Gothic verbs

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Gothic verbs have the most complex conjugation of any attested Germanic language. Most categories reconstructed for the Proto-Germanic verb system are preserved in Gothic. Note, however, that our knowledge of the Proto-Germanic verb is itself to a large degree based on Gothic, meaning that its reconstruction may be fragmentary.

Strong verbs[edit]

The following is a table of all the different types and subtypes of strong verbs.

Class Gloss Infinitive Past Singular Past Plural Past Participle
Class Ia "to bite" beitan báit bitum bitans
Class Ib "to fight" weihan wáih waíhum waíhans
Class IIa "to fall" driusan dráus drusum drusans
Class IIb "to lead" tiuhan táuh taúhum taúhans
Class II, aorist-present "to shut" ga-lūkan ga-láuk ga-lukum ga-lukans
Class IIIa "to bind" bindan band bundum bundans
Class IIIb "to become" waírþan warþ waúrþum waúrþans
Class IVa "to take" niman nam nēmum numans
Class IVb "to bear" baíran bar bērum baúrans
Class IV, aorist-present "to tread" trudan *traþ *trēdum trudans
Class Va "to say" qiþan qaþ qēþum qiþans
"to give" giban gaf gēbum gibans
"to hasten" sniwan snáu snēwum sniwans
Class Va, -j- present "to pray" bidjan baþ bēdum bidans
Class Va, irregular "to eat" itan ēt ētum itans
Class Vb "to see" saíƕan saƕ sēƕum saíƕans
Class Vb, -n- present "to ask" fraíhnan frah frēhum fraíhans
Class VI "to go" faran fōr fōrum farans
"to dig" graban grōf grōbum grabans
Class VI, -j- present "to understand" fraþjan frōþ frōþum fraþans
Class VI, n-infix present "to stand" standan stōþ stōþum *staþans
Class VII(a) "to fold" falþan faífalþ faífalþum falþans
"to seize" fāhan faífāh faífāhum fāhans
"to call" haítan haíháit haíháitum háitans
"to sleep" slēpan saíslēp, saízlēp saíslēpum, saízlēpum slēpans
"to boast" ƕōpan ƕaíƕōp ƕaíƕōpum ƕōpans
"to revile" *lauan *laílō *laílōum *lauans
"to add" áukan aíáuk aíáukum áukans
Class VII(b) "to weep" grētan gaígrōt gaígrōtum grētans
"to reflect upon" ga-rēdan ga-raírōþ ga-raírōdum ga-rēdans
"to sow" saian saísō saísōum saians

The following strong verbs are extant in Gothic:

