The Gothic Alphabet
There are three scripts which Gothic is normally written in. The first is the Ulfilan alphabet, invented by the bishop Wulfilas. Gothic was also written in Elder Futhark, and in grammar primers the Latin alphabet is used. The alphabets this tutorial will focus on using are the Ulfilan and the Latin alphabet.
Note: Two letters have been removed for this lesson, as they merely represent numbers.
Consonants - as far as this book is concerned - are all the letters in the alphabet which do not represent vowel sounds. Unlike vowels, they require articulation of various parts of the mouth and lips.
|b||Beginning of a word, or after a consonant
At the end of a word
|d||Beginning of a word, or after a consonant
Between two vowels
Never pronounced /ð/
When in position where normal pronunciation is difficult
|u||/ʊ/, or /ʉ/|
Ulfilas never differentiated between some of the diphthongs, so the only way to memorise the pronnounciation of these words is to memorise them using the Latin transliterations.
Occurs before a vowel
Appears only before Raido or Hagl
At the end of a word, only.
You will also notice, as you advance through the language, that some words will end abruptly without a vowel, as is the case in the word figgr (meaning finger). Attempt to pronounce words such as this as if there isn't a vowel between the two consonants; the required vowel will come naturally to you.
Like Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Greek, letters are assigned corresponding numerical values. Two letters of the Gothic alphabet were also used to specifically refer to numbers. An interpunct is inserted before and after a number to differentiate it from a normal word. Right now, it is not necessarily important to know what numbers correspond to what letters. Numbers will be dealt with in a later chapter.
Nevertheless, this table shows the letters in their proper order.
Old Content to be Revised
|Gothic||Gothic Name||Futhark||Futhark Name||Latin||IPA Pronunciation|
*Sounds like p in Futhark
Hwair is a difficult letter to wrap your head around without a good description of the sound. It sounds similar to the Scottish "ch" Lo"ch" (if you approximate this to a k, it is actually pronnounced as a light hissing noise) with a "w" attached to the end of it.
Certain letters of the alphabet will change sound in certain situations.
- Bairkan will change sounds from /b/ to /β/ when in-between two vowels or diphthongs.
- Dags will change sounds from /d/ to /ð/ when in-between two vowels or diphthongs.
- Giba will change sounds from /ɡ/ to /ʒ/ when in-between two vowels.
- Giba will change sounds from /ɡ/ to /x/ after a vowel, but only if it isn't considered a diphthong (see below).
- Hagl will change sounds from /h/ to /x/ when not in-between two vowels.
- Winja will change sounds from /w/ to an /ɪ/ when it is used as a vowel after a diphthong, long vowel, or consonants not following a vowel (with Hagl an exception).
Now that you know the basic sounds of the alphabet, we can examine the sounds that Gothic creates with two or more letters. Luckily for you, there are less of them than in English. These sounds are unmarked on the traditional Gothic alphabet, but can be determined by other letters around it. Note that there are two other variations on 𐌰𐌹 and 𐌰𐌿 which are not currently discussed here, and have a harder time trying to be pronnounced by English toungues.
|𐌰𐌹||/æ/, /aɪ/ /eɪ/|
|𐌰𐌿||/ɑ/ or /aʊ/|
* Compounding certain consonants with Giba after it, particularly Quairþa and Lagus, will produce this sound. Be aware of this. As a side note, "𐌲𐌲𐍅", is pronnounced /ŋw/.
Determining when to use the correct sounds for 𐌰𐌹 and 𐌰𐌿
This comes down to stress, as can be shown by the forms for ai - ai, ái, and aí, and au - au, áu, and aú. At times it also comes down to the letter which comes before it:
- aí, which represents a sound which approximates /æ/, only occurs before r, h, and ƕ.
- ái, which represents /aɪ/, generally occurs before consonants
- ai, which represents /eɪ/, generally occurs before vowels
- aú, which represents /ɑ/, only occurs before r, and h.
- áu, which represents /aʊ/, generally has no recognizable pattern
- au, which represents /ɔ/, generally occurs before consonants
Other General Rules
- Assume that a vowel is short unless it becomes before 𐌷(and not 𐌸), as in that case it will be long.
- If you encounter an Eis with two dots on top, it will mean that you should separate the letter from the syllable. It also occurs in words whose first letter is Eis. When working in the Latin alphabet, it will not be destinguished.
- Aiƕus is always pronnounced long.
- The letter thorn is always used to represent the "th sound" when using the Latin alphabet rather than the "th" sound, which has a double meaning for both the thorn (þ as in teeth) and eth (ð as in then). The Eth sound is only represented by Dags in certain situations.