Re: [tied] Re: OE *picga

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 16507
Date: 2002-10-24

----- Original Message -----
From: Richard Wordingham
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2002 2:14 PM
Subject: [tied] Re: OE *picga

> Summonsing *Frocga and *Stagga might be difficult. Onions (Oxford Etymological Dictionary) cites only 'frogga', and dates the 'stag' word to the 12th century, consistently asterisking it as OE. It's a shame if <gg> also represents [ddZ], otherwise <cg> ~ <gg> would have convinced me of [gg]. Is there a marked frequency difference depending on the Modern English development?

It's free variation, as far as I can see, just like there being no orthographic contrast between /k/ and /tS/ in Old English. Either spelling may easily correspond to either pronunciation, although <cg> (or, to be pedantic, <c3> with a yogh) was generally preferred to <gg> (<33>) by the Anglo-Saxon scribes, perhaps for the sake of better legibility or for some obscure aesthetic reason. <gg> is found especially in the earliest texts, and just occasionally in later ones. Other known varians include <cgg> and, rarely, <gc> and <gcg>. Scribes just have their whims and fashions (cf. the obligatory Modern English spelling <ck> rather than <cc> or <kk>).

> Alternative witnesses will be required, such as Frogga, Hogg (a.k.a. Hocg), Earwicga ('earwig') and Sceacga (>'shag', rough wool etc - not the bird until much later, if it be the same word. The basic meaning seems to be 'projecting bit').

Did you say Hogg? All right, he will testify. Here is what Richard Hogg says in _A Grammar of Old English [Vol.1: Phonology]_ (1992, Oxford: Blackwell):

"Naturally [gg], which was undoubtedly a geminate stop, could only arise by processes other than WGmc gemination, since [gg] by that process develops as /dZ/. The problem is that the words which contain [gg] are not only of dubious etymology but are also members of a clear semantic set, largely animal pet-names, such as _docga_ 'dog', _frogga_ 'frog', *_picga_ 'pig', *_stagga_ 'stag' [here the scribal variation is Hocg's... sorry, Hogg's own], _sugga_ 'sparrow', _wicga_ 'earwig'. As such, the status of [gg] is rather less clear than it might be, since it would seem to have some phonaesthetic force..."

He also notes that <sceacga> is possibly a borrowing from ON (though one wonders why we have <shag> rather than +<skag> then).

> Is the expressive gemination of voiced consonants OE, Germanic or Scandinavian (cf Swedish sugga 'sow')? Moreover, what is being geminated in Frogga & co? <-gga>/<-cga> looks like a word-
classifying suffix, akin to '-er' in German animal words. My problem is that the England's Danes are plausibly accused of hardening a lot of OE 'soft' consonants, so when my OE textbook (Quirk & Wrenn) says <cg> is as 'dg' in 'judge', I am inclined to believe it.

It's OE in these words, but there are similar tendencies throughout Germanic (plus analogies in Greek, Latin and Celtic). To form a hypocorism, take a word and truncate it (if you think it's too long), leaving only the initial syllable and the onset of the second; you may geminate the latter, and if you manipulate its phonation in the process, or mutilate what used to be a cluster, nobody will mind; finally, add weak-noun inflections. "What is your name, boy? Wulfhere? That sounds too serious; we shall call you Wuffa." The operation of the process is easy to see in <frox, frosc> -> <frogga>.

Quirk and Wrenn are, shall I say, statistically correct, since the vast majority of <cg> ~ <gg> words in OE have the palatalised pronunciation, and the exceptions are either expressive or possibly of foreign origin.

> How about OE *pigg, in the light of OE picbre:d 'swine food'?

Indecisive. If a "pig" is really hiding in this word, it may have been *<picga>, since the stem suffix of weak nouns was commonly lost in compounds (cf. <gumcynn>).


PS. There's