Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mass Metrics

[Update: fixed links]

caelestis over at sauvage noble has written a series of posts on the new draft English translation of the Roman Catholic Mass, not from a theological point of view, but from one of metrics. Check out his analyses of the mea culpa, the gloria, and the credo. Those who know me know how much I appreciate translations that capture the rhythm and feel of their original (e.g., Tolkien's Gothic poem, Bagme Bloma), so caelestis' analyses were relevant to me, perhaps more than to fellow Catholics of mine who focus on meaning alone. I really like the words I say every day/week to be pleasing to the ear.

On the other hand, I also acknowledge that theology is a science, and words that are synonymous in everyday usage can be the difference between orthodoxy and heresy, and I'd rather have people repeating something that's a little awkward metrically if it means they don't drift into an incorrect understanding of something important. Other bloggers, more qualified (or at least louder) than I, have already and will continue to pick apart the current (to be honest, kinda free and loose in places) translation of the Latin of the Mass. For my part, I can remember even as a kid looking at facing-page English-Latin missals and wondering if there was extra significance to phrases like "and with your spirit" instead of just "and also with you", or "that you should enter under my roof" instead of "to receive you". Knowing theology, there usually is--words mean things--and I hate that nagging feeling like I'm missing stuff, especially if it's because of a silly translation issue.

Maybe in a perfect world, or at least in the perfect language, what we say would be perfectly mirrored by our speech, so that words would always sound like what they meant. I suppose that would mean we'd be speaking a form of poetry all the time (maybe in heaven?).

I also noted caelestis' mention that English tends to have a higher register when more Greek and Latin/French-rooted words appear, versus a lower, more common feel when native Germanic roots dominate more. I'm sure this is an accepted observation by many linguists, and I've noticed it myself (before I heard others confirm my thoughts). I guess I just think it's interesting, and admittedly (given my stated interests), a wee bit gratifying, that after all this time, there's a deep-rooted, almost unconcious linguistic sense that Germanic words are more native or down-to-earth or something, even when the synonymous Latinate word has been around for centuries.

Finally, the Word Nerds podcast did an episode a while back about language registers, and (for example) how we are often able to recite prayers we have't said for decades, all because we remember that particular prayer-style rhythm it had. (Be forewarned: Howard Shepherd gangsta-raps the beginning of Beowulf!) I think this is related to the times in which religious training often proves useful in life: not just when we feel like talking or praying, or when we're deliberating what's right or wrong in a given situation, but (perhaps more importantly) when we're at a loss and don't know who to turn to, or when we don't deliberate about our actions. The reflex habits built into us, when done right, make us better prepared not just for the challenges life hurls at us, but for the challenges we breeze by and don't even recognize as challenges--but they would have been without a bit of training, or at least some vestige of a good habit (virtue).

Ite, blogga est.

[Go, it's gebloggedt!]

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Old Germanic Sound Gallery & the Languages of the Franks

So I finally got myself to record something in six of the old Germanic languages that we have documents in (sorry, I didn't get to Old Frisian this time around) for a little event at AncientWorlds called the Thousand Years Faire. There's a thread there called the Gallery of Germanic Languages, and for each language I put together a little description, together with at least one audio resource. I'm the most confident about my pronunciation of the Old English since I've studied it the longest, then of the Gothic (just because I love its sound so much), down to the three Old High German dialects, which I'm the least confident about my pronunciation of. (Dangling preposition alert: deal with it.) :-)

Here are the posts for each (my persona on AW is Eirikr Knudsson, a nice Old English-Norse combo-name). Those of you who are actual current students or teachers of these languages are very welcome to correct my pronunciation (please). [Note: it's not supposed to work this way, but if you navigate to these links with Firefox, the embedded sound files of my readings start automatically (except for the OHG one).]


