Saturday, 10 February 2018

ᚹᚨᚱᛞᚱᚢᚾᚨ

Wardruna is a Norwegian band that uses the "oldest of Nordic instruments and poetic metres as well as lyrics written in Norwegian, Old Norse and Proto-Norse tongue". 

A band that sings in Proto-Norse?

I think what Wikipedia calls Proto-Norse is the same as what Fortson in Indo-European Language and Culture calls Runic: the language of the Elder Futhark alphabet and possibly the ancestor of Old Norse.

This Runic inscription dates from AD 400: a golden horn found in Gallehus, Jutland.
The runes are read from left to right and begin with the dark ᛖ to the right of the word in the centre. They read:

ᛖᚲᚺᛚᛖᚹᚨᚷᚨᛋᛏᛁᛉ ᚺᛟᛚᛏᛁᛃᚨᛉ ᚺᛟᚱᚾᚨ ᛏᚨᚹᛁᛞᛟ
ekhlewagastiz holtijaz horna tawido
“I, Hlewagastiz Holtijaz, made (this) horn.”

Its phonology isn’t that different from Proto-Germanic; it retains the final *-z that became r in Old Norse. Wardruna uses a transliteration with R instead of z. Fortson says “The rune for this sound is frequently transcribed R, on the assumption that its phonetic value is between that of a z and an r; but this assumption is unnecessary.”

All of Wardruna's Runic song titles are names for runes. The origin of rune names is interesting. As far as I can tell, someone hypothesized Proto-Germanic and Runic names for the Elder Futhark letters based on evidence in later Anglo-Saxon rune poems. In other words, the names for the runes might not have been used at the time of the Elder Futhark, they might be later developments. On the other hand, this blog post argues that many of the rune names might date back to Proto-Germanic.

What I will do here is try to figure out what languages the song titles are in. But I know very little about North Germanic languages so I'd recommend just reading this blog.

Ár var alda: Old Norse “in days of yore”
Hagal: Runic *haǥalaz “hail”
Bjarkan: Old Norse “birch”
Løyndomsriss: løyndom is Norwegian "secret"
Heimta Thurs: Old Norse heimta “summon”, þurs “giant”
Thurs: Old Norse þurs “giant”
Jara: Runic *jāra “year”
Laukr: Old Norse “leek”
Kauna: Runic *kauna “ulcer”
Algir - Stien klarnar: cf Proto-Germanic *alǥiz “elk”. stien klarnar is Norwegian "the path is clear"
Algir - Tognatale: Icelandic togna "to be stretched", tal "speech"?
Dagr: Old Norse “day”

Rotlaust tre fell: Old Norse "rootless tree fell"?
Fehu: Runic *fehu “wealth, cattle” (English fee)
NaudiR: Runic *nauđiz “need”
EhwaR: Runic *ehwaz “horse”
AnsuR: Proto-Germanic *ansuz “god”
IwaR: Runic *īwaz “yew”
IngwaR: Runic *inǥwaz “Yngvi”
Gibu: Runic *ǥeƀu “gift”
Solringen: Norwegian “the sun ring”
Sowelu: Runic *sōwila “sun”
Helvegen: Norwegian “The road to Hel”

Tyr: Norwegian “Tyr”
UruR: Runic *ūruz, “aurochs”
Isa: Runic *īsaz “ice”
MannaR - Drivande: Runic *mannaz “man”. I’m not sure what drivande should be; the Old Norse is drifa, Proto-Germanic *drīƀan
Raido: Proto-Germanic *raiđō “ride”
Pertho: Runic *perþō, no one knows what this means
Odal: Runic *ōþilą "native land" (German edel)
Wunjo: Proto-Germanic *wunjō “joy” (Old English wynn)
Runaljod: Old Norse runa ljóð “song of runes”?

The rune wunjo ᚹ found its way into the Old English alphabet as the letter wynn Ƿ ƿ which was later replaced by W.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

gable and cephalopod

grimpoteuthis

Proto-Indo-European *ghebh-(e)l- "head" became Proto-Germanic *ǥaƀlaz "top of a pitched roof", then Old Norse gafl, borrowed into Old French as gable, then borrowed into English as gable.

In Greek *ghebh-(e)l-became κεϕαλή kephalē "head", which was borrowed into English as cephalopod with Greek πούς, ποδ- pous, pod- "foot". Cephalopods were so named because their feet are attached to their head, altho they are usually called arms.

In Tocharian A, *ghebh-(e)l- became śpāl "head".

