Practice your Gothic #2: Mat 9:1

Welcome to the second edition of “Practice your Gothic”. The idea of this series is to practice a little bit of Gothic every week. Today let’s have a look at the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 9, verse 1.

Gothic text and English translation

The Gothic text is:

Jah atsteigands in skip ufarlaiþ jah qam in seinai baurg.

The English translation in the King James version is:

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.

Word by word explanation

Let us go through this text word by word:

  • jah : and
  • atsteigands : the infinitive (basic) form of this verb is at-steigan. “at” is a prefix that we will encounter more often over time. It is related to Latin “ad” and here it gives a sense of direction. “steigan” is related to German “steigen”. Its basic meaning is to climb (up, down or over). atsteigands is present participle. This is a direct translation of the Greek participle construction (“stepping in”)
  • in : this Gothic preposition can mean in or into. Which one it is, depends on the case of the following word. A noun in its dative case means “in”, it describes a place. A noun in its accusative case means “into”, it describes a direction. (see WiktionaryOpens in a new tab.)
  • skip : this Gothic word means ship. It is a neuter (“it) noun, just as in German (das Schiff). So if we have a look at the complete declension pattern (WiktionaryOpens in a new tab.) we can conclude that it can only be nominative or accusative case. As skip directly follows “in” we can be sure that skip here is in the accusative case. So we have “into a ship”.
  • ufarlaiþ : ufar means “over”. The second part of this verb means “to pass”. The infinitive is “ufarlaithan”. “ufarlaith” is 3rd person singular “he passed over”.

So far we have “and entering into a ship he passed over” (to the other side of the Sea of Galilee/Lake Tiberias).

  • jah : we had this above
  • qam : this is 3rd person singular past tense (he came) of the infinitive qiman (to come)
  • in : we had this one above
  • seinai : possesive pronoun, “his”. The complete declension pattern can be found in the WiktionaryOpens in a new tab..
  • baurg : this is a feminine noun meaning city or castle (English: burgh, German: Burg). Its declension patterns is irregular, so it could be dative or accuative. But the possesive pronoun “seinai” settles the question. In the feminine column of the declension table we can clearly see that it is dative. This is a bit odd, because in+dative means a place and not a direction. But this is the way Ulfilas thought to be correct Gothic.
    And please remember: -au- is pronounced -o-. It is pronounce like a former Swedish tennis player or like a species in Star Trek.

Gothic alphabet reading practice

Now that we can understand this Gothic Bible verse, let’s practice the Gothic alphabet:

  • Gothic alphabet: 𐌾𐌰𐌷 𐌰𐍄𐍃𐍄𐌴𐌹𐌲𐌰𐌽𐌳𐍃 𐌹̈𐌽 𐍃𐌺𐌹𐍀 𐌿𐍆𐌰𐍂𐌻𐌰𐌹𐌸 𐌾𐌰𐌷 𐌵𐌰𐌼 𐌹̈𐌽 𐍃𐌴𐌹𐌽𐌰𐌹 𐌱𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌲. 
  • Latin alphabet: Jah atsteigands in skip ufarlaiþ jah qam in seinai baurg.

So much for this week. If you like to have a notification when the next edition of “pracice your Gothic” is out, you can subscribe to my Gothic language newsletter.

Image credit: thanksOpens in a new tab. to Jim Black on Opens in a new tab.PixabayOpens in a new tab. for this image of ships on the Sea of Galilee

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