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Old Norse Online

Lesson 10

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

Runes and Mystic Origins

It is commonplace nowadays to associate runes with things mystical and occult. There is a general sense that runes are imbued with a magical aura, that they are the conveyance of supernatural power and come from a divine or semi-divine origin. The question arises: how do we know this? what evidence is there for mystical runic associations? Even the most cursory investigation of runes and runic lore must endeavor to answer these questions.

The span of time during which runes were employed is actually quite large, beginning within a century or two of the Christian era, and continuing in one form or another for roughly the next thousand years. In search of an answer to the question of mystical origins, we must surely look at the earliest inscriptions. We must investigate the cryptic messages encoded in early uses and tease out the supernatural setting of their use.

A funny thing happens as we pursue this line of investigation. As we will see in the inscriptions at the end of this lesson, the earliest runic inscriptions are generally devoid of divine or mystical content. That is to say, the subject matter of the earliest inscriptions is mostly utilitarian. Statements like that on a wooden box from Garbølle are the norm: 'Hagirādaz made it'. Or even more simply on a clasp from Skane, Sweden: 'I, Unwōdz'. These are not the cosmic pronouncements one would have hoped for, not the harbingers of hidden wisdom.

Where then did this mystical association arise? Much resides in various descriptions found in Old Norse literature. To take such data as truly representative of the origin and import of the runes, however, is folly. The Old Norse literature which comes down to us was written some 600-1000 years after the earliest runic inscriptions. The authors of these texts were as temporally remote from the earliest runic inscriptions as we are from the Old Norse descriptions themselves. Thus any depictions of the origin and nature of the runes taken from Old Norse literature must be regarded with some degree of suspicion.

Some scholars take this to mean that the use of runes is solely pragmatic, that is, strictly utilitarian. This is a rather extreme position, and misses the fact that there must be some motivation for writing on an object, even if the message itself is mundane. Consider one of the earliest inscriptions, the Øvre Stabu spearhead (c. 150-200 AD): raunijaz 'Prober'. Certainly both the person using the spear, as well as the person on the receiving end, were quite clear as to the nature of the instrument in question. Thus any sort of inscribed description could be nothing but superfluous. The writing itself must have contained some import in the mind of the inscriber. Whether this import was divine or not is difficult to say. Certainly not overly so. But it may have served to highlight the intended efficacy, perhaps in the way that one writes 'California or Bust' on a car with the tacit hope that the act of writing will somehow fix the intended outcome. In this sense the runes have a mystic power, but this is likely a culturally perceived power of writing itself, and not of the runes in particular.

Runes and Religion

It is also commonplace to hear that runes are a heathen, or non-Christian, writing system. As it turns out, none of the earliest inscriptions (from the 1st to 5th centuries AD) makes any mention of heathen gods. What is more, in later inscriptions, Christian content is quite common. In Uppland several stones are decorated with the cross and contain Christian prayers. On a stone from Risbye, one finds 'may God and God's mother help his spirit and soul, and grant him light and paradise'. One even finds runic inscriptions on churches themselves, on the doorways or bells or baptismal fonts. It seems clear then that the runes were in large part simply a useful and pragmatically employed writing system in the Germanic speaking areas.

The Runic Language

There are between 120 and 150 runic inscriptions dating from the earliest period (150-500 AD). The language of these texts is in many ways even more conservative than Gothic, in particular showing the retention of unaccented short vowels: -gastiz, cf. Goth. gasts, ON gestr. The early inscriptions are generally found in southern Scandinavia, particularly Denmark and Sweden. Though geographically in the heart of the Nordic speaking area, the antiquity of many of the linguistic features allows the language of the early inscriptions to be thought of as a parent to both the North and the West Germanic dialects. Important factors in this supposition are that Scandinavians did not dominate the Danish area until sometime in the 6th century, and that many natives of the Danish areas settled in the British Isles during the 5th and 6th centuries.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The verses below come from the Hávamál 'Sayings of the High One', second poem of the Poetic Edda as found in the Codex Regius. In modern culture this text might be labeled a 'book of proverbs', though it has a narrative thread binding it together, unlike a collection of proverbs. The poem is dictated in the first person, and the poet recalls lessons learned through the hardships of life. A constant theme is proper conduct, especially when one becomes a guest in another's home. Silence is tantamount to wisdom, and caution and common sense are touted as virtues. Countermanding the picture of drunken Vikings found in much of the sagas, here the poet continually rails againt overt drunkenness. Though admitting to his own over-drinking, he warns against it and emphasizes that the wise man always has his wits about him. Deep friendship earned through mutual giving and assistance is highly valued, and those who would deceive should be repaid in kind.

Noteworthy in verse 80 below is the mention of runes. Their origin is described as divine: the word used, reginkunnr 'of divine origin', is certainly old. We find it applied to runes in the inscription of the Noleby stone, discussed in Section 50 below.

1 - Gáttir allar,
        áðr gangi fram,
        um scoðaz scyli,
        um scygnaz scyli;
        þvíat óvíst er at vita,
        hvar óvinir
        sitia á fleti fyrir.

  • gáttir -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <gátt> door-opening -- the gates
  • allar -- adjective; accusative plural feminine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • áðr -- adverb; <áðr> before, first; until -- before
  • gangi -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- goes
  • fram -- adverb; <fram> forward, on; away; out -- forth
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- about
  • scoðaz -- verb; infinitive middle of <skoða (að)> look, spy -- spy
  • scyli -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- he should
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- round
  • scygnaz -- verb; infinitive middle of <skyggna (d)> peer, spy -- peer
  • scyli -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should
  • þvíat -- conjunction; <þvíat> since, because, for -- since
  • óvíst -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <óvíss> uncertain -- difficult
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it is
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • vita -- verb; 3rd infinitive of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- understood
  • hvar -- adverb; <hvar> where; everywhere -- where
  • óvinir -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <óvinr> enemy -- enemies
  • sitia -- verb; 3rd plural present of <sitja> sit; stay, remain; reside -- sit
  • á -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- on
  • fleti -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <flet> boards of a hall used for seating -- the bench
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- forth

2 - Gefendr heilir!
        gestr er inn kominn,
        hvar scal sitia siá?
        miǫc er bráðr,
        sá er á brǫndom scal
        síns um freista frama.

  • gefendr -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <gefandi> giver, host -- hosts
  • heilir -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <heill> sound, safe; in health -- sound
  • gestr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <gestr> guest -- a guest
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- has
  • inn -- adverb; <inn> in, within -- inside
  • kominn -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- come
  • hvar -- adverb; <hvar> where; everywhere -- where
  • scal -- verb; 3rd singular present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- shall
  • sitia -- verb; infinitive of <sitja> sit; stay, remain; reside -- sit
  • siá -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sjá> this -- he
  • miǫc -- adverb; <mjǫk> much; very -- quite
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • bráðr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <bráðr> hasty, impatient -- hasty
  • -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <> that -- he
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • á -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- in
  • brǫndom -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <brandr> piece of firewood -- the firewood
  • scal -- verb; 3rd singular present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- shall
  • síns -- possessive adjective; genitive singular masculine of <sínn> own, one's own -- his
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • freista -- verb; infinitive of <freista (st)> try, make trial of; put to the test -- test
  • frama -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <frami> advancement, benefit, profit; luck; courage, ability; growth, success, fame -- luck

3 - Eldz er þǫrf,
        þeims inn er kominn
        oc á kné kalinn;
        matar oc váða
        er manni þǫrf,
        þeim er hefir um fiall farið.

  • eldz -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <eldr> fire -- of fire
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- there is
  • þǫrf -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <þǫrf> need, lack -- need
  • þeims -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <> that + relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- to him who
  • inn -- adverb; <inn> in, within -- inside
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- has
  • kominn -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- come
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • á -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- about
  • kné -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <kné> knee -- the knees
  • kalinn -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <kala> be cold, become cold, freeze -- (is) frozen
  • matar -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <matr> food; meal -- of food
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • váða -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <váð> cloth; (pl.) clothes -- clothes
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- there is
  • manni -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- to man
  • þǫrf -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <þǫrf> need, lack -- need
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <> that -- for the one
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • hefir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- has
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- to
  • fiall -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <fjall> mountain, fell -- the mountain
  • farið -- past participle; accusative singular neuter of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- travelled

4 - Vatz er þǫrf,
        þeim er til verðar kømr,
        þerro oc þióðlaðar,
        góðs um œðis,
        ef sér geta mætti,
        orðz oc endrþǫgo.

  • vatz -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <vatn> water; lake; waterway; river -- of water
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- there is
  • þǫrf -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <þǫrf> need, lack -- need
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <> that -- to him
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- to
  • verðar -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <verðr> meal -- the meal
  • kømr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- comes
  • þerro -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <þerra> towel -- of a towel
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • þióðlaðar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <þióðlǫð> friendly invitation -- of invitation
  • góðs -- adjective; genitive singular neuter of <góðr> good -- of good
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • œðis -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <œði> disposition -- disposition
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • sér -- reflexive pronoun; dative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- for himself
  • geta -- verb; infinitive of <geta> get, obtain; engender; (with ppart.) be able to, get done; (with infin.) happen to (do); be obtainable; guess, suppose; relate, tell of -- get (it)
  • mætti -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <mega> be able to, can; may -- he can
  • orðz -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <orð> word; speech, conversation -- of conversation
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • endrþǫgo -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <endrþaga> silence in return, reciprocated silence -- of silence

5 - Vitz er þǫrf,
        þeim er víða ratar,
        dælt er heima hvat;
        at augabragði verðr,
        sá er ecci kann
        oc með snotrom sitr.

  • vitz -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <vit> intelligence, sense -- of wit
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- there is
  • þǫrf -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <þǫrf> need, lack -- need
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <> that -- to him
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • víða -- adverb; <víða> widely, in many places; extensively -- widely
  • ratar -- verb; 3rd singular present of <rata (að)> travel about, rove -- travels
  • dælt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <dæll> gentle, easy (to manage) -- easy
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • heima -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <heima> home; (as adv.) at home -- at home
  • hvat -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular neuter of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- everything
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- for
  • augabragði -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <augabragð> wink, sidelong glance -- mockery
  • verðr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- is suited
  • -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <> that -- he
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • ecci -- pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <engi> no, none, no one -- nothing
  • kann -- verb; 3rd singular present of <kenna (d)> know; perceive; taste; feel; recognize; name, tell; teach -- knows
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • með -- preposition; <með> with; by means of; among; along -- with
  • snotrom -- adjective used as substantive; dative plural masculine of <snotr> wise, clever -- wise men
  • sitr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <sitja> sit; stay, remain; reside -- sits

6 - At hyggiandi sinni
        scylit maðr hrœsinn vera,
        heldr gætinn at geði;
        þá er horscr oc þǫgull
        kømr heimisgarða til,
        sialdan verðr víti vorom;
        þvíat óbrigðra vin
        fær maðr aldregi
        enn manvit mikit.

  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- in
  • hyggiandi -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <hyggiandi> thought, intellect, mind -- thought
  • sinni -- possessive adjective; dative singular feminine of <sínn> own, one's own -- his
  • scylit -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <skulu> shall, must, ought + enclitic adverb; <at> not -- should not
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- a man
  • hrœsinn -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hrœsinn> boastful -- boastful
  • vera -- verb; infinitive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- be
  • heldr -- adverb; <heldr> rather, any the more -- rather
  • gætinn -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <gætinn> wary, careful -- wary
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- in
  • geði -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <geð> disposition; mind; wits; sense; inclination -- disposition
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • horscr -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular masculine of <horscr> wise, sensible -- someone wise
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • þǫgull -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular masculine of <þǫgull> silent -- silent
  • kømr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- comes
  • heimisgarða -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <heimisgarðar> (pl.) courtyards of a house, homestead(s), premises -- the premises
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- to
  • sialdan -- adverb; <sjaldan> seldom -- seldom
  • verðr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- does... happen
  • víti -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <víti> penalty, punishment, liability to penalty; injury, misfortune -- misfortune
  • vorom -- adjective used as substantive; dative plural masculine of <varr> wary -- to the cautious
  • þvíat -- conjunction; <þvíat> since, because, for -- since
  • óbrigðra -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <óbrigðr> unfailing, reliable -- a better
  • vin -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <vinr> friend; patron, leader -- friend
  • fær -- verb; 3rd singular present of <> get, take; catch; have, make use of; put; give; receive; suffer; (with ppart.) be able to, get accomplished; (mid.) take place; struggle -- obtains
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- a man
  • aldregi -- adverb; <aldgregi, aldri> never -- never
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than
  • manvit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <mannvit> human intelligence, common sense -- common sense
  • mikit -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- a bit of

7 - Inn vari gestr,
        er til verðar kømr,
        þunno hlióði þegir;
        eyrom hlýðir,
        enn augom scoðar;
        svá nýsiz fróðra hverr fyrir.

