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English 'th' corresponds to German 'd', as can be seen from words such as "three"-"drei", "thick"-"dick", "thin"-"dünn", "this"-"das", "that"-"dass", "there"-"da", "bath"-"Bad", "thirst"-"Durst", "thank"-"danken", and so on.

However, in Proto-Germanic, the present singular 3rd person ending was "-th", yet the German third-person singular present ending is -t, rather than -d. Why?

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  • Hi FlatAssembler! You might be interested in reading this: german.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1625/…
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Apr 22 at 17:11
  • "why?"-questions are very hard to answer when you're not a contemporary speaker of proto-germanic during the change....
    – tofro
    Commented Apr 22 at 17:11
  • @JonathanScholbach Well, my question is fairly similar to my previous two questions, both of which were relatively well-received. Commented Apr 22 at 17:14
  • German das is primarily English that, not this, (subject to exceptions in idiomatic usage).
    – phoog
    Commented May 14 at 15:22

2 Answers 2

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yet the German third-person singular present ending is -t, rather than -d. Why?

There you have your answer. It's an ending, and because of Auslautverhärtung the common way to treat an ending -d is to speak it as -t anyways. It makes little sense to change the writing to -d but then speak it as before.

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  • For example the word "Zwang" was written "zwanc" in Middle High German because they wrote phonetically back then. And because the spoke it with a "k" (not a "g") at the end they also wrote it that way.
    – bakunin
    Commented Apr 25 at 8:45
  • Yeah, but nowadays -ng is a consonant on its own [ŋ] that isn't subject to Auslautverhärtung. If you want the latter, you have to write -nk as in Fink for example. That's -[ŋk].
    – Janka
    Commented Apr 25 at 14:01
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Corollary to my first question here, it seems that I perceive dufte as /duf.de/ "good" but Duft /duft/ "fragrance". This is conducive to @Janka's answer about Auslautverhärtung.

The most striking case is Stadt "city" as opposed to -statt "stead", and as far as final *th is concerned Stab "staff". Deriving from stabulum is irrelevant because -()ulum ultimately goes back to *trom, **dhlom-, e.g. girth, girdle, German Gurt, Gürtel. As you can see, and more examples corroborate, this goes all the way back and forth to PIE. Safe to say it's poorly understood.

Take care, mach'n Gurt rum.

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