Here I will post some short basic lessons to facilitate reading the news, as there are few websites offering Gothic lessons. The first lessons gradually introduce you to Gothic and instead of starting with complex grammar, everything is explained step-by-step. If you want a complex analysis of Gothic I recommend Joseph Wright’s Grammar of the Gothic language, this course is aimed at everyone, especially beginners.
The corrections of the small exercises can be found at the page ‘corrections’
Some important Gothic words:
jah – and
ƕaiwa – how
du – to
miþ – with
qaþ – said
ik – I
þu – you, singular (thou)
is – he
jus – you, plural
jut – you, dual (“you two”)
weis – we
wit – we, dual (“we two”)
eis – they
Now that we know some basic Gothic words, let’s read some sentences with only these words, try to translate the following phrases:
ik jah þu
weis jah þu
weis jah jus
wit jah þu, jah eis.
Now we know how to say ‘you and I’ etc., but that’s not good enough for conversations, so let’s see what the verb ‘to be’ is like in Gothic:
ik im – I am
þu is – you are
is ist – he is
weis sijum – we are
jus sijuþ – you are, plural
eis sind – they are
Now we add a few words to our vocabulary:
ak = but, after a negative sentence
akei = but, after a positive sentence
nu = now
her = here
þar = there
þaruh = also there
heruh = also here
ƕar = where
grammar rule: The ecletic -uh is used in Gothic just like the Latin -que. Instead of, “and there” or “also there”, the Visigoths could simply put -uh after the word.
Now that we know this grammar rule, let’s learn some new phrases
ƕaiwa is þu? = How are you?
Is ist þaruh = He is there too
Ik im þar, akei her is þu = I ‘m there, but you are here
Now try to translate these two phrases, if it’s too difficult you can look back at the words which we have learned, try to write the words down which are hard to remember:
þu is her nu, akei is ist þar
Nu im ik þar, jah eis sind her
Some languages have articles and you can’t speak a language without it’s articles!
sa = the, this, masculine
so = the, this, feminine
þata = the, this, neutral
sa gards = the house
ik baua = I live
in = in
þamma = the, dative of sa and þata
þamma garda = the house, dative form
ni = not, no
sa manna = the man
ni manna = nobody
– = a (the indefinite article a, like: a house , doesn’t exist in Gothic)
grammar rule: the word in gives a word the 3rd case, which is the same as dative!
Let’s read a short text, I have made all the words related to the grammar of this lesson bold:
Ik im in þamma garda. Ik baua in garda. Sa manna þaruh ist. þu ni is in þamma garda, ak þu is her.
Now let’s look at these three phrases in detail:
þamma is used here, because it succeeds in. The dative case in Gothic is often used to refer to a location, a place where something or someone is. This is the reason why the word in gives a word the dative case. The accusative form is often used for a movement to a place. This means that in with the meaning of going to some place get’s the accusative case.
Like you can see “the house” is “sa gards” in Gothic, but why does it suddenly change to “þamma garda” and not to “þamma gards”? Maybe you have learnt German in school, although languages like French and Spanish don’t have cases anymore, language like German and Icelandic still have nouns changing when the function of a word changes in a sentence. The word “sa gards” is what we call an i-stem, and I will explain later how you can recognize Gothic i-stems and/or a-stems and how you have to decline them.
If you have paid attention in lesson 1 þaruh shouldn’t be difficult for you. The -uh after þar means that “there” changes to “and there” or “also there”.
Finally the word “ak”. In this lesson, you saw that “but, however” has two uses: one for positive and one for negative sentences. This is something which can’t be found in much other languages, but which is present in Gothic. ak means that the preceding sentence is negative, this basically means, it contains the word ni, which means no or not, and akei means that the previous sentence is positive, which means that there is not a negation in the sentence, something which isn’t. If we look at the sentence again and we make the word which is negative bold, we can read:
þu ni is in þamma garda, ak þu is her
You aren’t in the house, but you are here.
