Old Valthungian

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Old Valthungian
Sou Vladyugutanei Tungou
Pronunciation[soʊ̯ ˈwlɑ.ðʊ.ɡʊ.ta.neɪ̯ ˈtʊŋ.ɡoʊ̯]
Created byBenJamin P. Johnson,

creator of:

curator of:

SettingNorthern Italy, ca. 800ᴀᴅ‒1200ᴀᴅ
  • Germanic
    • East Germanic
      • Old Valthungian

Old Valthungian represents a period in the development of the Valthungian language lasting from around 800‒1200ad marked mainly by changes to geminates and metathesis of liquids, as well as the introduction of Germanic ī/j-umlaut and some small but important changes to all of the vowels. Though this is a range which experienced many changes, the most representative example of “Old Valthungian” is the language as it is captured in a few surviving texts believed to date to around 950‒975ad.

Phonology of Old Valthungian ca. 950ad


Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Dorsal
Plosive p · b
/p · b/
t · d
/t · d/
k · g
/k · ɡ/
Nasal · m
· n
· n[1]
Fricative f · bv, fv
/ɸ · β/
dv · þ
/ð · θ/
s · z
/s · ʐ/
· jj
h · gy
/h · ɣ/
Approximant · v
· l
· r
· j


Short Vowels Long Vowels
Front Back Front Back
Close i · eu
/ɪ · ʏ/
ij · euv
/iː · yː/
Mid-Close · y[2]
ei · eou
/eː · øː/
Mid-Open e, ea[4] · eo
/ɛ · œ/
ae · eao
/ɛː · œː/
Open a

Syllabic Sonorants

In addition to the vowels, certain sonorants may act as syllable nuclei (usually word-finally).

Labial Alveolar Palatal Dorsal
Syllabics m

Orthography of Old Valthungian

There is very little extant text in Old Valthungian, and what does exist is quite variable, but this is a “regularlised” version of the orthography used at the time around 950ad, with notes where there are variants.