  • inn -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the
  • vari -- adjective; weak nominative singular masculine of <varr> wary -- wary
  • gestr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <gestr> guest -- guest
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- to
  • verðar -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <verðr> meal -- a meal
  • kømr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- comes
  • þunno -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <þunnr> thin, stretched, strained -- tuned
  • hlióði -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <hljóð> silence, hearing -- with hearing
  • þegir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <þegja (þagða)> be silent -- keeps silent
  • eyrom -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <eyra> ear -- with (his) ears
  • hlýðir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hlýða (dd)> listen to, hear -- he listens
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • augom -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <auga> eye -- with (his) eyes
  • scoðar -- verb; 3rd singular present of <skoða (að)> look, spy -- looks
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- thus
  • nýsiz -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive middle of <nýsa (t)> peer, search, investigate -- informs himself
  • fróðra -- adjective used as substantive; genitive plural masculine of <fróðr> wise, well-informed -- wise man
  • hverr -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- every
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- ...

8 - Hinn er sæll,
        er sér um getr
        lof oc lícnstafi;
        ódælla er við þat,
        er maðr eiga scal
        annars brióstom í.

  • hinn -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hinn> this one; that; the -- this one
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • sæll -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sæll> fortunate, happy -- fortunate
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • sér -- reflexive pronoun; dative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- for himself
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • getr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <geta> get, obtain; engender; (with ppart.) be able to, get done; (with infin.) happen to (do); be obtainable; guess, suppose; relate, tell of -- gets
  • lof -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lof> praise -- praise
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • lícnstafi -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <líknstafr> favorable statement, esteem, warm regard -- regard
  • ódælla -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of comparative of <ódæll> difficult, overbearing -- more difficult
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- with
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <> that -- that
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- a man
  • eiga -- verb; infinitive of <eiga> own, have, possess; have in marriage; have the power to; have claim to; have duty to -- have
  • scal -- verb; 3rd singular present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- would
  • annars -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <annarr> other, another; second, next; one (of two) -- another's
  • brióstom -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <brjóst> breast -- breast
  • í -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in

9 - Sá er sæll,
        er siálfr um á
        lof oc vit, meðan lifr;
        þvíat ill ráð
        hefir maðr opt þegit
        annars brióstom ór.

  • -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <> that -- that one
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • sæll -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sæll> fortunate, happy -- fortunate
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • siálfr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sjálfr> self; him-, her-, it-self; themselves -- himself
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • á -- verb; 3rd singular present of <eiga> own, have, possess; have in marriage; have the power to; have claim to; have duty to -- has
  • lof -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lof> praise -- renown
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • vit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <vit> intelligence, sense -- wit
  • meðan -- conjunction; <meðan> while, as long as, whilst -- while
  • lifr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <lifa (ð)> live -- lives
  • þvíat -- conjunction; <þvíat> since, because, for -- since
  • ill -- adjective; accusative plural neuter of <illr> bad, evil; ugly, unpleasing; difficult -- ill
  • ráð -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <ráð> advice, counsel; expedient, means; plan; agreement -- counsels
  • hefir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- has
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- a man
  • opt -- adverb; <opt> often, frequently; as often as possible, always -- oft
  • þegit -- past participle; accusative singular neuter of <þiggja> accept, receive -- received
  • annars -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <annarr> other, another; second, next; one (of two) -- another's
  • brióstom -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <brjóst> breast -- breast
  • ór -- preposition; <ór> out of, from; of; with the material of -- from

10 - Byrði betri
        berrat maðr brauto at,
        enn sé manvit mikit;
        auði betra
        þiccr þat í ókunnom stað,
        slíct er válaðs vera.

  • byrði -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <byrðr> burden, load -- burden
  • betri -- comparative adjective; accusative singular feminine of <betri> better -- a better
  • berrat -- verb; 3rd singular present of <bera> bear, bring, carry; wear; give birth to; overcome; endure; bear (witness) + enclitic adverb; <at> not -- carries no
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • brauto -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <braut> road -- (his) journey
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- on
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than that
  • -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it be
  • manvit -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <mannvit> human intelligence, common sense -- common sense
  • mikit -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- a bit of
  • auði -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <auðr> wealth, riches, treasure; precious objects -- than riches
  • betra -- comparative adjective; nominative singular neuter of <betri> better -- better
  • þiccr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <þykkja (þótti)> seem, be thought -- (i)s found to be
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <> that -- that
  • í -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • ókunnom -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <ókunnr> unknown, strange -- an unknown
  • stað -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <staðr> place, spot, dwelling; part; way, respect -- land
  • slíct -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <slíkr> such -- such
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • válaðs -- adjective used as substantive; genitive singular masculine of <válaðr> wretched, needy -- a poor man's
  • vera -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <vera> resort, refuge; means of existence, way (of going on) -- means

11 - Byrði betri
        berrat maðr brauto at,
        enn sé manvit mikit;
        vegnest verra
        vegra hann velli at,
        enn sé ofdryccia ǫls.

  • byrði -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <byrðr> burden, load -- burden
  • betri -- comparative adjective; weak accusative singular feminine of <betri> better -- a better
  • berrat -- verb; 3rd singular present of <bera> bear, bring, carry; wear; give birth to; overcome; endure; bear (witness) + enclitic adverb; <at> not -- carries no
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • brauto -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <braut> road -- (his) journey
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- on
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than that
  • -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it be
  • manvit -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <mannvit> human intelligence, common sense -- common sense
  • mikit -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- a bit of
  • vegnest -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <vegnest> provisions for a journey -- provisions
  • verra -- comparative adjective; accusative singular neuter of <verri> worse -- worse
  • vegra -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vega> lift; smite, fight; kill, slay + enclitic adverb; <a> not -- does not carry
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • velli -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <vǫllr> level ground, ground; plain; field -- the plain
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- on
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than that
  • -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it be
  • ofdryccia -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <ofdrykkja> excessive drinking, over-drinking -- over-drinking
  • ǫls -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <ǫl> ale -- ale's

12 - Era svá gott,
        sem gott qveða,
        ǫl alda sona;
        þvíat færa veit,
        er fleira dreccr,
        síns til geðs gumi.

  • era -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen + enclitic adverb; <a> not -- is not
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- as
  • gott -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <góðr> good -- good
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- as
  • gott -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <góðr> good -- ...
  • qveða -- verb; 3rd plural present of <kveða> say, declare; utter, say in verse; recite; utter a cry -- spoke
  • ǫl -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <ǫl> ale -- the ale
  • alda -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <ǫld> age; mankind, humanity, world; (pl.) men, human beings -- of men
  • sona -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <sonr> son -- of the sons
  • þvíat -- conjunction; <þvíat> since, because, for -- since
  • færa -- comparative adjective used as substantive; accusative singular neuter of <færa> less -- less
  • veit -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- knows
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- ...
  • fleira -- comparative adjective used as substantive; accusative singular neuter of <fleiri> more; further, other -- the more
  • dreccr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <drekka> drink -- he drinks
  • síns -- possessive adjective; genitive singular neuter of <sínn> own, one's own -- his own
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- about
  • geðs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <geð> disposition; mind; wits; sense; inclination -- mind
  • gumi -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <gumi> man, human -- a man

13 - Óminnis hegri heitir,
        sá er yfir ǫlðrom þrumir,
        hann stelr geði guma;
        þess fugls fiǫðrom
        ec fiǫtraðr varc
        í garði Gunnlaðar.

  • óminnis -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <óminni> non-memory, oblivion, forgetfulness -- of forgetfulness
  • hegri -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <hegri> heron -- the heron
  • heitir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <heita> to call, name; promise; be called, be named -- is called
  • -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <> that -- that
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • yfir -- preposition; <yfir> above, over, at; across, upon -- over
  • ǫlðrom -- noun, neuter; dative singular <ǫlðr> ale; ale-party -- ale-parties
  • þrumir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <þruma (ð)> stand motionless, hover; remain silent -- hovers
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- it
  • stelr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <stela> steal, rob -- robs
  • geði -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <geð> disposition; mind; wits; sense; inclination -- of (his) mind
  • guma -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <gumi> man, human -- a man
  • þess -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <> that -- this
  • fugls -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <fugl> bird -- bird's
  • fiǫðrom -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <fjǫðr> feather -- with... feathers
  • ec -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • fiǫtraðr -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <fjǫtra (að)> fetter, bind -- fettered
  • varc -- verb; 1st singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen + pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- was
  • í -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • garði -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <garðr> fence; enclosure, court, farmyard; dwelling-place -- garden
  • Gunnlaðar -- proper noun, feminine; genitive singular of <Gunnlǫð> Gunnlath -- Gunnlath's

14 - Ǫlr ec varð,
        varð ofrǫlvi
        at ins fróða Fialars;
        því er ǫlðr bazt,
        at aptr uf heimtir
        hverr sitt geð gumi.

  • ǫlr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ǫlr> drunk (on ale) -- drunk
  • ec -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • varð -- verb; 1st singular past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- became
  • varð -- verb; 1st singular past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- became
  • ofrǫlvi -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ofrǫlvi> excessively drunk -- overly drunk
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- at
  • ins -- definite article; genitive singular masculine of <inn> the -- ...
  • fróða -- adjective; weak genitive singular masculine of <fróðr> wise, well-informed -- wise
  • Fialars -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Fjalarr> Fjalar -- Fjalar's
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <> that -- for this
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • ǫlðr -- noun, neuter; nominative singular <ǫlðr> ale; ale-party -- ale
  • bazt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <beztr> best -- best
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • aptr -- adverb; <aptr> back; aft -- back
  • uf -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ...
  • heimtir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <heimta (mt)> claim -- gets
  • hverr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- each
  • sitt -- possessive adjective; accusative singular neuter of <sínn> own, one's own -- his
  • geð -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <geð> disposition; mind; wits; sense; inclination -- mind
  • gumi -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <gumi> man, human -- man

21 - Hiarðir þat vito,
        nær þær heim scolo,
        oc ganga þá af grasi;
        enn ósviðr maðr
        kann ævagi
        síns um mál maga.

  • hiarðir -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <hjǫrð> herd, flock -- the herds
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <> that -- ...
  • vito -- verb; 3rd plural present of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- know
  • nær -- conjunction; <nær> when -- when
  • þær -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural feminine of <> that -- they
  • heim -- adverb; <heim> home; to(wards) the house -- at home
  • scolo -- verb; 3rd plural present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should (be)
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • ganga -- verb; 3rd plural present of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- they go
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • af -- preposition; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- from
  • grasi -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <gras> grass, pasture; vegetation -- the pasture
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • ósviðr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ósviðr> unwise, foolish -- the unwise
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • kann -- verb; 3rd singular present of <kunna> know, know how to; be able -- knows
  • ævagi -- adverb; <ævagi> never -- never
  • síns -- possessive adjective; genitive singular masculine of <sínn> own, one's own -- his
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • mál -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <mál> speech, tale; information; period of time -- the measure
  • maga -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <magi> stomach -- of... stomach

22 - Vesall maðr
        oc illa scapi
        hlær at hvívetna;
        hitki hann veit,
        er hann vita þyrpti,
        at hann era vamma vanr.

