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2nd Sound Shift or Grimm's law

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Mundart Press

Member since:
Sep 2013
Posts: 11

The Second Sound Shift ( also known as Grimm's Law [though perhaps more accurately Jakob Grimm and Rasmus Rask's Law]) is an important tool for Yiddish learners who already know English.
A text that details this sound shift for Yiddish may be readily available, but if it is I am unaware of its existence.
I have used Easy Ways to Enlarge Your German Vocabulary by Karl A. Schmidt as my template for this. In the very beginning of that book there is a chart that details the Second Sound Shift comparing words in English to their High German cognates (though the whole book is based on using this sound shift and the relationship between German and English). That book is less than $10 new as a Dover Paperback And this is the ISBN# 9780486230443 or originally ISBN # 0-486-23044-9.

Learning this phonetic shift can be very useful for learners of languages that have descended from Old High German and Middle (medieval) High German when those learners are already fluent or familiar with one variety or more of Low West Germanic languages (like English and Dutch) or North Germanic (Scandinavian) languages.

Since roughly 70% of Yiddish vocabulary comes from Middle High German, this is the portion of the vocabulary that this trick applies to.

I have attempted to create at least a temporary chart for Yiddish, below, that might hopefuly be improved with time (maybe even to include other spelling methods). It is very basic and I am no mean phonologist.





Partial Cognates

1. Consonant Relationship

     ב      :       b  (initial)          בעט(bed)


                     v  (medial)        זילבער (silver), האָבן (have), לעבער (liver), ראָב (raven), זיבן  

                     f   (final)            װײַב (wife), קאַלב (calf), האַלב (half)
     ג       :       y                        גאַרן (yarn), זאָגן (say), לײגן (lay), טאָג(day), װעג (way [in the                                 

                                               sense of highway, railway or walkway])  
                                               Regarding the past participle in גע like in געזונגען, Middle   

                                               English softened the g to a y (yesunge) and eventually
                                               lost the prefix completely to yield the modern English  

     ד       :      th                        באַדן (bathe), דיק (thick), דאָס that, דאַנקען (thank), דענקער 


     ט       :      d                         גאָט (God), גוט (good), זעלטן (seldom), טיף (deep), טױט

                                                (death), זײַט (side)

 כ or ך     :      k                        בוך (book), קוכן (cake), מילך (milk), מאַכן (make)

     כט      :      ght                      רעכט (right), ליכט (light), נאַכט (night), דאַכט (thought), מאַכט   

.                                                (might)                                                                         

 מ or  ם    :      mb (silent b)      לאַם (lamb), קאַם (comb), נומער (number)

 נ  or  ן    :      n                        גאַנדז (goose), פֿינף (five), שטערן (star), װינטשן (wish), צאַן

(retained)   (dropped)                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                                             ס and צ or ץ   :     t             דאָס (that), װאַסער (water), פֿוס (foot), הײס (hot), צװײ (two),

                                           זיצן (sit), האַס (hate), האַרץ (heart), צען (ten), װײץ(wheat)

                                                The Yiddish ט is protected by preceding consonants in   

                                                combinations like כט and שט and does not shift to ס, and צ 

                                                or ץfor examples :  ליכט (light), רעכט (right), שטײן (stone),

                                                שטאָל (steel)


 פּ (initial) :  b (initial)                                 

(sometimes before vowels)                              

                                                                                                                                                                                                            פֿ (initial)   :    p or pp             פֿונד (pound), פֿאַן (pan)

                                                                                                                                                                                                             פּ (medial) :    pp                    עפּל (apple), קופּער (copper) 

       פֿ        :     f  (initial)          פֿײַער (fire), פֿליג (fly), פֿאַלן(fall)                                                                                                                  

                   p (medial, final)    העלפֿן (help), אָפֿן (open), האָפֿן(hope)                                          

       ק       :   ch or c                  קירך (church), קאַמער (chamber), קעז (cheese), קיל (cool),

                                                 קולטור (culture)

       ש     :  sh (before vowels)   שאַרף (sharp), שיף (ship), שוך (shoe), שײַנען (shine), פֿיש 

               s (before consonants) שמיד (smith), שמירן (smear), שנײ (snow), שמוץ (smut),

                                                  שװאַלב (swallow [bird])


2. Vowel Relationship


Yiddish       (English)

         אַ       :       o                    אַלט (old), לאַנג (long), קאַם(comb)


         אָ        :       ea                  קלאָר (clear), יאָר (year), באָרד (beard), נאָענט (near)


         ױ        :       ou                  הױז (house), מױז (mouse), זױער (sour), אױס (out)


          ע        :        i                   לעבן (live), געבן(give), רעכט (right), שװעסטער(sister)


                  :        i                   מײַל (mile), מײַן(mine), װײַן(wine), װײַב (wife)


       ײor ע    :       o                   בײדע(both), הײם (home), שטײן(stone), מער (more)


           ײ       :       ea                  הײלן(heal), שװײס (sweat)


            י       :       ee                  ביר (beer), קני (knee), בין (bee)


           ױ       :       ea                  אױער(ear), טרױם(dream)


            ו       :       oo                 בוך(book), פֿוס(foot), שול (school)


            ו       :       ou                  יונג (young), סופּע (soup), גרופּע(group), רונדע (round)





 3. Misleading Cognates with Change in Meaning


      Many words though similar in form differ in meaning between the two languages.

Using the sound shift method can be helpful in vocabulary recognition, acquisition and retention, but unknown words should always also be looked up in the dictionaries for certainty.  


       Yiddish              English Meaning          English Cognate             


           בלום                    flower                           bloom                                                     


           הױזן                     pants                             hose


       שטרענג                     strict, severe                 strong


       שטערבן                     die                                starve                                                                                       


            בױם                     tree                               beam                                                                                  


            דאָך                     yet, still                         though                                                                                     

Edited by: Mundart Press on 26 Sep 2017, 12:09 pm