Letters The twenty-seven “official” letters of the Old Valthungian alphabet are very similar to the twenty-seven letter of the Gothic alphabet, right down to the order of their numbering. There were, however, many variants, ligatures, digraphs, trigraphs, and Latin and Greek letters thrown into the mix in the few small samples we have of definitive Old Valthungian texts.
Griutungi IPA Old Val. Roman. Numeric
Variants Examples Notes
a ɑ A a 1   rams ‘poor’
gaf ‘gave’
aar ‘second’
b b B b 2   bradvou ‘axe’
krahba ‘crab’
lamb ‘lamb’
g ɡ G g 3   gibvan ‘to give’
graþs ‘yard’
dagz ‘day’
d d D d 4   dagz ‘day’
ahdi ‘egg’
teihund ‘(multiple of) ten’
e ɛ E e 5 ai redva ‘earth’
tehsva ‘right-hand’
berja ‘ferry’
kw kʷ~kw QV qv 6 kv, q, ku, cv, cu qvernu ‘mill’
inqvis ‘to you both’
riqviza ‘darker’
z ʐ Z z 7 ȥ þizae ‘to that’
hvizazij ‘whatever’
izous ‘hers’
h h~x H h 8   hretou ‘heart’
tehun ‘ten’
fah ‘glad’
þ θ Þ þ 9 th, fh, c[6] þjuþ ‘people’
frijaþvou ‘love’
ljugyvaþ ‘light’
From the Gothic 𐌸, this letter represented [θ] in Old Valthungian as it did in Gothic, but became [v] and was replaced by Þ for [θ] in the 11th century.
i i I i 10   igyil ‘hedgehog’
izae ‘to her’
þivgyi ‘maid’
k k K k 20 c krots ‘short’
taekros ‘brother-in-law’
mask ‘mesh, grid’
Sometimes written as kh or ch when aspirated.
l l~ɫ̩ L l 30   langz ‘long’
slidvalijks ‘amazing’
tagl ‘tail’
(Syllabic and non-syllabic sonorants were not differentiated in Old Valthungian.)
m m~m̩ M m 40   maedvms ‘gift’
mikils ‘great’
ogvuma ‘primary’
(Syllabic and non-syllabic sonorants were not differentiated in Old Valthungian.)
n n~n̩ N n 50   naoþs ‘need’
nivntehun ‘nineteen’
niman ‘to take’
(Syllabic and non-syllabic sonorants were not differentiated in Old Valthungian.)
j j J j 60 i jeir ‘year’
jah ‘also’
juvs ‘you all’
o ɔ O o 70 au rotigraþs ‘garden’
ogyuma ‘chief’
vroms ‘worm’
p p P p 80   paedva ‘shirt’
propora ‘purple’
sleipan ‘to sleep’
Sometimes written as ph when aspirated.
ī iː~ij IJ ij 90 ī, ei, ij ijs ‘ice’
tijþs ‘time’
divpij ‘depth’
There is only scant evidence that this ligature was used to represent the value of the number ‘90’, and it is disputable whether the evidence in question is actually the 〈ij〉 ligature, or a holdover of the Gothic number 𐍁.
r r~r̩ R r 100   riqvus ‘dark’
broudvr ‘brother’
ver ‘man’
(Syllabic and non-syllabic sonorants were not differentiated in Old Valthungian.)
s s S s 200   saovgyila ‘sun’
sehstigjus ‘sixty’
suvs ‘sow’
t t T t 300   tungl ‘star’
stivgyiti ‘patience’
trivgyijnat ‘wooden’
Sometimes written as th when aspirated.
w w V v 400 vv, uu, ƿ vlidvijs ‘wild’
saliþva ‘guest room’
svei ‘as though’
f ɸ~f F f 500   fimf ‘five’
svumfsl ‘’
hlaef ‘bread’
kh KH x 600 kh, ch, x, χ Xristus ‘Christ’
evxaristja ‘eucharist’
katexijns ‘remembrance’
This Greek borrowing, which was incorporated into the Gothic alphabet as 𐍇, had merged phonologically with k by the Old Valthungian period, but was occasionally still emphasized with h or even with the Greek letter χ in positions which were not naturally aspirated. Indeed, h was sometimes added to segments which were naturally aspirated, as also happened with p and t.
hw xw HV hv 700 hv, hw, chv, hu hvilftri ‘curve’
sehvan ‘to see’
neihv ‘near’
The Old Valthungian letter most commonly written as HV, from Gothic 𐍈, is transliterated as hv, but later came to represent [θ] during the 11th century.
u u U u 800   ulbvandus ‘rhinocerus’
ubvils ‘evil’
u ‘until’
j ʝ J2 jj 900 i, j, ʒ þrijja ‘three’
teaojjan ‘to do’
beajjouþs ‘both’
Ligatures & Polygraphs Most of these represent single phonemes and might be considered letters in their own right, but were not part of the numbered Gothic alphabet.
Griutungi IPA Old Val. Roman. Numeric
Variants Examples Notes
ā ɑː AA aa - a, ā haahs ‘shark’
faahan ‘to capture’
andaþaaht ‘rational’
Long vowels were sometimes indicated by doubling, sometimes with a macron or any of a half dozen other markings, or ignored completely.
ǣ ɛː AE ae - ai, ee braeþ ‘wide’
aedvij ‘mother’
twae ‘two’
ǭ ɔː AO ao - au, oa, oo, ō aogyou ‘eye’
fraos ‘happy’
naohuhþan ‘still, yet’
b β~v BV bv - vv silbva ‘self’
arbvi ‘inheritance’
hlaebva ‘bread.dat
g ɣ GY gy - y, g aogyou ‘eye’
bagyms ‘tree’
igyil ‘hedgehog’
d ð DY dv - dv, δ aedvij ‘mother’
daladva ‘down’
þjudvij ‘meaning’
Though dv is used here for transcription, a letter derived from the Gothic letter dags (but resembling ϫ, the Coptic gangia) was more often used.
- ɛ~æ EA ea - e, ai, ae seatjan ‘to set’
Mbreajja ‘Maria’
eakijt ‘vinegar’
This was used for the umlauted form of short a (Griutungi and Gothic a).
- œː EAO eao - eoa, eō, eoo eaodvijs ‘desert’
feaodjan ‘to feed’
heaohij ‘height’
This was used for the umlauted form of ao (Griutungi ǭ, Gothic au).
ē eː~ei̯ EI ei - ē, ee, ej meina ‘moon’
eimaeti ‘ant’
swei ‘such, thus’
- œ EO eo - oe, ø vreokjan ‘to work’
reokjus ‘jug’
deohtrjus ‘daughters’
This was used for the umlauted form of o (Griutungi o, Gothic au).
- øː~øu̯ EOU eou - eoo, eō, ooe afmeoudvij ‘disagreement’
meougyjis ‘girls’
deoumjan ‘to judge’
This was used for the umlauted form of oo (Griutungi and Gothic ō).
- y EU eu - y, ue feutlijns ‘fulfillment’
seundij ‘health’
eunkja ‘ounce’
This was used for the umlauted form of u.
- EUV euv - yy, uue, euu, eeu heuvhjan ‘to hoard’
seuvtijs ‘gentle’
leuvkjan ‘to latch’
This was used for the umlauted form of uv (Griutungi and Gothic ū).
iu iw JU iv - iu, ju, jv ivqv ‘up’
kniv ‘knee’
þivfs ‘thief’
ng ŋɡ NG ng 53 gg singvan ‘to sing’
gangan ‘to go’
wingz ‘wing’
Sometimes written with g instead of n in a reflection of the Gothic.
nk ŋk NK nk - gk, gc drinkan ‘to drink’
anke ‘lower leg’
unkis ‘to us’
Sometimes written with g instead of n in a reflection of the Gothic.
nkw ŋkw NQV nqv 56 gq, gqv, nq, nkv, ncu... inqvar ‘your’
hrinkvan ‘to gather’
sankvus ‘sunset’
Sometimes written with g instead of n in a reflection of the Gothic.
ō oː~ou̯ OU ou - oo, ō, o, ov ous ‘river-mouth’
sougila ‘sun’
tou ‘to, toward’
ū UV uv - ū, u, uu uvhtvou ‘pre-dawn’
þuvsundi ‘thousand’
huvs ‘shed’
f β~v FV fv - f, v, bv ufvar ‘over’
aefvrs ‘terrifying’
vladvufvni ‘violence’
y ʏ~ᵿ Y y 400 y, i, u, ui synagyovgyei ‘synagogue’
hyhsopus ‘hyssop’
þymjam ‘incense’
It is likely that this was still a separate phoneme in Old Valthungian from the umlaut of u, though some of the means of transcription overlapped a bit. This phoneme was used only in borrowings from the Greek, and after the Old Valthungian period, these two phonemes had completely merged.
Our intermediate transcription shows ÿ for the letter representing Gothic 𐍅/w from Greek υ. The exact pronunciation is unknown, but it seems likely that it was differentiated from eu (the i-umlaut of /u/) in Old Valthungian. These two sounds had merged by the Middle Valthungian period. Numerically, it was equivalent to Gothic 𐍅 (400).

