Practice your Gothic #4: Mk 8:29

Welcome to the fourth 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 Mark, chapter 8, verse 29.

Gothic text and English translation

The Gothic text is:

jah is qaþ du im: aþþan jus, hvana mik qiþiþ wisan? andhafjands þan Paitrus qaþ du imma: þu is Xristus.

The English translation in the King James version is:

And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.

Word by word explanation

Let us go through this text word by word.

  • jah : This is a very frequent word. It means “and”.
  • is : This is a personal pronoun (“he”). This form is masculine singular nominative. (Read more about the cases in the Gothic language here.) There is a whole declension table for this pronoun. You can look it up in the wiktionary.Opens in a new tab.
  • qaþ : This, too, is a very frequent word. The infinitive is “qiþan”, “to say”. qaþ is the past tense of this verb: he said.
  • du : this is a preposition. It is followed by a word in its dative case. It means “to”.
  • im : This is the personal pronoun again, it is the dative singular of “is”. “du im” means “to him”.

Together this means:

and he said to him.

  • aþþan : this word beans “but”. Jesus had just asked his disciples who other people think he is. Now he asks his disciples.
  • jus : This is the personal pronoun, second person plural (“you”).
  • hvana : This is the interrogative pronoun (question word). It too comes with a declension table. hvana is accusative. The nominative (basic) form is “hvas”.
  • mik : accusative case of the personal pronoun “ik”=> me
  • qiþiþ : This is “qaþ” again. This time it is second person plural: “you say”.
  • wisan : another frequent word in the infinitive form: to be.

Let us have a look at the literal meaning of this Gothic sentence. A literal translation might sound awkward in English, but it helps to get a feeling for the way Gothic builds sentences.

but you, whom do you say me to be

Or in normal English:

but you, who do you say that I am

  • andhafjands : The infinitive is “and-hafjan” (to answer). The form is the present participle (answering).
  • þan : This word means “then”.
  • Paitrus : Peter
  • qaþ : said (we already had that above)
  • du : to
  • imma : him. Again the pronoun “is”, this time in the dative case

This means

answering Peter then said to him

  • þu : this again is the personal pronoun: second person singular (“you” or “thou”)
  • is : “you are”. The complete list of forms of “wisan/to be” can be found in the wiktionaryOpens in a new tab.. Please note: above we already had the word “is”. “is” comes twice in the Gothic language. One is a form of the personal pronoun. Another is a form of the verb “to be”. Please keep them apart in your mind.
  • Xristus : Christ

Together this means:

you are the Christ

Gothic alphabet reading practice

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

  • Gothic alphabet: 𐌾𐌰𐌷 𐌹̈𐍃 𐌵𐌰𐌸 𐌳𐌿 𐌹̈𐌼: 𐌰𐌸𐌸𐌰𐌽 𐌾𐌿𐍃, 𐍈𐌰𐌽𐌰 𐌼𐌹𐌺 𐌵𐌹𐌸𐌹𐌸 𐍅𐌹𐍃𐌰𐌽? 𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌷𐌰𐍆𐌾𐌰𐌽𐌳𐍃 𐌸𐌰𐌽 𐍀𐌰𐌹𐍄𐍂𐌿𐍃 𐌵𐌰𐌸 𐌳𐌿 𐌹̈𐌼𐌼𐌰: 𐌸𐌿 𐌹̈𐍃 𐍇𐍂𐌹𐍃𐍄𐌿𐍃.
  • Latin alphabet: jah is qaþ du im: aþþan jus, hvana mik qiþiþ wisan? andhafjands þan Paitrus qaþ du imma: þu is Xristus.

Preview to the next edition

So much for this week. Next time we will have a look at John 10:11

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