Vandalic language

Native to Spain, North Africa
Extinct 6th century AD
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xvn
Linguist list
Glottolog None

Vandalic was a Germanic language probably closely related to Gothic. The Vandals, Hasdingi and Silingi established themselves in Gallaecia (northern Portugal and Galicia) and in southern Spain, following other Germanic and non-Germanic peoples (Visigoths, Alans and Suebi) before moving to North Africa in 429.


By the first century AD, the writings of Pomponius Mela, Pliny the Elder, and Tacitus indicate a division of Germanic-speaking peoples into large groupings who shared ancestry and culture. (This division has been appropriated in modern terminology about the divisions of Germanic languages.)

The expansion of the Germanic tribes 750 BC – AD 1 (after the Penguin Atlas of World History 1988):
   Settlements before 750 BC
   New settlements by 500 BC
   New settlements by 250 BC
   New settlements by AD 1

Surviving Vandalic

Very little is known about the Vandalic language other than various phrases and a small number of personal names of Vandalic origin, mainly known from documents and personal names in Spanish. The regional name Andalusia is believed to be derived from the Vandals , according to the traditional view. When the Moors invaded and occupied Spain from the 8th century to the end of the 15th, the region was called "Al-Andalus".

In one inscription from the Vandal Kingdom, the Christian incantation of Kyrie eleison is given in Vandalic as "Froia arme".[1]

The epigram De Conviviis Barbaris in the Latin Anthology, of North African origin and disputed date, contains a fragment in a Germanic language that some authors believe to be Vandalic,[2][3] although the fragment itself refers to the language as "Gothic". This may be because both languages were East Germanic and closely related; scholars have pointed out in this context[4] that Procopius refers to the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, and Gepids as "Gothic nations" and opines that they "are all of the Arian faith, and have one language called Gothic".[5] The fragment reads:

Inter "eils" Goticum "scapia matzia ia drincan!"
non audet quisquam dignos educere versus.


Amid the Gothic "Hail! Let's get [something to] eat and drink"
nobody dares to put forth decent verses.

Another Vandalic phrase is found in Collatio Beati Augustini cum Pascentio ariano 15 by Pseudo-Augustine: Froja armes, "Lord, have mercy!"[6]

Other surviving Vandalic words are Baudus, "master" [7] and Vandalirice, "King of the Vandals".[8]

A table with Vandalic words which survived in Vandalic names and texts can give us some clues of the Vandalic language by comparing them with Proto-Germanic, in this list words of the second part of names were used because the first part might have been under influence of a connecting vowel, therefore those are unreliable:

Vandalic Proto-Germanic Modern German English first part of name word attested in Vandalic text total
*ari *harjaz Heer or Armee army
arme (have mercy) yes
*baudes *bauðiz master
*bere *bera- Bier beer yes
*bluma *blomo Blume flower yes
*dagila *dagaz Tag day (diminutive)
drincan Trinken drink yes
eils *hailaz heil hale, whole yes
*frida *friþu- Friedensstifer pacifier
*feua *friþu- Friedensstifterchen pacifier (diminutive)
froia *frawjô Freiherr lord yes
*frede *friþuz pacifier
*geis *gaiza- Speer speer
*gunda / guntha *gunþjo battle
*guilia *wilja- Wille will yes
*guiti wîti- combat
*hildi *hildjô battle yes
*hostra *austra Osten east
ia *jahw und and yes
*ild *hildjô battle
matzia eat yes
*mir/mer *mêrijaz famous
*munds *munduz defender
*mut *moða mut courage
*oa *hauha- high
*osta *austra- Ost east
*ricus *rîkaz king
*rit *rêðaz Rat counsellor
*rith *rêðaz Rat advice, councel
*rix *rîkaz König king
*runa *runo secret
scapia *skapjaną schaffen to create, to do yes
*scarila *skara- band (diminutive)
*sifila *sibjo kindred (diminutive)
*sind(i) *sinþa- travel yes
*trioua *triwwa treue loyal, true
*teus *þewaz slave, servant
*theudo folk
*uit *wîti- combat
vandalirice - king of the Vandals yes
*vili *wilja wille will yes
*vult *wulþu- glory



Very little is known about Vandalic grammar, but some things can be extracted from Vandalic names.

