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Gothic is an
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...
East
Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...
that was spoken by the
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between West ...
. It is known primarily from the ''
Codex Argenteus The Codex Argenteus (Latin for "Silver Book/Codex") is a 6th century, 6th-century illuminated manuscript, originally containing Gospel#Canonical gospels, part of the Gothic Bible, 4th-century translation of the Christian Bible into the Gothic ...

Codex Argenteus
'', a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only
East Germanic language The East Germanic languages, also called the Oder The Oder (, ; Czech, Lower Sorbian and pl, Odra;, szl, Ôdra; hsb, Wódra) is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lak ...
with a sizeable
text corpus In linguistics, a corpus (plural ''corpora'') or text corpus is a language resource consisting of a large and structured set of texts (nowadays usually electronically stored and processed). In corpus linguistics, they are used to do statistical ana ...
. All others, including Burgundian and Vandalic, are known, if at all, only from proper names that survived in historical accounts, and from
loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning ...
s in other languages such as
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
, and
French
French
. As a Germanic language, Gothic is a part of the
Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
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 Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within 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 The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe a ...
converted from
Arianism Arianism is a Christology, Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that the Son of God is not co-eternal with God the Father and is distinct from th ...
to
Nicene Christianity The original Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nicaenum) was first adopted at the First Council of Nicaea, which opened on 19 June 325.''Readings in the History of Christian Theology'' by William Car ...
in 589). The language survived as a domestic language in the
Iberian peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian peninsula
(modern-day 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 Crimean Gothic was an East Germanic language spoken by the Crimean Goths in some isolated locations in Crimea Crimea (; ; uk, Крим, Krym; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırım; grc, Κιμμερία/Ταυρική, translit=K ...
survived in the lower
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
area and in isolated mountain regions in
Crimea Crimea; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırım; grc, Κιμμερία/Ταυρική, translit=Kimmería/Taurikḗ is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on mos ...

Crimea
. Lacking certain sound changes characteristic of Gothic, however, Crimean Gothic cannot be a lineal descendant of Bible Gothic. The existence of such early attested texts makes it a language of considerable interest in
comparative linguistics Comparative linguistics, or comparative-historical linguistics (formerly comparative philology) is a branch of historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change ...
.


History and evidence

Only a few documents in Gothic survive, not enough to completely reconstruct the language. Most Gothic-language sources 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 various
codices The codex (plural codices () was the historical ancestor of the modern book. Instead of being composed of sheets of paper, it used sheets of vellum, papyrus, or other materials. The term ''codex'' is often used for ancient manuscript books, wit ...
, mostly from the sixth century, copying the
Bible translation The Bible has been translation, translated into Bible translations by language, many languages from the biblical languages of Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, Aramaic and Koine Greek, Greek. the full Bible has been translated into 7 ...
that was commissioned by the
Arian Arianism is a Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius Arius (; grc-koi, Ἄρειος, ; 250 or 256–336) was a Cyrenaic The Cyrenaics or Kyrenaics ( grc, Κυρηναϊκοί; ''Kyrēnaïkoí'') were a sensual hedonist Greek ...
bishop
Ulfilas Ulfilas (–383), also known as Ulphilas and Orphila, all Latinized forms of the unattested Gothic language, Gothic form *𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰 Wulfila, literally "Little Wolf", was a Goths , Goth of Cappadocian Ancient Greeks , Greek des ...
(Wulfila, 311–382), leader of a community of
Visigothic The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
s in the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...

Roman
province of
Moesia Moesia (; Latin: ''Moesia''; el, Μοισία, Moisía) was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans south of the Danube River. It included most of the territory of modern-day Central Serbia, Kosovo and the northern ...
(modern-day
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may ref ...

Serbia
,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...

Bulgaria
/
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions ...

Romania
). He commissioned a translation of the Greek Bible into the Gothic language, of which roughly three-quarters of the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
and some fragments of the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. The ...
have survived. The translations, performed by several scholars, are collected in the following codices: :*''
Codex Argenteus The Codex Argenteus (Latin for "Silver Book/Codex") is a 6th century, 6th-century illuminated manuscript, originally containing Gospel#Canonical gospels, part of the Gothic Bible, 4th-century translation of the Christian Bible into the Gothic ...

Codex Argenteus
'' (
Uppsala Uppsala (, or all ending in , ; archaically spelled ''Upsala'') is the county seat of Uppsala County Uppsala County ( sv, Uppsala län) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesC ...

Uppsala
), including the Speyer fragment: 188 leaves ::The best-preserved Gothic manuscript and dating from the sixth century, it was preserved and transmitted by northern
Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mention ...
in modern-day Italy. It contains a large portion of the four
gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel#REDIRECT The gospel In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Te ...

gospel
s. 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. :*''
Codex AmbrosianusCodex Ambrosianus may refer to: *Codices Ambrosiani, five manuscripts containing rare text in the Gothic language *Codex Ambrosianus 435, containing Aristotle's ''On the Soul'' *Codex Ambrosianus 837, containing Aristotle's ''On the Soul'' {{dab ...
'' (
Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million, while its ...

Milan
) and the '' Codex Taurinensis'' (
Turin Turin ( , Piedmontese Piedmontese (autonym: or , in it, piemontese) is a language spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = ...

Turin
): Five parts, totaling 193 leaves ::It contains scattered passages from the New Testament (including parts of the gospels and the
Epistle An epistle (; el, ἐπιστολή, ''epistolē,'' "letter") is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic Didacticism is a philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qual ...
s), of the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. The ...
(
Nehemiah Nehemiah is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. He was governor of Yehud Medinata, Persian Judea under Artaxerxes I of Persia (465–424 BC). The name i ...
), and some commentaries known as ''
Skeireins The Skeireins ( got, 𐍃𐌺𐌴𐌹𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌽𐍃; ) is the longest and most important monument of the Gothic language Gothic is an extinct language, extinct East Germanic languages, East Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. ...
''. The text likely had been somewhat modified by copyists. :*''
Codex Gissensis
Codex Gissensis
'' (
Gießen Giessen, spelled ''Gießen'' in German (), is a town in the German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see ...
): One leaf with fragments of Luke 23–24 (apparently a Gothic-Latin
diglot A polyglot is a book that contains Parallel text, side-by-side versions of the same text in several different languages. Some editions of the Bible or its parts are polyglots, in which the Hebrew language, Hebrew and Greek language, Greek original ...
) was found in an excavation in Arsinoë in Egypt in 1907 and was destroyed by water damage in 1945, after copies had already been made by researchers. :*''
Codex Carolinus Codex Carolinus is an uncial manuscript of the New Testament on parchment, dated to the 6th or 7th century. It is a palimpsest containing a Latin language, Latin text written over a Gothic language, Gothic one. The Gothic text is designated by sigl ...
'' (
Wolfenbüttel Wolfenbüttel () is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a States of Germany, German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, northwestern Germany. It is the se ...

