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Author Topic: i for modern English y  (Read 10378 times)


  • Hlaford
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  • Essex scirgerefa
Re: i for modern English y
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2014, 04:27:31 PM »

I decided to go back to whether herian and nerian might have been pronounced herġan and nerġan. What I found was that in Proto Germanic “to praise” was probably “hazjaną” and “to save” was probably “nazjaną” where the “j” was probably pronounced as the modern Engish “y”.

It appears that at the emergence of the daughter languages the final “ą” was dropped so that in  Gothic we have “hazjan”.

In the West Germanic the "z" --> "r" in what was called rhotacism and the "a" --> "e" in what was called i-mutation. So going into old English we had “herjan” and “nerjan”.

In old English these changed to “herian” and “nerian”. Maybe these still had the “herjan” and “nerjan” pronunciation. To give possible further support to this idea we have words such as herġere/heriġend for praise giver.

It's all very puzzling David.  Can I add another verb (or two or three depending how you look at it) into the mix?  OE 'werian' - to protect from a putative '*warjana' plus its homophones (or at least identical in spellings) 'werian' - to clothe and 'werian'  - to remain. If 'herian' and 'nerian' were pronounced 'herjan' and 'nerjan' then would 'werian' be pronounced similarly? ----and would that apply to all meanings of 'werian' or only those that the AS were aware derived from a verb with a '*-jana' ending in Proto-Germanic.  I have no idea of the true answer but it's an interesting question.  That's why I decided to opt for pronouncing each variant more or less as it is written - in the hopes that the scribes were reflecting the potential variations in the way a word could be pronounced in different circumstances.
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  • Ealdormann
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Re: i for modern English y
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2014, 06:21:06 PM »
I suspect that werian like the other  class I “-rian” verbs behave in the same way as herian and nerian, but what that is I am not certain.  In proto Germanic it looks as though the word for to protect was something like “warjaną” and for to clothe “wazjaną” so that, after rhotacising the z they became indistinguishable. I have not found out about the other meanings or werian.

I am not sure of the pronunciation of the words. My present feelings are that probably originally in old English they might have been pronounced  as “werġan” etc. but, by the time the language was written down, the usual pronunciation had become “werian”.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 06:22:55 PM by David »