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ISO 639-3qnm
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Niemish (Nimsk) is an East Germanic language descended from Wulfilan Gothic, the oldest Germanic language with a sizeable text corpus. The name originated from Proto-Slavic *němĭcĭ, an exonym given by speakers of Slavic languages to Germanic speakers. Niemish has undergone extensive influence by Slavic languages and is a member of the Balkan sprachbund, having such features as suffixed definite articles and deriving the future tense from present subjunctive. There is also considerable influence from languages such as Turkish, Hungarian, Greek, Latin and Romance languages.



Labial Denti-alveolar Postalveolar Velar Glottal
hard soft hard (Dental) soft (Alveolar) neutral soft hard neutral
Nasal m ⟨m⟩ mʲ ⟨mj⟩ ⟨n⟩ ⟨nj⟩ ŋʲ ⟨ngj⟩ ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Plosive voiceless p ⟨p⟩ pʲ ⟨pj⟩ ⟨t⟩ ⟨tj⟩ kʲ ⟨kj⟩ k ⟨k⟩
voiced b ⟨b⟩ bʲ ⟨bj⟩ ⟨d⟩ ⟨dj⟩ ɡʲ ⟨gj⟩ ɡ ⟨g⟩
Affricate voiceless t̪͡s̪ ⟨tz⟩ t͡sʲ ⟨tzj⟩ t͡ʃ ⟨cz⟩
voiced (d̪͡z̪) ⟨dz⟩ (d͡zʲ) ⟨dzj⟩ (d͡ʒ) ⟨dsz⟩
Spirant voiceless f ⟨f⟩ fʲ ⟨fj⟩ θ ⟨th⟩ θʲ ⟨thj⟩ ʃ ⟨sz⟩ xʲ ⟨chj⟩ x ⟨ch⟩ h ⟨h⟩
⟨s⟩ ⟨sj⟩
voiced v ⟨v, w⟩ vʲ ⟨wj, vj⟩ ⟨z⟩ ⟨zj⟩ ʒ ⟨zsz⟩
Approximant w ⟨w⟩ ɫ̪ ⟨l⟩ ⟨lj⟩ j ⟨j⟩
Trill ⟨r⟩ rʲ ⟨rj⟩


Vowels in stressed syllables
Front Central Back
Long Short Long Short Short Long
Close /iː/ ⟨í⟩ /ɪ/ ⟨ì⟩ /ɨː/ ⟨ý⟩ /ʊ/ ⟨ù⟩ /uː/ ⟨ú⟩
Mid /eː/ ⟨é⟩ /ɛ/
⟨è, ä̀⟩
/ə/ ⟨ỳ⟩ /ɔ/ ⟨ò⟩ /oː/ ⟨ó⟩
/ɛː/ ⟨ä́⟩
Open /aː/ ⟨á⟩ /a/ ⟨à⟩

⟨a, ä, o, u, y⟩ occur after plain consonants and ⟨e, i⟩ occur after palatalised.

The acute and grave accents are often used in dictionaries and pedagogical material to mark stressed long vowels and stressed short vowels respectively, but they are not usually used in other situations. This does not usually present problems, as:

  • most (but not quite all) words in Niemish are stressed on the first syllable of the root
  • long vowels can only occur in open syllables and short vowels in closed syllables or open syllables followed by a voiceless plosive

So stressed vowels and their length can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy. See here for notable exceptions.

Other than /ɛː/ open vowels are short while close vowels are long or occur in diphthongs. In most dialects /ɛː/ has merged with /eː/, making the distinction between ⟨é⟩ and ⟨ä́⟩ purely a matter of whether or not the preceding consonant is palatalised.

The diphthongs in Niemish are all falling, ending on /j/, /w/ or a liquid consonant /l, lʲ, m, mʲ, n, nʲ, r, rʲ/:

Final segment
/_j/ /_w/ liquid consonant
using /r/ as example
/a/ ⟨aj⟩ ⟨aw⟩ ⟨ar⟩
/ɛ/ ⟨äj⟩ ⟨äw⟩ ⟨är⟩
/e/ ⟨ej⟩ ⟨ew⟩ ⟨er⟩
/i/ ⟨ij⟩[1] ⟨iw⟩ ⟨ir⟩
/ɨ/ ⟨yw⟩ ⟨yr⟩
/o/ ⟨oj⟩ ⟨ow⟩ ⟨or⟩
/u/ ⟨uj⟩ ⟨uw⟩[1] ⟨ur⟩

The realisation of ⟨y⟩ varies considerably by dialect; many, including the Capitoline dialect, simply merge it with ⟨i⟩, making the distinction between ⟨y⟩ and ⟨i⟩ purely a matter of whether or not the preceding consonant is palatalised. Other possible realisations include:

  • [ɪ̈] or [ɨ] for the short ⟨y⟩
  • [ɤ, ɯː]
  • [ɘ, eː]

The stressed vowels are represented in Niemish orthography thus:

