chapter  12
The forms of German
Pages 17

IE. *dhogh-o-s, Gmc. *dag-a-z: Goth. dag-s, ON. dag-r, OE. dlEg, OHG. tag.

The Germanic languages have tended to reverse this process. The Latin verb amabor expresses the basic meaning and the various grammatical categories in a single word; the word group I shall be loved fulfils the same function in English. Latin, we say, is a synthetic language, English an analytical one. This tendency towards analytical expression goes hand in hand with a steady reduction in the number of inflected forms; the fewer surviving forms, supported by such

functional words as prepositions and auxiliary verbs, express meaning equally well. At the same time distinctions between the different declensions or conjugations have been reduced, and smaller categories, with only a few words in each, have been absorbed into the larger ones. In German, for example, the weak conjugation has absorbed a number of verbs which once were strong; and it continues to expand with the addition of new verbs.