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

By: | Post date: 2017-07-25 | Comments: 1 Comment
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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One Comment

  • Wtrmute says:

    Aj haiḃ gaut a matsj baitr transkripsjaun skeim faur Einglisj taikst ḋan ḋi wan yu propowz. It aunli yuzs a singl dajakritikal mark, ḋi kombajnigg daut aboḃ, tu mark a “d” aur a “b” ƕitsj mast bei pronawnsd as a sauft frikatiḃ, lajk a Gauþik “d” aur “b” aftr a ḃawl. Unfaurtjunatli, ḋis caument sistaim dos naut alaw ranigg Gauþik alfabait taikst, so aj haid tu juz standard Gauþik Romanizejsjaun on taup auf ḋait… Auḋrwajz aj kuld haiḃ writn aul ḋis juzigg Gauþik laitrs majsailf.

    Ḋi adḃantazj oḃr jaur skeim is ḋait it wuld haiḃ bein similar tu haw a Gauþik skrajb wuld lajkli transkrajb spowkn Eigglisj, raḋr ḋan an arbitrairi transfaurmesjn auf ḋi karrnt Eigglisj orþaugrafi.

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