Vowel Niemish orthography
After a plain consonant
using /b/ as example
After a palatalised consonant
using /bʲ/ as example
After a postalveolar consonant
using /j/ as example
After /h/ Word-initially
/a, aː/ ⟨ba⟩ ⟨bia⟩ ⟨ja⟩ ⟨ha⟩ ⟨a⟩
/ɛ, ɛː/ ⟨bä⟩ ⟨biä⟩ ⟨jä⟩ ⟨hä⟩ ⟨ä⟩
/ɛ, eː/ ⟨be⟩ ⟨je⟩ ⟨he⟩ ⟨e⟩
/ə, ɨː/ ⟨by⟩ ⟨jy⟩ ⟨hy⟩
/ɪ, iː/ ⟨bi⟩ ⟨hi⟩ ⟨i⟩
/ɔ, oː/ ⟨bo⟩ ⟨bio⟩ ⟨jo⟩ ⟨ho⟩ ⟨o⟩
/ʊ, uː/ ⟨bu⟩ ⟨biu⟩ ⟨ju⟩ ⟨hu⟩ ⟨u⟩
Vowels in unstressed syllables
Front Central Back
Close /ɪ/ ⟨i, e¹⟩ /ə/ ⟨y, e²⟩ /ʊ/ ⟨u, o⟩
Open /ɐ/ ⟨a⟩
  1. Unstressed ⟨e⟩ when not absolutely final, e.g. ⟨gomen⟩ /ˈgoːmʲɪn/
  2. Unstressed ⟨e⟩ when absolutely final, e.g. ⟨grune⟩ /ˈgruːnʲə/

A sequence of a hard consonant followed by a front vowel is realised with a velar offglide inserted (or a labiovelar offglide after labial consonants):

  • dächs /dɛːxs/ [dɰɛːxs], dialectally [dɰeːxs]
  • bärs /bɛrs/ [bwɛrs], dialectally [bwers]

This also holds in dialects where /ə, ɨː/ have merged with /ɪ, i/ or [ɘ, eː]ː

  • kyna /ˈkɨːnɐ/ Standard: [ˈkɨːnɐ], Dialectal: [ˈkɰiːnɐ], [ˈkɰeːnɐ]
  • ęfynund /ɪ̃ˈfɨːnʊnd/ Standard: [ɪ̃ˈfɨːnʊnd], Dialectal: [ɪ̃ˈfwiːnʊnd], [ɪ̃ˈfweːnʊnd]

Glide insertion is not phonemic and thus not indicated in most IPA transcriptions.



The Niemish alphabet consists of 33 letters.

Majuscule Minuscule IPA
A a /a, aː/
Ą ą /ã, ãː/
Ä ä /ɛ~ɛː/
Ą̈ ą̈ /ɛ̃, ɛ̃ː/
B b /b, bʲ/
C c /k, ʦʲ/
D d /d, dʲ/
E e /ɛ, eː/
Ę ę /ɛ̃, ẽː/
F f /f, fʲ/
G g /g, gʲ/
Majuscule Minuscule IPA
H h /h/
I i /ɪ, iː/
Į į /ɪ̃, ĩː/
J j /j/
K k /k, kʲ/
L l /l, lʲ/
M m /m, mʲ/
N n /n, nʲ/
O o /ɔ, oː/
Ǫ ǫ /ɔ̃, õː/
P p /p, pʲ/
Majuscule Minuscule IPA
(Q) (q) /k, kʲ/
R r /r, rʲ/
S s /s, sʲ/
T t /t, tʲ/
U u /ʊ, uː/
Ų ų /ʊ̃, ũ/
(V) (v) /v, vʲ/
W w /w, vʲ/
X x /ks, kʲsʲ/
Y y /ə, ɨː/
Z z /z, zʲ/

The acute and grave accent can respectively mark stressed long vowels (or diphthongs) and stressed short vowels. These are generally not used except in dictionaries for clarity.

In addition, Niemish orthography uses six digraphs: ⟨Ch, Cz, Ph, Sz, Th, Tz⟩ and two trigraphs:⟨Dsz, Zsz⟩ These function as sequences of two or three letters for collation purposes.

Outside digraphs, the letters ⟨C, Q, V⟩ only appear in loanwords, as do the digraphs ⟨Ph, Th⟩ and the trigraph ⟨Dsz⟩.


