BDSL-Klassifikation: 02.00.00 Deutsche Sprachwissenschaft > 02.11.00 Deutsche Mundarten
Short verbs in Germanic languages : tension between reduction and differentiation
- Extremely short verbs can be found in various Genn::.,nic languages and dialects; the sterns of these verbs do not have a fInal consonant «C-)C-V), and they always have a monosyllabic infinitive and usually monosyllabic fInite forms as weIl. Examples for these 'kinds of short verbs are Swiss Gennan hä 'to have', gö 'to go', g~ 'to give', n~ 'to take' which correspond to the Swedish verbs ha, gä, ge and tao The last example shows that such short verb formations also occur with verbs having (nearly) identical meanings but which do not share the same etymology. Apart from their shortness, these verbs are characterized by a high degree of irregularity, often even by suppletion, which sometimes develops contrary to regular sound laws. Furthermore they are among the most-used verbs and often tend towards grammaticalization. The present paper compares the short verbs of seven Germanic languages; in addition, it describes their various ways of development and strategies of differentiation. Moreover, it examines the question of why some languages and dialects (e.g. Swiss German, Frisian, Swedish, Norwegian) have many short verbs while others (New High German, Icelandic, Faroese) only have few, the paper discusses the contribution of short verbs to questions concerning linguistic change and the morphological organization of languages.