Gothic – The extinct language of the Goths of West Scandinavia


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If you want to understand the history of Germanic languages then you must take an interest in Gothic. This is because Gothic is one of the oldest Germanic languages. The earliest documents found written in the language date back to the 4th century. The Gothic language sheds light on the transition that Indo European languages underwent and the structures of the languages. In fact, the language provides the primary basis for the reconstruction of the proto-Germanic language. Currently, there are only a few documents available in Gothic, which has made it hard to reconstruct the language.

Gothic is an extinct language that was once spoken by the Goths who lived in southern Scandinavia. Gothic has 2 main dialects; Ostrogothic, which was spoken in Italy and eastern Europe and Visigothic, which was spoken in Spain and east central Europe. Originally, Gothic was written using the Runic alphabet but it has not been ascertained whether it was the Goths who invented it or not. The Gothic alphabet was invented by Bishop Wulfila in the 4th AD. He was the religious leader of the Visigoths and he wanted to provide his people with a written language. Most knowledge on the Gothic language was largely based on the bible translation written by Bishop Wulfilla. The Gothic alphabet is based on the Greek alphabet and borrows some letters from the Runic and Latin alphabets.

The Gothic language began to decline in the 6th century. This was as a result of many factors. This includes the military defeat of the Goths by the Franks and the removal of Goths from Italy. Also, when most Visigoths converted to Catholicism, Gothic lost its use as a church language making it lose popularity. By the 8th century, only a few people spoke the language in parts of Portugal and Spain. Gothic is the only east Germanic language which has a sizable amount of textual elements. Other East Germanic languages are simply known because of references made to them in historical accounts or due to their contribution of loan words to other languages such as French, Portuguese and Spanish.

2 Comments on “Gothic – The extinct language of the Goths of West Scandinavia”

  1. Sad to see that in a linguistic text of this caliber there are three language errors. Change Goth’s to Goths, it’s to its, and loose to lose, and it will look way more professional.

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