Suffixation was the primary means for producing new forms in Proto-Germanic derivational morphology, as it was in inflectional morphology. Both processes in this way continued the procedures of late Proto-Indo-European. At an early stage of Proto-Indo-European, nouns consisted simply of a root or a base, some of which were maintained in the early dialects. Among examples are reflexes like Skt pā́t, Lat. pēs 'foot', vōx 'voice', cor 'heart'. When such nouns were used in sentences, the root or base would often have been modified for phonological reasons. The root for 'foot' is ped, as illustrated in the Latin genitive singular pedis; the -d was elided before the consonantal ending in the nominative. The root for vōx is vōk-, the noun ending -s combined with -k- to yield -x. The final consonant -d of the neuter noun cord- 'heart' was lost in the Latin nominative cor, as illustrated by the genitive cordis. But the root or base of such nouns was maintained if vocalic particles were suffixed to them. In the course of time such suffixes were added to most nouns to produce stems, to which inflectional endings were added.
The most common nominal stems were formed with PIE -e/o- and -ā-; among others were i-stems, u-stems, and n-stems. The Gothic form for 'foot' is a u-stem, fōtus; its form for 'heart' is an n-stem, hairtō, genitive hairtins. In these, as well as in the forms of the other Germanic dialects, the base is maintained throughout. The original meanings of such suffixes may be determined only in general; they were obscured as more and more nouns were added to the paradigms of the stems that had been developed. Moreover, the process of deriving further nouns through suffixation was maintained. For example, a noun meaning 'stride' was produced by adding the -ja- suffix to *fōt- in Proto-Germanic, yielding the Old Norse reflex fet. Such suffixes will be examined in section 4.2 below.
By another process, many forms in early Proto-Indo-European had been derived through ablaut, modification of the vowel of the base, as in the production of various forms of verbs as well as nouns. The results are referred to as grades: -o- as deflected grade of -e-, the normal grade; -ē- and -ō- as lengthened grades; loss of the vowel as zero grade. Gk hodeĩn 'sell' < 'set' beside hézomai 'sit' illustrates derivation from the root *sed- by means of o-grade; Lat. sēdō 'comfort' beside sedeō 'sit' illustrates derivation by means of lengthened grade. Nouns were similarly formed with ablaut grades. Beside Greek hédos 'seat' with normal grade, Old Irish has an o-grade form in suide < *sodyom 'seat' and Germanic has a lengthened grade form in OHG gisāzi 'seat'. English nest < PIE ni-zd-os illustrates derivation by means of zero grade. In Germanic, derived verbs may differ in grade from that of the base, but their primary characteristic is a suffix, as in Go. satjan 'cause to sit' beside sitan 'sit'. Unlike affixation, vowels change through ablaut was no longer productive in Germanic after the pitch > stress accents had become fixed on the root. While some new forms were produced by analogy with the established ablaut patterns, new nominal and verbal forms were derived in Germanic by affixation, in the early stage by suffixation.
As noted above, the derivational suffixes developed from particles. Many of these were short, such as the -t in Go. mahts, mahtis, OE meaht, OHG maht 'might'. Others were somewhat longer, such as the -ter in Gk patḗr, NHG Vater and other kinship terms. Single elements, referred to as enlargements or determinatives, were attached in an early period, so that it is difficult to determine the meanings they conveyed. Benveniste (1935) did so for the *dh determinative, however, finding that it indicated state.
The meanings conveyed by suffixes, such as that of the -en/on-, are more transparent than are those of the determinatives. The -en/on- suffix, as Hirt (1934, 3:188-190) pointed out following Brugmann, indicated 'living beings, specific individuals'. The meaning of specificity was the original basis of the weak declension of adjectives in Germanic, as in Hirt's examples of the German adjective blind 'blind': with strong declension, as in ein blinder Mensch 'a blind person' and nominalized as in ein Blinder 'a blind man', it indicates generally someone who is blind, while with weak declension, as in der blinde Junge 'the (specific) blind boy', and nominalized as in der Blinde it indicates a distinct individual. On the basis of its reference to individuals, the n- suffix also came to be used for names in Latin, such Rūfō, Rūfōnis 'Red' versus rūfus as the general adjective form for a red object; similarly, the n-stem Catō is a proper name beside the adjective catus 'intelligent'. Because the meaning conveyed by -en/on- and that of many other suffixes can be identified, while those of most determinatives cannot, it is assumed that suffixes were added at a relatively late stage of Proto-Indo-European, and the process continued in the dialects.
Suffixes were also added in verbs, as noted above in the four Germanic weak classes: in Class 1 the suffix is -ja- from PIE -yo-; in Class 2 it is -ō-; in Class 3 it is -ē-; in Class 4 it is -na-. These and their meanings will be treated more fully below. Determinatives were also added, as to the first three classes of strong verbs, e.g. Go. beitan 'bite' < PIE bey + d, Go. giutan 'pour' < PIE gʰew + d, Go. wairþan 'become' from PIE wer + t, and also the verbs of Class 6, as in Go. standan 'stand' from PIE stā + d and nasal infix in Gothic, and of Class 7, as in Go. haitan 'call, be called' from PIE kēy + d. Because they were well-established in Proto-Indo-European, many roots plus their determinatives are listed as primary forms, for example, bheyd as the basis of Go. beitan 'bite'. When on the other hand additions consisted of more than one element, such as the -ter- suffix for kinship terms, the Proto-Indo-European forms are treated as the basic words, although the words for 'father' and 'mother' are tentatively derived from the nursery terms pa and ma with the -ter- suffix.
At a still later stage of Indo-European, and in the individual dialects, nouns were affixed. Some of these came to be suffixes. The noun haidus 'manner' remained independent in Gothic but is reflected in English as the suffix -hood, as in manhood, and in German as the suffix -heit, as in Reinheit 'cleanliness'. Similarly the noun *dōm- 'condition', which remained independent in Go. dōms 'fame, reputation', is reflected in the English suffix -dom as in kingdom, and in ON -dómr as in jarldómr 'earldom'. Remarkably, these are not found as suffixes in Gothic; their absence suggests that they were adapted as such only in the later Germanic dialects, but not in East Germanic.
