Younger Futhark
Overview
 
The Younger Futhark, also called Scandinavian runes, is a runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

, a reduced form of the Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic and Migration period Germanic dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones...

, consisting of only 16 characters, in use from ca. 800 CE. The reduction, paradoxically, happened at the same time as phonetic changes led to a greater number of different phonemes in the spoken language, when Proto-Norse evolved into Old Norse.

Thus, the language included distinct sounds and minimal pair
Minimal pair
In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phonological element, such as a phone, phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have distinct meanings...

s which were not separate in writing.
Encyclopedia
The Younger Futhark, also called Scandinavian runes, is a runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

, a reduced form of the Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic and Migration period Germanic dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones...

, consisting of only 16 characters, in use from ca. 800 CE. The reduction, paradoxically, happened at the same time as phonetic changes led to a greater number of different phonemes in the spoken language, when Proto-Norse evolved into Old Norse.

Thus, the language included distinct sounds and minimal pair
Minimal pair
In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phonological element, such as a phone, phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have distinct meanings...

s which were not separate in writing. Also, since the writing custom avoided having the same rune twice in consecutive order, the spoken distinction between long and short vowels were not retained in writing, either. The only real reason for using the same rune consecutively, would be when it represented different sounds following each other, such as carving kunuur for the name Gunvor.

History

Usage of the Younger Futhark is found in Scandinavia and Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

 settlements abroad, probably in use from the 9th century onward. While the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic and Migration period Germanic dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones...

 had been an actual "secret" known only to a literate elite, with only some 350 surviving inscriptions, literacy in the Younger Futhark became widespread in Scandinavia, as witnessed by the great number of Runestones (some 6,000), sometimes inscribed with almost casual notes.

Scholars have identified a transitional phase from about 650 to 800 C.E. where some inscriptions mixed the use of Elder and Younger Futhark runes. Examples of inscriptions considered to be from this period include DR 248
Snoldelev Stone
The Snoldelev Stone, listed as DR 248 in the Rundata catalog, is a 9th century runestone that was originally located at Snoldelev, Ramsø, Denmark.-Description:...

 from Snoldelev, DR 357
Stentoften Runestone
The Stentoften Runestone, listed in the Rundata catalog as DR 357, is a runestone which contains a curse in Proto-Norse that was discovered in Stentoften, Blekinge, Sweden....

 from Stentoften, DR 358
Gummarp Runestone
The Gummarp Runestone, designated as DR 358, was a runestone from the Vendel era and which was located in the former village of Gummarp in the province of Blekinge, Sweden.-Description:...

 from Gummarp, DR 359
Istaby Runestone
The Istaby Runestone, listed in the Rundata catalog as DR 359, is a runestone with an inscription in Proto-Norse which was raised in Istaby, Blekinge, Sweden, during the Vendel era....

 from Istaby, and DR 360
Björketorp Runestone
The Björketorp Runestone in Blekinge, Sweden, is part of a grave field which includes menhirs, both solitary and forming stone circles....

 from Björketorp, and objects such as the Setre Comb
Setre Comb
The Setre Comb is a comb which has been dated from the 650 to 700 C.E. that has been the subject of an amount of Runological study due to its runic inscription.-Description:...

 (N KJ40). Ög 136
Rök Runestone
The Rök Runestone is one of the most famous runestones, featuring the longest known runic inscription in stone. It can now be seen by the church in Rök , Östergötland, Sweden...

 in Rök, which uses Elder Futherk runes to encrypt part of the text, and Ög 43
Östergötland Runic Inscription 43
Östergötland Runic Inscription 43 or Ög 43 is the Rundata catalog number for a Viking Age runic inscription that is carved on a rockface in Ingelstad, which is just north of Norrköping, Östergötland, Sweden.-Description:...

 in Ingelstad, which uses a single Elder Futherk rune as an ideogram
Ideogram
An ideogram or ideograph is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept. Some ideograms are comprehensible only by familiarity with prior convention; others convey their meaning through pictorial resemblance to a physical object, and thus may also be referred to as pictograms.Examples of...

, are also sometimes included as transitional inscriptions.

The Younger Futhark became known in Europe as the "alphabet of the Norsemen", and was studied in the interest of trade and diplomatic contacts, referred to as Abecedarium Nordmannicum in Frankish
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

 Fulda
Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

 (possibly by Walahfrid Strabo) and ogam lochlannach "Ogham
Ogham
Ogham is an Early Medieval alphabet used primarily to write the Old Irish language, and occasionally the Brythonic language. Ogham is sometimes called the "Celtic Tree Alphabet", based on a High Medieval Bríatharogam tradition ascribing names of trees to the individual letters.There are roughly...

 of the Scandinavians" in the Book of Ballymote
Book of Ballymote
The Book of Ballymote , named for the parish of Ballymote, County Sligo, was written in 1390 or 1391....

