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Old Norse Online

Series Introduction

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

Vikings

Old Norse may be succinctly characterized as the "language of the vikings". Indeed the term víkingr is found in Old Norse itself; but its use in other languages (cf. Old English wicing), where it refers to the seafaring marauders who plagued their shores, typically forms the basis for the modern connotations. Beginning in the late 8th century AD, much of western Europe fell subject to periodic harassment by these ship-borne warriors from the north, and their desecration of such holy sanctuaries as Christian monasteries did much to cement the notion of ruthless, lawless savages which remains bound to the term viking.

But this is not the whole story. To be certain, the northmen who went on such raids were harsh warriors taking plunder from often defenseless peoples. They did not, however, form the entirety of the culture of Old Norse speakers. Not every speaker of Old Norse was termed a víkingr; and often when the term is applied, it has more the connotation of 'free enterpriser' than 'cutthroat pirate'. Archaeology rounds out the picture, showing that the part of Scandinavian culture not engaged in foreign raids was in places tied to the land, and more often centered on trading. Presumably it was the search for new trade routes which impelled Scandinavians to push into eastern Europe, laying the foundations for the cultures mentioned in the earliest Russian documents. Scandinavians prospered along such trade routes, the wealthiest evidently in Gotland. These Gotlanders were themselves wary of pirating, since most of the treasures unconvered by archaeologists come from hidden stashes deliberately buried by the foot of trees or near large rocks.

Of course it is the literature of Old Norse itself which finally rounds out the cultural picture. The literature is voluminous, and the lengthy sagas often mention a bold víkingr and his exploits. They tout manly virtues, extol armed combat, and laud rash and rowdy behavior. But most of these stories were written over a century after the viking raids ceased to dominate the concerns of other Europeans. Though the writing style of many sagas is matter-of-fact, it must be borne in mind that it is being written for a dispersed group of rural aristocrats sometimes more attached to political intrigue and literary pasttimes than to pillaging and plundering. It is uncertain how much of the heroic actions are to be attributed to historical fact, and how much to the romanticizing tendencies of the authors. Poetry, by contrast, does seem to date back to the period of the viking raids. And it may be telling that sagas often portray great warriors simultaneously as great poets. In fact, some of the Scandinavian poetry is more technically and metaphorically complex than anything else produced in Europe at the time.

Linguistic Heredity

The linguistic genealogy of Old Norse begins with the spread of Proto-Indo-European. Proto-Indo-European (PIE) refers to a language reconstructed by linguists and presumably extant before the advent of writing in its speaking area.  The term can likewise refer to the presumed speakers of this language: a group united by a linguistic identity, though perhaps ethnically diverse, as we see among modern languages like English and Spanish.  PIE provides the root of a linguistic family tree including, aside from Germanic, other branches such as Slavic, Celtic, Indo-Iranian, Romance, and Greek languages.  Schematically, we may imagine that a certain dialect group within the PIE speaking community began to distance itself from the remainder of the community.  This might have happened, for example, through migration, increased commerce with neighboring cultures, or an influx of speakers of non-Indo-European backgrounds. Over time this speech community became sufficiently distinct from other PIE speakers to allow for independent language evolution.  Through ensuing centuries of population influx, shifting geographic frontiers, and intermingling with neighboring cultures this dialect developed into what we may term Common Germanic or Proto-Germanic (PGmc). The same process then repeated, so that PGmc itself came to display ever more dramatic regional variation. By the late pre-Christian, early Christian era, there emerged three distinct dialects: East, West, and North Germanic. From West Germanic developed Old English and Old Frisian, as well as Old High German and Old Saxon. From North Germanic are descended the Scandinavian languages, with the oldest literature in Old Norse. East Germanic is only attested in Gothic, which has no modern descendants.

Such a tripartite division unfortunately oversimplifies the situation. There seem to be several points of convergence between branches, so that it is difficult to maintain a view of early division and subsequent isolation. For example, Old Norse and Gothic show a common innovation within the Germanic family, whereby medial jj and ww are both sharpened (to ddj and ggw in Gothic, to ggj and ggw in Old Norse). Likewise both retain -t as a marker of the second person singular past indicative. These might be considered indications of a close affinity between the East and North branches of Germanic.

On the other hand, Old Norse shares some features with West Germanic, to the exclusion of Gothic. In Old Norse and West Germanic both -dōm and -skapi are used as suffixes to produce abstract nouns, whereas they are only used as root nouns in Gothic. Old Norse and the West Germanic languages also show the pervasive traces of umlaut, which is absent in Gothic. Gothic exhibits the change of initial fl- to þl-, absent in both North and West Germanic. Reduplicated verbs are still somewhat productive in Gothic, but completely marginalized in Old Norse and West Germanic.

Thus a simplistic family-tree model resulting from presumed linguistic isolation is a tenuous and sometimes misleading synopsis of the early development of the Germanic languages. Close ties between speech communities must have survived migratory periods, and the relative uniformity of literary traditions must gloss over a more intricate web of common speech.

Origin and Geographical Location

Recent theories place the speech area of Proto-Germanic in the region of what is now Denmark and southern Sweden. Although archaeological evidence shows that the area was inhabited as far back as 10,000 BC, the Germanic presence is usually associated with the "Battle-Axe Culture", a group which invaded the region sometime in the third millenium BC. It seems that the speakers of North Germanic did not move far from this area in the earliest migration phases of the Germanic tribes. There is a general consensus that the locus of Norse speakers was still centered on this region just before their entrance into wider European historical traditions.

This is not to say that the North Germanic speakers were necessarily completely sedentary. The nature of the contact between various members of the three basic branches of Germanic in this region is not entirely clear. As seen in the discussion of linguistic heredity, though Germanic divided into three main branches, there is a complicated network of interrelations between them. If these linguistic interrelations are reflections of close contact, then the motions of the Germanic-speaking peoples in this area were constantly shifting, and sedentary lifestyles were possibly the exception and not the norm.

