Etymology of does, did, done

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Gale_, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Gale_

    Gale_ Member

    One more stupid question! )
    I've asked about it in another thread which relates to the history of Russian, but I think that it's a special theme.
    There is the verb do in English. It has different forms for the Present Tense 3d person singular (does), the Past Tense (did) and Participle II (done).
    I'm very interested where its endings -es, -d and -ne have come from.
    I can suppose that -es might have some relation to is (maybe I'm wrong of course).
    But I have no ideas about -d (or -id?) and -ne.
    And what about such forms as would, could, had?
    Has -d in them come from did, or it's just of the same origin as -d in did?
    Please excuse me, if it was already discussed somewhere - I've found nothing similar.
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    These are basically regular endings: allowing for minor phonetic changes, do+s, do+ed, do+en. Of these, -en is the regular past participle ending from PIE, as in taken, broken, seen, and many others.

    The third singular ending -s replaced older -eth in about 1600; the old ending was the regular inheritance from PIE, and -s is a bit mysterious: it might indeed come from is, which doesn't contain the ending. Is is from the stem of the PIE verb for "be"; it long ago lost the PIE -t ending (later English -th, German -t).

    The origin of the Germanic weak past tense ending -ed is also unknown, and one possibility is that it does come from the verb do tacked on. Modern forms without the -e- (had, would) are just spelling vagaries or they're relics of an early loss of the vowel, but it's all essentially the same ending.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  3. Gale_

    Gale_ Member

    Thank you, entangledbank!
    Is it something like did=do+do?
    About did I've found only this:
    It's from Wiktionary.
    dedǭ resembles do+do, but do they really relate to each other?
    Did you mean that?

    Well, maybe there is a loss of the vowel, but I meant that: has -d (or -ed) in had, would, could appeared from did+have, did+will, did+can or it's from the same origin as in did?
    i.e. if the "do tacked on" version is right, then did=do+do, had=do+have, could=do+can and would=do+will?
    And if it's not do (which was added) then it's interesting what it could be. Really I wonder about its sense.

    The same about -en. Even if it's come from PIE, does anybody know what semantic shade its origin had? Maybe it was some word with some meaning like that example with "not=nā + wiht" where as I get -t has come from wiht?
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  4. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    The other way round:

    • The sg.3 ending -s is a shortening of -es. Do and go have preserved the <e>, other verbs have lost it.
    • The weak preterite ending -ed is derived from the preterite of do, i.e. he takled literally means he talk-did. This was a Germanic innovation to form the preterite of verbs lacking an inherited, strong preterite.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  5. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    This reduplication with e vowel in between was a stative aspect marker in PIE and the Germanic preterite is derived from the PIE stative (source).
    They are all weak verbs, i.e. had is derived from a form that originally meant have-did, would=will-did and could=can-did. Can and will and also shall and may (an one or two hand-full of others) are very special: They existed only as stative verbs in PIE and hence have no "real" present tense in Germanic (the Germanic present tense is derived from a form of the PIE eventive aspect). Instead, the preterite (the reflex of the PIE stative) acquired present tense meaning (that's why we say he will and not he *wills, because formally it is past tense) and they needed a new past tense form.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  6. Gale_

    Gale_ Member

    Thank you, berndf!
    Seems that it's such a detective story as that one with our l-participles )
    I would never guess that will is past tense indeed!
    Time isn't a simple thing.
  7. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    It could only be understood once you knew that the PIE "perfect" (now called "stative") didn't express tense at all but aspect.
  8. Gale_

    Gale_ Member

    I see it now )
  9. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    Moderator note: Beginning of a new threads that has been merged with the existing one about the same topic.

    In The Language Instinct, Pinker says that past tenses in English were probably originally something like 'he hammer-did' (he hammered). The -ed past tense marker of regular verbs in the simple past in English today probably descended from this form, according to Pinker.

    Does anyone know anything about the stage of English where the past tense had a form like 'he hammer-did'?

    Thank you :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2013
  10. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    There is no stage in English, or indeed in Germanic, where people actually said “he hammer did” or words to that effect. This theory (which is wide-spread, but not uncontested) concerns the hypothetical reconstruction of proto-Germanic.
  11. SomeMagyar New Member

    English - Canada
    I've read on 'Wiktionary' that the Germanic past tense (realised in English as -ed) is related to the Latin suffix '-atus'. Unfortunately, I cannot provide the link as I am a new member.

    The similarity can be seen when comparing the present perfect form of Spanish to the Germanic past tense:
    He visitado
    I have visited

    Furthermore, the simple past in Hungarian also uses a very similar form to denote the past, by adding a 't' onto the root of the verb. The similarity, of course, may merely be a coincidence, since Hungarian is not related to Indo-European languages; however, if it is a grammatical element borrowed from Indo-European languages then that would imply that this past tense - denoted by terminating a verb with a dental sound - is not new to the Germanic languages, and is an old feature of Indo-European languages in general.
  12. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Or should we say pre-proto-Germanic as the development of the Germanic weak conjugation is assumed completed already in proto-Germanic.

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