1012.08 - Old Norse

Course number
Old Norse
The purpose of the course is to provide a good understanding of Old Norse, which is necessary for those who wish to research the history of language, whether Faroese or other Nordic languages.
The term “Old Norse” refers to the ancient language of Norway and the languages of the countries in the North Atlantic that were settled by the Norwegians. Surviving texts are primarily Icelandic manuscripts from the 13th century, though some of the medieval material, preserved in Icelandic manuscripts, has Norwegian origins. Although there are very few medieval Faroese texts, the Seyðabrævið, the so-called Sheep Letter, of 1298 and certain texts from the 1400s are the most significant. Contemporary written Faroese is based on the general spelling system found in Old Norse texts and in the main the evolution of Faroese is grounded in ancient Old Norse. Relevant Old Norse texts are studied, e.g. Snorri’s Edda, Icelandic Family Sagas and Sagas of the Kings. Along with the translation and reading of texts, the main principles of Old Norse grammar will be explored with an emphasis on phonetics, inflections and syntax. The book, Hugin og Munin, by Jonhard Mikkelsen is designed for high school students. It is recommended that students read this text before the class begins. Examination For the examination, the student is required to: • translate a known or unknown Old Norse text • demonstrate a firm knowledge of the Old Norse language system: phonology, morphology and syntax, as it appears in normalized medieval texts. • describe the distinctive features of the language form in the examination texts, their style and genre. • place the examination texts in their literary, cultural, and social-historical context and demonstrate knowledge of their preservation. Reading List Old Norse grammar (e.g., Ragnvald Iversen: Norrøn grammatikk, 7. ed., 1973, or Eskil Hansen, Else Mundal, Kåre Skadberg: Norrøn grammatikk, 1975, or Odd Einar Haugen: Grunnbok i norrønt språk, 2001). 100 pages of prose divided between various types of texts and styles. One scholarly work compiled from papers and articles that are relevant to the selected texts.
Learning and teaching approaches
Two hours per week over two terms or three hours per week over one term, or the equivalent.
Assessment method
6-hour written examination with external examiners.
Anfinnur Johansen