Matters of locale become quite a bit easier after Old Norse speakers start to migrate from the area of Denmark and Sweden, for then their exploits are recorded, either by the Norse themselves, or by other people of Europe upon whom they made an impression. Some pushed north into modern Norway, others west toward the Orkneys and Shetland Islands. Others made their way to the northern coast of France. From the island outposts it was not a far push to Iceland; then on to Greenland and as far as North America. A long period of migration established a lasting presence in the northern region of England. Ventures in the opposite direction took the Norse along rivers of eastern Europe through western Russia and into Byzantium itself.

In this vein it should be noted that Old Norse is a term not denoting a particularly uniform spoken language as such, but rather a collection of wide ranging dialects with extremely close affinities. Old Norse is a catch-all term for Old Icelandic, Old Norwegian, Old Swedish, Old Danish, and Old Gotlandic, though it is often used as a synonym for Old Icelandic because the majority of documents come from this region.

Documents

The earliest documents from the Scandinavian speaking area are runic insciptions. These extend as far back as the 2nd century AD. For the most part they are inscriptions on stone, or on more personal artifacts, such as brooches or swords. The largest number of these come from Denmark and Sweden. Many of them are in a dialect much more archaic than Old Norse itself.

The preponderance of documents in Old Norse comes from Iceland. Among these literary monuments, Eddic poetry appears to represent the oldest stage. This is preserved mainly in one manuscript, which contains several poems of alliterative verse. The basic themes of the poems center either around the gods and mythic origins, or around heroes of an earlier age.

Another important genre in Old Norse was that of Skaldic poetry. This was a highly wrought form of poetry well steeped in tradition. It seems generally to have been a sort of praise poetry, meant to extol the virtues and sing the notable exploits of kings and other patrons. Many references talk of how skaldic poems were composed on the spot, all the more impressive because of the intricacy of the genre. The poetic forms were varied, yet each individual form was quite rigid. Direct statement was avoided, rather persons or things were referenced by means of ornate circumlocutions known as 'kennings'. So intricate was the style, and so long was the tradition, that Snorri Sturluson composed a monumental work dedicated to the subject. His Prose Edda contains a collection of stories which flesh out the mythic material often elliptically referenced in skaldic verse. It likewise contains a robust treatment of the mechanics of skaldic composition, together with examples of the various types of meter.

Historical investigations also occupied the literary talents of Icelanders. Foremost among these was Ari Þorgilsson, who compiled a history of the settlement of Iceland. The original version of his Íslendigabók (Book of Icelanders) is lost, but a shorter version composed later still survives.

A large body of Icelandic literature is in the form of sagas. These are prose compositions with single authors, generally intended to be read as entertainment. For the most part the sagas center around some historical figure or group, and purport to give an accurate account of events. But this notion is only a skeleton about which an ornate and richly decorated narrative art is woven. Sagas tell the stories of Norwegian kings, of the early settlers of Iceland, of Snorri's own family, and of legendary personages. Typical themes are family feuds and the quest for revenge.

Related Language Courses at UT

Most but not all language courses taught at The University of Texas concern modern languages; sometimes courses are offered in ancient languages, though more often at the graduate level. Germanic language courses, except for English, are taught in the Department of Germanic Studies (link opens in a new browser window). Online language courses for college credit are offered through the University Extension (new window).

North Germanic Resources Elsewhere

Our Web Links page includes pointers to North Germanic resources elsewhere.

Old Norse Online

Lesson 1

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

Viking Expansion

Although the Scandinavians enter the records of Western Europe sometime around 790 AD, which therefore marks the beginning of the so-called 'Viking Age', these northern peoples had in fact begun a process of expansion some two or three generations before. The first waves of expansion originated in Sweden and Gotland in roughly 700, leading to colonies in modern-day Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In grave sites near Libau (in Latvia), we find signs of a community of traders from Gotland accompanied by women. We also find signs of another community of Swedes, but here only males and accompanied solely by battle gear.

The famous attacks of almost a century later were spearheaded by the Norwegians, the most notable early attack being on Lindisfarne in 793. There the Norwegians landed and seized livestock, plundered the monastery, and killed several clergy. It was the desecration of the holy sites which set panic in the hearts of Western Europe as such raids continued in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and northern England.

These raids were nevertheless accompanied by true expansion in the form of colonies. The earliest Norwegian colonies were established around 800 on the Orkney and Shetland islands. Although raids were likely part of their economic input, remains from these settlements show that the inhabitants subsisted on the products of farming, fishing, and seal-hunting. Raids in Ireland increased over the ensuing decades until finally the first Scandinavian settlement was founded at Dublin in 836. Over the next few years the Norwegians strengthened their hold on this harbor under the authority of Thorgisl, whose wife gave prophecies at the altar of the monastery. There is little evidence that the Scandinavians attempted to push their settlements farther inland. They seem content to have secured a few ports, which served as launching points for expeditions to colonize the Isle of Man, Scotland, and other regions. Although most early colonization led to the expulsion of any indigenous population, the settling of the Isle of Man seems to have resulted in a blending of Scandinavian and Celtic culture, illustrated most acutely in the art. Some of the images clearly represent Norse mythology, interfused with Celtic designs and workmanship.

It was not until roughly 860-870 that the Scandinavian seafarers pushed west all the way to Iceland. The first expeditions encountered Irish hermits, but settlement did not start until sometime later. Colonization proceeded for some 60 years, at the end of which the population probably neared 20,000 inhabitatants. The process of settlement is described in Egils saga, whereby the leader of a group of settlers would lay claim to a great expanse of land and delimit the borders by beacons or boundary markers. After exploring the land for some time, they would then erect a permanent farmstead.

