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Old Gutnish
RegionGotland
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)
non-gut
Glottologgutn1238
IETFnon-u-sd-sei
The approximate extent of Old Norse and related languages in the early 10th century:
  Other Germanic languages with which Old Norse still retained some mutual intelligibility

Old Gutnish or Old Gotlandic[1] was a North Germanic language spoken on the Baltic island of Gotland. It shows sufficient differences from the Old West Norse and Old East Norse dialects that it is considered to be a separate branch. While vastly divergent from Old Gutnish and closer to Modern Swedish, a modern version of Gutnish is still spoken in some parts of Gotland and the adjoining island of Fårö.

The root Gut is identical to Goth, and it is often remarked that the language has similarities with the Gothic language. These similarities have led scholars such as Elias Wessén and Dietrich Hofmann to suggest that it is most closely related to Gothic. The best known example of such a similarity is that Gothic and Gutnish called both adult and young sheep lamb.

The Old Norse diphthong au (e.g. auga "eye") remained in Old Gutnish and Old West Norse, while in Old East Norse – except for peripheral dialects – it evolved into the monophthong ǿ, i.e. a long version of ø. Likewise the diphthong ai in bain ("bone") remained in Old Gutnish while in Old West Norse it became ei as in bein and in Old East Norse it became é (bén). Whereas Old West Norse had the ey diphthong and Old East Norse evolved the monophthong ǿ) Old Gutnish had oy.

Proto-Germanic Old Gutnish Old West Norse Old East Norse
*augô (eye) auga auga auga > ǿga
*bainą (bone) bain bein bæin > bén
*hauzijaną (to hear) hoyra heyra høyra > hǿra

Most of the corpus of Old Gutnish is found in the law of the Gutes (Old Gutnish: Guta lag) from the 13th century.

Language sample

Citation (from the Gutasaga):

Þissi þieluar hafþi ann sun sum hit hafþi. En hafþa cuna hit huita stierna þaun tu bygþu fyrsti agutlandi fyrstu nat sum þaun saman suafu þa droymdi hennj draumbr. So sum þrir ormar warin slungnir saman j barmj hennar Oc þytti hennj sum þair scriþin yr barmi hennar. þinna draum segþi han firi hasþa bonda sinum hann riaþ dravm þinna so. Alt ir baugum bundit bo land al þitta warþa oc faum þria syni aiga. þaim gaf hann namn allum o fydum. guti al gutland aigha graipr al annar haita Oc gunfiaun þriþi. þair sciptu siþan gutlandi i þria þriþiunga. So at graipr þann elzti laut norþasta þriþiung oc guti miþal þriþiung En gunfiaun þann yngsti laut sunnarsta. siþan af þissum þrim aucaþis fulc j gutlandi so mikit um langan tima at land elptj þaim ai alla fyþa þa lutaþu þair bort af landi huert þriþia þiauþ so at alt sculdu þair aiga oc miþ sir bort hafa sum þair vfan iorþar attu.

With somewhat normalized orthography:

Þissi Þieluar hafþi ann sun sum hít Hafþi. En Hafþa kuna hít Huítastierna. Þaun tú bygþu fyrsti á Gutlandi. Fyrstu nát sum þaun saman suáfu þá droymdi henni draumbr, só sum þrír ormar várin slungnir saman í barmi hennar ok þýtti henni sum þair skriþin ýr barmi hennar. Þinna draum segþi han firi Hafþa, bónda sínum. Hann riaþ draum þinna só: “Alt ir baugum bundit, bóland al þitta varþa ok fáum þría syni aiga. Þaim gaf hann namn allum ófýdum. Guti al Gutland aiga, Graipr al annar haita ok Gunfiaun þriþi. Þair skiptu síþan Gutlandi í þría þriþiunga só at Graipr þann eldsti laut norþasta þriþiung ok Guti miþalþriþiung en Gunfiaun þann yngsti laut sunnarasta. Síþan af þissum þrim aukaþis fulk i Gutlandi só mikit um langan tima at land elpti þaim ai alla fýþa. Þá lutaþu þair bort af landi huert þriþia þiauþ só at alt skuldu þair aiga ok miþ sír bort hafa sum þair ufan iorþar áttu.

Translation in Icelandic:

Son hann Þjálfi átti sem hét Hafði. Og kona Hafða hét Hvítastjarna. þau tvö byggðu fyrst manna á Gotlandi. Fyrstu nótt sem þau þar saman sváfu þá dreymdi hana draum; sá hún þrjá orma vafðir saman í barmi hennar, og þótti henni sem þeir skriða niður barm hennar. Þennan draum sagði hún Hafða bónda sínum. Hann réð draum þann svo: "Allt er baugum bundið og verður allt land þitt búið og munum við þrjá syni eiga." Þeim gaf hann nöfn ófæddum, Goti sem Gotland á að eiga; Greipur sem annar hét; og Gunnfjón sá þriðji. Þeir skiptu síðan Gotlandi í þrjá þriðjunga, þá fékk Greipur sá elsti norður þriðjunginn, og Goti miðju þriðjunginn, en Gunnfjón sá yngsti fékk suður þriðjunginn. Seinna, af þessum þremur jókst eftir langan tíma svo fólk í Gotlandi það mikið að landið gat ekki öllum veitt fæði. Þá létu þeir fara burt af landi þriðja hvern þegn, og allt máttu þau eiga og með sér burt hafa sem ofanjarðar áttu.

Translation in English:

This Thielvar had a son called Hafthi. And Hafthi's wife was called Hvitastjarna (“White star”). Those two were the first to settle on Gotland. The first night they slept together she had a dream, and it were as if three snakes were twisted inside her bosom, and it seemed to her as if they were slithering out of her bosom. She retold this dream to Hafthi, her husband. He interpreted this dream thus: "All is bound with arm-rings, this [island] will become inhabited land, and we will get to own three sons." He gave them names, still unborn: "Guti will own Gotland, Graip shall the other one be called, and Gunfjaun the third." The sons then divided the island into three parts, and Graip, the eldest, was allotted the northernmost third, Guti the middle third, and Gunfjaun, the youngest, was allotted the southernmost third. After that the population on Gotland grew from these three so large over a long time, that the land could not feed all of them. Then they drew lots and drove out every third person, so that they were to own and bring away with them all that they owned above ground.

References

  1. ^ Swedish at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)