Print

Print


Hello!

On 10/11/06, Steven Williams <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Recently having written a brief paper for my German
> Composition class on the usage of the German
> second-person pronouns 'du' and 'Sie', I've been
> curious as of late as to the etymology of the verbs
> 'duzen' and 'siezen'.
>
> At first, I thought they were worn-down compounds with
> 'tun' — something like *du tun and *Sie tun, but for a
> number of reasons, I realized that was probably wrong
> — for one, a couple of German sound laws would have to
> be violated to make this work; and two, *du tun and
> *Sie tun sound _really_ stupid in German.

Yes, the "tun" forms do sound stupid, but since when has *that* ever
stopped anyone? ;-)

> Can anyone shed some light on this?

According to Kluge's etymological dictionary, the verbs _duzen_ and
_siezen_ (as well as _erzen_ und _ihrzen_, which I'd never encountered
before, probably because _Er_ and _Ihr_ are rarely used as forms of
address nowadays) contain a suffix _-zen_, which had the three
variants _-azzen_, _-ezzen_, and _-izzen_ in Old High German and may
or may not have been formed under the influence of Latin _tuisare_
("duzen"). So, it's somewhat mysterious even to the experts, but at
least there's a theory...

Come to think of it: Finnish _sinutella_ "duzen" looks like a regular
verbal derivation of the oblique stem of the 2sg pronoun (_sinä_ ->
_sinu-_ + _-tellA_, familiar from other verbs such as _ajatella_
"to think" or _opetella_ "to learn, study"). But _teititellä_ "siezen"
isn't quite so straightforward... It, too, contains the suffix
_-tellA_, and the first syllable looks like the oblique stem of the
2pl pronoun (_te_ -> _tei-_), but where does that _ti_ in the middle
come from? :-/

Regards,
			Julia 8-)

-- 
   Julia Simon (Schnecki) -- Sprachen-Freak vom Dienst
_@"  schnecki AT iki DOT fi / helicula AT gmail DOT com  "@_
si hortum in bybliotheca habes, deerit nihil
                                        (M. Tullius Cicero)