6

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

14

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The unsyncopated forms suchet, machet, saget were already outdated by the time Köne published his translation of the Old Saxon Heliand in 1855.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.

1
  • 4
    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). – Jörg W Mittag May 11 at 6:10
13

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.

2
  • 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 May 10 at 9:22
  • 2
    @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 May 11 at 9:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.