  • vesall -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <vesall> wretched, miserable -- wretched
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- the man
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • illa -- adverb; <illa> ill, badly -- badly off
  • scapi -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <skap> character -- in character
  • hlær -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hlæja> laugh -- laughs
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- at
  • hvívetna -- pronoun; dative singular neuter of <hvatvetna> anything whatever; everything -- everything
  • hitki -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <hinn> this one; that; the + enclitic adverb; <ki> not -- not that
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • veit -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- knows
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • vita -- verb; infinitive of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- to know
  • þyrpti -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <þurfa (þarf, þurfta)> need; (impers.) be necessary -- needs
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • era -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen + enclitic adverb; <a> not -- is not
  • vamma -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <vamm> blemish, fault -- of faults
  • vanr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <vanr> wanting, lacking (in), without -- free

23 - Ósviðr maðr
        vakir um allar nætr
        oc hyggr at hvívetna;
        þá er móðr,
        er at morni kømr,
        alt er víl, sem var.

  • ósviðr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ósviðr> unwise, foolish -- the unwise
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • vakir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vaka> be awake, stay awake; watch -- lies awake
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • allar -- adjective; accusative plural feminine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all the
  • nætr -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <nótt> night -- nights
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • hyggr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hyggja (hugði, hugaðr)> think, believe -- worries
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- about
  • hvívetna -- pronoun; dative singular neuter of <hvatvetna> anything whatever; everything -- everything
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- he is
  • móðr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <móðr> tired -- tired
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • morni -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <morginn> morning -- morning
  • kømr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- it comes
  • alt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • víl -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <víl> trouble -- (his) trouble
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- as
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it was

24 - Ósnotr maðr
        hyggr sér alla vera
        viðhlæiendr vini;
        hitki hann fiðr,
        þótt þeir um hann fár lesi,
        ef hann með snotrom sitr.

  • ósnotr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ósnotr> unwise, foolish -- the unwise
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • hyggr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hyggja (hugði, hugaðr)> think, believe -- thinks
  • sér -- reflexive pronoun; dative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- with him
  • alla -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • vera -- verb; infinitive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- to be
  • viðhlæiendr -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <viðhlæjandi> one who laughs or smiles at one -- those who laugh
  • vini -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <vinr> friend; patron, leader -- (his) friends
  • hitki -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <hinn> this one; that; the + enclitic adverb; <ki> not -- not
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • fiðr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <finna> find, meet; discover; notice; invent -- does... seek
  • þótt -- adverb; <þó> yet, and yet; however, nevertheless + conjunction; <at> that -- though
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- for
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • fár -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <fár> mischief, malice -- mischief
  • lesi -- verb; 3rd plural present subjunctive of <lesa> express, concoct -- concoct
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- whether
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • með -- preposition; <með> with; by means of; among; along -- with
  • snotrom -- adjective used as substantive; dative plural masculine of <snotr> wise, clever -- wise men
  • sitr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <sitja> sit; stay, remain; reside -- sits

25 - Ósnotr maðr
        hyggr sér alla vera
        viðhlæiendr vini;
        þá þat finnr,
        er at þingi kømr,
        at hann á formælendr fá.

  • ósnotr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ósnotr> unwise, foolish -- the unwise
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • hyggr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hyggja (hugði, hugaðr)> think, believe -- thinks
  • sér -- reflexive pronoun; dative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- with him
  • alla -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • vera -- verb; infinitive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- to be
  • viðhlæiendr -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <viðhlæjandi> one who laughs or smiles at one -- those who laugh
  • vini -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <vinr> friend; patron, leader -- (his) friends
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <> that -- this
  • finnr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <finna> find, meet; discover; notice; invent -- he discovers
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • þingi -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <þing> (legal) assembly -- the assembly
  • kømr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- he comes
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • á -- verb; 3rd singular present of <eiga> own, have, possess; have in marriage; have the power to; have claim to; have duty to -- has
  • formælendr -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <formælandi> supporter, advocate, speaker on one's behalf -- advocates
  • -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <fár> few -- few

46 - Þat er enn of þann,
        er þú illa trúir
        oc þér er grunr at hans geði:
        hlæia scaltu við þeim
        oc um hug mæla,
        glíc scolo giǫld giǫfum.

  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <> that -- this
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • enn -- adverb; <enn> still; also; yet; further; again; moreover; even -- moreover
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- concerning
  • þann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <> that -- that one
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- whom
  • þú -- pronoun; nominative singular of <þú> thou, you -- you
  • illa -- adverb; <illa> ill, badly -- hardly
  • trúir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <trúa (ð)> believe, trust, have faith in -- trust
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • þér -- pronoun; dative singular of <þú> thou, you -- you
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- have
  • grunr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <grunr> suspicion -- suspicion
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- about
  • hans -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his
  • geði -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <geð> disposition; mind; wits; sense; inclination -- character
  • hlæia -- verb; infinitive of <hlæja> laugh -- laugh
  • scaltu -- verb; 2nd singular present of <skulu> shall, must, ought + pronoun; nominative singular of <þú> thou, you -- you shall
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- with
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <> that -- him
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- contrary to
  • hug -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <hugr> mind; thought; heart, spirit -- (your) thoughts
  • mæla -- verb; infinitive of <mæla (t)> speak -- speak
  • glíc -- adjective; nominative plural neuter of <líkr, glíkr> like, similar to -- like unto
  • scolo -- verb; 3rd plural present of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- shall
  • giǫld -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <gjald> payment; tax -- returns
  • giǫfum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <gjǫf> gift -- the gifts

47 - Ungr var ec forðom,
        fór ec einn saman,
        þá varð ec villr vega;
        auðigr þóttomz,
        er ec annan fann,
        maðr er mannz gaman.

  • ungr -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <ungr> young -- young
  • var -- verb; 1st singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • ec -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • forðom -- adverb; <forðum> formerly, some time ago -- once
  • fór -- verb; 1st singular past of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- travelled
  • ec -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • einn -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <einn> one; a certain, particular -- alone
  • saman -- adverb; <saman> together -- totally
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • varð -- verb; 1st singular past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- went
  • ec -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • villr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <villr> wild, astray -- astray
  • vega -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <vegr> way, road -- in (my) paths
  • auðigr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <auðigr> wealthy, rich -- rich
  • þóttomz -- verb; 1st singular past middle of <þykkja (þótti)> seem, be thought -- I seemed
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • ec -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • annan -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <annarr> other, another; second, next; one (of two) -- another
  • fann -- verb; 1st singular past of <finna> find, meet; discover; notice; invent -- found
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • mannz -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man's
  • gaman -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <gaman> pleasure, entertainment -- delight

53 - Lítilla sanda,
        lítilla sæva
        lítil ero geð guma;
        því allir menn
        urðot iafnspakir,
        hálb er ǫld hvar.

  • lítilla -- adjective; genitive plural masculine of <lítill> little, short -- of little
  • sanda -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <sandr> sand; beach, shore -- sands
  • lítilla -- adjective; genitive plural masculine of <lítill> little, short -- of little
  • sæva -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <sær (sævar)> sea, inlet of the sea; lake -- seas
  • lítil -- adjective; nominative plural neuter of <lítill> little, short -- little
  • ero -- verb; 3rd plural present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- are
  • geð -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <geð> disposition; mind; wits; sense; inclination -- minds
  • guma -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <gumi> man, human -- of man
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <> that -- for this
  • allir -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • menn -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- men
  • urðot -- verb; 3rd plural past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become + enclitic adverb; <at> not -- have not become
  • iafnspakir -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <jafnspakir> equally wise -- equally wise
  • hálb -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <hálfr> half -- half
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • ǫld -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <ǫld> age; mankind, humanity, world; (pl.) men, human beings -- mankind
  • hvar -- adverb; <hvar> where; everywhere -- everywhere

54 - Meðalsnotr
        scyli manna hverr,
        æva til snotr sé;
        þeim er fyrða
        fegrst at lifa,
        er vel mart vito.

  • meðalsnotr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <meðalsnotr> moderately wise, clever -- moderately wise
  • scyli -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should... be
  • manna -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • hverr -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- each
  • æva -- adverb; <æva> never; not at all -- never
  • til -- adverb; <til> too, very -- too
  • snotr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <snotr> wise, clever -- wise
  • -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- let him be
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural masculine of <> that -- for those
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- let him be
  • fyrða -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <fyrðar> (pl.) men, people -- among men
  • fegrst -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of superlative of <fagr (ran)> fair, beautiful -- best
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • lifa -- verb; infinitive of <lifa (ð)> live -- living
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • vel -- adverb; <vel> well, readily, easily -- well
  • mart -- adjective used as substantive; accusative singular neuter of <margr> many (a) -- much
  • vito -- verb; 3rd plural present of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- know

70 - Betra er lifðom
        oc sællifðom,
        ey getr qvicr kú;
        eld sá ec up brenna
        auðgom manni fyrir,
        enn úti var dauðr fyr durom.

  • betra -- comparative adjective; nominative singular neuter of <betri> better -- better
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it is
  • lifðom -- past participle; dative plural masculine of <lifa (ð)> live -- for the living
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • sællifðom -- adjective; dative plural masculine of <sællifðr> having a happy life, living happily -- for those living happy
  • ey -- adverb; <ey> forever; always -- ever
  • getr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <geta> get, obtain; engender; (with ppart.) be able to, get done; (with infin.) happen to (do); be obtainable; guess, suppose; relate, tell of -- gets
  • qvicr -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular masculine of <kvikr> alive, living -- the living
  • -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <kýr> cow -- the cow
  • eld -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <eldr> fire -- the fire
  • -- verb; 1st singular past of <sjá> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- saw
  • ec -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • up -- adverb; <upp> up -- up
  • brenna -- verb; infinitive of <brenna> (intrans.) burn, be on fire -- to flame
  • auðgom -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <auðigr> wealthy, rich -- a wealthy
  • manni -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- before
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • úti -- adverb; <úti> outside; out at sea; unsheltered -- outside
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • dauðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <dauðr> death -- death
  • fyr -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- before
  • durom -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <dyrr> door, doorway -- the doors

71 - Haltr ríðr hrossi,
        hiǫrð recr handarvanr,
        daufr vegr oc dugir;
        blindr er betri,
        enn brendr sé:
        nýtr mangi nás.

  • haltr -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular masculine of <haltr> lame -- the lame (man)
  • ríðr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <ríða> ride; ride over -- rides
  • hrossi -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <hross> horse -- a horse
  • hiǫrð -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <hjǫrð> herd, flock -- a flock
  • recr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <reka> drive -- drives
  • handarvanr -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular masculine of <handarvanr> bereft of a hand, lacking a hand, one-armed -- the one-armed (man)
  • daufr -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular masculine of <daufr> deaf -- the deaf (man)
  • vegr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vega> lift; smite, fight; kill, slay -- fights
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • dugir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <duga> help, aid, be of avail, be of assistance -- wins
  • blindr -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular masculine of <blindr> blind -- the blind (man)
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • betri -- comparative adjective; nominative singular masculine of <betri> better -- better
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- though
  • brendr -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <brenna (d)> (trans.) burn, light, set on fire -- burned
  • -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- he be
  • nýtr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <njóta> benefit, get benefit from -- benefits
  • mangi -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <manngi> no one, nobody -- no one
  • nás -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <nár> corpse -- from a corpse

72 - Sonr er betri,
        þótt sé síð of alinn
        eptir genginn guma;
        sialdan bautarsteinar
        standa brauto nær,
        nema reisi niðr at nið.

