From Glottopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ablaut is a process by which an inflected form of a word is formed by changing the vowel of the base. In the narrower sense, Ablaut refers to the system of root vowel alternations in Proto-Indo-European and its daughter languages.


in English it is possible to derive the past tense of strong verbs by substituting the base vowel by another vowel: get : got, sing :sang and fall :fell.

Ablaut in Proto-Indo-European

There existed the following variants or "grades" of ablaut:

The results of this alternation can be seen in the following related words of modern English (listed in the same order as the above grades): sit, sat, seat, soot, nest; and also in the English strong verb system.



The term ablaut was borrowed from German Ablaut, coinded by Jacob Grimm in the early part of the 19th century.

Other languages

French métaphonie
German Ablaut (de)


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Bloomfield 1933. Language, Holt, New York.
  • Halle, M. & K.P. Mohanan 1985. Segmental phonology of Modern English, Linguistic Inquiry 16, pp. 57-116
  • Scalise, S. 1984. Generative Morphology, Foris, Dordrecht.
  • Spencer, A. 1991. Morphological Theory, Blackwell, Oxford.