Now you have read three sentences. Of course what is left to us of Gothic mostly is the Bible, so let’s read a part of one sentence now, we need one new word for that:
iþ = and, but
ik im Pawlus, iþ ik
Try to translate this part of the sentence yourself. We will look at the other parts of the sentence in our next lesson when we learn what the genitive is in Gothic.
Let’s read another sentence, but we need a few new words here too:
aþþan = and
þatainei = only
sa qums = the arrival, the coming (i-stem)
þamma quma = the arrival, the coming, dative
qums is = his coming
We have already seen an a-stem, sa gards, and here we see an i-stem, sa qums, but don’t worry, they are very similar and once you know how to decline them you only need to learn a few tiny differences to learn how to use or interpret them in a sentence.
Now let’s read the sentence:
aþþan ni þatainei in quma is, ak jah in
Let’s see it word-for-word:
and – not – only – in – coming – his, but – also – in
The translation is:
And not by his coming only, but by
Here we have seen the second way of using jah, it doesn’t only mean and, but it also means too or also.
The use of is in this sentence is an example of a possessive pronoun. You will come across this one quite a lot. is is the only possessive pronoun which is the same in both the personal pronoun and the possessive pronoun, which means that he and his are the same word in Gothic and therefore not hard to remember.
We have come across a dative and one possessive pronoun. But we still don’t know how to use the genitive, the accusative or how to decline the a-stem. This is what we will learn in this lesson.
In order to learn the genitive, we will now translate the whole part of the sentence of Corinthians I 1:12 which is still left from the translation of Wulfila:
ik im Pawlus, iþ ik Apaullons, iþ ik Kefins, iþ ik Xristaus.
The words are:
Apaullo = Apollo
Kefin = Cefas
Xristus = Christ
The translation is:
I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Like you can see, instead of the word of, the Goths simply used another form of the noun to show that it was in the genitive. You see that in the words Apaullo and Kefin, the letter -s is added to the word. This applies to most names. The word Xristus, although being a name, is declined like an u-stem, which we will learn much later. The genitive of u-stems is -aus.
Now we understand the use of the genitive in this sentence. Let’s go back to this word we learned in lesson 2. Sa gards.
The genitive of gard is: gardis
We also saw one i-stem, which was qums, the genitive is qumis
The article in the genitive isn’t that difficult neither. Just like þamma in the dative, the genitive also has the same word for both sa and þata. The genitive of the articles sa and þata is þis.
Now let’s look at one of the news articles of this website and try to analyze a part of one sentence:
PKK in þiudiskalanda jah
The word “land” means “country” and is an a-stem. For this reason, the dative of land is landa. Because of the word in , because of this the sentence is:
þiudiskaland is a neologism for Germany.
Let’s look at a new text now from this lesson:
himma daga = today
ik wiljau = I want
gaggan = to go
wodanisdags = wednesday
wodanisdaga = on wednesday
wili = he/she wants
ik haba = I have
sa frijonds = the friend (n-stem, we will learn this later)
haúbidabaúrgs = capital city, this is a neologism
þu is in þiudiskalanda. Ik im þaruh. Ik wiljau gaggan du þiudiskalanda himma daga. Ik haba frijonds. Is wili jah gaggan du þiudiskalanda. Is wili wodanisdaga gaggan du þamma landa. Haúbidabaúrgs þiudiskalandis ist Bairlein.
The word du gives “land” a dative, because it refers to the location to which you want to go. Words meaning a movement to a location also give a dative to a word.
Maybe du þamma landa confuses you, “to the land”? In fact, articles in Gothic both are definite articles and demonstrative pronouns. This means that:
þata land can mean both: “the land” and “this land” or “that land”. Or in this context: þamma landa, “this place”.
Now we know the nominative, the genitive and the dative, but what is the accusative?
The article of masculine words has this accusative:
If you say for example, I want to see the friend, you say:
Ik wiljau saíƕan þana frijond.
Accusative words often lose their final -s. The accusative is basically the second most important word. ik wiljau is most important here, because the sentence can’t exist without you being the one wanting something. Your friend is the one you talk about. The subject with whom something is done is the accusative.
