Grimm's Law Today

Grimm's Law was the first sound law discovered, a systematic change in sounds as an accent changes. It was named for Jakob Grimm (of the Brothers Grimm), who discovered the shift. It's the reason why the /p/ in Latin words correspond with /f/ in English: fish ~ piscis ; foot ~ pod ; father ~ pater. Stop consonants like /p/ weakened in Germanic languages.

What if Grimm's Law were to happen again in the English language? What would we wind up with? Here are some examples for each of the consonant changes that Grimm's Law would affect:

  1. [t] > [θ] tree --> three ; tight --> thight ; teach --> theach
  2. [p] > [ɸ] pit --> fit ; pray --> fray ; pay --> fay
  3. [k] > [x] kill --> hill ; king --> hing ; courteous --> hourteous
  4. [b] > [p] breach --> preach ; bog --> pog ; brother --> prother
  5. [d] > [t] death --> teath ; dentist --> tentist ; dream --> tream
  6. [g] > [k] gold --> kold ; game --> kame ; giver --> kiver