Phonology and sound-change

The phonological features of Vandalic are similar to the ones of Gothic.

The Proto-Germanic long vowel *ē is often preserved in Vandalic names (Gunthimer, Geilimer), but it could become i when it was unstressed: Geilamir, Vitarit. The Proto-Germanic short vowel *e turned into i in Vandalic when it was not preceded by */r, h or w/, Sigisteun contains -i because g precedes the vowel, but Beremut retains the *e because r precedes the vowel. The Proto-Germanic *z is also preserved in the language but is written as s in the Latin names (Gaisericus).

Proto-Germanic *ō turns into /u/ in Vandalic: Blumarit (Proto-Germanic: *blōmô), Vilimut, while it is retained as ō in Gothic (blōma).

The Proto-Germanic diphthong *eu tends to remain the same in Vandalic: Theudo- (people), while it changes to /iu/ in Gothic (þiuda).

The original diphthong *ai is preserved as /ai/, but tends to become /ei/ later (Gaisericus changes to Geiseric in later documents).

The original h- was also lost early in Vandalic when compared to Proto-Germanic (Arifridos, Guntari, Proto-Germanic: *harja- 'army'). When royal names are spelled on Vandal coins, a conservative and official spelling is used and the h- is never omitted.

The Proto-Germanic cluster *-ww- can be strengthened as -g-.

The Proto-Germanic *-tj- can become [tsj] (matzia < *matjana).

Declension and word-formation

The original Proto-Germanic *-z endings of the nominative masculine singular which was lost in West-Germanic languages early is preserved in the Vandalic language, but it is an archaic feature because the *-z is lost in most words and in 6th-century Ostrogothic names it was lost completely. The *-z is rendered both as -s and -x in Vandalic. Some of the Vandalic names have a Romanized ending with -us. Vandalic also didn't have an Umlaut, which can be observed in names which contain the word *ari (Ariarith, Arifridos, Guntari, Raginari, Proto-Germanic: *harjaz 'army'), in comparison to the Old English form here, which does show umlaut.

The epithet Vandalirice could possibly mean that there existed a genitive plural ending -e (Gothic -ē), if this is correct the -e is written as i here. Non-East Germanic languages like Old English and Old Norse had the genitive plural ending -a.

Some of the names also occur in other declinations. The genitive of *rith is ridos.

Latin influence


Although the Vandals did not survive as an ethnic group, in the 16th, 18th, and 19th centuries the Prekmurje Slovenes of Prekmurje, Somogy, and Vas were believed to be the descendants of the Vandals, and their language the Vandalic language. This caused Hungarian, Latin, and other documents to call the Prekmurje Slovene (a dialect of the Prekmurje and Hungarian Slovenes) "the Vandalic language".[11] However, the Prekmurje dislect is a Slavic language and is a variety of Slovene.

See also


  1. Berndt, Guido M. (2016-04-15). Arianism: Roman Heresy and Barbarian Creed. Routledge. ISBN 9781317178651.
  2. Indogermanistik Wien: Quellentexte at the Wayback Machine (archived October 17, 2010)
  3. Greule, Albrecht and Matthias Springer. Namen des Frühmittelalters als sprachliche Zeugnisse und als Geschichtsquellen. P. 49-50.
  4. Greule, Albrecht and Matthias Springer. Namen des Frühmittelalters als sprachliche Zeugnisse und als Geschichtsquellen. P. 48
  5. Procopius of Caesarea, THE VANDALIC WAR I,2-8
  6. Steinacher, Roland (2008). "Gruppen und Identitäten. Gedanken zur Beichnung „vandalisch"" (PDF). In Berndt, Guido M.; Steinacher, Roland. Das Reich der Vandalen und seine (Vor-)Geschichten. 2005. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. p. 254. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 March 2012.
  7. Anthologia Latina No. 307, I. 5
  8. Anthologia Latina No. 215, 523-543
  9., Nicoletta Onesti, "Tracing the Language of the Vandals",, 16 pages, 22 february 2015
  10., Nicoletta Onesti, "THE LANGUAGE AND NAMES OF THE VANDALS",, 2009, 3, 22 february 2015
  11. Francek Mukič - Marija Kozar: Slovensko Porabje, Mohorjeva družba, Celje 1982.
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