Gothic Wikipedia.

As I told Kári Tulinius, who sent me the link, Gothic Wikipedia seems spectacularly pointless, but it’s intriguing, so I thought I’d pass it along. Here‘s the English-language Starter’s Guide, if you want to give it a try; I have to admit the script is very pretty. Thanks, Kári!


  1. Speaking as a (mostly lurking) member of the yahoo group Gothic-L, the Gothic wiki is mainly there for members to practice writing in grammatically correct Gothic, and to try out various neologisms (e.g. copying Icelandic or German compounding and derivation patterns).

  2. Hmm… I can see the appeal, but wouldn’t it make more sense as a separate GothWiki site rather than a part of Wikipedia?

  3. I don’t really know. I guess it’s because the Gothic wiki has been around so long, since 2005-ish (IIRC), before wikis became commonplace; and a Wikipedia is simply more prestigious than an ad-ridden wikiproject. I don’t think it could get started today: the criteria for expanding wikipedia to new languages have become a lot stricter (notably, the requirement that the language have a sizeable speaker/user-base).

  4. Yeah, I wondered about that.

  5. Statistics: 427 Content pages, 6 Active users

  6. January First-of-May says

    IIRC, the rules were made more strict after Yaroslav Zolotaryov managed to open a Wikipedia in Siberian, a language that he basically made up, but supposedly based on actual Siberian dialects of Russian.
    There were a few hundred actual articles, and officially several thousand content pages (most of which were empty stubs about years).
    Eventually, someone figured out that a language whose translation of “Oh, here he comes again” (a line from Hamlet, apparently) literally means “here he comes again, fucking mother” probably has nothing to do with any actual Siberian dialects (if there are any), and definitely does not have a place on Wikipedia; in particular, the rules for inclusion were made stricter.

    This sadly also meant that the perennial proposals of a Wikipedia in Quenya never got anywhere (they didn’t make it before the strictness, and had no chance after). Though that also might have been related to the Klingon case (the Klingon Wikipedia was closed, IIRC, a bit earlier than the Siberian one, but I’m not exactly sure why).
    The Wikipedias in Old English, Old Church Slavonic, and Volapuk were also made early enough to be considered for inclusion, and just kept after that due to actual activity, and being actual languages. Volapuk came under trouble later, for having a hundred thousand articles written by a bot, but that’s another story.

  7. I wonder if someone could have gotten away with creating an Etruscan Wikipedia back in the anything-goes days; after all, that too is an actual language. Doesn’t seem that much sillier than Gothic — you just have to invent more vocabulary.

  8. Oh no, “spectacularly pointless” seems a rather unfair assessment to me. After all, it’s not like this is being offered at the expense of anything else, just alongside it. If you think it’s pointless, why comment on it at all? Surely any project that raises interest or awareness in relatively obscure languages like this is a good thing?

  9. Come, come, no need to be defensive. I’d be the last person to attack Gothic; I took a course in it and am the proud owner of Ebbinghaus’s Grammatik and Holthausen’s Etymologisches Wörterbuch. I think a separate Wiki for people to practice their Gothic would be great, as I told Sigvase above. But a Wikipedia page is indeed spectacularly pointless; Wikipedia is supposed to be a source of information, a way to look up things one wants to know, and not a single person ever has or ever will use the Gothic Wikipedia in that way. Furthermore, the Gothic is bound to be incorrect.

    why comment on it at all?

    I comment on whatever I find interesting.

  10. David Marjanović says

    any actual Siberian dialects (if there are any)

    Oh yes; there’s even a dictionary for them that linguists use to look for interesting local loans. That Zolotaryov guy claimed to be developing a standard language out of them, and to be writing the ru-sib Wikipedia in that standard language… so it was axed for being Original Research.

    The tlh Wikipedia was moved to the incubator instead.

  11. Greg Pandatshang says

    Oh, that’s funny. I used to be a regular mIRC pal of Yaroslav’s and his girl Friday’s years ago, which I had all but forgotten about. I can’t claim to have had any role in developing his language, except that he bounced a couple orthographic ideas off me now and then. I hope he’s doing well.

    Posthumus’s Novegradian language is well worth recommending: … he doesn’t claim it to be any other than a conlang, but he’s obviously done some serious research on medieval Siberian dialects.

  12. David Marjanović says

    There’s also a Wikipedia in Classical Chinese. All the tab titles (“article”, “history”, “edit”…) are written with a single character 🙂

  13. Well, that (to me) makes more sense; we have a whole lot of Classical Chinese and the language is well understood, so it would be possible to create new vocabulary on a rational basis (even though, again, no one is going to use it for the intended purpose). Gothic is more like Etruscan (on a scale that ends with Indus script): there’s just not enough of the language remaining to base new writing on.

  14. Oh, I don’t know:

    Brûnáim baíriþ baírka bôgum
    láubans liubans liudandei,
    gilwagrôni, glitmunjandei,
    bagmê blôma, blauandei,
    fagrafahsa, liþulinþi,
    fráujinôndei fairguni.

