Germanic Languages - Common Linguistic Features - Phonology - Table of Outcomes

Table of Outcomes

The following table shows the main outcomes of Proto-Germanic vowels and consonants in the various older languages. For vowels, only the outcomes in stressed syllables are shown. Outcomes in unstressed syllables are quite different, vary from language to language, and depend on a number of other factors, e.g. whether the syllable was medial or final, whether the syllable was open or closed, and (in some cases) whether the preceding syllable was light or heavy.


  • C- means before a vowel (word-initially, or sometimes after a consonant).
  • -C- means between vowels.
  • -C means after a vowel (word-finally or before a consonant). Word-final outcomes generally occurred after deletion of final short vowels (which occurred shortly after Proto-Germanic, and is reflected in the history of all written languages except for Proto-Norse).
  • The above three are given in the order C-, -C-, -C. If one is omitted, the previous one applies. For example, f, -- means that occurs after a vowel regardless of what follows.
  • Something like a(…u) means "a if /u/ occurs in the next syllable".
  • Something like a(n) means "a if /n/ immediately follows".
  • Something like (n)a means "a if /n/ immediately precedes".

Development of Germanic sounds
Proto-Germanic (Pre-)Gothic Old Norse Old English Old High German
a a a, ɔ(…u) æ, a(…a), a/o(n), æ̆ă(h,rC,lC) a
a(…i) e, ø(…u) e, æ, ĭy̆(h,rC,lC) e, a(hs,ht,Cw)
ãː(…i) æ äː
æː eː, ɛː(V) æː, æa(h)
æː(…i) æː æː äː
e i, ɛ(h,hʷ,r) ja, jø(…u), (w,r,l)e, (w,r,l)ø(…u) e, ĕŏ(h,w,rC) e, i(…u)
e(…i) i, y(…w) i i
eː, ɛː(V) ie
i i, ɛ(h,hʷ,r) i, y(…w) i, ĭŭ(h,w,rC) i
iː, iu(h)
oː, ɔː(V) uo
oː(…i) øː üö
u u, ɔ(h,hʷ,r) u, o(…a) u, o(…a) u, o(…a)
u(…i) y y ü
uː, ɔː(V)
uː(…i) üː
ai ai ei, ey(…w), aː(h,r) ei, eː(r,h,w,#)
ai(…i) ei, æː(h,r) æː
au au au, oː(h) æa ou, oː(h,T)
au(…i) ey, øː(h) iy öü, öː(h,T)
eu iu juː, joː(T) eo io, iu(…i/u)
eu(…i) iy
p p p p pf-, -ff-, -f
t t t t ts-, -ss-, -s
k k k k, tʃ(i,e,æ)-, -k-, -(i)tʃ-, -tʃ(i)- k-, -xx-, -x
kv, -k kw-, -k-, -(i)tʃ-, -tʃ(i)- kw-, -xx-, -x
b-, -- b-, --, -f b-, -- b-, --, -f b
d-, -- d-, --, -þ d-, -- d t
-, -- g-, --, - g-, -- g-, j(æ,e,i)-, --, -j(æ,e,i)-, -(æ,e,i)j- g
f f f, -- f, --, -f f
þ þ þ, -- þ, --, -þ d
x h h, -∅- h, -∅-, -h h
xv, -∅- hw, -∅-, -h hw, -h-
s s s-, -- s-, --, -s ṣ-, --, -ṣ
z -z-, -s r -r-, -∅ -r-, -∅
r r r r r
l l l l l
n n n-, -∅(s,p,t,k), -∅ n, -∅(f,s,þ) n
m m m m m
j j ∅-, -j-, -∅ j j
w w ∅-, v-(a,e,i), -v-, -∅ w w

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