.
The Younger Futhark is divided into long-branch (Danish) and short-twig (Swedish and Norwegian) runes. The difference between the two versions has been a matter of controversy. A general opinion is that the difference was functional, i.e. the long-branch runes were used for documentation on stone, whereas the short-branch runes were in everyday use for private or official messages on wood. In addition the Hälsinge Runes (staveless runes
Staveless runes
Staveless runes were the climax of the simplification process in the evolution of runic alphabets that had started when the Elder Futhark was superseded by the Younger Futhark. In order to create the staveless runes, vertical marks were dropped from individual letters...

, ca. 900–1200), Middle Age runes (ca. 1100–1500) and the Latinised Dalecarlian futhark (ca. 1500–1910) were developed out of the Younger futhark.

Variants

The Icelandic and Norwegian rune poem
Rune poem
The Rune Poems are three poems that list the letters of runic alphabets while providing an explanatory poetic stanza for each letter. Three different poems have been preserved: the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, the Norwegian Rune Poem, and the Icelandic Rune Poem.The Icelandic and Norwegian poems list 16...

s have 16 runes, with the stave names fe ("wealth"), ur ("iron"/"rain"), Thurs ("giant"), As/Oss, reidh ("ride"), kaun ("ulcer"), hagall ("hail"), naudhr/naud ("need"), is/iss ("ice"), ar ("plenty"), sol ("sun"), Tyr, bjarkan/bjarken ("birch"), madhr/madr ("man"), logr/lög ("water"), ᛦ yr ("yew").

Long-branch runes

The long-branch runes are the following signs:
f u þ ą r k h n i a s t b m l ʀ

Short-twig runes

In the short-twig runes (or Rök runes), nine runes appear as simplified variants of the long-branch runes, while the remaining seven have identical shapes:
f u þ ą r k h n i a s t b m l ʀ

Hälsinge runes (staveless runes)

Hälsinge runes are so named because in modern times they were first noticed in the Hälsingland
Hälsingland
' is a historical province or landskap in central Sweden. It borders to Gästrikland, Dalarna, Härjedalen, Medelpad and to the Gulf of Bothnia...

 region of Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. Later other runic inscriptions with the same runes were found in other parts of Sweden. They were used between the 10th and 12th centuries. The runes seem to be a simplification of the Swedish-Norwegian runes and lack vertical strokes, hence the name 'staveless.' They cover the same set of stave
Stave
Stave can refer to:*Staff , a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces used in musical notation*Stave church, a Medieval wooden church with post and beam construction prevalent in Norway*The individual wood strips that form the sides of a barrel...

s as the other Younger Futhark alphabets. This variant has no assigned Unicode range (as of Unicode 4.0).

Medieval runes

In the Middle Ages, the Younger Futhark in Scandinavia was expanded, so that it once more contained one sign for each phoneme of the old Norse language. Dotted variants of voiceless signs were introduced to denote the corresponding voiced consonants, or vice versa, voiceless variants of voiced consonants, and several new runes also appeared for vowel sounds. Inscriptions in medieval Scandinavian runes show a large number of variant rune-forms, and some letters, such as s, c and z, were often used interchangeably (Jacobsen & Moltke, 1941–42, p. VII; Werner, 2004, p. 20).

Medieval runes were in use until the 15th century. Of the total number of Norwegian runic inscriptions preserved today, most are medieval runes. Notably, more than 600 inscriptions using these runes have been discovered in Bergen since the 1950s, mostly on wooden sticks (the so-called Bryggen inscriptions
Bryggen inscriptions
The Bryggen inscriptions are a find of some 670 medieval runic inscriptions on wood and bone found from 1955 and forth at Bryggen in Bergen, Norway. It has been called the most important runic find in the twentieth century...

). This indicates that runes were in common use side by side with the Latin alphabet for several centuries. Indeed some of the medieval runic inscriptions are actually in the Latin language.

Dalecarlian runes

According to Carl-Gustav Werner, "in the isolated province of Dalarna
Dalarna
', English exonym: Dalecarlia, is a historical province or landskap in central Sweden. Another English language form established in literature is the Dales. Places involving the element Dalecarlia exist in the United States....

 in Sweden a mix of runes and Latin letters developed" (Werner 2004, p. 7). The Dalecarlian runes came into use in the early 16th century and remained in some use up to the 20th century. Some discussion remains on whether their use was an unbroken tradition throughout this period or whether people in the 19th and 20th centuries learned runes from books written on the subject. The character inventory is suitable for transcribing modern Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 and the local Dalecarlian
Dalecarlian
Dalecarlian is a group of dialects or unofficial languages spoken in Dalecarlia, Sweden. The most prominent is Elfdalian.The group is as follows:*Old Swedish**Dalecarlian***Dalecarlian Dalecarlian (Dalmål in vernacular and Swedish) is a group of dialects or unofficial languages spoken in...

dialect.

Other sources

  • Werner, Carl-Gustav (2004). The allrunes Font and Package [ftp://tug.ctan.org/pub/tex-archive/fonts/allrunes/allrunes.pdf].

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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