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Modern Gothic: A Grammar Reference

1st Edition

Michael Mayer
Section I. Phonology

Consonants

Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labiovelar Glottal


Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p b t d k g kw gw
Fricative f v Θ ð s z x ɣ h
Approx. l j w
Trill r

Vowels

Short Vowels

Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

Long Vowels

Front Back
Close i: u:
Close-mid e: o:
Open-mid ɛ: ɔ:
Open a:

Gothic stress can be said to always fall on the first syllable of the stem of a word.
This means that words featuring a prefix or suffix maintain the same address pattern
as their unaffixed equivalent.

Unstressed vowels tend to be short, and both vowel length values were at one point
written with identical characters; However, since the Gothic writing reform, vowel
lengths by the orthography, explained in the next section.
Section II. Orthography

Consonants

Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Labiovelar Glottal


Nasal m n ng
Stop p b t d k g kw gw
Fricative f v þ ð s z ch gh h
Approx. l j w
Trill r

Short Vowels

Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid
Open-mid ä au
Open a

Long Vowels

Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ä au
Open a

Short vowels are indicated in a similar method to that of the Swedish and early
English languages. A short vowel is followed by double consonants; Thus, for example,
the word “hänn” is pronounced “hɛn” while “hän” is pronounced “hɛ:n.”

Also, final “w” becomes “u” after “a” or “o.”


Section III. Nouns

Nouns in Modern Gothic have lost much of their original declension patterns, being
essentially entirely reduced to a three case system. Furthermore, the original three
gender system of masculine, feminine, and neuter, has collapsed into a system not
entirely dissimilar to that of the Nordic languages, here rendered as a masculine and
feminine distinction.

Masculine Nouns

Singular Plural
Nominative -s -os
Oblique -a -ans
Genitive -is -e

Feminine Nouns

Singular Plural
Nominative -a -os
Oblique -a -os
Genitive -os -o

The oblique case represents a merger of the accusative and dative cases; Due to this,
the dative use of the oblique case tends to use the preposition du before the noun. It
should also be noted that prepositions can change their meaning based on the case they
take; This will be explained further in the prepositions section, however.

Gothic has no indefinite or definite articles, but it does distinguish between two
demonstratives, both meaning “this/that/these/those.”

The feminine form is rendered as “so,” while the masculine form is rendered as “sa.”
It should be noted, however, that they are declined inrregularly.

So Singular Plural
Nominative so Þos
Oblique Þo Þos
Genitive Þizos Þizo

Sa Singular Plural
Nominative Sa Þe
Oblique Þan Þans
Genitive Þis Þiz
Section IV. Verbs

Verbs are much the same as they are in other Germanic languages; They are conjugated
for person, tense, and number, with seven classes of strong verbs. That is, to say,
verbs that change tense based on a vowel change in the stem.

For future reference, verbs in Modern Gothic have a single infinitive in the form of
“-an.”

Class Present Sing. Past Plur. Past Past Participle


I -i- -ä- -i- -i-
II -iu- -au- -ä- -ä-
III -i- -a- -u- -u-
IV -i- -a- -e- -u-
V -i- -a- -e- -i-
VI -a- -o- -o- -a-
VII -a- -ä- -à- -a-

These classes represent some of the most common verbs used in Modern Gothic, and as
such are some of the most important facets of the verb system.

Present Singular Plural


1st -a -am
2nd -is -iþ
3rd -iþ -and

Strong verbs primarily indicate tense with their stem change; However, they do have
endings that go along with these changes.

Strong Verb Past Suffix Singular Plural


1st - -um
2nd -t -uþ
3rd - -un

Weak verbs have no stem change, and as such have a more developed past tense suffix
system.

Weak Verb Past Suffix Singular Plural


1st -da -dedum
2nd -des -deduþ
3rd -da -dedun

Future tense in Modern Gothic is split into two words, with different connotations.
“Skulan,” meaning more something like “should, shall, or obligated to do something,
and then “wiljan,” meaning something like “want to, or will.”

Skulan is an irregular verb, a holdover from an older form of the language. To form
the future tense with “skulan,” conjugate the verb “skulan” in the present or past
tense, and place it before the infinitive of the verb to be performed in the future
(or that should have been performed in the past.)

