Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
direction of German ü without, however, actually departing far enough from the oo vowel to prevent their acceptance of who and you as satisfactory rhyming words. Later on the quality of the ö vowel must have departed widely enough from that of o to enable ö to rise in consciousness7 as a neatly distinct vowel. As soon as this happened, the expression of plurality in föti, töthi, and analogous words became symbolic and fusional, not merely fusional.
2. In musi mice the long u was colored by the following i to long ü. This change also was regular; lusi lice became lüsi, kui cows became küi (later simplified to kü; still preserved as ki- in kine), fulian to make foul became fülian (still preserved as -file in defile). The psychology of this phonetic law is entirely analogous to that of 1.
3. The old drift toward reducing final syllables, a rhythmic consequence of the strong Germanic stress on the first syllable, now manifested itself. The final -i, originally an important functional element, had long lost a great share of its value, transferred as that was to the symbolic vowel change (o: ö). It had little power of resistance, therefore, to the drift. It became dulled to a colorless -e; föti became föte.
4. The weak -e finally disappeared. Probably the forms föte and föt long coexisted as prosodic variants according to the rhythmic requirements of the sentence, very much as Füsse and Füss now coexist in German.
5. The ö of föt became unrounded to long e (our present a of fade). The alternation of fot: foti, transitionally fot: föti, föte, föt, now appears as fot: fet. Analogously, töth appears as teth, födian as fedian, later
Note 7. Or in that unconscious sound patterning which is ever on the point of becoming conscious. See page 57. [back]