  • Class Ia: beidan "to await" (báiþ), beitan "to bite", deigan "to knead", dreiban "to drive" (dráif), greipan "to seize", hneiwan "to bow", bi-leiban "to remain" (bi-láif), ga-leiþan "to go", ur-reisan "to arise", skeinan "to shine", dis-skreitan "to rend", ga-smeitan "to smear", sneiþan "to cut", speiwan "to spit", steigan "to ascend", sweiban "to cease" (swáif), weipan "to crown", in-weitan "to worship";
  • Class Ib: leiƕan "to lend", ga-teihan "to tell", þeihan "to thrive", þreihan "to press upon", weihan "to fight";
  • Class IIa: ana-biudan "to bid" (ana-báuþ), biugan "to bend", driugan "to serve as a soldier", driusan "to fall", giutan "to pour", hiufan "to mourn", dis-hniupan "to break asunder", kiusan "to test", kriustan "to gnash"; liudan "to grow" (láuþ), liugan "to lie", fra-liusan "to lose", niutan "to enjoy", siukan "to be sick", af-skiuban "to push aside" (af-skáuf), sliupan "to slip", us-þriutan "to trouble";
  • Class IIb: tiuhan "to lead", þliuhan "to flee";
  • Class II, aorist-present: ga-lūkan "to shut";
  • Class IIIa: bindan "to bind", bliggwan "to beat", brinnan "to burn", drigkan "to drink", filhan "to hide", finþan "to find", us-gildan "to repay", du-ginnan "to begin", hilpan "to help", fra-hinþan "to capture", af-linnan "to depart", rinnan "to run", siggwan "to sing", sigqan "to sink", fra-slindan "to swallow up", spinnan "to spin", stigqan "to thrust", swiltan "to die", ana-trimpan "to tread on", at-þinsan "to attract", þriskan "to thresh", wilwan "to rob", windan "to wind", winnan "to suffer", ga-wrisqan "to bear fruit";
  • Class IIIb: baírgan "to keep", uf-gaírdan "to gird up", ƕaírban "to walk", af-swaírban "to wipe out", ga-þaírsan "to wither", waírpan "to throw", waírþan "to become";
  • Class IVa: brikan "to break", niman "to take", qiman "to come", stilan "to steal", ga-timan "to suit";
  • Class IVb: baíran "to bear", ga-taíran "to destroy";
  • Class IV, aorist-present: trudan "to tread";
  • Class Va: diwan "to die" (dáu), fitan "to travail in birth", giban "to give" (gaf), bi-gitan "to find", hlifan "to steal", ligan "to lie down", lisan "to gather", mitan "to measure", ga-nisan "to be saved", niþan "to help", qiþan "to say", rikan "to heap up", sitan "to sit", sniwan "to hasten" (snáu), ga-widan "to bind" (ga-waþ), ga-wigan "to shake down", wisan "to be, remain", wrikan "to persecute";
  • Class Va, -j- present: bidjan "to pray";
  • Class Va, irregular: itan "to eat";
  • Class Vb: saíƕan "to see";
  • Class Vb, -n- present: fraíhnan "to ask";
  • Class VI: alan "to grow", us-anan "to expire", ga-daban "to beseem" (ga-dōf), ga-draban "to hew out" (ga-drōf), ga-dragan "to heap up", faran "to go", graban "to dig" (grōf), af-hlaþan "to lade", malan "to grind", sakan "to rebuke", skaban "to shave" (skōf), slahan "to smite", swaran "to swear", þwahan "to wash", wakan "to wake";
  • Class VI, -j- present: fraþjan "to understand", hafjan "to raise", hlahjan "to laugh", ga-raþjan "to count", ga-skapjan "to create", skaþjan "to injure", wahsjan "to grow";
  • Class VI, n-infix present: standan "to stand" (stōþ);
  • Class VII(a), -a- present: us-alþan "to grow old", blandan "to mix", falþan "to fold", gaggan "to go" (past supplied by iddja), haldan "to hold", ana-praggan "to oppress", saltan "to salt", ga-staldan "to possess", waldan "to rule";
  • Class VII(a), -ā- present: fāhan "to seize", hāhan "to hang";
  • Class VII(a), -ái- present: af-áikan "to deny", fráisan "to tempt", háitan "to call", láikan "to leap", máitan "to cut", skáidan "to divide"(skaískáiþ), ga-þláihan "to cherish, comforẗ";
  • Class VII(a), -ē- present: uf-blēsan "to blow up, puff up", slēpan "to sleep";
  • Class VII(a), -ō- present: blōtan "to worship", *flōkan "to bewail", ƕōpan "to boast";
  • Class VII(a), -au- present: *lauan "to revile" (*laílō); possibly also *bnauan "to rub", which may be a Class III weak verb (see below);
  • Class VII(a), -áu- present: áukan "to add", hláupan "to leap", stáutan "to smite";
  • Class VII(b), -ē- present: grētan "to weep", lētan "to let", ga-rēdan "to reflect upon" (ga-raírōþ), tēkan "to touch";
  • Class VII(b), -ai- present: saian "to sow", *waian "to blow".

The following is a sample paradigm of a strong verb, niman "to take".

Indicative Optative Imperative
Active Passive Active Passive Active
Present 1st sing nima nimada nimáu nimáidáu
2nd sing nimis nimaza nimáis nimáizáu nim
3rd sing nimiþ nimada nimái nimáidáu nimadáu
1st dual nimōs nimáiwa
2nd dual nimats nimáits nimats
1st plur nimam nimanda nimáima nimáindáu nimam
2nd plur nimiþ nimáiþ nimiþ
3rd plur nimand nimáina nimandáu
Past 1st sing nam nēmjáu
2nd sing namt nēmeis
3rd sing nam nēmi
1st dual nēmu nēmeiwa
2nd dual nēmuts nēmeits
1st plur nēmum nēmeima
2nd plur nēmuþ nēmeiþ
3rd plur nēmun nēmeina
Infinitive niman
Present Participle nimands
Past Participle numans

Weak verbs[edit]

Class I verbs[edit]

The following is a sample paradigm of three class I weak verbs, nasjan "to save" (short stem-syllable), stōjan "to judge" (long open stem-syllable), and sōkjan "to seek" (long closed stem-syllable).

Note that verbs with a polysyllabic root behave like sōkjan regardless of the nature of the last syllable of the root; hence, glitmunjan "to shine" behaves like sōkjan and is conjugated in the present indicative glitmunja, glitmuneis, glitmuneiþ, ....