Cyrillic script

Letter Numerical
Phoneme Name Name in
Latin letters
А а 1 A a /a, aː/
Б б B b /b, bʲ/
В в 2 W w, V v /w, vʲ/
Г г 3 G g /ɡ/
Д д 4 D d /d/
Є є, Е e[2] 5 E e /e, ʲe/
Ж ж Zsz zsz /ʒ/
Ѕ ѕ 6 Dz dz /ʣ/
З з 7 Z z /z/
И и 8 I i /i/
Ѳ ѳ 9 Tz tz /ʦ/
І і[3] 10 I i /i/
К к 20 K k /k/
Л л 30 L l /l/
М м 40 M m /m/
Н н 50 N n /n/
Ѻ ѻ, О o[2] 70 O o /o/
П п 80 P p /p/
Р р 100 R r /r/
С с 200 S s /s/
Т т 300 T t /t/
ОУ оу[2] 400 U u /u/
Ф ф 500 F f /f/
Х х 600 Ch ch /x/
Ѡ ѡ[4] 800 O o /o/
Щ щ St st /st/
Ц ц 900 Tz tz /ʦ/
Ч ч 90 Cz cz /ʧ/
Ш ш Sz sz /ʃ/
Ъ ъ
Ꙑ ꙑ Y y /ɨ/
Ь ь J j /ʲ/
Ѣ ѣ ä /ɛ/
Ꙓ ꙓ Jä jä, iä /jɛ, ʲɛ/
Ю ю Jo jo, io /jo, ʲo/
ЮУ юу Ju ju, iu /ju, ʲu/
Ꙗ ꙗ Ja ja, ia /ja, ʲa/
Ѥ ѥ Je je, ie /je, ʲe/
Ꙙ ꙙ Ą ą /ã/
Ꙝ ꙝ Ją ją, ią /jã, ʲã/
Ꙛ ꙛ Ą̈, ą̈ /ɛ̃/
IꙚ ıꙛ Ją̈ ją̈, ią̈ /jɛ̃, ʲɛ̃/
Ѧ ѧ Ę ę /ẽ, ʲẽ/
Ѩ ѩ Ję ję /jẽ/
Ꙟ ꙟ Į į /ĩ, ʲĩ/
Ѫ ѫ Ǫ ǫ /õ/
Ѭ ѭ Jǫ jǫ, iǫ /jõ, ʲõ/
ѪУ ѫу Ų ų /ũ/
ѬУ ѭу Jų jų, ių /jũ, ʲũ/
Ѯ ѯ[5] 60 Ks ks /ks/
Ѱ ѱ[5] 700 Ps ps /ps/
Ѵ ѵ[5] 400 I i /i/


Nominative Accusative Genitive Dative
1st sg. i mi mi(n)[6] mes
2nd sg. tzu tzu(n)[6] tzos
3rd sg. masc. na/en es em
3rd sg. fem. ja/ej zas ze
3rd refl. si si(n)[6] ses
1st pl. wys ųs ǫr ǫs
2st pl. jus zar zes
3rd pl. masc. is ze ę
3rd pl. fem. jas za

The use of na and ja or en and ej is phonotactically motivated, not grammatically: na and ja appear before their associated verb while en and ej appear after. Consequently na and ja most often have a nominative sense, while en and ej most often have an accusative one. Note however that in verb-first constructions, such as ist en? "is he?" en and ej are used with a nominative sense.

Nouns and adjectives


Niemish nouns are inflected for three cases (nominative-accusative, genitive and dative) and two numbers (singular and plural). In addition, definite nouns are marked with a suffix that evolved out of postposed Gothic definite articles, functionally giving every noun two declensions for singular and plural.

All nouns belong to one of three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The neuter gender has fallen together with masculine in the Westlandic dialect, although the neuter plural still survives as an irregular plural for some formerly neuter nouns and has even become generalised to mark the plural of masculine nouns that commonly occur as a group, especially in pairs, often in parallel with a regular plural with a less specialised sense.

There are three classes of masculine or neuter noun:

  • hard stem (may be subject to umlaut) wich ("road, way")
  • soft stem kunnj ("tribe, race")
  • mixed (may be subject to umlaut in the singular) sun ("son")

There are four classes of feminine noun:

  • hard simple stem blum ("flower")
  • soft simple stem sullj ("sole")
  • hard N-stem trega ("sadness")
  • soft N-stem snuria ("plait, braid"), szuke ("sickness")

In addition, nouns with polysyllabic stems may be subject to syncopation, although this does not affect the class into which they are sorted.

Masculine and neuter nouns

Hard stem nouns

Case monosyllabic stem
hub "hoof"
polysyllabic stem
iszar "iron"
syncopating polysyllabic stem
latur "laughter"
singular plural singular plural singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative hub huban hubs hubas iszar iszaran iszars iszaras latur latran laturs latras
genitive hubs hubes hube hubse iszars iszares iszare iszarse laturs latres latre laturse
dative hub hubum hubą hubę iszar iszarum iszarą iszarę latur latrum latrą latrę
Case monosyllabic stem
wich "way", "road"
polysyllabic stem
ziuluf "forelock", "ringlet"
syncopating polysyllabic stem
gumin "husband"
singular plural singular plural singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative wich wechan wechs wechas ziuluf ziulofan ziulofs ziulofas gumin gomnan gomens gomnas
genitive wichs wiches wiche wichse ziulufs ziulufes ziulufe ziulufse gumins gumnes gumne guminse
dative wech wechum wechą wechę ziulof ziulofum ziulofą ziulofę gomen gomnum gomną gomnę
Case monosyllabic stem
liab "bread"
polysyllabic stem
syncopating polysyllabic stem
wintur "winter"
singular plural singular plural singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative liab liaban liabs liabas wíntur wéntran wéntors wéntras
genitive liäbs liäbes liäbe liäbse wínturs wíntres wíntre wínturse
dative liab liabum liabą liabę wéntor wéntrum wéntrą wéntrę

Soft stem nouns

Case kunnj "kin", "tribe", "ethnicity"
singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative kunnj kunnian kunns kunnias
genitive kunns kunnes kunne kunnse
dative kunnj kunnium kunnią kunnę

Mixed stem nouns

Case aszul "donkey", "ass"
singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative aszol aszlan äszuls äszlias
genitive äszuls äszles äszle äszulse
dative aszol aszlum äszlią äszlę

