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40

In short: In Proto-Germanic, the prefix was *ga-; In Old English, it was ġe- (pronounced /je/, /jə/); In Middle English, it was y-, i-, or ȝe- (pronounced /ɪ/); In Modern English, it survives in a handful of words as i-, a-, or y- (see below). The Wiktionary page for y- has these usage notes: This prefix represents a common Germanic perfective ...


32

English has—twice—gone through a phonetic change that has caused some upheaval in these pronouns. The initial consonant Originally, all of them (in Proto-Germanic) started with /ʍ/, that is, an unvoiced /w/. This is still found in some English dialects today; in Ireland and Scotland, for example, most people pronounce ‘wile (away the time)’ as [waɪl], but ...


15

In addition to the all the good reasons cited in the previous answers, I'd like to emphasise the role of the Catholic Church. When (ca. 496) Clovis, then young king of the Franks, resolved to convert to Catholicism, allegedly under the influence of his wife and Saint Remigius but more probably because he understood what a fruitful collaboration he would ...


14

English doesn't have many words which come from Icelandic, geyser and saga are possibly the most prominent. But English does have a good few words which share a common ancestor with Icelandic. Icelandic as the most conservative of the Scandinavian languages is relatively close to Old Norse, from which English borrowed while the vikings were in Britain. They ...


11

Like German, Old English did use ge- as a prefix to mark past participles. As it moved into Middle English, this evolved into y- (also i- or ȝe-), and as with many forms of inflection became non-productive and mostly disappeared by the time modern English rolled around. Wikitionary lists yclept as a holdover, though that in itself isn't terribly common. ...


11

I can only tell you that Old English had the ge- form. For example, the inscription on the Ælfred the Great Jewel says "ÆLFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN". That translates to "Alfred had me made [crafted]." And gewyrcan would have been pronounced "yewirkahn", roughly speaking. That said, John McWhorter cites the loss of these prefixes (along with be- and for-) as ...


11

There's two things that account for most of the trouble: The Great Vowel Shift. The Great Vowel Shift caused the pronunciation of English long vowels to change, and many of them to become diphthongs. This is discussed in great detail in the Wikipedia article, including some nice charts. As a result, many English written vowels are not pronounced as you ...


7

Executive Summary/TL;DR: There are at least three different -ess suffixes involved here: one is for feminines of people and critters; one is to change adjectives into nouns of quality, the way English -ness does; and one that is used to create names of fabled or mythical lands. Plus heroine for a female hero comes to us via Latin, not German, and the Latin ...


7

There's no really good answer to this question, but we can take a stab at it if we accept some very broad generalisations. English is a Germanic language by virtue of being descended from Proto-Germanic (which is a matter of geography and historical migration patterns). Setting aside the question of English dialects for a moment, among all the Germanic ...


6

The OED entry for ansatz lists it as a regular noun in English. That means it takes -es for the plural here. On the other hand, its earliest citation almost looks invariant: 1942 Jrnl. Indian Math. Soc. 6 41 (title) Studies in Fourier ansatz and parabolic equations. The other citations, through 1990, all look completely singular. There are no ...


6

The only two major groups of Modern Germanic languages still using this prefix are as you pointed out above: Dutch (along with Afrikaans) and German. That's two out of how many Modern Germanic languages? Even Low German has dropped it, save 2 dialects close neighbouring on High German. So here's the breakdown: Germanic languages using ge-: ...


6

First of all, Roman presence in Britain lasted barely three hundred years. And some Latin survives, as has been noted elsewhere on this board, in place names. Second, the Anglo-Saxons didn't totally displace the languages they encountered. Instead, they absorbed much that they encountered. For example, John McWhorter asserts in Our Magnificent Bastard ...


5

Volkswagen is German, Vento Italian - they wanted to upgrade the image of the Jetta, which as far as I know is pronounced Djetta and not like Jetz or Jederman Jetta (form Jet stream I would guess), Vento (wind), Passat (specific wind), Sirocco (also specific wind) but NOT Föhn (which is now the generic name for a hair-dryer) were all names of VWs


4

1. When did this consonant shift happen in English? Etymonline mentions 12c. Everybody has their own set of pronunciation habits. /ð/ can be pronounced in various ways and still be distinguishable because its existence is easily predicted/"auto-interpreted" by the brain. /d/ or /dð/ are common variants. It would be very hard to say exactly when such a ...