Old Saxon

Old High German

Old English

Old Norse

Old Frankish

I called "Old Frankish" any language/dialect associated with the Franks, which as you'll learn when you read the last post, were a span of dialects mostly mutually intelligible, but which fall into what are today classified as two separate "languages": Old Low Franconian and Old High German. (Old Low German is the same as Old Saxon.) Funny how much human knowledge tries to chop up into measurable units realities that are in fact fluid and stretch across spectrums.

I've been especially interested in Old Low Franconian and the Franconian dialects of Old High German recently--an interest sparked several months ago by my musing at the Frankish tribe's switch from a Germanic to a Romance language, and wondering what language Charlemagne spoke. Does anyone know anything solid about when this change took place? It seems to me that the Franks moving into Gaul would have meant a lot more contact with native Latin (and even Celtic?) speakers. But surely it takes a while for an entire nation to switch languages. I imagined Charlemagne would have done much to effect this change himself, both by his promotion of schools and learning, and his (family's) close relationship with the Catholic Church. (My namesake in the kingdom of Wessex had similar interests in both regards, but found himself so frustrated at the state of Latin education in his land that he had scribes translate important texts into his native English until such time as people's knowledge of Latin good enough to render translations unnecessary.)

Back to the language of the Franks, then: the earliest example of Old French is the Strassburg Oaths of A.D. 842. This Wikipedia article has a great description plus the original Latin/Old French/Old High German text. (Notice the German dialect used by Louis the German's troops is Rhenish Franconian: politically it's Frankish, but linguistically it's High German.)

So sometime between the arrival of the Germanic Franks into Gaul in the 3rd century, their conversion to Catholicism in the 4th, and the Strasburg Oaths in the 9th, this wholesale language change took place. My sources list the Old Low Franconian dialect I recorded as being "east", associated with Limburg and Aachen. Obviously these areas retain Germanic dialects today (Dutch and German respectively). Moreover, not only was Aachen Charlemagne's palace-home, but the Eastern section of the Frankish kingdom (Austrasia), covering roughly northern Germany and the Low Countries, was the home of Charlemagne's line of Mayors of the Palace (pre-Pippin) / Frankish Kings (post-Pippin). Thus my conclusion that Charlemagne's line would still have spoken Germanic dialects--something between Rhenish Franconian (=Old High German) and Old East Low Franconian.

Feedback is welcome!! (Must ... refrain from ... obvious ... pun about ... being frank ...)

Friday, June 16, 2006

GGL Repost: Old English

Gallery of Germanic Languages: A Look at Old English

Old English is probably the most familiar (if any) of the old Germanic languages. Bede lists the tribes that sailed over to Britain in the fifth century as Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. the Angles came from the small area jutting out into the Baltic Sea called Angeln (named for the people's primary occupation of fishing—hence 'angling'—not for its shape, since this geometric meaning of 'angle' is ultimately Latin, not Germanic). The Saxon homeland, of course, was and still is in northern Germany; and the Jutes came from what is now mainland Denmark (Jutland, now called Jylland).

Besides these three tribes, it seems likely that the migration also included a fair number of Frisians, both because their home, Friesland or Frisia, lay in the Angles' and Saxons' path to the sea, and because Frisian even today is arguably the closest language to English.

The different tribes settled in different areas, creating the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, as well as different dialects. The Angles formed the kingdoms of East Anglia in the east, Northumberland in the north, and Mercia in the midlands. (JRR Tolkien, whose family was from the west midlands, made the Mercian dialect of Old English the language of his Riders of Rohan.) The Saxons settled the very logically named Essex, Sussex, and Wessex ("East Saxons", "South Saxons", and "West Saxons"). The Jutes settled in Kent and southern Hampshire.

The standard form of Old English first encountered by students today is West Saxon, due to the great efforts of King Alfred of Wessex, not just to increase learning, but also his shrewd policy of having important religious and cultural works translated into English until his subjects' knowledge of "book Latin" (boc-læden) had improved enough to make translations unneeded. See this post for more on the dialects of Old English.