Feminine nouns

Case blum "flower"
singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative blum bluma blums blumas
genitive blums blumas bluma blumsa
dative blume blumse blumą blumę
Case sullj "sole", "footprint"
singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative sullj sullia sulls sullias
genitive sulls sullias sullia sullsa
dative sulle sullse sullią sullę
Case simple stem
trega "grief"
syncopating stems
uggla "owl", klezma "bell"
singular plural singular plural singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative trega tregna tregas tregnas uggla uggulna ugglas uggulnas klezma klezmyna klezmas klezmynas
genitive tregas tregnas tregna tregsa ugglas uggulnas uggulna uggulsa klezmas klezmynas klezmyna klezmysa
dative tregą tregse tregę tregnę ugglą uggulse ugglę uggulnę klezmą klezmyse klezmę klezmynę
Case simple stem
snuria "plait", "braid"
syncopating stem
singular plural singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative snuria snurna snurias snurnas -ia -na -ias -as
genitive snurias snurnas snurna snursa -ias -as -na -sa
dative snurią snurse snurę snurnę -ią -se -nę
Case simple stem
szuke "disease"
syncopating stem
singular plural singular plural
indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite indefinite definite
nominative szuke szukna szukes szuknas -e -na -es -as
genitive szukes szuknas szukna szuksa -es -as -na -sa
dative szukę szukse szukę szuknę -se -nę


Adjectives have been radically simplified since Gothic. All adjectives have hard stems and inflectional endings are retained only in predicative plural.

.Attributive adjectives are only marked for gender, case, number and definiteness insofar as these distinctions are marked by umlaut alternations, so attributive feminine adjectives are indeclinable. Predicative adjectives are inflected for number but not gender.

Case masculine feminine
singular plural singular plural
indefinite definite
Nominative blind blend blend
Genitive blind
Dative blend
Predicative blends blends

Nominalised adjectives decline as masculine hard stem nouns:


Niemish verbs maintain the Germanic categories of strong, weak and preterite-present. All verbs have two aspects, imperfective (bare stem) and perfective (marked by a gy- prefix if intransitive, by a by- prefix if transitive). As in Slavic languages, the morphological perfect present has a future meaning.

The Gothic subjunctive mood has been repurposed into two set of dependent verb forms (perfective and imperfective); these cannot occur without the subordinating particle i. There is no infinitive, although the present participle is often used in situations where other European languages use an infinitive, and is often misidentified as one.

The conjugation of regular verbs can be seen in the table below.

Niemish verb conjugation
Present participle -(a)n
Past participle (strong) -(o)n
Past participle (weak) -(a)d
Present Past (strong) Past (weak) Imperative
Indicative Subjunctive Indicative Subjunctive Indicative Subjunctive
1S -a -ja -(a)d -⟦i⟧za
2S -[e]s -es -t -jes -(a)ds -⟦i⟧zes
3S -t -e -j -(a)d -⟦e⟧z
1P -em -jem -(y)dą -⟦i⟧zem -t
2P -t -et -t -jet -(a)dt -⟦i⟧zet
3P -en -jen -(y)dą -⟦i⟧zen


  • (brackets) indicate a vowel that is dropped in verbs with a stem ending in a vowel or a liquid consonant.
  • [square brackets] indicate a vowel that is inserted if the stem ends in a sibilant.
  • ⟦doublestruck brackets⟧ indicate a vowel that is dropped if the stem ends in a vowel, but not if it ends in a liquid consonant.
  • Strong verbs in the past subjunctive have the final consonant of the stem geminated, unless this consonant is already geminated, is r, w or j (which do not geminate) or is d, s, t, z (which instead become z, sz, tz, zsz and lose palatalisation).
  • Preterite-present verbs conjugate as a strong past in the present, and as a weak past in the past. The plural present has the same stem as the present participle. They often lack distinct perfective forms.

Strong verbs

Germanic language strong verbs are verbs that change the vowel in the stem to form the past and past participle, rather than add a suffix. For an English example, contrast fall-fell-fallen (strong) from fell-felled (weak).

The following is a table of all the different types and subtypes of strong verbs.

Strong verb classes Stem vowel
Class Subclass General Past indicative Past subjunctive Past Participle
1 1a -í-
gríp, gríps

-é-, -í-
grépon, grípuns
wépon, wípuns
1b -ý-, -í-
wýp, wíps
2a -iú-
fliúg, fliúgs
-ió-, -iú-
fliógon, fliúguns
2b -ú-
búch, búchs
-ó-, -ú-
bóchon, búchuns
3/4 -é-, -í-
brék, bríks
-ó-, -ú-
brókon, brúkuns
5 -é-, -í-
wrék, wríks
-é-, -í-
wrékon, wríkuns
6 -á-, -ä́-
mál, mä́ls
-á-, -ä́-
málon, mä́luns
7b 7ba -í-
tík, tíks
tíkun, tíkuns
7bb -ý-, -í-
wý, wís
-ý-, -í-
wýn, wíns

The "general" stem is used for the present tense, present participle and imperative. The "past indicative", "past subjunctive" and "past participle" stems are used for their named forms. Where two possible stem vowels are shown, they form a low-high pair that alternate according to umlaut.