4

This article supports your comment about Fries. I have experience learning Arabic, Spanish, French and German, and Spanish is the easiest of the four. I have had some exposure to Welsh speakers, and I could not perceive helpful cues in the language for understanding. I had a friend who spoke Swahili, and said it was very easy to learn because there was very ...


4

The answer is all of them. English is a Germanic language. A far better question to ask would be "What other Germanic language is linguistically most like English?" (Hint, the answer would not be "German"). The problem with the original question is that it seems to imply that the language we today call "German" is the root of the English language, and thus ...


4

just my 2 common cents: It's an island. While Barbarians on the mainland would typically be only in transit, even if they 'conquered' something, the situation in Britain was a bit different, the conquerors would cohabit with native population and cultural imprint was easier. Also, on continent the lands of France, Spain and Portugal were still close to ...


4

Since nobody has answered this yet, here's my formalization of the comments. "On end" means "without a break", which has been slightly altered over time so that "days on end" now often means "several days". It is easy to misunderstand this as "days without end", and to wonder about the origin of the phrase. But if you do this, you are committing a ...


3

I think it's what I know as red car syndrome, which urban dictionary calls blue car syndrome Either you know Icelandic, or you recently noticed one Icelandic etymology in particular, and thereafter became particularly prone to notice others.


3

The problem is actually closer to the opposite of your pet theory. Until the advent of the printing press, English spelling was quite free, with many different spellings being used for words; sometimes multiple spellings were used for the same word in a single sentence! However, at the same time that the spread of the printing press and published ...


3

This page answers most of your question quite well, I think. The relevant summary is that English (a) has major influences from a very wide range of sources (b) is rooted in Old English, which has several pluralisation schemas for different classes of word. So some Old English words pluralise by suffixing 's', some by suffixing 'en', some with a vowel shift ...


3

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_and_no#The_Early_English_four-form_system, 'yes' and 'no' used to be for answering negatively phrased questions. 'Yea' and 'nay' were used for the positive.


3

The most commonly used plural in English seems to be "ansätze". Searching in Google books between 1990 and 2010, I find 98 results for "the ansatze" and only 36 for "the ansatzes". (I added "the" to eliminate German results, which dominate if you leave it out, even if you ask for English pages). Google web search returns 372 results for "the ansatze" and ...


2

There are a few misconceptions in this question, and some speculated sound changes that never took place. /d/ -> /ð/ in English The first change you mention, changing /d/ into /ð/ in English, is not a shift that has ever taken place in English. The First Germanic Sound Shift (also known as either Grimm’s Law or Rask’s Rule after the two linguists who ...


2

From Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (1989): Where did this "cherished superstition" come from? It seems to have originated with the 17th-century English poet, playwright, and essayist John Dryden. In 1672, Dryden wrote a piece of criticism called "Defence of the Epilogue," the main purpose of which was to demonstrate that the English use by ...


2

Here is an indirect argument for Ansätze. The core result of classical algebraic geometry is Hilbert's zeros theorem. In all languages I am aware of it is usually referred to as Nullstellensatz, with a footnote translating it into the language of the text. Since there are various more or less general versions of this result one is led to speak of ...


1

English how is indeed an irregularity in the row of question words that all with the exception of how have the initial spelling wh, but the pronunciation is either /w/ as in what, where, when or /h/ as in who, how. It seems to be a bit difficult to explain the spelling and pronunciation of how as etymonline and the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology ...


1

As reported by Wikipedia, in Old English strong (or irregular) past participles were marked with a ge- prefix, as are most strong and weak past participles in Dutch and High German today.


1

Gathering data from both the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus and etymonline, it seems that both come from the late Old English verb scipian, which comes from Proto-Germanic skipan. I couldn't find out much more, though…



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