Gothic is an extinct East Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus , a sixth-century copy of a fourth-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable text corpus. All others, including Burgundian and Vandalic, are known, if at all, only from proper names that survived in historical accounts, and from loanwords in other languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, and French.
As a Germanic language, Gothic is a part of the Indo-European language family. It is the earliest Germanic language that is attested in any sizable texts, but it lacks any modern descendants. The oldest documents in Gothic date back to the fourth century. The language was in decline by the mid-sixth century, partly because of the military defeat of the Goths at the hands of the Franks, the elimination of the Goths in Italy, and geographic isolation (in Spain the Gothic language lost its last and probably already declining function as a church language when the Visigoths converted to Catholicism in 589). The language survived as a domestic language in the Iberian peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal) as late as the eighth century. Gothic-seeming terms are found in manuscripts subsequent to this date, but these may or may not belong to the same language. In particular, a language known as Crimean Gothic survived in the lower Danube area and in isolated mountain regions in Crimea, apparently as late as the early 18th century; Crimean Gothic is generally, but not universally, accepted as a lineal descendant of Gothic.
The existence of such early attested texts makes it a language of considerable interest in comparative linguistics.
History and evidence
Only a few documents in Gothic survive, not enough for completely reconstructing the language. Most Gothic corpora are translations or glosses of other languages (namely, Greek), so foreign linguistic elements most certainly influenced the texts. These are the primary sources:
- The largest body of surviving documentation consists of codices written and commissioned by the Arian bishop Ulfilas (Wulfila, 311â€“382), the leader of a community of Visigothic Christians in the Roman province of Moesia (modern Bulgaria / Romania). He commissioned a translation of the Greek Bible into the Gothic language, of which roughly three-quarters of the New Testament and some fragments of the Old Testament have survived. The Ulfilas translations are collected in the following codices:
- The best-preserved Gothic manuscript and dating from the sixth century, it was preserved and transmitted by northern Ostrogoths in modern Italy. It contains a large part of the four Gospels. Since it is a translation from Greek, the language of the Codex Argenteus is replete with borrowed Greek words and Greek usages. The syntax in particular is often copied directly from the Greek.
- It contains scattered passages from the New Testament (including parts of the Gospels and the Epistles), of the Old Testament ( Nehemiah), and some commentaries known as Skeireins . The text likely had been somewhat modified by copyists.
- A scattering of old documents: alphabets, calendars, glosses found in a number of manuscripts and a few runic inscriptions (between three and 13) that are known or suspected to be Gothic: Some scholars believe that these inscriptions are not at all Gothic. Several names in an Indian inscription were thought to be possibly Gothic by Krause.
- A small dictionary of more than 80 words and a song without translation, compiled by the Fleming Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, the Habsburg ambassador to the court of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul from 1555 to 1562, who was curious to find out about the language and by arrangement met two speakers of Crimean Gothic and listed the terms in his compilation Turkish Letters : These terms date from nearly a millennium later than Ulfilas, so are not representative of his language. Busbecq's material also contains many puzzles and enigmas and is difficult to interpret in the light of comparative Germanic linguistics.
Reports of the discovery of other parts of Ulfilas' Bible have not been substantiated. Heinrich May in 1968 claimed to have found in England 12 leaves of a palimpsest containing parts of the Gospel of Matthew.
Only fragments of the Gothic translation of the Bible have been preserved. The translation was apparently done in the Balkans region by people in close contact with Greek Christian culture. The Gothic Bible apparently was used by the Visigoths in Iberia until about 700 AD, and perhaps for a time in Italy, the Balkans, and Ukraine. In exterminating Arianism, many texts in Gothic were probably expunged and overwritten as palimpsests or collected and burned. Apart from Biblical texts, the only substantial Gothic document that still exists and the only lengthy text known to have been composed originally in the Gothic language, is the Skeireins , a few pages of commentary on the Gospel of John.
Very few secondary sources make reference to the Gothic language after about 800. In De incrementis ecclesiae Christianae (840/2), Walafrid Strabo, a Frankish monk who lived in Swabia, speaks of a group of monks, who reported that "even now certain peoples in Scythia ( Dobrudja), especially around Tomis spoke a sermo Theotiscus ('Germanic language'), the language of the Gothic translation of the Bible, and they used such a liturgy.
In evaluating medieval texts that mention the Goths, many writers used the word Goths to mean any Germanic people in eastern Europe (such as the Varangians), many of whom certainly did not use the Gothic language as known from the Gothic Bible. Some writers even referred to Slavic -speaking people as Goths. However, it is clear from Ulfilas' translation that despite some puzzles the language belongs with the Germanic language group, not with Slavonic.
The relationship between the language of the Crimean Goths and Ulfilas's Gothic is less clear. The few fragments of Crimean Gothic from the 16th century show significant differences from the language of the Gothic Bible although some of the glosses, such as ada for "egg", could indicate a common heritage, and Gothic mena ("moon"), compared to Crimean Gothic mine , can suggest an East Germanic connection.
Generally, the Gothic language refers to the language of Ulfilas, but the attestations themselves are largely from the 6th century, long after Ulfilas had died. The above list is not exhaustive, and a more extensive list is available on the website of the Wulfila project.
Alphabet and transliteration
Ulfilas's Gothic, as well as that of the Skeireins and various other manuscripts, was written using an alphabet that was most likely invented by Ulfilas himself for his translation. Some scholars (such as Braune) claim that it was derived from the Greek alphabet only while others maintain that there are some Gothic letters of Runic or Latin origin.
This Gothic alphabet has nothing to do either with blackletter (also called Gothic script ), which was used to write the Latin script from the 12th to 14th centuries and evolved into the Fraktur writing later used to write German or with the sans-serif type fonts sometimes called "Gothic".
A standardized system is used for transliterating Gothic words into the Latin script. The system mirrors the conventions of the native alphabet, such as writing long /iË�/ as ei . The Goths used their equivalents of e and o alone only for long higher vowels, using the digraphs ai and au (much as in French) for the corresponding short or lower vowels. There are two variant spelling systems: a "raw" one that directly transliterates the original Gothic script and a "normalized" one that adds diacritics ( macrons and acute accents) to certain vowels to clarify the pronunciation or, in certain cases, to indicate the Proto-Germanic origin of the vowel in question. The latter system is usually used in the academic literature.
The following table shows the correspondence between spelling and sound for vowels:
| Gothic letter |
| Roman |
| "Normalised" |
|Sound|| Normal environment of occurrence |
(in native words)
| Paradigmatically alternating sound |
in other environments
|Ä�||/aË�/||Before /h/ , /hÊ·/||Does not occur||/Ã£Ë�/ (before /h/ )|
|ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹||ai||aÃ||/É›/||Before /h/ , /hÊ·/ , /r/||i /i/||/e/ , /i/|
|ai||/É›Ë�/||Before vowels||Ä“ /eË�/||/É›Ë�/ , /eË�/|
|Ã¡i||/É›Ë�/||Not before vowels||aj /aj/||/É‘i/|
|ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¿||au||aÃº||/É”/||Before /h/ , /hÊ·/ , /r/||u /u/||/u/|
|au||/É”Ë�/||Before vowels||Å� /oË�/||/É”Ë�/|
|Ã¡u||/É”Ë�/||Not before vowels||aw /aw/||/É‘u/|
|ğ�Œ´||e||Ä“||/eË�/||Not before vowels||ai /É›Ë�/||/É›Ë�/ , /eË�/|
|ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹||ei||ei||/iË�/||Everywhere||â€”||/iË�/ ; /Ä©Ë�/ (before /h/ )|
|ğ�Œ¹||i||i||/i/||Everywhere except before /h/ , /hÊ·/ , /r/||aÃ /É›/||/e/ , /i/|
|ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¿||iu||iu||/iu/||Not before vowels||iw /iw/||/eu/ (and its allophone [iu] )|
|ğ��‰||o||Å�||/oË�/||Not before vowels||au /É”Ë�/||/É”Ë�/|
|ğ�Œ¿||u||u||/u/||Everywhere except before /h/ , /hÊ·/ , /r/||aÃº /É”/||/u/|
|Å«||/uË�/||Everywhere||â€”||/uË�/ ; /Å©Ë�/ (before /h/ )|
- This "normalised transliteration" system devised by Jacob Grimm is used in some modern editions of Gothic texts and in studies of Common Germanic. It signals distinctions not made by Ulfilas in his alphabet. Rather, they reflect various origins in Proto-Germanic. Thus,
- aÃ is used for the sound derived from the Proto-Germanic short vowels e and i before /h/ and /r/ .