The process of adding nouns that became suffixes is also found with adjectives. For example, the noun leik 'body', which remained independent in Gothic, came also to be used as an adjectival suffix, as in Go. missa-leiks 'various', cf. the adverb missō 'reciprocally', and in ON mis-līkr, OE mis-līc, OHG mis-līk 'various'. It came to be widely used, in NE -like and -ly, and in NHG -lich. As illustrated by the English suffix -ly, short forms of suffixes continued to develop, but in the contemporary Germanic languages reflexes of full words remain prominent in derivation.
The derivational suffixes are treated further below, as well as those based on full words. Prefixes for nouns and for verbs will then be examined, as well as compounds, and analogous processes in other parts of speech.
When derivational affixes are attached to nominal elements, they often determine the meaning of the new form, and may further create classes that can survive, as for example NE -hood, which indicates a meaning of state or situation when used as suffix on nouns such as boyhood, neighborhood, etc. General classes of this type are found from language to language. In grammars of the Indo-European languages they are given Latin names, e.g. nomina agentis and nomina actionis. Such classes for the Germanic languages are given here, with examples.
Agent nouns, often referred to by the Latin term nomina agentis, indicate individuals, for example ON vargr 'wolf, outlaw' and Go. fiskja 'fisherman'. They make up a large number of nouns, many of them derived from verbs, cf. Go. fiskōn 'to fish'. They also are derived with various suffixes other than the -e/o- and -je/jo- suffixes of these two words; for instance: PGmc -eþ/oþ- as in OE hæleð 'hero', the -ingo/ungo- suffix in ON víkingr 'Viking', the -(i)lo- suffix in Runic erilaR 'earl', and the suffix also used in the active present participle -ōnd- as in Go. frijōnds 'friend', as well as several others. Examples of the suffixes for other meaning classes will be given in section 4.2 below.
Action nouns, often referred to by the Latin term nomina actionis, indicate activities and their effects, for example Go. daupeins 'baptism' and laþōns 'invitation'. These are formed primarily from verbs, cf. Go. daupjan 'baptize, wash', laþōn 'invite'.
A large group of abstract nouns, based chiefly on nominal but also verbal elements, such as Go. reiki 'realm, authority' based on reiks 'ruler', also have forms based on adjectives, such as Go. managei 'multitude' from manags 'many' and diupiþa 'depth' from diups 'deep'. Those words based on verbs have various suffixes, such as -þi- in Go. gebaurþs 'birth' from the verb bairan 'bear, give birth'.
Collectives were formed with various affixes, especially the prefix ga- as in Go. gafaurds 'council', a group coming together.
Diminutives were derived using various suffixes, some made with -l- as in Go. barnilō 'small child', others with -īna as in OHG geizzīn 'young goat', and still others with widely used suffixes, such as -chen and -lein of modern German.
Some names of animals were formed with -k, as in Go. ahaks 'dove' and OE hafoc 'hawk'.
Patronymics and names of peoples were based on the suffix -ing, such as Go. Tervingi, the designation of the West Goths or a group of them.
Words for feminines were derived from masculines by a process called in German Movierung 'motion', with the suffixes -jō- as in Go. frijōndi versus frijōnds 'friend' and with -ōn- as in Go. arbjō beside arbja 'heir'.
Adjectives indicating descent were based on -iska-, as in OE denisc 'Danish'.
Adjectives for materials were based on -īna-, as in Go. gulþeins 'golden'.
Adjectives indicating colors were based on the suffix -wa-, as in OHG blāo 'bluish', cf. Lat. flāvus 'golden yellow'.
In the derivation of nominal elements, suffixes with dental consonants plus vowels are most prominent, notably those with reflexes of PIE t, n, and with the resonants y (> Germanic j), l and r. Some suffixes are also made with reflexes of Proto-Indo-European d, s, k and g, but very few with the labials including w. In his Germanic grammar, Grimm (repr. 1878-1898) listed large numbers of the suffixed forms, as have others like Wilmanns (1899). Here the primary attention is given to the processes, and these are illustrated with representative examples, often from only one Germanic dialect.
The -te/to, -tā- suffixes were characteristically used to derive participial nominals from verbs in Proto-Indo-European. In Germanic they indicate a state resulting from action, as expressed in the root and its verb. Among the forms derived with -to- are the noun OHG haft m. 'fetter' and the adjective haft 'captive' beside heffan 'lift', cf. Latin captus 'captured'; similarly, OHG lioht nt. 'light', adjective lioht 'illuminating', cf. Gk leukós 'white', Lat. lux 'light', both with unshifted -t- after -f- and -χ- > -h-. Among examples with -tā- are OHG forhta f. 'fear' beside the adjective Go. faurhts 'fearful'.
The -ti- and -tu- suffixes were commonly used to form verbal abstracts, -ti- for feminines, -tu- for masculines, as in Go. us-wahts f. 'growth', Go. wahstus m. 'stature', beside the verb wahsjan 'grow'. Feminine nouns with -ti- occur with different ablaut grades in different Gmc dialects as a result of placement of the accent, as in Go. ansts f. 'grace, favor', but OHG ab-unst 'envy' beside the OHG verb an, unnan 'permit'. Moreover, as in lioht and wahstus, the suffix assumed different forms in accordance with the final consonants of the base; after f, s, and h, the t remained unshifted. In some forms the t was shifted to d in accordance with Verner's Law, e.g. Go. flōdus 'stream', OE flōd 'flood' beside OE flōwan 'overflow'.