The earliest colonizing expeditions came from Norway, where the growing population made land scarce on the mainland. But they were soon followed in large numbers by Danes and Swedes. Though the Danes were preoccupied for most of the early 9th century with raids in England and France, by roughly 870 focus turned toward colonizing the northeast portion of England. Settlements became so numerous that they occupied large portions of Mercia, Northumbria, and East Anglia. Eventually Alfred, in a treaty, officially recognized much of this as Danish territory, the so-called Danelaw. The question remains open as to whether the lion's share of the settlements was established through occupation by large Danish military forces campaigning in those regions, or by smaller forces and more attendant settlers following in their wake. Between 880 and 920 there was also large-scale settlement on the Continent, in the area of Normandy. Though the leader Rollo is said to have been Norwegian, the sources of the place-names suggest that a large number of the settlers were Danes.

In England there was peace for some 50 years, but in the 980s the Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes combined forces and proceeded to raid the English coasts. In 994 one party attacked London, but ceased when they were paid off at a sum of 16,000 pounds of silver. In 1002, Ethelred the Unready ordered the massacre of all Danes south of the Danelaw, which had the unfortunate result of inciting King Svein of Denmark to attack England. The invasion was bought off at a price of 36,000 pounds of silver. Svein returned in 1013 to conquer England, in which he succeeded as Ethelred fled to Normandy. Ethelred regained control when Svein died the following year, but Svein's son Cnut wrested control from Ethelred and became ruler of England at the tender age of 20.

At roughly the same time, the Scandinavians made their final push westward. The Icelander Erik the Red rediscovered Greenland in 982, and colonization began a few years later. In time the two main settlements grew to an estimated 3,000 inhabitants. Some homes still survive which were made of turf or stone, as well as a chapel erected in 1001 by Erik's wife. Farming consisted primarily of tending cattle, sheep and goats, but there is some evidence of less than successful attempts to grow grain. The inevitable finding of America may have come at first by accident, discovered by a certain Bjarni in 986. He apparently drifted off his course for Greenland in a fog and sighted an unfamiliar land several times before heading northeast and finally reaching Greenland. Years later, in 1003, Erik's son Leif the Lucky decided to investigate Bjarni's reports further and made his way to the newly dubbed Vinland.

Author Introduction

Ari Þorgilsson (1067-1148) was a meticulous historical researcher whose works laid the foundations for many of the later sagas. He was preoccupied with correctly establishing dates, sifting through evidence and often quoting his sources. The reliability of his research methods is almost unrivalled among later saga writers. His life and works are described in the preface of Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla. From what information can be gathered concerning Ari, it seems he authored Íslendingabók, a work now lost. This contained lives of kings and genealogies. He also authored another work, the Libellus Islandorum, which is also called Íslendingabók. It gives a brief history of the settlement of Iceland. A comment in Landnámabók suggests that he may have assisted in the compilation of this work as well, but it is likely that the contents are merely based on the information of Ari's own works.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following passage comes from the Libellus Islandorum. The beginning relates the conditions that led to the work's composition, and its relation to the earlier Íslendingabók. It continues with the first settlement of Iceland in the year 870 AD. The prose style is simple and straightforward, without the literary polish of many later saga writers. Ari is quick to establish the authority of his sources, breaking off in the middle of a sentence to do so at some length. He is also quick to establish dates, anchoring events to the year of a king's reign.

Íslendingabók gørða ek fyrst biskupum várum Þorláki ok Katli, ok sýnda ek bæði þeim ok Sæmundi presti.
  • Íslendingabók -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Íslendingabók> Book of Icelanders -- the Book of Icelanders
  • gørða -- verb; 1st singular past of <gøra> make, build; write, compose -- composed
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • fyrst -- adverb; <fyrst> first -- first
  • biskupum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <biskup> bishop -- for... bishops
  • várum -- possessive adjective; dative plural masculine of <várr> our, of us -- our
  • Þorláki -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Þorlákr> Thorlak -- Thorlak
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • Katli -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Ketill> Ketil -- Ketil
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • sýnda -- verb; 3rd singular past of <sýna> show -- showed (it)
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • bæði -- conjunction; <bæði> both -- both
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural masculine of <sá> that -- to them
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • Sæmundi -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Sæmundr> Saemund -- to... Saemund
  • presti -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <prestr> priest -- the priest

En með því at þeim líkaði svá at hafa eða þar viðr auka, þá skrifaða ek þessa of it sama far, fyr útan Ættar-tǫlu ok Konunga-ævi.
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • með því at -- conjunction; <með_því_at> inasmuch as, because -- as
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural masculine of <sá> that -- them
  • líkaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <líka (að)> please, be pleasing -- it pleased
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • hafa -- verb; infinitive of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- have (it)
  • eða -- conjunction; <eða> or; and; but -- or
  • þar -- adverb; <þar> there, in that place -- ...
  • viðr -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- ... # viðr alternate form
  • auka -- verb; infinitive of <auka> to increase, add -- for (it) to be augmented
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • skrifaða -- verb; 1st singular past of <skrifa (að)> write -- have written
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • þessa -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular feminine of <sjá> this -- this one
  • of -- preposition; <of> over; across, through; around, about; concerning; because of; for -- concerning
  • it -- definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the
  • sama -- adjective; weak accusative singular neuter of <samr> same -- same
  • far -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <far> track, subject; conduct, deeds; condition -- topic
  • fyr -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- ... # fyr shortened form
  • útan -- preposition; <útan> outside (of); beyond; without -- without
  • Ættar-tǫlu -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Ættar-tala> genealogy -- the Genealogy
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • Konunga-ævi -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Konunga-ævi> Life (Story) of the Kings, Kings' Lives -- the Kings' Lives

Ok jók ek því er mér varð síðan kunnara, ok nú er gørr sagt á þessi en á þeirri.
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- ...
  • jók -- verb; 1st singular past of <auka> to increase, add -- have added
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- what
  • mér -- pronoun; dative singular of <ek> I -- to me
  • varð -- verb; 3rd singular past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- became
  • síðan -- adverb; <síðan> afterwards, since then -- later
  • kunnara -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of comparative of <kunnr> known -- more clear
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • nú -- adverb; <nú> now -- now
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- ...
  • gørr -- comparative adverb; <gørr> more fully -- more fully
  • sagt -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <segja> say, speak; tell, tell of; relate -- it... deals
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- with
  • þessi -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular feminine of <sjá> this -- that (story)
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- or
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- ...
  • þeirri -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular feminine of <sjá> this -- this

En hvatki er missagt er í frœðum þessum, þá er skylt at hafa þat heldr er sannara reynisk.

