Old Norse Runic Translation

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
Andyfed83
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2024 5:42 pm
Languages: I speak primarily English and I dabble in Old Norse
x 1

Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby Andyfed83 » Sun Apr 14, 2024 6:26 pm

Hello, my first time on this forum, go easy on me :lol: I've dabble around in Old Norse for a little while now, just for fun, nothing serious or academic. I just like the language and since I'm part Swedish, I have some connection to it.
I'm not sure if anyone could help me, but I wanted to get an accurate runic translation (Younger Futhark) of the phrase, "hew many foe-men," with the proper Old Norse runes and grammar simply because I'm a stickler for accuracy. I was going to engrave it on an axe handle. I tried those online translators, but they seem to only swap English letters for runes and don't correct for grammar or spelling. If this is an inappropriate topic for this forum, would you kindly point me in the right direction? Thank you so very much
1 x

Cainntear
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3647
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 9025
Contact:

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby Cainntear » Sun Apr 14, 2024 6:53 pm

I've got no idea about it, but I'll just say that if you're dabbling with the language, you're likely to get a better response if you make an attempt at it yourself first and ask for hints or tips off the back of that.
1 x

User avatar
emk
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1733
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:07 pm
Location: Vermont, USA
Languages: English (N), French (B2+)
Badly neglected "just for fun" languages: Middle Egyptian, Spanish.
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=723
x 6907

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby emk » Sun Apr 14, 2024 10:38 pm

Andyfed83 wrote:Hello, my first time on this forum, go easy on me :lol: I've dabble around in Old Norse for a little while now, just for fun, nothing serious or academic. I just like the language and since I'm part Swedish, I have some connection to it.
I'm not sure if anyone could help me, but I wanted to get an accurate runic translation (Younger Futhark) of the phrase, "hew many foe-men," with the proper Old Norse runes and grammar simply because I'm a stickler for accuracy. I was going to engrave it on an axe handle. I tried those online translators, but they seem to only swap English letters for runes and don't correct for grammar or spelling. If this is an inappropriate topic for this forum, would you kindly point me in the right direction? Thank you so very much

I can't give you a translation, because I don't read Old Norse. (Sometimes I can decipher tiny bits, with sufficient reference materials and couple of hours to kill.) But I can try to point you in a useful direction. Be warned: if you care about things like getting a specific regional variation of the Younger Futhark correct, this can get time consuming. :lol:

The Rundata database is an enormous collection of runic inscriptions. You can search it for particular text. If you're lucky, you'll find an Old Norse transliteration that's similar to what you want to say. If you're willing to translate back into the Younger Futhark by hand, you can stop here.

If that doesn't work, then maybe check An Introduction to Old Norse, which includes a fairly generous selection of Old Norse text and a glossary.

But let's say you want to get the local variant of the Younger Futhark correct. If you found relevant text in Rundata, then you should be able to track down an image of the original rune stone bearing the inscription. This may not be cheap or easy. But if (for example) the rune stone you want was discovered in Denmark, then you'd need to find a copy of Danmarks runeindskrifter (which is actually in two parts—a big illustrated book, and a tiny paperback index book). There are other books like this for other countries. I wish you luck, because some of these have been out of print for a long time.

I also have some painstakingly constructed keyboard mappings for various runic alphabets, if that helps any.

Then, depending on how close a match you found (and your command of Old Norse), you should be able to splice together something that's just about as historically authentic as you wish.

(Edit: Revised to add more resources.)
2 x

User avatar
cito
Orange Belt
Posts: 200
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:35 am
Languages: english (N) //
use: french
study: latin, modern greek
study sometimes: spanish, russian, old english
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=17064
x 805

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby cito » Sun Apr 14, 2024 11:59 pm

The phrase "hew many foe-men" is going to require you to study some grammar likely. Research imperative verbs, case usage with the old norse equivalent of "hew," and also adjective/noun agreement (foe-men would be probably in the accusative case, if ON is like Old English).
1 x
<><
5k French Pages: 0 / 5000
100 French Movies: 0 / 100
5k Latin Pages: 0 / 5000
Greek Super Challenge: 0 / 100

User avatar
Iversen
Black Belt - 4th Dan
Posts: 4839
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: Denmark
Languages: Monolingual travels in Danish, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Romanian and (part time) Esperanto
Ahem, not yet: Norwegian, Afrikaans, Platt, Scots, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Albanian, Greek, Latin, Irish, Indonesian and a few more...
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1027
x 15260

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby Iversen » Mon Apr 15, 2024 9:17 am

I won't give you a finished authoritative translation, partly because there are some choices to be made, partly because I have learnt a bit of modern Icelandic, but my Old Norse is purely passive. And I have never bothered to learn the runic alphabet, but I do know that practically all the texts you see in Old Norse text collections have been normalized to make them easier to read. The original texts on for instance runic stones can be quite cryptic.