When standing after vowels, some Indo-European suffixes also developed as distinct forms that included a vowel, and of these the most frequent reflexes in Germanic are those formed with -i- as in Go. -iþa, -ida, e.g. diupiþa 'depth'. Others are formed with -ō- as in Go. -ōþus, -ōdus, e.g. gabaúrjōþus 'pleasure', áuhjōdus 'noise'.
A number of nouns exhibit reflexes of PIE -nt, for example Go. frijōnds 'friend', fijands 'enemy'. This suffix was also the basis of the present participle of Go. friijōn 'love', i.e. frijōnd, and of fījan 'hate', i.e. fījand; it came to be used for agent nouns, as in Go. allwaldands, ON allsvaldendi, OE ealwealdend, OHG alawaltant 'Almighty, Ruler (of all)'.
Less frequent are derived forms with the extended suffix -tūti > Go. -dūþs, as in gamáindūþs 'fellowship' beside the adjective gamáins 'common'.
When following a stem ending in PGmc -at-, cf. verbs like Go. lauhatjan 'lighten', the suffix -tu- combined with it to develop Go. -assus, and further, -inassus, as in ufarassus 'abundance' and fraujinassus 'mastery'. The modern German reflex -nis of the equivalent Old High German suffix has become very productive, as in NHG Finsternis from OHG finstarnissi, with different genders reflecting different declensional classes in OHG.
The -jo- suffix was widely extended for forming agent nouns, especially in Old Norse; for example, all the dialects retain PGmc herd-ija-, with reflexes in Go. haírdeis, ON hirþer, OE hirde, OS hirdi, OHG hirti 'shepherd'; compare the related noun OE heord 'herd' from PIE kerdho-, kerdhā- 'herd'. Similarly, PGmc frau-jo- has reflexes in Go. fráuja, ON freyr, OS frōio 'lord', and the feminine ON freyja, OHG frouwa 'lady', as well as the form in the derived verb, Go. fraujinōn 'rule over'.
The -jo- suffix was also used to produce neuter nouns from verbs to indicate substances, such as PGmc hawja- with reflexes in Go. hawi, ON hey, OE hīeg, OHG hewe, houwe 'hay' beside the verb *hauwan 'hew'. Neuter nouns with -jo- were also formed with the prefix ga-, for example Go. garūni 'counsel' beside rūna 'plan, secret', OHG gi-rūni 'secret'. Others may have been based on nouns, such as Go. reiki, ON rīki, OE rīce, OHG rīchi 'realm, authority' beside Go. reiks 'ruler'; but cf. also the verb Go. reikinōn 'to rule'. The prefix *ga- was cognate with prefixes in other Indo-European languages that meant 'together with'; retention of this meaning may have been the basis for many collective nouns, especially in OHG, such as gi-witari 'storm' beside OHG wetar 'weather'; like NHG Gewitter, many such nouns survive in German today.
The extended form -jan- was used to derive nouns from other nouns or from verbs, for example PGmc arbija- with a reflex in Go. arbja 'heir'; Run. arbija, ON arfr, OE ierfe, OHG arbi 'inheritance', cf. Go. arbi 'inheritance'. Others were agent nouns produced in conjunction with verbs, such as Go. fiskja 'fisherman' beside fiskōn 'to fish'. (An alternative origin might be the noun fisks 'fish'.)
In the early period, numerous feminine nouns were based on the -jē- form of the suffix that became -ī-, such as PGmc magw-ī-, Go. mawi 'girl' beside magus, OE mēowle 'little girl'. Others were non-personal, such as Go. bandi and gabindi, ON band, OHG bant 'bond, fetter'. Many were based on adjectives with the -ī(n)- suffix, such as PGmc doubīn-, Go. dáubei 'deafness, stubbornness' beside dáufs 'deaf, stubborn', and PGmc gōdīn, Go. gōdei 'virtue', OHG guotī 'goodness' beside Go. gōþs 'good'.
Derivation based on suffixes with -n- is prominent in the formation of Germanic nominals; these suffixes appear in many derivations, among them nominal forms of verbs, nouns in the weak declension, verbal abstracts in -ni, and diminutives in -līn. Moreover, a few forms in -na- became independent nouns, e.g. Go. barn 'child' based on the root *bher- 'bear', and Go. þegn, cf. Gk téknon 'child' from the root *tek- 'bear'.
As the strong verb system developed, the suffix in the form -ana- was added to the zero grade form of the root to produce the past participle, as in Go. bitan 'bitten' from the infinitive beitan 'bite', gutan 'poured' from the infinitive giutan 'pour'.
Similarly, the infinitive was based on the accusative form -ana-n from PIE -ono-m, as in binden 'bind', cf. Skt bandhana- '(the act of) binding'.
Examples of nouns in the weak declension are PGmc uhsno-, Go. aúhsa, gen.pl. auhsnē, ON oxi, OE oxa, OHG ohso 'ox' and PGmc buðen-, ON boþa, OE bodo, OHG boto 'messenger'.
Many of the feminine nouns in -ni were formed from weak verbs, e.g. Go. dáupeins 'baptism' from dáupjan 'baptize, wash', laþōns 'invitation' from laþōn 'invite'; a smaller number was made from strong verbs, e.g. Go. sōkns 'controversy' from sakan 'quarrel'. The extended form -ini- was widely used to form feminine nouns beside masculine counterparts, cf. OHG friuntīn, NHG Freundin '(female) friend' beside friunt, Freund '(male) friend', OHG kunigīn, NHG Königin 'queen' beside kunig, König 'king'.
Compound suffixes based on -ni- became highly prominent in the formation of diminutives in High German. OHG and MHG -līn was attached to nouns, as in MHG wörtelīn, NHG Wörtlein 'small word' beside Wort. The compound suffix with -k-, -kīn, developed to -chen as in NHG Mädchen 'girl' beside Magd 'maid', Söhnchen 'dear son' beside Sohn; it came to be more widely used than -lein for dialectal (geographical) and social reasons relating to the development of modern standard German.
