From Proto-Germanic *jiulijaz (“Yulemonth”), a suffix-stressed -ja-extension of Proto-Germanic *jehwlą (“Yule”) (by way of Verner's Law) and cognate to Old Norse ýlir (“month lasting from late November to late December”) and possibly Old English giuli (“December and January”) (Schaffner 2001, Lehmann 1986).
David Landau argues, however, that the word is an abbreviated nomen sacrum and that an original pagan meaning would be very improbable, denying a Proto-Germanic origin. The word is, in his view, a loan from Ancient Greek ἰωβηλαῖος (iōbēlaîos), in the Biblical sense of Jubilee, ultimately from Hebrew יוֹבֵל (which may in turn derive from an Indo-European language; see the discussion at jubilee). Regarding the apparent Germanic cognates of the Gothic term (including forms of and cognates to Old English geol (“Yule”) and Finnish juhla (“celebration”)), he argues that the whole family of words derive similarly, and that the -h- that is found in certain forms is not etymological. (This, it should be stressed, is not a majority view.)
Only attested in the phrase 𐍆𐍂𐌿𐌼𐌰 𐌾𐌹𐌿𐌻𐌴𐌹𐍃 (fruma jiuleis, “first/before 'jiuleis'”), which has also been read as a compound 𐍆𐍂𐌿𐌼𐌰𐌾𐌹𐌿𐌻𐌴𐌹𐍃 (frumajiuleis); the two-word compound or phrase may mean "November" as it occurs after a word that has traditionally been read as 𐌽𐌰𐌿𐌱𐌰𐌹𐌼𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂 (naubaimbair, “November”); as 𐍆𐍂𐌿𐌼𐌰 𐍃𐌰𐌱𐌱𐌰𐍄𐍉 (fruma sabbatō) elsewhere means "Friday", Streitberg and Lehmann interpreted 𐌾𐌹𐌿𐌻𐌴𐌹𐍃 as the month following November.
Due to the text being a poorly-conserved palimpsest and there being no other similar texts with which to compare, the interpretation of the month-line in this manuscript is very unclear. Landau disputes the interpretation of the first word as naubaimbair (see 𐌽𐌰𐌿𐌱𐌰𐌹𐌼𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂 (naubaimbair)), claiming it is too illegible to definitively establish that reading (versus the relatively clearly visible fruma jiuleis at the end). For a clearer view of the difficulties surrounding this line, refer to the articles below. Falluomini (apud Miller 2017) also considers the word to be nearly illegible: The only certain letters are . . . bainb . . . (n is more likely than m); Snædal on the other hand believed that 𐌽𐌰𐌿𐌱𐌰𐌹𐌼𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂 (naubaimbair) was at least once sufficiently legible to allow earlier philologists (such as Uppström and Ebbinghaus) to read it correctly.
- ^ Anhang II. Der gotische Kalender Excerpt from: Die gotische Bibel: Herausgegeben von Wilhelm Streitberg. (Germanische Bibliothek, 2. Abteilung, 3. Band) 1. Teil: Der gotische Text und seine griechische Vorlage. Mit Einleitung, Lesarten und Quellennachweisen sowie den kleineren Denkmälern als Anhang. Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1919. (S. 472 - 474). Project Wulfila (http://www.wulfila.be) - University of Antwerp (Belgium), 2001.
- Miller, Gary, The Oxford Gothic Grammar (Oxford University Press 2017) p. xxv
- Landau, D., 'On the reading and interpretation of the month-line in the Gothic calendar ', Transactions of the Philological Society 104.1 (2006) 3-12.
- Landau, D., 'The source of the Gothic month name jiuleis and its cognates', Namenkundliche Informationen Vol. 95/96 (2009) 239-248. (Universität Leipzig)
- Landau, D., 'The Jubilees Calendar in Practice', Namenkundliche Informationen Vol. 98 (2010) 157-167. (Universität Leipzig)
- Lehmann, Winfred P. (1986), “J8. jiuleis”, in A Gothic Etymological Dictionary, based on the 3rd ed. of Feist’s dictionary, Leiden: E. J. Brill, page 211
- Schaffner, Stefan. Der Venersche Gesetz und der innerparadigmatische grammatische Wechsel des urgermanischen im Nominalbereich (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 103). (W. Meid ed. Innsbruck 2001), pp. 228-230