All past indicative stems assimilated to the Gothic first past stem, while class 3 verbs assimilated to class 4 in the past subjunctive. As a result class 3 and class 4a verbs merged. As there were only a very small number of class 4b verbs (which had identical past and past participle stems to classes 3 and 4a), these too merged with class 3.

The reduplicated consonant prefix in class 7 verbs was lost. As a result, class 7a verbs were lost, becoming weak verbs or, if they had past stem vowel u, becoming class 7b instead.

Class 1 and class 7b verbs with stems affected by depalatalisation (beginning with a labial, a rhotic or a labial+rhotic cluster) had the present stem vowel changed from i to y. Class 1 verbs also had the past stem vowel changed from ia, iä to a, ä. The new subclasses of class 1 are named 1a and 1b by analogy with the other subclasses; while they are named 7ba and 7bb for class 7b, as they arise only from Gothic 7b verbs (7a verbs having been lost).

As palatalisation developed in Niemish, the palatalisation in the 2a general stem spread to all other stems, splitting subclasses 2a and 2b into full strong verb classes, sharing no forms. Some 2a verbs analogically extended the unpalatalised stems instead, causing them to join the 2b class.

Dissimulation from the past stem caused the present stem of 2a class verbs to have an invariant u vowel like in the 2b class, which came from a long ū in Gothic.

Class 2a verbs with stems affected by depalatalisation became 2b verbs.


Aspect Non-past Past Imperative
Imperfective Present Imperfect
('I break') ('I was breaking') ('be breaking!')
1 sg. brek brak brik
2 sg. briks brakt
3 sg. brikt brak
1 pl. breką braką brikt
2 pl. brikt brakt
3 pl. breką braką
Perfective Past Imperative
('I broke') ('break!')
1 sg. gybrak gybrik
2 sg. gybrakt
3 sg. gybrak
1 pl. gybraką gybrikt
2 pl. gybrakt
3 pl. gybraką
Perfect Present Perfect Past Perfect
('I have broken') ('I had broken')
1 sg. hab gybrokyn had gybrokyn
2 sg. has gybrokyn hads gybrokyn
3 sg. hat gybrokyn had gybrokyn
1 pl. ham gybrokyn hadą gybrokyn
2 pl. hat gybrokyn hadt gybrokyn
3 pl. han gybrokyn hadą gybrokyn
perfective dependent
perfective dependent
1 sg. breka brikkia
2 sg. brekes brikes
3 sg. breke brikkj
1 pl. brekem brikem
2 pl. breket briket
3 pl. breken briken
perfective dependent
perfective dependent
1 sg. gybreka gybrikkia
2 sg. gybrekes gybrikes
3 sg. gybreke gybrikkj
1 pl. gybrekem gybrikem
2 pl. gybreket gybriket
3 pl. gybreken gybriken
With subordinating preposition i With future construction williund i
Present Past Present Past
Imperfective i na breke '(that) he be breaking', 'to be breaking' i na brikkj '(that) he was breaking, 'to have been breaking' na willt i breke 'he will be breaking' na willt i brikkj 'he would break'
Perfective i na gybreke '(that) he break', 'to break' i na gybrikkj '(that) he broke', 'to have broken' i na gybreke 'he will break' i na gybrikkj 'he probably broke'

Historical changes

Wulfilan Gothic to Post-Gothic


Wulfilan Gothic had five (in some analyses three) short vowels and seven long vowels. The short vowels were maintained in Post-Gothic and ē merged with ei:

  • Got. mēs /eː/ → Post-Got. meis /iː/

Wulfilan Gothic may have already started to merge ē with ei, suggested by variant spellings such as akeit for akēt and leikeis for lēkeis. In Post-Gothic this merger was complete.

Syllable-final h /h/ was lost with compensatory lengthening of the previous vowel:

  • Got. mahts /mahts/ → Post-Got. māts /maːts/
  • Got. raíhts /rɛhts/ → Post-Got. ráits /rɛːts/
  • Got. slaúhts /slɔhts/ → Post-Got. sláuts /slɔːts/

This promoted ā /aː/ from a marginal phoneme to a common one.


The proposed Thurneysen's law became fully operational in Post-Gothic, although it was modified:

  1. Spirants gained or lost voice in dissimilation with the consonant beginning the previous syllable. This occurred after all syllables, not only unstressed ones.
  2. Voicedness of the consonant beginning the preceding syllable became the only criterion driving dissimulation; clusters ceased to behave differently from simple consonants.
  • Got. giba → Post-Got. gifa
  • Got. bida → Post-Got. biþa
  • Got. dagam → Post-Got. daχam
  • Got. máiza → Post-Got. máisa

Note that medial b, d, g, /b, d, g/ had the allophonic values [β, ð, ɣ] between vowels.

h did not voice to g because it was a glottal fricative [h], not [x]. It remained unchanged except syllable-finally when it elided with compensatory lengthening of the previous vowel.

g devoiced to a velar fricative [x], transcribed here as χ.

As a result of Thurneysen's law being extended, Verner alternation in verbs was totally eliminated.

Between a nasal and a following liquid consonant, a voiced plosive was inserted:

  • Got. timrjan → Post-Got. timbrjan (note that timbrjan already existed as a variant in Wulfilan Gothic)
  • P-Gmc. *þunraz → Got. *þunr → Post-Got. þundr

Prefixes such as in- and un- were unaffected however.