Suffixes with -l- were added to nouns to form agent nouns, instrument nouns and diminutives, as illustrated in the preceding paragraph. Others were used in simple form, as for names, e.g. Wulfila. The agent nouns were generally replaced by forms in -er, so that few remain in modern German, among them Krüppel 'a cripple'.
Many instrument nouns were based on verbs, such as Go. sitls, OHG sezzal, NHG Sessel 'seat' beside the Gothic verb sitan 'sit', Go. stōls, OHG Stuol, NHG Stuhl 'chair', NE stool, beside the root *stā- 'stand'. NHG Deckel 'cover' is an example from a weak verb, decken 'cover'.
Other nouns have no such relationships and may be borrowings, such as OHG apful 'apple'. Still others are borrowed from the classical languages, such as Go. aggilus from Gk ággelos, OHG engil, NHG Engel 'angel'; cf. also OHG tiuval, NHG Teufel 'devil', from Lat. diabolus.
Some nouns were inherited from Indo-European with an r- suffix, such as Go. jer, OE gēar, OHG jār 'year', formed on the base *yē/ō- 'go'. It was also the suffix in the nominative/accusative of the r/n stems, as in OE wæter, OHG wazzar 'water' based on the root PIE *wed- 'flow'.
Other nouns were formed with the suffixes -ro- and -rā-, e.g. OHG fedara, NHG Feder, NE feather based on the root PIE *pet- 'fly'. The suffixes were further extended with -t- as in OHG wetar 'weather', cf. the root PIE *wē- 'blow', and -st- as in OHG bolster m. 'bolster'. The -ter suffix was the basis of the relationship suffix as in Lat. pater, Go. fadar, NE father. In addition many words with -r- suffixes were borrowed from the classical languages, e.g. Go. kaisar, OHG keisur from Lat. Caesar and OHG kupfer 'copper' from Lat. cuprum.
Six additional suffixes were added to bases, but to relatively few; they then are treated together in this section. One or more characteristic examples are given for each.
Derivations with the d- suffix are found especially in Old High German, e.g. hiruz from PGmc herut, cf. NE hart and also Lat. cervus 'deer'. Others are found in personal designations, some of which are shortened forms beside names of a general pattern, such as OHG Winizo beside Winifredus 'friend of peace'.
Some derivations with the s- suffix are related to verbs, such as OHG flahs 'flax' beside the verb flehtan 'weave'. Others are independent nouns, such as OHG fuhs, OE fox beside Go. faúhō m.
Derivations with single velar suffixes are relatively rare, but the combination -ng is found with designations for persons, as in OHG kuning 'king' beside kuni 'race', and also for things, e.g. pfenning 'penny'. With -i- it is relatively frequent in names of peoples, such as the Thuringi, also with -l- as in Go. gadiliggs 'relative'. With -u- it has become very prominent in German to produce nouns of action from verbs, such as OHG warnunga beside the verb warnōn, NHG Warnung 'warning'.
As noted above, very few derivations are found with labial suffixes. A suffix from Proto-Germanic, -ba-, is relatively frequent in Gothic with adverbial function, as in harduba 'terribly' beside the base hard-. The m- suffix is more frequent and is found with following vowels on nouns as -mo- and -men- suffixes in Proto-Indo-European, for example OHG ātum 'breath', Gk atmós 'fog'. An example with accompanying verb is Go. barms, ON barmr, OE bearm, OHG barm 'lap' beside the verb, Go. baíran 'bear, give birth'.
As noted above in section 4.1, nouns came to be used as suffixes in the Germanic languages, though none is attested in Gothic despite equivalent nouns being found there. Fuller accounts of the suffixes and the types of nouns to which they are added may be found in the grammars of Grimm (repr. 1878-1898) and Wilmanns (1893-1909), and also in specialized monographs.
The roots and bases of the strong verbs have no special "Germanic" suffixes like those of the weak verbs. Verbs in the first three classes have an enlargement on the root, for example Go. giutan 'pour' from PIE gʰew- as in Gk khéō 'I pour'; but these and similar bases were inherited from the parent language, as illustrated by the Latin cognate fundō, fūdī 'pour'.
The four weak classes on the other hand have specific suffixes with characteristic meanings that, however, do not apply to all verbs in the class. Verbs in the first weak class have an -i/j- suffix, as in Go. lagjan 'lay', preterite lagida. As in its contrast with ligan 'lie', the suffix adds a factitive or causative meaning. Verbs in the second weak class have an -ō- suffix, and are associated with nouns indicating the activity associated with their meaning, as in Go. swiglōn 'play the flute', gaswiglōdēdum 'we played the flute' beside swiglja 'flute player'. Verbs in the third weak class have an -ái- suffix and are for the most part durative in meaning, as in Go. witan 'keep watch over', preterite witáida. Verbs in the fourth class are found only in Gothic; they have an -na/nō- suffix and are inchoative in meaning, as in gadáuþnan 'die', gadáuþnōda; cf. the adjective dáuþs 'dead'.
Many verbs in the first weak class have "simpler" verbs, or nouns and adjectives, beside them, from which they may have been derived. Among examples of verbs like lagjan : ligan are Go. satjan : sitan 'set : sit', nasjan : ga-nisan 'save : be saved'. Among examples with nouns are Go. dáiljan : dáils 'deal out : portion', matjan : mats 'eat : food', rignjan : rign 'rain : rain'. Among examples with adjectives are Go. fulljan : fulls 'fill : full', láusjan : láus 'loosen : loose', ga-qiujan : qius 'make alive : alive'. As the translations indicate, many of these are maintained in the dialects, often with subsequent phonological modification (umlaut), as illustrated by set and fill.