  • sonr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <sonr> son -- a son
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • betri -- comparative adjective; nominative singular masculine of <betri> better -- better
  • þótt -- adverb; <þó> yet, and yet; however, nevertheless + conjunction; <at> that -- though
  • -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- he be
  • síð -- adverb; <síð> late -- late
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- ...
  • alinn -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <ala> give birth to, bear; feed -- born
  • eptir -- preposition; <eptir> after, behind; for, to obtain; along; according to; in succession to -- after
  • genginn -- past participle; accusative singular masculine of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- (is) gone
  • guma -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <gumi> man, human -- the man
  • sialdan -- adverb; <sjaldan> seldom -- seldom
  • bautarsteinar -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <bautarsteinn> memorial stone -- memorial stones
  • standa -- verb; 3rd plural present of <standa> stand (firm); get up; take up a position; be in a place; remain valid; be in a specified condition; trend, flow; weigh -- stand
  • brauto -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <braut> road -- the road
  • nær -- preposition; <nær> near, close to, close by -- by
  • nema -- conjunction; <nema> unless; except -- unless
  • reisi -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive of <reisa (t)> raise, set up -- should raise (it)
  • niðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <niðr> kinsman; son, scion -- kin
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- for
  • nið -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <niðr> kinsman; son, scion -- kin

73 - Tveir ro eins heriar,
        tunga er hǫfuðs bani,
        er mér í heðin hvern
        handar væni.

  • tveir -- numeral; nominative plural masculine of <tveir> two -- two
  • ro -- verb; 3rd plural present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- are # ro = (e)ru
  • eins -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <einn> one -- one's
  • heriar -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <herr> harrier, destroyer -- destroyers
  • tunga -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <tunga> tongue -- the tongue
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • hǫfuðs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <hǫfuð> head; person -- the head's
  • bani -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <bani> death; cause of death, slayer -- death
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- there's
  • mér -- pronoun; dative singular of <ek> I -- for me
  • í -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • heðin -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <heðinn> fur cloak, coat -- coat
  • hvern -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- every
  • handar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <hǫnd> hand, arm and hand; side, part -- of a hand
  • væni -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <væni> expectation -- expectation

79 - Ósnotr maðr,
        ef eignaz getr
        fé eða flioðs munuð,
        matnaðr hánom þróaz,
        enn manvit aldregi,
        fram gengr hann driúgt í dul.

  • ósnotr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ósnotr> unwise, foolish -- the unwise
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • eignaz -- verb; infinitive middle of <eignask (að)> gain possession of, get for oneself -- for himself
  • getr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <geta> get, obtain; engender; (with ppart.) be able to, get done; (with infin.) happen to (do); be obtainable; guess, suppose; relate, tell of -- he gets
  • -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <> cattle; sheep; money; possessions -- money
  • eða -- conjunction; <eða> or; and; but -- or
  • flioðs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <fljóð> woman -- a woman's
  • munuð -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <munuð> (physical) love -- love
  • matnaðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <matnaðr> pride -- pride
  • hánom -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his
  • þróaz -- verb; 3rd singular present middle of <þróask (að)> thrive, grow (big), increase -- grows
  • enn -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • manvit -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <mannvit> human intelligence, common sense -- (his) sense
  • aldregi -- adverb; <aldgregi, aldri> never -- never
  • fram -- adverb; <fram> forward, on; away; out -- ahead
  • gengr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- goes
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • driúgt -- adjective used as substantive; accusative singular neuter of <drjúgr> lasting, ample, substantial -- straight
  • í -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- to
  • dul -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <dul> reserve, folly; conceit -- folly

80 - Þat er þá reynt,
        er þú at rúnom spyrr,
        inom reginkunnom,
        þeim er gorðo ginregin
        oc fáði fimbulþulr,
        þá hefir hann bazt,
        ef hann þegir.

  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <> that -- it
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • reynt -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <reyna (d)> try, prove -- proven
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- what
  • þú -- pronoun; nominative singular of <þú> thou, you -- you
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- of
  • rúnom -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <rún> secret, secret wisdom, secret writing, rune -- runes
  • spyrr -- verb; 2nd singular present of <spyrja (spurði)> trace, find out (about); hear; ask -- ask
  • inom -- definite article; dative plural feminine of <inn> the -- the
  • reginkunnom -- adjective; dative plural feminine of <reginkunnr> of divine origin -- of divine origin
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural feminine of <> that -- those
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • gorðo -- verb; 3rd plural past of <gøra> make, build; write, compose -- fashioned
  • ginregin -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <ginnregin> (pl.) mighty powers -- the mighty powers
  • oc -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fáði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <fá (ð)> color -- colored
  • fimbulþulr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <fimbulþulr> mighty sage -- the mighty sage
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • hefir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- holds
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • bazt -- adjective used as substantive; <beztr> best -- best
  • ef -- conjunction; <ef> if; whether; (to see) if; lest -- if
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • þegir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <þegja (þagða)> be silent -- is silent

Lesson Text

1 Gáttir allar,
        áðr gangi fram,
        um scoðaz scyli,
        um scygnaz scyli;
        þvíat óvíst er at vita,
        hvar óvinir
        sitia á fleti fyrir.

2 Gefendr heilir!
        gestr er inn kominn,
        hvar scal sitia siá?
        miǫc er bráðr,
        sá er á brǫndom scal
        síns um freista frama.

3 Eldz er þǫrf,
        þeims inn er kominn
        oc á kné kalinn;
        matar oc váða
        er manni þǫrf,
        þeim er hefir um fiall farið.

4 Vatz er þǫrf,
        þeim er til verðar kømr,
        þerro oc þióðlaðar,
        góðs um œðis,
        ef sér geta mætti,
        orðz oc endrþǫgo.

5 Vitz er þǫrf,
        þeim er víða ratar,
        dælt er heima hvat;
        at augabragði verðr,
        sá er ecci kann
        oc með snotrom sitr.

6 At hyggiandi sinni
        scylit maðr hrœsinn vera,
        heldr gætinn at geði;
        þá er horscr oc þǫgull
        kømr heimisgarða til,
        sialdan verðr víti vorom;
        þvíat óbrigðra vin
        fær maðr aldregi
        enn manvit mikit.

7 Inn vari gestr,
        er til verðar kømr,
        þunno hlióði þegir;
        eyrom hlýðir,
        enn augom scoðar;
        svá nýsiz fróðra hverr fyrir.

8 Hinn er sæll,
        er sér um getr
        lof oc lícnstafi;
        ódælla er við þat,
        er maðr eiga scal
        annars brióstom í.

9 Sá er sæll,
        er siálfr um á
        lof oc vit, meðan lifr;
        þvíat ill ráð
        hefir maðr opt þegit
        annars brióstom ór.

10 Byrði betri
        berrat maðr brauto at,
        enn sé manvit mikit;
        auði betra
        þiccr þat í ókunnom stað,
        slíct er válaðs vera.

11 Byrði betri
        berrat maðr brauto at,
        enn sé manvit mikit;
        vegnest verra
        vegra hann velli at,
        enn sé ofdryccia ǫls.

12 Era svá gott,
        sem gott qveða,
        ǫl alda sona;
        þvíat færa veit,
        er fleira dreccr,
        síns til geðs gumi.

13 Óminnis hegri heitir,
        sá er yfir ǫlðrom þrumir,
        hann stelr geði guma;
        þess fugls fiǫðrom
        ec fiǫtraðr varc
        í garði Gunnlaðar.

14 Ǫlr ec varð,
        varð ofrǫlvi
        at ins fróða Fialars;
        því er ǫlðr bazt,
        at aptr uf heimtir
        hverr sitt geð gumi.

21 Hiarðir þat vito,
        nær þær heim scolo,
        oc ganga þá af grasi;
        enn ósviðr maðr
        kann ævagi
        síns um mál maga.

22 Vesall maðr
        oc illa scapi
        hlær at hvívetna;
        hitki hann veit,
        er hann vita þyrpti,
        at hann era vamma vanr.

23 Ósviðr maðr
        vakir um allar nætr
        oc hyggr at hvívetna;
        þá er móðr,
        er at morni kømr,
        alt er víl, sem var.

24 Ósnotr maðr
        hyggr sér alla vera
        viðhlæiendr vini;
        hitki hann fiðr,
        þótt þeir um hann fár lesi,
        ef hann með snotrom sitr.

25 Ósnotr maðr
        hyggr sér alla vera
        viðhlæiendr vini;
        þá þat finnr,
        er at þingi kømr,
        at hann á formælendr fá.

46 Þat er enn of þann,
        er þú illa trúir
        oc þér er grunr at hans geði:
        hlæia scaltu við þeim
        oc um hug mæla,
        glíc scolo giǫld giǫfum.

47 Ungr var ec forðom,
        fór ec einn saman,
        þá varð ec villr vega;
        auðigr þóttomz,
        er ec annan fann,
        maðr er mannz gaman.

53 Lítilla sanda,
        lítilla sæva
        lítil ero geð guma;
        því allir menn
        urðot iafnspakir,
        hálb er ǫld hvar.

54 Meðalsnotr
        scyli manna hverr,
        æva til snotr sé;
        þeim er fyrða
        fegrst at lifa,
        er vel mart vito.

70 Betra er lifðom
        oc sællifðom,
        ey getr qvicr kú;
        eld sá ec up brenna
        auðgom manni fyrir,
        enn úti var dauðr fyr durom.

71 Haltr ríðr hrossi,
        hiǫrð recr handarvanr,
        daufr vegr oc dugir;
        blindr er betri,
        enn brendr sé:
        nýtr mangi nás.

72 Sonr er betri,
        þótt sé síð of alinn
        eptir genginn guma;
        sialdan bautarsteinar
        standa brauto nær,
        nema reisi niðr at nið.

73 Tveir ro eins heriar,
        tunga er hǫfuðs bani,
        er mér í heðin hvern
        handar væni.

79 Ósnotr maðr,
        ef eignaz getr
        fé eða flioðs munuð,
        matnaðr hánom þróaz,
        enn manvit aldregi,
        fram gengr hann driúgt í dul.

80 Þat er þá reynt,
        er þú at rúnom spyrr,
        inom reginkunnom,
        þeim er gorðo ginregin
        oc fáði fimbulþulr,
        þá hefir hann bazt,
        ef hann þegir.

Translation

1 All the gates,
before one goes forth,
he should spy about,
should peer round;
since it is difficult to know,
where enemies
sit forth on the bench.
2 Sound hosts!
a guest has come inside,
where shall he sit?
he is quite hasty
who shall in the firewood
test his luck.
3 There is need of fire
to him who has come in
and is frozen about the knees;
there is need to man
of food and clothes,
for the one who has travelled to the mountain.
4 There is need of water
to him who comes to the meal,
of a towel and of invitation,
of good disposition,
if he can get it for himself,
of conversation and of silence.
5 There is need of wit
to him who travels widely,
everything is easy at home;
he is suited for mockery,
he who knows nothing
and sits with wise men.
6 In his thought
a man should not be boastful,
rather wary in disposition;
when someone wise and silent
comes to the premises,
seldom does misfortune happen to the cautious;
since never obtains a man
a better friend
than a bit of common sense.
7 The wary guest,
who comes to a meal,
keeps silent with hearing tuned;
he listens with his ears,
and looks with his eyes;
thus every wise man informs himself.
8 This one is fortunate,
who gets for himself
praise and regard;
it is more difficult to deal with that,
which a man would have
in another's breast.
9 That one is fortunate,
who himself has
renown and wit, while he lives;
since ill counsels
has a man oft received
from another's breast.
10 A better burden
carries no man on his journey
than that it be a bit of common sense;
better than riches
that's found to be in an unknown land,
such is a poor man's means.
11 A better burden
carries no man on his journey
than that it be a bit of common sense;
he does not carry
worse provisions on the plain,
than that it be ale's over-drinking.
12 The ale of the sons of men
is not as good,
as they say;
since about his own mind
a man knows less,
the more he drinks.
13 That is called the heron of forgetfulness,
which hovers over ale-parties,
it robs a man of his mind;
with this bird's feathers
I was fettered
in Gunnlath's garden.
14 Drunk I became,
became overly drunk
at wise Fjalar's;
ale is best for this,
that each man
gets back his mind.
21 The herds know
when they should be at home
and then they go from the pasture;
but the unwise man
never knows
the measure of his stomach.
22 The man wretched
and badly off in character
laughs at everything;
he knows not that
which he needs to know,
that he is not free of faults.
23 The unwise man
lies awake all the nights
and worries about everything;
then he is tired,
when it comes to morning,
all his trouble is as it was.
24 The unwise man
thinks all those who laugh with him
to be his friends;
he does not seek,
though they concoct mischief for him,
whether he sits with wise men.
25 The unwise man
thinks all those who laugh with him
to be his friends;
then he discovers this,
when he comes to the assembly,
that he has few advocates.
46 Moreover this is concerning that one,
whom you hardly trust
and you have suspicion about his character:
you shall laugh with him
and speak contrary to your thoughts,
the returns shall be like unto the gifts.
47 I was young once,
I travelled totally alone,
then I went astray in my paths;
rich I seemed,
when I found another,
man is man's delight.
53 Of little sands,
of little seas
little are the minds of man;
for this all men
have not become equally wise,
half mankind is everywhere.
54 Moderately wise
should each man be,
never let him be too wise;
living is best
for those among men
who know much well.
70 Better it is for the living
and for those living happy,
ever the living gets the cow;
I saw the fire flame up
before a wealthy man,
and outside was death before the doors.
71 The lame man rides a horse,
the one-armed man drives a flock,
the deaf man fights and wins;
the blind man is better,
though he be burned:
no one benefits from a corpse.
72 A son is better,
though he be born late,
after the man is gone;
seldom do memorial stones
stand by the road,
unless kin should raise it for kin.
73 One's destroyers are two,
the tongue is the head's death,
in every coat for me
there's expectation of a hand.
79 The unwise man,
if he gets for himself
money or a woman's love,
his pride grows,
but never his sense,
he goes straight ahead to folly.
80 Then it is proven,
what you ask of the runes,
those of divine origin,
which the mighty powers fashioned
and the mighty sage colored,
then he holds best,
if he is silent.