    Wôpjand windôs, wagjand lindôs,
    lûtiþ limam láikandei;
    slaíhta, raíhta, hveitarinda,
    razda rôdeiþ reirandei,
    bandwa baírhta, rûna gôda,
    þiuda meina þiuþjandei.

    Andanahti milhmam neipiþ,
    liuhteiþ liuhmam laúhmuni;
    láubos liubái fliugand láusái,
    tulgus, triggwa, standandei.
    Baírka baza beidiþ bláika
    fráujinôndei faírguni.

         —J.R.R. Tolkien

    The symbolism is that the name of the letter B meant ‘birch’, and the Old English and philology track at Oxford in Tolkien’s day was the B course.

  15. After conflict with Russian Wikipedia community, Zolotaryov wrote the following ode in ‘Siberian’ language:

    О, википидоры премерзки и преподлы!
    Водна брехня на вашенских сторонках,
    Вы схожы на пьордил дольнобородых,
    И водновременно на дуреньких робьонков.

    Восподь с небов кода-нить охуячит
    Араву выблядков, петальников вольготы
    И все мосолы википидам розхерачит
    Во званне шшастя, мира и доброты.

  16. Oh, I don’t know

    Sure, if you’re willing to confine yourself to poetry about trees, mountains, and clouds you can gabble in Gothic all you like. I need hardly point out the difference between that and a Wikipedia entry on, say, the Olympics or Beyoncé. Cf. avis akvāsas ka.

  17. Hello there, I ‘m bokareis, the administrator of the Gothic wikipedia. First of all, I ‘m happy that you give attention to the small wiki we have, I have to object to several posts here though.

    Mollymooly: at first we had more content pages, about 480 or 500, but this was before I took it over. When I was cleaning up the wiki I had to drastically reduce the number of pages due to completely incomprehensible articles and double articles, I came to 410-420, that reduced it with about 50-100 articles at first, I wrote many articles in the mean time which is why it increased again. Still not much, like the 1000 of several languages. That’ll take a lot of time.

    Languagehat: Although not many people will use the Gothic wiki to look up information you can in fact use it for this purpose, it was incomprehensible at first, but I took several months to correct all articles (1 in the queue) and I simply deleted the ones which didn’t contain anything comprehensible at all. I have an advanced knowledge of Gothic as I studied the books of Streitberg, Krause etc. and I know how to apply Gothic grammar mostly. Anyone who can read the bible can read an article on our wiki.

    An example:

    One can learn from this that Jesus was called the son of God in the gospels and that he was according to many beliefs God himself or the son of God.

    Also, I know some Etruscan and our knowledge of Gothic is far more extensive and not as speculative as Etruscan at all. We have gospels in Gothic and by comparison with ancient Greek the words, cases and grammar can be known with high certitude. We could even write a basic grammar with our knowledge, as so much is known, the band Runaleiks has lyrics in Gothic for which I helped proofreading and their song ara shows that we could even write songs in ancient Gothic. You could pretty well compare Gothic to Cornish in my opinion, certain grammar is missing, but enough is known to reconstruct much of it, it is better known than Prussian, Prussians only have a Lutheran catechism in their language, no gospels like Gothic. If you want to compare Etruscan to any European language in knowledge, it’s comparable to Gaulish.

    Take the demonstrative pronoun. In Gothic all its forms are known, in Etruscan some forms but we don’t even know when to use which ones, for Gothic we do. Etruscan is more like a guessed language without many bilingual sources, so a wikipedia in Etruscan is impossible in my opinion.

    As to: the Gothic is bound to be incorrect, how so? If I want to write: Jesus was a prophet according to a belief, (islam) I could translate that as: Iesus was praufetes afar galaubeinai.

    Iesus = noun, nom. Sing. M. (U/A)
    Was = preterite 3rd sing form of wisan (to be)
    Praufetes = noun. Nom. Sing. M. (U/I)
    Afar = preposition + dative, litterally: after, meaning according to
    Galaubeinai = noun. Nom. Sing. Dat. F (I/O)

    I ‘m pretty sure that this is a perfectly correct phrase.

    Yes, if you use too complicated phrases Gothic might easily get mistakes, that’s why you should use alternative phrases where the others aren’t possible.

    I still aim to write a basic course to learn Gothic some day, but I only created some courses on memrise and a conversation course on my website.

    Though, I really appreciate it that you mention the Gothic wiki here and I ‘m a fan of your website, I like it.

  18. You could pretty well compare Gothic to Cornish in my opinion, certain grammar is missing, but enough is known to reconstruct much of it, it is better known than Prussian, Prussians only have a Lutheran catechism in their language, no gospels like Gothic.

    OK, fair enough, and I can see you’re really working to make it both accurate and useful, so hazeins to you!

  19. Zolotaryov did a wonderful translation of The Tiger – it would have been worth developing the “Siberian” language for that alone. If not the whole poem, at least the first two lines are great, and most of the rest are passable to good.

  20. Here’s the first stanza of “Бабр-от”:

    Бабор! Бабор! Шибко блесиш,
    В тьон в урманах куролесиш,
    Чейна векова рука
    Тя творила, трашняка?

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