Exypnos explains: Grimm’s Law

Exypnos the cockerel

Exypnos the cockerel

Some consonants have changed in a systematic way between Greek (and Latin) and Germanic languages (of which English is a branch) – this is known as Grimm’s Law. In words which are derived (borrowed) from Greek the consonants remain unchanged, but in words which are cognate (derived from a common ancestor) they change as follows:

β = p  γ = c (k)  δ = t  θ = d  κ = h  π = f  τ = th  φ = b  χ = g

Here are some examples of words showing the shift in consonants:

Greek       Latin       English

γενος        genus      kin

δεκα         decem     ten

εδω           edo          I eat

πατηρ       pater       father

τρεις         tres          three

φερω        fero         I bear




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