Grammar

46. Runes

The earliest writings of the Germanic peoples are in runes. Far from being the polished literary documents of the Old Norse sagas, these writings are generally short inscriptions on various objects ascribing ownership, naming the maker, or marking a burial site. They do not name any historical figures, nor are they found on any objects whose history is known from other sources. Even when inscriptions are found, say, on stones near burial sites whose dates are well known, there is no conclusive evidence that the inscription dates from the same time period as the burial. The dates of the inscriptions, therefore, are generally educated estimates. What is more certain, generally, is relative chronology. Archaeological dating is often based on stylistic grounds, observing ornamentation and workmanship. Historical linguistics serves as an alternate, and sometimes more conclusive, method of establishing relative chronology.

Runic inscriptions are found over a wide expanse of the Germanic speaking area, dating from roughly the middle of the second century AD. The greatest number of inscriptions comes from the Scandinavian speaking area. Two alphabets are encountered, the Older and Younger Futharks. The Older Futhark was an alphabet of 24 characters used in the earliest inscriptions. In time there was a reduction in the alphabetic inventory, so that the Younger Futhark contains only 16 letters. Paradoxically, this seems to have occured at a time when the Scandinavian sound inventory underwent an increase!

The major dialect groups within Germanic during the time of the runic inscriptions are Northwest Germanic, East Gmc, West Gmc, North Gmc, West Nordic, East Nordic. The following chart shows the general timeline for dialectal differentiation:

    100   200   300   400   500   600   700
NwGmc   [---               ---]        
EGmc       [---       ---]            
WGmc       [---               ---]    
NGmc               [---       ---]    
WNord                       [---   ---]
ENord                       [---   ---]

Northwest Germanic is sufficiently archaic to serve as the parent to West Germanic, as well as to the Scandinavian languages. North Germanic designates those linguistic features which are uniquely Scandinavian. The following sections will deal primarily with Northwest Germanic, because of its importance for understanding the earliest inscriptions.

46.1. Phonology

Proto-Germanic is the language stage intervening between Proto-Indo-European (PIE) and the Northwest Germanic language of the earliest runic inscriptions. Proto-Germanic (PGmc) may be thought of as a dialect of PIE which became so differentiated from other PIE dialects as to be treated as its own language. It serves as the parent for all of the Germanic languages. It inherited much of the structure of the parent PIE, but is characterized by certain divergences, particularly in the phonology. The vocalic system of Proto-Germanic may be reconstructed as follows.

PGmc   Simple           Long       Diphthong    
    Front   Mid   Back   Front   Back        
High   /i/       /u/   /ī/   /ū/        
Mid   /e/                   /ei/   /eu/
Low       /a/       /ǣ/   /ɔ̄̄/   /ai/   /au/
                             

The consonant system may be reconstructed as well. Its structure is as follows.

PGmc   Labial   Dental   Palatal   Velar
                 
Stops                
voiceless   /p/   /t/       /k/
voiced   /b/   /d/       /g/
                 
Fricatives                
voiceless   /f/   /þ/       /h/
                 
Nasals   /m/   /n/        
                 
Affricates                
voiceless       /s/        
voiced       /z/        
                 
Apical Trill       /r/        
                 
Lateral       /l/        
                 
Glides   /w/       /j/    
                 

Following the same geneological procedure, Northwest Germanic is similarly characterized by certain divergences from PGmc. The consonant system above is the same as that found in the earliest runic inscriptions. The vocalic system, however, is somewhat different. The following rules describe the changes that occured between PGmc and the appearance of the Northwest Germanic (NwGmc) dialect:

  • Rule 1: nonroot */ɔ̄̄/ > /ū/ finally and when followed by */i/;
  • Rule 2: nonroot */e/ > */i/ before final /z/;
  • Rule 3: nonroot */e/ > */i/ before */i,j/;
  • Rule 4: */i,e/ in third syllables is lost;
  • Rule 5: */j/ > */i/, */w/ > */u/ when final or before a consonant;
  • Rule 6: final */nz/ > */nn/;
  • Rule 7: final */n/ after nonroot syllable is lost;
  • Rule 8: final */d/ after nonroot syllable is lost;
  • Rule 9: medial */gw/ > */w/;
  • Rule 10: root */e/ > /i/ before */i,j/ or nasal+consonant;
  • Rule 11: root */ǣ/ > /ā/;
  • Rule 12: root */ɔ̄̄/ > */ō/;
  • Rule 13: nonroot */ai/ > */æ/, */au/ > */ɔ̄̄/, */ii/ > /ī/;
  • Rule 14: nonroot */æ/ > /ē/, */ɔ̄̄/ > */ō/;
  • Rule 15: root */u/ > /o/ before /a/ and former */ǣ, ɔ̄̄/;
  • Rule 16: root */ei/ > /ī/;
  • Rule 17: final */ɔ̄̄/ > /ū/.

With Rule 15, the newly emerging [o] becomes a true phoneme /o/. The resulting vowel system for NwGmc is as follows.

NwGmc   Simple           Long           Diphthong    
    Front   Mid   Back   Front   Mid   Back        
High   /i/       /u/   /ī/       /ū/       /iu/
Mid   /e/       /o/   /ē/       /ō/       /eu/
Low       /a/           /ā/       /ai/   /au/
                                 

North Germanic (NGmc) continues the same system. It is distinguished from NwGmc by the loss of medial */w/ before /ū/ and the loss of medial */h/ before /t/.

46.2. Orthography

The origin of the runic symbols themselves is enigmatic. Various scholars assign their provenance to Greek, Latin, or Etruscan alphabets of the period. Suffice it to say that none of the arguments is conclusive. Three inscriptions preserve the complete alphabet, and a handful of others preserve an incomplete version. The order of the runes is almost completely uniform between inscriptions. From Old Norse (as well as Old English) poetry much later we find that the names of the individual runes were remembered acrophonically, each being associated with a common word beginning with that letter (much like 'a is for apple, b is for boy'). The names are clear from the Old Norse Rune Poem, but since this poem is of a much later date, after several sound changes had occured and letters had been reanalyzed, the names should not be applied naively to the runes of the earliest inscriptions. Appropriate names for the early period have been proposed by Wolfgang Krause, and these are supplied in the chart below for reference.

Rune   Transliteration   Name   Meaning
             
  f   fehu   cattle, possessions
  u   urūz   aurochs
  þ   þurisaz   ogre
  a   ansuz   god
  r   raidō   journey, wagon
  k   kaunan   sickness
  g   gebō   gift
  w   wunjō   joy
  h   haglaz   hail
  n   naudiz   tribulation
  i   īsaz   ice
  j   jēran   (good) year
  ǣ   īwaz   yew tree
  p   perþō   fruit tree
  z (R)   algiz   elk
  s   sōwilō   sun
  t   Tīwaz   (a god's name)
  b   berkanan   birch twig
  e   ehwaz   horse
  m   mannaz   person
  l   laukaz   leek
  ng   Ingwaz   (fertility god's name)
  d   dagaz   day
  o   ōþalan   inherited property
             

The first six letters provide the name of the alphabet, Futhark.

The consonants provide a good match for the phonological system of Northwest Germanic. The consonant system appears thus:

NwGmc   Labial   Dental   Palatal   Velar
                 
Stops                
voiceless   /p/   /t/       /k/
voiced   /b/   /d/       /g/
                 
Fricatives                
voiceless   /f/   /þ/       /h/
                 
Nasals   /m/   /n/       [ng]
                 
Affricates                
voiceless       /s/        
voiced       /z/        
                 
Apical Trill       /r/        
                 
Lateral       /l/        
                 
Glides   /w/       /j/    
                 

Note however the addition of ng for [ng], which was not a distinct phoneme at the time, but rather an allophone of n before velars. The rune z is often transcribed R. This highlights continuity with Old Norse, since by the time of ON the PGmc phoneme /z/ has rhotacized to /r/ in certain environments. Scholars often assume it passed through a stage where it was a voiced trill, akin to the r in the Czech name Dvorak. But it shows no alternation with /r/ until the North Germanic period, and so for the earliest inscriptions it seems advisable to transcribe it with z.

If we similarly associate the vocalic runes with corresponding vowels in the phonemic system of NwGmc, we arrive at the following.

NwGmc   Simple           Long           Diphthong    
    Front   Mid   Back   Front   Mid   Back        
High   /i/       /u/   /ī/       /ū/       ᛁᚢ /iu/
Mid   /e/       /o/   /ē/       /ō/       ᛖᚢ /eu/
Low       /a/           /ā/       ᚨᛁ /ai/   ᚨᚢ /au/
                                 

This again gives good agreement with the vocalic system of NwGmc if we assume (1) the long vowels were not orthographically distinguished from their short counterparts, and (2) the diphthongs were represented as digraphs composed of their respective elements. The only problem comes with the rune ǣ, which in this system is superfluous.

Some scholars suggest that the rune ǣ represents a vowel with a value between /e/ and /i/. This is possible, but posits an orthographic representation for a sound not thought to be phonemic in the system proposed above for the inscriptions. A cleaner resolution to the problem comes if we revise the list of proposed phonemes and make the following assignments:

Phoneme   */a/   */ō/   */ǣ/   */u, ū/   */i, ī/   */e/
Rune            
                         

In this system only /i/ and /u/ use common runes for the long and short variants. In the system of PGmc, these were the only phonemic long/short pairs. Thus this assignment follows the same assumptions (1) and (2) above, but removes the superfluous nature of the ǣ rune. Under this interpretation, moreover, it is apparent that the development and use of runes actually occured in the Proto-Germanic period, before the advent of Northwest Germanic.

When the change PGmc */ǣ/ > /ā/ occured in root syllables, then a was used to represent /ā/, in accordance with the runic use for u and i. Since the runes had been developed in the PGmc period, the shift PGmc */ai/ > */æ/ in unstressed position provided an alternate spelling ᚨᛁ ai for */ǣ/. Yet another spelling of */ǣ/ was e. This arose from the shift of unstressed */ǣ/ > /ē/, and the use of e to represent both long and short variants of /e/ in a similar fashion to /u/, /i/, and now /a/.