An Old Valthungian Text

Though there are very few extant Old Valthungian texts, obnoxiously large numbers of the Pater Noster text have been discovered. Here's one now:

Pater Noster in Old Valthungian ca. 952ad

ahta unsar þuv in himinam vijhnae namou þijn
qvimae þivdyinahsus þijns vredyae vilja þijns 
svei in himina jah an redyae hlaef unsaran
þan sintijnan gif uns hipma dagya jah afleit
uns þeatij skulans sijjaem svasvei jah vijs
afleitam þaem skulam unsaraem jah nij bringaes
uns in fraestubvnjae ak leaosij uns af þapma
ubvilin  untei þijna ist þivdyangradyi jah mahts
jah vludyus in aejugyins · ahmein


  1. ^ Before g or k
  2. ^ This was likely a lax central near-close vowel, not a front vowel; i.e. [ᵿ], not [ʏ]. It later merged with /y/.
  3. ^ All of the mid-close long vowels may have been diphthongs, i.e. [eɪ̯], [œʏ̯], and [oʊ̯] – and 〈eou〉 was almost certainly [œʏ̯] – but the spelling of 〈ei〉 and 〈ou〉 is likely related to conventions borrowed from early Romance languages of the time rather than an indication of dipthongisation.
  4. ^ In the standardised orthography, 〈e〉 occurs only where adjacent to /r/ or /h/, while 〈ea〉 is the umlaut of /a/. It is likely they represented the same sounds, though some scholars contend that 〈ea〉 wa a more open [æ].
  5. ^ All other back vowels seem to have distinguished umlaut forms, but the umlaut of 〈aa〉 is consistently written as 〈ae〉 and was presumably realized as [eː]. In an early version of the Chrysanthi Grammar, 〈eaa〉 was used for this purpose, but later versions have 〈ae〉 exclusively.
  6. ^ c for /θ/ is anomalous, only appearing in one extant instance, and is most likely the result of a transcription error, though many have used it (grossly incorrectly) to associate Old Valthungian with the Iberian Goths, positing that this somehow relates to ceceo in modern Spanish. It absolutely does not, and the Old Valthungian speakers never came within 500 miles of present-day Spain, but facts have never stood in the way of good speculation.