  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • hvatki er -- relative pronoun; <hvatki_er> whatsoever -- whatever
  • missagt -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <missegja> relate incorrectly -- misstated
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • frœðum -- noun, neuter; dative plural feminine / of <frœði> lore; history -- histories
  • þessum -- demonstrative used as adjective; dative plural feminine /nt. of <sjá> this -- these
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- later
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- be
  • skylt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <skyldr> obliged, obligatory; related to; right -- necessary
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • hafa -- verb; infinitive of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- have
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sá> that -- that
  • heldr -- adverb; <heldr> rather, any the more -- instead
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • sannara -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of comparative of <sannr, saðr> true -- more correct
  • reynisk -- verb; 3rd singular present subjunctive middle of <reyna (d)> try, prove -- should prove

Frá Íslands bygð.

  • frá -- preposition; <frá> from; concerning -- on
  • Íslands -- proper noun, neuter; genitive singular of <Ísland> Iceland -- of Iceland
  • bygð -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <bygð> dwelling, settlement -- the Settlement

Ísland bygðisk fyrst ór Norvegi á dǫgum Haralds ins Hárfagra, Hálfdanarsonar ins Svarta, í þann tíð -- at ætlun ok tǫlu þeira Teits fóstra mins, þess manns er ek kunna spakastan, sonar Ísleifs biskups ; ok Þorkels fǫðurbróður mins, Gellissonar, er langt mundi fram; ok Þóríðar Snorradóttur Goða, er bæði var margspǫk ok ólúgfróð -- er Ívarr, Ragnarsson Loðbrókar, lét drepa Eadmund inn Helga Englakonung.
  • Ísland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Ísland> Iceland -- Iceland
  • bygðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <byggja (gð)> dwell, settle; build, inhabit -- was settled
  • fyrst -- adverb; <fyrst> first -- first
  • ór -- preposition; <ór> out of, from; of; with the material of -- from
  • Norvegi -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Norvegr> the north way; Norway -- Norway
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- in
  • dǫgum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <dagr> day -- the days
  • Haralds -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Haraldr> Harald -- of Harald
  • ins -- definite article; genitive singular masculine of <inn> the -- the
  • hárfagra -- adjective; weak genitive singular masculine of <hárfagri> fair-haired -- fair-haired
  • Hálfdanarsonar -- patronymic; genitive singular masculine of <Hálfdanarson> son of Halfdan -- son of Halfdan
  • ins -- definite article; genitive singular masculine of <inn> the -- the
  • svarta -- adjective; weak genitive singular masculine of <svartr> black -- black
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- at
  • þann -- demonstrative used as adjective; accusative singular masculine of <sá> that -- that
  • tíð -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <tíð> time -- time # usually of feminine gender, but þann shows it is masc. here
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- according to
  • ætlun -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <ætlun> estimate, opinion -- the opinion
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • tǫlu -- gerund; dative singular feminine of <tala (að)> talk, speak; (recip.) discuss, converse -- reckoning
  • þeira -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive plural neuter of <hann> this one -- ...
  • Teits -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Teitr> Teit -- Teit
  • fóstra -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <fóstri> foster-father; foster-brother; foster-son; fosterling -- foster-brother
  • mins -- possessive adjective; genitive singular masculine of <minn> my, mine, of me -- my
  • þess -- demonstrative used as adjective; genitive singular masculine of <sá> that -- a
  • manns -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- ...
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • kunna -- verb; 1st singular past of <kunna> know, know how to; be able -- regard
  • spakastan -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of superlative of <spakr> quiet; wise, learned -- very learned
  • sonar -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <sonr> son -- son
  • Ísleifs -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Ísleifr> Isleif -- of... Isleif
  • biskups -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <biskup> bishop -- the bishop
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • Þorkels -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Þorkell> Thorkel -- of... Thorkel
  • fǫðurbróður -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <fǫðurbróðir> father's brother, uncle -- uncle
  • mins -- possessive adjective; genitive singular masculine of <minn> my, mine, of me -- my
  • Gellissonar -- patronymic; genitive singular masculine of <Gellisson> son of Gellir -- son of Gellir
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • langt -- adverb; <langt> a long way -- a long time
  • mundi -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <muna> remember -- could remember
  • fram -- adverb; <fram> forward, on; away; out -- back
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • Þóríðar -- proper noun, feminine; genitive singular of <Þóríðr> Thorith -- of Thorith
  • Snorradóttur -- patronymic; genitive singular feminine of <Snorradóttir> daughter of Snorri -- daughter of Snorri
  • goða -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <goði> chief (and priest) -- the Chief
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • bæði -- conjunction; <bæði> both -- both
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • margspǫk -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <margspakr> very wise -- greatly wise
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • ólúgfróð -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <ólúgfróðr> well-informed in good traditions -- steeped in tradition
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • Ívarr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ívarr> Ivar -- Ivar
  • Ragnarsson -- patronymic; nominative singular masculine of <Ragnarsson> son of Ragnar -- son of... Ragnar
  • loðbrókar -- adjective; genitive singular masculine of <loðbrók> shaggy-breeches -- shaggy-breeches
  • lét -- verb; 3rd singular past of <láta> put, place; let, allow; concede, yield; leave, leave off; lose; cause to be done, command; behave (as if); declare; sound -- ordered
  • drepa -- verb; infinitive of <drepa> smite, strike; knock; kill, slay -- to be killed
  • Eadmund -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Eadmundr> Eadmund -- Eadmund
  • inn -- definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the
  • helga -- adjective; weak accusative singular masculine of <heilagr> holy, sacred -- saint
  • Englakonung -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Englakonungr> king of the Angles -- king of the Angles

En þat var dccclxx vetra eptir burð Krists, at því er ritit er í sǫgu hans.