Indicative Optative Imperative
Active Passive Active Passive Active
Present 1st sing nasja stōja sōkja nasjada stōjada sōkjada nasjáu stōjáu sōkjáu nasjáidáu stōjáidáu sōkjáidáu
2nd sing nasjis stōjis sōkeis nasjaza stōjaza sōkjaza nasjáis stōjáis sōkjáis nasjáizáu stōjáizáu sōkjáizáu nasei *stauei sōkei
3rd sing nasjiþ stōjiþ sōkeiþ nasjada stōjada sōkjada nasjái stōjái sōkjái nasjáidáu stōjáidáu sōkjáidáu nasjadáu stōjadáu sōkjadáu
1st dual nasjōs stōjōs sōkjōs nasjáiwa stōjáiwa sōkjáiwa
2nd dual nasjats stōjats sōkjats nasjáits stōjáits sōkjáits nasjats stōjats sōkjats nasjats stōjats sōkjats
1st plur nasjam stōjam sōkjam nasjanda stōjanda sōkjanda nasjáima stōjáima sōkjáima nasjáindáu stōjáindáu sōkjáindáu nasjam stōjam sōkjam
2nd plur nasjiþ stōjiþ sōkeiþ nasjáiþ stōjáiþ sōkjáiþ nasjáindáu stōjáindáu sōkjáindáu nasjiþ stōjiþ sōkeiþ
3rd plur nasjand stōjand sōkjand nasjáina stōjáina sōkjáina nasjáindáu stōjáindáu sōkjáindáu nasjandáu stōjandáu sōkjandáu
Past 1st sing nasida stauida sōkida nasidēdjáu stauidēdjáu sōkidēdjáu
2nd sing nasidēs stauidēs sōkidēs nasidēdeis stauidēdeis sōkidēdeis
3rd sing nasida stauida sōkida nasidēdi stauidēdi sōkidēdi
1st dual nasidēdu stauidēdu sōkidēdu nasidēdeiwa stauidēdeiwa sōkidēdeiwa
2nd dual nasidēduts stauidēduts sōkidēduts nasidēdeits stauidēdeits sōkidēdeits
1st plur nasidēdum stauidēdum sōkidēdum nasidēdeima stauidēdeima sōkidēdeima
2nd plur nasidēduþ stauidēduþ sōkidēduþ nasidēdeiþ stauidēdeiþ sōkidēdeiþ
3rd plur nasidēdun stauidēdun sōkidēdun nasidēdeina stauidēdeina sōkidēdeina
Infinitive nasjan stōjan sōkjan
Past Participle nasiþs stauiþs sōkiþs

Note stōjan changes to stauida in the past in accordance with general phonetic rules. Other verbs with similar changes are

  • ana-niujan "to renew", ga-qiujan "to give life to", siujan "to sew", which change to e.g. ana-niwida in the past.
  • *stráujan and *táujan, which change to e.g. strawida in the past.

Some class I verbs have an irregular past due to the fact that the -i- in the past was lost in Proto-Germanic:

Infinitive Gloss Past Past Participle
briggan "to bring" brāhta *brāhts
brūkjan "to use" brūhta *brūhts
bugjan "to buy" baúhta *baúhts
gaggan "to go" iddja gaggans
káupatjan "to buffet" káupasta káupatiþs
þagkjan "to think" þāhta þāhts
þugkjan "to seem" þūhta þūhts
waúrkjan "to work" waúrhta waúrhts

Note:

  • gaggan is properly a Class VII strong verb. iddja is declined like a weak verb. A weak past gaggida also occurs once.
  • briggan is properly a Class III strong verb, with other parts taken from a lost verb *braggjan (cf. Old English breng(e)an, Old Saxon brengian).

Class II verbs[edit]

The following is a sample paradigm of a class II weak verb, salbōn "to anoint".

Indicative Optative Imperative
Active Passive Active Passive Active
Present 1st sing salbō salbōda salbō salbōdáu
2nd sing salbōs salbōza salbōs salbōzáu salbō
3rd sing salbōþ salbōda salbō salbōdáu salbōdáu
1st dual salbōs salbōwa
2nd dual salbōts salbōts
1st plur salbōm salbōnda salbōma salbōndáu salbōm
2nd plur salbōþ salbōþ salbōþ
3rd plur salbōnd salbōna salbōndáu
Past 1st sing salbōda salbōdēdjáu
2nd sing salbōdēs salbōdēdeis
3rd sing salbōda salbōdēdi
1st dual salbōdēdu salbōdēdeiwa
2nd dual salbōdēduts salbōdēdeits
1st plur salbōdēdum salbōdēdeima
2nd plur salbōdēduþ salbōdēdeiþ
3rd plur salbōdēdun salbōdēdeina
Infinitive salbōn
Past Participle salbōþs

Class III verbs[edit]

The following is a sample paradigm of a class III weak verb, haban "to have".