Wolfenbüttel
): Four leaves, fragments of Romans 11–15 (a Gothic-Latin
diglot A polyglot is a book that contains Parallel text, side-by-side versions of the same text in several different languages. Some editions of the Bible or its parts are polyglots, in which the Hebrew language, Hebrew and Greek language, Greek original ...
). :* ''Codex Vaticanus Latinus'' 5750 (
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City
): Three leaves, pages 57–58, 59–60, and 61–62 of the ''Skeireins''. This is a fragment of '' Codex Ambrosianus E''. :*''Gothica Bononiensia'' (also known as the ''Codex Bononiensis''), a recently discovered (2009) palimpsest fragment of two folios with what appears to be a sermon, containing besides non-biblical text a number of direct Bible quotes and allusions, both from previously attested parts of the Gothic Bible (the text is clearly taken from Ulfilas' translation) and previously unattested ones (e.g., Psalms, Genesis). :* ''Fragmenta Pannonica'' (also known as the ''Hács-Béndekpuszta fragments'' or ''Tabella Hungarica''), which consist of fragments of a 1 mm thick lead plate with remnants of verses from the Gospels. * A scattering of old documents: two deeds (the ''Naples'' and ''Arezzo'' deeds, on papyri), alphabets (in the ''Gothica Vindobonensia'' and the ''Gothica Parisina''), a calendar (in the ''Codex Ambrosianus A''), glosses found in a number of manuscripts and a few
runic inscriptions A runic inscription is an inscription Epigraphy () is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, ...
(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. Furthermore, late ninth-century Christian inscriptions using the
Gothic alphabet The Gothic alphabet is an alphabet used for writing the Gothic language. Ulfilas (or Wulfila) developed it in the 4th century AD for the purpose of Bible translations, translating the Bible. The alphabet essentially uses uncial script, uncia ...

Gothic alphabet
, not runes, and copying or mimicking biblical Gothic
orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
, have been found at
Mangup Mangup (russian: Мангуп, uk, Мангуп, crh, Mangup) also known as ''Mangup Kale'' (''kale'' means "fortress" in Turkish) is a historic fortress in Crimea Crimea (; ; uk, Крим, Krym; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırı ...
in
Crimea Crimea; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırım; grc, Κιμμερία/Ταυρική, translit=Kimmería/Taurikḗ is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on mos ...

Crimea
.Korobov, M. and A. Vinogradov, 'Gotische Graffito-Inschriften aus der Bergkrim', ''Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und Literatur'' 145.2 (2016) pp. 141-157, esp. p. 153. * A small dictionary of more than 80 words and an untranslated song, compiled by the Fleming
Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq (1522 in Comines – 28 October 1592; la, Augerius Gislenius Busbequius), sometimes Augier Ghislain de Busbecq, was a 16th-century Flemish Flemish (''Vlaams'') is a Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankis ...

Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq
, the
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English (german: Haus Habsburg ; es, Casa de Habsburgo ; hu, Habsburg-család), also known as the House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich; es, link=no, Casa de Austria), ...

Habsburg
ambassador to the court of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
in
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
from 1555 to 1562, who was curious to find out about the language and by arrangement met two speakers of
Crimean Gothic Crimean Gothic was an East Germanic language spoken by the Crimean Goths in some isolated locations in Crimea Crimea (; ; uk, Крим, Krym; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırım; grc, Κιμμερία/Ταυρική, translit=K ...
and listed the terms in his compilation ''Turkish Letters'': dating from nearly a millennium after Ulfilas, these terms are not representative of his language. Busbecq's material 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 twelve leaves of a
palimpsest In textual studiesTextual scholarship (or textual studies) is an umbrella term In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods fo ...

palimpsest
containing parts of the
Gospel of Matthew The Gospel according to Matthew ( el, Κατὰ Ματθαῖον Εὐαγγέλιον, translit=Katà Matthaîon Euangélion), also called the Gospel of Matthew, or simply Matthew, is the first book of the New Testament and one of the three s ...
. Only fragments of the Gothic translation of the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
have been preserved. The translation was apparently done in the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
region by people in close contact with Greek
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
culture. The Gothic Bible apparently was used by the
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe a ...
in southern
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
until the loss of Visigothic France at the start of the 6th century and in Visigothic
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a penin ...

Iberia
until about 700, and perhaps for a time in Italy, the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
, and
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
. In the latter country at
Mangup Mangup (russian: Мангуп, uk, Мангуп, crh, Mangup) also known as ''Mangup Kale'' (''kale'' means "fortress" in Turkish) is a historic fortress in Crimea Crimea (; ; uk, Крим, Krym; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırı ...
, ninth-century inscriptions have been found of a prayer in the Gothic alphabet using biblical Gothic orthography. In exterminating
Arianism Arianism is a Christology, Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that the Son of God is not co-eternal with God the Father and is distinct from th ...
, many texts in Gothic were probably overwritten as
palimpsest In textual studiesTextual scholarship (or textual studies) is an umbrella term In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods fo ...

palimpsest
s 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 The Gospel according to John ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, translit=Euangélion katà Iōánnēn, also known as the Gospel of John, or simply John) is the fourth of the four canonical gospels. It contains a highly sc ...
. Very few secondary sources make reference to the Gothic language after about 800. In ''De incrementis ecclesiae Christianae'' (840–842),
Walafrid Strabo Walafrid, alternatively spelt Walahfrid, surnamed Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. The father of Pompey was called " Pompeius Str ...
, a Frankish monk who lived in
Swabia upThe coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg: ''Or, three lions passant sable'', the arms of the Duchy of Swabia, in origin the coat of arms of the House of Hohenstaufen. Also used for Swabia (and for Württemberg-Baden during 1945–1952) are ...

Swabia
, speaks of a group of monks, who reported that even now certain peoples in
Scythia Scythia (, ; from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
(
Dobruja Dobruja or Dobrudja (; bg, Добруджа, Dobrudzha or ''Dobrudža''; ro, Dobrogea, or ; tr, Dobruca) is a historical region in the Balkans that has been divided since the 19th century between the territories of Bulgaria and Romania. I ...

