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PREPARING AN ETYMOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF PROTO- GERMANIC EDGAR C. POLOMÉ When Alf Torp and Hjalmar Falk published their Wortschatz der germanischen Spracheinheit eighty years ago as the fourth part of the third edition of August Fick's Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der indogermanischen Sprachen, they could base their reconstructed lemmata on the abundant material that the Neogrammarians and their predecessors had patiently compiled over several decades and provide a picture of the Germanic lexicon that reflected rather faithfully the features of the phonology and morphology that the Urgermanische Grammatik of Wilhelm Streitberg described and could be related easily to Brugmannian types of Indo-European roots. Accordingly, they lumped together Gmc. *ragina [neuter noun] 'decision', rahnian 'reckon', and *rëhsni 'resolution' under a root *reh- ~ reg- 'arrange, determine'— with Verner's Law and ablaut, the long -ë- of Goth, garehsns 'determination' being paralleled by OCS rëcï 'speech' (Torp 335). Unfortunately, things are not so simple anymore: to be sure, W. P. Lehmann still considers the derivation of the isolated Gothic term garehsns from a pre-Gmc. root *rek— 'arrange' (with a suffix -sni-, as in anabusns) possible and, consequently, suggests a further connection with Goth, ragin 'opinion, law, decree; task responsibility' (280) and its cognates: ON regin, the gods, as the "advising ones," OS regan(o)-giskapu 'divine destiny', etc. But Goth, rahnjan 'reckon', with its -h- versus the -k- of the other Germanic 65 66Edgar C. Polomé dialects (e.g., OE receñían) remains a problem for which Lehmann has no other solution to offer than a Benvenistian type of root-analysis, accounting for the underlying IE alternation between *k and *g: one would have to posit a PIE root *Hzer- with guttural suffixes in "theme II" types of structures, namely (1)*Hzr-ek- in Gmc. *ragin- and Goth, rahnjan, garehsns, as well as OInd. racanam 'institution, order', OCS roku 'set time', Russ. rok 'destiny, fate', Toch. A rake, B reki 'word'; (2)*Hsr-eg- in OE receñían 'reckon', ON rok [ntr.plur.] 'exposition , course, fate', OE racu 'narrative, account', etc.. as well as in Grk. bpéjw 'reach', Lat. regö 'direct, rule', MIr. rigim 'stretch out', OInd. fjyaii, rñjáti 'stretch, hasten', Av. rdzayeiti 'direct', Lith. ré'zti 'stretch'. The basic meaning of the second set seems to be 'intend, guide', which would not conflict with the concepts of 'direction , advising, decision' expressed by the terms with IE *-k-. Anyhow, this simple example shows how necessary it is to examine a number of phonological, morphological, and semantic problems before setting up a lemma—an indispensable preliminary step that would have prevented Torp and Falk from including, even tentatively, ON ran 'robbery, pillage ' as a reflex of Gmc. *rahna in the alleged meaning of 'strike for booty' on the basis of its assumed borrowing into Finnish as rahna 'wound', rahnata 'plunder, rob' (cf. de Vries, Wörterbuch 433). Actually, while Julius Pokorny compiled under the title Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch a partly updated , partly shortened version of the monumental Vergleichendes Wörterbuch des indogermanischen Sprachen (published by Walter de Gruyter in Berlin), which he produced with Alois Walde between 1926 and 1930, nobody attempted to bring out a new dictionary of any subgroupings of the In- An Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic67 do-European languages after the laudable efforts of Reinhold Trautmann and F. Muller Jzn. in their rather idiosyncratic Baltisch-Slavisches Wörterbuch and Altitalisches Wörterbuch respectively. Nevertheless, in the case of Germanic, the need for a synthesis of the extensive etymological research conducted during the present century and for a better integration of the achievements of Germanic comparative grammar into this context led to the publication of Elmer Seebold's valuable Vergleichendes und etymologisches Wörterbuch der germanischen starken Verben. Here, the whole system of the Germanic strong verb, with its vowel alternations and derivations , was surveyed in detail, with as complete an inventory of attested forms as possible—all analyzed phonologically according to the ablaut variations and morphologically according to the underlying patterning. After the review of the Formenbestand, the author provided a careful discussion of the origin and semantic elaboration of its etymological explanation , without hesitating either to take a stand in favor of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 65-80
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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