1) Runes are not used for inscriptions today, at least not very often, but to people for whom the runes hold significance like myself and many of my friends and family it is fairly common. Whether it's carving on the wooden scabbard of a sword, various chants for victory, or just carving my name on my wooden bowls and spoons so people don't get them confused. ;D
Historical carvings are generally transcripted into Latin characters so they can be understood. I suppose the only use for learning them would be if you wanted to understand historical inscriptions of which there are a huge number, or if you wanted to carve your own for whatever purposes you wanted.
2) There are various books on the matter, but it is difficult to find books that know what they are talking about... some books I've found talk about "Celtic runes" and "The rune of destiny"... Any book with this in, I would stay away from. It's absolute nonsense. XD
Also, I am willing to teach people to learn to read and write runes, it is a subject of which I feel very confident about my knowledge. :)
3) The pronunciation is subtle but important. Ýr is used for the "r" that is featured at the end of masculine strong nouns... such as "Hundr" "Refr" "Kǫttr" "Grautr" "Maðr" etc. It is like the normal R for which reið would be used except the tongue is curled up slightly at the sides and the tip of the tongue is closer to the roof of the mouth so that it almost whistles... it's hard to explain. >.> It's only written as an R in Latin-spelling of Old Icelandic because if you are pronouncing "hundr" without any gap between D and R... the R should naturally have that sound anyway... it's not "Hun-dur" as two syllables like modern Icelandic... it's almost like one syllable. Hundr!
So if you were writing an inscription you'd need to put it where there is a strong masculine noun. ;)
4) These are for mediæval runes and they change the sound slightly...
For example: Íss represents [i], Íss with a dot represents [e]
Þurs represents [þ], Þurs with a dot represents [ð]
Dotted Úr gives you [y], Dotted Kaun gives you [g], Dotted Týr gives you [d], Dotted Sól gives you [z] etc.
You'd use them if you fancied using the mediæval runes, otherwise just use them dotless and let people work it out. :D
5) There's certainly nothing to be lost from learning the other Fuþark systems, there are some Anglo-saxon carvings and some Proto-Norse and perhaps some Proto-Germanic carvings. :)
It is not easy to learn Proto-Norse in that there are no surviving sources other than a few runic inscriptions... but usually these inscriptions are very short, and hard to translate. Most of Proto-Norse is "calculated" and approximated through linguistic study of Old Norse and other Germanic languages. So I think you'd have yourself a real hard time trying to learn a proto-language. Elder fuþark is for Proto-Norse and Proto-Germanic. :D
6) What you have to understand, is that people who carved runes did not have an education. In fact, most people would have learnt Old Norse as they were growing up, solely as a spoken language, and not as a written language at all... only some people learnt the runes, people who were lucky enough to find people to teach them, if that person even wanted to teach them at all. Probably only learning no earlier than 16 or 17 (I come to this conclusion based on the content of runic inscriptions, and also people's attitudes towards them at the time), so anyway, the point is they did not have the understanding of phonetics that is taught in schools today. For example, words like England in runes could sometimes see the N before the D missing, and sometimes both Ns... "Iklat" or "Inklat" instead of "Inklant" which is what you would expect. Simply because they would not have been taught the whole "Eh, Nuh, Guh, Luh, Ah, Nuh, Duh. England!"
Also, no doubt there would be various different regional dialects of Old Norse, and I think most people standardise Old Norse to the Western branch when most inscriptions are in Sweden where they spoke Old East Norse. So perhaps in some cases there will be a confusion over vowel sounds when an inscription has the Eastern spelling and it is transliterated and standardised to the Western spelling in the Latin alphabet. All these things contribute to there not being a very complete system for what rune represents what.
I've attached a document, which contains the most likely system of transliteration based on the averages of hundreds of runic inscriptions. This is not perfect but I think it is most accurate. :) You might need to download the "Gullskoen" font to view it properly though.
Anyway, in answer to your question, I'd use íss for every occassion except for the "e i" diphthong which I would carve as an ár and an íss. :)
Friendliest heathen regards,
-Sveinn "Tungumargi" Fjǫlnirsson
P.S. Sorry if I went on too long. XD
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2011 01:31:08 -0500
Subject: [norse_course] Rune Questions
Some questions regarding Younger Fuþark runes (unless otherwise noted)
1) Are runes still used to write inscriptions, or are they only transcripted to latin characters, (A.K.A. is there any use for learning them?)
2) Where might I learn to read/write runes?
3) What is the difference between ýr and reið runes? I know there is some difference in pronunciation, but does that exist in old icelandic? there is only one character for it. (Also where would I put it if I were writing an inscription?)
4) Dotted runes. What do they signify and when would I use them if I were writing an inscription?
5) Is there use in learning other Fuþark systems, can one learn (Do people even know?) Proto-Norse (What I assume Elder Fuþark is for)
6) For 'e' when would I put iss, and when ár? I see they can both represent the sound.
Thanks for all the help,