  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <sá> that -- that
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • dccclxx -- numeral; nominative plural of <sjau hundruð ok þrír tigir> eight hundred seventy -- 870
  • vetra -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <vetr> winter -- years
  • eptir -- preposition; <eptir> after, behind; for, to obtain; along; according to; in succession to -- after
  • burð -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <burðr> birth -- the birth
  • Krists -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Kristr> Christ -- of Christ
  • at því er -- relative; <at_því_er> how; as -- as
  • ritit -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <ríta> cut runes; write -- written
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • sǫgu -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <saga> story; history -- story
  • hans -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his

Ingófr hét maðr Norrœnn, er sannliga er sagt at fœri fyrst þaðan til Íslands, þá er Haraldr inn Hárfagri var xvj vetra gamall, en í annat sinn fám vetrum siðar.
  • Ingófr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ingófr> Ingolf -- Ingolf
  • hét -- verb; 3rd singular past of <heita> to call, name; promise; be called, be named -- was called
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • Norrœnn -- proper adjective; nominative singular masculine of <Norrœnn> Norwegian -- The Norwegian
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • sannliga -- adverb; <sannliga> truly -- actually
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it's
  • sagt -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <segja> say, speak; tell, tell of; relate -- said
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • fœri -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- had... travelled
  • fyrst -- adverb; <fyrst> first -- first
  • þaðan -- adverb; <þaðan> thence -- from there
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- to
  • Íslands -- proper noun, neuter; genitive singular of <Ísland> Iceland -- Iceland
  • þá er -- relative adverb; <þá_er> when -- when
  • Haraldr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Haraldr> Harald -- Harald
  • inn -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the
  • hárfagri -- adjective; weak nominative singular masculine of <hárfagri> fair-haired -- fair-haired
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • xvj -- numeral; undeclined form <sextán> sixteen -- sixteen
  • vetra -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <vetr> winter -- years
  • gamall -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <gamall> old -- old
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and then
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- on
  • annat -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <annarr> other, another; second, next; one (of two) -- another
  • sinn -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sinn(i)> time, occasion -- journey
  • fám -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <fár> few -- a few
  • vetrum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <vetr> winter -- years
  • siðar -- adverb; comparative of <síð> late -- later

Hann bygði suðr í Reykjarvík.
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • bygði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <byggja (gð)> dwell, settle; build, inhabit -- settled
  • suðr -- adverb; <suðr> southwards -- south
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • Reykjarvík -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Reykjarvík> Bay of Smoke, Reykjavik -- Reykjavik

Þar er Ingólfshǫfði kallaðr, fyr austan Minþakseyri, sem hann kom fyrst á land ; en þar Ingólfsfell fyr vestan Ǫlfossá, er hann lagði sína eigu á síðan.
  • þar -- adverb; <þar> there, in that place -- the place
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • Ingólfshǫfði -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ingólfshǫfði> Ingolf's Head -- Ingolf's Head
  • kallaðr -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <kalla> call, cry out; name; say, declare -- called
  • fyr -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- ... # fyr shortened form
  • austan -- adverb; <austan> from the east; east (of); bearing to the east -- east of
  • Minþakseyri -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Minþakseyrr> Minthak's Shoal -- Minthak's Shoal
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- where
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • kom -- verb; 3rd singular past of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- came
  • fyrst -- adverb; <fyrst> first -- first
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- to
  • land -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <land> land -- land
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • þar -- adverb; <þar> there, in that place -- ...
  • Ingólfsfell -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Ingólfsfell> Ingolf's Fell -- Ingolf's Fell
  • fyr -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- ... # fyr shortened form
  • vestan -- adverb; <vestan> from the west; west (of); bearing to the west -- west of
  • Ǫlfossá -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Ǫlfossá> Ale-Force (foaming waterfall) River -- Ale-Force River
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • lagði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <leggja> lay, place, put; put down, lay down; move, bring; thrust, throw; make; give -- took
  • sína -- possessive adjective; accusative singular feminine of <sínn> own, one's own -- ...
  • eigu -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <eigu> possession -- possession
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- of
  • síðan -- adverb; <síðan> afterwards, since then -- later

Í þann tíð var Ísland viði vaxit í miðli fjals ok fjǫru.

  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- at
  • þann -- demonstrative used as adjective; accusative singular masculine of <sá> that -- that
  • tíð -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <tíð> time -- time # usually of feminine gender, but þann shows it is masc. here
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • Ísland -- proper noun, neuter; nominative singular of <Ísland> Iceland -- Iceland
  • viði -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <viðr> tree; beam; forest; wood -- with forest
  • vaxit -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <vaxa> wax, grow, increase -- covered
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • miðli -- adverb; <miðli, milli, millum> between, among -- between
  • fjals -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <fjall> mountain, fell -- mountain
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fjǫru -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <fjara> ebb-tide, fore-shore, beach -- beach

Þá váru hér menn Kristnir þeir er Norðmenn kalla papa.
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • váru -- verb; 3rd plural past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- were
  • hér -- adverb; <hér> here -- in this place
  • menn -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- men
  • Kristnir -- proper adjective; nominative plural masculine of <Kristinn> Christian -- Christian
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- whom
  • Norðmenn -- proper noun, masculine; nominative plural of <Norðmaðr> Norwegian -- the Norwegians
  • kalla -- verb; 3rd singular present of <kalla> call, cry out; name; say, declare -- call
  • papa -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <papi> Irish monk, Culdee -- papas

En þeir fóru síðan á braut, af því at þeir vildu eigi vera hér við heiðna menn, ok létu eptir bœkr Írskar ok bjǫllur ok bagla : at því mátti skilja at þeir váru menn Írskir.

