Indo-European Phonological Inventory Database

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Family: Germanic

Region: Lower Moesia (Northern Bulgaria)

Time: 4th century C.E.


Labial Dental Palatal Velar Labialised velar
Voiceless stop p t k
Voiced stop b d g
Voiceless fricative f s θ x
Voiced fricative z
Nasal m n
Lateral l
Trill r
Approximant w j


Front Central Back
Close i iː u uː
Open-mid ɛ ɛː ɔ ɔː
Open a aː


/ai/, /au/, /iu/


  1. In the 4ᵗʰ century Vulfila, the bishop of the Gothi minores, translated the Greek Bible into Gothic. However, the manuscripts containing the Gothic translation date back to the 6ᵗʰ century. All of them are thought to have been written in Northern Italy during the Ostrogothic reign (493-553). Other documents are scarce and consist in the so-called Skeireins (a fragmentary commentary on St. John’s Gospel), a recently discovered fragment which gives some passages translated into Gothic from the Old and New Testament, some subscriptions in the deeds from Naples and Arezzo, a fragment of a calendar, and glosses in a Veronese manuscript.
  2. It is highly possible that, when /b, d, g/ occur between vowels, they are voiced as spirants [β, ð, ɣ].
  3. The phoneme /g/ corresponds to [ŋ] when it occurs before another velar or labiovelar stop.
  4. The phoneme /h/ corresponds to [x] when it occurs before a consonant, and corresponds to [h] befor a vowel.
  5. The letter x (which is not in the table above) represents Greek χ and is only used in some Greek loanwords. E.g. Xristus [xristus] "Christ" (Gk. Χριστός).
  6. The question of a monophthongal or diphthongal pronunciation of /ai/ and /au/ has been highly debated in the past decades. Today most scholars claim that they represent both long and short [ε, ɔ] respectively, except when the diphthongs reflect an etymological value. For a brief summary of the discussion see Piras (2007:77).


Braune, Wilhelm. 2004. Gotische Grammatik: mit Lesestücken und Wörterverzeichnis. 20. Aufl. neu bearb. von Frank Heidermanns. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
Piras, Antonio. 2007. Manuale di gotico. Avviamento alla lettura della versione gotica del Nuovo Testamento. Roma: Herder.


Antonella Calaresu

Credits: apnetwork