Pronunciation

Totally forgot to post on the blog thing here that I added a page on Old Norse Pronunciation, covering several different points in the development from Common West Norse to Modern Icelandic.

I said it on the page and I’ll say it again here: 100% technical accuracy is highly unlikely. But it’s also not a shot in the dark. Using historical linguistics we can, to a large extent (with a lot of help from a 12th-century Icelander’s description of his own language) recreate the phonemic structure of the language (that is, not the actual sounds, or phones). Within that structure there is plenty of room for both temporal and regional variation. However, the changes that are noted are likely the ones that, once they happened, stuck and spread, making way for future developments in the language leading to the Icelandic that is spoken today.

So no, this is not perfect, and even if it were, I would have no way of knowing, but I feel relatively confident that it’s at least an improvement over most of what can be found on the internet and definitely helpful for a student trying to understand the relationships between sounds.

If anyone has any questions or suggestions, feel free to let me know.

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New page on late innovations to the runes

One of my interests is how late medieval and early modern poets and scribes continued to propagate information about runes, and occasionally tweak things here and there, like by adding new names and kennings to runes that previously were merely variants of others.

The earliest ones mentioned here picked up and are copied with somewhat high frequency (though are not universal). Others look like they are late innovations that couldn’t carve out a permanent place for themselves, but are interesting inventions anyway.

Read the page here.

Hiding runes in poetry

Sorry for the lack of activity, I’ve been very busy with school lately.

I just posted a short description of a practice described better in an Icelandic article from the journal Skírnir regarding hidden messages in rímur using rune names. I’ve noticed that the heathen community seems to have “discovered” the late medieval/early modern Icelandic runic tradition but there is not much written about it, and especially not in English. I thought this might help put in context the massive lists of rune kennings found in the manuscripts.

Read the post here: https://ordstirr.wordpress.com/runes/spelling-with-rune-kennings/

Skálmöld

My #1 language learning tool — the Icelandic viking metal band Skálmöld — is releasing a live CD/DVD of their concert with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra (Sinfóníuhlómsveit Íslands) on December 17th.

If you don’t know them, they have two albums, both of which are concept albums telling heavily Norse myth-inspired stories. The first, Baldur, is about a farmer named Baldur taking up sword and shield to avenge the death of his family (with the help of the gods). The second, Börn Loka, follows Hilmar Baldursson as he encounters each of Loki’s (genitive: Loka) children (nominative: barn ‘child’, plural: börn… you do not get a free pass on grammar for this post).

The lyrics are very cool and actually make great motivation for listening closely and trying to understand (though be aware that it’s usually not exactly beginner-level), but my primary reason for mentioning them (other than that everyone likes the music… even my mom kind of likes them) is that it’s a good idea to listen to the sounds of a language you’re learning spoken by natives.

Both albums have lyrics strictly following ríma-style metres. I’ve found that the alliteration and rhyme makes it much easier to pick up on things your untrained ears might otherwise miss. The vocals are primarily death-metal style. I find them fairly understandable but I’ve been listening to death metal for 10+ years so maybe I’m not the best judge there… but there is also plenty of clean singing and some old-style chanting and lots of choir vocals.

Here is a video they just posted from the upcoming live album of the song Hel from Börn Loka, featuring Edda Tegeder Óskarsdóttir from the awesome death metal band Angist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-n_BxhvkVg

I recommend following along with the lyrics, which can be found here: http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Sk%C3%A1lm%C3%B6ld/B%C3%B6rn_Loka/350048

Gjöriðið svo vel og góða skemmtun :þ

Page on genitives

Sorry for the long time with no updates – I actually picked kind of a bad time to start this website and I’ve been busy with things so I forced myself to make an update this morning.

I posted a page describing Icelandic genitives, along with instructions for the two most commonly encountered problems for English-speakers: using the word ásatrúar, and making a Norse-y patronymic/matronymic-style name. I include instructions on using Beygingarlýsing íslensks nútímamáls to look up different forms of words including genitives, with lots of pictures and a few tricks for when you don’t quite know what to search for.

The post can be found here: https://ordstirr.wordpress.com/language/the-genitive-case/

I also rearranged the links at the top of the page so that they make some kind of sense, now that there’s a little bit of actual content on the site.