Very good letter, Keth!
I hereby declare it *recommended reading*
for the class;)
I'll write a few things about verbs too.
Don't worry if a lot of this seems way
too advanced; it is. But it doesn't hurt
to know the road ahead.
The Germanic languages (English and Norse
included) have four types of verbs.
1. Weak verbs.
Keth already treated those. They form their
preterite (past tense) with a dental suffix.
Their past participle is also formed with
a dental suffix.
call - called - (I have) called
kalla - kallaði - (ek hefi) kallað
2. Irregular verbs
Those don't follow any sensible pattern.
The major irregular verbs in Old Norse
are 'vera' and 'vilja'. I think the verb
'to be' is the only truly irregular verb
3. Preterite present verbs
Strange verbs those. Their present tense
conjugation behaves like it's past tense!
Some common verbs are like that.
he will (not *wills!)
4. Strong verbs
Those form their preterite with a sound change
called ABLAUT. The vowel changes and no dental
suffix is added. Their past participles are also
formed with ablaut.
sing - sang - sung
And sometimes English adds 'en' too.
break - broke - broken
There are six series of ablauts in Germanic
used in verbal conjugation.
The forms given for each verb are
'infinitive' - '1st person singular preterite'
- '1st person plural preterite' - 'past participle'
Old Norse: bíta - beit - bitum - bitit
rísa - reis - risum - risit
Old English: bítan - bát - biton - biten
rísan - rás - rison - risen
Chaotic English has treated those two verbs
in a different way.
bite - bit - bitten
rise - rose - risen
Old Norse: kjósa - kaus - kurum - korit
kljúfa - klauf - klufum - klofit
Old English: céosan - céas - curon - coren
cléofan - cléaf - clufon - clofen
Modern English made of this:
choose - chose - chosen
cleave - clove/cleft - cloven/cleft
Old Norse: drekka - drakk - drukkum - drukkit
binda - batt - bundum - bundit
Old English: drincan - dranc - druncon - druncen
bindan - band - bundon - bunden
Modern English: drink - drank - drunk
bind - bound - bound
Old Norse: bera - bar - bárum - borit
skera - skar - skárum - skorit
Old English: beran - bær - bæ:ron - boren
scieran - scear - scéaron - scoren
Modern English: bear - bore - borne
shear - sheared - shorn
Old Norse: gefa - gaf - gáfum - gefit
biðja - bað - báðum - beðit
Old English: giefan - geaf - géafon - giefen
biddan - bæd - bæ:don - beden
Modern English: give - gave - given
bid - bade - bidden
Old Norse: standa - stóð - stóðum - staðit
Old English: standan - stód - stódon - staden
Modern English: stand - stood - stood
And of course the most important thing to remember is:
NEVER CONFUSE ABLAUT WITH UMLAUT!