In some ways, modern English has retained much of its Germanic heritage. Some sentences can be fashioned that are exactly the same in Old and modern English. E.g.: "Harold is swift; his hand is strong and his word grim." "His cornbin is full and his song is writen; grind his corn for him and sing me his song."* For the most part, though, Old English is undecipherable to the modern English speaker. Partly this is because of the influx of vocabulary from Romance languages that English experienced, even while its basic grammatical structure remained Germanic. Between the Norman Invasion in 1066 and the incredible influence of scholarly Latin in the Middle English period, English is like a Germanic tree with Romance leaves grafted over one side. (Approx. 25% of the English words in this post are ultimately of Romance origin.)

Old English has some characteristics in common with its long-lost cousin on the continent, Old Saxon, such as dropping nasals (n's and m's). Compare:

us: OEng/Sax ús/ûs, versus
OHGer. unsih, OFrank. uns, Gothic unsis.
OEng/Sax cúð/cûð, versus OHGer. kund, OFrank. kundo, Gothic kunþs.
OEng/Sax fíf/fîf, versus OHGer./Gothic fimf.

Following are several sound files demonstrating Old English. First is the Lord's Prayer, recorded by yours truly in the standard West Saxon dialect. I've recorded the same prayer in each of the old Germanic languages to make comparison easier.

The Lord's Prayer, in Old English

Fæder úre, ðú ðe eart on heofonum,
Sí ðín nama gehálgod.
Tó becume ðín rice.
Gewurde ðín willa
On eorþan swá swá on heofonum.

Urne dægwhamlícan hlaf syle ús tódæg.
And forgyf ús úre gyltas,
Swá swá wé forgyfaþ úrum gyltendum.
And ne gelæd ðu ús on costnunge,
Ac álýs ús of yfele. Sóþlice.

The second sound file is from the Lowlands-L website, dedicated to preservation of languages and dialects related to the Lowlands (Low German, Dutch, and the like).

The Wren, in Old English

The modern English version of this story is here. Samples of many other languages are here.

Finally, I read, translate, and discuss the first part of the Dream of the Rood in this episode of my Bitter Scroll podcast.

* Taken from Bruce Mitchell, An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England.

Monday, June 12, 2006

GGL Repost: Old Franconian

Gallery of Germanic Languages: A Look at Old (Low) Franconian

The Frankish tribes, and later, the Frankish Empire, spanned across Germany and France, and from the Netherlands to southern France. Obviously the language spoken by the people was bound to develop regional dialects. And although speakers of these dialects could all pretty much understand each other, in some of the Frankish dialects, people started pronouncing b’s like p’s, g’s like k’s, and in general, participating in the High German Consonant Shift.

Since this particular shift is what modern linguists use to distinguish the High German language from the Low Franconian (and Saxon) languages, we have the interesting factoid that some of the Franks spoke High German dialects, while others spoke "Low Franconian" dialects. But don’t worry—they didn’t know!! As far as they knew, they all spoke (with inevitable variations) roughly the same Germanic language: the language ‘of the people’ (diutisc, hence the modern word deutsch), or specifically ‘of the Franks (frankisc, hence the words ‘Frankish’ and ‘French’). Only when the language of the Franks was no longer Germanic, but Romance, did frankisc mean something different from diutisc.

The Frankish dialects that are NOT classified as dialects of the Old High German language are called Old Low Franconian. The dialect in the west (around Flanders, Brabant and north in Holland) would end up being the ancestor of modern Dutch; this dialect is called by the logical but long name of Old West Low Franconian.

The dialect in the east, probably what Charlemagne would have spoken, is the only dialect that we have anything written in (at least not until the "Middle" stage of its history); this dialect is called—you guessed it!—Old East Low Franconian. This dialect was spoken around Limburg, and Aachen, where Charlemagne had his capital.

