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Alphabet

Page history last edited by David 14 years ago

Ulfilas' Gothic, as well as that of the Skeireins and various other manuscripts, was written using an alphabet that was most likely invented by Ulfilas for his translation. Some scholars (e.g. Braune) claim that it was derived from the Greek alphabet only, while others maintain that there are some Gothic letters of Runic or Latin origin.  The Wistra Gutisk alphabet is the same as Ulfilas' except for the addition of Ðð Öö Ææ, and replacement of macron for acute to signify pronunciation.

 

The Wistra-Gutisk alphabet closely resembles the Greek uncial alphabet of the fourth century AD, as did its Gothic predecessor. Where the Greek uncials proved insufficient for rendering some of the sounds, Roman or runic letters were borrowed. These alphabetic characters are also used to represent numerals. Rather than work with the Gothic alphabet itself, scholars generally work with a transliteration using the Roman alphabet, augmented with two additional characters and with the acute accent mark. The following chart lists the transliterated letters, their corresponding numerical values, and a rough guide to pronunciation.

 

This chart only comprises the uncial alphabet. The complete alphabet follows the chart.  The letter names are recorded in a 9th century manuscript of Alcuin (Codex Vindobonensis 795). Most of them seem to be Gothic forms of names also appearing in the rune poems. The names are given in their attested forms followed by the reconstructed Gothic forms and their meanings.

 

Letter
Meaning Number
Pronunciation
Environment and Notes

a

Ahsa

aza < ans "god" æsir or asks "ash"

1

ains

[a], o as in 'cot'

[ā], a as in 'father'

 

b

Bairka

bercna < *bairka "birch"

2

twa

[v], v as in 'have'

[b], b as in 'bob'

medially after vowel or diphthong

otherwise

g

Giba

geuua < giba "gift"

3

þrija

[ŋ], n as in 'sing'

[x], ch as in 'Bach'

[ḡ], g as in North Ger. 'sagen'

before k, g, q

finally, or before s, t

otherwise

d

Dags

daaz < dags "day"

4

fidwor

[d], d as in 'did'
 

e

Eiƕs

eyz < aiƕs "horse" or eivs "yew"

5

fimf

[e], e as in 'bed'
 

q *

Qairna

quetra < *qairþra (?) or quairna "millstone"

6

saihs

[kw], qu as in 'queen'
usually represented with 'kw'

z

Ezek

ezec < ezek

7

sibun

[z], z as in 'buzz'  

h

Hagls

haal < *hagal or *hagls "hail"

8

ahtau

[h], h as in 'hello'

[x], ch as in 'Bach'

initially and finally

commonly between vowels

þ

Þaurnus

hyth < þiuþ "good" or þaurnus "thorn"

9

niun

[þ], th as in 'with'
 

i

Eis

iiz < *eis "ice"

10

taihun

[i], i as in 'with'  

k

Kónja

chozma < *kusma or kōnja "pine sap"

20

twai tigjus

[k], k as in 'kick'  

l

Lagus

laaz < *lagus "sea, lake"

30

þreis tigjus

[l], l as in 'lazy'  

m

Manna

manna < manna "man"

40

fidwor tigjus

[m], m as in 'mouth'  

n

Nauþs

noicz < nauþs "need"

50

fimf tigjus

[n], n as in 'nose'  

j

Jer

gaar < jēr "year"

60

saihs tigjus

[j], y as in 'you'  

u

Úrus

uraz < *ūrus "aurochs"

70

sibuntehund

[u], o as in 'do it'
see the pronunciation page details

p

Pairþa

pertra < *pairþa

80

ahtautehund

[p], p as in 'pin'  
Ϟ (Crtl+Alt990)**
 

90

niuntehund

   

r

Raida

reda < *raida "wagon"

100

taihun-taihund

   

s

Sójil

sugil < sauïl or sōjil "sun" 200 [s], s as in 'hiss'  

t

Tius

tyz < *tius "the god Týr" 300 [t], t as in 'tin'  

w

Wunjo

uuinne < vinja "field, pasture" or vinna "pain" 400

[u], oo as in 'boot'

[w], w as in 'with'

between consonants, finally after consonant

otherwise

f

Faihu

fe < faihu "cattle, wealth" 500 [f], f as in 'fife'  

x

Iggus

enguz < *iggus or *iggvs "the god Yngvi" 600 [k], k as in 'kick'  

Ƕ ƕ (Ctrl+Alt0405)

Ƕair

uuaer < *ƕair "kettle" 700 [W], as in Scots when  

o

Óþal

utal < *ōþal "ancestral land" 800 [ō], o as in 'phone'  
Ϡ (Crtl+Alt992)**
  900    

* Used typically for numerical representation, but it is not uncommon as a letter and is found in the WG alphabet representing the sound [kw].

** Used only for numerical representation and is not a character of the alphabet proper.

 

 

Complete Alphabet

The modern Wistra-Gutisk alphabet consists of 28 letters:

 

Aa Bb Gg Dd Ee Qq Zz Hh Þþ Ii Kk Ll Mm Nn Jj Uu Pp Rr Ss Tt Ww Ff Xx  Ƕƕ Oo Ðð Öö Ææ

 

It is based upon a Latin alphabet with diacritics, in addition it includes the character eth Ðð and the runic letter thorn Þþ.   Öö and Ææ  are considered letters in their own right and not a ligature or diacritical version of their respective letters. On the other hand, the letters a, i, u, and o have a diacritical version each represented with the accent mark located above the letter.  These glyphs are not considered to be part of the alphabet.

 

The Alphabet Song

Ahsa Bairka Giba Dags

Eihws Qairna Ezek Hagls

Þaurnus Eis Kónja Lagus

Manna Nauþs Jer Úrus

Pairþa Raida Sójil Tius

Wunjo Faihu Iggus Hwair

Óþal Eðu Örn jah Æsks

Þó ist runos

Ek fraþja þáim waila

 

The last two lines say:

Those are [the] runes

I know them well

 

 

 



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