[gothic-l] How to you propose...
- How do you propose to bring back Gothic into the realm of the
living? It would take more that a bunch of people talking about
etymology and creating neologisms on a listserv, it takes an actual
community of at least two people or more, preferably involving children
in the communication. Or is this list recognized as a 'first stage',
with rough plans for more?
> How do you propose to bring back Gothic into the realm of theI think that any ideas of "reviving" Gothic (along the lines of, say,
>living? It would take more that a bunch of people talking about
>etymology and creating neologisms on a listserv, it takes an actual
>community of at least two people or more, preferably involving children
>in the communication. Or is this list recognized as a 'first stage',
>with rough plans for more?
Hebrew) are premature; and in the long run perhaps unrealistic.
The essential preliminary for such a revival is a community of people
capable of composing and conversing in Gothic, such as existed with Hebrew
before its revival, or such as exists today with Esperanto and other
auxiliary languages. You could create such a community -- at least as far
as reading and writing goes -- on the internet, but this presupposes that
there's more than one person with both a minimal competence in Gothic, and
a willingness to write in it -- not necessarily perfectly, but
Several things hinder the use of gothic-l for this purpose, in my
opinion. One is the policy that Gothic posts not be presented without
translation (into English, or I imagine German); in the absence of a
corresponding policy that all English or German posts be accompanied by a
translation into Gothic, this requires anyone wishing to communicate in
Gothic to expend at least twice as much time writing a Gothic post as it
would take to post in a modern language. This is rather discouraging.
Then there are problems relating to the rather broad reach of this
group, which goes beyond the linguistic into historical, anthropological
and archaeological discussion, and somewhat unenlightening discussions of
Gothic Origins (aka "Who is a Goth?"). These have alienated some people
who might have been more interested in the use of the Gothic language.
And not least there are tensions between different "tendencies" with
respect to the (largely hypothetical) use of Gothic: on the "left", we
might say, are those who would like to inject a large body of neologisms
and/or reconstructions into Gothic; on the "right" are those who feel it is
blasphemous to use, say, the dative singular of a noun for which that case
is not attested! My view, as a "moderate" is that the "left" has more
plans for the use of Gothic than it has the patience to get a good grasp of
the language as it exists (I admit that my Gothic has been doubtful on more
than a few occasions!) while the "right" really frowns on anything other
than the dissection of existing texts (with lots and lots of genuflection
to the Great Professors in the field) -- this tends to express itself in
irritable criticisms against any attempt to compose in Gothic. This is
If I wanted to turn gothic-l into a community for the use of Gothic, the
first thing I'd want to do is to assess the general level of Gothic of
everyone who wanted to participate, from "knows not one word of Gothic but
is enthusiastic about learning" to "speaks Gothic at home daily". Then we
could have a small education program to address deficiencies, if there were
any, up to the point where a reasonable number of people were able to
participate in a Gothic conversation.
Once there, while not abandoning the education track, we could use the
conversations to build up vocabulary (including, where absolutely
necessary, neologisms) and knowledge of sentence construction; with the
participants being willing to both give and take criticism (preferably in
Gothic) about their use of the language. Such criticism would, of course,
have to be both non-hostile and immediately informative (e.g. "I believe it
would be more appropriate to use a subjunctive verb in that clause
because..." rather than "Dummkopf! Obviously you haven't read Ebbinghaus'
article on..."), no matter how tempting aggressiveness or opacity seem at
I would find that mode of interchange useful (to me, in my study of
Gothic) and enjoyable (I find the Gothic language very attractive); but I
have become painfully aware that such a programme will not under any
circumstances emerge _spontaneously_ from this list; and I did get rather
tired of chatting in Gothic to myself. But without that kind of community
in existence, plans for "reviving" Gothic must remain pipe dreams.
/\ WISTR LAG WIGS RAIHTS
\/ WRAIQS NU IST <> David Salo