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Gothic Alphabet
This unique script was used in all manuscripts written in Gothic and found in Europe. It is traditionally believed that its 27 letters were invented by bishop Wulfila (311-383). However, even a brief look at the alphabet assures that its basic system was borrowed from the Greek script of the 4th century. This can be understood from the shape of symbols, and from their sequence, as shown in the so called "Alquine Manuscript".

The Greek structure is also in using two letters for one long sound (like ei for the long sound [i]). Letters keep their mathematic meaning as figures as well as in Greek. Several letters cannot be connected with Greek though - h, s go back to the Roman alphabet, and u, o have probable Runic equivalents. Some symbols have different varieties: for example, s sometimes could seem like Roman s, sometimes like Greek sigma.

As a whole the Gothic alphabet follows well the phonetic system of the Gothic language. Wulfila was right when he decided to reflect labiovelar sounds, such as [hw] and [kw] by one letter. Moreover, voiced stop consonants and their fricative equivalents were also transcribed by a single letter. Nevertheless, we should mention that the Gothic phonetics changed somehow from the time of Wulfila till the latest Gothic documents, and good connection between the language and the script was lost sometimes. Even now we are not clear about the exact sound of the following letters: ai, au, g).

The alphabet was used till the 6th century, and was never written in other languages except Gothic itself.


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