Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 204
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 204
 
Gehörne “group of horns”; Haus “house”: Häuslein “little house”) could keep themselves intact and even extend to forms that did not legitimately come within their sphere of influence. “Umlaut” is still a very live symbolic process in German, possibly more alive to-day than in medieval times. Such analogical plurals as Baum “tree”: Bäume (contrast Middle High German boum: boume) and derivatives as lachen “to laugh”: Gelächter “laughter” (contrast Middle High German gelach) show that vocalic mutation has won through to the status of a productive morphologic process. Some of the dialects have even gone further than standard German, at least in certain respects. In Yiddish, 17 for instance, “umlaut” plurals have been formed where there are no Middle High German prototypes or modern literary parallels, e.g., tog “day”: teg “days” (but German Tag: Tage) on the analogy of gast “guest”: gest “guests” (German Gast: Gäste), shuch 18 “shoe”: shich “shoes” (but German Schuh: Schuhe) on the analogy of fus “foot”: fis “feet.” It is possible that “umlaut” will run its course and cease to operate as a live functional process in German, but that time is still distant. Meanwhile all consciousness of the merely phonetic nature of “umlaut” vanished centuries ago. It is now a strictly morphological process, not in the least a mechanical phonetic adjustment. We have in it a splendid example of how a simple phonetic law, meaningless in itself, may eventually color or transform large reaches of the morphology of a language.
Note 17.  Isolated from other German dialects in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. It is therefore a good test for gauging the strength of the tendency to “umlaut,” particularly as it has developed a strong drift towards analytic methods, [back]
Note 18.  Ch as in German Buch. [back]

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