Verbs of the second class typically have nominal forms beside them, e.g. Go. fiskōn : fisks 'to fish : fish', grēdōn : grēdus 'be hungry : hunger', spillōn : spill 'proclaim : myth'. Among examples with adjectives are Go. ga-sibjōn : un-sibjis 'be reconciled : unlawful', ga-tilōn : til 'achieve : suitable', ga-wundōn : wunds 'wound : be wounded'. A few have verbal forms beside them with the vowel of the preterite singular, e.g. Go. hʷarbōn 'go about' versus hʷaírban 'walk'.
Verbs of the third class are fewer than those of the first and second classes. Some have related verbs beside them, e.g. Go. ga-kunnan 'recognize' beside the preterite-present verb kann 'know', witan 'keep watch over' beside the preterite-present wait 'know'. More are derived from adjectives, e.g. Go. arman 'have pity' from arms 'pitiable', ga-þarban 'abstain from' from þarbs 'needy', OHG altēn 'grow old' from alt 'old'. A few are derived from nouns, e.g. Go. ga-þiwan 'enslave' from þius 'servant'.
Verbs of the fourth class, attested only in Gothic, are in general inchoative in meaning, but may verge on a passive meaning. They are found beside verbs and adjectives, apparently created within East Germanic. The suffix carries a totally different meaning from the factitive meaning of the nā- suffix of Sanskrit Class 9 verbs, as evidenced by the cognate of weihnan 'be hallowed', Skt vinákti 'separate'. Among examples are us-bruknan 'be broken off' beside brikan 'break', ga-dáuþnan 'die' beside dáuþs 'dead', minznan 'become less' beside mins 'less'.
In the course of time further suffixes developed, much as the four suffixes of the weak verbs had; a few Gothic verbs illustrate how it began and was expanded. The Gothic verb fráujinōn 'rule over', based on fráuja, gen. fráujin 'lord', and the verb gudjinōn 'be a priest', based on gudja 'priest', provide examples. The verbs are comparable to other second class verbs that are derived from the bases of nouns, such as fiskōn : fisks, but a new suffix -inōn was "clipped" from them, on the basis of which further verbs were made from nouns other than ja-stems, cf. Go. aírinōn 'be a messenger' from aírus 'messenger', lēkinōn 'heal' from lēkeis 'physician'.
In the same way a suffix -izōn was clipped from Go. hatizōn 'be angry', based on hatis 'hatred, anger'; this example has the further interest that a first class weak verb, hatjan 'hate', and a third class verb, hatan 'hate', already existed in Gothic. Another verb with the new suffix is walwisōn 'roll about' beside af-walwjan 'roll away'; it may be assumed that there was a Proto-Germanic noun *walwiz, but a reflex is not attested in Gothic (Lehmann 1986:9).
Similarly, the bases from which verbs in -atjan were formed are not attested, although the stem may be found in a noun of different formation, as with Go. láuhatjan 'flash like lightning' beside láuhmuni 'lightning', or in another, related verb, as with Go. swōgatjan 'sigh' beside af-swōgjan 'sigh deeply', or there may be no comparable base, as for káupatjan 'strike'.
We may attribute the absence of such bases to the small amount of text that we have for Gothic, and to its type, for many more examples are found in the languages attested later, such as Old High German. There, for example, a number of verbs are attested with the (shifted consonantal) reflex of -atjan, such as lohazzen 'flame up' and vlogarazzen 'fly', as well as in the later language, cf. MHG blinzen 'blink'. Moreover, suffixes that might have developed in Gothic, as from the third weak class verb swiglōn 'play the flute' beside swiglja 'flute player', cf. OE swegalōn 'play the flute' were not clipped and used with bases other than those ending in -l as they were in Old High German, which has numerous such verbs, e.g. betōlōn 'beg' beside betōn, beten 'pray' as well as many in modern German with -eln, such as betteln. The same applies to other suffixes, for example those with -r-, such as NHG -ern in füttern 'feed', with -k- or -sk-, such as NHG horchen 'hear', and with -g-, such as heiligen 'sanctify'. The development is clear and readily exemplified in the Germanic languages of today, all of which include numerous suffixes for deriving verbs.
Because OV languages do not have prefixation, its use in the early Germanic languages requires explanation. To simplify this presentation, material will be taken primarily from its specific application in Gothic. As Jacob Grimm (repr. 1878-1898) and others have pointed out, prefixation provided the means for indicating perfective meaning, as on verbs (Wilmanns 1899, I: 167-173). Proto-Germanic was developing from a distinction between animate/active and inanimate/stative meaning in the present and preterite of verbs. The distinction between imperfective and perfective meaning then was expressed through the use of prefixes, especially ga-, which could be applied to any verb form, as in the Gothic version of Luke 8:8: saei habái áusona du háusjan, gaháusjái 'whoever has ears to hear, let him listen', with imperfective 'hear' vs. perfective 'listen'. The aspectual distinction is not due to translation of the Greek, which reads: ho ékhōn ṓ́ta akoúein akouétō 'he having ears to hear, let him hear', with the imperative simply in the present tense.
As in this passage, the most frequent prefix indicating perfective aspect was ga-, a cognate of Latin com-, which like the preposition cum typically meant 'together with'. The inherited meaning of ga- is clear in Gothic verbal forms like ga-háitan 'call together' in contrast with háitan 'call, be called', and in nouns like ga-brūka '(something broken together), crumb', OE ge-broc 'fragment'. But the perfective meaning comes to predominate, as is clear in many verbs such as Go. ga-lūkan 'lock up', ga-malwjan 'grind up'. In time it comes to stand especially with past participles, as in German today. Curiously, it has not been maintained in English inflected forms, where the perfect tenses as well as the simple past participle indicate perfective aspect.