- Ã¡i is used for the sound derived from the Proto-Germanic diphthong ai . Some scholars have considered this sound to have remained as a diphthong in Gothic. However, Ulfilas was highly consistent in other spelling inventions, which makes it unlikely that he assigned two different sounds to the same digraph. Furthermore, he consistently used the digraph to represent Greek Î±Î¹ , which was then certainly a monophthong. A monophthongal value is accepted by Eduard Prokosch in his influential A Common Germanic Grammar . It had earlier been accepted by Joseph Wright but only in an appendix to his Grammar of the Gothic Language .
- ai is used for the sound derived from the Common Germanic long vowel Ä“ before a vowel.
- Ã¡u is used for the sound derived from Common Germanic diphthong au . It cannot be related to a Greek digraph, since Î±Ï… then represented a sequence of vowel+spiral ( fricative) consonant, which Ulfilas transcribed as ( aw in "normalised transcription") in representing Greek words. Nevertheless, the argument based on simplicity is accepted by some influential scholars.
- The "normal environment of occurrence" refers to native words. In foreign words, these environments are often greatly disturbed. For example, the short sounds /É›/ and /i/ alternate in native words in a nearly allophonic way, with /É›/ occurring in native words only before the consonants /h/ , /hÊ·/ , /r/ while /i/ occurs everywhere else (nevertheless, there are a few exceptions such as /i/ before /r/ in hiri , /É›/ consistently in the reduplicating syllable of certain past-tense verbs regardless of the following consonant, which indicate that these sounds had become phonemicized). In foreign borrowings, however, /É›/ and /i/ occur freely in all environments, reflecting the corresponding vowel quality in the source language.
- Paradigmatic alterations can occur either intra-paradigm (between two different forms within a specific paradigm) or cross-paradigm (between the same form in two different paradigms of the same class). Examples of intra-paradigm alternation are gawi /É¡a.wi/ "district (nom.)" vs. gÃ¡ujis /É¡É”Ë�.jis/ "district (gen.)"; mawi /ma.wi/ "maiden (nom.)" vs. mÃ¡ujÅ�s /mÉ”Ë�.joË�s/ "maiden (gen.)"; Ã¾iwi /Î¸i.wi/ "maiden (nom.)" vs. Ã¾iujÅ�s /Î¸iu.joË�s/ "maiden (gen.)"; taui /tÉ”Ë�.i/ "deed (nom.)" vs. tÅ�jis /toË�.jis/ "deed (gen.)"; nÃ¡us /nÉ”Ë�s/ "corpse (nom.)" vs. naweis /na.wiË�s/ "corpses (nom.)"; triu /triu/ ?? "tree (nom.)" vs. triwis /tri.wis/ "tree (gen.)"; tÃ¡ujan /tÉ”Ë�.jan/ "to do" vs. tawida /ta.wi.Ã°a/ "I/he did"; stÅ�jan /stoË�.jan/ "to judge" vs. stauida /stÉ”Ë�.i.Ã°a/ "I/he judged". Examples of cross-paradigm alternation are Class IV verbs qiman /kÊ·iman/ "to come" vs. baÃran /bÉ›ran/ "to carry", qumans /kÊ·umans/ "(having) come" vs. baÃºrans /bÉ”rans/ "(having) carried"; Class VIIb verbs lÄ“tan /leË�.tan/ "to let" vs. saian /sÉ›Ë�.an/ "to sow" (note similar preterites laÃlÅ�t /lÉ›.loË�t/ "I/he let", saÃsÅ� /sÉ›.soË�/ "I/he sowed"). A combination of intra- and cross-paradigm alternation occurs in Class V sniwan /sni.wan/ "to hasten" vs. snÃ¡u /snÉ”Ë�/ "I/he hastened" (expected * snaw , cf. qiman "to come", qam "I/he came").
- The carefully maintained alternations between iu and iw suggest that iu may have been something other than /iu/ . Various possibilities have been suggested (for example, high central or high back unrounded vowels, such as [É¨] [Ê‰] [É¯] ); under these theories, the spelling of iu is derived from the fact that the sound alternates with iw before a vowel, based on the similar alternations au and aw . The most common theory, however, simply posits /iu/ as the pronunciation of iu .
- Macrons represent long Ä� and Å« (however, long i appears as ei , following the representation used in the native alphabet). Macrons are often also used in the case of Ä“ and Å� ; however, they are sometimes omitted since these vowels are always long. Long Ä� occurs only before the consonants /h/ , /hÊ·/ and represents Proto-Germanic nasalized /Ã£Ë�(h)/ < earlier /aÅ‹(h)/ , still non-nasal /aË�/ did not occur in Proto-Germanic. It is possible that the Gothic vowel still preserved the nasalization, or else that the nasalization was lost but the length distinction kept, as has happened with Lithuanian Ä…. Non-nasal /iË�/ and /uË�/ occurred in Proto-Germanic, however and so long ei and Å« occur in all contexts. Before /h/ and /hÊ·/ , long ei and Å« could stem from either non-nasal or nasal long vowels in Proto-Germanic; it is possible that the nasalization was still preserved in Gothc but not written.
The following table shows the correspondence between spelling and sound for consonants:
|Gothic Letter||Roman||Sound (phoneme)||Sound (allophone)||Environment of occurrence||Paradigmatically alternating sound, in other environments||Proto-Germanic origin|
|ğ�Œ±||b||/ b /||[ b ]||Word-initially; after a consonant||â€“||/b/|
|[ Î² ]||After a vowel, before a voiced sound||/É¸/ (after a vowel, before an unvoiced sound)|
|ğ�Œ³||d||/ d /||[ d ]||Word-initially; after a consonant||â€“||/d/|
|[ Ã° ]||After a vowel, before a voiced sound||/Î¸/ (after a vowel, before an unvoiced sound)|
|ğ��†||f||/ É¸ /||[ É¸ ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||/b/ [Î²]||/É¸/ ; /b/|
|ğ�Œ²||g||/ É¡ /||[ É¡ ]||Word-initially; after a consonant||â€“||/g/|
|[ É£ ]||After a vowel, before a voiced sound||/g/ [x] (after a vowel, not before a voiced sound)|
|[ x ]||After a vowel, not before a voiced sound||/g/ [É£] (after a vowel, before a voiced sound)|
|/ n /||[ Å‹ ]|| Before k /k/ , g /É¡/ [É¡] , gw /É¡Ê·/ |
(such usage influenced by Greek, cf. gamma)
|gw||/ É¡Ê· /||[ É¡Ê· ]||After g /n/ [Å‹]||â€“||/É¡Ê·/|
|ğ�Œ·||h||/ h /||[ h ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||/g/ [É£]||/x/|
|ğ��ˆ||Æ•||/ hÊ· /||[ hÊ· ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||â€“||/xÊ·/|
|ğ�Œ¾||j||/ j /||[ j ]||Everywhere||â€“||/j/|
|ğ�Œº||k||/ k /||[ k ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||â€“||/k/|
|ğ�Œ»||l||/ l /||[ l ]||Everywhere||â€“||/l/|
|ğ�Œ¼||m||/ m /||[ m ]||Everywhere||â€“||/m/|
|ğ�Œ½||n||/ n /||[ n ]||Everywhere||â€“||/n/|
|ğ��€||p||/ p /||[ p ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||â€“||/p/|
|ğ�Œµ||q||/ kÊ· /||[ kÊ· ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||â€“||/kÊ·/|
|ğ��‚||r||/ r /||[ r ]||Everywhere||â€“||/r/|
|ğ��ƒ||s||/ s /||[ s ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||/z/||/s/ ; /z/|
|ğ��„||t||/ t /||[ t ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||â€“||/t/|
|ğ�Œ¸||Ã¾||/ Î¸ /||[ Î¸ ]||Everywhere except before a voiced consonant||/d/ [Ã°]||/Î¸/ ; /d/|
|ğ��…||w||/ w /||[ w ]||Everywhere||â€“||/w/|
|ğ�Œ¶||z||/ z /||[ z ]||After a vowel, before a voiced sound||/s/||/z/|
- /hÊ·/ , which is written with a single character in the native alphabet, is transliterated using the symbol Æ• , which is used only in transliterating Gothic.
