THE QUESTION OF I-UMLAUT 359
Norse short stem words like the Class III weak verbs, i-umlaut com-
monly failed to take place.
For the second hypothesis it may be argued that the evidence of
such verbs as trúa, una, duga, þola and þora where the i-umlaut has
survived into Modern Icelandic, might suggest that in the most com-
mon verbs the preterite optative was most likely to be used and there-
fore the umlaut most likely to be preserved. It is also possible to point
to gá, horfa and skorta, where the umlaut appears to have been lost,
and maintain that they reflect the typical development from Old Norse
into Modern Icelandic. In addition it must also be kept in mind that
the preterite optative of weak verbs has changed from Old Norse to
Modern Icelandic in the same way as the preterite optative of the
strong verbs; i.e. the lst person singular now ends with -i (e.g. vekti,
yndi), whereas the plural forms have adopted the same endings as the
preterite indicative (i.e. -um, -uð, -u).
The major obstacle in coming to any conclusion about this problem
is clearly the lack of evidence for Old Norse. It is not that all the nec-
essary information doesn't exist, it is simply inaccessible. Nearly all
editions of Old Norse texts are either normalized in their spelling or
based on a very small portion of the existent manuscripts. A prose or a
verse concordance, which would be the ideal key in a study of this
kind, is unfortunately not to be expected in the near future, and until
this situation improves it is difficult to see how the extent of i-umlaut
in the preterite optative of this class of verbs in Old Norse can be de-
termined conclusively. In the meantime, however, there is every rea-
son to caution against those handbooks that only give one or two ex-
amples of umlauted preterite optative forms (like 'vekða' for in-
stance), and thus lead the reader to conclude that they are typical
representatives of the Class III weak verbs in Old Norse.
Flasdieck, H.M., 'Untersuchungen úber die germanischen schwachen Verben
III. Klasse unter besonderer Beriicksichtigung des Altenglischen', Anglia,
lix, 1935, 1-192.
Gordon, E.V., An Introduction to Old Norse, Oxford 1927.
Halldór Halldórsson, íslenzk málfrði handa æðri skólum, Rvík 1950.