Gothic alphabet

Gothic alphabet

This article is about the 4th century alphabet of the Gothic bible. Blackletter typefaces for the Latin alphabet are sometimes referred to as "Gothic script".

This Article contains gothic glyphs. You might like to install a particular Gothic Unicode Fonts.

The Gothic alphabet is an alphabetic writing system attributed by Philostorgius to Ulfilas (also known as Wulfila), used exclusively for writing the ancient Gothic language. Before its creation in the fourth century in Nicopolis ad Istrum (modern Bulgaria), Gothic was possibly written in runes. It was primarily used by Ulfilas to translate the Bible into Gothic. It appears to be derived from the Greek alphabet with some borrowings from the Latin one. The names clearly derive from the names of the Runic alphabet.

The letters

Below is a table of the Gothic alphabet. Two letters used in its transliteration are not used in current English: þ (þiuþ, thorn) and ƕ (hwair). These represent sounds like the th in thin and the voiceless wh respectively.

As with the Greek alphabet, letters were also used as numerals. When used as numerals, letters were generally written with an overdot or overbar. There are two numerals (representing 90 and 900) with no phonetic value.

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 the reconstructed form of the Gothic words, followed by the spelling of their actual attestation.

Letter Translit. c.f. Name IPA Numeric value XML Entity
𐌰 a Α ahsa / aza 1 𐌰
𐌱 b Β bairkan / bercna 2 𐌱
𐌲 g Γ giba / geuua 3 𐌲
𐌳 d Δ dags / daaz 4 𐌳
𐌴 e Ε aiƕus / eyz 5 𐌴
𐌵 q Π qairþra (qairthra) / qertra /kʷ/ 6 𐌵
𐌶 z Ζ ezec /z/ 7 𐌶
𐌷 h H hagl / haal /h/ 8 𐌷
𐌸 þ, th Θ þiuþ (thiuth) / thyth /θ/ 9 𐌸
𐌹 i Ι eis / iiz 10 𐌹
𐌹̈ ï Ι eis / iiz 10 𐌹̈
𐌺 k Κ kusma / chozma /k/ 20 𐌺
𐌻 l Λ lagus / laaz /l/ 30 𐌻
𐌼 m Μ manna /m/ 40 𐌼
𐌽 n Ν nauþs (nauths) / noicz /n/ 50 𐌽
𐌾 j jer / gaar /j/ 60 𐌾
𐌿 u urus / uraz 70 𐌿
𐍀 p Π pairþra (pairthra) / pertra /p/ 80 𐍀
𐍁 Ϟ 90 𐍁
𐍂 r R raida / reda /r/ 100 𐍂
𐍃 s S sauil / sugil /s/ 200 𐍃
𐍄 t Τ teiws / tyz /t/ 300 𐍄
𐍅 w Υ winja / uuinne 400 𐍅
𐍆 f F faihu / fe /f/ 500 𐍆
𐍇 x X iggws / enguz /kʰ/ 600 𐍇
𐍈 ƕ, hw ƕair / uuaer /ʍ/ 700 𐍈
𐍉 o Ω oþal (othal) / utal 800 𐍉
𐍊 Ϡ 900 𐍊

Most of the letters are taken over from the Greek alphabet directly, but a few letters are innovated to accurately express Gothic phonology; these are j, u (likely directly from runic alphabet; u is expressed in Greek as a digraph ου), ƕ, and q (interestingly not derived from Greek Qoppa, which figures merely as the numeral 90 , but a variant of p). þ similarly to Cyrillic Ф seems derived from Greek Φ rather than Θ. r and s appear derived from the Latin rather than the Greek alphabet. Likewise, the shape of f is derived from Latin F rather than Greek digamma, since it takes the place of Φ, not digamma, in alphabetical order. x is only used in proper names and loanwords containing Greek X (xristus "Christ", galiugaxristus "ψευδόχριστος", zaxarias "Zacharias", aivxaristia "eucharist").

Regarding the letters' numeric values, most correspond to that of the Greek numerals. q takes the place of digamma (6); j takes the place of ξ (60), u that of ο (70) ƕ that of ψ (700).

Diacritics and punctuation

Diacritics and punctuation used in the Codex Argenteus include a trema placed on i, transliterated as ï, in general applied to express diaeresis, the Interpunct (·) and colon (:) as well as overlines to indicate sigla (such as xaus for xristaus).

Character encoding

The Gothic alphabet is encoded in Unicode in the range U+10330–U+1034F. As older software often assumes that all Unicode codepoints can be expressed as 16 bit numbers (smaller than U+10000), problems may be encountered using the Gothic alphabet Unicode range.

See also

External links

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