Folkish owned company takes stand against racism Book Review: “Norse Mythology” By Neil Gaiman History Channel’s “Vikings” has gone down hill. Loki in Fjölvinsmál: Lævateinn and Lýr Paying the Price Arizona man files suit against The Asatru Community, Heathen Talk Network, and The Troth Making Your Own Butzemann So you want to pronounce Old Norse names… Ranting Recon: ¿Cuáles son las festividades Heathen? Equality and Gender in Heathenry So you want to be a Heathen The (Other) Most Wonderful Time of the Year The Rational Heathen: Is it Time to Abandon the Irminsul? The Ancestors as Bridges Instead of Barriers Asatru Means Faith, Not Hate Heathen Spirituality Heathens Deface Historic German Landmark The Last Breath of the Old Year Exceptionally rare buckle discovered with possible depictions of Loki My Vision for Heathenry Handspinning for Beginners – Plying Yarn 12 Devotional Days of Yule The Sacred Duty of Food The Skirnismal: How (And Why) Freyr Won Gerd Canadian Heathens Spearhead Pagan Declaration Lusse – Midwife of the Sun The Rational Heathen: Getting B!%¢#-Slapped by the Gods [NSFW] Fast-growing Swedish Asatru org exposed Rare Bronze Age Petroglyph Discovered in Denmark Heathens Around The World Take a Stand With Standing Rock Sioux A Heathen’s Journey to Devotional Polytheism Over 200 Oath Rings Just Discovered in Sweden Sigyn: Lady of Oblation and Victory Alvablot and Winternights Declaration 127 The Rational Heathen: Blood Sacrifices and Other Moronic Things The Reconstructionist Method O maior inimigo de Odin – Depressão no contexto Heathen The Rational Heathen: Women’s Role in Cultures Women In Heathenry: Their Words Women in Heathenry Grief and Loss in a Heathen Context A Dedication Contract for Freya São Paulo, A Thriving Hub of Heathenry? Handspinning for Beginners – Starting to Spin Celebrating the Feast of Zisa Michigan Heathen Runs For US Congress Building a Stronger Community The Rational Heathen: When Did the AFA Join the Westboro Baptist Church? Freyja Detroit Harvest Festival: How Some Heathens Are Giving Back To Their Community Urglaawe: One of History’s Best-Kept Secrets How To Write Old Norse In Runes Is Heathenry Really Missing Something? Writer’s Block from a Heathen Perspective The Real Story Behind ‘Camp Courage’ And The AFA Offerings for the Gods, Part 3: The Jotnar New Leadership Takes A.F.A In More Bigoted Direction What You Reap is What You Sow Offerings for the Gods: The Vanir Creating Sacred Space Freyr isn’t going to Bless those PopTarts The Younger Futhark Runes: An Instructive Guide Approaching the Gods: Building The Vé “What is Valhalla, and who goes there?” The Rational Heathen: Can a Heathen Follow Christ? Deconstructing the Brisingamen Myth Urglaawe – An Introduction The Elder Futhark Runes: An Instructive Guide Heathen Families’ Summer Camp Offerings for the Gods: The Aesir ¿Tenían los vikings tótems animales? Did the Vikings Have Totem Animals? Teaching Heathenry to my Kids Odin’s Greatest Enemy, Depression in a Heathen Context Where Strong Gods Are Found Tales of Ragnarök Hail Frigga What is Forn Sed? Everyday Heathenry: Making Midsummer Heathen Marriage: Anatomy of an Oath A Step In The Right Direction? T.A.C. Takes Action. The Rational Heathen: So, What IS a Heathen, Exactly? Heathenry is a Religion of Questions Handspinning For Beginners – Pre-Drafting and Drafting Fiber Ranting Recon: Becoming The Beast Know Your Lore: The Poetic Edda Book Review: “A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology” Speak Now Seeress: Lore Handspinning For Beginners – An Overview of Spinning Materials Wyrd Words: Faces of Odin – Soldier, Scholar, Skald, and Skeptic Ranting Recon: No, Not ALL Reconstructionists are Idiots… The Rational Heathen: Reconstructionists are Idiots Handspinning For Beginners – Finding Your Drop Spindle Our American Folk The Rational Heathen: Is There Such a Thing as Good and Evil in Heathen Belief? Just What Does The Rök Runestone Actually Say? The Generosity of the Vanir Gods Ranting Recon: What Are The Heathen Holidays? Is Heathenry Incomplete?
phone-1052023_1920

So you want to pronounce Old Norse names…

About

Xander is a student of Anthropology, and a general history nerd. He focuses on studying Heathen Lore and reconstructing the fragments of the ancient traditions, in order to see how they can be applied to a modern community of believers.

If you’re anything like me, or really the majority of primarily English speaking Heathens, figuring out the correct spelling and pronunciation for some of those Old Norse names can be tricky at the best of times. This problem becomes even more frustrating when some of us begin to study the language of the Lore and discover exactly how different most anglicized spellings and pronunciations really are from the way they’re written in the Eddas and the Sagas. Many of these words and names were given their English equivalents centuries ago, and are based more on Old English than Old Norse.