Now that we have done the first 3 lessons, we are ready to learn the singular of the i-stem, in fact you already know it!
nominative: sa gards
genitive: þis gardis
dative: þamma garda
accusative: þana gard
The declination of the a-stem is exactly the same. This means that you know 2 stems in singular now.
You might wonder, why haven’t we learned this in the first lesson? Most courses to learn Gothic are teaching you the grammar of Gothic quite rapidly, while this step-by-step course might be better fit for you, as the grammar you learned is repeated and instead of learning all the a-stems at once, you are in fact slowly learning all the declinations in all the lessons.
Now let’s read a new text:
ana = on, at
þata augadauro = the window (n-stem)
sa sitls = the chair (a-stem)
sa stols = the chair
þata dauro = the door (n-stem)
sa atta = the father (n-stem)
so aiþei = the mother (n-stem)
sa broþar = the brother (r-stem)
so swistar = the sister (r-stem)
sa sunus = the son (u-stem)
twái = two (masculine nominative masculine)
twáim = two (masculine/neutral dative)
twos = two (masculine nominative feminine)
hails = hello
meins = my, masculine nominative
meinis = of me, masculine genitive
meinamma = my, masculine + neutral dative
meinana = my, masculine accusative
meina = my, feminine
habaiþ = he/she/it has
wileina = they want
Now let’s read the text, all the important grammatical parts are in bold:
Hails! Ik im Rauþurik. Ik haba gard, jah gards meins habaiþ auga-dauro jah dauro. Ik ni im ana stola nu. In garda meinamma sind twáim sitlam. Ik haba broþar jah swistar. Atta meins habaiþ twái broþruns. Twái broþrjus sind in meinamma garda nu.
Aiþei meina habaiþ twos swistruns. Eis ni sind in meinamma garda nu, ak eis wileina gaggan du garda meinamma himma daga. Sunus meins jah ist in garda meinamma.
It might look difficult to read this whole text, but if you know the a-stem it’s easier than you think. First of all, the possessive pronoun meins uses the a-stem, so by learning the a-stem you didn’t only learn the declination of nouns, but also of a lot of possessive pronouns. What you also see here is the r-stem, this stem is only used for nouns which describe a family member like sister, brother etc., although it isn’t a very regular stem, it’s a very important stem if you introduce yourself or read about family. Therefore we will learn this stem too, you already know how the articles are declined so let’s take a look:
We found the plural too in this text though. Broþruns means ‘brothers’ in accusative and Broþrjus means ‘brothers’ in nominative. This isn’t only the plural nominative and accusative of r-stems, but also of u-stems.
Let’s see what the plural of ‘the brothers’ is, this also learns us the definite articles of masculine words in plural.
In the same way, the u-stems are declined:
We have already learnt that the genitive of u-stems is -aus. Now that we know that the nominative is -us, and that we know the grammatical rule that in nouns in Gothic the -s often is omitted in the accusative, we know this:
Now we almost know how to decline the u-stems. The dative of u-stems can be made by removing the -s from the genitive.
Now we know:
The dative in plural is not difficult. The stem tells us how to decline the dative in plural if the stem is a vowel:
a-stems = -am
u-stems = -um
i-stems = -im
stems which contain consonants are declined in this way:
r-stems = -um (you can remember this by the similarity between the u-stems and r-stems)
n-stems = -am
The article in the plural dative is for masculine and neutral words:
Now we know:
Finally, the genitive of u-stems is -iwe, a lot of other stems have -e. Example: garde.
The article of the masculine and neutral genitive in plural is:
Now we can decline the complete table of sunus.
The feminine articles have these singular declinations:
so = nominative and accusative
þizos = genitive
þizai = dative
Let’s look at the dative of the personal pronouns now:
ik – mis
þu – þus
is – imma
ita – imma
si – izai ( compare the definite article feminine: þizai)
Now let’s look at a phrase in the Gothic Bible:
gagga = I go
iþ nu du þus gagga
The translation of this phrase is:
And now come I to thee
Like you can see the word which we just learned, þus is used here, this is because du tells us something about the movement. To you.