- /kÊ·/ is similarly written with a single character in the native alphabet and is transliterated q (with no following u ).
- /É¡Ê·/ , however, is written with two letters in the native alphabet and hence gw . The lack of a single letter to represent this sound may result from its restricted distribution (only after /n/ ) and its rarity.
- /Î¸/ is written Ã¾ , similarly to other Germanic languages.
- Although [Å‹] is the allophone of /n/ occurring before /É¡/ and /k/ , it is written g , following the native alphabet convention (which, in turn, follows Greek usage), which leads to occasional ambiguities, e.g. saggws [saÅ‹É¡Ê·s] "song" but triggws [triÉ¡É¡Ê·s] "faithful" (cf. English "true").
It is possible to determine more or less exactly how the Gothic of Ulfilas was pronounced, primarily through comparative phonetic reconstruction. Furthermore, because Ulfilas tried to follow the original Greek text as much as possible in his translation, it is known that he used the same writing conventions as those of contemporary Greek. Since the Greek of that period is well documented, it is possible to reconstruct much of Gothic pronunciation from translated texts. In addition, the way in which non-Greek names are transcribed in the Greek Bible and in Ulfilas's Bible is very informative.
- /a/ , /i/ and /u/ can be either long or short. Gothic writing distinguishes between long and short vowels only for /i/ by writing i for the short form and ei for the long (a digraph or false diphthong ), in an imitation of Greek usage (ÎµÎ¹ = /iË�/ ). Single vowels are sometimes long where a historically present nasal consonant has been dropped in front of an /h/ (a case of compensatory lengthening). Thus, the preterite of the verb briggan [briÅ‹É¡an] "to bring" (English bring , Dutch brengen , German bringen ) becomes brahta [braË�xta] (English brought , Dutch bracht , German brachte ), from Proto-Germanic * branhtÄ“ . In detailed transliteration, when the intent is more phonetic transcription, length is noted by a macron (or failing that, often a circumflex): brÄ�hta , brÃ¢hta . This is the only context in which /aË�/ appears natively whereas /uË�/ , like /iË�/ , is found often enough in other contexts: brÅ«ks "useful" (Dutch gebruik , German Gebrauch , Icelandic brÃºk "use").
- /eË�/ and /oË�/ are long close-mid vowels. They are written as e and o : neÆ• [neË�Ê�] "near" (English nigh , Dutch nader , German nah ); fodjan [foË�djan] "to feed".
- /É›/ and /É”/ are short open-mid vowels. They are noted using the digraphs ai and au : taihun [tÉ›hun] "ten" (Dutch tien , German zehn , Icelandic tÃu ), dauhtar [dÉ”xtar] "daughter" (Dutch dochter , German Tochter , Icelandic dÃ³ttir ). In transliterating Gothic, accents are placed on the second vowel of these digraphs aÃ and aÃº to distinguish them from the original diphthongs Ã¡i and Ã¡u : taÃhun , daÃºhtar . In most cases short [É›] and [É”] are allophones of /i, u/ before /r, h, Ê�/ . Furthermore, the reduplication syllable of the reduplicating preterites has ai as well, which was probably pronounced as a short [É›] . Finally, short [É›] and [É”] occur in loan words from Greek and Latin ( aÃpiskaÃºpus [É›piskÉ”pus] = á¼�Ï€Î¯ÏƒÎºÎ¿Ï€Î¿Ï‚ "bishop", laÃktjo [lÉ›ktjoË�] = lectio "lection", PaÃºntius [pÉ”ntius] = Pontius ).
- The Germanic diphthongs /ai/ and /au/ appear as digraphs written âŸ¨aiâŸ© and âŸ¨auâŸ© in Gothic. Researchers have disagreed over whether they were still pronounced as diphthongs /aiÌ¯/ and /auÌ¯/ in Ulfilas's time (4th century AD) or had become long open-mid vowels: /É›Ë�/ and /É”Ë�/ : ains [ains] / [É›Ë�ns] "one" (German eins , Icelandic einn ), augo [auÉ£oË�] / [É”Ë�É£oË�] "eye" (German Auge , Icelandic auga ). It is most likely that the latter view is correct, as it is indisputable that the digraphs âŸ¨aiâŸ© and âŸ¨auâŸ© represent the sounds /É›Ë�/ and /É”Ë�/ in some circumstances (see below), and âŸ¨ajâŸ© and âŸ¨awâŸ© were available to unambiguously represent the sounds /aiÌ¯/ and /auÌ¯/ . The digraph âŸ¨awâŸ© is in fact used to represent /au/ in foreign words (such as Pawlus "Paul"), and alternations between âŸ¨aiâŸ©/âŸ¨ajâŸ© and âŸ¨auâŸ©/âŸ¨awâŸ© are scrupulously maintained in paradigms were both variants occur (e.g. taujan "to do" vs. past tense tawida "did"). Evidence from transcriptions of Gothic names into Latin suggests that the sound change had occurred very recently when Gothic spelling was standardized: Gothic names with Germanic au are rendered with au in Latin until the 4th century and o later on ( Austrogoti > Ostrogoti ). The digraphs âŸ¨aiâŸ© and âŸ¨auâŸ© are normally written with an accent on the first vowel ( Ã¡i, Ã¡u ) when they correspond to Proto-Germanic /aiÌ¯/ and /auÌ¯/ .
- Long [É›Ë�] and [É”Ë�] also occur as allophones of /eË�/ and /uË�, oË�/ respectively before a following vowel: waian [wÉ›Ë�an] "to blow" (Dutch waaien , German wehen ), bauan [bÉ”Ë�an] "to build" (Dutch bouwen , German "bauen", Icelandic bÃºa "to live, reside"), also in Greek words Trauada "Troad" (Gk. Î¤Ï�á¿³Î¬Ï‚ ). In detailed transcription these are notated ai, au .
- /y/ (pronounced like German Ã¼ and French u ) is a Greek sound used only in borrowed words. It is transliterated as w (as it uses the same letter that otherwise denoted the consonant /w/ ): azwmus [azymus] "unleavened bread" ( < Gk. á¼„Î¶Ï…Î¼Î¿Ï‚ ). It represents an Ï… (y) or the diphthong Î¿Î¹ (oi), both of which were pronounced [y] in the Greek of the time. Since the sound was foreign to Gothic, it was perhaps pronounced [i] .
- /iu/ is a falling diphthong ( [iuÌ¯] : diups [diuÌ¯ps] "deep" (Dutch diep , German tief , Icelandic djÃºpur ).
- Greek diphthongs: In Ulfilas's era, all the diphthongs of Classical Greek had become simple vowels in speech ( monophthongization ), except for Î±Ï… (au) and ÎµÏ… (eu), which were probably still pronounced [aÎ²] and [É›Î²] . (They evolved into [av~af] and [ev~ef] in Modern Greek.) Ulfilas notes them, in words borrowed from Greek, as aw and aiw , probably pronounced [auÌ¯, É›uÌ¯] : Pawlus [pauÌ¯lus] "Paul" (Gk. Î Î±á¿¦Î»Î¿Ï‚ ), aÃwaggelista [É›waÅ‹É¡eË�lista] "evangelist" (Gk. Îµá½�Î±Î³Î³ÎµÎ»Î¹ÏƒÏ„Î®Ï‚ , via the Latin evangelista ).
