Gothic for Goths Lesson 03: The Script

Gutiska Razda faur Gutans. In this third lesson of Gothic for Goths, you’ll be learning some useful phrases for a good old fashioned Goths’ Night Out during the sacking of Rome.

For instance, when getting ready to go out, you might say:

Hwaiwa swartata áuǥagarwi ist dufilu?
How much black eyeliner is too much?

Sa feina niuja swarta unđarhams meins gneiđiþ mik!
My fancy new black underwear is chafing.

Once you arrive at your destination, you might hear:

Silđaleika patai, akei ik þarf gaggan þatei qim’ik teimaleikō ana þamma gafilha.
Great pâté, but I’ve gotta motor if I’m gonna make it to that funeral.

And if rowdy Romans get too raunchy, feel free to say:

Ōkai, sō dulþs waírþiþ unhráinja. <[In the lesson I mistakenly say “unhráina” instead of “unhráinja.”  This was the mistake I was referring to in the comments on the YouTube video.] Ik gawasja mik, gagguh háimō!
Okay, this party’s getting dirty. I’m putting on my clothes and going home.

Let’s review.

Hwaiwa swartata áuǥagarwi ist dufilu? 

How much

Black.  We decline the adjective swarts to compliment the nominative neuter noun áuǥagarwi, hence swart or swartata.


Too much

Sa feina niuja swarta unđarhams meins gneiđiþ mik.

The, This.  This word doesn’t really translate in this case; it compliments the possessive “meins.”  It might help to think of this phrase as “This fancy new black underwear of mine” rather than “My fancy new black underwear.”

Fine, nice, fancy


The noun we’re complimenting here is the masculine nominative noun unđarhams, so you might be wondering why we say feina and swarta and niuja instead of feins and swarts and niujis. That’s because when we use certain words in gothic, like sa or meins, for example, the adjectives that compliment the nouns in that phrase are considered “weak.” If you’ve studied german, you probably know more about starke and weiche Adjektiven than you’d like to, so just take comfort in the fact that gothic doesn’t have a “Gemischte” declension. 


Clothing or garment

To rub or to chafe

Is gneiđiþ
It chafes

Me (accusative).  In the last lesson,  we learned a lot about the accusative, but we learned the dative pronoun “mis.”  In this lesson, we’ll mostly be talking about the dative,  and yet here is the accusative pronoun “mik” that we didn’t discuss last time around.

Silđaleika pataí, akei ik þarf gaggan þatei qim’ik teimaleikō ana þamma gafilha.

This is basically the gothic word for Fabulous!


But.  Just like we learned in the previous lesson that there are two different ways to say “and,” there are a handful of ways to say “but” as well, and that’s just the tip of the iceburg. The Goths love their conjunctions! In this case, the word ak means “but,” and we add the relative particle -ei onto it. A great many conjunctions and other words are formed this way in Gothic.

To have to, must

Ik þarf
“I gotta”

To go

If.  Here again we have the word þata followed by the particle ei,  and as we didn’t quite have a chance to learn in the last lesson, the final a on þata is dropped because it is neither long nor stressed.

To arrive.  Qiman is an important Class IV strong verb to know. I’ll talk more about strong verbs in a future lesson; for now just know that they’re the most used and the most irregular.

Ik qima (ana)
I arrive.  Qiman by itself means “to come,” but when used with the preposition “ana,” this has the further connotation of “to arrive,” (like german “ankommen”).

On time, punctually

On, though in this case, it means “to,” but really it’s tied to the verb qiman that we just discussed.

That, the. This is the dative singular case of the article “sa” we talked about earlier with the chafing underthings.


“Ana þamma gafilha” - to that funeral - is what we refer to as a dative clause. The dative case is probably the trickiest of the gothic cases to master, and some might even argue with me that this particular clause should be accusative instead of dative. In general, though, dative is used with most prepositions, or anything that implies the word “to.” It’s also used with certain verbs like “help” or “give”, as in “hilp mis gáitsūǥjan meinana finþan” or “gif ina mis aftra!”

Ōkai, sō dulþs waírþiþ unhráinja.<[See above.] Ik gawasja mik, faruh háima! 


This or the.  This is the feminine nominative singular of sa, since the word for party is feminine.


To become

si waírþiþ
It’s becoming

Dirty or unclean

Gawasjan sik
To get dressed.  This is a reflexive verb, which all language classes seem to make such a big deal about. It’s really not a big deal, though, it just means it something you’re doing to yourself; in this case, putting on clothes.

Ik gawasja mik
I get dressed. (I dress myself.)

Ik gagga
I go.  Now remember that enclitic conjunction -uh from the last lesson? You can also tack that right onto the end of a verb.

Háimō means home, derived from the noun háims.

Now, I feel it’s important that I point out a couple of things here. For one, since ostensibly the only record we have of the gothic language is Wulfilas’ translation of some of the New Testament, the gothic lexicon that has survived is fairly small. However, we can extrapolate many words from other early germanic languages, such as old high german, old english, or old norse, all of which have a much more robust vocabulary. There are also some words which are naturally assimilated from other languages with cultural contact. Still other compound words can be constructed from already existing vocabulary. In this lesson, I should specifically point out that the following words are not part of the official gothic lexicon:

Feins is a word that was borrowed from the latin finis by nearly all other germanic languages. It’s reasonable to assume that it was used in gothic as well.

Gneiđan is derived from a class I germanic strong verb used in old norse, old english, and old high german.

Patai and okai I admit I totally made up. But if gothic were still a living language, I think both of these words would be assimilated into the language before long. 

Áuǥagarwi is a combination of áuǥō - eye - and garwi - decoration or ornamentation. 

Finally, I’m pretty sure the word “underwear” doesn’t actually appear in the gospels, but this is a pretty common construction in all germanic languages. Old norse had undirklæði, german has Unterwäsche, and in english alone we’ve got underwear, underclothes, and undergarments, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the goths used this as well. In this case, I chose the word unđarhams rather than unđarkláiþs or unđarwasti mostly because I needed a masculine noun in that sentence to effectively illustrate the difference between strong and weak adjectives.

In case you’re curious, there are also a few words from the previous lesson that aren’t quite kosher.  Gáitsūǥja,  of course, is a good example of a compounding, as I’m sure you’ve guessed that there was not a word for chupacabra in the 4th cecntury.  

Grōneis, faíþarak, and hrugs – green, wings, and back – are some great examples of extrapolation, and we can be pretty certain that these were in fact the words,  they just didn’t appear in any surviving gothic writings.  

Mūstriggs – bat – is a particularly awesome extrapolation, because although it doesn’t appear in any germanic languages, it can be traced back to the Visigoths via spanish, catalan, and portuguese.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson of Gothic for Goths, and remember, gothlings: When in Rome... Sack it!