Gothic language

Spoken in

  • Indo-European Germanic Ostgermanisch gothic




The Gothic language (self- designation: * gutiska razda ) was a spoken by the Germanic tribe of the Goths East Germanic language. It is the oldest surviving Germanic literary written language, thanks to the so-called Wulfilabibel.

The Gothic differs from Western and North Germanic languages ​​mainly due to the receipt of the ending- s for the nominative masculine singular: Gothic dags, guest, sunus compared to Old High German tag, guest, sunu or Old Norse dagr, striped candles, sunr ( where -s has changed in -r, see rhotacism ). In addition, it provides the only evidence of some archaic forms (see: grammar, verbs, archaisms, and see gothic guest and Latin hostis ).

  • 3.4.1 archaisms
  • 3.4.2 Strong Verbs
  • 3.4.3 Weak verbs


In the 4th century the Gothic bishop Ulfilas translated with a group of translators the Bible into Gothic. In addition to the Wulfilabibel there are few other Gothic language certificates, as some runic inscriptions, the Skeireins ( Bible interpretation ), a fragment of a calendar and Ostrogothic certificate signatures from the 6th century.

After the end of the Gothic kingdoms ( Ostrogothic Italy 493-555 and Visigothic kingdom in Gaul and Spain 418-711 ) was also largely lost the Gothic language, in Spain since the passage of the Gothic ruling class (only about two to three percent of the population were Goths ) from Arianism to Catholicism and the consequent mixing of the different ethnic groups ( novels, Goths, Suevi, Romanized Celts ) under King Reccared declined I. (reigned 586-601 ), the use of the Gothic language in favor of early colloquial Spanish.

Only on the Crimean peninsula, in which there remaining part of the Ostrogoths, the later Crimean Goths, the Krimgotische by the Immigration middle of the 3rd century AD, could hold up to about 1800 before it was ousted by the Tatar language. Controversial is the relationship of the Gothic language with Scandinavian languages ​​( see Scandza ) are associated usually with the stated in the Gothic Tribal Sage origin from southern Sweden. After all, there are striking similarities in the vocabulary of Swedish (especially the spoken dialect Gutamål on Gotland ) and the Gothic, while the Gothic morphologically shows interesting similarities to the Old High German.


The Gothic has five short and seven long vowels:

From the Germanic diphthongs only [ iu ] is obtained. Some researchers assume that the Germanic diphthongs ai and au were still pronounced in Wulfila language as [ ai ] and [ au]; another view is that they were repectively. In the Gothic name of the Latin writers write for a Monophthong from the 4th century ( Austrogoti > Ostrogoti ). However, writes the Historia Augusta Austrogothi (approx. 360 (), so probably at the time Wulfila? ); o for au are all younger. Whether still in the 6th century could stand for Gaut in Jordanes GaPt whose p was perhaps as [ w] pronounced, is uncertain. Also ai is at least get to 400 ( Gainas, Radagaisus ). The ring of Pietroassa has hailag. That during the Wandalenherrschaft in Africa, ie about 430-530, resulting poem De conviviis barbaris the Anthologia Latina has Eils, so also diphthong. The reproduction of Greek words in Bibelgotisch however, speaks for a monophthongische pronunciation (eg Pawlus ); e and o are always so long, even if they are not marked by accents. Long "i " is represented by ei.

The consonants are:

Phonetic ( phonological ) has changed less from Primitive Germanic to the Gothic than to the other old Germanic languages. This very probably connected with the fact that the tradition of the Gothic - with the exception of the Old Norse runic inscriptions - employing almost three hundred years before the tradition of the other Germanic languages.

The following sound laws are applied:

  • I and u are before r, h, Ƕ to aí [ ɛ ] or Au [ ɔ ] open.
  • Devoicing: b, d, g, z are in absolute final position and before s to f, þ, h ( g), s
  • Intensification: ww jj > ggw ( triggws " faithful " ), ddj ( - waddjus " wall " )


In Gothic there are the same four cases (case ) as in German: nominative identifying the subject, genitive, dative and accusative to indicate the direct object ( cf. patientive ). An instrumental (unlike in Old High German ) receive only some pronouns. In the noun classes that have the suffix -s in the nominative singular, the vocative is identical with the accusative. In addition, there are two times ( tenses ) ( past and non- past) and three numbers (singular, dual, plural). The dual exists only in personal pronouns and verbs.

Personal pronouns

The declination of the personal pronouns in the Gothic:

The asterisk ( *) denotes undeveloped, unused forms.


In the translation of the Bible, the word order is often aligned on the Greek model, which shows that the sentence order was apparently not subjected to overly strict rules such as in English. As in all the Germanic languages ​​, the elements that act as (adjective ) attribute, prefixed by: sa Altha Wulf's "Old Wolf". The definite article sa, sô, thatâ is not (as in ancient Greek ) to a mere form of words degraded, an indefinite article does not exist. The personal pronoun as subject is not always mandatory. Ruling may be u - particles formed by the ( enclitic ): niu qimis þu? "Are not you coming? "; is a negation expected response, one uses ibai: ibai qimis " do not you, right?".