Saturday, 15 July 2017

fight and ctenophore

pelagic ctenophore
benthic ctenophore
Proto-Indo-European *peḱ- "to pluck the hair" in the extended form *peḱt- became Proto-Germanic *feχtan "to fight" and English fight.

The zero-grade form *pḱt-en- became Greek κτείς, κτενός kteis, ktenos "comb", borrowed into English in ctenophore, the comb jelly.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Kamasutra and hymen

The kama of kamasutra is from Sanskrit कामः kāmaḥ "wish, desire, love", cognate with whore.

sutra is from Sanskrit सूत्रं sūtraṁ "thread" and "any work or manual consisting of strings of such rules hanging together like threads", from Proto-Indo-European *syuH- "to bind, sew" in the variant suffixed form *sū-tro-.

The suffixed form *syuH-men became Greek ὑμήν humēn "thin skin, membrane", borrowed into English as hymen.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Crepax's reversed Lautverschiebung


Guido Crepax's Valentina comics feature a subterranean race with a language that was heavily influenced by Germanic languages - he calls it "Lautverschiebung in reverse" as I noted in my previous post.

These stories have recently been published by Fantagraphics in beautiful English editions and I am reading them for the first time. Here are some of the words of the subterranean language, their meanings, and my guesses on where Crepax got them. Most of them are from Gothic.

In writing this post I looked in a bunch of Gothic dictionaries.

HÍMANA
celestial
Gothic himina- "heaven"

LÁIH
body
Old High German líh

NÍMAN
imprison, arrest, take
Gothic niman

QÉNA
queen
Gothic qens "wife"

QÍMAN
came
QAM
come
QÁMAN
come
Gothic qiman "to come", qam "come (1s pret)"

ÍH
I
Old High German ih

WÉIT
we
Gothic wit

NÉH
near
Gothic neƕ

BRÁUKJAN
need
Gothic brukjan

LEBANRAUMNAN
vital space
German Lebensraum

GRÉIPAN
invade
Gothic greipan "to snatch, clasp"

DÁUT
death
Gothic dauþus

WÁRTAN
will
Gothic wairþan "to become"

NÉSJAN
save
Gothic nasjan "to escape"

TIÚDAN
people
Gothic þiuda

WÁRPAN
throw
Gothic wairpan

WATO
water
Gothic watō

DIÚPAN
dive
Gothic diups "deep"

BLÍNTANA
blind
Old High German blint

WÁIHMA
soft
Old High German weih

WÁRMA
warm

WIL
will

SIN
she
Gothic si

MÁGAN
we can
Old High German magan

GÉNAN
go
Old High German gēn

SÁIHANDA
sighted
Gothic saíƕan "to see" with a present participle type ending

LÁUTANA
sonic
German laut

ÚNKARA
our
Gothic unsara

HÁBAI
has
Gothic habai "have" (3s pres act subj)

IÚPANA
up
Gothic iup

SÍLDA TÁGLAN
short hair
Gothic sild is "rare" and tagl is "tail, hair"

ÓGTANDA
scared
Gothic ôgan "to fear" with a present participle type ending

QAD
said
Gothic qaþ, 1s pret of qiþan "to say"

HÉHALD
stop
Proto-Germanic *hehald "stop" (1s past ind)

TAIHÉIT
relative pronoun
Gothic þáiei "relative pronoun (nom pl m)"?

There are a few that I can't find:

LÉTNAN
land

MÁTNAN
man, men

QÉD
kneel

MÁKLA
great

GEQÚNDAN
dances

JGHNA
Virgo

MÁUTIA
woman

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Lautverschiebung in reverse

From Valentina in Sovietland by Guido Crepax

Friday, 14 April 2017

དབུགམ



This is dbu med aka headless aka cursive Tibetan script. There is not much information about this script online. Inspection of these charts and this page suggests to me that the word on this shirt is དབུགམ་ dbugs "breath", which is pronounced something like /uk/.

There is a flourish at the beginning and end; removing those gives you just the 4 characters and 1 vowel diacritic. I am not entirely certain what is up with the second vertical stroke.

The last vertical stroke is tseg (་) the punctuation used to separate syllables. Tibetan marks the ends of syllables, but does not mark the ends of words. This creates an interesting problem, as the Tibetan and Himalayan Library notes: 
Another problem is that since punctuation only marks the boundaries of syllables, and not words, it is not entirely clear how to best combine syllables into separate words when transcribing Tibetan phonetically into Roman script.