German Language Notes
Like many other pages here, this is mainly for my own information. It's stuff I like to refer to ever so often instead of trying to find it (again!) in a book.German Noun
I have this to get an overall look at the declensions of German nouns.
Old High German had these declensions:
The "normal" ending for masculine plural nouns is probably -e. These were probably mostly a-stems. About half of these take will take Umlaut if they can. These were probably ja- or i-stems.
Most masculines in -el, -en, or -er do not add -e to form a plural, but they had in the past and so are essentially in the same group as the above and have a "normal" ending. About twenty of these have a plural with an Umlaut: Acker, Apfel, Boden, Bogen, Bruder (actually an old ter-stem), Faden, Garten, Graben, Hafen, Hammer, Kasten, Laden, Mangel, Mantel, Nagel, Ofen, Sattel, Schnabel, Schwager, Vater (another ter-stem), Vogel.
There are some masculines in -¨er: Geist, Mund, Vormund, Gott, Rand, Wald, Irrtum, Reichtum, Wiking, Leib, Ski, Wurm, Mann, Strauch. Compounds with -mann often have -leute as a plural when talking about a group of people generally. But these will have -männer if referring to individuals: Seemänner/Seeleute
The "normal" feminine singular is in -e and the plural in -en. This is a new declension in New High German from the n- and ō-declensions. Some feminines do not have -e in the singular (die Arbeit/ die Arbeiten).
There are feminine plurals in New High German with -¨e. They come from various declensions, but perhaps most were i-stems: Angst, Axt, Bank, Braut, Brust, Faust, Frucht, Gans, Gruft, Hand, Haut, Kraft, Kuh, Kunst, Laus, Luft, Lust, Macht, Magd, Maus, Nacht, Naht, Not, Nuss, Sau, Schnur, Stadt, Wand, Wurst, Zunft.
Surprisingly, most neuters form their plurals in -e. Only one takes an Umlaut: das Floß/die Flöße
Only about 25% of neuters take -¨er. These are the s-stems. Many of them were not originally s-stems.[Other stuff that needs to be cleaned up]
It should be noted that much below makes more sense if one realizes that unstressed vowels in Old High German (OHG) often became e in MHG.
German has very little of the Indo-European declensional system left. There were five vocalic (or strong) declensions:
The weak declension (or consonantal) declensions included all three genders. By MHG, masculines and feminines had -e in the nominative singular and -en in all other forms. The neuter had -e in the nominative and accusative singular and -en in all other forms.
The monosyllabic stems were any gender. These were lost very early on and fell into the newer types above: die Nacht/die Nächte. Der Mann was also in this group but this word and some neuters fell into the type below.
The last type is surviving s-stems. This is the das Kalb/die Kälber type. The s became an r very early on in early OHG. Prokosch believes that the neuter nouns in this group ended up here from the a-stems because there was a distinction between the nominative singular and plural. Some masculines ended up here, too.
Old and Middle High German Compared Table
Here's the table I told myself I was not going to fool around with(!):
(Masculine or Neuter; corresponded to Latin and Greek o-stems)
Masculine or Feminine
|Gen. Sing.||-es||-es||-¨i||-¨e, -|
|Dat. Sing.||-e||-e||-¨i||-¨e, -|
Masculine, Feminine, or Neuter
These were almost all lost to other declensions even in the OHG period.
|Consonantal or Weak Declension|
Masculine, Feminine, or Neuter