- All vowels (including diphthongs) can be followed by a [w] , which was likely pronounced as the second element of a diphthong with roughly the sound of [uÌ¯] . It seems likely that this is more of an instance of phonetic juxtaposition than of true diphthongs (such as, for example, the sound /aj/ in the French word paille ("straw"), which is not the diphthong /aiÌ¯/ but rather a vowel followed by an approximant): alew [aleË�w] "olive oil" ( < Latin oleum ), snÃ¡iws [snÉ›Ë�ws] ("snow"), lasiws [lasiws] "tired" (English lazy ).
|Nasal||m /m/||Â||n /n/||Â||g, n [Å‹]||Â||Â|
|Stop||p /p/||b /b/||Â||t /t/||d /d/||Â||?ddj /ÉŸË�/||k /k/||g /É¡/||q /kÊ·/||gw /É¡Ê·/||Â|
|Fricative||f /É¸/||b [Î²]||Ã¾ /Î¸/||d [Ã°]||s /s/||z /z/||Â||g, h [x]||g [É£]||Æ• /Ê�/||Â||h /h/|
|Approximant||Â||Â||l /l/||j /j/||Â||w /w/|
In general, Gothic consonants are devoiced at the ends of words. Gothic is rich in fricative consonants (although many of them may have been approximants, it is hard to separate the two) derived by the processes described in Grimm's law and Verner's law and characteristic of Germanic languages. Gothic is unusual among Germanic languages in having a /z/ phoneme, which has not become /r/ through rhotacization. Furthermore, the doubling of written consonants between vowels suggests that Gothic made distinctions between long and short, or geminated consonants: atta [atË�a] "dad", kunnan [kunË�an] "to know" (Dutch kennen , German kennen "to know", Icelandic kunna ).
- The voiceless stops /p/ , /t/ and /k/ are regularly noted by p , t and k respectively: paska [paska] "Easter" (from the Greek Ï€Î¬ÏƒÏ‡Î± ), tuggo [tuÅ‹É¡oË�] "tongue", kalbo [kalboË�] "calf".
- The letter q is probably a voiceless labiovelar stop, /kÊ·/ , comparable to the Latin qu : qiman [kÊ·iman] "to come". In later Germanic languages, this phoneme has become either a consonant cluster /kw/ of a voiceless velar stop + a labio-velar approximant (English qu ) or a simple voiceless velar stop /k/ (English c, k )
- The voiced stops /b/ , /d/ and /É¡/ are noted by the letters b , d and g . Like the other Germanic languages, they occurred in word-initial position, when doubled and after a nasal. In addition, they apparently occurred after other consonants,: arbi [arbi] "inheritance", huzd [huzd] "treasure". (This conclusion is based on their behavior at the end of a word, in which they do not change into voiceless fricatives, unlike when they occur after a vowel.)
- There was probably also a voiced labiovelar stop, /É¡Ê·/ , which was written with the digraph gw . It occurred after a nasal, e.g. saggws [saÅ‹É¡Ê·s] "song", or long as a regular outcome of Germanic * ww : triggws [triÉ¡Ê·Ë�s] "faithful" (English true , German treu , Icelandic tryggur ).
- Similarly, the letters ddj , which is the regular outcome of Germanic * jj , may represent a voiced palatal stop, /ÉŸË�/ : waddjus [waÉŸË�us] "wall" (Icelandic veggur ), twaddje [twaÉŸË�eË�] "two (genitive)" (Icelandic tveggja ).
- /s/ and /z/ are usually written s and z . The latter corresponds to Germanic * z (which has become r or silent in the other Germanic languages); at the end of a word, it is regularly devoiced to s . E.g. saÃhs [sÉ›hs] "six", mÃ¡iza [mÉ›Ë�za] "greater" (English more , Dutch meer , German mehr , Icelandic meira ) ~ mÃ¡is [mÉ›Ë�s] "more, rather".
- /É¸/ and /Î¸/ , written f and Ã¾ , are voiceless bilabial and voiceless dental fricatives respectively. It is likely that the relatively unstable sound /É¸/ became /f/ . f and Ã¾ are also derived from b and d at the ends of words and then are devoiced and become approximants: gif [É¡iÉ¸] "give (imperative)" (infinitive giban : German geben ), miÃ¾ [miÎ¸] "with" ( Old English mid , Old Norse meÃ° , Dutch met , German mit ).
- /h/ is written as h : haban "to have". It was probably pronounced [h] in word-final position and before a consonant as well (not [x] , since /É¡/ > [x] is written g , not h ): jah [jah] "and" (Dutch, German, Scandinavian ja "yes").
- [x] is an allophone of /É¡/ at the end of a word or before a voiceless consonant; it is always written g : dags [daxs] "day" (German Tag ). In some borrowed Greek words is the special letter x , which represents the Greek letter Ï‡ ( ch ): Xristus [xristus] "Christ" (Gk. Î§Ï�Î¹ÏƒÏ„ÏŒÏ‚ ). It may also have signified a /k/ .
- [Î²] , [Ã°] and [É£] are voiced fricative found only in between vowels. They are allophones of /b/ , /d/ and /É¡/ and are not distinguished from them in writing. [Î²] may have become /v/ , a more stable labiodental form. In the study of Germanic languages, these phonemes are usually transcribed as Æ€ , Ä‘ and Ç¥ respectively: haban [haÎ²an] "to have", Ã¾iuda [Î¸iuÌ¯Ã°a] "people" (Dutch Diets , German Deutsch , Icelandic Ã¾jÃ³Ã° > English Dutch ), Ã¡ugo [auÉ£oË�] "eye" (English eye , Dutch oog , German Auge , Icelandic auga ). When occurring after a vowel at the end of a word or before a voiceless consonant, these sounds become unvoiced [É¸] , [Î¸] and [x] , e.g. hlÃ¡ifs [hlÉ›Ë�É¸s] "loaf" but genitive hlÃ¡ibis [hlÉ›Ë�Î²is] "of a loaf", plural hlÃ¡ibÅ�s [hlÉ›Ë�Î²oË�s] "loaves".
- Æ• (also transcribed hw ) is the labiovelar equivalent of /x/ , derived from Proto-Indo-European *kÊ·. It was probably pronounced [Ê�] (a voiceless [w] ), as wh is pronounced in certain dialects of English and in Scots: Æ•an /Ê�an/ "when", Æ•ar /Ê�ar/ "where", Æ•eits [Ê�iË�ts] "white".
Gothic has three nasal consonants, one of which is an allophone of the others, all found only in complementary distribution with them. Nasals in Gothic, like most other languages, are pronounced at the same point of articulation as either the consonant that follows them ( assimilation). Therefore, clusters like [md] and [nb] are not possible.
- /n/ and /m/ are freely distributed and so can be found in any position in a syllable and form minimal pairs except in certain contexts where they are neutralized: /n/ before a bilabial consonant becomes [m] , while /m/ preceding a dental stop becomes [n] , as per the principle of assimilation described in the previous paragraph. In front of a velar stop, they both become [Å‹] . /n/ and /m/ are transcribed as n and m , and, in writing, neutralisation is marked: sniumundo /sniuÌ¯mundoË�/ ("quickly").
- [Å‹] is not a phoneme and cannot appear freely in Gothic. It is present where a nasal consonant is neutralised before a velar stop and is in a complementary distribution with /n/ and /m/ . Following Greek conventions, it is normally written as g (sometimes n ): Ã¾agkjan [Î¸aÅ‹kjan] "to think", sigqan [siÅ‹kÊ·an] "to sink" ~ Ã¾ankeiÃ¾ [Î¸aÅ‹kiË�Î¸] "thinks". The cluster ggw sometimes denotes [Å‹É¡Ê·] , but sometimes [É¡Ê·Ë�] (see above).
- /w/ is transliterated as w before a vowel: weis [wiË�s] ("we"), twÃ¡i [twai] "two" (German zwei ).
- /j/ is written as j : jer [jeË�r] "year", sakjo [sakjoË�] "strife".
- /l/ and /r/ occur as in other European languages: laggs (possibly [laÅ‹É¡s] , [laÅ‹ks] or [laÅ‹É¡z] ) "long", mel [meË�l] "hour" (English meal , Dutch maal , German Mahl , Icelandic mÃ¡l ). The exact pronunciation of /r/ is unknown, but it is usually assumed to be a trill [r] or a flap [É¾] ): raÃhts [rÉ›xts] "right", afar [afar] "after".