The obvious choice to "to hew" is "höggva" with the imperative 2.person singular "högg"* (though in Old Norse the ö would be written as ǫ) - but in Danish we say "hugge ned", and "högg þú niður" might be more or less idiomatic than just "högg þú" - ah cannae say, ah dunno. "höggva" takes the accusative, but for instance "slátra" ('butcher') is used with the dative case. As for "foe men" it's a question whether the added "men" is necessary - "foes" (fjandur = plural of fjandi) alone could potentially be enough, but my Icelandic-English dictionary does contain "fjandmaður", which has an irregular plural "fjandmenn". "Many foes" or "foe men" in accusative plural "would then become "marga fjandmenn", and the complete bloodcurdling translation would then be "hǫgg þú (niður) marga fjandmenn" (or drop þú and keep niður - your choice). But don't trust me blindly - I'm not an expert. I don't even know whether the vikings wrote such invocations on their swords.

EDIT: Verbix says the imperative of höggva is "höggv", but that doesn't sound credible. GT translates it as"höggva" (like the infinitive), but I have chosen to trust the learned guys from Göttingen who say it was "högg" in the olden days of yore. And by the way: I have decided to read some of the texts from my antique Wimmer's Oldnordisk Læsebog ('reading book') this night to get back into the groove. Maybe there are characters there who delight in killing people by sword, and I vaguely remember that there were bewitched swords back then that would kill someone whenever you drew them. Better not be in the neighboorhood...
4 x

Andyfed83
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2024 5:42 pm
Languages: I speak primarily English and I dabble in Old Norse
x 1

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby Andyfed83 » Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:31 pm

Thank you everyone! Your suggestions are, and will be, most helpful. Now I have something to go on. I've heard/read the phrase, "hew many foe-men" translated as, "hǫggva mann ok annan." So you were correct, Iversen. (By the way, you certainly sound like an expert to me.) That of course is a word-for-word transliteration, so the grammar is probably incorrect, in Old Norse, naturally. To be honest, I'd be fine with that for an inscription that no one will understand except me, but when I try to get a runic translation with the online translators I get a letter-for-letter transliteration and I know that, as a rule, Old Norse does not use double consonants... Perhaps if I simply drop the second consonant it would be close enough... What do y'all think?
0 x

User avatar
Iversen
Black Belt - 4th Dan
Posts: 4839
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: Denmark
Languages: Monolingual travels in Danish, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Romanian and (part time) Esperanto
Ahem, not yet: Norwegian, Afrikaans, Platt, Scots, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Albanian, Greek, Latin, Irish, Indonesian and a few more...
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1027
x 15260

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby Iversen » Wed Apr 17, 2024 12:49 pm

"Hǫggva mann ok annan" is not a literal translation - it means "hew man (or collectively: men) and other". There may be some expression I don't know (it is not listed in my dictionaries), but the expression reminds me of an old Danish idiom. "en og anden", which simply means "somebody" (like in the expression "en og anden brokker sig måske" => "somebody may grumble". But you want your sword to wreak havoc on a multitude of foes so I would recommend you to forget about "mann ok annan". Besides there are lots of double consonants in Old Norse so please keep them.

By the way, since my first answer I have read a section of the Völsunga saga, namely the one where Sigurd has got the smith Regin to redo the magical sword Gram which had been splintered (don't you sense some Tolkienesque echo here - the sword of Feanor?) - and then he goes into battle against the sons of Hunding, who slew his father. And this is what happens (my translation):

(...). and when the battle has been going on for quite some time, Sigurd arrives at the battlefield and he has the sword Gram in his hands (note the plural!): he hews both men and horses and walks toward the 'fylking' (an army formation) and has both hands bloody to the shoulders, and cuts down people as he moves, and doesn't stop neither for helmets nor harnishes, and no one has ever seen a similar man. (...) and when Sigurd has reached the fylking, then come against him the sons of king Hunding. Sigurd slays king Lyngva and cuts through his helmet and head and breastplate, and after that he cuts Hjorvard his brother into two parts, and then he also killed all the sons of king Hunding which still were alive and most of their entourage. And then he travels home with much honour and lots of cattle and spoils which he had taken during this voyage

I guess that's what you expect from your sword :lol:
2 x

Andyfed83
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2024 5:42 pm
Languages: I speak primarily English and I dabble in Old Norse
x 1

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby Andyfed83 » Wed Apr 17, 2024 9:43 pm

Iversen wrote:"Hǫggva mann ok annan" is not a literal translation - it means "hew man (or collectively: men) and other". There may be some expression I don't know (it is not listed in my dictionaries), but the expression reminds me of an old Danish idiom. "en og anden", which simply means "somebody" (like in the expression "en og anden brokker sig måske" => "somebody may grumble". But you want your sword to wreak havoc on a multitude of foes so I would recommend you to forget about "mann ok annan". Besides there are lots of double consonants in Old Norse so please keep them.

