“Gothic for Travellers”
by A. Judzis, the Visigoth
From Speculative Grammarian CXLVII.4, April 1993
Reviewed by Wulfila Streitberg
Many an American, when travelling in some benighted non–English-speaking country, has had to resort to pantomime to express basic concepts such as, “I am a tax collector”, or “Would you like to kill a pig?” For anyone travelling among the ancient Goths, A. Judzis provides translations for these and many other everyday utterances, in a straightforward phonological transcription that can be used by the 99% of Americans who haven’t studied linguistics. Plus, for members of the deaf community who haven’t yet learned Gothic Sign Language, Judzis also furnishes written versions, in the Gothic alphabet, of crucial sentences like “Would you like to act unseemly?” and “I spit upon your mother” (try not to get those ones mixed up).
Nowadays, if you say the word “Goth” to most people, they’ll think of dark-clad youth listening to dark music and doing their best to think dark thoughts. This would have surprised the historical Goths, who, as Judzis notes, were “a very friendly and gregarious people”. Granted, you don’t see the historical Goths around much anymore, since they and their language died out centuries ago, but if you ever time-travel to northern Italy, circa 500 AD, Judzis’ article could prove to be a life-saver. Literally, in case you were thinking of addressing anyone as “dwah-lah”.