You are on page 1of 25

Two decades of the modern use of

the Gothic language in a digital age


Introduction
The Gothic language is an ancient Germanic language attested by a Bible translation of
bishop Wulfila from the 4th century AD. The modern use and study of the language
could be traced back to the renaissance. Before looking into the use of the language in
the past two decades, we will first take a small look at the use of the language in the
renaissance and in Romanticism.

Bonaventura Vulcanius

Bonaventura Vulcanius was a Dutch humanist and taught Greek at university. In he wrote
De literis et lingua Getarum sive Gothorum (about the literature and te language of the
Goths), in which Vulcanius didnt only describe the language and the alphabet of the
Goths, but designed his own variations of the Gothic alphabet.
The poetic works of Hans Ferdinand Massmann
Bagme Bloma by J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien is not only known for his great works like The Hobbit , he also wrote a
poem in the Gothic language, Bagme Bloma. The poem was published in Songs for the
Philologists, which was printed in 1936.

The Beginning
1998 - The Gothic-L mailing list
The use of Gothic in the modern age starts around the beginning of the 20th century.
One of the major places for the study of the use of Gothic in the modern age is the
Gothic-L Yahoo mailing list, which was already active as early as 1998.
The first post2 in this group was made in late October, 1998.

1999 - Ahma Fraujins


Ahma Fraujins was a musical project from the Czech musician Thomas Houska, in which
he created music in which both existing texts from the Gothic bible of Wulfila was set to
music, and some texts were created in Gothic.

2000 - Use of Gothic in a magazine


A peculiar find of this year is the use of the Gothic language in an edition of Seven Days,
an independant newsweekly publishing from Burlington, Vermont.22

In the edition of November 15, 2000, someone got a text in Gothic printed in the paper.
The text in Gothic, but enlarged:
The text reads:

"Hails! Hwaiwa gaggiþ þus? "Ik hatja wintru unte mel gaþrafsteinais ist." Rimbaud.
Jabai kannt aiþþau wileis Gutrazda gakunnan,
þo raþjo galaþo! 5119"

This translates to:


"Hello! How are you doing? "I hate winter because it is a time of comfort." Rimbaud.
If you know or want to know the Gothic language,
call this number! 5119"

The author of the text seems to translate "How are you doing?" by using the idiom
which is used in modern Germanic languages like Dutch "Hoe gaat het?" and German
"Wie gehts dir?", as the verb gaggan is used here. For the verb "to hate", a form hatjan is
used, probably based on the attested noun hatjandam (haters), the use of galaþon in the
way how it is used here, seems to be correct if we look at Luke 15:6 for example:
"jah qimands in garda galaþoþ frijonds jah garaznans qiþands du im",
"And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours,"

As this was probably cheaper, instead of th or þ the author of the text used t instead.

2001 - Wulfila.be
The first mention of the website wulfila.be in the Gothic-L list was in 2001 by Tom de
Herdt.3

"Dear group members, For some reason, and without any notification, the project
Wulfila website at http://extranet.ufsia.ac.be/wulfila has been closed, or rather became
password-protected - even I can't access the site. This is not the first problem, so I
decided to move the site again, this time to it's own domain - in order to prevent future
modifications once and for all. The new address is: http://www.wulfila.be "

The website is one of the most accessible online sources where one can read the text of
the Gothic Bible translation of Wulfila and the minor fragments which are found in the
Gothic language. The website offers interlinear translations which also make it possible
to view phrases from the Gothic Bible with a Greek equivalent to easily compare the
Gothic language to ancient Greek.
2002 - Songs of the Ancient Goths

On September 30, 2002, the Songs of the Ancient Goths, the best known modern music
in a reconstructed Gothic, was released by Michael Aelfric Avery under the name
Albareiks. One of the most popular songs of the album, Gautis bida (prayer to Gaut), has
50,000 views on YouTube.

(Part about crimean graveyard)

2007 - The Gothic Wikipedia is born


In 2007 the Gothic Wikipedia was launched.
The Gothic Wikipedia was requested by Gadrauhts (Wikipedia name of Fredrik Adevag)
and the user Brahntelpefin. This version of Wikipedia was approved in 2006:

A much more complicated text was written in the same Yahoo group by user thiudans in
2007, with English translation:

Hails!
Sumaim izwara ist aufto faurawaurpa “Hauha-froniska” ju kunþa; jus
izwizei swa so nist waurdaleista ize sokjan maguþ her:
http://www.hafronska.org/pages/loadlists.php?cat=32
Faurawaurpa duginniþ hrainjan Eisalandiska þo ju filuhrainidon.
Ahmatidamma mis þairh suma niujawaurde ize wisandin atbaira
*woþjon (qn. “sukkair” < Gu. woþeis), ana ustaikna gasulidon
þamma Hauha-froniskin "sæta" < Eis. sætur. Anþaraim ist
raihtis *sukkair (nhva.). Jah unte galaistida laistai gaumawairþai
waurde "ammaunia" jah "ameino", ustaikna nu "ameinoaket" swa:
*hairutahaurnasurjo. Aþþan aufto daug gamaurgid wisan andizuh
hairutasurjon aiþþau haurnasurjon. Namo hairutahaurn þugkeiþ af
alþja-aggiliskamma uhtja wisan; was auk faura at imma uftost bigitan
þatei haitano "salammaunjak". Mitodaþþan þatei ni weseina hijos
bokos fullos nibai usbigeti skeirein waurdis "paipr": *tugga-stikils
(ga.) aiþ. aufto *kusti-stuggeis (gi.mr.). Jah ei laibam galeikai:
*pipair (nhva.)
I'm sure some of you are familiar with the Hafronska project. For those
who aren't, you can search their wordlist here:
http://www.hafronska.org/pages/loadlists.php?cat=32
The project is attempting to "purify" already greatly purified
Icelandic. Drawing inspiration from some of their neologisms, I offer
*woþjo (fn.) "sugar" < Go. woþeis 'sweet', based on the Hafronsk
rendering of sæta < Ic. sætur. For others there is of course
*sukkair (na.) Also, after following an interesting etymology of
"ammonia" and "amino", I render "amino acid" thus:
*hairuta-haurna-surjo. But maybe this should be shortened to either
*hairuta-surjo or *haurna-surjo. Hart's horn was from an OE term
apparently, and a chief source once of sal ammoniac. Also, I thought
this post wouldn't be complete unless I had made a word for pepper:
*tugga-stikils (ma.) or perhaps *kusti-stuggeis (mi.pl.). And to please
the rest: *pipair (na.)