  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • fóru -- verb; 3rd plural past of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- went
  • síðan -- adverb; <síðan> afterwards, since then -- later
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- on
  • braut -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <braut> road -- (their) way
  • af því at -- conjunction; <af_því_at> because, for -- since
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • vildu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <vilja> will, wish, be willing; intend -- did... want
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- not
  • vera -- verb; infinitive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- to stay
  • hér -- adverb; <hér> here -- here
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- with
  • heiðna -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <heiðinn> heathen -- heathen
  • menn -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- men
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • létu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <láta> put, place; let, allow; concede, yield; leave, leave off; lose; cause to be done, command; behave (as if); declare; sound -- left
  • eptir -- adverb; <eptir> after, behind; for, to obtain; along; according to; in succession to -- behind
  • bœkr -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <bók> book -- (their)... books
  • Írskar -- proper adjective; accusative plural feminine of <Írskr> Irish -- Irish
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • bjǫllur -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <bjalla> bell -- bells
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • bagla -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <bagall> episcopal staff, crozier -- croziers
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- in
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- this way
  • mátti -- verb; 3rd plural past of <mega> be able to, can; may -- they were able
  • skilja -- verb; infinitive of <skilja (ð, d)> divide, separate; disband; understand, perceive -- to determine
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • váru -- verb; 3rd plural past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- were
  • menn -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- men
  • Írskir -- proper adjective; nominative plural masculine of <Írskr> Irish -- Irish

En þá varð fǫr manna mikil mjǫk út hingat ór Norvegi, til þess unz konungrinn Haraldr bannaði, af því at honum þótti landauðn nema.
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- ...
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • varð -- verb; 3rd singular past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- there was
  • fǫr -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <fǫr> journey, expedition -- a... migration
  • manna -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- of people
  • mikil -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- extensive
  • mjǫk -- adverb; <mjǫk> much; very -- very
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- out
  • hingat -- adverb; <hingat> hither -- to here
  • ór -- preposition; <ór> out of, from; of; with the material of -- from
  • Norvegi -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Norvegr> the north way; Norway -- Norway
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- up to
  • þess -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular neuter of <sá> that -- the point
  • unz -- conjunction; <unz> until -- when
  • konungrinn -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <konungr> king + definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- king
  • Haraldr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Haraldr> Harald -- Harald
  • bannaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <banna (að)> prohibit, forbid -- banned (it)
  • af því at -- conjunction; <af_því_at> because, for -- since
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- to him
  • þótti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <þykkja (þótti)> seem, be thought -- it seemed
  • landauðn -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <landauðn> depopulation -- depopulation
  • nema -- verb; infinitive of <nema> take; take possession of; catch, strike against; amount to -- to amount to

Þá sættusk þeir á þat, at hverr maðr skyldi gjalda konungi fimm aura, sá er eigi væri frá því skiliðr, ok þaðan fœri hingat.
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • sættusk -- verb; 3rd plural past middle of <sætta> reconcile -- settled
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- on
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <hann> this one -- this
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hverr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- each
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • skyldi -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should
  • gjalda -- verb; infinitive of <gjalda> pay, repay; redeem -- pay
  • konungi -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <konungr> king -- the king
  • fimm -- numeral; undeclined form of <fimm> five -- five
  • aura -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <eyrir> ounce of silver -- ounces of silver
  • sá er -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sá_er> whoever -- whosoever
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- not
  • væri -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- (and) he should... be
  • frá -- preposition; <frá> from; concerning -- from
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- this
  • skiliðr -- past participle; nominative singular masculine of <skilja (ð, d)> divide, separate; disband; understand, perceive -- exempt
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- ...
  • þaðan -- adverb; <þaðan> thence -- from there
  • fœri -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- would journey
  • hingat -- adverb; <hingat> hither -- here

En svá er sagt at Haraldr væri lxx vetra konungr, ok yrði áttrœðr.
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it is
  • sagt -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <segja> say, speak; tell, tell of; relate -- said
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • Haraldr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Haraldr> Harald -- Harald
  • væri -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • lxx -- numeral; nominative plural masculine of <sjau tigir> seventy -- 70
  • vetra -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <vetr> winter -- years
  • konungr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <konungr> king -- king
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • yrði -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- reached
  • áttrœðr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <áttrœðr> eighty years old -- eighty years old

Þau hafa upphǫf verit at gjaldi því er nú er kallat landaurar.
  • þau -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural neuter of <hann> this one -- these
  • hafa -- verb; 3rd plural present of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- have
  • upphǫf -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <upphaf> beginning -- the basis
  • verit -- verb; supine of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- become
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- for
  • gjaldi -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <gjald> payment; tax -- tax
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- the
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • nú -- adverb; <nú> now -- now
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • kallat -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <kalla> call, cry out; name; say, declare -- called
  • landaurar -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <landaurar> land-dues; a tax paid by Icelanders to the king upon arrival in Norway -- land-dues