Gothic nouns can be divided into about a dozen different classes, most of which no longer exist in NHG. A Deklinationsbeispiel on the basis of the noun sunus "son" (u - stem ):

Singular Plural Singular Plural   Nominative sunus sunjus " ( the ) son - ( the ) sons "   Genitive sunaus suniwê " ( the ) son - ( the ) sons "   Dative sunau sunum " ( the ) son - ( the ) sons "   Accusative sunu sununs " ( the ) son - ( the ) sons "   Vocative sun ( a) u! ( sunjus! ) "( oh) son! - ( Their ) sons "! The Gothic noun classes ( " tribes " )

Class divisions Gender Example       Vocalic stems:   A-class, yea, wa masculine, neuter dags " day ", hlaifs "bread"   ô ô - class, jô where Feminine giba "gift"   i -Class - Masculine, Feminine guest "guest"   u - class - all sunus "son"       Consonantal stems:   n- class strains masculine, neuter Hraba " Raven" (m.), hairto "heart" (n.)                  On- tribes Feminine tungo "tongue"                  în strains Feminine managei "Quantity "   r- class - Masculine, Feminine broþar "brother"   nd class - all nasjands "savior "   Wurzelflektierende tribes all baurgs " castle city " The declination of each class is neither uniform nor free of irregularities, in addition there are sub-classes (eg, yes - and wa - stems) - some classes even include only a handful of nouns (eg there is only one neutral u - tribe: faihu " the cattle "). Therefore, only the declension of regular nouns is described in the most common classes (from top to bottom: nominative - genitive - dative - accusative singular left, right, plural):

A-stems o-stems i strains to strains masculine     hlaifs * hlaibos giba gibos guest * gasteis Hraba hrabans   hlaibis hlaibe gibos Gibo Gastis gassed hrabins hrabane   hlaiba hlaibam gibai gibom gasta gastim hrabin hrabam   hlaif * hlaibans ( = nominative ) hospitable * Gastins Hraban ( = nominative )     * Pre -s and end of the word occurs " devoicing " a: b> f, d > þ, g> h     "Bread", " bread ", " gift", " gifts" "guest" " guest " " Raven" "Raven " verbs

Almost all of Gothic verbs are inflected conjugation after the Primitive Indo-European principle of so-called "thematic", that is, they employ a so-called thematic vowel between the root and Flexionssuffix. The reconstructed for the Indo-European theme vowels * e and * o, in the Gothic they are further developed into i and u The other, " athematic " conjugation, are added directly to the root in the suffixes exist in the Gothic only when wisan verb " be ", and in some classes of weak verbs deklinierten (eg reserves the salbôn verb " anoint " his tribe salbô - always unchanged, there are in addition no theme vowels such as in Bairan (see below) ). The athematic verb wisan shows in the present tense, as in all Indo-European languages ​​, many irregularities due to the change of normal and zero grade:

As in all Germanic languages, there are two groups of verbs, which are referred to as "strong " or "weak". Weak verbs form the past tense by the suffix -da/-ta, strong by ablaut:


The Gothic has preserved some archaic elements from urindogermanischer time: Firstly, two dual forms ( " we two " and " two of you " ), on the other hand, a synthetic ( Medio ) Passive in the present tense:

Notes: The I - form has been replaced by the third person singular in the passive voice. In the plural, the third person replaces the we - and her shape. The following are not mentioned on the dual and passive forms.

Strong verbs

Weak verbs

  • Ai instead ji: habais " have " habaiþ " has / have "
  • Ai instead of jai: Habai " ( he ) had"
  • Ai instead of ei: Habai! " I! "
  • Ai instead of i: habaîda " had "
  • Otherwise a (u ): haba; habam - HABAU; habaima - habandau!

Language example


  • Atta unsar, þu in himinam, weihnai namo thein. Qimai þiudinassus Thein. Waírþai Wilja Thein, swe in himina jah ana aírþai. Hlaif unsarana Thana sinteinan gif us himma daga. Jah aflet us þatei skulans sijaima, swaswe jah looking afletam ThaiM skulam unsaraim. Jah ni briggais us fraistubnjai, ak lausei us af Thamma ubilin. Unte þeina is þiudangardi jah jah mahts wulþus in aiwins.

Literal translation:

  • Our Father, thou thy { the } heavens consecrate, name. Come [ King] richly yours. Get your will, as in { the } heavens and on earth. Loaf of our daily give us {an} that day. And drain us that { we } are debtors, as well as we drain our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but solvent us from the Vile. For thine is the { } [ King] rich and { the } { the } power and glory in eternity.

Pronunciation: þ such as English voiceless th,                    h before consonant / end of the word such as " ch" in, oh ',                    ai as long, open "ä"                    egg as long, closed, " i",                    au how long, open "o",                    iu such as " iw " See also: Codex argenteus, Gothic alphabet, Wulfilabibel