Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
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), shuch18 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]