Lesson 4

Weak Declensions: Masculine

The weak nouns are declined almost entirely differently from the strong nouns; only a few points of resemblance can be noticed, e.g. in the Accusative and Dative Plurals.

In the weak masculine nouns:

The Nominative Singular ends in-a
The Accusative Singular ends in -an
The Nominative and Accusative Plurals end in -ans
The Genitive Singular ends in -ins
The Genitive Plural ends in -ane
The Dative Singular ends in -in
The Dative Plural ends in -am

Example (with article): sa guma: the man
Nom. sa guma thai gumans
Acc. thana guman thans gumans
Gen. this gumins thize gumane
Dat. thamma gumin thaim gumam

Some other weak masculine nouns:

sa atta: the father
sa bloma: the flower (cf. “bloom”)
sa brunna: the well (in Old English this word became burna “stream”, and is still used in river names ending in -bourn)
sa fula: the foal
sa galga: the cross (cf. “gallows”)
sa garda: the yard, the fold
sa Guta: the Goth
sa Austraguta: the Ostrogoth
sa hana: the rooster (cf. “hen”, which comes from the feminine of this noun, which originally meant “the singer”)
sa magula: the little boy
sa matha: the worm
sa mena: the moon
sa milhma: the cloud
sa skuggwa: the mirror
sa sparwa: the sparrow
sa sunna: the sun
sa unhultha: the demon

There are a lot of names of “occupations” (words indicating profession or status) in this class:

sa aizasmitha: the coppersmith
sa bandja: the prisoner
sa baurgja: the citizen (one from a baurgs or city)
sa fiskja: the fisher (one who catches fiskans)
sa frauja: the master, the lord
sa garazna: the neighbor (one in a nearby razn or house)
sa gudja: the priest (one who worships tho guda, the gods)
sa haurnja: the horn-blower
sa swiglja: the piper
sa tharba: the beggar
sa timrja: the carpenter (cf. English “timber”)
sa wardja: the guard
sa waurstwja: the worker
sa weiha: the priest (“the holy one”)

There are many more weak masculine nouns. There are a few slightly irregular nouns in this declension:
sa manna: the man
Nom. sa manna thai mans OR thai mannans
Acc. thana mannan thans mans OR thans mannans
Gen. this mans thize manne
Dat. thamma mann thaim mannam

Here we have g.s. mans instead of *mannins, g.p. manne instead of *mannane, d.s. mann instead of *mannin.
sa aba: the man
Nom. sa aba thai abans
Acc. thana aban thans abans
Gen. this abins thize abne
Dat. thamma abin thaim abnam

sa auhsa: the ox also has g.p. auhsne instead of *auhsane.
Weak Declensions: Neuters

These are like the masculines in the Genitive and Dative, but:

The Nominative and Accusative Singulars end in -o
The Nominative and Accusative Plurals end in -ona

thata augo “the eye”
Nom. thata augo tho augona
Acc. thata augo tho augona
Gen. this augins thize augane
Dat. thamma augin thaim augam

More vocabulary:

thata augadauro: the window
thata auso: the ear
thata barnilo: the little child
thata hairto: the heart
thata kaurno: the (single) grain
thata sigljo: the seal (cf. Latin sigillum)
thata thairko: the hole

There are a few irregulars here too:
thata wato: the water
Nom. thata wato *tho watna
Acc. thata wato *tho watna
Gen. this watins *thize watne
Dat. thamma watin thaim watnam
thata namo: the name
Nom. thata namo tho namna
Acc. thata namo tho namna
Gen. this namins *thize namne
Dat. thamma namin *thaim namnam

Forms marked with * are reconstructed.

Adjectives, are, as you might expect, declined in all three genders to match the nouns they modify; painfully enough, they also have two distinct declensions (strong and weak) for all cases, numbers, and genders as well—giving each adjective 48 forms!

Actually, it’s not that bad—many of the forms have already been met with. The strong declension is very similar to that of the pronoun sa; while the weak declension is the same as that of the weak noun.