In Grimm's view, the other prefixes also indicated perfective aspect, but it is less evident and no longer included for some verbs. The Gothic prefix and- often has its etymological meaning of 'towards, opposite', as in verbs like and-hafjan 'answer', and-sakan 'speak against', and-standan 'withstand'; but it also has a less specific meaning and adds a perfective status in verbs like and-háitan 'acknowledge' beside háitan 'call, be called', and-háusjan 'listen' beside háusjan 'hear', and-niman 'receive' beside niman 'take, accept', or a somewhat weaker expression of opposition as in and-qiþan 'speak with'. In some verbs it has a privative meaning, as in Go. and-wasjan 'undress' as opposed to wasjan 'dress'.
Similarly, the Gothic prefix bi-, a cognate of English by 'nearby', has its literal meaning in verbs like bi-rinnan 'surround' beside rinnan 'run' and bi-standan 'stand about', while adding primarily a perfective sense in some verbs like bi-gitan 'find' and its Old English cognate in bi-gietan 'receive, produce', as in NE beget beside get. In this way it illustrates the general development of such prefixes from concrete meaning to grammatical use with little distinction from the simple verb as in Go. bi-laígōn 'lick' like the simple verb OE liccian.
The Gothic prefix dis- has the meaning 'away', as in dis-dáiljan 'distribute' beside dáiljan 'divide', dis-skáidan 'distribute' beside skáidan 'separate', dis-taíran 'tear apart' beside OE teran 'tear'. But it can also convey a meaning of greater intensity as in dis-driusan 'fall on' beside driusan 'fall', dis-haban 'take, hold' beside haban 'have', dis-sitan 'seize' beside sitan 'sit'.
The three prefixes, Go. faír-, faúr, fra-, have several interests, among them that they have fallen together in German as ver-. Each forms a compound verb with -rinnan 'run' as given here with its meaning: Go. faír-rinnan 'extend to', faúr-rinnan 'go before', fra-rinnan 'meet up with'. The etymology of faír- is unclear, and accordingly its original meaning is unknown. That of faúr- is assumed to be PIE pṛ- 'forward'; its meaning in Gothic is then in accordance with that of its Indo-European source, so that it contributes to the sense of the compound verb rather than providing perfective force. The etymology of fra- is PIE pro 'forward, ahead'; it maintains this meaning in many of its compounds, such as fra-atjan 'give away (to be consumed)', fra-itan 'devour' beside itan 'eat'. On the other hand, fra-niman 'take along' and fra-baíran 'endure' like NE forbear has perfective meaning. The perfective meaning provided by fra- may be clearly indicated by the distinction between the forms of giban and fra-giban in John 10:28-29, which also includes forms of two verbs with the prefix, fra-qistnan and fra-wilwan, both with perfective meaning:
28. jah ik libain aiweinōn giba im, jah ni fraqistnand áiw; jah ni frawilwiþ hʷashun þō us handáu meinái. 29. atta meins þatei fragaf mis, maízō alláim ist, jah ni áiw áinshun mag frawilwan þō us handan attins meinis.
'And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.'
The simple verb giba in verse 28 has imperfective meaning: "I give unto them eternal life" while the prefixed verb fragaf has perfective force: "My Father, who gave them to me" as does the verb frawilwiþ: "no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
These examples illustrate further the gradual shift of the meaning that is often conveyed by the prefixes, so that the prefixed forms come to have a distinct lexical meaning rather than one that reflects directly the meaning of the two elements, as we may also note with examples like English forgive in contrast with give.
Prefixes used for the derivation of verbs are also used for the derivation of nouns, for example PGmc ga- and the preposition us-/ur-. The prefix ga- maintains much of its etymological meaning 'together' as it does in OHG gi-bruoder 'brethren'. Among Gothic examples are ga-arbja 'co-heir', ga-háit 'promise' beside háitan 'name', ga-rūni 'counsel' beside rūna 'plan, secret'. But it also has transferred meanings, as in ga-gūdei 'piety'. The prefix us- also retains much of its meaning as a preposition, 'out of', as in Go. us-luk 'opening', cf. OE lūcan 'close', in us-met 'manner of life', cf. mitan 'measure', from 'measure out' to 'behave', as also in us-farþō 'departure', and uz-ēta 'crib from which animals feed'. But it is less specific in us-filh 'burial' beside filhan 'bury, conceal' as in ON fela 'hide, conceal'.
Similarly, other prefixes, which in some derivations have their literal meaning, have in others a transferred meaning, for example nouns with the prefix af 'from', such as Go. af-stass 'divorce' with af and a noun with -ti- based on standan 'stand', and Go. af-etja 'glutton' with af and a noun with -ja- based on itan 'eat', in which af has its literal meaning as it also does in af-lageins 'forgiveness' beside the verb af-lagjan 'put off'. In Go. af-gudei 'ungodliness', on the other hand, it corresponds to the negative prefix un-.
Similarly, nouns with the prefix ana 'at, on' maintain the meaning of the preposition in nouns such as Go. ana-būsns 'command' with ana and a noun related to the verb Go. ana-biudan 'command' and OHG biotan 'bid, offer, order', Go. ana-láugnei 'concealment' with ana and a noun related to the verb láugnjan 'deny', while the meaning is somewhat modified in Go. ana-qiss 'blasphemy' with ana and a noun related to qiþan 'speak'.
The process of deriving nouns through prefixation is maintained and expanded in the later dialects, such as English and German. Except for derivatives with the negative prefix un- the process is not as well developed in Gothic as in the dialects, in which many of the prefixed forms are based on Latin counterparts. Nor has it been applied in inflection, as is the prefix ge- in the past participle of German. Moreover, suffixation is carried out more widely. But it was clearly applied in late Proto-Germanic as the vocabulary was expanded to cover educational, technical, and theological topics.
