FORMATION OF WORDS.
All changes of vowels are of two kinds, simple and complex : 1.
the simple is homogeneous and leaves the quantity of the vowel
unaltered; a short vowel is changed into a short, a long or a diph-
thong into a long or a diphthong; this change is generally caused by
characteristic or inflexive letters, in Icel. especially by i (j) and u
(v). 2. the complex is heterogeneous and affects the quantity of a
vowel, which is changed from a short into a long or diphthongal vowel ;
this change is generally produced by, a. agglutination, absorp-
tion, or the like ; or, p. by contraction of two syllables into one
(e. g. reduplicated syllables contracted).
Ihe Simple Vowel Changes.
The Umlaut or Vowel Change was first traced out by Jacob
Grimm in his Grammar of 1819 and 1822 ; it is of two kinds, A.
the i- umlaut caused by a characteristic i or j; and, B. the u-
umlaut caused by a characteristic u or v.
A. The i- umlaut, whereby the primitive vowels
a, ft, au, o, o, v, ú, jó, jú, (o), are changed into
e, Æ, ey, y, ce, y, ý, ý, (55).
The primitive vowels are thus changed into mixed vowels with an z-
sound; short vowels change into short, and long or diphthongs into long
or diphthongs. All the changed vowels have an a- or u- sound blended
with i, whence it follows that no change takes place within the i- class
itself, and i, i, el are unchangeable (' unumlautbar,' as Grimm says) :
the characteristic i usually appears nsj, or has since been dropped in
most cases ; it can only be sounded, a. in dissyllabic words with a
short root syllable, i.e. a short vowel and a single final, thus tem-ja, ven-
ja, but tcema, væna ; and, p. in long syllables with g, k, or a vowel as
final, without regard to the quantity of the root vowel, thus fylg-ja,hceg-
ja, scek-ja, dey-ja: in monosyllables it is apocopated throughout, e. g.
in nes, but nes-ja. Thousands of words are formed by way of umlaut,
but all words thus formed are derivatives, nouns as well as verbs: I.
roots and words formed by umlaut are, 1. verbs, the greatest part
of the 2nd weak conjugation, such as dcema, geyma, heyra, kenna, at
least three hundred, to which add all those with inflexive -ja, in the 2nd
and 3rd conjugations and a few of the 1st, together about two hundred
verbs. We may take as a sample the transitive verbs which arc formed
from the strong intransitive verbs, all following the 2nd weak conju-
gation, and having for root vowel the pret. sing, of the strong verbs but
with changed vowel wherever the vowel is changeable; about forty such
words are in use, formed from the 1st class, with prct. a, sprengja, drekk-
ja, brenna, renna, bella, sleppa, spretta, svelta, vella, velta, hverfa, þverra,
skelfa, hrokkva, stökkva, sokkva : from the 2nd and 3rd classes, pret. ei,
au, leiða, reiða, dreifa, hneigja,,reisa, beita, bleikja; geysa, fleyta.hreyta,
þeyta, dreypa, fieygja, smeygja, feykja, reykja : from the 4th class, pret.
o, cexa, foera, gcela, kcela, scera, hlcegja: from the 5th and 6th classes, pret.
d, a, etc., leggja, setja and sæta, svæfa; fella, hengja, græta,—all of them
causal, denoting to make one do so and so, e.g. brenna (brann), to burn,
but brenna (brenn-di), to consume by fire ; hverfa (hvarf), to disappear,
hverfa, ð, to turn; ríða (reið), to ride, reiða, dd, to carry ; bita (beit),
to bite, beita, t, to cut, make bite; hniga (hneig), to sink, hneigja, ð, to
make to sink; sofa, to sleep, svæfa, ð, to lull to sleep; falla (full), to fall,
fella, d, to fell; grata (grét), to greet (weep), græta, tt, to make one greet;
hanga (hekk), to hang (intrans.), hengja, d, to bang (trans.), etc. 2.
nouns, adjectives; those as ný-r, scet-r, counting perhaps a hundred
words : substantives, hundreds of derivatives, e. g. the neuters in -/, as
klxð-i: all the weak feminines in -:', as gleð-i: the words of the 2nd
declension of strong masc. and fern., as bekkr, fit, heiðr: the masc. in
-ir, as laekn-ir: neuters, as nes ;—in short, all words marked as having
characteristic! orj: in the chief declension (the 1st), hundreds of words,
as been, prayer, from bón ; væta, wetness, from vátr ; or, 3. words
with nominal inflexions; the feminines with inflexive -d ((), /, prop,
instead of -id), leng-d, length, from lang-; hæ-ð, height, from há-r;
fiy'p-t, depth, from djúp-: most feminines with inllexive -ska and -sla
(qs.-/sia,-is/a),bern-ska from barn, íslend-ska from Island, gæt-sla from
gát: masculines in -ingr and feminines in -ing, thus England, England,
but Englendingr, an Englishman; læg-ing, lowering, from l;'igr; but
not in those in -ningr, -ning, e.g. brag-ningr, drótt-ning (not drœttning),
as the n comes between the word and root vowel: masculines in -ill,
ket-ill : diminutives in -lingr, boek-lingr, libellus, from bók ; dræp-lingr,
a ditty, from drápa, a poem. IT. inflexions formed b)' way of
umlaut are, 1. verbs; in about three hundred verbs the deriva-
tive tenses pres, indie, and pret. subj. are thus formed, viz. all the strong
verbs and the weak of the 3rd and partly those of the 4th conjugation
(see the tables and remarks on the verbs above). 2. nouns;
the plur. in the 3rd strong declension, bók, bcek-r; eigandi, eigend-r;
bróð-ir, brceð-r ; fað-ir, feð-r; móð-ir, mœð-r; fót-r, fœt-r; mús, my's-s;
gás, gsES-s,—the -r or -s being here contracted instead of -ir. 3.
dissyllabic comparatives (and superlatives) of adjectives, in -ri, -sir,
yng-ri, yng-str ; hæ-ri, hæ-str, etc.