Dobruja
), 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 The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between West ...
, many writers used the word ''Goths'' to mean any Germanic people in eastern Europe (such as the
Varangians The Varangians (; non, Væringjar; gkm, Βάραγγοι, ''Várangoi'';Varangian
" Online Etymo ...
), many of whom certainly did not use the Gothic language as known from the Gothic Bible. Some writers even referred to -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 Slavic. 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 ''mēna'' ("moon"), compared to Crimean Gothic ''mine'', can suggest an East Germanic connection. Generally, the Gothic language refers to the language of
Ulfilas Ulfilas (–383), also known as Ulphilas and Orphila, all Latinized forms of the unattested Gothic language, Gothic form *𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰 Wulfila, literally "Little Wolf", was a Goths , Goth of Cappadocian Ancient Greeks , Greek des ...
, but the attestations themselves are largely from the 6th century, long after Ulfilas had died.


Alphabet and transliteration

A few
Gothic runic inscriptionsVery few Elder Futhark inscriptions in the Gothic language have been found in the territory historically settled by the Goths (Wielbark culture, Chernyakhov culture). Due to the early Christianization of the Goths, the Gothic alphabet replaced runes ...
were found across Europe, but due to early Christianization of the Goths, the Runic writing was quickly replaced by the newly invented Gothic alphabet. 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 The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels ...

Greek alphabet
only while others maintain that there are some Gothic letters of
Runic Runes are the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing ...

Runic
or
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
origin. A standardized system is used for transliterating Gothic words into the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequ ...

Latin script
. The system mirrors the conventions of the native alphabet, such as writing long 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
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
s ( macrons and
acute accent The acute accent, , is a diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembl ...

acute accent
s) to certain vowels to clarify the pronunciation or, in certain cases, to indicate the
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
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: Notes: * This "normalised transliteration" system devised by
Jacob Grimm Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm (4 January 1785 – 20 September 1863), also known as Ludwig Karl, was a German linguist, philologist, jurist, and folklorist Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or ...

Jacob Grimm
is used in some modern editions of Gothic texts and in studies of
Common Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
. It signals distinctions not made by Ulfilas in his alphabet. Rather, they reflect various origins in Proto-Germanic. Thus, ** ''aí'' is used for the sound derived from the Proto-Germanic short vowels ''e'' and ''i'' before and . ** ''ái'' 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 , which was then certainly a
monophthong A monophthong ( ; , ) is a pure vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writ ...
. A monophthongal value is accepted by Eduard Prokosch in his influential ''A Common Germanic Grammar''.Prokosch p. 105 It had earlier been accepted by Joseph Wright but only in an appendix to his ''Grammar of the Gothic Language''.Wright (1910 edition) p. 362 ** ''ai'' is used for the sound derived from the Common Germanic long vowel ''ē'' before a vowel. ** ''áu'' is used for the sound derived from Common Germanic diphthong ''au''. It cannot be related to a Greek digraph, since then represented a sequence of a vowel and a spirant (
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
) consonant, which Ulfilas transcribed as ''aw'' 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 and alternate in native words in a nearly allophonic way, with occurring in native words only before the consonants , , while occurs everywhere else (nevertheless, there are a few exceptions such as before in ''hiri'', consistently in the syllable of certain past-tense verbs regardless of the following consonant, which indicate that these sounds had become phonemicized). In foreign borrowings, however, and 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 "district ()" vs. "district ()"; "maiden ()" vs. "maiden ()"; "maiden ()" vs. "maiden ()"; "deed ()" vs. "deed ()"; "corpse ()" vs. "corpses ()"; ?? "tree ()" vs. "tree ()"; "to do" vs. "I/he did"; "to judge" vs. "I/he judged". Examples of cross-paradigm alternation are Class IV verbs "to come" vs. "to carry, to bear", "(having) come" vs. "(having) carried"; Class VIIb verbs "to let" vs. "to sow" (note similar preterites "I/he let", "I/he sowed"). A combination of intra- and cross-paradigm alternation occurs in Class V "to hasten" vs. "I/he hastened" (expected *''snaw'', compare "to come", "I/he came"). *The carefully maintained alternations between ''iu'' and ''iw'' suggest that ''iu'' may have been something other than . Various possibilities have been suggested (for example, high central or high back unrounded vowels, such as ); 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 as the pronunciation of ''iu''. *Macrons represent long ''ā'' and ''ū'' (however, long i appears as ''ei'', following the representation used in the native alphabet). Macrons are often also used in the case of ''ē'' and ''ō''; however, they are sometimes omitted since these vowels are always long. Long ''ā'' occurs only before the consonants , and represents
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
nasalized < earlier ; non-nasal 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 Lithuanian may refer to: * Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') are a Balts, Baltic ethnic group. They are native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,561,300 people. Another million or more make up the Lith ...
. Non-nasal and occurred in Proto-Germanic, however, and so long ''ei'' and ''ū'' occur in all contexts. Before and , long ''ei'' and ''ū'' could stem from either non-nasal or nasal long vowels in Proto-Germanic; it is possible that the nasalization was still preserved in Gothic but not written. The following table shows the correspondence between spelling and sound for consonants: *, which is written with a single character in the native alphabet, is transliterated using the symbol '''', which is used only in transliterating Gothic. * is similarly written with a single character in the native alphabet and is transliterated ''q'' (with no following ''u''). *, 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 ) and its rarity. * is written ''þ'', similarly to other Germanic languages. *Although is the
allophone In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of e ...
of occurring before and , it is written ''g'', following the native alphabet convention (which, in turn, follows Greek usage), which leads to occasional ambiguities, e.g. "song" but "faithful" (compare English "true").


Phonology

It is possible to determine more or less exactly how the Gothic of
Ulfilas Ulfilas (–383), also known as Ulphilas and Orphila, all Latinized forms of the unattested Gothic language, Gothic form *𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰 Wulfila, literally "Little Wolf", was a Goths , Goth of Cappadocian Ancient Greeks , Greek des ...
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.