Old Low Franconian as a language obviously shares many characteristics in common with Old High German (such as retaining nasals [n’s and m’s] where continental Saxon and Anglo-Saxon dropped them). It also shares others with its fellow "low" Germanic language, Old Saxon (such as dislike for diphthongs in some cases).

Here is one sound file in Old Low Franconian. The Lord’s Prayer is not documented in this language, as far as I could tell, so I’ve recorded Psalm 61 (60 in King James or Douay-Rheims bibles). Given the special relationship the Franks had to the Church, we can certainly imagine some young lad in a monastery or school around Aachen in the 9th century, struggling with his Latin and praying the psalm in his own Germanic tongue…

Psalm 61 (60) in Old Low Franconian

Here's the text of this Psalm:

2. Gehôri, got, gebet mîn, thenke te gebede mînin.
3. Fan einde erthen te thi riep, so sorgoda herte mîn. An stêine irhôdus-tu mi;
4. Thû lêidos mi, uuanda gedân bist tohopa mîn, turn sterke fan antscêine fiundis.
5. Uuonon sal ic an selethon thînro an uueroldi, bescirmot an getheke fetharaco thînro.
6. Uuanda thu, got mîn, gehôrdos gebet mîn, gâui thu erui forhtindon namo thînin.
7. Dag ouir dag cuningis saltu gefuogan, jâr sîna untes an dag cunnis in cunnis.
8. Foluuonot an êuuon an geginuuirdi godis; ginâthi in uuârhêide sîna uua sal thia suocan?
9. Sô sal ic lof quethan namin thînin an uuerolt uueroldis, that ik geue gehêita mîna fan dage an dag.

And here's the English:

2. Hear, O God, my supplication: be attentive to my prayer,
3. To thee have I cried from the ends of the earth: when my heart was in anguish, thou hast exalted me on a rock. Thou hast conducted me;
4. For thou hast been my hope; a tower of strength against the face of the enemy.
5. In thy tabernacle I shall dwell for ever: I shall be protected under the covert of thy wings.
6. For thou, my God, hast heard my prayer: thou hast given an inheritance to them that fear thy name.
7. Thou wilt add days to the days of the king: his years even to generation and generation.
8. He abideth for ever in the sight of God: his mercy and truth who shall search?
9. So will I sing a psalm to thy name for ever and ever: that I may pay my vows from day to day.

GGL Repost: Old Norse

Gallery of Germanic Languages: A Look at Old Norse

Old Norse refers to the dialects of Old Germanic that made up the North Germanic branch—i.e., the languages of Scandinavia. (Do you remember what the two other branches are? East Germanic includes the speech of the Goths, Vandals, Burgundians, and other smaller tribes. West Germanic includes everything else: Old English, Old Saxon, Old Low Franconian, Old High German, Old Frisian, as well as the mostly undocumented languages of the Lombards and others.)

Strictly speaking, the North Germanic languages are collectively called Old Scandinavian. In this usage, "Old Norse" refers just to the Western dialect—that of Norway and places west, such as Scotland, Dublin, and Iceland. The Old East Scandinavian dialect covered Sweden and Denmark, and their related enclaves in places like Russia and Latvia. But when listing the languages of the entire Germanic family, Old Norse can refer to all the dialects of Old Scandinavian.

Very convenient indeed for students of old Germanic languages is the fact that the language of Iceland today is practically the same as what the Vikings spoke when they settled the island. Since the time of the founding of Iceland in the ninth century, most other Germanic languages have passed from "old" to "middle" and "modern" stages, each stage being essentially a different language. (In English: compare the language of, say, Beowulf, Chaucer, and Shakespeare, respectively.) In the case of Iceland, however, Old Norse and modern Icelandic are considered basically the same languages, the only real differences being, to a modest degree, in pronunciation and in spelling. (E.g., the name Eric is Eirikr in Old Norse, but Eirikur in modern Icelandic.) And in my humble and limited opinion, the Vikings share with the Goths the fascinating paradox of having a (perhaps) surprisingly soft, smooth-sounding language for a comparatively aggressive historical track-record.