By the way, since my first answer I have read a section of the Völsunga saga, namely the one where Sigurd has got the smith Regin to redo the magical sword Gram which had been splintered (don't you sense some Tolkienesque echo here - the sword of Feanor?) - and then he goes into battle against the sons of Hunding, who slew his father. And this is what happens (my translation):

(...). and when the battle has been going on for quite some time, Sigurd arrives at the battlefield and he has the sword Gram in his hands (note the plural!): he hews both men and horses and walks toward the 'fylking' (an army formation) and has both hands bloody to the shoulders, and cuts down people as he moves, and doesn't stop neither for helmets nor harnishes, and no one has ever seen a similar man. (...) and when Sigurd has reached the fylking, then come against him the sons of king Hunding. Sigurd slays king Lyngva and cuts through his helmet and head and breastplate, and after that he cuts Hjorvard his brother into two parts, and then he also killed all the sons of king Hunding which still were alive and most of their entourage. And then he travels home with much honour and lots of cattle and spoils which he had taken during this voyage

I guess that's what you expect from your sword :lol:



See, this is why I came looking for an actual language forum and not a subreddit; Amateurs who sound more like professors, I mean that in the best sense possible. That's very interesting Iversen, when I heard that translation, "hǫggva mann ok annan," it was in a song translated into Old Norse, so I think the songwriter may have went with a translation that was close, but still made melodic sense. If you're interested, look up "Colm McGuinness My Mother Told Me in Old Norse." I would post a link, but I think there's a rule against posting links or something. As you may already know, it's from a poem by Egill Skallagrímsson in Egil's Saga and later was turned into an Icelandic folk song. I heard Jackson Crawford translate, "hǫggva mann ok annan," as "kill one man after another." That of course would line up nicely with the translation you gave, "hew man (or men) and other," but that doesn't make much sense or sound very nice in English, does it? Literal translations are often times a little rough on the ears :lol:.
At the end of the day, the runic translation accuracy isn't all that important. I just wanted to make my axe look more "Viking-ish" and to have a conversation starter. I certainly don't intend to "enchant" my axe. If that were the case, I would have the runes read, "hew many foe-trees" or "chop much firewood." I just have a bit of OCD when it comes to certain things, such as runic translations.
0 x

User avatar
emk
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1733
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:07 pm
Location: Vermont, USA
Languages: English (N), French (B2+)
Badly neglected "just for fun" languages: Middle Egyptian, Spanish.
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=723
x 6907

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby emk » Wed Apr 17, 2024 10:06 pm

Andyfed83 wrote:At the end of the day, the runic translation accuracy isn't all that important.

If you can get a solid Old Norse phrase that you like, I can definitely help you get a bit closer on translating it into runes—as I mentioned up thread, the Rundata database is extremely useful for this part of the problem, because you can actually look up real-world spellings, and get a sense for how things like double consonants were actually handled.

(If you want to get really into the weeds with things like when to use short-twig runes, or the variant runes used in different countries, then sure, you can spend quite a bit of time on this. I did something like this as a gift once for someone descended from the Danish viking expeditions. Every last bit was sourced back to actual inscriptions. I'd say that this was a sign of being slightly obsessive, except around here it's probably normal. :lol:)
0 x

Andyfed83
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2024 5:42 pm
Languages: I speak primarily English and I dabble in Old Norse
x 1

Re: Old Norse Runic Translation

Postby Andyfed83 » Wed Apr 17, 2024 11:13 pm

emk wrote:
Andyfed83 wrote:At the end of the day, the runic translation accuracy isn't all that important.

If you can get a solid Old Norse phrase that you like, I can definitely help you get a bit closer on translating it into runes—as I mentioned up thread, the Rundata database is extremely useful for this part of the problem, because you can actually look up real-world spellings, and get a sense for how things like double consonants were actually handled.

(If you want to get really into the weeds with things like when to use short-twig runes, or the variant runes used in different countries, then sure, you can spend quite a bit of time on this. I did something like this as a gift once for someone descended from the Danish viking expeditions. Every last bit was sourced back to actual inscriptions. I'd say that this was a sign of being slightly obsessive, except around here it's probably normal. :lol:)



I think I'll "stick" (get it?) with the long-branch runes, I like those the best lol. As far as a specific Old Norse phrase, I'm not sure. Obviously, something that would mean, "hew many foe-men," or that would invoke the same meaning is what I'm going for. That way when my friends ask me,"What do those symbols on your axe mean?" I'll have a killer story to tell... pun intended lol. I'll have to check out the Rundata database you mentioned. That's a website, correct?
0 x


Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: tommus and 2 guests