Adjectives are declined weak when

they follow the definite article sa;
they are present participles
they are comparatives
they are superlatives ending in -ma
they are ordinal numbers (except for anthar “second”)
they are the adjectives silba “self” or sama “same”

Adjectives are declined strong only when

they are possessive pronominal adjectives
they are any of the following adjectives:
alls: all
anthar: second (cf. “other”)
ganohs: enough
halbs: half
hwathar: which of two (cf. “whether”)
hwelauths: how great (masc. pl. hwelaudai)
hwileiks: what sort of (cognate to “which”, OE hwylc)
jains: that (over there); cf. “yon”
sums: some
swalauths: so great (masc. pl. swalaudai)
swaleiks: such (actually cognate; the Old English word was swylc, Middle English swich)

Note that anthar, hwathar do not end in -s. This is a general change in Gothic: following a short vowel and r, final s was lost. This is also seen in nouns, e.g.

sa wair: the man
sa baur: the son, the child

…which are otherwise declined as strong a-stems.

The strong endings are:
Masculine Neuter
Nom. -s -ai -ata -a
Acc. -ana -ans -ata -a
Gen. -is -aize -is -aize
Dat. -amma -aim -amma -aim

These are exactly the same as those of sa, except in the nominative singular masculine (-s instead of -a), the neuter nom.and acc. plural (-a instead of -o) and the genitive plural (-aize instead of -ize). The neuter nom. and acc. singular ending -ata may, however, also be the zero-ending.

Declension of Masculine Adjectives: (using the example juggs manna “young man”)
Nom. juggs manna juggai mannans
Acc. juggana mannan juggans mannans
Gen. juggis mans juggaize manne
Dat. juggamma mann juggaim mannam
Nom. sa jugga manna thai juggans mannans
Acc. thana juggan mannan thans juggans mannans
Gen. this juggins mans thize juggane manne
Dat. thamma juggin mann thaim juggam mannam

Declension of Neuter Adjectives (using the example juggata barn “young child”)
Nom. juggata barn jugga barna
Acc. juggata barn jugga barna
Gen. juggis barnis juggaize barne
Dat. juggamma barna juggaim barnam
Nom. thata juggo barn tho juggona barna
Acc. thata juggo barn tho juggona barna
Gen. this juggins barnis thize juggane barne
Dat. thamma juggin barna thaim juggam barnam

In the neuter nom. and acc. singulars, jugg (with zero ending) is found as well as juggata. When the adjective is used as a predicate, the neuter singular ending must be zero. That is, one can say either juggata barn or jugg barn for “young child”; but one can only say barn ist jugg “a child is young”. One (small) merit of this system is aesthetic: it breaks up what would otherwise be a monotonous sequence of case endings, e.g., instead of saying *du thamma godamma skalka “to the good servant”, we say du thamma godin skalka.

A largish selection of not very difficult adjectives:

bairhts: bright
baitrs: bitter
blinds: blind
diups: deep
dumbs: dumb
fagrs: beautiful (cf. “fair”)
fulls: full
galeiks: like
goths: good (masc. pl. godai)
gultheins: golden
Gutisks: Gothic
hails: whole (ai=o; the “w” in the English word is non-etymological)
halts: lame (cf. “halt”)
hweits: white
ibns: even
juggs: young
kalds: cold
laggs: long
leitils: little (the Gothic and English words are, surprisingly, not cognate in origin. However, the resemblance is certainly helpful in memorization!)
liufs: dear, beloved (masc. pl. liubai; cf. archaic English “lief”)
manags: much, many
mikils: great, big (cf. Scots “mickle”)
raihts: right
rauths: red (masc.pl. raudai)
siuks: sick
smals: small
swarts: black (cf. “swart, swarthy” and German “schwarz”)
ubils: evil
weihs: holy