En þar galzk stundum meira, en stundum minna, unz Óláfr inn Digri gørði skýrt at hverr maðr skyldi gjalda konungi hálfa mǫrk, sá er fœri á miðli Norvegs ok Íslands, nema konur eða þeir menn er hann næmi frá.
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- ...
  • þar -- adverb; <þar> there, in that place -- ...
  • galzk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <gjalda> pay, repay; redeem -- were paid
  • stundum -- adverb; <stundum> sometimes -- sometimes
  • meira -- comparative adjective; nominative singular neuter of <meiri> more, bigger -- more
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- ...
  • stundum -- adverb; <stundum> sometimes -- sometimes
  • minna -- comparative adjective; nominative singular neuter of <minni> less -- less
  • unz -- conjunction; <unz> until -- until
  • Óláfr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Óláfr> Olaf -- Olaf
  • inn -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the
  • digri -- adjective; weak nominative singular masculine of <digr> big, stout; thick; deep -- thick
  • gørði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <gøra> make, build; write, compose -- made
  • skýrt -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <skýrr> clear, manifest -- definite
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hverr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- each
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • skyldi -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should
  • gjalda -- verb; infinitive of <gjalda> pay, repay; redeem -- pay
  • konungi -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <konungr> king -- the king
  • hálfa -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <hálfr> half -- a half
  • mǫrk -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <mǫrk> mark (of silver) -- mark
  • sá er -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sá_er> whoever -- whoever
  • fœri -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- would travel
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- ...
  • miðli -- adverb; <miðli, milli, millum> between, among -- between
  • Norvegs -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Norvegr> the north way; Norway -- Norway
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • Íslands -- proper noun, neuter; genitive singular of <Ísland> Iceland -- Iceland
  • nema -- conjunction; <nema> unless; except -- except
  • konur -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <kona> woman; wife -- women
  • eða -- conjunction; <eða> or; and; but -- or
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- those
  • menn -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- men
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- whom
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • næmi -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <nema> take; take possession of; catch, strike against; amount to -- should exempt
  • frá -- preposition; <frá> from; concerning -- ...

Svá sagði Þorkell oss Gellisson.
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • sagði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <segja> say, speak; tell, tell of; relate -- told
  • Þorkell -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Þorkell> Thorkel -- Thorkel
  • oss -- pronoun; dative plural of <ek> I -- us
  • Gellisson -- patronymic; nominative singular masculine of <Gellisson> son of Gellir -- son of Gellir

Lesson Text

Íslendingabók gørða ek fyrst biskupum várum Þorláki ok Katli, ok sýnda ek bæði þeim ok Sæmundi presti. En með því at þeim líkaði svá at hafa eða þar viðr auka, þá skrifaða ek þessa of it sama far, fyr útan Ættar-tǫlu ok Konunga-ævi. Ok jók ek því er mér varð síðan kunnara, ok nú er gørr sagt á þessi en á þeirri. En hvatki er missagt er í frœðum þessum, þá er skylt at hafa þat heldr er sannara reynisk.

Frá Íslands bygð.

Ísland bygðisk fyrst ór Norvegi á dǫgum Haralds ins Hárfagra, Hálfdanarsonar ins Svarta, í þann tíð -- at ætlun ok tǫlu þeira Teits fóstra mins, þess manns er ek kunna spakastan, sonar Ísleifs biskups ; ok Þorkels fǫðurbróður mins, Gellissonar, er langt mundi fram; ok Þóríðar Snorradóttur Goða, er bæði var margspǫk ok ólúgfróð -- er Ívarr, Ragnarsson Loðbrókar, lét drepa Eadmund inn Helga Englakonung. En þat var dccclxx vetra eptir burð Krists, at því er ritit er í sǫgu hans.

Ingófr hét maðr Norrœnn, er sannliga er sagt at fœri fyrst þaðan til Íslands, þá er Haraldr inn Hárfagri var xvj vetra gamall, en í annat sinn fám vetrum siðar. Hann bygði suðr í Reykjarvík. Þar er Ingólfshǫfði kallaðr, fyr austan Minþakseyri, sem hann kom fyrst á land ; en þar Ingólfsfell fyr vestan Ǫlfossá, er hann lagði sína eigu á síðan. Í þann tíð var Ísland viði vaxit í miðli fjals ok fjǫru.

Þá váru hér menn Kristnir þeir er Norðmenn kalla papa. En þeir fóru síðan á braut, af því at þeir vildu eigi vera hér við heiðna menn, ok létu eptir bœkr Írskar ok bjǫllur ok bagla : at því mátti skilja at þeir váru menn Írskir.

En þá varð fǫr manna mikil mjǫk út hingat ór Norvegi, til þess unz konungrinn Haraldr bannaði, af því at honum þótti landauðn nema. Þá sættusk þeir á þat, at hverr maðr skyldi gjalda konungi fimm aura, sá er eigi væri frá því skiliðr, ok þaðan fœri hingat. En svá er sagt at Haraldr væri lxx vetra konungr, ok yrði áttrœðr. Þau hafa upphǫf verit at gjaldi því er nú er kallat landaurar. En þar galzk stundum meira, en stundum minna, unz Óláfr inn Digri gørði skýrt at hverr maðr skyldi gjalda konungi hálfa mǫrk, sá er fœri á miðli Norvegs ok Íslands, nema konur eða þeir menn er hann næmi frá. Svá sagði Þorkell oss Gellisson.

Translation

I composed the Book of Icelanders first for our bishops Thorlak and Ketil, and I showed it both to them and to the priest Saemund. But as it pleased them to have it so or for it to be augmented, I have written this one concerning the same topic, without the Genealogy and the Kings' Lives. I have added what later became more clear to me, and it now deals more fully with this or that story. And whatever is misstated in these histories, it should later be necessary to have that instead which should prove more correct.
On the Settlement of Iceland
Iceland was settled first from Norway in the days of Harald the Fair-Haired, son of Halfdan the Black, at that time -- according to the opinion and reckoning of my foster-brother Teit, a man I regard as very learned, son of the bishop Isleif; and of my uncle Thorkel, son of Gellir, who could remember a long time back; and of Thorith, daughter of Snorri the Chief, who was both greatly wise and steeped in tradition -- when Ivar, son of Shaggy-Breeches Ragnar, ordered Saint Edmund, king of the Angles, to be killed. And that was 870 years after the birth of Christ, as it is written in his story.
The Norwegian man was called Ingolf, who it's said had actually first travelled from there to Iceland, when Harald the Fair-Haired was 16 years old; and then on another journey a few years later. He settled south in Reykjavik. The place is called Ingolf's Head, east of Minthak's Shoal, where he first came to land; and Ingolf's Fell west of Ale-Force River, which he afterwards took possession of. At that time Iceland was covered with forest between mountain and beach.
There were Christian men in this place, whom the Norwegians called "papas". But they later went on their way, since they did not want to stay here with heathen men, and they left behind their Irish books and bells and croziers: in this way they were able to determine that they were Irish men.
There was a very extensive migration of people out to here from Norway, up to the point when king Harald banned it, since it seemed to him to amount to a depopulation. Then they settled on this, that each man should pay the king five ounces of silver, and he should not be exempt from this, whosoever would journey here from there. And so it is said that Harald was king 70 years, and reached eighty years old. These have become the basis for the tax which is now called land-dues. Sometimes more were paid, sometimes less, until Olaf the Thick made definite that each man should pay the king a half mark, whoever would travel between Norway and Iceland, except women or those men whom he should exempt. So Thorkel, son of Gellir, told us.

