A Æ B D E F G H I J K L M N O R S T Þ U V W Y
Rather than list every Old Norse word we run across, this Norse Dictionary is meant to lend depth and enjoyment to the lore as you read it.
Knowing a few of the words and pronunciations will help you to understand the way people and things in the poems and stories are named, and give you a sense of just how much the English language owes to older Germanic and Scandinavian languages. (Hint: a LOT!)
You’ll notice that a lot of authors have Anglicized the language in their interpretations, but here you’ll run across the older letters. Mastering the new sounds is a challenge, but pronunciation is generally as follows:
A a, E e, I i, O o , U u: Spanish pronunciations. Ah, ay, ee, oh, oo.
Y y: ü, as in German. (Try to imagine saying “eww”, only drop the “ee” at the beginning.)
É é, Í í, Ó ó, Ú ú, Ý ý: longer versions of the originals.
Á á: not a longer version of A, but a longer version of Ǫ.
Ǫ ǫ: ahh or aww.
Ð ð, Þ þ: a th sound.
Ø ø: eh.
Ö ö: uh.
Æ æ: a like the a in mad.
V v: usually a typical v sound, unless it follows a consonant, and then it takes on a w sound.
This is a grand oversimplification, but you get the idea!
The dictionary is also organised by Old Norse words, not English. This is for two reasons:
1. To make it easier to look up words you run across as you read.
2. To discourage the temptation to look up English words and string them into “Old Norse” sentences. Old Norse grammar is different than English, so it’s better if you leave this to academics for the time being! Otherwise, you might end up looking a bit silly (trust me, I speak from personal experience.) This is also why you won’t find any verbs listed.
Jackson Crawford addresses ancient Norse language in his blog and his Youtube channel.
Ross G. Arthur has compiled an enormous collection of Norse words, and published it as a PDF book, the English-Old Norse Dictionary.