We could look at a part of this text word-by-word:


Hails!
Hello -
Sumaim izwara ist aufto faurawaurpa “Hauha-froniska” ju kunþa; jus
To some - of you (plural) - is - maybe - project - “Hauha-froniska” - already - known;
you (plural)
izwizei swa so nist waurdaleista ize sokjan maguþ her:
you which - as - this (project) - not is - word-list - their - search - you can (plural) - here:

Fraitandans Þize Dauþe


Fraitandans Þize Dauþe was a band which made a mix of Metal and several other genres
in Gothic, founded in Madison, Wisconsin.

One of the founders of the band, Mike Remick, gave an insight in the band when the
band was mentioned in a Gothic language group:
2011 - The foundation of the Verein der Gotischen
Sprache
On the 23rd of May 2011, the Verein der Gotischen Sprache (The association of the
Gothic language) was founded by Kevin Behrens. The association has its seat in Bremen
and is occupied with the study of the Gothic language.
2013 - Gutrazda, the Movement for the Revival of the
Gothic language
August 29, 2013, the website Gutrazda was created by Fredrik Adevag. The website is
dedicated to neogothic, which is a modernized form of the ancient Gothic language, as
the website says. On the website different things can be found, among which a
dictionary and lessons for modern Gothic, but also poems, songs and comics.

2014 - News in the Gothic language


Himma Daga is a news site publishing news in the Gothic language and was founded 18
August 2014, when the first article was published, which was an article about the Kurds
in the middle-east.
In February of the same year the Russian philology student Polina Filippova created a
song called Ik siggwa fram frijaþwai (I sing from love) in Gothic and recorded herself
singing it to music.
2015 - The year of metal and modern book publications
The year 2015 was important for the modern and creative use of the Gothic language.
In July 2015 the band Runaleiks was founded, which makes metal music in the Gothic
language.

The band has brought out several songs in Gothic, of which their most early one was
Hropeis us Haljai released August 20, 2015.
The main song Ara was released The song also has a videoclip which can be found on
YouTube January 5, 2017.4
Their last released song was Albs jah Swultawairþjans, brought out June 12, 2016.
Not all of their songs are released yet, among one of their other songs is Liuþ riqizis,
which was uploaded on YouTube on April 24, 2018 5.

Kaine Arthursson, the lead singer

Dis, the guitarist


2016
Although it started earlier, in February of the year 2016 the website Gutiska Razda was
re-launched, a website aimed at the Gothic language, it includes texts, audio and videos
in Gothic and is aimed at the Spanish Asatru audience.

The use in Asatru and heathenry

Around the beginning of 2018 I was e-mailed by an Asatru practitioner in the Gothic
tradition for whom I translated a prayer into Gothic which he wanted to use. The revival
of Gothic as a liturgical language is a desire in the Asatru community and an interesting
subject to research for linguists and pagan-researchers. Due to the scarce material I have
provided material for a Gothic Asatru myself on Himma Daga, which creates possibilities
for the use of Gothic in a liturgical language.

Pokemon ruby in Gothic


Together with the user Hairutila from the Gothic Discord group, an experiment was
started to translate a GBA ROM into the Gothic language. As Pokemon Ruby and
Sapphire had a good availability of hacking tools (tools to change the data), the choice
was made to translate this.
Austrawigs

Use on Twitter
Conclusion
In retrospect we can see that the years around 2010 were important for what we could
consider a modernized form of Gothic. From 2007 starting with the Gothic Wikipedia, to
a website dedicated to the revival of the Gothic language and a News website in Gothic.
We can see a different perspective from the years around 2000, when the different
things which were created around this time, like Wulfila.be, the Gothic mailing list and
Ahma Fraujins were either focused on the ancient form of Gothic or mostly using the
ancient form without creating a lot of new material. This only happened around the
middle of the 00s when the Songs of the Ancient Goths were released by Aelfric and
with several of the songs in Ahma Fraujins.

We could consider 2007 a turning-point as it was mostly from the inception of this year
that the online use of Gothic began to shift to a use which was much more focused at
the production of new material, using a modernized form of the ancient language.
2. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/gothic-l/conversations/messages/1

22. https://issuu.com/7days/docs/111500-vol.06-no.12/15

3. http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/gothic-l/2001-July/002685.html

4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8NYi9TmdXo

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq0FNSJsbko