Indicative Optative Imperative
Active Passive Active Passive Active
Present 1st sing haba habada habáu habáidáu
2nd sing habáis habaza habáis habáizáu habái
3rd sing habáiþ habada habái habáidáu habadáu
1st dual habōs habáiwa
2nd dual habats habáits habats
1st plur habam habanda habáima habáindáu habam
2nd plur habáiþ habáiþ habáiþ
3rd plur haband habáina habandáu
Past 1st sing habáida habáidēdjáu
2nd sing habáidēs habáidēdeis
3rd sing habáida habáidēdi
1st dual habáidēdu habáidēdeiwa
2nd dual habáidēduts habáidēdeits
1st plur habáidēdum habáidēdeima
2nd plur habáidēduþ habáidēdeiþ
3rd plur habáidēdun habáidēdeina
Infinitive haban
Past Participle habáiþs

Class III is apparently a closed class, containing only the following verbs: áistan "to reverence", ana-silan "to be silent", and-staúrran "to murmur against", arman "to pity", bauan "to dwell", fastan "to fast, hold firm", fijan "to hate", ga-geigan "to gain", ga-kunnan "to recognize", haban "to have", hatan "to hate", jiukan "to contend", leikan "to please", liban "to live", liugan "to marry", maúrnan "to mourn", munan "to consider", reiran "to tremble", saúrgan "to sorrow", sifan "to rejoice", skaman (sik) "to be ashamed", slawan "to be silent", trauan "to trust", swēran "to honour", þahan "to be silent", witan "to watch, observe". Possibly also *bnauan "to rub" belongs here—only the present participle occurs, which is not enough to tell whether this is a Class III weak verb or Class VII strong verb.

Notes:

  • bauan "to dwell" was originally a Class VII strong verb (cf. Old Icelandic būa "to dwell", past singular bjō, past participle būenn), and the third singular present indicative is still normally bauiþ, a strong form (vs. *bauáiþ, the expected weak form).
  • hatan also occurs as a Class I weak verb hatjan.

Class IV Verbs[edit]

The following is a sample paradigm of a class IV weak verb, fullnan "to become full".

Indicative Optative Imperative
Active Passive Active Passive Active
Present 1st sing fullna fullnada fullnáu fullnáidáu
2nd sing fullnis fullnaza fullnáis fullnáizáu fulln
3rd sing fullniþ fullnada fullnái fullnáidáu fullnadáu
1st dual fullnōs fullnáiwa
2nd dual fullnats fullnats
1st plur fullnam fullnanda fullnáima fullnáindáu fullnam
2nd plur fullniþ fullnáiþ fullniþ
3rd plur fullnand fullnáina fullnandáu
Past 1st sing fullnōda fullnōdēdjáu
2nd sing fullnōdēs fullnōdēdeis
3rd sing fullnōda fullnōdēdi
1st dual fullnōdēdu fullnōdēdeiwa
2nd dual fullnōdēduts fullnōdēdeits
1st plur fullnōdēdum fullnōdēdeima
2nd plur fullnōdēduþ fullnōdēdeiþ
3rd plur fullnōdēdun fullnōdēdeina
Infinitive fullnan
Past Participle fullnōþs

Preterite-present verbs[edit]

So-called "preterite-present verbs" are a feature of Germanic languages that have a present tense formed like the past tense (or "preterite") of strong verbs. The verbs often have the semantics of modal verbs, and in fact the present-day English modal verbs "can, could, may, might, shall, should, must" are descended from Old English preterite-present verbs. The past tense of these verbs is a new formation and has the endings of weak verbs. Arguably, all seven classes of strong verbs are represented in Gothic by at least one preterite-present verb.

The following table presents substantially all extant forms of each of the existing preterite-present verbs in Gothic. In some cases, extant forms are not given when another closely related extant form appears. For example, third plural present indicative skulun is doubtless extant, but is not given because it is easily derivable from the extant first plural form skulum. Note that many of the missing forms can be derived from existing forms as the number of principal parts is small—in fact, three is usually enough: First/third person singular present indicative, first (or third) person plural present indicative, first/third person singular past indicative. However, occasional small irregularities may occur, and the table below errs on the side of under-generalization.