Compounds comparable to those in the other early Indo-European languages were also included in the Germanic lexicon. To demonstrate their antiquity in Germanic, Kluge pointed out (1913:228-32) that they are attested in names of peoples and places that are recorded in Latin texts, e.g. Langobardi < 'having long beards' and Scadinavia < 'dangerous isle'. Similarly, borrowings into other languages, such as Finnish napa-kaira 'borer', cf. OHG naba-gēr, and Old Slavic vrŭto-gradŭ 'garden', cf. Go. aúrti-gard 'root-garden' must have been taken from Proto-Germanic. Compounds are also prominent in Germanic proper names recorded in the classical sources, such as Ariovistus and Sigimerus, as well as in the runes, e.g. Hlewagastiz.
The early lexicon included compounds of the four prominent Indo-European types that are well-known from Sanskrit: possessives/bahuvrihi, such as Go. haúh-haírts 'arrogant, high-hearted < having a high heart'; determinatives/tatpurusha, such as Go. gud-hūs 'church < god-house'; descriptives/karmadhāraya, such as OHG jungfrouwe 'virgin < young woman'; copulatives/dvandva, such as OE suhterfæderan 'nephew and uncle' and the teen numerals, such as Go. fimftaihun 'fifteen'. The determinative and descriptive compounds are far more common in Germanic than the other two types. The presence of these in the various Germanic dialects supports the hypothesis that Proto-Germanic also included them.
In addition to their early attestation, assumption of the presence of compounds in Proto-Germanic is supported by distinctive formations in which the first element differs from its simple counterpart. Among examples are Go. ala-mans 'totality of human beings' in contrast with alls 'all', mana-sēþs 'mankind' in contrast with manna < *mans, midjun-gards 'inhabited world' in contrast with midja-. The second element also may differ from that of the simple form, as in Go. at-aþni 'period of a year' in contrast with aþn 'year' and anda-waírþi 'presence < equivalent worth' beside waírþs 'worth'.
Moreover, compounds may maintain elements that are lost as distinct nouns. For example, OHG deo 'servant' is maintained in NHG Demut 'humility' though not as an independent noun, for which the meaning was closer to that of the cognate of Go. þius 'servant' in OHG dio-muoti 'mood of a servant'. Similarly the English cognate of Go. waír 'man' is maintained in NE werewolf though not independently.
Grimm (repr. 1878-1898, II: 404-535) documents the compounds consisting of noun plus noun by relationship of components, and then provides an extensive list, continuing with similar presentation of those consisting of noun plus adjective (535-572) and finally of noun plus verbal element (572-580). Only a few examples will be given here. His category of spatial relationship corresponding to the meaning of the preposition in includes nouns like OE eorð-cyning beside which he adds Lat. rex-terrae 'earthly king'. His category of time, also with the meaning of in, includes Gothic nahta-mats 'meal in the evening'. His category of spatial relationship corresponding to the meaning of out of includes OHG himil-brōt, Lat. panis coeli, 'bread from heaven, manna'. His category of spatial relationship corresponding to the meaning of at, on includes Go. figgra-gulþ 'finger-ring, ring on the finger'. A second group of compounds is characterized by appositional relationship, as in animal and plant names indicating the species and genus, cf. Go. weina-triu, OE wīn-trēow 'vine'; another example of the group is Go. mari-sáiws 'sea'. After his presentation of characteristic groupings, Grimm provides an extensive alphabetical list with commentary on the characteristics of the many items cited. The list leaves little doubt that such compounds were included in the lexicon of Proto-Germanic.
In the course of time compounds became increasingly prominent, as many learnèd words were based on Greek and Latin compounds. They are treated at length in handbooks, such as Carr (1939) and Marchand (1969, with extensive bibliography). Grimm, as noted, provides similar treatment for German, as do grammars of the other Germanic dialects.
Pronouns are also compounded with nominal elements, such as Go. hʷē-láuþs 'how much (what shape)' and hʷi-leiks 'what kind'. The two elements are generally fused, if the word is maintained. For example, cognates of hʷi-leiks survive in ON hvī-līkr and OHG hwe-līh, but in Old English it is reduced to hwilc, thereupon to which, and in New High German to welch. Another final element that is attached to pronouns in Gothic, as in sa-ei 'he-who' and ik-ei 'I who', is assumed to be a form of the pronoun, PIE e, ei, i as in Lat. is 'he', and the further form PIE yo- 'who'. Similarly, the element uh or h that is added to Gothic pronouns is assumed to be related to Lat. que 'and', which also is added to pronouns, as in modifying quis 'who' to quisque 'whoever'. When uh/h is added to the demonstrative forms sa, sō, þata 'this, that', e.g. sah, sōh, þatuh, it strengthens their meaning. But when added to interrogatives, such as Go. hʷas 'who', it leads to a general meaning, as in hʷazuh 'everyone'; similarly, hʷarjis 'which' and hʷarjizuh 'each'. Another such element is Go. hun, which is added to relative pronouns as well as other words to provide an indefinite meaning, but only following a negative, as in Go. ni hʷashun 'no one'.
Compounding was also carried out by prefixing elements, such as Go. þis, the genitive singular of þata 'that', as in þis-hʷah, an indefinite pronoun meaning 'whatever' and in þis-hʷaruh 'wherever'. This element is also found in Old High German with a prefix from *aiþ, as in etheswer 'someone' and eddeswaz 'something', which is reflected in New High German as etwas 'something'. Similarly, the first syllable of NHG jeder 'each one' is the reflex of the accusative singular Go. áiw, OHG io 'ever'. And the negative ni, nih prefixed to the indefinite article ein, as in OHG nih-ein, has led to the New High German negative kein 'no one, nothing'. As these developments indicate, pronouns tend to be reduced, so that forms that may have originated in compounds later seem to be simple in structure.
Adjectives have two derived forms, a comparative and a superlative. The chief suffix to express comparison is PGmc -is-; added after the syllable of the positive with chief stress it is reflected in Gothic as -iz-, in the other dialects as -(i)r-, as in the comparative forms of PGmc jungaz, Go. jugg-, ON ungr, OE geong, OHG jung 'young': PGmc jungizo, Go. jūhiza, ON yngri, OE geongra, OHG jungiro 'younger'.
