Johannes lehret und taufet. (Matth.3,1-2 u. Mark.1,4-8 u. Luk.3,2-3)

Why taufet and lehret, not tauft and lehrt?

Source: heading before line 860

2 Answers 2


The development of the German language has been characterised by a weakening of unstressed syllables (Nebensilbenabschwächung). Looking at the 3rd person singular present indicative, Old High German suohhit⁠ – mahhot⁠ – saget became suochet – machet ⁠– saget, with reduction of the vowel to Schwa. Later, the vowel was syncopated, yielding New High German sucht⁠ – macht ⁠– sagt.

The unsyncopated forms suchet, machet, saget were already outdated by the time Köne published his translation of the Old Saxon Heliand in 1855. Using these forms in the translation is a deliberate choice; it conveys the age of the original and makes the translation sound solemn. In the comments Köne uses the modern forms: erscheint, bewahrt, zeigt, etc.

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    It can also still be used today, as a creative / stylistic choice, or simply to fit a meter in a poem or song (IMO "sa-get" sounds better than "sa-hagt", for example). Commented May 11, 2021 at 6:10

Same reason why it's "thou shalt not steal" and not "you shall not steal" in English. Just an archaic form of language that's still often used in religious texts.

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    Religious texts are not necessarily archaic, in most cases it was probably modern when they were written or translated. But in some cases the archaic may be intentional.
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 9:22
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    @RalfFriedl not updating them because "that's how they aways sounded" is more or less intentional and I think that was what he was getting at. David: perfect example with the thou, it really is the exact same idea/bundle of reasons
    – Hobbamok
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 9:09

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