Grimm Exercises

Exercises for Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law

EXERCISE 1: MODERN ENGLISH FORMS

The following table contains reconstructed Indo-European roots (simplified) on the left, and on the right the modern English spellings. In between you need to fill in the effects of Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law. (Not every instance shows the workings of both laws: pay attention to the position of the accent.) Vowel lengths are not marked, and you can ignore the vowels in any case because they often follow entirely separate sound changes. In the English column the cell for some words is left blank where the form should be obvious; in the others gaps are left where the proper letter should be filled in. Be careful: one of the gaps is misleading. The first two are done as examples.

Note: the chart conflates some of the five steps shown in the previous exercise.  It shows, essentially, before-and-after states.

Proto-I-E

Grimm’s Law

Verner’s Law

Accent Shift

English

*púlo-

ful

(no change)

(no change)

foul

*upélo

ufélo

uβél-

úbel-

evil (Ger. übel)

*bhráter

 

 

 

 

*matér

 

 

 

 

*bhló-

 

 

 

__loom

*dhrágh

 

 

 

 

*pet-

 

 

 

__ea__er

*plotu-´

 

 

 

__loo__

*kasó

 

 

 

__a__e

*dhó

 

 

 

 

*léb-

 

 

 

li__

*sténge-

 

 

 

s__in__

*yunkó-

 

 

 

 

*bhér-

 

 

 

 

*tóng-

 

 

 

__an__

*gháns

 

 

 

__oose

*konk-´

 

 

 

__an__

 

EXERCISE 2: MODERN ENGLISH FORMS

In the following pairs, one word comes from a Germanic root and the other was borrowed into English from a non-Germanic language. Using the American Heritage Dictionary or the OED, find their common Indo-European root. Then using Grimm/Verner sketch out how the consonants diverged. (You need to account only for the consonants affected by Grimm’s and Verner’s laws.)

whore, caress (or charity)

cantor, hen

gnostic, know

paucity, few

eke, augment

gelatin, cool

tumescent, thumb

domestic, timber

ten, dime

 

Give another three examples of your own.