agis   n. n.Afright
aíƕs   n. m.Ahorse
áiþs   n. m.Aoath
áiws   n. m.Atime
akran   n. n.Afruit
akrs   n. m.Afield
alan   v. VI ablaut  intrto grow
asts   n. m.Abranch
bagms   n. m.Atree
barn   n. n.Achild
bileiban   v. I ablaut  intrto remain
bloþ   n. n.Ablood
dags   n. m.Aday
daúr   n. n.Adoor
dius   n. n.Awild beast
drigkan   v. III ablautto drink
eisarn   n. n.Airon
fisks   n. m.Afish
fugls   n. m.Abird
gras   n. n.Agrass
gulþ   n. n.Agold
haúrn   n. n.Ahorn
himins   n. m.Aheaven
hunds   n. m.Adog
huzd   n. n.Atreasure
itan   v. V ablautto eat
jer   n. n.Ayear
juk   n. n.Ayoke
kaúrn   n. n.Agrain
lamb   n. n.Alamb
láun   n. n.Apay
leik   n. n.Abody
ligrs   n. m.Abed
máiþms   n. m.Agift
maúrgins   n. m.Amorning
maúrþr   n. n.Amurder
ni   advnot
razn   n. n.Ahouse
riqis   n. n.Adarkness
sa   pronthis
salt   n. n.Asalt
silubr   n. n.Asilver
sitan   v. V ablaut  intrto sit
sitls   n. m.Aseat
skalks   n. m.Aservant
skip   n. n.Aship
stáins   n. m.Astone
tagl   n. n.Ahair
tagr   n. n.Atear
þata   pronthat
þiudans   n. m.Aking
waúrd   n. n.Aword
waúrms   n. m.Aserpent
wein   n. n.Awine
wigs   n. m.Away
winds   n. m.Awind
wulfs   n. m.Awolf

Statement of Inclusivity

Unit 1

1.1) Introduction to Gothic

Gothic is a language of the East Germanic branch of Indo-European. Spoken around 500 CE in eastern Europe, it retains several archaic features that set it apart from extant Germanic languages. For this reason, it gives some insights into what the Proto-Germanic language must have been like, which itself was a sister language to other proto-languages that were the ancestors of Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Slavonic, et cetera. Gothic therefore resembles the other classical languages a lot more than, say, English or German do, yet at the same time demonstrates quite a bit of similarity to these and other related languages spoken today.

The main corpus of extant Gothic literature is a partial copy of a Bible translated from ancient Greek by Goths under the supervision of the Greek-born bishop Wulfila (also known as Ulfilas).

Make sure to look over the The Sounds of Gothic for information about how to pronounce the words presented in these lessons.

1.2) Simple Sentences

Here is a simple sentence in Gothic:

1. Itiþ sa fugls þata kaúrn. The bird eats the corn.

Here the verb itiþ means "eats"; fugls means "bird", and kaúrn means "corn" (in the European sense, as maize was unknown to the Goths). It so happens that the word itiþ sounds much like eats, and kaúrn sounds almost exactly like corn. Such similarities between Gothic and English are numerous, because the two languages are related; even fugls is related to "fowl". The words sa and þata are best translated in this sentence as "the".

Grammatically, itiþ is a third person singular verb; in the dictionary it would be cited in its infinitive form, itan. Fugls is a masculine noun, while kaúrn is a neuter. Gothic nouns change their endings depending on their function in the sentence, but since fugls and kaúrn have different genders, they change in different ways. Compare:

2. Þata kaúrn ni bi-leibiþ. The corn doesn't remain.
3. Sa fugls ni bi-leibiþ. The bird doesn't remain.
4. Itiþ þata dius þata kaúrn. The wild beast eats the corn.
5. Itiþ þata dius þana fugl. The wild beast eats the bird.

In sentence 1, the bird was in the nominative case (fugls) and the corn was in the accusative (kaúrn). Sentences 2 and 3 find each noun in the nominative, and sentences 4 and 5 find them in the accusative. Because kaúrn is neuter, its nominative and accusative cases look and sound the same (this is actually a pervasive feature of virtually all Indo-European languages).

1.3) Noun Cases and Declension of Pure A-Stems

Gothic has a total of 5 cases for nouns. Since this is not a feature of the English language, it can seem confusing and overwhelming for some students. (If you speak or have studied an inflected language such as German, Greek, Latin, Russian, or Sanskrit, then declensions will already be familiar to you.) However, English does still have cases for personal pronouns: notice that you cannot substitute "I" for "me" in a sentence, for example, and that a sentence fragment like "ever him saw she" cannot mean "him" is the one doing the seeing, otherwise the pronouns would be "he" and "her". Nevertheless, to make cases easier to learn for those encountering them for the first time, and to make Gothic cases easier for those accustomed to other languages' declension systems, the cases are color coded for the first few lessons and for a while afterwards when introducing a new declension. Here they are with the definite article:

Nominative sa fugls the bird (subject)
Vocative fugl hey bird!
Accusative þana fugl the bird (direct object)
Genitive þis fuglis of the bird
Dative þamma fugla for/to the bird

For kaúrn, the declension is quite similar to fugls:

Nominative þata kaúrn the corn (subject)
Vocative kaúrn hey corn!*
Accusative þata kaúrn the corn (direct object)
Genitive þis kaúrnis of the corn
Dative þamma kaúrna for/to the corn

*Included for completeness.

A great many masculine nouns are declined the same as fugls, including:

aíƕs horse
áiþs oath
áiws eternity
akrs field
asts branch, twig
bagms tree
dags day
fisks fish
himins sky, heaven
hunds dog
ligrs bed
máiþms gift
maúrgins morning
sitls seat
skalks servant
stáins stone
þiudans king
waúrms serpent, dragon
wigs way
winds wind
wulfs wolf

The accusative construction ni áiw, used adverbially, means "never".

Himins in the singular can mean either "heaven" or "sky", but for the former meaning, often occurs in the plural.

Neuter nouns declined like kaúrn are also very numerous and include:

agis fear (genitive: agisis)
akran fruit
barn child
blōþ blood
daúr door
dius wild animal (genitive: diuzis)
eisarn iron
gras grass (genitive: grasis)
gulþ gold
haúrn horn
huzd treasure
jēr year
juk yoke
lamb sheep, lamb
láun pay, reward
leik body, flesh
maúrþr murder
mimz meat
razn house
riqis darkness (genitive: riqizis)
salt salt
silubr silver
skip ship
tagl hair
tagr teardrop
waúrd word
wein wine

1.4) Examples of Material from This Unit

Here are some more sentences. You can recognize the verbs in these sentences by their -iþ endings, except for ist (is). The preposition in is almost the same as the English word "in", and governs either the accusative or the dative:

6. Fugls sitiþ in bagma. A bird sits in a tree.
7. Sa skalks ni drigkiþ þata wein þis þiudanis. The servant doesn't drink the king's wine.
8. Ist eisarn in þamma blōþa. There is iron in the blood.
9. Gibiþ sa þiudans silubr þamma skalka. The king gives silver to the servant.
10. Aliþ gras in þana akr in þamma daga. Grass grows in the field in the daytime.

Table of Contents   Next Lesson »