Gothic/4/Word Order

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The Skeireins and other early Germanic languages show us that the word order in Gothic is free. This doesn't mean that you can do whatever you want, it means that the order of the words was less important, because the cases already made clear what was ment.

In English you can say:

the man hits the dog

The meaning however completely changes if you say:

the dog hits the man

In Gothic, it doesn't matter where you place the words, as the declination of the words shows what their function is and the words can't cause confusion, therefore it doesn't matter where you place them, just as in the Polish word order:

Manna stautiþ hund
Hund stautiþ manna

Because the word 'hunds' (a-stem), meaning 'dog', is in the accusative, you know that it is the dog which is hit, and not the man, as the man is the one who is doing the action in this sentence, the man is the nominative.

In Gothic, the most important words are put in front. Here is an example:

Manna briggiþ stikl - The man brings the cup
Manna stikl briggiþ - The man brings the cup
Stikl briggiþ manna - It is the cup, which the man brings
Briggiþu manna stikl? - Does the man bring the cup?

Although the meaning changes with the order of the words, it is most important to know that the order of the words are showing what is most important in the phrase, the word order therefore is similar to Hungarian.