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A chronology of i-stem declensional collapse in Old English: Proto-Germanic *awiz, English sheep terms & phonological change

have moved on from this but here you go

Old English Roots


Proto-Indo-European had an i-stem athematic noun class which survived into early Germanic languages. By literate Old English i-stems had almost completely disintegrated. Examination of sound changes, particularly with regard to the word for ‘ewe’, might help date this collapse. There might also be a correlation with changes in attitudes to sheep in early Anglo-Saxon society.

In Part 1 I examine how the class came to be in Proto-Indo-European, its survival into the Germanic period and what became of it in OE. In Part 2 I attempt to date the collapse in the context of a series of clearly defined (but sequentially awkward) phonological changes to the English language.

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