From Tolkien Gateway

Gothic was the language of the Goths; the oldest known Germanic language, it is now extinct and left no descendants. As a Germanic language, Gothic was related to Old English and Old Norse.

Around 1910 or later, Tolkien had bought his tutor Joseph Wright's Primer of the Gothic Language from a school-friend (who had mistaken it for a Bible Society product). He had been fascinated by Gothic and started "converting" words of other Germanic languages into Gothic script, which he wrote in his book, and signed as Ruginwaldus Dwalakōneis[1] (gothicized "Ronald Tolkien").

Gothic was the first language that J.R.R. Tolkien studied for his own pleasure, and it may have given an impulsion in the first development of Qenya. Tolkien even attempted to reconstruct some parts of the language and such elements survived in Taliska, the language he created for the Edain of the First Age. He also composed a full poem, Bagmē Blōma "The Flower of the Trees" in Gothic.

According to Lisa Star, Tolkien also devised a tengwar mode for Gothic which is known to exist, but remain unpublished to date.[2]

Gothic names in Tolkien's legendarium[edit]

Since in The Lord of the Rings Old English represents Rohanese, Tolkien used Gothic to represent the earlier language of the Northmen of Rhovanion in accordance to the similarity between these languages. As a consequence, the names of the early kings and princes of the Northmen are of Gothic origin.[3]

However, in reality Old English was not directly related to Gothic as the way Rohirric was to Northern; therefore Tolkien's simulation does not reflect exactly the relationship between these languages but rather their similarity.

Tolkien also used names of Gothic and Frankish origin for first-names of old Hobbit families, especially those of Fallowhide origin, such as the Tooks and the Bolgers.[4] In addition, Tolkien also used the names Roderic, Alaric, Theodoric and Athanaric in the earliest version of the Brandybuck family tree[5], which are of Gothic origin.[6]

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  1. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 272, (dated 20 July 1965)
  2. Lisa Star, "A List of Tolkien's Unpublished and Slightly Published Manuscripts" dated 1 August 2002, Tyalie Tyelellieva website (archived) (accessed 2 January 2012)
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "Notes", note 6
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation", eleventh paragraph
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "III. The Family Trees", Brandybuck of Buckland, p. 99
  6. Miryam Librán Moreno: J.R.R. Tolkien and Jordanes, Littera Aperta 1 (2013), p. 65