- /l/ , /m/ , /n/ and /r/ may occur either between two other consonants of lower sonority or word-finally after a consonant of lower sonority. It is probable that the sounds are pronounced partly or completely as syllabic consonants in such circumstances (as in English "bottle" or "bottom"): tagl [taÉ£lÌ©] or [taÉ£l] "hair" (English tail , Icelandic tagl ), mÃ¡iÃ¾ms [mÉ›Ë�Î¸mÌ©s] or [mÉ›Ë�Î¸ms] "gift", tÃ¡ikns [tÉ›Ë�knÌ©s] or [tÉ›Ë�kns] "sign" (English token , Dutch teken , German Zeichen , Icelandic tÃ¡kn ) and tagr [taÉ£rÌ©] or [taÉ£r] "tear (as in crying)".
Accentuation and intonation
Accentuation in Gothic can be reconstructed through phonetic comparison, Grimm's law and Verner's law. Gothic used a stress accent rather than the pitch accent of Proto-Indo-European. This is indicated by the shortening of long vowels [eË�] and [oË�] and the loss of short vowels [a] and [i] in unstressed final syllables.
Just as in other Germanic languages, the free moving Proto-Indo-European accent was replaced with one fixed on the first syllable of simple words. Accents do not shift when words are inflected. In most compound words, the location of the stress depends on the type of compound:
- In compounds in which the second word is a noun , the accent is on the first syllable of the first word of the compound.
- In compounds in which the second word is a verb , the accent falls on the first syllable of the verbal component. Elements prefixed to verbs are otherwise unstressed except in the context of separable words (words that can be broken in two parts and separated in regular usage such as separable verbs in German and Dutch). In those cases, the prefix is stressed.
For example, with comparable words from modern Germanic languages:
- Non-compound words: marka [Ëˆmarka] "border, borderlands" (English march , Dutch mark ); aftra [ËˆaÉ¸tra] "after"; bidjan [ËˆbiÃ°jan] "pray" (Dutch, bidden , German bitten , Icelandic biÃ°ja , English bid ).
- Compound words:
Nouns and adjectives
Gothic preserves many archaic Indo-European features that are not always present in modern Germanic languages, in particular the rich Indo-European declension system. Gothic had nominative, accusative, genitive and dative cases, as well as vestiges of a vocative case that was sometimes identical to the nominative and sometimes to the accusative. The three genders of Indo-European were all present. Nouns and adjectives were inflected according to one of two grammatical numbers: the singular and the plural.
Nouns can be divided into numerous declensions according to the form of the stem: a , Å� , i , u , an , Å�n , ein , r , etc. Adjectives have two variants, indefinite and definite (sometimes indeterminate and determinate ), with definite adjectives normally used in combination with the definite determiners (such as the definite article sa / Ã¾ata / sÅ� ) while indefinite adjectives are used in other circumstances. Indefinite adjectives generally use a combination of a -stem and Å� -stem endings, and definite adjectives use a combination of an -stem and Å�n -stem endings. The concept of "strong" and "weak" declensions that is prevalent in the grammar of many other Germanic languages is less significant in Gothic because of its conservative nature: the so-called "weak" declensions (those ending in n ) are, in fact, no weaker in Gothic (in terms of having fewer endings) than the "strong" declensions (those ending in a vowel), and the "strong" declensions do not form a coherent class that can be clearly distinguished from the "weak" declensions.
Although descriptive adjectives in Gothic (as well as superlatives ending in -ist and -ost ) and the past participle may take both definite and indefinite forms, some adjectival words are restricted to one variant. Some pronouns take only definite forms: for example, sama (English "same"), adjectives like unÆ•eila ("constantly", from the root Æ•eila , "time"; compare to the English "while"), comparative adjective and present participles. Others, such as Ã¡ins ("some"), take only the indefinite forms.
The table below displays the declension of the Gothic adjective blind (English: "blind"), compared with the an -stem noun guma "man"(human) and the a -stem noun dags "day":
|Number||Case||Definite/ an -stem||Indefinite/ a -stem|
This table is, of course, not exhaustive. (There are secondary inflexions of various sorts not described here.) An exhaustive table of only the types of endings that Gothic took is presented below.
- vowel declensions :
- roots ending in -a , -ja , -wa (masculine and neuter): equivalent to the Greek and Latin second declension in â€‘us / â€‘Ä« and â€‘Î¿Ï‚ / â€‘Î¿Ï…;
- roots ending in -Å� , -jÅ� and -wÅ� (feminine): equivalent to the Greek and Latin first declension in â€‘a / â€‘ae and â€‘Î± / â€‘Î±Ï‚ (â€‘Î· / â€‘Î·Ï‚);
- roots ending in -i (masculine and feminine): equivalent to the Greek and Latin third declension in â€‘is / â€‘is (abl. sg. â€‘Ä« , gen. pl. -ium ) and â€‘Î¹Ï‚ / â€‘ÎµÏ‰Ï‚;
- roots ending in -u (all three genders)Â : equivalent to the Latin fourth declension in â€‘us / â€‘Å«s and the Greek third declension in â€‘Ï…Ï‚ / â€‘ÎµÏ‰Ï‚;
- n -stem declensions , equivalent to the Greek and Latin third declension in â€‘Å� / â€‘inis/Å�nis and â€‘Ï‰Î½ / â€‘Î¿Î½Î¿Ï‚ or â€‘Î·Î½ / â€‘ÎµÎ½Î¿Ï‚:
- roots ending in -an , -jan , -wan (masculine);
- roots ending in -Å�n and -ein (feminine);
- roots ending in -n (neuter): equivalent to the Greek and Latin third declension in â€‘men / â€‘minis and â€‘Î¼Î± / â€‘Î¼Î±Ï„Î¿Ï‚;
- minor declensions : roots ending in -r , -nd and vestigial endings in other consonants, equivalent to other third declensions in Greek and Latin.
Gothic adjectives follow noun declensions closely; they take same types of inflexion.
Gothic inherited the full set of Indo-European pronouns: personal pronouns (including reflexive pronouns for each of the three grammatical persons), possessive pronouns, both simple and compound demonstratives, relative pronouns, interrogatives and indefinite pronouns. Each follows a particular pattern of inflexion (partially mirroring the noun declension), much like other Indo-European languages. One particularly noteworthy characteristic is the preservation of the dual number, referring to two people or things; the plural was used only for quantities greater than two. Thus, "the two of us" and "we" for numbers greater than two were expressed as wit and weis respectively. While proto-Indo-European used the dual for all grammatical categories that took a number (as did Classical Greek and Sanskrit), most Old Germanic languages are unusual in that they preserved it only for pronouns. Gothic preserves an older system with dual marking on both pronouns and verbs (but not nouns or adjectives).
The simple demonstrative pronoun sa (neuter: Ã¾ata , feminine: so , from the Indo-European root *so , *seh 2 , *tod ; cognate to the Greek article á½�, á¼¡, Ï„ÏŒ and the Latin is tud ) can be used as an article, allowing constructions of the type definite article + weak adjective + noun .
The interrogative pronouns begin with Æ•- , which derives from the proto-Indo-European consonant *kÊ· that was present at the beginning of all interrogratives in proto-Indo-European. That is cognate with the wh- at the beginning of many English interrogative, which, as in Gothic, are pronounced with [Ê�] in some dialects. The same etymology is present in the interrogatives of many other Indo-European languages": w- [v] in German, hv- in Danish, the Latin qu- (which persists in modern Romance languages), the Greek Ï„ or Ï€, the Slavic and Indic k- as well as many others.
The bulk of Gothic verbs follow the type of Indo-European conjugation called ' thematic' because they insert a vowel derived from the reconstructed proto-Indo-European phonemes *e or *o between roots and inflexional suffixes. The pattern is also present in Greek and Latin:
- Latin - leg-i-mus ("we read"): root leg- + thematic vowel -i- (from *o ) + suffix -mus .