The chief suffix for forming the superlative is PGmc -isto-; for -ō-stems it has the variant -ōsto-. A second suffix is -mo- with a variant -misto-. Superlatives of PGmc jungaz and the dialect forms are as follows: PGmc jungisto, Go. jūhista, ON yngrist, OE geongrist, OHG jungist 'youngest'.
Some common adjectives have suppletive forms, as also in the other Indo-European dialects, e.g. Gk agathós 'good', ameínōn 'better', áristos 'best'. These may have been formed before comparison became paradigmatic, and then were associated with simple adjectives like the etyma of PGmc gōþ- 'good', ubil- 'evil', mikel- 'large', lītel- 'small' and a few others. Examples of the comparison of gōþ- are as follows: PGmc gōþ-, batizo, batisto, Go. gōþs, batiza, batista, ON góðr, betri, beztr, OE gōð, betera, betsta, OHG guot, bezziro, bezzisto 'good, better, best'.
In the early Germanic languages, adverbs were derived from adjectives by means of various suffixes. Attempts have been made to determine their source in Proto-Indo-European, as from case endings, but the case relationship is difficult to establish and accordingly the assumption of a source in particles is preferable.
The suffix ba is found in many adverbs in Gothic though not in the other dialects, e.g. glaggwaba 'diligently' and glaggwuba 'precisely'. The adjective is not attested in Gothic, but can be reconstructed as *glaggw(u)s, cf. ON glǫggr, OE glēaw, OHG glau 'clear-sighted, intelligent'. Like other suffixes, -ba is also added to compounds, such as forms of Go. and-áugi 'face', a compound consisting of the preposition and 'over, through' and the -ja- stem of áugō 'eye': and-áugiba 'openly'. Its source is unclear. It may be a derivative of an Indo-European particle made with -bh-, like Greek -phi.
Another more general suffix is -ō, as in Go. galeikō, ON līka, OE gilīco, OHG gilīcho 'similarly'. Compounds made with the second element leik 'body' have the ending -ō, such as Go. waírleikō 'manly', aljaleikō 'otherwise'. It is found also in Go. glaggwō 'accurately' and and-áugjō 'openly'. Proposals have been made to derive it from the Indo-European ablative ending -ōd, but the difference in meaning makes these unlikely. Many compounds are made with the second element leik 'body' and the ending -ō, such as Go. ga-leikō 'similarly', ON glīkr, OE ge-līc, OHG gi-līh, cf. NHG gleich 'at once'. The suffix has been reduced, as in NHG -lich, e.g. männlich and to NE -like, -ly, as in manlike, manly. Adverbs with still other endings may be cited, such as -is in Go. andwaírþis 'openly' beside andwaírþō 'at once', with the second element based on the adjective waírþs 'worth', cf. NHG vorwärts, NE forwards. It also has been associated with a case ending, the genitive, though with little semantic basis for the proposal.
Still other adverbs were made with the bare stem, such as Go. inn beside inna, innana 'within'; cf. ON inni, innan, OE inne, innan, OHG inna, innana 'within'. Adverbs accordingly were derived in various forms.
As the sections above have indicated, the Proto-Germanic vocabulary and that of the dialects were expanded greatly through affixation, chiefly suffixation. Many suffixes arose from particles. Others were originally words, which were then often shortened to suffixes. As exemplified below, the suffixes gradually developed from indicating concrete meaning to indicating abstract meaning.
Derivation in Proto-Germanic through suffixation is in accordance with its basic pattern as OV. From the Active structure of early Proto-Indo-European, in which particles indicated specific meanings when accompanying nominals, a structure developed in which the particles were directly attached to nominals and verbs. Specific patterns then arose in which further such complex items were formed. In the early period such items indicated concrete entities, such as PGmc *haima- 'place of residence, house', Go. háims 'village', and máiþms 'gift' based on PIE meit- 'exchange'. In the course of time such suffixes typically shifted from provision of concrete meanings to that of abstract meanings as Karl von Bahder in his prize-winning work demonstrated (1880: 127-208). Items he cited for the later period indicated concrete entities but also abstractions, such as PGmc *faþma- 'something spread out', OE fæþm 'the embracing arms', leading to 'the extent of such a spread' as in ON faðmr 'fathom', and PGmc *sturma- 'scatterer', OE storm 'storm, battle, attack'. At a still later stage the meaning was purely abstract, as in PGmc *dōma, Go. dōms 'condition, destiny', ON dōmr, OE dōm, OHG tuom 'judgment', and *drauma, OE dream 'dream'.
Von Bahder cited many more examples, as of the developing meanings of words with -þra- from concrete to abstract meanings, such as PGmc *smerþra- 'suet', *morþra- 'murder as means of killing', *hroþra- 'fame'.
Additional examples may be found in the numerals. For example, the tens were originally expressed with a cardinal number followed by a form meaning ten, as in PIE septm-kont- '70'. This developed to PGmc seftunχanþ-, which was subsequently modified to Gothic sibun-tehund, where the second element still would have been interpreted as a variant of Gothic taihun 'ten', but in the other dialects further development obscured the relationship, as in ON sjau-tiger, OE seofon-tig, OHG sibunzug 'seventy'; the second element had been reduced to a form that might no longer be interpreted as a variant of a form of ten.
Efforts to account for the changes may be pursued in the grammars and dictionaries of the individual dialects. The phonological weakening has been ascribed to the strong initial stress in late Proto-Germanic and the subsequent dialects. The increased lexicon resulting from the expansion of the suffixes coupled with the various forms of compounding presented above may be ascribed to the increasing complexity of the culture of the Germanic speakers. This included the introduction of Christianity and Classical culture, which brought the production of many abstract terms. As the culture of the speakers of the Germanic language expanded, its lexicon was greatly expanded in the subsequent dialects, largely by means of derivational morphology and also by borrowing.