Similar variance arose in the use of runic o. The development */au/ > */ɔ̄̄/ allowed ᚨᚢ au to alternate with o. */ɔ̄̄/ subsequently became */ō/, now spelled o. When a-umlaut of */u/ produced [o], then o was used for this as well, akin to the usage of /u/, /i/, /a/, and /e/.

The runes j and a were acrophonically denoted jǣran (note the chart above writes jēran, since the spellings are based on the earlier proposal of a phoneme system lacking /ǣ/) and ansuz, respectively. With loss of initial PGmc */j/, j became the āra-rune, and the acrophonic principle allowed this to alternate with a in representing /ā, a/. In this setting, the āra-rune (formerly j) is transliterated A.

46.3. Orthographic Features

The above shifts in the phonemic system, and the resulting orthographic shifts, often lead to difficulty interpreting the runic inscriptions. In addition, other conventions were followed which further obscure the nature of the inscriptions. The following are the more important features found in the inscriptions.

  • F 1: NwGmc /ē/ is often spelled -ai.
  • F 2: Nasals are frequently not written before homorganic obstruents. This may either be omission of an expressed nasal, or convention for transcribing a nasalized vowel.
  • F 3: ng is not always used to represent /ng/.
  • F 4: Double consonants are often represented by a single graph, even across word boundaries.
  • F 5: After /s/ some voiced consonants are written with the unvoiced symbol.
  • F 6: An epenthetic vowel -- variously represented by a, e, or A -- often occurs between consecutive consonants.
  • F 7: Certain North Germanic inscriptions differentiate a and A, using a for a nasalized or epenthetic vowel.
  • F 8: A may continue its original /j/ value in noninitial position.
47. Runic Declension

Runic inscriptions are rare enough, and limited enough in scope, so as to make reconstruction of complete morphological paradigms difficult. The paradigms below list those forms which occur in the dialects under discussion, as well as their reconstructed antecedents.

47.1. Declension of Vocalic Stems

The inscriptions so far uncovered do not allow one to construct full nominal paradigms. From the material available, we may list the endings of the *o-, *yo-, *wo-stems as given below. The masculine declension has the following endings.

Masculine   PIE   PGmc   NwGmc   NGmc   ENord. & WNord.
                     
N Sg.   *-o-s   *-a-z   -a-z   -a-z   -z/-r/-zero
A   *-o-m   *-a-n   -a   -a   -a
G   *-o-s   *-a-s   -a-s       -s
D   *-o-y   *-a-i   -ē   -ē    
                     
N Pl.   *-o-es   *-a-ez   -ē-z       -ā-z
A   *-o-ns   *-a-nz           -ā
G   *-o-ōm   *-a-ɔ̄̄n   -ō        
D   *-o-ms   *-a-mz           -umz
                     

Note from the columns for NwGmc and NGmc that these correspond to the a-, ja-, wa-stems of Section 3.1. The neuter declension is as follows.

Neuter   PIE   PGmc   NwGmc   NGmc   ENord. & WNord.
                     
N Sg.   *-o-m   *-a-n   -a        
A   *-o-m   *-a-n   -a   -a    
G                    
D   *-o-y   *-a-i   -ē        
                     
N Pl.   *-ā   *-ɔ̄̄   -ū        
A                    
G                    
D                    
                     

The *ā-, *-, *-stems are all feminine. Their declension is as follows.

Feminine   PIE   PGmc   NwGmc   NGmc   ENord.
                     
N Sg.   *-ā   *-ɔ̄̄   -ū   -ū   -zero
A   *-ā-m   *-ɔ̄̄-n   -ō        
G                    
D   *-ā-y   *-ɔ̄̄-i   -ū   -ū   -ū
                     
N Pl.   *-ā-s   *-ɔ̄̄-z   -ō-z        
A   *-ā-s   *-ɔ̄̄-z   -ō-z   -ō-z   -ā-z
G   *-ā-ōm   *-ɔ̄̄-ɔ̄̄n           -ā
D                    
                     

These correspond to the ō-, -, -stems of Section 3.2.

The *y-stems have fewer attested forms. From those that occur, we have the following declension.

*y-Stem   PIE   PGmc   NwGmc   NGmc   ENord.
                     
N Sg.   *-y-s   *-i-z   -i-z        
A   *-y-m   *-i-n   -i   -i    
G   *-ey-es   *-ej-ez   -ī-z        
D   *-oy-i   *-aj-i   -ē        
                     
N Pl.                    
A                    
G                    
D   *-y-ms   *-i-mz           -umz
                     

The *w-stems are rarer still. They are attested only in the singular. The endings are given below.

*w-Stem   PIE   PGmc   NwGmc   NGmc   ENord.
Masc. (Neut.)                    
N Sg.   *-w-s (*-w-m)   *-u-z (*-u-n)   -u-z (-u)   (-u)    
A   *-w-m   *-u-n   -u        
G   *-ow-es   *-aw-ez   -ō-z        
D   *-ew/ow-i   *-ew/aw-i   -ō   -iu   -iu
                     
47.2. Declension of Consonant Stems

In general consonant stems occur less frequently than other types of nouns. The declension of *ōn-, *yōn-stems is as follows.

*ōn-, *yōn-Stem   PIE   PGmc   NwGmc   NGmc   ENord.
Masc. (Fem.)                    
N Sg.   *-ōn   *-ɔ̄̄n   -a (-ō)   -a (-ā)   -a (-ā)
A                    
G   *-on-es   *-an-ez   -an (-ōn)        
D   *-on-y   *-an-i   -an        
                     
G Pl.   *-on-ōm   *-an-ɔ̄̄n   -an-ō        
                     

Only the genitive is attested in the plural of these stems. Other consonant stems exhibit even fewer forms. The forms of nouns ending in *r or root consonant are given below.

    *r-Stem               Root Cons.        
    PIE   PGmc   NwGmc       PIE   PGmc   NwGmc
                             
N Sg.   *-er   *-er   -ar       *-s   *-z   -z
N Pl.   *-r-es   *-r-ez   -r-iz                
                             
47.3. Pronominal Declension

In the inscriptions discovered thus far, only a handful of pronouns actually occur. They are either first person or third person pronouns. The forms are as follows.

Pronouns   NwGmc   NGmc   ENord.
             
1st Pers.            
N Sg.   ek, ik, -eka, -ika   ek, ik, eka, -ka   -æka, -æk
D   mēz        
N Pl.   wīz        
             
3rd Pers.            
Masc.            
N Sg.           sa, saz
             
Neut.            
A Sg.   it       þat
             

The forms preceded by a hyphen are enclitic. A few forms of adjectives occur with pronominal endings. These are given below.

Adjectives   NwGmc   NGmc
         
Masc.        
A Sg.   hinō, mīninō    
         
Neut.        
A Sg.       þat
         
48. Runic Verbal Conjugation

As with nominal forms, only a small number of the possible verb forms actually occur in the extant inscriptions. In the present tense, only singular forms occur. In the past tense both singular and plural forms are attested, though not for the second person. The second person only exhibits singular imperative forms. In addition forms of both present and past participles are found. The forms of strong verbs, as well as those with irregular conjugation, are as follows.

Verbs   Strong           Irregular        
    PGmc   NwGmc   ENord   PGmc   NwGmc   ENord
Present                        
1 Sg.   *-ɔ̄̄   -ū       *-mi/ai   -m/ē    
2               *-ī-z   -ī-z    
3   *-e-di   -id   -r   *-ti   -t   -z
                         
Past                        
1 Sg.   *-a   -a                
3   *-e   -   -            
                         
1 Pl.   *-(u)me   -um                
3                        
                         
Imperative                        
2 Sg.   *-(i)j-e   -ī                
                         
Pres. Ptc.                        
                         
Past Ptc.   *-in-   -in-                
                         

Among the irregular verbs is 'be', with first singular form em. The present 1 sg. ending, when a vowel, is usually deleted when followed by the first person pronoun, e.g. hait-eka < haitē eka. The ENord 3 sg. ending -r is borrowed from the 2 sg.

The forms of the weak verb conjugations are listed below.

Verbs   Weak I           Weak II       Weak III    
    PGmc   NwGmc   NGmc   PGmc   NwGmc   PGmc   NwGmc
Present                            
1 Sg.   *-(i)j-ɔ̄̄   -j-       *-ɔ̄̄-n   -ō        
2                            
3                            
                             
Past                            
1 Sg.   *-ɔ̄̄-n   -ō   -ō                
3   *-ǣ-d   -ē   -ē                
                             
1 Pl.                            
3   *-und   -un                    
                             
Imperative                            
2 Sg.   *-ej-e   -ī               *-ǣ   -ē
                             
Pres. Ptc.                       *-and-   -and-
                             
Past Ptc.   *-id-   -id-                    
                             
49. Runic Syntax

There is still a great deal of debate concerning what exactly can be gleaned from the runic inscriptions concerning early Germanic syntax. Syntactic patterns, e.g. placement of certain types of words, obviously depends on the interpretation of given inscriptions, and often there is nothing approaching complete consensus. Nevertheless it is important to notice some general trends, however tentative their status may be.

49.1. Adjectives and Modifiers

Adjectives can precede or follow the noun they modify. The unmarked position appears to be before the noun. Preposed adjectives complete the sense of the noun, while postposed adjectives serve to make a contrast. The only example, however, of a preposed descriptive adjective is a predicate use: leubu mez |: wage: | birgnggu boro swestar minu 'Dear to me, (Wāgaz) Birgingū, (is) Borō, my sister' (Opedal stone). The adjective leubū is presumably descriptive ('she is my sister, and I of course love her'), not contrastive ('this sister I love, not the other one'). If it is true that postposed adjectives mark a contrast, then runo fahi raginakudo tojeka 'I prepare a suitable, divinely-descended rune' (Noleby stone) contrasts the rūnō in question with other runes. The adjective fahi 'suitable' clearly serves this function, and by implication these raginakundō runes are also contrasted with other, less-than-divine runes. (Note, however, that some scholars interpret fahi as 'I paint', and then there is no postposed adjective to speak of.)

There seems to be no correlation between strong/weak adjective endings and adjective placement: postposed adjectives may be strong or weak, and similarly for preposed adjectives. The strong adjective denotes a quality which is not a lasting attribute of the noun it modifies. With this interpretation, the postposed raginakundō suggests that divine authority was not a property of all runes.

Attributive genitives may precede or follow the noun they modify. For example, magoz minas staina 'my son's stone' (Vetteland stone), as opposed to þewaz godagas 'servant of Gōdagaz' (Valsfjord cliff). In general, the genitive precedes an inanimate noun, but follows an animate noun.

Pronominal modifiers generally follow the head noun. For example, magoz minas 'my son's' (Vetteland stone), swestar minu 'my sister' (Opedal stone). There is one example of a noun with demonstrative pronoun, which fits the same pattern: hali hino 'this flat-stone' (Strøm whetstone).

49.2. Verb Placement and Word Order

Verbs in the imperative are generally placed first: wate hali hino horna haha skaþi haþu ligi 'Wet this stone, horn! Scathe, scythe! Lie, that which is mown down!' (Strøm whetstone). A few inscriptions show other verb forms in initial position, one in second position, but the dominant pattern of the NwGmc inscriptions is for the verb to be in final position: ...dagastiz runo faihido '(I), ...-dagastiz, painted the rune' (Einang stone). The inscriptions of the most archaic period show a distinct tendency toward SOV word order, with VO in imperative statements.

In the North Germanic period, word order undergoes a shift. Most of the NGmc inscriptions show a medial position for the verb: ekA sigimArAz Afs[A]kA rAisidokA stAinA 'I, Sigimāraz, one found free of guilt, raised the stone' (Ellestad stone). The basic word order has become SVO.

50. Inscriptions

Below are a few runic inscriptions. The last belongs to the NGmc period, but the remaining belong to NwGmc. They are listed in rough chronological order. First the inscription is given, then it is separated into words, and following there is a brief analysis and translation.

(1) Nølving clasp, Denmark, 200 AD: bidawarijaztalgidai In words: bidawarijaz talgidai.