The possessive pronominal adjectives

These are used much more often than the genitive case of the 1st and 2nd person pronoun; they normally follow the noun they modify, and agree with it in gender, number, and case. They are:

meins: my
theins: your (singular)
ugkar: our (dual)
igqar: your (dual)
unsar: our (plural)
izwar: your (plural)

These adjectives are never declined weak. Ugkar, igqar, unsar, and izwar lack the final -s of the masculine nominative singular strong adjective because of the rule already mentioned: -s is lost after r following a short vowel. Furthermore, you can never use the -ata form of the neuter nominative and accusative singular with these four adjectives (*unsarata, *igqarata, etc.): the neuter in these cases is therefore identical with the masc. nom. sing., with zero ending. Otherwise, the adjectives decline just like any other strong adjectives: hundos unsarai “our dogs”, in landa izwaramma “in your land”, etc.

To these we can add the adjective sein-. Sein- is unusual in that it does not have a nominative case: only accusative, genitive, and dative, which are declined just like the other strong adjectives. Sein- means “his, her, its, their” without distinction of gender or number; but it can only be used to refer to the subject of the sentence. Compare the following:

Sa manna sahw hund seinana. The man saw his (own) dog.
Sa manna sahw hund is. The man saw his (someone else’s) dog.

Thai gumans drugkun wein seinata. The men drank their (own) wine.
Thai gumans drugkun wein ize. The men drank their (other peoples’) wine.

The verb “to be”

The verb for “be” is rather irregular; it derives from a stem which appears as is- or sij- in the Present Tense, but conjugates like a Class V strong verb in the Preterite: The infinitive is wisan.
ik im wit siju weis sijum
thu is jut sijuts jus sijuth
is ist eis sind
ik was wit wesu weis wesum
thu wast jut wesuts jus wesuth
is was eis wesun

As in other Indo-European languages with case, the verb wisan does not take an accusative object, since it does not represent an action done to something else; rather, it signifies either the equivalence of two nouns, or characterizes a noun with a descriptive adjective.

A few more words:

aiththau, conjunction: or
Alareiks: Alaric
thata guth: the god (plural tho guda)
Guth: God (as. Guth, gs. Guths, ds. Guda)
sa hilms: the helmet
inweitan, inwait, inwitun (I), verb: worship
ith, conjunction: but
ni… ni…, conjunction: neither… nor…
simle, adverb: once, at one time
Thiudareiks: Theodoric
Wulfila, weak masculine noun: Ulfilas


Weis sijum thai Gutans! Alareiks ist thiudans unsar. Is mikils guma ist.
Thiudareiks was Austragutane thiudans. Is was frauja ufar managaim mannam.
Wulfila was weiha jah gudja in thaim Gutam. Is qath du im thata waurd Guths.
Simle thai Gutans inwitun managa guda, jah thana sunnan jah thana menan in thaim himinam.
Thata wato this brunnins kald ist. Ik ni drigka af thamma kaldin watin.
Magulans meinai siukai sind. Eis ni sind hailai.
Jus Gutans sijuth ni godai ni ubilai.
Hanans jah sparwans sind fuglos. Sa hana mikils fugls ist, ith sa sparwa smals ist. Sa hana ist rauths jah swarts jah hweits. Is in maurgin siggwith, jah allai mannans wakand. Is itith managa kaurnona.
Sa manna fanth mathans in hlaiba seinamma. Is ni et ina, ith is et thana hlaif this garaznins is.

(Answers to this exercise.)

Try these:

I saw a man in the field. His eyes were beautiful.
All my children sat on the big red seat.
Your (du.) cups are full of wine. (use genitive)
He saw the sick man, the blind man, and the lame man in the white house.
Your (pl.) fathers were lords of all the land.
The prisoner stole gold and silver from the big golden treasure of our lord.
The sun is bright in the day, the moon is a light in the darkness.
Theodoric took his (own) helmet to the land of the Ostrogoths.
The name of your (sg.) second child is Ulfilas.

(Answers to this exercise.)

On to Lesson 5.
Back to Lesson 3.