Development of Niemish proper

Prepalatal gemination

With the exception of h, ƕ w, consonants followed by j were geminated in a similar process to that seen in West and North Germanic but much more extensive, as in Italo-Romance. Sievers's law was no longer operational at this time, as the change also occurred after long vowels (which were subsequently shortened):

Coronal consonants were palatalised during this gemination, and the voiced affricate /dz/ converted to /z/. It is thought that voiced sibilants degeminated before compensatory shortening occurred, but it is also possible that - as with h, w - geminated voiced fricatives were simply disallowed at all stages (this also accounts for why b, d, g ceased to be fricatives with gemination).

tj, dj, þj, sj, zj → /tts, ddz, þþj, ʃʃ, ʒʒ/ → /tts, z, ttj, ʃʃ, ʒ/ → /tt͡s, z, tt͡ʃ, ʃʃ, ʒ/

The prepalatal gemination was a very early sound change, likely beginning in late Post-Gothic itself. The coronal palatalisation is also found in early Romance and what little is attested of the closely related Vandalic language.

It is thought that dj initially became */ddz/ before (after the Post-Gothic period had ceased) /z/, both because it patterns with tj → /tts/ and because Gothic daddjan became dazond. Had degeminated /z/ arisen in Post-Gothic, extended Thurneysen's law would have devoiced the consonant to give *dasond. There are no examples of z arising from the coronal palatalisation being affected by extended Thurneysen's law.

The voiceless fricative þj was stopped to /tj/ later, during the Middle Niemish period.

Voiceless plosives also geminated before the syllabic liquid consonants l, m, n, r:

Other consonants did not:


A epenthetic vowel was inserted before syllabic consonants:

  • i if the vowel in the previous syllable was i ē or ei in Gothic
  • i if the final consonant was palatal or palatalised:
    • Got.


  • o before syllabic l, m, or r in feminine words:
  • Got. fōdrfúdor
  • In all other cases, the epenthetic vowel was y:

Nouns affected by epenthesis did not experience epenthesis in inflected forms that lacked syllabic consonants in the first place. This lead to the formation of syncopating nouns:

First umlaut (umlaut pattern 1. or i-umlaut)

The first umlaut only affected vowels that were short. Niemish at this stage still preserved the Post-Gothic distribution of long and short vowels, where not shortened by the prepalatal gemination.

Case Post-Gothic Medieval Niemish Niemish
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative daχs daχōs dach dachas dach dachs
Accusative daχ daχans
Genitive daχis daχei dächis dächī dächs däche
Dative daχa daχam dacha dachą dach dachą
Case Post-Gothic Medieval Niemish Niemish
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative waúrts waúrtōs wort wortas wort worts
Accusative waúrt waúrtans
Genitive waúrtis waúrtei wurtis wurtī wurts wurte
Dative waúrta waúrtam worta wortą wort wortą

Second umlaut (umlaut pattern 2. or a-umlaut)

The second umlaut affected Post-Gothic short i and u and long ái and ei (the last one under limited circumstances). There is debate about whether the second umlaut in fact occurred before the first umlaut, but the current names for the two umlauts are too well established now for renaming them to be practical.

When followed by a back vowel in the following syllable, short i and u were lowered to e and o (see Medieval Niemish in the tables). These lowered vowels persisted after apocope eliminated the original trigger of umlaut, elevating short e and o to full phonemes in their own right, with i/e and u/o alternation often accounting for the difference between nominative singular and dative singular, or genitive singular and nominative plural:

Case Post-Gothic Medieval Niemish Niemish
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative hunds hundōs hund hondas hund honds
Accusative hund hundans
Genitive hundis hundei hundis hundī hunds hunde
Dative hunda hundam honda hondą hond hondą
Case Post-Gothic Medieval Niemish Niemish
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative wiχs wiχōs wich wechas wich wechs
Accusative wiχ wiχans
Genitive wiχis wiχei wichis wichī wichs wiche
Dative wiχa wiχam wecha wechą wech wechą

The second umlaut affected Post-Gothic long ái and ei slightly differently. When followed by a plain consonant (or when not followed by a front vowel in the following syllable in the second umlaut first hypothesis) , ái [ɛː] was broken to first [jɛ] then lowered to [ja], and ei was lowered to /ɨː/:

Second umlaut was unable to occur in ja- or ju-stem nouns, and only occured in the singular of i- and u-stems. This gave rise to the three stems all Niemish masculine nouns belong to: hard (a-stems), soft (ja- and ju-stems) and mixed (i- and u-stems).

Feminine nouns either underwent the second umlaut in all inflected forms (jō-, jōn- and ein-stems) or not at all (all others). Thus as with first umlaut, vowel alternations due to second umlaut do not occur in feminine nouns. Note that ái [ɛː] is not considered a front vowel for the purposes of second umlaut; the umlaut was also predicated on vowel height and ái as a low vowel could trigger second umlaut:

The coronal palatalisation was still active when the second umlaut happened, as:

  • Got. taíhun → Post-Got. taíhuntáintsjaǹtzán ("ten")
  • Got. dáigs → Post-Got. dáiχsdjachzách ("dough")
  • P-Gmc. *sairaz → Post-Got. sáirssjarszár ("sore")

The fricatives that arose from coronal palatalisation were analogically extended to all forms of word where it arose, even those forms where no second umlaut had taken place.