$&- By observing the rules of the vowel change the reader will be
enabled to follow the derivative words recurring in the Dictionary,
e.g. glaðr and gleði, far and fætta. auðr and eyða, forn and fyrna, bót
and bceta, fullr and fylla, fuss and fýsa, Ijós and ly'sa. Lastly, we have
to notice that, 1. the œ (in MSS. spelt ø and p) is obsolete in Icel.,
and the changes of d and ó are sounded both alike, thus fótr, fæti (old
fceti); móð-ir, bróð-ir, old plur. mceð-r, brceð-r; in Denmark, Sweden,
and Norway the distinction is retained, and has to be borne in mind for
the sake of the etymology. 2. the vowel change o into ø is rare and
obsolete, and is now represented by e; it takes place in very few words,
e. g. the comparative and superlative from of-, øfri, øfstr ; norðr, nørðri:
the pres. indie, køm-r from koma (to come), søf-r from sofa (to sleep),
trøð-r from troða (to tread) ; but commonly kem-r, treð-r, sef-r: the
plur. of hnot (a nut), hnøt-r ; stoð (a column), stóð-r, but later hnet-r,
steð-r; this change is therefore in col. I put last, between ( ), and it
need not be heeded, and o and u may be said to have the same vowel
B. The M- umlaut, whereby the primitive vowels
a, a, are changed into
0 (oO), 00.
Distinction is to be made between the change if caused by a charac-
teristic or an inflexive u: I. the change by a characteristic M
takes place in the following instances, a. nouns, all masculines
as köttr : feminines as höfn: neuters as hogg : neuter plurals as born
from barn : masculines as songr. p. adjectives, in fern. sing, and
neut. plur. in words as fagr: and through all genders in adjectives as
fol-r. Y- verbs: those in -va (only a few). 2. the vowel change
a, ao takes place in all similar instances, e. g. heottr (modus) ; *oss (a
god) — áss ; iidól = mil (needle); .or = ;ir (an oar); .or = ár (years); saor
= sar (wounds); f,ó=fá (few), fern, and neut.; htó = há (high), fern,
and neut.; but this change from d into aý is now obsolete, and has
been lost for about seven centuries, whereas the change from a into ö
is still in full use; both are of common origin, and can only have
risen together and at a time when the inflexive -u was still suffixed
to aH these words. Since that time it has been dropped in many
cases, but the vowel change has remained, in some forms throughout
all numbers and cases, whereas in others, as barn, höfn, fagr, the primi-
tive vowel recurs before inflexive -ar, -ir, and the like ; the difference
is probably only one of time, the one being older and weak, the other
later and stronger. $6" The words in p. I, col. 2, lines 23, 24 from
the bottom are not quite exact, and ought to be worded thus, ' this
vowel change seems still to have been in full use in Icel. during the
I ith and 12th centuries, being etc.' II. the change caused by an
inflexive -u takes place in all words, nouns and verbs, having a as root
vowel,and -u,-nr,-um for inflexion, cp. in the tables the verbs kalla.vaka,
and such nouns as hjarta, alda. Thus in born and in born-urn the case
is different, the o in born is caused by a lost characteristic u, in born-
urn it is caused by the inflexive -inn; as also in gom-ul (prisca) from
gamall. giâ' The former change by a characteristic it was in olden
times common to all Scandinavians, whereas the latter seems to be solely
Icel.; Swedes, Danes, and Norsemen said Kind (terrae), but landum
(terris) ; born, but barnum; as^also gamul (prisca), not as the Icel.
gOmul. It is to be borne in mind that a characteristic belongs to the
root, and has a stronger hold than an inflexive vowel, so that the former
may cause a change in the root vowel, though the latter does not. It
is also to be noticed that the inflexive vowel was not properlv u, but
was in early times sounded and spelt o (land-om, kall-om, gam-ol). p.
in inflexive syllables ending in a the change usually becomes u, e. g.
hundruð, suinur, from hundrad, sumar; kolluðu, clamabant: in hard
or strong inflexions both forms are right, as in eigOndum and eigund-
um, hOrðöstum and horðustum ; in mod. usage the latter is more
current. III. the ancients seem to have had a third kind of
u change, viz. caused by a mixed i and u, which they spelt a or ey, as
the verbs hrokkva, dökkvan, stökkva were in MSS. jometimes spelt
hreyqua, steyqua, deyquan, qs. hranquian ; but this was confined to a
few words and is now obsolete.
There is also a peculiar Resolution of the vowels / or e intoja
(or jd). This is called 'breaking' (Grimm 'brechung'), and takes
place in some infinitives of strong verbs of the 1st class, gjalda, etc.,