The Gothic Language

The Gothic Language

This is a Germanic language spoken by the Goths. The most famous official document written in the Gothic language is CODEX ARGENTEUS, a copy of the Bible dating from the 6th century. The Gothic language evolved alongside with the evolution of the Goths between the 4th and the 6th centuries AD.

The Gothic alphabet is based on the Greek alphabet which provided the order and the form of the letters, but also the form of writing using letters. You may find a correct correspondence at There are 25 letters, plus two letters having only numeric value (90 and 900). The names of the letters reveal a certain contamination between the late Gothic language and the early Germanic language.

By the mid-sixth century the Gothic language was in decline because of the defeat suffered by the Goths in their conflict with the Franks, but also because of the assimilation of the Goths by the more numerous and more civilized subordinate Roman populations. On the other hand, the disappearance of the Gothic language was also caused by the Goths’ withdrawal from Italy and their geographical isolation from other Germanic populations.

Signs of the existence of the Gothic language did however appear even later, in the 8th and 9th centuries, in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). According to the Frankish author WALAHFRID Strabo, the use of this language spread as far as the Danube region and the Crimean Peninsula under the name of Crimean Gothic. One hypothesis suggests that the Gothic language was used as diplomatic language in the 16th century in Constantinople and then translated into Latin.

The Dacian language, spoken between the 4th and the 8th centuries in Europe along with the Gothic language, came into contact with the Germanic-Gothic civilization, which influenced the Dacian vocabulary for a while.

The connection between the Gothic and the Germanic languages is still evident today in many frequently used words: BROE/BROT (in German) = bread, PLUT/BLUT = blood, HOEF/HAUPT = head, SCHIETEN/SCHIESSEN = to shoot arrows, GNAUEN TAG/GUTEN TAG = good day, REGHEN/REGEN = rain, BRUDER/BRUDER = brother, SCHUUESTER/SCWESTER = sister, ALT/ALT = old, WINTSCH/WIND = wind, SILUIR/SILBER = silver, GOLTZ/GOLD = gold, FISCT/FISCH = fish, THURN/TÜR = door, etc.

As a Germanic language, Gothic is a member of the Indo-European languages family, as is Romanian. Although its direct contact with the Dacians between the 4th and the 8th centuries AD was small and without much effect on the vocabulary or the alphabet, the Gothic language contributed, in the broad sense of the word, to the early development of the Dacian-Roman language spoken in Dacia.

We should therefore take into account all these historical connections between languages when we translate various documents of an archaic or official nature. As we approach the present time, the relations between current and extinct languages are revealing their true importance in the most subtle ways.

By | 2018-01-03T12:12:49+00:00 January 3rd, 2018|Articles|0 Comments