The forms given are:

  • Infinitive.
  • Present indicative first/third singular (the two forms are always the same),
  • Present indicative second singular.
  • Present indicative dual. Whichever forms are extant are given.
  • Present indicative first plural. Other extant plural forms are subsumed under this category. When starred (i.e. indicated as hypothetical), this generally indicates that only the third plural form is extant.
  • Present subjunctive first singular. Other extant forms are subsumed under this category.
  • Past indicative first/third sunglar. Other extant forms are subsumed under this category.
  • Past subjunctive first singular. Other extant forms are subsumed under this category.
  • Imperative. Whichever forms are extant are given.
  • Present Participle. Note that it is easily derivable from the infinitive.
  • Past Participle. Note that it is easily derivable from the past tense stem. Note also that a gloss is given since the participle often has an unpredictable meaning, especially when the verb in question is inherently intransitive. In some cases a past participle is given without a gloss; this omission goes back to the source (Joseph Wright's Grammar of the Gothic Language) used to compile the table.
Class Infinitive Gloss Pres 1/3sg Pres 2sg Pres dual Pres 1pl Pres subj Past 1/3sg Past subj Imperative Pres part Past part Past part gloss
I *witan "to know" wáit wáist witum witjáu wissa wissēdjáu witands
"to know" láis
II "to be good for, to profit" dáug
III kunnan "to know" kann kant, kannt kunnum kunþa kunþēdjáu kunnands kunþs "known"
*þaúrban "to need" þarf þarft þaúrbum þaúrbjáu þaúrfta þaúrbands þaúrfts "necessary"
ga-daúrsan "to dare" ga-dars ga-daúrsum ga-daúrsjáu ga-daúrsta
IV *skulan "shall, to owe" skal skalt skulum skuljáu skulda skuldēdjáu skulands skulds "owing, lawful"
munan "to think" man munum munjáu munda munands munds
*bi-naúhan "to be permitted, lawful" bi-nah bi-naúhts "sufficient"
*ga-naúhan "to suffice" ga-nah
V *magan "can, may" mag magt (*maht) 1du magu; 2du maguts magum magjáu mahta mahtēdjáu magands mahts
VI *ga-mōtan "to find room" ga-mōt *ga-mōtum ga-mōtjáu ga-mōsta
*ōgan "to fear" ōg *ōgum ōgjáu ōhta 2sg ōgs; 2pl ōgeiþ (un-agands "fearless")
VII *áihan (faír-áihan "to partake of") "to have" áih, áig áigum, áihum; 2pl áihuþ; 3pl áigun 3sg áigi; 2pl áigeiþ; 3pl áigeina áihta; 3pl áihtēdun 2sg áihtēdeis áigands, áihands

Irregular verbs[edit]

wisan, "to be"[edit]

This highly irregular verb derives from two different Proto-Indo-European roots by suppletion; see Indo-European copula for more.

Indicative Optative
Active Active
Present 1st sing im sijáu
2nd sing is sijáis
3rd sing ist sijái
1st dual siju *sijáiwa
2nd dual *sijuts *sijáits
1st plur sijum sijáima
2nd plur sijuþ sijáiþ
3rd plur sind sijáina
Past 1st sing was wēsjáu
2nd sing wast wēseis
3rd sing was wēsi
1st dual wēsu wēseiwa
2nd dual wēsuts wēseits
1st plur wēsum wēseima
2nd plur wēsuþ wēseiþ
3rd plur wēsun wēseina
Infinitive wisan
Past Participle wisans

wiljan, "to want/will"[edit]

This irregular verb derives from the fossilized optative mood of a Proto-Indo-European verb (not to be confused with the Gothic mood known as optative, which corresponds to the subjunctive mood of PIE and other Germanic languages).

Indicative Optative
Active Active
Present 1st sing wiljáu
2nd sing wiljáis
3rd sing wiljái
1st dual wiljáiwa
2nd dual wiljáits
1st plur wiljáima
2nd plur wiljáiþ
3rd plur wiljáina
Past 1st sing wilda wildēdjáu
2nd sing wildēs wildēdeis
3rd sing wilda wildēdi
1st dual wildēdu wildēdeiwa
2nd dual wildēduts wildēdeits
1st plur wildēdum wildēdeima
2nd plur wildēduþ wildēdeiþ
3rd plur wildēdun wildēdeina
Infinitive wiljan
Past Participle

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  • Bennett, William Holmes (1980). An Introduction to the Gothic Language. New York: Modern Language Association of America.
  • Wright, Joseph (1910). Grammar of the Gothic Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press.