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Introduction to Gothic

by James Marchand

  (Within the lessons, Dr. Marchand's commentary on the text appears in black,his cultural asides appear in blue,the Gothic text and vocabulary appear in green,andcomparative vocabulary from other languages appears in purple.)

Gothic: Lesson 1

{in the following, I use v for Gothic o with a dot in the middle (Gothic has no v, so this is good for computer work, easily translated by the computer into the 'Collitz letter', if one wishes to, and y for what you will quickly come to recognize as thorn (Gothic has no y, and th will not do, since th [athaitan] occurs in Gothic).}

So-o-o, we have Matthew 6:1:

Mt 6:1 atsaiviy armaion izwara ni taujan in andwairyja manne du saivan im. aiyyau laun ni habaiy fram attin izwaramma yamma in himinam. Picking up our handy KJV (we are at the moment living in England), we read (as if we did not already know it):

Mt 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them, otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

atsaiviy obviously means 'take heed', but that helps us little unless our wandering eye runs on saivan at the end of the line.  According to Marchand's Law of the Recurrent Partial (known already in 17th C. England), saiv = 'to see', so that atsaiviy means 'see to it' (= take heed).  We have lots to think about.  If we are looking at the Greek, we might think prosekhete to be a cognate (we are Junius, and cognates is our game), we might even begin to equate -ete and -iy, what do we know.

Now we are stuck, but we do notice that izwar seems to be recurrent with another izwar (fourth word from end).  So izwar- means 'your', and the -a and the -amma are endings.  Good -- now armaion means 'alms'. 'See to it alms your', we are cooking with gas.

ni has got to mean 'not', but we can see that this is true by looking at the other ni in the verse, so now taujan means 'to do', probably cognate to German tun. Now we put aside the -an as probably an infinitive ending, but quien sabe?

in must mean 'in', manne looks like 'man' to me, so we have andwairyja left to mean 'presence'.

du saivan = 'to be seen' im 'by them'

aiyyau = otherwise; our ears prick up and we think of 'if though'; we read a lot of Old Dutch, and Old Franconian, even have edited some, so that eddo  'otherwise' is familiar to us.

laun must mean 'reward'; that is what it means in OHG, and it may be that Gothic, like French, writes au for o.

ni habaiy, no problem; we note that that -iy may be the ending for the ye- form of the verb, e.g. 2d pers. pl.

fram attin; we know about att- meaning father, but we go slow here.

izwar we have already dealt with.  We think fram must take the dative, so that the -amma is a dative singular masculine ending (we have an ending at last): Your Father, The One"

in himinam 'in heaven'. We note the -n-, maybe even write himils in the manuscript.

'See to it not to do your alms in the presence of men, otherwise you will not have a reward from your Father, The One in heaven.'

Not bad for a start.  Did I tell you that the words were not separated in Junius' copy?  Bummer.
Go ahead and get ahead of the class if you wish, after all, Junius' friend Marshall did, but don't (DO NOT) look at a Gothic grammar for the nonce -- they will not only confuse you, they will lie to you.

Gothic: Lesson 2

Continuing with the Gothic lesson and the RP method:

Mt 6:2  yan nu taujais armaion ni haurnjais faura yus. swaswe yai liutans taujand. in gaqumyim jah in garunsim ei hauhjaindau fram mannam.  amen qiya izwis andnemun mizdon seina.

KJV: Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.  Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

yan (= than) must mean 'when'.  I'll buy 'now' for nu. We know that tauj- means 'to do', but taujais is a problem, until we note that the KJV has changed from 'y'all' (ihr) to 'you' (du); we will have to leave it up to the theologians to figure out why.  So the 2d pers. sg. ending is -s, the 2d pers. pl. is -y.  If we know some language other than English which duzens, then we are ok. ni haurnjais = do not sound a trumpet.  Must be 'do not horn'.

faura must take the dative, so yus must mean 'you' dir.

swaswe = as (sowie; note that knowing any other language can help, but German is particularly of use).

yai liutans must mean 'the hypocrites'. taujand seems to indicate that -and is the third pl. pres. We file it in our head for the moment.

gaqumyim jah garunsim. Got to be dative plural, as we saw above with im 'by them'.  We said in took the dative.  If we were really Junius and bold like he was, we might begin here to etymologize. Gaqumyim sounds like 'convenience store; together coming place' and garunsim 'together running place'.

ei hauhjaindau. That they may have glory.  We are in no position to do much with this, but notice hauh- (= high); we already know from haurnjan that these Goths can be cute.  So they may have a hauhjan 'to raise on high'.  We feel that ei must be like Latin ut, but go no further.

Fram mannam.  Piece of cake.  Fram takes the dative, -m is our dative plural, as we saw above.  Now we can see that manne above was the genitive plural.

Amen, qiya izwis.  Izwar from above makes us think that the Gothic may here have switched to the plural 'you'.  Amen, I say (qiya sounds like quoth to me, our first 1 pers. sg.). We know that yus (cf. above) = 'to you (sg.)', so izwis must be 'to you (pl.).' Gothic is just like the Greek here.

andnemun.  We cannot do much with this at the moment. Junius would have noticed the similarity with German nehmen, etc.

mizdon, must be a loan-word from the Greek.

seina.  Junius had studied Swedish, so he would have seen that this is the possessive reflexive in agreement with the unexpressed subject of andnemun. We may have to wait to catch on.

If you are keeping up with this small amount, you are already cooking with gas. I'll get us through the Lord's Prayer and give it up.  No complaints so far.

"When now you (sg.) do alms, do not toot a horn in front of you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and the quads, so that they may be raised up by men. Amen, I say unto y'all. They have gotten their reward."

Notice that we know how to say 'they have'. It is haband, like the trousers.

Gothic 3

I hope this is correct.  Here is lesson 3, which you can skip if you want to:

Mt 6:3 iy yuk taujandan armaion. ni witi hleidumei yeina. va taujiy taihswo yeina.

KJV: But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

iy = but

yuk taujandan armaion. we have learned that yuk = accusative of yu 'you', we know the meaning of taujan and of armaion; if we were Junius, we would suspect an accusative absolute.  BTW, if we did, we might later find that this is one of the few in Gothic. so we can forget about it.

ni witi. we know that ni = 'not'.  We can easily connect witi with 'to wit'.

hleidumei yeina 'your left hand'.  We recognize yeina, but not much we can do with hleidumei.

va taujiy 'what does'.  This is one of our first examples of the circle with a dot in it (nowadays we know it means hw), so it will take us a while to connect it up etymologically with what and the first word of Beowulf.

taihswo yeina.  Sounds like dexter to me, but Junius did not know about Grimm's Law.  Had he, he might also have connected it with zeswe 'right hand' in MHG.

Not much, but something.

Continue to Lesson 4

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