Icelandic - Runes

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English

    I was just wondering as I believe that Icelandic once used Runes, if you were to learn the Runic alphabet would it be as simple as transliterating an icelandic word to the runic alphabet in order to write the said word correctly.

    I know that the language has probably changed since the use of Runes however icelandic is known for not changing much since its origins.

    What I am asking is it a one to one conversion like if I was to write car in Cyrllic (Кар = Car even though it is obviously not car in Russian)
  2. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    I don't think runes were ever used to write anything more than short messages or spells - once Icelanders started writing "properly" they were using the Latin alphabet. According to this ( there were 24 runes in an older runic alphabet and only 16 in the newer version in use during the Viking age, when Iceland was settled. So a lot of Latin letters used in Icelandic would not have a corresponding rune.
    Basically the answer is no.
  3. Merkurius Senior Member

    Hi ShakeyX!

    You are correct the language has changed since we Icelanders used the Runes, in fact the language was called Frumnorræna. I would recommend you to read this site here where there is a discussion about Frumnorræna and Fornnorræna etc.
    However, you can write almost anything (French, English, Icelandic..) in Runes as long as you have this table for example Book -> Bok and then you can put it into runes. I also recommend this site here about the Runes. But if you want to write in Fornnorræna than you have much work to do!!
    However it is much easier to write the runes in Icelandic because Icelandic is pretty much written as it sounds, while English has for example th (þ) etc..
    Hope this helps :)
  4. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    In Denmark and Norway, two merchant nations with stronger continental ties, runes had been replaced by the Latin alphabet by 1400, but the practice lingered in Sweden, Iceland and the islands. One of the most important runic findings is the Bryggen inscriptions from Bergen, Norway, and they go a long way to show WHY runes were still used 3-400 after the introduction of Latin script. As Silver Biscuit points out, the Norsemen preferred Latin script for "proper" writing, but since it involved expensive items such as quill, ink and parchment, mundane and everyday notes, jokes and comments were made on easily available bone/wood/rock/metal, only with the use of a sharp object (interestingly English "write" actually means "to scratch").

    Runes were used in Iceland until at least 1600, and among the Sami people until after 1700, but in the final years, it was increasingly mixed with Latin script. In rural Sweden - traditionally the more conservative area of Scandinavia - there was a strong distrust towards the "modern" writing, and in some places (such as in the landscape of Dalarna), runes were used for both everyday and magical purposes until long after 1800.

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