Heill Llama!

--- In norse_course@yahoogroups.com, "llama_nom" <600cell@...> wrote:
> --- In norse_course@yahoogroups.com, "akoddsson" <konrad_oddsson@>
> wrote:
> >
> > But, even as much as I would never want to disagree with the
1st, he was definitely wrong about one thing - he write 'rúnar uísa
óskýrt'. Totally false, at least in his time (early 12th).

> What do you think to Einar Haugen's comment that 'rúnar' is just a
stylistic variant of 'stafir' and 'látínustafir' here?

> Nú má verða at því, at nǫkkurr svari svá: `Ek
má fullvel lesa danska tungu, þó at látínustǫfum
réttum sé ritit. Má ek þó at líkindum ráða, hvé
kveða skal, þó at eigi sé allir stafir réttræðir í
því, er ek les. Rœki ek eigi, hvárt þú rítr [ǫ]
þítt eða a, [e] eða ę, y ok u.' En ek svara svá:
Eigi er þat rúnanna kostr, þó at þú lesir vel eða
ráðir vel at líkindum; þar sem rúnar vísa óskyrt.

> Admittedly, he mentions a suggestion by Magnus Olsen that the First
Grammarian's use of the word 'rúnar' might be intended to "exress a
certain scorn of his opponents' practice". As far as I can see, if
the First Grammarian did have a low opinion of runes, it might make
sense to interpret the word as refering here to what we would call
runes, as if to say: "You might claim you can read letters without
accents and still figure out the meaning, but consider this: you can
*even* read the runic letters--and you wouldn't call them an
adequate writing system." Or does the definite article make it more
likely that he's referring back to the Latin letters he's just
mentioned? Are there any examples where 'rúnar' is used
unambiguously of Latin letters? Can we read anything into his

> 'runar heita geltir, en rúnar málstafir'
"male pigs are called boars, but letters are called runes"

Yes, I think rúnar refers to letters here and above. I also incline
toward the view that this was also the original, basic meaning of
the word, and that secondary usages evolved therefrom - that things
which could be represented by written runes, such as sayings, bits
of lore, etc., or even a speaking companion (rúni/rúna), could be
thus refered to. Compare Óðins use of 'fornir stafir' to refer to
the knowledge of Vafþrúðnir jötunn. In runic inscriptions both the
words rúnar and stafir refer to the inscribed characters themselves,
and are widely attested. The secondary meanings are, of course,
natural. One can see that even in an inscriptional instance where
the literal meaning seems indicated, such as 'þórr uígi þessar
rúnar', one can by extension assume that Þórr is invoked to hallow
the entire grave monument - in fact, þórr uígi þessi kuml does also
occur in extant inscription. Fimbultýs fornar rúnar (Völuspá - end)
is another example where the meaning seems to refer to events and
tidings from the reign of Óðinn, and relating to him, rather than to
Óðins alphabet as such, despite the fact that this god is also the
inventer of the written runes. A complex word indeed ;-) Still, and
despite the lack of attestation, I have no doubt that the Goths also
called the characters of their native alphabet runes *rûnôs. Modern
English also preserves the basic meaning, as well as the original
use of 'read and write' (ON ráða and (v)ríta). Both ráða and (v)ríta
occur in inscriptons in their original, basic meanings of 'to read
and write', although (v)ríta is rare because runes were inscribed
(ristnar, rísta) on rocks. Snorri 'lét ríta' in Heimskringla. ráð þú
rúnar, ráð rúnar þ¿r reginkunnu, ráði sás kunni, etc. all occur in
inscriptions, meaning 'read'. Lesa and skrifa are secondary in ON,
the latter a foreign borrowing, the former an extended meaning from
ON lesa (to collect, gather, etc.). Our forefathers, then, would
both rísta and (v)ríta rúnar, as well as ráða rúnar (read runes).
Not that all of this relates to your original qustion about how the
1st uses the word, but why not mention it for history's sake ;-)

> Einar Haugen's translation implies that 'rúnar' is synonymous with
'málstafir'. But perhaps that's not necessarily the case, given
examples like: 'öl heitir drykkr' "beer is a drink", "there is a
drink called ale". Would it be equally possible to interpret the
above as "there are (some) letters (which are) called runes"?

It seems that the word 'stafr', which beside 'rún' refers to a
letter or written character in inscriptions, was entering general
use as a term for a Latin letter by the 1st's time, but that 'rún'
was being set aside as a designation for a letter of the common
folk's alphabet in contrast. This is a new development, as both
words originally only refered to runic characters, and Latin ones
were not in use. I think it likely that the 1st takes part in this
new development, prefering 'stafr' for a Latin character and 'rún'
for a native one. What strikes me most about his comment here,
however, is that while he has to introduce 4 new vowel characters to
write ON in Latin characters, 9 vowel characters were already in
common runic use at the time, even in Ari's time. It seems that the
idea of one universal religion, and by extention, one european, and
world, state that arose as a result of Rome's adoptation of, and
exportation of, Christianity necessarily meant that all subjects of
the new, universal empire should be using the alphabet of this same
universal empire, or at least a variant thereof. It seems that the
church's early elite in Nordic countries, therefore, had a somewhat
ambiguous attitude toward the native alphabet. It's use was very
widespread indeed, and the characters well suited to the language,
but on the other hand they had no history within, or connection to,
the church's traditions. Young church intellectuals were probably
also eager to show their learning, which at that time took place in
the Latin language. The could have made Latin characters a sign of
prestige, as the common folk could not read them. The spreading of
the Latin alphabet to the common man after the reformation, via the
printing press and the good priests whose job it was to travell to
countryside and teach the children letters, masks the fact that the
runic alphabet was the one, true alphabet of the common folk down to
the time of the reformation, and in some places even later. It's a
fact of history that is conveniently overlooked to this day.


> LN