  • bīd-a-: Compare Goth. beidan 'wait', OE bīdan 'bide'. PGmc */beid-a-/ < PIE */bheydh-o-/. Cf. Lat. fīdus 'loyal.
  • -war-ij-az: nom. sg. masc. yo-stem. Compare Goth. warjan, OE werian 'defend'. PGmc */war-ja-z/ < PIE */wor-yo-s/. Cf. Skt. varūtā 'protector.
  • talgidai = talg-i-d-ē: 3 sg. past, weak I, 'carved'. Compare OIc. telgja 'to carve'. PGmc */talg-i-d-ǣ-d/ < PIE */dol-gh-/. Cf. Lat. dolāre 'to hew'.

Translation: 'Bīdawarijaz [i.e. protector of the oath] carved (this).'

(2) Vimose chape, Denmark, 250-300 AD: (A) makija (B I) marida (B II) iala In words: makija maridai ala.

  • māk-ija: acc. sg. masc. yo-stem, 'sword'. Compare Goth. meki, OE mēce 'sword'. PGmc */mǣk-ija-n/ < Pre-Gmc */mēg-yo-m/.
  • maridai = mār-i-dē: 3 sg. past, weak I, 'decorated' or 'made famous'
  • ala = all-a: nom. sg. masc. ɔ̄̄n-stem. Compare Goth. Alla, OIc. Alli. PGmc */all-ɔ̄̄n/ < PIE */aln-ōn/. Cf. Lat. allers 'learned'.

Translation: 'Alla decorated the sword.'

(3) Kragehul spearshaft, Denmark, 300 AD: ekerilazasugisalasemuhahaiteagagagginuaghe... lija... hagalawijubig... In words: ek erilaz asugislas em uha haite ag ag ag ginu ag he... lija... hagala wijubig...

  • ek: nom. sg. 1st person pron., 'I'. Compare Goth. ik, OE ic. PGmc */ek, ekan/ < PIE */eg, egom, egō/. Cf. Lat. egō 'I'.
  • er-il-a-z: nom. sg. masc. o-stem, etymology obscure.
  • asu = ansu-: Compare Goth. ansis 'demigods', OIc. ass 'god'. PGmc */ans-u-/ < PIE */ans-w-/. Cf. Skt. asu-ra- 'lord'.
  • -gīs(a)l-a-s: nom. sg. masc. o-stem. Compare OE, OIc gīsl 'hostage'. PGmc */geisl-a-s/ < PIE */gheys-l-o-s/. Cf. OIr. gīall.
  • em: 1 sg. pres. 'am'. Compare Goth. im, OE ēom < PGmc */ez-mi/ < PIE */es-my/. Cf. Skt. asmi 'am'.
  • ūh-a: nom. sg. masc. ōn-stem. Compare OE ŷmest. PGmc */ūh-ɔ̄̄n/ < PIE */ūk-ōn/. Cf. OPr. u(c)ka- 'high'.
  • hait-ē: 1 sg. pres. mid. 'am called'. Compare Goth. haita < PGmc */hait-ai/ < PIE */koy-d-ay/. Cf. Lat. cieō 'call upon'.
  • a = a(u-ja): acc. sg. neut. yo-stem 'protection'. Compare OIc. ey 'luck'. PGmc. */au-ja-n/ < PIE */aw-yo-m/. Cf. Av. avaiti 'helps'.
  • g = g(ebū): 1 sg. pres., strong V, 'I give'. Compare Goth. giba. PGmc */geb-ɔ̄̄/ < PIE */ghebh-ō/. Cf. Lat. habēre 'have'.
  • ginu = ginn-u-: Compare OIc. ginn-heilagr 'very holy', OE ginn 'broad'. PGmc */ginn-u-/ < PIE */ghy-n-w-/. Cf. Lat. hiō 'yawn'.
  • hag(a)l-a: nom. or acc. sg. neut. o-stem. Compare OIc. hagl 'hail'. PGmc */hagl-a-n/ < PIE */kagh-l-o-m/. Cf. Gk. kákhlēx 'pebbles'.

Translation: 'I am the erilaz of Ansugīs(a)laz. I am called Ūha. I give protection, I give protection, I give protection, I give mighty protection... hail...'

(4) Vetteland stone, Norway, 350 AD: (I) ... flagdafaikinazist (II) ... magozminasstaina (III) ... dazfaihido In words: ...flagdafaikinaz ist... magoz minas staina... daz faihido.

  • flagd-a-: Compare OHG fluohhan 'to curse', OE flōcan 'to strike'. PGmc */flagd-a-/ < PIE */pləg-dh-o-/. Cf. Lat. plāga 'blow'.
  • -faik-in-a-z: nom. sg. masc. o-stem. Compare OE fācen 'deceit'. PGmc */faik-in-a-z/ < PIE */poyg-yn-o-s/. Cf. Lat. piget 'vexes'.
  • is-t: 3 sg. pres. 'is'. Compare Goth. ist. PGmc */es-ti/ < PIE */es-ty/. Cf. Gk. estí 'is'.
  • mag-ō-z: gen. sg. masc. w-stem, 'son's'. Compare Goth. magus 'son, youth'. PGmc */mag-aw-ez/ < PIE */mag-ow-es/. Cf. OIr. maug 'servant'.
  • mīn-a-s: gen. sg. masc. o-stem, 'my'. Compare Goth. meins. PGmc */mein-a-s/ < PIE */me-y-n-o-s/. Cf. Gk. moí 'to me'.
  • stain-a: acc. sg. masc. o-stem, 'stone'. Compare Goth. stains. PGmc */stain-a-n/ < PIE */stoy-n-o-m/. Cf. Skt. styāyate 'hardens'.
  • ...d-a-z: nom. sg. masc. o-stem, proper name.
  • faih-i-dō: 1 sg. past, weak I, 'I painted'. Compare OE fāgian 'to color'. PGmc */faih-i-dɔ̄̄n/ < PIE */poyk-y-dh-o-m/. Cf. Lat. pictor 'painter'.

Translation: '... is subject to deceitful attack... my son's stone [acc.]... (I), ...-daz, painted.'

(5) Opedal stone, Norway, 350 AD: leubumez : wage : birgngguboroswestarminu In words: leubu mez : wage : birgnggu boro swestar minu.

  • leub-ū: nom. sg. fem. ā-stem, 'dear'. Compare Goth. liuba, OE lēof. PGmc */leub-ɔ̄̄/ < PIE */lewbh-ā/. Cf. Lat. lubens 'gladly'.
  • mēz: dat. sg. 1st person pron., 'to me'. Compare Goth. mis. PGmc */mez/ < PIE */me-s/. Cf. Gk. me 'me'.
  • wāg-ē: dat. sg. masc. o-stem. Compare Goth. wegs 'storm', OE wǣg 'rough water'. PGmc */wǣg-a-i/ < PIE */wēgh-o-y/. Cf. Gk. ókhos 'wagon'.
  • birgnggu = birg-ing-ū: dat. sg. fem. ā-stem. Compare Goth. bairgan, OE beorgan 'save, recover'. PGmc */berg-ing-ɔ̄̄-i/ < PIE */bhergh-enk(w)-ā-i/. Cf. Lith. birginti 'save'.
  • bor-ō: nom. sg. fem. ōn-stem. Compare Goth. baur, OIc. burr 'son'. PGmc */bur-ɔ̄̄n/ < PIE */bhr-ōn/. Cf. Lat. ferō 'carry'.
  • swest-ar: nom. sg. fem. consonant stem. Compare Goth. swistar, OE sweostor. PGmc */swest-ǣr/ < PIE */swe-sor-m/. Cf. Lat. soror 'sister'.
  • mīn-ū: nom. sg. fem. ā-stem. PGmc */mein-ɔ̄̄/, see (4) above.

Translation: 'Dear to me, /Wāgaz/ Birgingū, (is) Borō my sister.'

(6) Gallehus gold horn, Denmark, 400 AD: ekhlewagastiz : holtijaz : horna : tawido : In words: ek hlewagastiz holtijaz horna tawido.

  • ek: see (3) above.
  • hle-wa-: Compare OE hlēow, OIc. hlē 'lee, protection'. PGmc */hle-wa-/ < PIE */kl-ewo-/ (cf. Lat. cliēns 'bondsman') or */klew-o-/ (cf. Gk. klé(w)os 'fame').
  • -gastiz: nom. sg. masc. y-stem. Compare Goth. gasts, OIc. gestr 'guest'. PGmc */gast-i-z/ < PIE */ghost-y-s/. Cf. Lat. hostis 'stranger'.
  • holt-ija-z: nom. sg. masc. yo-stem, patronymic formed from *Holta-gastiz. Compare OE holt 'wood'. PGmc */hult-ija-z/ < PIE */kl-d-yo-s/. Cf. Gk. kladós 'twig'.
  • horn-a: acc. sg. neut. o-stem 'horn'. Compare Goth. haurn 'horn'. PGmc */hurn-a-n/ < PIE */kr-n-o-m/. Cf. Lat. cornu 'horn'.
  • taw-i-dō: 1 sg. past, weak I, 'I made'. Compare Goth. tawida 'did, made', OE tawode 'prepared'. PGmc */taw-i-dɔ̄̄n/ < PIE */dow-y-dh-o-m/. Cf. OIr. doid 'executes, takes care of'.

Translation: 'I, Hlewagastiz [i.e. protected or famous guest], son of Holtagastiz, made the horn.'

(7) Ro stone, Sweden, 400 AD: (I) swabaharjaz (II) sairawidaz (III) ... stainawarijazfahido (IV) ekhrazazsatido[s]tain[a] ana... r... In words: swabaharjaz sairawidaz [ek] stainawarijaz fahido ek hrazaz satido [s]tain[a] ana... r....

  • swāb-a-: Compare OHG Swābā 'Swabians'. PGmc */swǣb-a-/ < PIE */swē-bh-o-/. Cf. Skt. sabhā 'assembly'.
  • -har-ja-z: nom. sg. masc. yo-stem. Compare Goth. harjis, OE here 'army'. PGmc */har-yo-s/ < PIE */kor-yo-s/. Cf. OPers kāra- 'army'.
  • sair-a-: Compare Goth. sair, OE sār 'sore, wound'. PGmc */sair-a-/ < PIE */say-r-o-/. Cf. Lat. saevus 'enraged'.
  • -wīd-a-z: nom. sg. masc. o-stem. Compare OE wīd, OIc. víðr 'wide'. PGmc */wīd-a-z/ < PIE */wī-t-o-s/. Cf. Lat. vītāre 'avoid'.
  • [ek]: see (3) above.
  • stain-a-: see (4) above.
  • war-ija-z: see (1) above.
  • fahido = faih-i-dō: See (4) above. i omitted, or perhaps showing a change ai > ā, though saira suggests not. Alternately a 'modern' spelling, as with (10) below.
  • hraz-a-z: nom. sg. masc. o-stem. Compare OS hrōrian, OE hrǣran 'stir'. PGmc */hraz-a-z/ < PIE */krə-s-o-s/. Cf. Gk. krātēr 'mixing jug'.
  • sat-i-dō: 1 sg. past, weak I, 'I set'. Compare Goth. satida, OE sette 'set'. PGmc */sat-i-dɔ̄̄-n/ < PIE */sod-ey-dh-o-m/. Cf. Skt. sādayati 'sets'.
  • stain-[a]: see (4) above.
  • an(-a): prep. 'on'. (Final a may belong to the following word.)

Translation: 'Swābaharjaz [i.e. war-leader of one's people] with gaping wound. (I), Stainawarijaz [i.e. defender of stone], painted (it). I, Hrazaz [i.e. the agile one], set the stone on...'.

(8) Tune stone, Norway, 400 AD: (A I) ekwiwazafter woduri (A II) dewitadahalaiban : worahto (B I) [me]zwoduride : staina (B II) þrijozdohtrizdalidun (B III) arbijarjostezarbijano In words: ek wiwaz after woduride witadahalaiban worahto. [me]z woduride staina þrijoz dohtriz dalidun arbijarjostez arbijano.

