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Grammar characteristics common to the Germanic languages

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Form-building means

Like other old IE languages both PG and the OG languages had a synthetic grammatical structure, which means that the relationships between the parts of the sentence were shown by the forms of the words rather than by their position or by auxiliary words. In the early periods of history the grammatical forms were built in the synthetic way: by means of inflections, sound interchanges and suppletion. The principal means of form-building were inflections. The inflections found in OG written records correspond to the inflections used in non-Germanic languages, having descended from the same original IE prototypes. The wide use of sound interchanges has always been a characteristic feature of the Germanic group. In various forms of the word and in words derived from one and the same root, the root-morpheme appeared as a set of variants. The consonants were relatively stable, the vowels were variable.

Simplification of word structure in Late PG. Role of stem-suffixes in the formation of declensions

Originally, in Early PG the word consisted of three main component parts: the root, the stem-suffix and the grammatical ending. The stem-suffix was a means of word derivation, the ending – a marker of the grammatical form. In Late PG the old stem-suffixes lost their derivational force and merged with other components of the word, usually with the endings. The word was simplified: the three-morpheme structure was transformed into a two-morpheme structure. The simplification of the word structure and the loss of stem-suffixes as distinct components were caused by the heavy Germanic word stress fixed on the root. Most nouns and adjectives in PG, and also many verbs, had stem-forming suffixes; according to stem-suffixes they fell into groups, or classes: a-stems, i-stems, o-stems. This grouping accounts for the formation of different declensions in nouns and adjectives, and for some differences in the conjugation of verbs.

Strong and weak verbs

The terms strong and weak verbs were proposed by J. Grimm; he called the verbs strong because they had preserved the richness of form since the age of the parent-language and in this sense could be contrasted to weak verbs lacking such variety of form. From the verbs the terms were extended to noun and adjective declensions. The difference between these groups lies in the means of building the principal forms: the Present tense, The Past tense and Participle II. The strong verbs built their principal forms with the help of root vowel interchanges plus certain grammatical endings; they made use of IE ablaut with certain modifications due to phonetic changes and environment. The weak verbs are a specifically Germanic innovation, for the device used in building their principal forms is not found outside the Germanic group. They built the Past tense and Participle II by inserting a special suffix between the root and the ending.

Vocabulary

Until recently it was believed that the Germanic languages had a large proportion of words, which have no parallels in other groups of the IE family. Recent research, however, has revealed numerous non-Germanic parallels for words formerly regarded as specifically Germanic. It appears that Germanic has inherited and preserved many IE features in lexis a well as at other levels. The most ancient etymological layer in the Germanic vocabulary is made up of words (or, more precisely, roots) shared by IE languages. They refer to a number of semantic spheres: natural phenomena, plants and animals, terms of kinship and so on. Words which occur in Germanic alone and have no parallels outside the group constitute the specific features of the Germanic languages; they appeared in PG or in later history of separate languages from purely Germanic roots. Semantically, they also belong to basic spheres of life: nature, sea, home life. Also, there were some borrowing words from Latin and Celtic languages.

 

The History of the English Language 


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Shahid
Дата: 17.11.2011 17:13
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Thanks for information))))) PLEASE HELP to find information about basic grammatical features of Germanic languages ))) thanks

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