Vowels

* , and can be either long or short. Gothic writing distinguishes between long and short vowels only for by writing ''i'' for the short form and ''ei'' for the long (a
digraph Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography), a pair of characters used together to represent a single sound, such as "sh" in English * Orthographic ligature, the joining of two letters as a single glyph, such as "æ" * Digraph (computing), a grou ...
or ''false diphthong''), in an imitation of Greek usage (ει = ). Single vowels are sometimes long where a historically present
nasal consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
has been dropped in front of an (a case of
compensatory lengthening Compensatory lengthening in phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular la ...
). Thus, the preterite of the verb ''briggan'' "to bring" (English ''bring'', Dutch ''brengen'', German ''bringen'') becomes ''brahta'' (English ''brought'', Dutch ''bracht'', German ''brachte''), from
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
*''branhtē''. In detailed
transliteration Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script (styles of h ...

transliteration
, when the intent is more
phonetic transcription Phonetic transcription (also known as phonetic script or phonetic notation) is the visual representation of speech sounds (or phones A telephone is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when ...
, length is noted by a macron (or failing that, often a
circumflex The circumflex is a diacritic in the Latin script, Latin and Greek alphabet, Greek scripts that is used in the written forms of many languages and in various romanization and Transcription (linguistics), transcription schemes. It received its E ...
): ''brāhta'', ''brâhta''. This is the only context in which appears natively whereas , like , is found often enough in other contexts: ''brūks'' "useful" (Dutch ''gebruik'', German ''Gebrauch'', Icelandic ''brúk'' "use"). * and are long
close-mid vowel A close-mid vowel (also mid-close vowel, high-mid vowel, mid-high vowel or half-close vowel) is any in a class of vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words ** ...
s. They are written as ''e'' and ''o'': ''neƕ'' "near" (English ''nigh'', Dutch ''nader'', German ''nah''); ''fodjan'' "to feed". * and are short
open-mid vowel An open-mid vowel (also mid-open vowel, low-mid vowel, mid-low vowel or half-open vowel) is any in a class of vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two pr ...
s. They are noted using the digraphs ''ai'' and ''au'': ''taihun'' "ten" (Dutch ''tien'', German ''zehn'', Icelandic ''tíu''), ''dauhtar'' "daughter" (Dutch ''dochter'', German ''Tochter'', Icelandic ''dóttir''). In transliterating Gothic, accents are placed on the second vowel of these digraphs ''aí'' and ''aú'' to distinguish them from the original diphthongs ''ái'' and ''áu'': ''taíhun'', ''daúhtar''. In most cases short and are allophones of before . Furthermore, the reduplication syllable of the reduplicating preterites has ''ai'' as well, which was probably pronounced as a short . Finally, short and occur in loan words from Greek and Latin (''aípiskaúpus'' = "bishop", ''laíktjo'' = ''lectio'' "lection", ''Paúntius'' = ''Pontius''). * The Germanic
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
s and appear as
digraph Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography), a pair of characters used together to represent a single sound, such as "sh" in English * Orthographic ligature, the joining of two letters as a single glyph, such as "æ" * Digraph (computing), a grou ...
s written and in Gothic. Researchers have disagreed over whether they were still pronounced as diphthongs and in Ulfilas's time (4th century) or had become long
open-mid vowel An open-mid vowel (also mid-open vowel, low-mid vowel, mid-low vowel or half-open vowel) is any in a class of vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two pr ...
s: and : ''ains'' "one" (German ''eins'', Icelandic ''einn''), ''augo'' "eye" (German ''Auge'', Icelandic ''auga''). It is most likely that the latter view is correct, as it is indisputable that the digraphs and represent the sounds and in some circumstances (see below), and and were available to unambiguously represent the sounds and . The digraph is in fact used to represent in foreign words (such as ''Pawlus'' "Paul"), and alternations between / and / are scrupulously maintained in paradigms where 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 and are normally written with an accent on the first vowel (''ái, áu'') when they correspond to Proto-Germanic and . * Long and also occur as allophones of and respectively before a following vowel: ''waian'' "to blow" (Dutch ''waaien'', German ''wehen''), ''bauan'' "to build" (Dutch ''bouwen'', German ''bauen'', Icelandic ''búa'' "to live, reside"), also in Greek words ''Trauada'' "Troad" (Gk. ). In detailed transcription these are notated ''ai, au''. * (pronounced like German ''ü'' 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 ): ''azwmus'' "unleavened bread" ( < Gk. ). It represents an υ (y) or the diphthong οι (oi), both of which were pronounced in the Greek of the time. Since the sound was foreign to Gothic, it was perhaps pronounced . * is a falling
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
(: ''diups'' "deep" (Dutch ''diep'', German ''tief'', Icelandic ''djúpur''). * Greek diphthongs: In
Ulfilas Ulfilas (–383), also known as Ulphilas and Orphila, all Latinized forms of the unattested Gothic language, Gothic form *𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰 Wulfila, literally "Little Wolf", was a Goths , Goth of Cappadocian Ancient Greeks , Greek des ...
's era, all the diphthongs of Classical Greek had become simple vowels in speech (''
monophthong A monophthong ( ; , ) is a pure vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writ ...
ization''), except for αυ (au) and ευ (eu), which were probably still pronounced and . (They evolved into and in
Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' ...
.) Ulfilas notes them, in words borrowed from Greek, as ''aw'' and ''aiw'', probably pronounced : ''Pawlus'' "Paul" (Gk. ), ''aíwaggelista'' "evangelist" (Gk. , via the Latin ''evangelista''). * All vowels (including diphthongs) can be followed by a , which was likely pronounced as the second element of a diphthong with roughly the sound of . It seems likely that this is more of an instance of phonetic juxtaposition than of true diphthongs (such as, for example, the sound in the French word ''paille'' ("straw"), which is not the diphthong but rather a vowel followed by an
approximant Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives Fricatives are conso ...
): ''alew'' "olive oil" ( < Latin ''oleum''), ''snáiws'' ("snow"), ''lasiws'' "tired" (English ''lazy'').


Consonants

In general, Gothic consonants are
devoiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics and phonology to characterize speech sounds (usually consonants). Speech sounds can be described as either voicelessness, voiceless (otherwise known as ''unvoiced'') or voiced. The term, however, is ...
at the ends of words. Gothic is rich in fricative consonants (although many of them may have been
approximant Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives Fricatives are conso ...
s; it is hard to separate the two) derived by the processes described in
Grimm's law Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift) is a set of sound laws A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a language change, change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement ...
and
Verner's law Verner's law described a historical sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one ph ...
and characteristic of
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
. Gothic is unusual among Germanic languages in having a phoneme, which has not become through rhotacization. Furthermore, the doubling of written consonants between vowels suggests that Gothic made distinctions between long and short, or
geminated In phonetics and phonology, gemination (), or consonant lengthening (from Latin ''geminatio'' "doubling", itself from ''Gemini (constellation), gemini'' "twins"), is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singlet ...

geminated
consonants: ''atta'' "dad", ''kunnan'' "to know" (Dutch ''kennen'', German ''kennen'' "to know", Icelandic ''kunna'').