Like you have seen, the verb haban is: ik haba and the verb gaggan is ik gagga.
This shows that -an verbs have -a in the first person. You can conjugate other -an verbs in the first person, this means, when you say ik too now.
Let’s learn three new words:
unte = because
us = out, from
sa faírƕus = world (u-stem)
Now we can read a part from John 17:14:
unte ni sind us þamma faírƕau
us gives the word a dative because it refers to a movement. þamma is used because the word ‘world’ is masculine, and faírƕus is declined as faírƕau, because it’s dative. Like you read in the declination of sunus, you simply remove one -s from the genitive, which gives you the dative. The genitive of faírƕus is faírƕaus.
grammatical rule: After iþ the verb often has the enclitic -uh.
The accusative form of ik and þu is:
Finally, the accusative forms of he/she/it are a bit difficult:
ina (mm in imma changes to n)
ita (same as nominative)
Sometimes you want to give more emphasis to something, for example: This house in particular. This can be done with the ecletic -uh in Gothic, but used for the article.
This is called the emphatic demonstrative, look at how they are formed based on the normal form:
sa = sah
þata = þatuh
so = soh
Also for other declinations:
þana = þanuh
þamma = þammuh
þis = þizuh
þai = þaih
þans = þanzuh
þaim = þaimuh
The accusative plural of neutral words is:
The emphatic demonstrative of it is:
Like you can see, if the last letter is -s, it changes to -z.
Let’s look at an example in which this is used:
In þammuh garda ist sa sunus.
grammatical rule: The ecletic -u can be used to change a sentence in a question. Example:
þar land ist = There is a land
þar landu ist? = Is there a land?
There are two important suffixes, –þro means movement originating from a place and -dre means moving to a place. Another important rule is -ei, which is a relative pronoun. The -ei can be found at the end of an article. For example: saei. Referring to a masculine noun in nominative. With a relative pronoun you refer to a noun already used in a phrase, an example in English is: “The man which” or “The book which“. Now let’s read the next text:
staþs = place, location
filu = a lot (+ genitive plural)
ik was = I was
qiman = to come
Frijonds meins ist in þamma garda, saei ist gards is. þaþro wili is gaggan du meinamma staþa, is habaiþ twans broþruns jah twos swistruns.
Filu dage was ik in meinamma gard. In þaim dagam, in þaimei frijonds meinai wildedun qiman du garda meinamma. Eis wildedun twans dagans gastandan.
þai dagos qemun.
–e is the genitive plural of the a-stem, very different from -iwe in the u-stem.
-am is the dative plural of the a-stem, compare it to -um in the u-stem.
þaimei is the relative pronoun of the demonstrative pronoun þaim meaning: “in which”.
–dedun is used for the past time of “they” of –jan verbs, so for example the verb for to speak = rodjan, they spoke is eis rodidedun.
Twans is the accusative of ‘two’. –ans is the plural accusative of the a-stem, compare it to –uns in the u-stem.
–emun is the past time of “they” for –an verbs. Therefore it’s qemun, while the verb qiþan has the past time plural: qeþun.
The accusative of two is the same as the accusative of the article: þans
Now that we know this we can form the plural of the a-stem:
Now you almost know the plural of the i-stem too, there is just one difference: –os is -eis and -am is -im and the accusative is –ins.
If you replace a with i you can see that it isn’t that hard if you know the a-stem.
You basically have two kinds of adjectives in Gothic, weak and strong, so when to use weak and strong? It isn’t that hard.
Weak or definite adjectives:
The big man. How do you say this in Gothic? Well, we use a n-declension for this, which we will learn later or which you can look up.
How do you say, a big man? This is the strong declension and becomes:
Like you see, Goths used this to differentiate between “a” and “the” with adjectives.
The strong declension, “a man”, uses in this case the a-declension, the a-declension of adjectives is the same as the declension of the articles, but you use the suffixes like -amma for the adjectives here.
In a big man = mikilamma mannan