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Thomas Leigh wrote:

> > What basis is there *really* for supposing the
> > ai i a and au u a distinction apart from
> > etymology?  AFAIK there is no internal evidence
> > for any actually diphthongal i or u in 4th-6th
> > century Gothic, like occasional misspellings
> > with <aj> or <aw>.  As for length it is of course
> > not at all expressed in Gothic orthography, but
> > must be inferred from etymology.
>
> Honestly, I don't know! What I posted is what is presented in
> Wright's grammar. I do remember reading somewhere, though I no
> longer remember where, that at least some (if not most or all)
> scholars today believe that the diphthongs /aj/ and /au/ had
> become monophthongised to [e] and [o] (I don't know whether open
> or closed) by Wulfila's time, whence the spelling of /E/ as
> _ai_, copied from Greek, like _ei_ for /i:/.

As I recall, both etymology and loan words suggest the different
pronunciations of the various (modern) written forms ai, i, a etc. (Of
course that depends on what is known about Greek pronunciation in that era.)
Also, there is some evidence from later developments-- e.g. short vowel + 2
consonants (or closed syllables), long vowel + 1 consonant (open syl.) in
German.  That suggests that Gothic could have had a similar rule.