- Greek - Î»Ï�-Î¿-Î¼ÎµÎ½ ("we untie"): root Î»Ï…- + thematic vowel -Î¿- + suffix -Î¼ÎµÎ½.
- Gothic - nim-a-m ("we take"): root nim- + thematic vowel -a- (from *o ) + suffix -m .
The other conjugation, called ' athematic', in which suffixes are added directly to roots, exists only in unproductive vestigial forms in Gothic, just like in Greek and Latin. The most important such instance is the verb "to be", which is athematic in Greek, Latin, Sanskrit and many other Indo-European languages.
Gothic verbs are, like nouns and adjectives, divided into strong verbs and weak verbs. Weak verbs are characterised by preterites formed by appending the suffixes -da or -ta , parallel to past participles formed with -Ã¾ / -t . Strong verbs form preterites by ablaut (the alternating of vowels in their root forms) or by reduplication (prefixing the root with the first consonant in the root plus aÃ ) but without adding a suffix in either case. That parallels the Greek and Sanskrit perfects. The dichotomy is still present in modern Germanic languages:
- weak verbs ("to have")Â :
- Gothic: haban , preterite: habÃ¡i da , past participle: habÃ¡i Ã¾ s Â ;
- English: (to) have , preterite: ha d , past participle: ha d Â ;
- German: haben , preterite: hat te , past participle: gehab t Â ;
- Icelandic: hafa , preterite: haf Ã°i , past participle: haf t Â ;
- Dutch: hebben , preterite: ha d , past participle: geha d Â ;
- Swedish: ha(va) , preterite: ha d e , supine: haf t Â ;
- strong verbs ("to give")Â :
- Gothic: infinitive: g i ban , preterite: g a f Â ;
- English: infinitive: (to) g i ve , preterite: g a ve Â ;
- German: infinitive: g e ben , preterite: g a b Â ;
- Icelandic: infinitive: g e fa , preterite: g a f .
- Dutch: infinitive: g e ven , preterite: g a f Â ;
- Swedish: infinitive: g i va ( ge ), preterite: g a v Â ;
Verbal conjugation in Gothic have two grammatical voices: the active and the medial; three numbers: singular, dual (except in the third person) and plural; two tenses: present and preterite (derived from a former perfect); three grammatical moods: indicative, subjunctive (from an old optative form) and imperative as well as three kinds of nominal forms: a present infinitive, a present participle, and a past passive. Not all tenses and persons are represented in all moods and voices, as some conjugations use auxiliary forms.
Finally, there are forms called 'preterite-present': the old Indo-European perfect was reinterpreted as present tense. The Gothic word wÃ¡it , from the proto-Indo-European *woid-h 2 e ("to see" in the perfect), corresponds exactly to its Sanskrit cognate vÃ©da and in Greek to Ï�Î¿á¼¶Î´Î±. Both etymologically should mean "I have seen" (in the perfect sense) but mean "I know" (in the preterite-present meaning). Latin follows the same rule with nÅ�uÄ« ("I have learned" and "I know"). The preterite-present verbs include Ã¡igan ("to possess") and kunnan ("to know") among others.
The word order of Gothic is fairly free as is typical of other inflected languages. The natural word order of Gothic is assumed to have been like that of the other old Germanic languages; however, nearly all extant Gothic texts are translations of Greek originals and have been heavily influenced by Greek syntax.
Sometimes what can be expressed in one word in the original Greek will require a verb and a complement in the Gothic translation; for example, Î´Î¹Ï‰Ï‡Î¸Î®ÏƒÎ¿Î½Ï„Î±Î¹ ( diÅ�chthÄ“sontai , "they will be persecuted") is rendered:
wrakos winnand ( 2 Timothy 3:12 ) persecution- PL - ACC suffer- 3pl they will suffer persecution
Likewise Gothic translations of Greek noun phrases may feature a verb and a compliment. In both cases, the verb follows the compliment, giving weight to the theory that basic word order in Gothic is object-verb. This aligns with what is known of other early Germanic languages.
However, this pattern is reversed in imperatives and negations:
waÃrÃ¾ hrÃ¡ins ( Matthew 8:3 , Mark 1:42 , Luke 5:13 ) become- IMP clean become clean!
ni nimiÃ¾ arbi ( Galatians 4:30 ) NEG take- 3sg inheritance he shall not become heir
And in a wh -question the verb directly follows the question word:
Æ•a skuli Ã¾ata barn waÃrÃ¾an ( Luke 1:66 ) what shall- 3sg - OPT the- NEUT child become- INF What shall the child become?
One such clitic particle is - u , indicating a yes/no question or an indirect question, like Latin - ne :
ni- u taÃhun Ã¾Ã¡i gahrÃ¡inidÃ¡i waÃºrÃ¾un? ( Luke 17:17 ) NEG - u ten that- MASC - PL cleanse- PP - MASC - PL become- 3pl - PST Were there not ten that were cleansed?
ei saÃÆ•am, qimÃ¡i- u HÃªlias nasjan ina ( Matthew 27:49 ) REL see- 1pl come- 3sg - OPT - u Elias save- INF he- ACC that we see whether or not Elias will come to save him
It should be noted that the prepositional phrase without the clitic - u appears as af Ã¾us silbin : the clitic causes the reversion of originally voiced fricatives, unvoiced at the end of a word, to their voiced form; another such example is wileid-u "do you (pl.) want" from wileiÃ¾ "you (pl.) want". If the first word has a preverb attached, the clitic actually splits the preverb from the verb: ga-u-lÃ¡ubjats "do you both believe...?" from galÃ¡ubjats "you both believe".
Another such clitic is -uh "and", appearing as -h after a vowel: ga-h-mÄ“lida "and he wrote" from gamÄ“lida "he wrote", urreis nim-uh "arise and take!" from the imperative form nim "take". After iÃ¾ or any indefinite besides sums "some" and anÃ¾ar "another", - uh cannot be placed; in the latter category, this is only because indefinite determiner phrases cannot move to the front of a clause. It should be pointed out that, unlike, for example, Latin - que , - uh' can only join two or more main clauses. In all other cases, the word jah "and" is used, which can also join main clauses.
More than one such clitics can occur in one word: diz-uh-Ã¾an-sat ijÅ�s "and then he seized them (fem.)" from dissat "he seized" (notice again the voicing of diz- ), ga-u-Æ•a-sÄ“Æ•i "whether he saw anything" from gasÄ“Æ•i "he saw".
Comparison to other Germanic languages
For the most part, Gothic is known to be significantly closer to Proto-Germanic than any other Germanic language except for that of the (scantily attested) early Norse runic inscriptions, which has made it invaluable in the reconstruction of Proto-Germanic. In fact, Gothic tends to serve as the primary foundation for reconstructing Proto-Germanic. The reconstructed Proto-Germanic conflicts with Gothic only when there is clearly identifiable evidence from other branches that the Gothic form is a secondary development.
Gothic fails to display a number of innovations shared by all Germanic languages attested later:
The language has also preserved many features that have been lost mostly in other early Germanic languages:
- Dual inflections on verbs
- Morphological passive voice for verbs
- Reduplication in the past tense of Class VII strong verbs
- Clitic conjunctions that appear in second position of a sentence in accordance with Wackernagel's Law, splitting verbs from pre-verbs.
Lack of umlaut
Most conspicuously, Gothic shows no sign of morphological umlaut. Gothic fotus , pl. fotjus , can be contrasted with English foot Â : feet , German FuÃŸ Â : FÃ¼ÃŸe , Old Icelandic fÃ³tr Â : fÅ“tr , Danish fod Â : fÃ¸dder . These forms contain the characteristic change /o:/ > /Ã¸:/ (> Eng. /i:/, Germ. /y:/) due to i-umlaut; the Gothic form shows no such change.
Lack of rhotacism
Proto-Germanic * z remains in Gothic as z or is devoiced to s . In North and West Germanic, * z changes to r by rhotacism.
