Horribile dictu, the twenty-first century is witnessing a steady decline of democracy and the rise of autocratic, self-aggrandizing rulers in many countries across the world. How long will they stay in power, however? Already since the high Middle Ages, numerous poets across Europe explored the topic of the ‘emperor in misery,’ in which an angel takes on the appearance of the emperor, which forces the latter to go through a long period of extreme suffering, being denied all respect, rejected, beaten, imprisoned, suffering from hunger and cold. Eventually, the poor emperor learns to accept his destiny, repents his previous hubris, confesses his sins, and suddenly realizes that his doppelgänger is actually an angel sent from God to teach him a lesson. Once this transformation in his soul has happened, the angel explains the entire situation, warns the emperor never to commit his sins again, and disappears. Of course, it is doubtful whether these narratives might have ever had a direct impact on the political situation, but the warning for evil rulers resonated throughout the centuries and found a remarkable continuation in one of the novellas of the Baltic-German author Werner Bergengruen (1946).
One of the very few ‘rules’ that operate (almost) without exceptions in Old English prose and poetry is that in se-relatives, se is preceded by the preposition that governs it. In the entire Old English corpus, Mitchell (1985: §2244) finds only one counterexample in the Exeter Book Riddle 6, lines 7–8. In this relative clause, the preposition on governing the demonstrative þa that functions as both antecedent and relative is postposed. The present article suggests grouping the preposition on (7b) with the adverb feorran ‘far’ (8a) that immediately follows it and analysing the main verb of the relative clause as transitive. As a result, the relative clause follows the ‘rule’: the preposition on is no longer postposed, and the pronoun þa, which functions as a direct object in the principal and relative clauses, is assigned accusative by the main verbs of both clauses.
This article argues that the traditional etymology of Latin sāpō as a loanword from the Germanic words for ‘soap’ is phonologically not possible. Instead, it proposes a phonologically regular explanation: a loanword in both Germanic and Latin from the common Celtic-Germanic substrate (with Gaulish transmission in the case of Latin).
The sound changes of ‘breaking’ and ‘labial mutation’ in Old Frisian are often referred to as distinct and unrelated phenomena only having been subject to similar processes. In the study at hand, this view is revisited by taking into account arguments on the basis of Old Frisian syllable structure and the particular environments in which these changes arise. The findings suggest that both Old Frisian breaking and labial mutation are concatenations of very similar consecutive but independent changes. This article argues for a reinterpretation of the two processes as caused by the same core phonetic process which is in its essence a backness levelling phenomenon. The two proposed phonological rules governing this process cross-cut previous assumptions about the triggers of epenthesis and thus provide a better fit to the data than positing two unrelated changes does.
The identification of characters in some prophylactic runic inscriptions as representative not of their names or as loan words from other magic traditions but as abbreviations based on initial sounds of other early Germanic words not previously adduced in the interpretive context resolves problems associated with the signification and encoding practice of such Migration Age forms as alu, laukaz, and the stand-alone uses of the L- and N-runes.
This article presents evidence that Sal-Frankish had a word for ‘500’, sunde, which corresponds to the Roman numeral D, being half of M ‘1000’. With this analysis, the Sal-Frankish numbers become transparent, even the two higher values of the so-called chunnas. The neologism sunde was a back formation from tusunde ‘thousand’, which was analysed as tu ‘two’ + sunde ‘500’. This back formation was possible in the contact language Sal-Frankish for both segmental reasons (ongoing occlusion of [θ] to [t]) and stress, but not in Old Low Franconian, Old Middle Franconian, Old Saxon or OHG.
This article presents a corpus study of complex verb constructions in Old Dutch. A systematic search of the Old Dutch Corpus uncovers a set of fifteen complex verb constructions which all stack two auxiliaries (one finite and one nonfinite) on top of a main verb. The oldest and most frequent complex verb construction in the corpus is a future passive construction combining finite sullan ‘shall’ with nonfinite werthan ‘be’ and a past participle. The article discusses all fifteen complex verb constructions in detail and sketches the wider linguistic context in which they are found.
This short etymological note presents the North Germanic cognates of the ichthyonym houting ‘Coregonus oxyrinchus’, which in the Dutch etymological literature on the word have remained unnoticed. It is argued on the basis of Danish helt and related forms that the Proto-(Northwest-)Germanic reconstruction of this word can be set to *halti-.
Difficult etymologies in Germanic include that of *hanha- ‘horse’ and *hanhistaz / *hangistaz ‘stallion’. Reflections of the latter term are widely evidenced in the Old Germanic dialects while the former is attested onomastically on a late-fourth-century memorial from Burgundy and has also been claimed to be reflected in early runic epigraphy. Both terms appear to continue a remorphologised s-stem *hanhaz ~ *hangisō and have clear Celtic counterparts. The development in Germanic seems to reflect the prehistoric date of the loaning of the s-stem *hanhaz ~ *hangisō from Celtic.
The emergence of the German double present and past perfect (hat vergessen gehabt ‘has forgotten had’; ist gefahren gewesen ‘is gone been’ – hatte vergessen gehabt ‘had forgotten had’; war gefahren gewesen ‘was gone been’) is still widely debated. Some scholars consider the development of these constructions a result of the decline of the Präteritum, whereas others claim that these were formed as a consequence of the loss of the aspectual system and the reconstruction process of the verbal categories. In this article, the author argues that the development of these constructions is the result of the grammaticalization of the Perfekt as a ‘commentary tense’ in the 14th Century. The increased frequency of the present perfect prompted the reanalysis of the past participles of haben (gehabt) and sein (gewesen), which began to appear alongside the present perfect, creating new periphrastic constructions, including the double present and past perfects.