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So someone translated Alice in Wonderland into ancient Gothic . . .

Last posted Jul 30, 2015 at 12:33PM EDT. Added Jul 23, 2015 at 04:12PM EDT
5 posts from 4 users

Seriously, this is what the cover looks like:

From the publisher:

Gothic (Gutiska razda or Gutrazda) was a continental Germanic language spoken by the Visigoths and Ostrogoths in many areas (most notably Spain and Italy) throughout antiquity and the early Middle Ages; while Gothic appears to have become functionally extinct sometime in the eighth century, some form of the language may have continued to be spoken in the Crimea until the sixteenth or seventeenth century. The Gothic Bible, translated from a lost Greek exemplar sometime ca. 360 CE by the Gothic bishop Wulfila, represents the earliest substantive text in any Germanic language.
[. . .]
Why translate “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” into such an ancient and idiosyncratic language? In part, because Alice--itself a textbook of idiosyncrasies--lends itself well to linguistic flights of fancy, and in part because the dearth of available Gothic reading material has occasioned the production of new literature in this important East Germanic language. “Aþalhaids” is to date the longest text written in Gothic in more than a thousand years.

Don't ask me how I stumbled over this thing. Needless to say, my web surfing away from KYM takes me to some extremely nerdy places. I figured there ought to be some people here who would appreciate seeing a beloved children's story translated into a dead Germanic language, originally spoken by some of the people who sacked Rome.

The whole thing looks pretty neat. Even the freaking masthead is written in Gothic, and it has an introduction that gives the basic history of the language.

Also, for reference, the "þ" symbol is called a thorn, and is pronounced like the digraph "th."

Last edited Jul 23, 2015 at 04:14PM EDT

After about ten seconds of searching:

Only a few documents in Gothic survive – not enough to completely reconstruct the language.

So yeah, they probably took some… liberties. And indeed, after ten more seconds…

About 40% of Gothic is attested, 60% is unattested, but it can be reconstructed via Proto-Germanic words. Gothic does have many words, including many neologisms created in the Gothic Wikipedia, which I am apart of.

@Sir Lurkmoore

Probably the book will be of interest to students and scholars of the language, who have a small but definite presence in the larger field of ancient languages. The sorts of people who study these things take a special joy in the languages themselves, and so the lack of material can become a problem. So the audience is small, but present.

Also, the publisher specializes in books written in rare languages, like Cornish and Volapük. So if anyone can find an audience, it's them.


Well, I'm no Gothic scholar so I can't say for sure how effectively the language was reconstructed, but according to the bit of the book's introduction I saw on the Amazon preview, the language is based on that Gothic translation of the Bible mentioned in the block quote.

Furthermore, for this sort of thing the editing process usually involves sending a version of the MS to a language expert – some sort of linguist or philologist – to check the translation. So probably it isn't as slapdash as that Facebook post suggests.


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