And the sounds of their language did not go unnoticed by the Norse themselves. More than any of their linguistic cousins, the Norse not only contributed many great works in the great Germanic poetic tradition of alliterative verse (only Old English comes close to Norse in this regard), they also did the most experimentation and variation of their inherited poetic structure. Check out these posts (Part 1 and Part 2) for more on the poetic form inherited by all the old Germanic tribes, and this blog post for more on the variations peculiar to Old Norse. With the Poetic Edda and the many works of prose (the sagas and Prose Edda), the corpus of Old Norse literature vastly outweighs the corresponding "old" stages of all the other Germanic languages put together. (Old English literature is a clear second.)

Old Norse has many unique features that distinguish it from all of its Germanic cousins. For instance, the masculine –s ending that we see on many Latin, Greek, and even Gothic nouns survives in Old Norse, but in the process it got turned into an R. (Compare the following words for 'middle': Latin medius, Gothic midjis, Old English midd, Norse miðr.)

Also, Old Norse alone exhibits a form of "sharpening", where a word like proto-Germanic trîwa gets a hard g-sound, turning it into Old Norse tryggva; contrast with Old English triw (hence modern 'true') and Old High German triu (hence modern German treu).

Finally, many words that begin with a diphthong (two vowel sounds together) like eo or ea in English (old or modern) have been made into a consonant (a y-sound) in Old Norse, and are spelled j–. Compare:

earl: OE earl, ON jarl
earth: OE eorð, ON jörð
York: OE Eorwic, ON Jorvik

Notice also that the modern pronunciation of York shows Norse influence, since it was a Norwegian kingdom for a time.

Following is a sound file demonstrating Old Norse: the Lord's Prayer, recorded by yours truly. I've recorded the same prayer in each of the old Germanic languages to make comparison easier. (I admit some modern Icelandic pronunciation may have crept in.)

The Lord's Prayer, in Icelandic

Here's the text of the prayer in Old Norse:

Faðir vor; þú sem ert á himnum. Helgist þitt nafn. Til komi þitt ríki. Verði þinn vilji, svo á jörðu sem á himni. Gef oss í dag vort daglegt brauð. Og fyrirgef oss vorar skuldir; svo sem vér og fyrirgefum vorum skuldunautum. Eigi leið þú oss í freistni, heldur frelsa oss frá illu. Amen.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

GGL Repost: Old High German

Gallery of Germanic Languages: A Look at Old High German

Old High German (Althochdeutsch) refers to the group of Germanic dialects that exhibited the High German Consonant Shift which originated in the highlands of southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and northern Italy. Some of these dialects include: Bavarian, Alemannic (southern rhine and Switzerland), Swabian (around Augsburg), East Middle German (around Erfurt), East Franconian (around Würzburg). Some dialects participated in this Shift only partially, so while they’re still "German", the dialects are called "Middle": such as Ripuarian Franconian (around Cologne) and Rhenish Franconian (around Frankfurt).

NOTICE! Even though many of these dialects have the word "Franconian" in their names, they are classified as dialects of Old High German, not of Old Frankish, since they participate (all in varying degrees) in the High German Consonant Shift. This is why parts of Germany are called Franken, ‘Franconia’. A different language entirely is Old Low Franconian (Old Frankish), which scholars identify as having at least two dialects, Old East Low Franconian and Old West Low Franconian. (See the lists below.)*

Old High German shares some characteristics with Old Low Franconian (language of the Franks and ancestor of modern Dutch): for example both tend to turn the vowel e into ie, and the vowel o into uo. (The second one’s just like Italian from Latin – compare buono, from bonus, ‘good’.) Both languages also retain nasals (n’s and m’s) where Old Saxon and Old English drop them: e.g. the words for ‘us’: Old High German unsis and Old Low Franconian uns, versus Old Saxon ûs and Old English ús (the same sounds, but with the respective long-vowel markers used by modern scholars).

