Gothic/1/Introduction

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Codex Abrosianus

Dag Godana!

An Introduction into the Gothic Language[edit]

The Gothic Language was a language spoken by an ancient Germanic tribe known as the Goths. As such it is a Germanic language, extending from the same general family as German, Dutch and English. Because of its relation to these languages, you will notice that some words will be look and mean something similar to a modern counterpart (this is called a cognate). However, Gothic is the only thoroughly documented East Germanic language - the only extinct branch of the Germanic languages.

Despite the fact that Gothic shares the same family as German and English it is very different from modern Germanic languages, as its words inflect (or change their ending to determine their meaning in the sentence) rather than the meaning being mostly derived from word order like English. It also carries some features unique to the East Germanic language stem which are not present in other stems of the Germanic language tree. In a sense, it is closer to Latin in syntax.

Gothic itself was originally written in a variation of futhark (runes). However, it eventually shifted to its own alphabet invented by the Gothic bishop Wulfilas, who based the alphabet on the Greek alphabet, with some letters modified from the old futhark alphabet, and possibly the Latin alphabet. Wulfilas himself translated the Bible into Gothic, the surviving pages of which make up most of the extant Gothic texts we know today.

Crimean Gothic[edit]

The original Gothic language in essence died before the end of the Dark Ages. However, in the Crimean region of Ukraine, a small number of Gothic speakers survived until the 17th century. Surprisingly, less is known of Crimean Gothic than the original Gothic language, with a small list of words given to a French ambassador being our only real window into the language.

Purposes of Learning Gothic[edit]

Gothic is an ancient language which will give you insight into the evolution of Germanic languages through history. It is a unique language, being the only well documented East Germanic language. Gothic may also be used as a stepping-stone to learning Latin or Greek, which have many principles which are shared with Gothic. If you are interested in history, and particularly the history of the Goths and other German tribes, it might be of use for you to learn Gothic.

An Introduction to this Book[edit]

This book will teach you the grammar of Gothic, starting with the alphabet and pronunciation of words, followed by an introduction to the basic grammar, followed by progressively more difficult grammar. In later chapters, the concept of the neologism will be introduced, and finally a number of advanced exercises testing everything taught - with excerpts from Wulfilas's own translation of the bible.

The basic format of each chapter is an introduction to the vocabulary, followed by lessons with exercises, and overall exercises at the end of the chapter. In later chapters, you may be asked to create some of the words that you require to translate.