Skulan, present tense Singular Plural


1st skal skulum
2nd skalt skuluþ
3rd skal skulun

This is what is called a “preterite-present” verb, that is, to say, a verb that has a
preterite/past tense like conjugation in the present tense. There are not many of
these left in Modern Gothic, having been rolled into other strong verb classes by
analogy, but frequent verbs such as “skulan” have continued to exist in their original
forms.

The word “wiljan” is not a present-preterite verb, but rather an outright irregular
verb.

Wiljan, present tense Singular Plural


1st wiljau wiljäma
2nd wiljäs wiljäþ
3rd wiljä wiljäna

Wiljan, past tense Singular Plural


1st wilda wildedum
2nd wildes wildeduþ
3rd wilda wildedun

And one more very important regular verb: “wisan,” meaning “to be.”

Wisan, present tense Singular Plural


1st im sijum
2nd is sijuþ
3rd ist sind

Wisan, past tense Singular Plural


1st was wesum
2nd wast wesuþ
3rd was wesun

Past participle: wisan-

Past participles decline like adjectives is they are used before the noun.
An

Section V. Adjectives

Adjectives must agree with the gender, number, and case of the noun they modify;
Luckily, adjective endings are very similar to noun declensions. Unluckily, they are
not exact matches. As such, below are the adjective declensions.

Masculine Singular Plural


Nominative -s -ä
Oblique -ana -ans
Genitive -is -äz

Feminine Singular Plural


Nominative -s -os
Oblique -a -os
Genitive -äzos -äzo

Comparatives use the suffix -iz- along with a declension ending. Meanwhile, the
superlative uses the suffix -ist- again along with a declension ending.

Irregular adjectives such as “goþ-“ (meaning “good”) have their own comparatives and
superlatives, yet these remain declined as regular adjectives. Thus, the series “good,
better, best” is rendered in Modern Gothic as “goþ-, batiz-, batist-.”

Other common irregular adjectives include

Letil [little] (minniz-, minnist-)

Mikil [big/large] (mäz-, mäst-)

The comparatives of “mikil” can also be used as a sort of analytical comparative and
superlative, translating to “more, greater, larger” and “most, greatest, largest,” as
can forms of “letil” for indicating “less” and “least.”
Section VI. Adverbs

Adverbs are the most static part of Gothic grammar, coming only in one form without
declension or agreement with any other part of the grammar. That said, most adverbs
will be derived from adjectives, through the use of the suffix “-ba.” For example, we
can derive the adverb “quickly” from the adjective “fast,” being translated into
Modern Gothic as: “kwik” -> “kwikba.”

Adverbs may also be formed with comparative and superlative adjectives, as in “more
quickly,” or “kwikizba” or “most quickly,” “kwikistba.”
Section VII. Pronouns

Pronouns in Modern Gothic follow the same declensional rules of nouns, being composed
of the same cases and having a gender distinction in the 3rd person forms. However,
Gothic pronouns have another gender of sorts, a “natural inanimate.” This is
essentially the English word “it,” and refers to things that are naturally assumed to
have no biological gender, such as objects.

First Person Singular Plural


Nominative ik wis
Oblique mik uns
Genitive min unsar

Note that the genitive can function as a possessive adjective, taking the same endings
as an adjective, or as a genitive noun, such as if it were being modified by a
preposition.

Second Person Singular Plural


Nominative Þu jus
Oblique Þuk izwis
Genitive Þin izwar

Third Person Masculine Singular Plural


Nominative is is
Oblique ina im
Genitive is ize

Third Person Feminine Singular Plural


Nominative si ijos
Oblique ija im
Genitive izos izo

Third Person Inanimate Singular Plural


Nominative ita ija
Oblique ita ija
Genitive is ize

In addition, Modern Gothic has a reflexive pronoun.

Reflexive Pronoun
Nominative -
Oblique sik
Genitive sin

Only the first and second person genitives may function as possessive adjectives,
insofar as declension is concerned. Third person pronouns use the reflexive in
sentences in which the possessor is mentioned, and their genitive when the possessor
is not mentioned.
Thus, to say “The man sees his God,” one would say: “Manns siwiþ sik guþa,” since the
possessor is mentioned in the sentence. Or, you could say “His god is seen,” as “Is
guþa ist sawa.”