Here are several sound files of Old High German: The first three are the Lord's Prayer in three different dialects, recorded by yours truly. I've recorded the same prayer in each of the old Germanic languages to make comparison easier. Obviously these dialects will sound very similar. But notice also how similar they sound to the Old Frankish recording, in the next post.

The Lord's Prayer, in the Bavarian dialect of Old High German

Fater unsêr, dû pist in himilum, kawuuîhit sî namo dîn,
piqhueme rîhhi dîn, uuesa dîn uuillo,
sama sô in himile est, sama in erdu.
pilipi unsraz emizzîgaz kip uns eogauuanna,
enti flâz uns unsro sculdi,
sama sô uuir flâzzamês unsrêm scolôm,
enti ni princ unsih in chorunka,
uzzan kaneri unsih fona allêm suntôn.

The Lord's Prayer, in the Alemannic dialect of Old High German

Fater unseer,
thu pist in himile,
uuihi namun dinan,
qhueme rihhi din,
uuerde uuillo din,
so in himile sosa in erdu.
prooth unseer emezzihic kip uns hiutu,
oblaz uns sculdi unseero,
so uuir oblazem uns sculdikem,
enti ni unsih firleiti in khorunka,
uzzer losi unsih fona ubile.

The Lord's Prayer, in the Rhenish Franconian dialect of Old High German

Fater unsêr,
thu in himilom bist,
giuuîhit sî namo thîn,
quaeme rîhhi thîn,
uuerdhe uuilleo thîn,
sama sô in himile endi in erthu.
Broot unseraz emezzîgaz gib uns hiutu,
endi farlâz uns sculdhi unsero,
sama sô uuir farlâzzêm scolôm unserêm,
endi ni gileidi unsih in costunga,
auh arlôsi unsih fona ubile.

Finally, the next sound file is from the Lowlands-L website, dedicated to preservation of languages and dialects related to the Lowlands (Low German, Dutch, and the like). Notice the name of the language on this page is "Diutisk". This is where the German word Deutsch comes from, and comes from the word for ‘people’ (diut in Old High German, þeod in Old English).

The Wren, in Old High German

(This seems to me to be in either one of the "Middle" dialects or in East Franconian, since past participle forms have the prefix ge-, like modern German, instead of ke-/ki-, which Old Bavarian and Old Alemannic tended to have.)

The English version of this story is here. Samples of many other languages are here.

* Just to recap, since I’m sure everyone’s confused, here’s a list of the main West Germanic dialects on the continent in the latter half of the first millennium AD, listed by language:

= Old Saxon (Dortmund, Hamburg)

Old East Low Franconian (Limburg, Aachen)
Old West Low Franconian (Flanders, Brabant, north Holland) [became Modern Dutch]


(a) "Middle" dialects:
Old Ripuarian Franconian (Cologne)
Old Moselle Franconian (Trier)
Old Rhenish Franconian (Frankfurt)
Old East Middle German (Erfurt)

(b) "High" dialects:
Old East Franconian (Würzburg)
Old Alemannic (Bern)
Old Swabian (Augsburg) [Swabian is sometimes classified as a subset of Alemannic.]
Old Bavarian (Munich, Regensburg)

GGL Repost: Old Saxon

Gallery of Germanic Language: A Look at Old Saxon

Old Saxon was also called Old Low German, since it was one of two languages spoken by West Germanic tribes in the lower-lying northern region of central Europe. It is distinguished from Old High German, which was spoken in the higher elevations to the south.