- Gothic dius , gen. sg. diuzis
- Old English dÄ“or , gen. sg. dÄ“ores "wild animal" (Modern English deer )
Gothic retains a morphological passive voice inherited from Indo-European but unattested in all other Germanic languages except for the single fossilised form preserved in, for example, Old English hÄ�tte or Runic Norse (AD 400) haitÄ“ "am called", derived from Proto-Germanic *haitanÄ… "to call, command". (It should be noted that the related verbs heiÃŸen in modern German and heten in Dutch are both derived from the active voice of this verb but have the passive meaning "to be called" alongside the dated active meaning "to command".)
Unlike other Germanic languages, which retained dual number marking only in some pronoun forms, Gothic has dual forms both in pronouns and in verbs. Dual verb forms exist in the first and second person only and only in the active voice; in all other cases, the corresponding plural forms are used. In pronouns, Gothic has first and second person dual pronouns: Gothic/Old English/Old Norse wit "we two" (thought to have been in fact derived from *wi-du literally "we two").
Gothic possesses a number of verbs which form their preterite by reduplication, another archaic feature inherited from Indo-European. While traces of this category survived elsewhere in Germanic, the phenomenon is largely obscured in these other languages by later sound changes and analogy. In the following examples the infinitive is compared to the third person singular preterite indicative:
- Gothic saian "to sow"Â : sai so
- Old Norse sÃ¡ Â : se ri < Proto-Germanic * se zÅ�
- Gothic laikan "to play"Â : lailaik
- Old English lÄ�can Â : leo lc , lÄ“c
The standard theory of the origin of the Germanic languages divides the languages into three groups: East Germanic (Gothic and a few other very scantily-attested languages), North Germanic ( Old Norse and its derivatives, such as Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese) and West Germanic (all others, including Old English, Old High German, Old Saxon, Old Low Franconian, Old Frisian and the numerous modern languages derived from these, including English, German, and Dutch). Sometimes, a further grouping, that of the Northwest Germanic languages, is posited as containing the North Germanic and West Germanic languages, reflecting the hypothesis that Gothic was the first attested language to branch off.
A minority opinion (the so-called Gotho-Nordic Hypothesis) instead groups North Germanic and East Germanic together. It is based partly on historical claims: for example, Jordanes, writing in the 6th century, ascribes to the Goths a Scandinavian origin. There are a few linguistically significant areas in which Gothic and Old Norse agree against the West Germanic languages.
Perhaps the most obvious is the evolution of the Proto-Germanic * -jj- and * -ww- into Gothic ddj (from Pre-Gothic ggj ?) and ggw , and Old Norse ggj and ggv (" Holtzmann's Law "), in contrast to West Germanic where they remained as semivowels. Compare Modern English true , German treu , with Gothic triggws , Old Norse tryggr .
However, it has been suggested that these are, in fact, two separate and unrelated changes. A number of other posited similarities exist (for example, the existence of numerous inchoative verbs ending in - na , such as Gothic ga-waknan , Old Norse vakna ; and the absence of gemination before j , or (in the case of old Norse) only g geminated before j , e.g. Proto-Germanic * kunjÄ… > Gothic kuni (kin), Old Norse kyn , but Old English cynn , Old High German kunni ). However, for the most part these represent shared retentions, which are not valid means of grouping languages. That is, if a parent language splits into three daughters A, B and C, and C innovates in a particular area but A and B do not change, A and B will appear to agree against C. That shared retention in A and B is not necessarily indicative of any special relationship between the two.
Another commonly-given example involves Gothic and Old Norse verbs with the ending -t in the 2nd person singular preterite indicative, and the West Germanic languages have -i . The ending -t can regularly descend from the Proto-Indo-European perfect ending *-thâ‚‚e , while the origin of the West Germanic ending -i (which, unlike the -t -ending, unexpectedly combines with the zero-grade of the root as in the plural) is unclear, suggesting that it is an innovation of some kind, possibly an import from the optative. Another possibility is that this is an example of independent choices made from a doublet existing in the proto-language. That is, Proto-Germanic may have allowed either -t or -i to be used as the ending, either in free variation or perhaps depending on dialects within Proto-Germanic or the particular verb in question. Each of the three daughters independently standardized on one of the two endings and, by chance, Gothic and Old Norse ended up with the same ending.
Other isoglosses have led scholars to propose an early split between East and Northwest Germanic. Furthermore, features shared by any two branches of Germanic do not necessarily require the postulation of a proto-language excluding the third, as the early Germanic languages were all part of a dialect continuum in the early stages of their development, and contact between the three branches of Germanic was extensive.
Polish linguist Witold MaÅ„czak had argued that Gothic is closer to German than to Scandinavian and suggests that their ancestral homeland was located southernmost part of the Germanic territories, close to present day Austria rather than in Scandinavia. Frederik Kortlandt has agreed with MaÅ„czak's hypothesis, stating: "I think that his argument is correct and that it is time to abandon Iordanes' classic view that the Goths came from Scandinavia." 
Use in Romanticism and the Modern Age
Several linguists have made use of Gothic as a creative language. The most famous example is Bagme Bloma (Flower of the trees) by J.R.R. Tolkien, part of Songs for the Philologists . It was published privately in 1936 for Tolkien and his colleague E. V. Gordon.
Tolkien's use of Gothic is also known from a letter from 1965 to Zillah Sherring. When she bought a copy of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War in Salisbury, she found strange inscriptions in it; after she found his name in it, she wrote him a letter and asked him if the inscriptions were his, including the longest one on the back, which was in Gothic. In his reply to her he corrected some of the mistakes in the text; he wrote for example that hundai should be hunda and Ã¾izo boko (of those books), which he suggested should be Ã¾izos bokos (of this book). A semantic inaccuracy of the text which he mentioned himself is the use of lisan for read, while this was ussiggwan . Tolkien also made a calque of his own name in Gothic in the letter, which according to him should be Ruginwaldus Dwalakoneis . 
The Thorvaldsen museum also has an alliterative poem, Thunravalds Sunau , from 1841 by Massmann, the first publisher of the Skeireins, written in the Gothic language. It was read at a great feast dedicated to Thorvaldsen in the Gesellschaft der Zwanglosen in Munich on July 15th, 1841. This event is mentioned by Ludwig Schorn in the magazine Kunstblatt from the 19th of July, 1841.  Massmann also translated the academic commercium song "Gaudeamus" into Gothic in 1837. 
In Fleurs du Mal, an online magazine for art and literature, the poem "Overvloed" of Dutch poet Bert Bevers appeared in a Gothic translation. 
