • f, θ, s, x, xʷ → β, ð, z, ɣ, ɣʷ (except initially or following IE stress)

Vowel changes

  • aː → oː
  • e → i
  • eː → æː
  • ei → iː
  • eːi → eː (?)
  • oi → ai
  • oːi → oː (?)
  • aːi → oː (?)
  • eu → iu
  • ou → au

High German Consonant Shift

This shift separates High German from other Germanic languages. The 4 stages of the shift could be defined as follows:

  1. Non-geminated voicless stops became fricatives,
  2. Geminated, nasal-adjacent and liquid-adjacent voiceless stops became affricates,
  3. Voiced stops became voiceless stops, and finally
  4. All interdental fricatives (/ð/ and /θ/) became the dental stop and/or Alveolar stop // and /d/.

The last stage was shared by Low German and Dutch.

The shift occurred in the period before Old High German existed, and in fact was the marker of Old High German.

English Great Vowel Shift

The Great Vowel Shift is where the vowels of Middle English were raised or diphthongised (for already high vowels). This is the difference between Middle English and Modern English.

Front Central Back
Diphthong aj aw


← a

Norwegian and Swedish Back Vowel Chain Shift

The back vowel chain shift of Norwegian and Swedish has the long vowels raise, and in the case of the highest vowels, fronted towards /yː/. It would look as follows:

Front Rd. Central Back
High ʉ* ← ← u
Low a ↗
  • This symbol is used to contrast it with the Nor./Swed. /y/ sound.

All vowels are Long.

Danish Front Vowel Shift

Listing of Germanic Languages

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