This entire issue is compounded by the seemingly arbitrary spellings differences which people like to switch around at random. Hel, Hela, and Hella are all the same person, as are Frigg and Frigga, or Freya and Freyja. That’s not even including those utterly baffling “R’s” that are sometimes stuck on the end of names, which Heathens love to tack on willy-nilly in an attempt to sound more authentic. So with all of this confusion, what’s a Heathen to do? How are we supposed to know if we’re even pronouncing the names of the gods correctly? Well, here’s a handy guide to help you do just that!

Five Important Old Norse Names You’ve Probably Been Saying Wrong

(and how to pronounce them according to Old Icelandic)

pronunciation guide
The names mentioned here are just a few of many. You can use this guide to help sound out names that aren’t on the list!

“Odin”

How most people say it: (OH-DIN)

How it’s actually pronounced in Old Norse: (OATH-INN)

 If you look at the Eddas and the Sagas, when the name Odin is written, it usually looks like “Oðinn”. The only problem is it’s not a D, and sounds nothing at all like a D. It’s called an “Eth” and it’s a letter that exists in Icelandic, but not Modern English. The sound it makes is a ‘TH’ as is “This” or “That” but not “Think” or “Thought”. So what is usually written in English as Odin, is actually “Othinn”!

“Skadi”

How most people say it: (SKAH-DEE)

How it’s actually pronounced in Old Norse: (SKATH-EE)

Another great example of the same issue mentioned above, the “eth” in “Skaði” is commonly misread as a D.

“Hod”

How most people say it: (HOD, rhymes with SOD)

How it’s actually pronounced in Old Norse: (HOTH-ER, like the ice planet in Star Wars with an ‘ER’ on the end. Alternatively, you could say it’s similar in sound to the word ‘brother’ in that it uses the same ‘th’ sound.)

Things get even more complex when you get into non-English vowels like “ö”, which made a sound similar to the ‘au’ in “caught”. That’s how you end up with a name like Hod when the Old Norse is “Höðr”. These shifts can often seem small, but occasionally they can really throw you for a loop, like in our next example.

“Njord”

How most people say it: (KNEE-OH-ERD)

How it’s actually pronounced in Old Norse: (NYOR-THR)

The god of the seas is probably one of the most commonly and drastically mispronounced names among English-speaking Heathens. Which is not really surprising considering the only letter in the name “Njörðr” that functions in a way modern English speakers will immediately recognize is the R.

“Æsir”

How most people say it: (AY-SEAR)

How it’s actually pronounced in Old Norse: (AH-SEAR or ASS-EAR)

This one isn’t so much a matter of poor transliteration as it is English based assumptions regarding vowel sounds. English sees an E following a vowel and instinctively makes that vowel long, so many Heathens read Æ and pronounce it like the ‘ay’ at the end of “Play”, resulting in something like AY-SEER. In modern Icelandic, the Æ actually makes an “I/EYE” sound, resulting in ICE-EAR. In Old Norse, that same Æ was actually closer to the ‘a’ in “cAt”. Yes, strange as it may look to the modern reader, Æsir was actually read ASS-EAR.

 

So What About Those Funky ‘R’ Endings?

Okay, so what is up with the R at the end of names like Freyr, or Njörðr? Why are they there sometimes and then they get dropped, seemingly at random? Believe it or not, the answer is more straightforward than you’d think. In Old Norse, adding an R to the end of a noun was a common way to indicate that the object or person in question was the subject of the sentence. (For those of you who enjoy the study of language or grammar, it referred to the Nominative case of strong masculine nouns.) To go into the entire usage in an in-depth way would require a lot more than a single article, but there are a few relatively easy rules you can use to remember how it works with proper nouns in particular.

1- The R most often identifies the subject of the sentence. “Loptr saw Frey” “Freyr saw Lopt”

2- In most cases, if a proper noun ended in an R already, this would just add a second R. “Olafr saw Þór” “Þórr saw Olaf”.

3- Depending on the last letter of the root name, sometimes the R is replaced with another letter. As a general rule: nr, lr, and sr usually get replaced by nn, ll, and ss, respectively. This is why you have Oðinn, rather than Oðinr.

4- If you’re writing the name by itself, outside of the context of a sentence or in a one-word sentence, include the nominative ending.

Again, these are general rules to which there are always exceptions, which would take BOOKS to fully investigate. However, as a quick and dirty guide to reading and writing Old Norse names as they are written in the Sagas and the Eddas, these simplified guidelines should get you through the majority of names with relative accuracy!


To learn more about the Old Norse language, CLICK HERE 


Patreon adIf you enjoyed this article and others like it, consider subscribing to our Patreon! For just $1 a month you can help support everything we do and get access to exclusive content and rewards!
Every penny helps us to keep our services free for those who need them most.

2016 Huginn's Heathen Hof