Grimm’s Law | Grimm’s Law Examples

Grimm's Law
Grimm’s Law
“Grimm’s Law” is discovered by the great German linguist Jacob Grimm, who was a Philo gist, jurist, and folklorist. His full name was Jacob Ludwing Karl Grimm.”

Grimm’s Law:-

                                    It shows the systematic relation between consonants in other Indo-European languages stating what phonetic changes took place. It also shows that changes in a language and groups of languages come about gradually and not as a result of random word changes. This change was first formulated as a law by one German philologist named Jacob Grimm in 1822. The law formula led by Grimm has been named after him and is hence familiarly known in the History of English as ‘Grimm’s Law.’

            Grimm discovered certain correspondences between some consonant sounds occurring in the words of the classical language like Sanskrit Latin and Greek and those of Teutonic languages like English and Gothic. Grimm stated that there is the regular shifting of particular series of Indo-Germanic consonant sounds in Teutonic. To illustrate these sound shifting we can take words from the classical language like Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek as representative of the Indo-European consonant system that is best preserved in these languages. Words from old English or modern English or Gothic may be taken to represent the Teutonic Sound.

On the basis of change, we can divide it into three parts:

  • Indo-European voiced aspirated stop sounds ‘bh’, ‘gh’, and ‘dh’, become shifted in Teutonic to corresponding voiced stop sounds ‘b’, ‘g’, and ‘d’ that means:-
  • Indo-European voiced aspirated stops sounds ‘bh’ becomes Teutonic ‘b’.

Example –

Indo-European (Sanskrit) Modern English (Teutonic)
Bharata        Brother
  • Again Indo European ‘gh’ becomes Teutonic ‘g’

Example –

Indo-European (Sanskrit) Modern English (Teutonic)
   Stigh             Stig
  • Again Indo European ‘dh’ becomes Teutonic ‘d’

Example –

Indo-European (Sanskrit)   Modern English (Teutonic)
 Madhya  Middle
  •  The Indo-European voice stop sounds ‘b’, ‘d’, and ‘g’ are shifted in Teutonic to the corresponding voiceless sounds ‘p’, ‘t’, and ‘k’ that means: –
  • Indo-European ‘b’ becomes Teutonic ‘p’


Indo-European     Gothic
  Lurbricus      Sliupan

Indo-European‘ d’ becomes Teutonic ‘t’

Example –

Svadu      Sweet

Again Indo-European ‘g’ becomes Teutonic ‘k’

                  Example –

Latin  Gothic   Modern English
  • Indo-European voiceless stops sounds ‘p’, ‘t’, and ‘k’ become shifted in Teutonic to the corresponding voiceless open sounds ‘f’, ‘th’, and ‘h’
  • Indo-European ‘p’ becomes Teutonic ‘f’

Example –

Sanskrit  English
Pancha Five
  • Indo-European‘ t’ becomes Teutonic ‘th’

Example –


Another example –


Indo-European ‘k’ becomes Teutonic ‘h’

Example –


Grimm’s Law, however, did not operate under certain circumstances.

If Indo-European ‘p’ or ‘k’ happened to be followed by ‘t’ the ‘t’ remained unchanged so that from the combination of ‘pt’, and ‘kt’ we have in Teutonic ‘ft’, and ‘ht’. Again by an ‘s’ in Indo-European, the combinations remained unchanged in Teutonic.

Example –  

Sanskrit   Old English


      Thus, we see that after the formulation of Grimm’s law, it was found that there were certain apparent exceptions to it. In a pair of words like Latin ‘Centum’ and hundreds the correspondence between the ‘c’ (k) and ‘h’ was according to Grimm’s Law – but, there was no such correspondence between the ‘t’ of certain and ‘d’ of hundred.

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