Stops

* The voiceless stops , and are regularly noted by ''p'', ''t'' and ''k'' respectively: ''paska'' "Easter" (from the Greek ), ''tuggo'' "tongue", ''kalbo'' "calf". * The letter ''q'' is probably a voiceless labiovelar stop, , comparable to the Latin ''qu'': ''qiman'' "to come". In later Germanic languages, this phoneme has become either a
consonant cluster In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the met ...
of a
voiceless velar stop In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...

voiceless velar stop
+ a
labio-velar approximant The voiced labialized velar approximant is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronoun ...
(English ''qu'') or a simple voiceless velar stop (English ''c, k'') * The voiced stops , and 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'' "inheritance", ''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 , , which was written with the digraph ''gw''. It occurred after a nasal, e.g. ''saggws'' "song", or long as a regular outcome of Germanic *''ww'': ''triggws'' "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, : ''waddjus'' "wall" (Icelandic ''veggur''), ''twaddje'' "two (genitive)" (Icelandic ''tveggja'').


Fricatives

* and 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. ''saíhs'' "six", ''máiza'' "greater" (English ''more'', Dutch ''meer'', German ''mehr'', Icelandic ''meira'') versus ''máis'' "more, rather". * and , written ''f'' and ''þ'', are voiceless bilabial and voiceless dental fricatives respectively. It is likely that the relatively unstable sound became . ''f'' and ''þ'' are also derived from ''b'' and ''d'' at the ends of words and then are devoiced and become approximants: ''gif'' "give (imperative)" (infinitive ''giban'': German ''geben''), ''miþ'' "with" (
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
''mid'',
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
''með'', Dutch ''met'', German ''mit''). The cluster became in some words but not others: ''þlauhs'' "flight" from Germanic ''*flugiz''; ''þliuhan'' "flee" from Germanic ''*fleuhaną'' (but see ''flōdus'' "river", ''flahta'' "braid"). This sound change is unique among Germanic languages. * is written as ''h'': ''haban'' "to have". It was probably pronounced in word-final position and before a consonant as well (not , since > is written ''g'', not ''h''): ''jah'' "and" (Dutch, German, Scandinavian ''ja'' "yes"). * is an allophone of at the end of a word or before a voiceless consonant; it is always written ''g'': ''dags'' "day" (German ''Tag''). In some borrowed Greek words is the special letter ''x'', which represents the Greek letter χ (''ch''): ''Xristus'' "Christ" (Gk. ). * , and are voiced fricative found only in between vowels. They are
allophones In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of e ...
of , and and are not distinguished from them in writing. may have become , a more stable labiodental form. In the study of Germanic languages, these phonemes are usually transcribed as ''ƀ'', ''đ'' and ''ǥ'' respectively: ''haban'' "to have", ''þiuda'' "people" (Dutch ''Diets'', German ''Deutsch'', Icelandic ''þjóð'' > English ''Dutch''), ''áugo'' "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 , and , e.g. ''hláifs'' "loaf" but genitive ''hláibis'' "of a loaf", plural ''hláibōs'' "loaves". * ''ƕ'' (also transcribed ''hw'') is the labiovelar equivalent of , derived from Proto-Indo-European *kʷ. It was probably pronounced (a voiceless ), as ''wh'' is pronounced in certain dialects of English and in Scots: ''ƕan'' "when", ''ƕar'' "where", ''ƕeits'' "white".


Sonorants

Gothic has three nasal consonants, one of which is an allophone of the others, all found only in
complementary distribution In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic br ...
with them. Nasals in Gothic, like most other languages, are pronounced at the same point of articulation as the consonant that follows them ( assimilation). Therefore, clusters like and are not possible. * and are freely distributed and so can be found in any position in a syllable and form
minimal pair In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, spoken or Sign language, signed, that differ in only one phonological element, such as a phoneme, toneme or chroneme, and have distinct meanings. They are used to ...
s except in certain contexts where they are neutralized: before a
bilabial consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every ...

bilabial consonant
becomes , while preceding a
dental stopIn phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical prop ...

dental stop
becomes , as per the principle of assimilation described in the previous paragraph. In front of a velar stop, they both become . and are transcribed as ''n'' and ''m'', and, in writing, neutralisation is marked: ''sniumundo'' ("quickly"). * 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 and . Following Greek conventions, it is normally written as ''g'' (sometimes ''n''): ''þagkjan'' "to think", ''sigqan'' "to sink" ~ ''þankeiþ'' "thinks". The cluster ''ggw'' sometimes denotes , but sometimes (see above). * is transliterated as ''w'' before a vowel: ''weis'' ("we"), ''twái'' "two" (German ''zwei''). * is written as ''j'': ''jer'' "year", ''sakjo'' "strife". * and occur as in other European languages: ''laggs'' (possibly , or ) "long", ''mel'' "hour" (English ''meal'', Dutch ''maal'', German ''Mahl'', Icelandic ''mál''). The exact pronunciation of is unknown, but it is usually assumed to be a
trill Trill most often refers to: * Trill consonant, a type of sound used in some languages * Trill (music), a type of musical ornament Trill may also refer to: Fictional entities * Trill (The Legend of Zelda), Trill (''The Legend of Zelda''), a bird ...
or a
flap Flap may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * ''Flap'' (film), a 1970 American film * Flap, a boss character in the arcade game ''Gaiapolis'' * Flap, a minor character in the film ''Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland'' Biology and heal ...
): ''raíhts'' "right", ''afar'' "after". * , , and 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 consonant A syllabic consonant or vocalic consonant is a consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians expla ...
s in such circumstances (as in English "bottle" or "bottom"): ''tagl'' or "hair" (English ''tail'', Icelandic ''tagl''), ''máiþms'' or "gift", ''táikns'' or "sign" (English ''token'', Dutch ''teken'', German ''Zeichen'', Icelandic ''tákn'') and ''tagr'' or "tear (as in crying)".


