Gothic language, dead language belonging to the now extinct East Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). Gothic has special value for the linguist because it was recorded several hundred years before the oldest surviving texts of all the other Germanic languages (except for a handful of earlier runic inscriptions in Old Norse). Thus it sheds light on an older stage of a Germanic language and on the development of Germanic languages in general. The earliest extant document in Gothic preserves part of a translation of the Bible made in the 4th cent. A.D. by Ulfilas, a Gothic bishop. This translation is written in an adaptation of the Greek alphabet, supposedly devised by the bishop himself, which was later discarded.
See J. Wright, Grammar of the Gothic Language and the Gospel of St. Mark (2d ed. 1954).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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