Old Saxon had Germanic neighbors to the south (Old High German), west (Old Low Franconian), northwest (Old English), north (Old Norse), and at least originally, east (Gothic). Old Saxon shares many characteristics with all of them, but especially the West Germanic languages (those of the Germans, Franks, and Anglo-Saxons). One thing that distinguishes Old Saxon from all of them is its almost universal dislike of diphthongs—turning one vowel into two sounds. Compare:

‘dead’: Old Saxon dôd, Old High German tôt, Old English dead, Old Norse dauðr, Gothic dauþs.

‘baptize’ (literally, ‘dip’): Old Saxon dôpian, Old High German toufan, Old Norse deypa, Gothic daupjan.

Here are two sound files of Old Saxon: The first is the Lord’s Prayer, recorded by yours truly. I've recorded the same prayer in each of the old Germanic languages to make comparison easier. [A special note about the Old Saxon version of the prayer in particular: unlike the other languages, this version is in typical old Germanic alliterative verse. This means that some words are added to fill up lines, but it also is a good chance to listen to how each line has one sound that tends to dominate by alliterative repetition.]

The Lord's Prayer, in Old Saxon

Fadar ûsa firiho barno,
thu bist an them hôhon himila-rîkea
geuuîhid sî thîn namo uuordo gehuuilico
cuma thîn craftag rîki
uuerþa thîn uuilleo obar thesa uuerold alla

sô sama an erþo sô thar uppa ist
an them hôhon himilo rîkea.

gef ûs dago gehuuilikes râd, drohtin the gôdo,
thîna hêlaga helpa, endi alât ûs hebenes uuard
managoro mênsculdio al sô uue ôþrum mannum dôan
ne lât ûs farlêdean lêþa uuihti
sô forþ an iro uuilleon sô uui uuirþige sind
ac help ûs uuiþar allun ubilon dâdiun.

The second sound file is from the Lowlands-L website, dedicated to preservation of languages and dialects related to the Lowlands (Low German, Dutch, and the like).

The Wren, in Old Saxon

The English version of this story is here. Samples of many other languages are here.

GGL Repost: Gothic

Gallery of Germanic Languages: A Look at Gothic

Gothic is the oldest attested Germanic language, the Gothic translation of parts of the Bible being dated to the 4th century, and the first instances of Old English, Old High German, Saxon, or Norse not coming until at least 4 centuries later. Because Gothic is relatively close to the original primitive Germanic language, it is of great interest to linguists.

Gothic differs from its Germanic cousins in many ways. It is the only Germanic language to retain (in some cases) the Indo-European –s ending for masculine nouns and adjectives: compare Gothic hunds ‘dog/hound’ with its cognates, Latin canis, and Greek kunos. (Notice how the Indo-European k got softened to an h in Germanic.) Gothic is also the only Germanic language that didn’t change any of its inherited s’s or z’s into r’s. Compare:

‘teach’: Gothic laísjan, Old High German lêren, Old English læren (‘lore/learn’).
‘hoard’: Gothic huzd, Old High German hort, Old English hord.

Here are three sound files for Gothic: The first is the Lord's Prayer, recorded by yours truly. I've recorded the same prayer in each of the old Germanic languages to make comparison easier.

The Lord's Prayer, in Gothic

Atta unsar, þu in himinam,
weihnai namo þein,
qimai þiudinassus þeins,
wairþai wilja þeins,
swe in himina jah ana airþai.
hlaif unsarana þana sinteinan gif uns himma daga,
jah aflet uns þatei skulans sijaima,
swaswe jah weis afletam þaim skulam unsaraim,
jah ni briggais uns in fraistubnjai,
ak lausei uns af þamma ubilin.

The second file is found here: it’s the first episode of my own occasional Bitter Scroll podcast, where I read and translate a poem composed in Gothic by Germanic scholar J.R.R. Tolkien. I think this poem in particular shows just how beautiful and melodic Gothic is.

The third sound file is from the Lowlands-L website, dedicated to preservation of languages and dialects related to the Lowlands (Low German, Dutch, and the like).

The Wren, in Gothic

The English version of this story is here. Samples of many other languages are here.