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|Native to||Spain, North Africa|
|Extinct||6th century AD|
Vandalic was the Germanic language spoken by the Vandals during roughly the 3rd to 6th centuries. It was probably closely related to Gothic, and as such is traditionally classified as an East Germanic language. Its attestation is very fragmentary, mainly due to Vandals' constant migrations and late adoption of writing. All modern sources from the time when Vandalic was spoken are protohistoric.
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) in c. 410 before they moved to North Africa in the 430s. Their kingdom flourished in the early 6th century, but after their defeat in 536 they were placed under Byzantine administration and their language likely disappeared before the end of the century.
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 traditionally believed to have derived from Vandalic, although this claim is contested. When the Moors invaded and settled on the Iberian Peninsula 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" ("Lord, have mercy!"). The same phrase appears in Collatio Beati Augustini cum Pascentio ariano 15 by Pseudo-Augustine: "Froja armes".
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, 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 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". The fragment reads:
Inter "eils" Goticum "scapia matzia ia drincan!"
A table with Vandalic words that have survived in Vandalic names and texts can give us some clues of the Vandalic language by comparing them with Proto-Germanic. Words of the second part of names were used in this list because words of the first part might have been influenced by a connecting vowel and therefore would be unreliable.
|Vandalic||Proto-Germanic||Gothic||Modern German||English||first part of name||word attested in Vandalic text||total|
|*ari||*harjaz||harjis||Heer||army, cf. arch. here|
|drincan||*drinkan?||drigkan (nk is written gk)||trinken||drink||yes|
|froia||*frawjô||frauja||Freiherr, cf. Frau||(lord), cf. free||yes|
|*geis||*gaiza-||gais||Speer, arch. Ger||(spear), cf. garlic|
|*gunda / guntha||*gunþjo||Kampf, Gund- (in names)||(battle)|
|*guiti||wîti-||Weite||combat [the Germanic word means width, not combat]|
|*hildi, ild||*hildjô||Kampf, Hild- (in names)||(battle)||yes|
|matzia||*matiz (= food)||mats||Essen, cf. Messer||(food, eating, cf. meat)||yes|
|*mir/mer||*m?rijaz||mers||cf. Mär(chen), Mer- (in names)||mere (famous)|
|*munds||*mund? (f.)||Beschützer, cf. Mündel, -mund (in names)||(defender)|
|*mut||*moðaz||moþs (anger, wrath)||Mut||courage, cf. mood|
|*ricus||*rîkaz||-reiks (in names)||König, cf. -rich (in names) and Reich||king, c.f. -ric (in compounds)|
|*rit||*rêðaz||redan (to counsel)||Rat||counsellor, cf. rede|
|*rith||*rêðaz||redan (to counsel)||Rat||advice, counsel, rede|
|*rix||*rîkaz||-reiks (in names)||-rich (in names), cf. Reich||king|
|*runa||*runo||runa||Geheimnis, cf. Rune||(secret)|
|scapia||*skapjan?||skapjan||schaffen||to create, to do, cf. to shape||yes|
|*sifila||*sibjo||sibja (relationship)||Sippe||kindred, diminutive; cf. sibling|
|*sind(i)||*sinþa-||sinþan (to go, wander)||reisen, cf. senden||travel, cf. to send make travel||yes|
|*trioua||*triwwa||triggws||Treue, treu||loyal, cf. true|
|*teus||*þewaz||þius||Sklave, Diener, cf. De-mut||(slave, servant)|
|*theudo||*þeud?||þiuda||Diet- (in names), cf. deutsch||folk, cf. Scottish thede|
|*uit||*wîti-||Weite||combat [the Germanic word means width, not combat]|
|vandalirice||-||king of the Vandals||yes|
Very little is known about Vandalic grammar, but some things can be extracted from Vandalic names.
The phonological features of Vandalic are similar to the ones of Gothic.
The Proto-Germanic long vowel *? 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 *? turns into /u/ in Vandalic: Blumarit (Proto-Germanic: *bl?mô), Vilimut, while it is retained as ? in Gothic (bl?ma).
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).
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 -?). 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.