Development of nasal vowels

Wherever a nasal consonant occurred word-finally or before a spirant in Post-Gothic, it disappeared in favour of nasalisation of the previous vowel. The length of the vowel was not affected, or else any change in vowel length happened too late to affect the first umlaut and was ultimately rendered irrelevant by syllable weight neutralisation:

After syncope, /ml, nl, mr, nr/ were reintroduced into the language outside of prefixes.

Subsequently, simple /n/ was lost before liquid consonants /l, m, r/ with compensatory gemination of the liquid consonant:

  • Post-Got. *láunalig̃gslonlinglǫlling ("small change, petty cash")

This did not happen to geminated /n/:

There was no compensatory gemination when the syllable with the nasal coda was unstressed, or in prefixes such as an-, in-, un-:

/m/ was not lost (except in Westlandic), but experienced stop insertion much as in Post-Gothic:

Early medieval Niemish had forms such as somar and somor, which developed into sǫwr in the Westlandic dialect. Presumably the /b/ was inserted into the definite form somran, the /o/ lowered by the /mb/ to give sumbran, and the /b/ later spread to all forms of the word by analogy. Likewise, the Westlandic form developed from somransǫwran in a sound change more akin to that described above for /n/ with similar analogical spreading.

Nasal vowels followed by a fricative in unstressed final syllables lost their nasalisation:

Nasals that formed the end of a root, as in háims and aljan were either not lost or more likely restored by analogy with forms with inflectional endings; the Niemish descendants of these words are ham and ällin.

Loss of non-initial /f/

When it occurred after a vowel, /f/ became /x/:

Elison of initial vowels sometimes gave rise to initial /x/:

  • Got. ufar → Middle Niemish ochorchór ("over")

Initial and geminated /f/ were unaffected:

Reduction of /rn/ to /r/

Niemish reduced /rn/ to /r/:

The same sound shift also occurred in Luxembourgish Kar and Dalecarlian Swedish dialects. A similar shift cannot be confirmed for Crimean Gothic kor as the manuscript that records Crimean Gothic is likely riddled with typographic errors.


Niemish underwent drastic apocope of vowels - less strong than in Slavic languages, but stronger than in Scandinavian. In the process it generated new instances of /rn/:

Loss of /θ/

Medieval Niemish had two dental fricatives /θ, θʲ/. These became affricates at the beginning of a word and when geminated:

  • Got. þū → Medieval Niemish t͡þuʦutzú /t͡suː/ ("you, thou")
  • Got. miþ þamma → Medieval Niemish mett͡þammeʦʦummètzum /ˈmʲɛtt͡sʊm/ ("by the way")

Before /r/ they became /t, tʲ/:

After a liquid consonant (and not followed by /r/), they were hardened to /d, dʲ/:


Much like Slavic and Indo-Iranian languages (and to an extent High German), Niemish changed Post-Gothic /s, z, t͡s/ to /ʃ, ʒ, t͡ʃ/ before /r, w/ and after /r, uː, iː/:

This introduced a simple /ʃ/ sound in addition to the geminated /ʃʃ/ that arose with the prepalatal gemination.

In addition, /t, d/ became /t͡s, z/ before /w/:

Much Slavic vocabulary such as twárag ("quark") was loaned after the S-palatalisation was no longer in operation. The native word twá ("two") was unaffected by the shift, possibly because of analogical levelling with the feminine form, .

S-palatalisation was blocked before plosives:

Nonetheless, later /s, z/ were palatalised to /ʃ, ʒ/ in sibilant+palatalised consonant clusters:

Emergence of /ɨː/

Long /iː/ (from Gothic ei and ē) became y /ɨː/ when preceded by a labial or labialised consonant (/p, b, m, f, w, kʷ, gʷ, hʷ/) and not followed by a front vowel in the next syllable. Labialised velars and glottals were subsequently delabialised:

  1. At some point qēns and qinō merged into one word.

As this sound change was blocked before palatalised consonants, all affected words gained umlaut pattern 2. (rarely umlaut pattern 1. in polysyllabic roots) if the stem alternated between hard and soft endings in flexional forms.


/kʷ, gʷ, hʷ/ were labialised before back vowels to /p, b, f/:

Gemination by assimilation

After a stressed vowel, /p/ arising from /kʷ/ geminated:

Presumably the same would have happened to /b/ arising from /gʷ/, but ungeminated /gʷ/ did not occur after vowels in Gothic.