Accentuation and intonation

Accentuation in Gothic can be reconstructed through phonetic comparison,
Grimm's law Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift) is a set of sound laws A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a language change, change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement ...
and
Verner's law Verner's law described a historical sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one ph ...
. Gothic used a
stress accent In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
rather than the
pitch accent A pitch-accent language is a language that has word accents in which one syllable in a word or morpheme is more prominent than the others, but the accentuated syllable is indicated by a contrasting pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency ...
of
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
. This is indicated by the shortening of long vowels and and the loss of short vowels and in unstressed final syllables. Just as in other
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
, the free moving
Proto-Indo-European accent Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
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'' "border, borderlands" (English ''march'', Dutch ''mark''); ''aftra'' "after"; ''bidjan'' "pray" (Dutch, ''bidden'', German ''bitten'', Icelandic ''biðja'', English ''bid''). * Compound words: ** Noun first element: ''guda-láus'' "godless". ** Verb second element: ''ga-láubjan'' "believe" (Dutch ''geloven'', German ''glauben'' <
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Euro ...
''g(i)louben'' by
syncope Syncope may refer to: * Syncope (medicine), also known as fainting * Syncope (phonology), the loss of one or more sounds, particularly an unstressed vowel, from the interior of a word * Syncopation, a musical effect caused by off-beat or otherwise ...
of the unaccented ''i'').


Grammar


Morphology


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 In linguistics, declension is the changing of the form of a word, generally to express its syntactic function in the sentence, by way of some inflection. The inflectional change of verbs is called Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. Declensions ...
system. Gothic had
nominative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
,
accusative The accusative case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of (some or all) prepositions. It is ...
,
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
and
dative case In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
s, as well as vestiges of a
vocative case In grammar In linguistics, the grammar (from Ancient Greek ''grammatikḗ'') of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The ...
that was sometimes identical to the nominative and sometimes to the accusative. The three
genders Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity and masculinity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gende ...
of Indo-European were all present. Nouns and adjectives were inflected according to one of two
grammatical number In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category A grammatical category or grammatical feature is a property of items within the grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is ...
s: the singular and the plural. Nouns can be divided into numerous declensions according to the form of the stem: ''a'', ''ō'', ''i'', ''u'', ''an'', ''ōn'', ''ein'', ''r'', etc. Adjectives have two variants, ''indefinite'' and ''definite'' (sometimes ''indeterminate'' and ''determinate''), with definite adjectives normally used in combination with the definite
determiner A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practic ...
s (such as the
definite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a that has a or as its or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common , and the ...
''sa''/''þata''/''sō'') while indefinite adjectives are used in other circumstances., Indefinite adjectives generally use a combination of ''a''-stem and ''ō''-stem endings, and definite adjectives use a combination of ''an''-stem and ''ōn''-stem endings. The concept of "strong" and "weak" declensions that is prevalent in the grammar of many other
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

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 In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
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 ''unƕeila'' ("constantly", from the root ''ƕeila'', "time"; compare to the English "while"), comparative adjective and
present participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
s. Others, such as ''áins'' ("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": 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 ''‑us'' / ''‑ī'' and ‑ος / ‑ου; ** roots ending in ''-ō'', ''-jō'' and ''-wō'' (feminine): equivalent to the Greek and Latin first declension in ''‑a'' / ''‑ae'' and ‑α / ‑ας (‑η / ‑ης); ** roots ending in ''-i'' (masculine and feminine): equivalent to the Greek and Latin third declension in ''‑is'' / ''‑is'' ( ''‑ī'', ''-ium'') and ‑ις / ‑εως; ** roots ending in ''-u'' (all three genders): equivalent to the Latin fourth declension in ''‑us'' / ''‑ūs'' and the Greek third declension in ‑υς / ‑εως; * ''n''-stem declensions, equivalent to the Greek and Latin third declension in ''‑ō'' / ''‑inis/ōnis'' and ‑ων / ‑ονος or ‑ην / ‑ενος: ** roots ending in ''-an'', ''-jan'', ''-wan'' (masculine); ** roots ending in ''-ōn'' and ''-ein'' (feminine); ** roots ending in ''-n'' (neuter): equivalent to the Greek and Latin third declension in ''‑men'' / ''‑minis'' and ‑μα / ‑ματος; * 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.


Pronouns

Gothic inherited the full set of Indo-European pronouns:
personal pronoun Personal pronouns are pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas ...
s (including
reflexive pronoun In general linguistics, a reflexive pronoun, sometimes simply called a reflexive, is an anaphoric pronoun In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word or a group of words that one may subs ...
s for each of the three
grammatical person In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s),
possessive pronoun A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the wor ...
s, both simple and compound
demonstratives Demonstratives ( abbreviated ) are word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), mean ...
,
relative pronoun A relative pronoun is a pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
s, interrogatives and
indefinite pronoun An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, si ...
s. 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 In algebra Algebra (from ar, الجبر, lit=reunion of broken parts, bonesetting, translit=al-jabr) is one of the areas of mathematics, broad areas of mathematics, together with number theory, geometry and mathematical analysis, analysis. I ...
, 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 Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
used the dual for all grammatical categories that took a number (as did Classical
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

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: ''þata'', feminine: ''so'', from the Indo-European root ''*so'', ''*seh2'', ''*tod''; cognate to the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
article ὁ, ἡ, τό and the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''istud'') can be used as an article, allowing constructions of the type ''definite article + weak adjective + noun''. The interrogative pronouns begin with ''ƕ-'', which derives from the proto-Indo-European consonant ''*kʷ'' 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 in some dialects. The same etymology is present in the interrogatives of many other Indo-European languages": ''w-'' in
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, ''hv-'' in
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
, the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''qu-'' (which persists in modern
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of w ...

Romance languages
), the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
τ- or π-, the and Indic ''k-'' as well as many others.


Verbs

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#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
: *Latin - ''leg-i-mus'' ("we read"): root ''leg-'' + thematic vowel ''-i-'' (from ''*o'') + suffix ''-mus''. *Greek - λύ-ο-μεν ("we untie"): root λυ- + thematic vowel -ο- + suffix -μεν. *Gothic - ''nim-a-m'' ("we take"): root ''nim-'' + thematic vowel ''-a-'' (from ''*o'') + suffix ''-m''. The other conjugation, called '
athematic In Indo-European studies, a thematic vowel or theme vowel is the vowel or from Indo-European ablaut, ablaut placed before the Suffix#Inflectional suffixes, ending of a Proto-Indo-European language, Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word. Nouns, adjectives ...
', 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
preterite The preterite or preterit (; list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense or verb form serving to denote events that took place or were completed in the past; in some languages, such as Spanish, French, and English, it ...
s formed by appending the suffixes ''-da'' or ''-ta'', parallel to past participles formed with ''-þ'' / ''-t''. Strong verbs form preterites by
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from Standard High German, German '':wikt:Ablaut#German, Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the Germanic strong verb, stron ...
(the alternating of vowels in their root forms) or by
reduplication In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

