I have come across the term ablaut.

I have searched many dictionaries, however, I haven't been able to understand its meaning. Can you tell me whether the term is the same as vowel change or not.

Additionally.We have in German language a corresponding term with vowel change ,that is ,der vokalwechsel

  • Yes, it is variation of vowels
    – vickyace
    May 8, 2016 at 17:13
  • The term you may be looking for is apophony. May 8, 2016 at 17:18
  • 7
    I think "ablaut" is the German word that corresponds to "ablaut"... the English word is taken from German. It is a technical linguistic term in either language. Ablaut refers to a specific type of vowel change; in Indo-European languages like English and German, ablaut is found in the strong verbs like sing, sang, sung, and contrasts with the vowel change of umlaut seen in the plurals of nouns like mouse, mice.
    – herisson
    May 8, 2016 at 17:35
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    Vokalwechsel refers to any sound change; Ablaut is a specific type of vowel variation, usually of front and back vowels, and isn't really a matter of vowel change historically, whereas -- for instance -- the English Great Vowel Shift is historical only. May 8, 2016 at 18:03

2 Answers 2


Sing, sang, sung, song is indeed an example of ablaut, but only one kind of ablaut. There is another more interesting kind because it's more fruitful. This is shown by the words nest, sit, seat.
The root here is 's-t'. The nest is where a bird sits down. ni means down, the same as in the words nether and beneath. This type of vowel gradation was very productive, and is still present in North Indian languages, as in beithna, to sit, bithana, to seat.
I can't find a reference, but I suspect the word ablaut was introduced by the brothers Grimm, serious philologists in addition to being renowned for their fairy tales.


Ablaut is defined as a change in vowel in related words or forms. The word actually originates from the German words "ab" (off) and "laut" (sound), meaning that ablaut literally means an off sound. It refers to when different forms of a word have different vowels, as in sing, sang, sung.

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