Gothic language became extinct with that Germanic race by whom it was spoken. The existing Gothic manuscripts are written in characters related in form and order to the Greek alphabet, and, it is said, invented by Bishop Ulfilas. The order of the alphabet has been ascertained from the numerical values attached to the letters. It is not customary in modern books to make use of Ulfilas's characters. The original form, order, and numerical value of the Gothic alphabet, and the way in which it is usually transcribed, are as follows:
The transcription of several letters is not uniform. Some write, instead of kv, qu; for v, the German w; and instead of the aspirated hv, a simple v or w. Diacritical points are put over i at the beginning of a word, or after another vowel with which it does not form a diphthong. Numbers are distinguished in the manuscripts by a dash over the letters, or by being enclosed by two dots. For punctuation a colon is sometimes used, and it serves to divide a discourse into parts generally larger than a proposition. No Gothic manuscript, however, separates the words of a sentence, or indicates whether a vowel is long or short. The Gothic verb distinguishes two voices, active and middle; two tenses, present and past; three moods, indicative, optative, and imperative; three numbers, singular, dual, and plural; an infinitive; and a present and a past participle. According to the formation of the tenses, there are three classes of verbs: the first forms the past by reduplicating the verbal root; the second distinguishes the tenses by a change of vowel; the third has a special form only for the present tense, forming the past by means of formative endings. Grimm designates the first two classes as strong, and the third as feeble.
Examples: 1st class, blanda, blend, baibland, blended; teka, touch, taitok, touched; 2d class, binda, band, bund, bind, bound, bound; giba, gab, geb, give, gave, given; 3d class, haba, habaida, habaips, have, had, had; sokja, sokida, sokips, seek, sought, sought. The past tense is formed in the last class by adding da, reduplicated dad, the auxiliary do, did. The verb to be is conjugated as follows : Pres. ind. singular, im, is, ist; dual, siu or siju, sluts or sijuts; plural, sunn, siup, sind. Past ind. singular, vas, vast, vas; dual, vesu, vesuts; plural, vesum, vesup, vesun, etc. Nouns have three genders and two numbers. They have inflections for the nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative cases, and a few have also a vocative case, but only in the singular. The stems end either in the vowels a, i, u, or in the consonants n, r, nd, and these terminations determine the modes of the declensions. The thematic vowel of the declension in a is distinctly preserved only in the dative singular and the dative and accusative plural, and is lengthened into 6 in the femi-nines. The i of the next declension takes gradation, and an a is introduced before it.
The declension in u retains the vowel of its theme quite persistently, even before the case sign s of the nominative masculine and feminine, as well as in the nominative neuter, where the other declensions drop it. The n of the theme disappears in the nominative and vocative of the singular. The vowel of the primitive suffix dar, par, or tar (as in fadar, father, bropar, brother, dauhtar, daughter, and sristar, sister), is dropped where a case sign is added; as gen. broprs, dat. bropr. The themes in nd comprise present participles declined as substantives. Adjectives are inflected differently, adopting in about half of the cases the demonstrative pronoun ja, and assimilating with it; as hardus, hard, hardjis, hardjamma, etc. The comparative degree is rendered by means of the suffixes is and 6s, which retain their form at the end of adverbs, but are lengthened into izan and ozan at the end of adjectives. The superlative is formed by adding ta or tan to the is or 6s of the comparative; as froda, clever, comp. masc. and neut. frodozan, fem, frodozein, sup. masc. frodista, fem, frodisto, etc. The personal pronouns are : ik, I; pu, thou; is, he; si, she; ita, it; veis, we; vit, we two; jus, you; eis, they masc.; ijos, they fem; ija, they neut.
Prepositions govern the genitive, dative, or accusative, and precede the words they govern. Only three interjections have been found : o, oh; sai, behold; vai, woe! The pronouns sa, so, pata, he who, she who, that which, are used as definite articles. There is no indefinite article. - The literary documents in which the Gothic language has been preserved consist of a few manuscripts. The Argenteus Codex, now in the library of the university of Upsal, written in silver and partly gold letters, is a purple parchment, supposed to date from about the beginning of the 6th century, at the time of the rule of the Ostrogoths in Italy. (See Argen-teus Codex.) It comprised originally 330 sheets, with Ulfilas's translation of the gospels of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark, in this order; but only 177 sheets have been preserved. (See Ulfilas.) The Codex Carol in us is a rescript, like all codices except the preceding, and is owned by the Wolfenbuttel library. It was discovered in 175G, and is also supposed to be of Italian origin.
It contains about 42 verses of the 11th to the loth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. The five Codices Ambrosiani form part of the Ambro-sian library in Milan, and contain fragments of the Pauline epistles, of the gospels of Matthew and John, of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and a calendar. They were discovered in 1817 at the convent of Bobbio in Italy. There is a parchment manuscript in Vienna dating from the 9th century, which contains a Runic and several Gothic alphabets, with a few words and numerical notations. Naples and Arezzo have each a Gothic certificate of sale written on papyrus. Another manuscript was discovered in 18GG by Franz Pfeiffer. It has received the appellation of Codex Turinensis, and consists of four sheets which had been used as the cover of a book or manuscript, and which contain fragments of the epistles to the Colossians and Galatians. Von der Gabelentz published an account of it in the Germania of 1867, and pronounced them illegible. In the following year, however, a translation by Massmann appeared in the same periodical.
A complete edition of the literary monuments of the Gothic language has been published in Leipsic by Von der Gabelentz and Lobe (1836-'42), and another in Stuttgart by Massmann (1856-7). Andreas Uppstrom has caused an exact reprint to be made of every line of Gothic manuscript extant. He published in this manner in 1854 the Codex Argenteus, and in 1861 the Codex Carolinus and some of the Ambrosian fragments. He died in 18G5, and his son published in 18G8, from his posthumous papers, the remaining documents. Since the texts could thus be critically studied, the Gothic grammars and vocabularies have been considerably changed. The latest researches are embodied in the 5th edition of Stamm's Ulfilas, oder die uns erhalte-nen Denkmaler der gothischen Sprache: Text, Worterbuch und Grammatik, which has been revised by Moritz Heine (Paderborn, 1872).