reduplication
(prefixing the root with the first consonant in the root plus ''aí'') 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"): ** Gothic: ''haban'', preterite: ''habáida'', past participle: ''habáiþs''; ** English: ''(to) have'', preterite: ''had'', past participle: ''had''; ** German: ''haben'', preterite: ''hatte'', past participle: ''gehabt''; ** Icelandic: ''hafa'', preterite: ''hafði'', past participle: ''haft''; ** Dutch: ''hebben'', preterite: ''had'', past participle: ''gehad''; ** Swedish: ''ha(va)'', preterite: ''hade'', supine: ''haft''; * strong verbs ("to give"): ** Gothic: infinitive: ''giban'', preterite: ''gaf''; ** English: infinitive: ''(to) give'', preterite: ''gave''; ** German: infinitive: ''geben'', preterite: ''gab''; ** Icelandic: infinitive: ''gefa'', preterite: ''gaf''; ** Dutch: infinitive: ''geven'', preterite: ''gaf''; ** Swedish: infinitive: ''giva'' (''ge''), preterite: ''gav''. Verbal conjugation in Gothic have two
grammatical voice In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
s: 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 mood In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langua ...
s:
indicative A realis mood (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for ...
,
subjunctive The subjunctive is a grammatical mood In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, ...
(from an old
optative The optative mood ( or ; list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a grammatical mood that indicates a wish or hope regarding a given Action (philosophy), action. It is a subset, superset of the cohortative mood and is closely related to the ...
form) and
imperative Imperative may refer to: *Imperative mood, a grammatical mood (or mode) expressing commands, direct requests, and prohibitions *Imperative programming, a programming paradigm in computer science *Imperative logic *Imperative (film), ''Imperative'' ...
as well as three kinds of nominal forms: a present
infinitive Infinitive (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for exa ...
, a present
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...
, and a past
passive Passive may refer to: * Passive voice, a grammatical voice common in many languages, see also Pseudopassive (disambiguation), Pseudopassive * Passive language, a language from which an interpreter works * Passivity (behavior), the condition of sub ...

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 ''wáit'', from the proto-Indo-European ''*woid-h2e'' ("to see" in the perfect), corresponds exactly to its Sanskrit cognate ''véda'' and in Greek to ϝοἶδα. 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 ''nōuī'' ("I have learned" and "I know"). The preterite-present verbs include ''áigan'' ("to possess") and ''kunnan'' ("to know") among others.


Syntax


Word order

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, διωχθήσονται (''diōchthēsontai'', "they will be persecuted") is rendered: : Likewise Gothic translations of Greek noun phrases may feature a verb and a complement. In both cases, the verb follows the complement, 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: : : And in a ''wh''-question the verb directly follows the question word: :


Clitics

Gothic has two
clitic In morphology and syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word ...
particles placed in the second position in a sentence, in accordance with
Wackernagel's Law In morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as neb ...
. One such clitic particle is -''u'', indicating a yes–no question or an indirect question, like Latin -''ne'': : : The prepositional phrase without the clitic -''u'' appears as ''af þus 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 () want" from ''wileiþ'' "you () want". If the first word has a
preverb Although not widely accepted in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of ...
attached, the clitic actually splits the preverb from the verb: ''ga-u-láubjats'' "do you both believe...?" from ''galáubjats'' "you both believe". Another such clitic is ''-uh'' "and", appearing as ''-h'' after a vowel: ''ga-h-mēlida'' "and he wrote" from ''gamēlida'' "he wrote", ''urreis nim-uh'' "arise and take!" from the imperative form ''nim'' "take". After ''iþ'' or any indefinite besides ''sums'' "some" and ''anþar'' "another", -''uh'' cannot be placed; in the latter category, this is only because indefinite determiner phrases cannot move to the front of a clause. 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-þan-sat ijōs'' "and then he seized them ()" from ''dissat'' "he seized" (notice again the voicing of ''diz-''), ''ga-u-ƕa-sēƕi'' "whether he saw anything" from ''gasēƕi'' "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.


Distinctive features

Gothic fails to display a number of innovations shared by all Germanic languages attested later: * lack of Germanic umlaut, * lack of Rhotacism (sound change), rhotacism. The language has also preserved many features that were mostly lost 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 In morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as neb ...
, splitting verbs from pre-verbs.


Lack of umlaut

Most conspicuously, Gothic shows no sign of morphological Germanic umlaut, umlaut. Gothic , , can be contrasted with English ''foot'' : ''feet'', German : , Old Norse : , Danish : . These forms contain the characteristic change > (English), > (German), > (ON and Danish) 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 (sound change)#Germanic languages, rhotacism: * Gothic , genitive case, ≠ * Old English , "wild animal" (Modern English ''deer'').


Passive voice

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 ''hātte'' or Runic Norse () ''haitē'' "am called", derived from Proto-Germanic ''*haitaną'' "to call, command". (The related verbs ''heißen'' 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".) The morphological passive in North Germanic languages (Swedish ''gör'' "does", ''görs'' "is being done") originates from the
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
Old Norse morphology#Suffixes and clitics, middle voice, which is an innovation not inherited from Indo-European.


Dual number

Unlike other Germanic languages, which retained
dual number In algebra Algebra (from ar, الجبر, lit=reunion of broken parts, bonesetting, translit=al-jabr) is one of the areas of mathematics, broad areas of mathematics, together with number theory, geometry and mathematical analysis, analysis. I ...
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 and Old English ''wit'', Old Norse ''vit'' "we two" (thought to have been in fact derived from ''*wi-du'' literally "we two").


Reduplication

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" : ''saiso'' * Old Norse ''sá'' : ''seri'' < Proto-Germanic *''sezō'' * Gothic ''laikan'' "to play" : ''lailaik'' * Old English ''lācan'' : ''leolc'', ''lēc''


Classification

The standard theory of the origin of the Germanic languages divides the languages into three groups: East Germanic languages, East Germanic (Gothic and a few other very scantily-attested languages), North Germanic languages, North Germanic (Old Norse language, Old Norse and its derivatives, such as Swedish language, Swedish,
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
, Norwegian language, Norwegian, Icelandic language, Icelandic, and Faroese language, Faroese) and West Germanic languages, West Germanic (all others, including Old English,
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Euro ...
, Old Saxon, Old Dutch, Old Frisian and the numerous modern languages derived from these, including English language, English,
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, and Dutch language, 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 languages, 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 language, 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 *''kunją'' > Gothic ''kuni'' (kin), Old Norse ''kyn'', but Old English ''cynn'', Old High German ''kunni''). However, for the most part these represent Comparative method#Terminology, 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. Similar claims of similarities between Old Gutnish (''Gutniska'') and Old Icelandic are also based on shared retentions rather than shared innovations. 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 ''*-th₂e'', 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 The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
were all part of a dialect continuum in the early stages of their development, and language contact, contact between the three branches of Germanic was extensive. Polish linguist Witold Mańczak had argued that Gothic is closer to German (specifically Upper 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 Mańczak'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."