|Gothic||Transliteration||Literal translation||IPA Transcription|
|ğ�Œ°ğ��„ğ��„ğ�Œ° ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒğ�Œ°ğ��‚ ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ¿ ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ ğ�Œ·ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¼,||1. Atta unsar Ã¾u in himinam||1. Father our, thou in heaven||1. ËˆatË�a Ëˆunsar Î¸uË� in Ëˆhiminam|
|ğ��…ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ·ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¼ğ��‰ ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½||2. weihnai namo Ã¾ein||2. be holy name thy.||2. ËˆwiË�hnÉ›Ë� ËˆnamoË� Î¸iË�n|
|ğ�Œµğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ³ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ°ğ��ƒğ��ƒğ�Œ¿ğ��ƒ ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒ||3. qimai Ã¾iudinassus Ã¾eins||3. Come kingdom thy,||3. ËˆkÊ·imÉ›Ë� ËˆÎ¸iuÌ¯Ã°inasË�us Î¸iË�ns|
|ğ��…ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ��‚ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ ğ��…ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ° ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒ||4. wairÃ¾ai wilja Ã¾eins||4. happen will thy,||4. ËˆwÉ›rÎ¸É›Ë� Ëˆwilja Î¸iË�ns|
|ğ��ƒğ��…ğ�Œ´ ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ ğ�Œ·ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ° ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ· ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ° ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ��‚ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹||5. swe in himina jah ana airÃ¾ai.||5. as in heaven also on earth.||5. sweË� in Ëˆhimina jah ana ËˆÉ›rÎ¸É›Ë�|
|ğ�Œ·ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ��† ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒğ�Œ°ğ��‚ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ° ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ° ğ��ƒğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ��„ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ½ ğ�Œ²ğ�Œ¹ğ��† ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒ ğ�Œ·ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ° ğ�Œ³ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ²ğ�Œ°||6. hlaif unsarana Ã¾ana sinteinan gif uns himma daga||6. Bread (loaf) our, the everyday, give us this day,||6. hlÉ›Ë�É¸ Ëˆunsarana ËˆÎ¸ana ËˆsinËŒtiË�nan É¡iÉ¸ uns ËˆhimË�a ËˆdaÉ£a|
|ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ· ğ�Œ°ğ��†ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ´ğ��„ ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒ ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ°ğ��„ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ ğ��ƒğ�Œºğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒ ğ��ƒğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ°||7. jah aflet uns Ã¾atei skulans sijaima||7. and forgive us, who debtors be,||7. jah aÉ¸ËˆleË�t uns ËˆÎ¸atiË� Ëˆskulans ËˆsijÉ›Ë�ma|
|ğ��ƒğ��…ğ�Œ°ğ��ƒğ��…ğ�Œ´ ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ· ğ��…ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ğ��ƒ ğ�Œ°ğ��†ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ´ğ��„ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¼ ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¼ ğ��ƒğ�Œºğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¼ ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒğ�Œ°ğ��‚ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¼||8. swaswe jah weis afletam Ã¾aim skulam unsaraim||8. just as also we forgive those debtors our.||8. ËˆswasweË� jah ËˆwiË�s aÉ¸ËˆleË�tam Î¸É›Ë�m Ëˆskulam ËˆunsarÉ›Ë�m|
|ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ· ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ¹ ğ�Œ±ğ��‚ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ²ğ�Œ²ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ��ƒ ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒ ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ ğ��†ğ��‚ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ��ƒğ��„ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ±ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹||9. jah ni briggais uns in fraistubnjai||9. And [do] not bring us in[to] temptation,||9. jah ni ËˆbriÅ‹É¡É›Ë�s uns in ËˆÉ¸rÉ›Ë�stuÎ²nijÉ›Ë�|
|ğ�Œ°ğ�Œº ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¿ğ��ƒğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒ ğ�Œ°ğ��† ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ° ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ±ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½||10. ak lausei uns af Ã¾amma ubilin||10. but free (loose) us from the evil [one].||10. ak ËˆlÉ”Ë�siË� uns aÉ¸ ËˆÎ¸amË�a ËˆuÎ²ilin|
|ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ½ğ��„ğ�Œ´ ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ´ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ° ğ�Œ¹ğ��ƒğ��„ ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ³ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ½ğ�Œ²ğ�Œ°ğ��‚ğ�Œ³ğ�Œ¹ ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ· ğ�Œ¼ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ·ğ��„ğ��ƒ||11. unte Ã¾eina ist Ã¾iudangardi jah mahts||11. For thine is [the] kingdom and [the] might||11. ËˆunteË� ËˆÎ¸iË�na ist ËˆÎ¸iuÌ¯Ã°anËŒÉ¡ardi jah mahts|
|ğ�Œ¾ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ· ğ��…ğ�Œ¿ğ�Œ»ğ�Œ¸ğ�Œ¿ğ��ƒ ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ ğ�Œ°ğ�Œ¹ğ��…ğ�Œ¹ğ�Œ½ğ��ƒ||12. jah wulÃ¾us in aiwins.||12. and glory in eternity.||12. jah ËˆwulÎ¸us in ËˆÉ›Ë�wins|
- List of Germanic languages
- Vocabulary comparison of the Germanic languages for a chart comparing Gothic words to those of other Germanic languages
- Old Gutnish
- Modern Gutnish
- Grimm's law
- Verner's law
- Grammar of the Gothic Language (book)
- Gothic alphabet
- Last speakers outside eastern Europe were minority speakers of Visigothic and Vandalic varieties that resided in the Kingdom of Asturias, one of the last surviving Barbarian kingdoms that had been increasingly adopting Vulgar Latin until its demise in 924.
- HammarstrÃ¶m, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). . Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Strategies of Distinction: Construction of Ethnic Communities, 300â€“800 ( Transformation of the Roman World , vol. 2) by Walter Pohl, ISBN Â 90-04-10846-7 (pp. 119â€“121)
- Braune/Ebbinghaus, Gotische Grammatik , TÃ¼bingen 1981
- Krause, Wolfgang. Handbuch des Gotischen . Niemeyer.
- Alice L. Harting-Correa, "Walahfrid Strabo's libellus de exordiis et incrementis quarundam in observationibus ecclesiasticis rerum. A translation and liturgical commentary", Leiden-New York-KÃ¶ln: Brill, 1996 ( ISBN Â 90 04 09669 8), pp. 72â€“73. Discussion between W. Haubrichs and S. Barnish in D. H. Green (2007), "Linguistic and Literary Traces of the Ostrogoths", The Ostrogoths from the Migration Period to the Sixth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective , Sam J. Barnish and Federico Marazzi, eds., part of Studies in Historical Archaeoethnology , Volume 7, Giorgio Ausenda, series ed. (Oxford: Boydell Press, ISBN Â 978-1-84383-074-0.), p. 409 and n1.
- Prokosch p. 105
- Wright (1910 edition) p. 362
- See also Cercignani, Fausto (1986). "The Development of the Gothic Vocalic System". In Brogyanyi, Bela; KrÃ¶mmelbein, Thomas. Germanic Dialects: Linguistic and Philological Investigations . Amsterdam and Philadelphia: Benjamins. pp.Â 121â€“151. ISBN Â 90-272-3526-0.
- For the Gothic short vowels see also Cercignani, Fausto (1979). "The Development of the Gothic Short/Lax Subsystem". Zeitschrift fÃ¼r vergleichende Sprachforschung . 93 (2): 272â€“278.
- But see Cercignani, Fausto (1984). "The Enfants Terribles of Gothic "Breaking": hiri, aiÃ¾Ã¾au, etc". The Journal of Indo-European Studies . 12 (3-4): 315â€“344.
- See also Cercignani, Fausto (1979). "The Reduplicating Syllable and Internal Open Juncture in Gothic". Zeitschrift fÃ¼r vergleichende Sprachforschung . 93 (1): 126â€“132.
- EythÃ³rsson, ThÃ³rhallur (2001). "Functional Categories, Cliticization, and Verb Movement in the Early Germanic Languages". In ThrÃ¡insson, HÃ¶skuldur; Epstein, Samuel David & Peter, Stever. Studies in Comparative Germanic Syntax . II . Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp.Â 109â€“10. ISBN Â 978-1-402-00294-6.
- EythÃ³rsson, ThÃ³rhallur (2001). "Functional Categories, Cliticization, and Verb Movement in the Early Germanic Languages". In ThrÃ¡insson, HÃ¶skuldur; Epstein, Samuel David & Peter, Stever. Studies in Comparative Germanic Syntax . II . Kluwer Academic Publishers. p.Â 110. ISBN Â 978-1-402-00294-6.
- EythÃ³rsson, ThÃ³rhallur (2001). "Functional Categories, Cliticization, and Verb Movement in the Early Germanic Languages". In ThrÃ¡insson, HÃ¶skuldur; Epstein, Samuel David & Peter, Stever. Studies in Comparative Germanic Syntax . II . Kluwer Academic Publishers. p.Â 110. ISBN Â 978-1-402-00294-6.
- EythÃ³rsson, ThÃ³rhallur (2001). "Functional Categories, Cliticization, and Verb Movement in the Early Germanic Languages". In ThrÃ¡insson, HÃ¶skuldur; Epstein, Samuel David & Peter, Stever. Studies in Comparative Germanic Syntax . II . Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp.Â 117â€“18, 122. ISBN Â 978-1-402-00294-6.
- Voyles, J. B. (1992). Early Germanic Grammar . San Diego: Academic Press. pp.Â 25â€“26. ISBN Â 0-12-728270-X.
- Holzer, Georg (1990). [Germanic word-borrowings in proto-slavic: towards a methodology of their identiification]. Croatica, Slavica, Indoeuropaea (in German). Verlag der Ã–sterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. 8 (ErgÃ¤nzungsband): 59â€“67. ISBN Â 9783700117742 . Retrieved 2014-01-07 .
- Shippey, Tom. The road to Middle-earth: Revised and Expanded edition . Houghton Mifflin Company. p.Â 26. ISBN Â 0-618-25760-8.
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