WHen /w/ followed any other consonant preceded by a stressed vowel, it elided, causing the consonant to geminate in compensation (unless this consonant could not occur as a geminate in Niemish, in wich case the /w/ simply elided):

A limited form of the Boukulos rule came into effect, where /wɔ, wo, wu/ immediately after an initial consonant delabialised:

The Boukolos rule did not apply absolutely word-initially:

Depalatalisation of labials and /r/

The phonemes /pʲ, bʲ, mʲ, rʲ/ depalatalised before stressed back vowels (which includes /ɛː/ for Niemish purposes) and at the end of a word:

  • PGmc. *paidō → Medieval Niemish piadəpád ("cloak, overcoat")
  • PGmc. *bainą → Medieval Niemish bianbán ("bone")
  • PGmc. *mainą → Medieval Niemish mianmán ("perjury")
  • Got. raíhts → Medieval Niemish riatrát ("straight, correct")
  • PGmc. *ribją → Post-Gothic *rifi → Medieval Niemish riffjrìff ("rib, spoke")
  • Got. sōkāreis → Medieval Niemish sukarjsúkar ("seeker")

The same applied to the consonant clusters /prʲ, brʲ, wrʲ/:

  • Got. bráiþs → Medieval Niemish briaþbrás ("broad, wide")

But not other such consonant + /rʲ/ clusters:

The fact that /r/ was also depalatalised at the beginnings and ends of words suggests that Medieval Niemish had a distinction between /r, rʲ/ and /ɾ, ɾʲ/ similar to Spanish and Old Irish, although such a distinction was not observed in writing.

The phonemes /r, rʲ/ would have occurred only at the beginnings and ends of words, while /ɾ, ɾʲ/ only occurred word-medially (unlike in Spanish where both can occur medially, and Old Irish where both can occur medially and finally). Like in Irish, /rʲ/ merged with /r/ and ultimately /r/ and /ɾ/ merged (as /ɾ/ in Irish, as /r/ in Niemish):

Palatalisation was preserved in stem-final labials and /r/ where the flexional ending began with a vowel:

Deaffrication of /t͡s/

After a vowel, ungeminated /t͡s, t͡sʲ/ became /s, sʲ/:

  • Got. bráiþs → Medieval Niemish briaþbriaʦbrás ("broad, wide")
  • Got. maþa → Medieval Niemish maþęmaʦęmásen ("larva")

As a result, non-initial /t͡s/ always represents a geminated consonant in Modern Niemish:

  • Got. *platja → Medieval Niemish *plaʦʦəplàtz /platt͡s/ ("town square")
  • Got. miþ þamma → Medieval Niemish mett͡þammeʦʦummètzum /ˈmʲɛtt͡sʊm/ ("by the way")

Syllable weight neutralisation

Although open syllable lengthening occurred in all dialects of Niemish, the result was not the same in all dialects.

Open-syllable lengthening was simplest in the Panian dialect, where it affected all stressed open syllables. Consequently vowel length is not phonemic in Panian, other than those of the lowland fringe which have regained it by ceasing to distinguish geminate consonants.

In the Great Plains dialect (and by extension the Standard), open syllable lengthening was blocked before voiceless plosives.

The Westlandic dialect underwent the law of open syllables: where possible, consonants in the syllable coda were resyllabified into the onset of the following syllable. Consequently, more syllables became analysed as open in Westlandic than in other dialects, and open syllable lengthening affected a greater number of words. It also has lost geminate consonants, although vowels before historic geminate consonants remain short.

The Capitoline dialect is a special case. It developed as a koiné from numerous dialects in the capital. It is thus broadly similar to the standard, other than shortening historically long vowels before voiceless plosives (this is due to spelling pronunciation and hypercorrection) and loss of geminate consonants.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1)

Latin: Àll wárs sín gybórn frýs ja íbens į wártzą ja rátą. Ís sín ingàchts mis rázum ja gywìssę, ja tzórbą fuzántur į dúch brúturnus.

Cyrillic: Аллъ варсъ синъ гъборнъ фрꙑсъ ꙗ ибенсъ ꙟ варцꙙ ꙗ ратꙙ. Ісъ синъ інгахтъ місъ разѹмъ ꙗ гъвіссѧ, ꙗ цорбꙙ фозанторъ ꙟ духъ бруторносъ.

IPA: /all wars sʲiːn gəˈborn frɨːs jɐ ˈiːbʲɪns ɪ̃ ˈwart͡sɐ̃ jɐ ˈraːtɐ̃ || iːs sʲiːn ɪŋˈgaxts mʲɪs ˈraːzʊm jɐ gəˈvʲɪssʲə̃, jɐ ˈt͡sorbɐ̃ fʊˈzantʊr ɪ̃ duːx ˈbruːtʊrnʊs/


Translation: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


  1. ^ a b ⟨ij, uw⟩ are properly long vowels, only represented with this spelling where morphologically motivated,
    as in frij /fʲrʲiː/, frije /fʲrʲiːjə/
    and triuw /tʲrʲuː/, triuwe /tʲrʲuːvʲə/.
  2. ^ a b c Initial vs. non-initial shapes: Є/Е, Ѻ/О, IA/Ѧ.
  3. ^ In words of Greek origin, И and І correspond to Eta and Iota respectively. In the words of native origin И is used where it alternates with Є/Е, otherwise І.
  4. ^ In words of Greek origin, О and Ѡ correspond to Omicron and Omega respectively. In the words of native origin О is used where it alternates with ОУ, otherwise Ѡ.
  5. ^ a b c Letters Ѯ, Ѱ, and Ѵ are used for copying Greek spelling of loanwords (especially for names and toponyms).
  6. ^ a b c The final -n is inserted before words beginning with a vowel.
  7. ^ tabol is no longer extant in Niemish, although the dual definite form Tabla is still used as a name for the game Backgammon.