Influence

The reconstructed Proto-Slavic language features several apparent Proto-Slavic borrowings, borrowed words from East Germanic (presumably Gothic), such as , "bread", vs. Gothic . The
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of w ...

Romance languages
of Iberia also preserve several loanwords from Gothic, such as
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
(warm clothing), from Gothic (*, “companion, comrade”); (goose), from Gothic (, "goose"); (glove), from Gothic (, “palm of the hand”); and (truce), from Gothic (, “treaty; covenant”).


Use in Romanticism and the Modern Age


J. R. R. Tolkien

Several linguists have made use of Gothic as a creative language. The most famous example is ("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 Sherring 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 should be and ("of those books"), which he suggested should be ("of this book"). A semantic inaccuracy of the text which he mentioned himself is the use of for read, while this was . Tolkien also made a calque of his own name in Gothic in the letter, which according to him should be . Gothic is also known to have served as the primary inspiration for Tolkien's invented language, Taliska which, in Tolkien's legendarium, his legendarium, was the language spoken by the race of Men during the First Age before being displaced by another of his invented languages, Adûnaic. Tolkien's Taliska grammar has not been published.


Others

On the 10th of February, 1841, the published a reconstruction in Gothic of the Creed of
Ulfilas Ulfilas (–383), also known as Ulphilas and Orphila, all Latinized forms of the unattested Gothic language, Gothic form *𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰 Wulfila, literally "Little Wolf", was a Goths , Goth of Cappadocian Ancient Greeks , Greek des ...
. The Thorvaldsen museum also has an alliterative poem, , from 1841 by Hans Ferdinand Massmann, 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 15, 1841. This event is mentioned by Ludwig von Schorn in the magazine from the 19th of July, 1841. Massmann also translated the academic commercium song into Gothic in 1837. In 2012, professor Bjarne Simmelkjær Hansen of the University of Copenhagen published a translation into Gothic of for Roots of Europe. In , an online magazine for art and literature, the poem of Dutch poet Bert Bevers appeared in a Gothic translation. ''Alice in Wonderland'' has been translated into Gothic () by David Carlton in 2015 and is published by Michael Everson.


Examples


See also

*List of Germanic languages *Name of the Goths *Geats *Gutes *Old Gutnish *Modern Gutnish *Thurneysen's law *''Grammar of the Gothic Language'' (book)


Notes


References

* G. H. Balg: ''A Gothic grammar with selections for reading and a glossary''. New York: Westermann & Company, 1883
archive.org
. * G. H. Balg: ''A comparative glossary of the Gothic language with especial reference to English and German''. New York: Westermann & Company, 1889
archive.org
. * * W. Braune and E. Ebbinghaus, ''Gotische Grammatik'', 17th edition 1966, Tübingen ** 20th edition, 2004. (hbk), (pbk) * Fausto Cercignani, "The Development of the Gothic Short/Lax Subsystem", in ''Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung'', 93/2, 1979, pp. 272–278. * Fausto Cercignani, "The Reduplicating Syllable and Internal Open Juncture in Gothic", in ''Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung'', 93/1, 1979, pp. 126–132. * Fausto Cercignani, "The ''Enfants Terribles'' of Gothic 'Breaking': ''hiri, aiþþau'', etc.", in ''The Journal of Indo-European Studies'', 12/3–4, 1984, pp. 315–344. * Fausto Cercignani, "The Development of the Gothic Vocalic System", in ''Germanic Dialects: Linguistic and Philological Investigations'', edited by Bela Brogyanyi and Thomas Krömmelbein, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, Benjamins, 1986, pp. 121–151. * N. Everett, "Literacy from Late Antiquity to the early Middle Ages, c. 300–800 AD", ''The Cambridge Handbook of Literacy'', ed. D. Olson and N. Torrance (Cambridge, 2009), pp. 362–385. * Carla Falluomini, "Traces of Wulfila's Bible Translation in Visigothic Gaul", ''Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik'' 80 (2020) pp. 5-24. * W. Krause, ''Handbuch des Gotischen'', 3rd edition, 1968, Munich. * Thomas O. Lambdin, ''An Introduction to the Gothic Language'', Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006, Eugene, Oregon. * * F. Mossé, ''Manuel de la langue gotique'', Aubier Éditions Montaigne, 1942 * Eduard Prokosch, E Prokosch, ''A Comparative Germanic Grammar'', 1939, The Linguistic Society of America for Yale University. * Irmengard Rauch, ''Gothic Language: Grammar, Genetic Provenance and Typology, Readings'', Peter Lang Publishing Inc; 2nd Revised edition, 2011 * C. Rowe, "The problematic Holtzmann’s Law in Germanic", ''Indogermanische Forschungen'', Bd. 108, 2003. 258–266. * * * Wilhelm Streitberg, ''Die gotische Bibel '', 4th edition, 1965, Heidelberg * Joseph Wright,
Grammar of the Gothic language
', 2nd edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1966 ** 2nd edition, 1981 reprint by Oxford University Press,


External links



Portal for information on Gothic (in German)

– early (Public Domain) editions of several of the references. * Texts: *
The Gothic Bible in Latin alphabet
*
The Gothic Bible in Ulfilan script (Unicode text) from Wikisource
*

has Streitberg's ''Gotische Bibel'' and Crimean Gothic material after Busbecq. *
Wulfila Project
*
Skeireins Project
A website with the Skeireins including translations in Latin, German, French, Swedish, English, Dutch, Greek, Italian and Icelandic.
Gothic Online
by Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum, free online lessons at th
Linguistics Research Center
at the University of Texas at Austin
Gothic Readings
Video clips in Gothic language
Gothic basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical Database
A page with information about the discovered Bononiensa fragment from 2013

an online collection of introductory videos to Ancient Indo-European languages produced by the University of Göttingen {{DEFAULTSORT:Gothic Language Gothic language, Languages attested from the 4th century Medieval languages Gothic writing Languages of Spain Languages of Portugal Languages of Italy Languages of Romania Languages of France Languages of Poland Languages of the Czech Republic Languages of Slovakia Languages of Russia Languages of Ukraine Extinct languages of Europe East Germanic languages