Is it possible to use the ancient Gothic alphabet to write in English?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-25 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

One might argue that the phonological inventory of Gothic is a spectacularly bad match for that of Modern English. But then again, so was the phonological inventory of Latin.

I think you can, so long as you hold your nose and write vowels as a one to one match with Modern English; you’re not really going to get anything sensible otherwise.

  • /f/ and /v/ aren’t differentiated, and they weren’t differentiated in Old English either; we could write <v> as <f>, or <u> or <w> or as <90> (which is a spare letter).
  • No <tʃ> (our <ch>), and not much of a soft <c> either. We can press the <x> character into service for one or both.
  • No /dʒ/ (our <j>; the Gothic <j> is our <y>). We could give up and make <j> ambiguous between /dʒ/ and /j/, or we could write /w/ as <ƕ> (wh), reuse <w/y> for /j/, and move <j> to /dʒ/. Yuck.
  • No /ð/, but that’s ok, <th> is already ambiguous within English.
  • No /ʃ/, just as there isn’t one as a letter in English (<sh>). I guess we won’t avoid h-digraphs after all.

… So, yeah, you *could* write English with the Gothic alphabet, but it would be quite awkward in places, and it would not do English justice. Where there’s a will there’s a way, I guess, but it would certainly not be child’s play. Every sentence would have some lack.

Or, to put that last paragraph in Gothic:

… so, jeah, jou kould write english wiþ þe goþik alfabet, but it would be qite awqard in plases, and it would not do english jhustise. ƕere þeres a will þeres a waj, i guess, but it would sertainli not be xilds plaj. eweri sentense would hawe some lakk.

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