  • ek: see (3) above.
  • wī-wa-z: nom. sg. masc. wo-stem. Compare Goth. waihsta 'nook', OE wicga 'beetle', OIc. víkva 'give way, turn'. PGmc */weyg-wa-z/ < PIE */weyk-wo-s/. Cf. Skt. vejati 'retreats'.
  • after: prep. Compare OE æfter, OIc. eptir. PGmc */af-ter-a-/ < PIE */op-ter-o-/. Cf. Gk. opísō 'to the back'.
  • wōd-u-: root consonant stem. Compare Goth. wōþs, OE wōd 'furious'. PGmc */wɔ̄̄d-/ < PIE */wāt-/. Cf. Lat. vātēs 'god-inspired singer'.
  • -rīd-ē: dat. sg. masc. o-stem. Compare OE rīdan, OIc. ríða 'to ride'. PGmc */reid-a-i/ < PIE */reydh-o-y/. Cf. OIr. rīadaim 'travel'.
  • witada- = wit-and-a-: Compare Goth. witan 'to watch', OE bewitian 'observe'. PGmc */wit-and-a-/ < PIE */wyd-ənt-o-/. Cf. Lat. videō 'see'.
  • h(a)laib-an: dat. sg. masc. ōn-stem. Compare Goth. gahlaiba 'fellow, i.e. bread-sharer', Goth. hlaifs 'loaf, bread'. PGmc */hlaib-on-i/ < PIE */kloybh-on-y/. Cf. Gk. klíbanos 'dish for baking bread'.
  • wor(a)h-tō: 1 sg. pres., weak I, 'I wrought'. Compare Goth. waurhta, OE worhte 'wrought'. PGmc */wurh-tɔ̄̄-n/ < PIE */wrg-t-ɔ̄̄-m/. Cf. Gk. érgon 'work'.
  • []z: see (5) above.
  • stain-a: see (4) above.
  • þri-jō-z: nom. pl. fem. -stem, 'three'. Compare OS thrīa, OIc. þrjár 'three'. PGmc */þre-jɔ̄̄-z/ < PIE */trey-ā-s/. Cf. Lat. trēs 'three'.
  • doht-r-iz: nom. pl. fem. consonant stem, 'daughters'. Compare OS dohter, OE dohtor 'daughter'. PGmc */duht-er-ez/ < PIE */dwghə-ter-es/. Cf. Gk. thugátēr 'daughter'.
  • dāl-i-d-un: 3 pl. past, weak I, 'prepared'. Compare OIc. dæll 'adaptable'. PGmc */dǣl-i-d-nd/ < PIE */dhel-/. Cf. OCS dēlati 'to treat, work'.
  • arb-ij-: (Final vowel lost before following vowel.) Compare Goth. arbi, OE ierfe 'inheritance'. PGmc */arb-ija-/ < PIE */orbh-yo-/. Cf. Lat. orbus 'bereaved'.
  • -ar-jōst-ēz: gen. pl. masc., superlative of */ar-ja-z/. PGmc */ar-jɔ̄̄st-a-ez/ < PIE */ar-yōst-o-es/. Cf. Gk. áristos 'the best'.
  • arb-ijan-ō: gen. pl. masc. yōn-stem, 'of heirs'. Compare Goth. arbjane, OE ierfena 'of heirs'. PGmc */arb-ijan-ɔ̄̄n/ < PIE */orbh-yon-ōm/. See arbij- above.

Translation: 'I, Wīwaz [i.e. the darting one], wrought (the inscription) after [i.e. in commemoration of] Wōdurīdaz [i.e. furious rider], the lord [i.e. bread-ward]. For me, Wōdurīdaz, three daughters, the most legitimate-to-inherit of heirs, prepared the stone.'

(9) Noleby stone, Sweden, 450 AD: (I) runofahiraginakudotojeka (II) unaþou : suhurah : susiehhwatin (III) hakuþo In words: runo fahi raginakudo tojeka unaþou suhurah susieh hwatin hakuþo.

  • rūn-ō: acc. sg. fem. ā-stem, 'rune'. Compare Goth. rūna 'secret', OE rūn 'secret, consultation'. PGmc */rūn-ɔ̄̄-n/ < PIE */rūn-ā-m/. Cf. Lat. rūmor 'noise, rumor'.
  • fah-i: acc. sg. fem. y-stem, 'suitable'. Compare Goth. faheþs 'joy', fagrs 'suitable'. PGmc */fah-i-n/ < PIE */pak-y-m/. Cf. Umbr. pacer 'favorable'.
  • rag-in-a-: Compare Goth. ragin 'counsel', OE regn- 'determined by fate', OIc. regin 'ruling gods'. PGmc */rag-in-a-/ < PIE */rok-yn-o-/. Cf. regō 'direct'.
  • -kudo = kund-ō: acc. sg. fem. ā-stem. Compare Goth. -kunda, OE -cunde 'descent, lineage'. PGmc */kund-ɔ̄̄-n/ < PIE */gn-t-ā-m/. Cf. Lat. (g)nātus 'born'.
  • tōj-: 1 sg. pres., weak I, 'prepare'. Compare Goth. taujan 'do', OE towian 'prepare'. PGmc */tɔ̄̄(w)-(i)j-/ < PIE */dō(w)-y-/. Cf. Gk. daíō 'burn'.
  • -eka: see (3) above.
  • hak-u-þ-ō: dat. sg. masc. w-stem. Compare OS hacud, OE hacod 'pike (fish)'. PGmc */hak-u-þ-aw-i/ < PIE */kog-w-t-ow-i/. Cf. OCS socha 'cudgel'.

Translation: 'I prepare the suitable divine rune... for Hakuþuz [i.e. the crooked one].'

(10) Stentoften stone, Sweden, 600-650 AD (NGmc): (I) niuhAborumz (II) niuhagestumz (III) hAþuwolAfzgAfj (IV) hAriwolAfzmAg * usnuh * e (V) hidezrunonofelAhekAhederAginoronoz (VI) herAmAlAsAzArAgeuwelAdudsAþAtbAriutiþ In words: ni uhA borumz ni uha gestumz hAþuwolAfz gAf j hAriwolAfz mAg[i]u snuh * e hidezruno no felAhekA hederA ginoronoz herAmAlAs Az ArAgeu welAduds sA þAt bAriutiþ.

  • : separable negative particle, 'not'. Compare Goth. nei 'not', OIc. 'no'. PGmc */nei/ < PIE */ney/. Cf. Lat. 'so that not'.
  • ūh-a: see (3) above.
  • bor-umz: dat. pl. masc. o-stem (ending from consonant and w-stems), 'to the sons'. PGmc */bur-a-mz/. See (5) above.
  • gestumz = gæst-umz: dat. pl. masc. y-stem (ending from consonant and w-stems), 'to the guests'. PGmc */gast-i-mz/. See (6) above.
  • hAþu- = hǫþ-u-: Compare OE headu- 'battle'. PGmc */haþ-u-/ < PIE */kot-w-/. Cf. Gk. kótos 'anger'.
  • -wolAfz = wul(a)f-z: nom. sg. masc. o-stem. Compare Goth. wulfs, OE wulf 'wolf'. PGmc */wulf-a-z/ < PIE */wlkw-o-s/. Cf. Gk. lúkos 'wolf'.
  • gaf: 3 sg. past, strong V, 'gave'. Compare Goth. gaf, OE geaf 'gave'. PGmc */gab-e/ < PIE */ghobh-e/. See (3) above.
  • j = āra: 'good harvest'.
  • hAri- = hær-i-: see (7) above.
  • -wolAfz = wul(a)f-z: see above.
  • mag[i]u = mæg[i]u: dat. sg. masc. w-stem. PGmc */mag-ew-i/. See (4) above.
  • hidez- = hæd(e)r-: 'bright'. Compare OE hādor 'brightness', OIc. heiðr 'clear'. PGmc */haidr-/ < PIE */(s)kəy-tr-o-/. Cf. Skt. citra- 'clear'.
  • -runo = -rūn-ā: gen. pl. fem. ā-stem, 'of... runes'. PGmc */run-ɔ̄̄-ɔ̄̄n/ < PIE */run-ā-ōm/. See (9) above.
  • no = runu: (copying error) dat. sg. fem. ā-stem, 'sequence'. Compare OIc. runi 'run, river', OE rinnan 'flow'. PGmc */run-ɔ̄̄-i/ < PIE */r-n-ā-y/. Cf. Lat. orior 'arise'.
  • felAh- = fæl(a)h-: 1 sg. pres., strong III (with loss of ending before enclitic pron.), 'commit'. Compare Goth. filha, OE fēole 'hide, transfer'. PGmc */felh-ɔ̄̄/ < PIE */pel-k-ō/. Cf. OPr. pelkis 'cloak'.
  • -ekA = -æk-a: nom. sg. 1st person enclitic pron, 'I'. See (3) above.
  • hederA = hæd(e)ra: adv. 'here'. Compare Goth. hidre, OE hider 'hither'. PGmc */hi-dra-n/ < PIE */ky-tro-m/. Cf. Lat. citrā 'on this side'.
  • gino- = ginn(a)-: see (3) above.
  • -ronoz = rūn-ā-z: acc. pl. fem. ā-stem. PGmc */rūn-ɔ̄̄-z/. See (9) above.
  • herAmA- = hjær(a)m(a)-: Compare OHG skerm 'cover, shield', OS (bi)skirmian 'protect'. PGmc */herm-a-/ < PIE */(s)ker-m-o-/. Cf. Lat. corium 'leather'.
  • -lAs = -løs: nom. sg. masc. o-stem. Compare Goth. -laus, OE -lēas '-less, without'. PGmc */-laus-a-z/ < PIE */low-s-o-s/. Cf. Gk. lúō 'dissolve'.
  • Az = æz: 3 sg. pres. (levelled from 2 sg.), 'is'. Compare Goth. is, OIc. es. PGmc (2 sg.) */es(-i)/ < PIE */es(-i)/. Cf. Lat. es.
  • ArAgeu = ær(a)g-iū: dat. sg. fem. -stem, 'through baseness'. Compare OE earg 'cowardly', OIc. ergi 'baseness'. PGmc */arg-ijɔ̄̄-i/ < PIE */orgh-yā-y/. Cf. Gk. orkhein 'swing, move'.
  • welA- = wǣl(a)-: Compare OIc. véla 'deceive', OE wigol 'pertaining to soothsaying'. PGmc */wihl-a-/ < PIE */wyk-l-o-/. Cf. Lat. victima 'sacrifice'.
  • -duds = -døds: gen. sg. masc. o-stem 'of death'. Compare Goth. dauþaus, OE dēaðes 'death's'. PGmc */dauþ-a-s/ < PIE */dhow-t-o-s/. Cf. Lat. fūnus 'funeral'.
  • sa: nom. sg. masc. demonstrative pron., 'he'. Compare Goth. sa, OE se. PGmc */s-a/ < PIE */s-o/. Cf. Gk. ho 'he, the'.
  • þat: acc. sg. neut. demonstrative pron., 'this'. Compare Goth. þat-a, OE þæt 'that, the'. PGmc */þa-t/ < PIE */to-d/. Cf. Lat. is-tud 'this'.
  • bAriutiþ = b(a)rŷtiþ 3 sg. pres., strong II, 'breaks'. Compare OIc. brýtr 'breaks', OE brīett 'destroys'. PGmc */breut-e-di/ < PIE */bhrew-d-e-ty/. Cf. Skt. bhrūnam 'embryo'.

Translation: 'Not Ūha to the sons [i.e. natives], not Ūha to the guests [i.e. non-natives], (but) Hǫþuwul(a)fz gave good harvest. Hæriwul(a)fz (to?) his son... The sequence of bright-runes I commit here [i.e. to this stone], mighty-runes. Protectionless through [i.e. because of] baseness, (in possession) of an insidious death is he (who) breaks this.'