Re: [gothic-l] A grammatical question
- In answer to the question how you say, for example, "the lair of the wolf"
Assuming it reasonable to use Gothic ligrs for English lair, we might expect
sa ligrs þis wulfis, sa ligrs þize wulfe, þai ligros þize wulfe
for "the lair of the wolf", "the lair of the wolves", and "the lairs of the
But my general impression, which is not supported by any systematic
examination of the extant Gothic, is that double use of a definite article
(the ... of the ...) is largely avoided. I give below a few examples, taken
from a randomly chosen page of Mark.
14:41 ...galewjada sunus mans in handuns frawaurhtaize.
The Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
14:62 ...jah gasaihwiþ þana sunu mans af taihswon sitandan mahtais jah
qimandan miþ milhmam himinis.
And you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming
with the clouds of heaven.
In these examples there are five genitive constructions of the kind under
consideration. In four of them Gothic avoided the article altogether. It is
often pointed out the Wulfila modelled his translations into Gothic very
closely on the original Greek, so that there is doubt about how natural
Wulfilian Gothic would have seemed to a Goth; but in the matter of definite
articles, at least, Greek has certainly not been slavishly followed. For in
the examples given above, Greek had "the ... of the ..." in every genitive
construction (even "the son of the man"), except that "at the right hand" was
expressed by "ek dexion".
And now, just to show that there was no rigid rule forbidding "the ... of the
..." in Gothic:
14:61...þu is Xristus sa sunus þis þiuþeigins?
Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
As for the Gothic counterpart of "the wolf's lair" I do not know whether
there are instances of such a construction as
*þis wulfis ligrs.
One last thing. Gothic usage of the definite article, regardless of
genitives, seems to be much different from that of English. Perhaps someone
could explain why and when Gothic (from an English speaker's point of view)
omits the article.