Grammar

1 The Alphabet

The earliest records of the Old Norse (ON) language are found in runic inscriptions. A literary language began to emerge around 1100 AD, whose manuscripts are written in an alphabet adopted from the English literary tradition. The letters of the Old Norse alphabet are given below, along with a rough guide to their pronunciation in the "classical period", ca. 1150-1350 AD. The numbers indicate that several consonants had differing pronunciations depending on their phonetic environment. These differences are indicated in the last column.

Letter   Pronunciation   Environment
         
  a as in 'father', long    
a   a as in 'father', short    
b   b as in 'boy'    
c   c as in 'call'    
d   d as in 'day'    
ð   th as in 'this'    
  as in French 't', long    
e   as in French 't', short    
f   (1) f as in 'far'   initial position
    (2) v as in 'very'   medial or final position
g   (1) g as in 'goal'   initial position; immediately following n
    (2) ch as in Scots 'loch'   immediately preceding s or t
    (3) ch as in Scots 'loch', but voiced   otherwise
h   h as in 'have'    
  ee as in 'feet', long    
i   ee as in 'feet', short    
j   y as in 'year'    
k   (1) c as in 'call'   all environments other than (2), below
    (2) ch as in Scots 'loch'   immediately before s or t
l   (1) l as in 'leaf'   initially; standing next to d, n, l, r; following an unaccented vowel
    (2) l as in 'leaf', but voiceless   immediately following h at the beginning of a word; at the end of a word when following a voiceless consonant; between voiceless consonants
    (3) le as in 'people'   otherwise
m   m as in 'home'    
n   (1) n as in 'sin'   all environments other than (2) or (3), below
    (2) n as in 'sin', but voiceless   immediately following h at the beginning of a word; at the end of a word when following a voiceless consonant; between voiceless consonants
    (3) ng as in 'sing'   immediately preceding g or k
  o as in 'vote', long    
o   o as in 'vote', short    
p   (1) pp as in 'happy'   all environments other than (2), below
    (2) f as in 'far'   immediately before s or t
q   c as in 'call'   only in digraph qu, usually written kv
r   r as in 'rather', but trilled    
s   s as in 'this'    
t   t as in 'boat'    
  oo as in 'droop', long    
u   oo as in 'droop', short    
v   b as in Spanish 'saber'    
w   w as in 'win'    
x   chs as in Scots 'lochs'    
  ue as in German 'Muenchen', u in French 'tu', long    
y   ue as in German 'Muenchen', u in French 'tu', short    
z   ts as in 'bits'    
þ   th as in 'thin'    
æ   a as in 'cat', long    
ǫ́   au as in 'naught', long    
  au as in 'naught', short    
ø   eu as in French 'feu'    
œ   eu as in French 'feu', long    

Doubled consonants, e.g. kk or nn, were held twice as long as their corresponding individual counterparts. This is similar to the contrast in Modern English between n in 'run away' and in 'run now'; in the second instance the n is held longer than in the first. Similarly the k-sound in 'book end', compared with 'book case'. Likewise, if a short vowel is thought to occupy one musical beat, then a long vowel occupies nearly two musical beats. The difference between long and short vowels, at least in the era leading up to the classical period, was one of quantity and not quality.

The letters q and w are encountered chiefly in texts of East Norse. They are generally treated as equivalent to k and v respectively.

The letter ǫ́, representing a long back rounded vowel, does not actually appear in ON texts of the classical period. It seems to have existed in an earlier stage of the language, and some editors use the symbol.

There were also three diphthongs. They are listed below, along with their pronunciation.

Diphthong   Pronunciation
     
au   ow as in 'now'
ei   ay as in 'hay'
ey   combination of ON e+y

By far the most extensive literature written in Old Norse comes from Iceland. For this reason is it quite common to refer to Old Norse as Old Icelandic. Moreover, the grammar and orthography have changed relatively little in the intervening centuries between the documents of Old Icelandic and Modern Icelandic. It is therefore customary to pronounce ON documents according to Modern Icelandic pronunciation. Below is a rough guide to the modern pronunciation.

Letter   Pronunciation   Environment
         
  ow as in 'now'    
a   (1) a as in French 'mal'   all environments other than (2) or (3), below
    (2) ow as in 'now'   immediately preceding ng
    (3) y as in 'my'   immediately preceding gi
b   p as in 'spin'    
c   (see k below)    
d   t as in 'stop'    
ð   th as in 'this'    
  ye as in 'yes'    
e   (1) e as in 'let'   all environments other than (2), below
    (2) ay as in 'hay'   immediately preceding ng, gi, or gj
f   (1) f as in 'far'   initial position; before l followed by a voiceless consonant
    (2) v as in 'very'   medial or final position; before l followed by a voiced consonant
    (3) b as in 'buy'   before l or n followed by a vowel; fn sounded as m before voiced consonant
g   (1) g as in 'goal'   initially before back vowels (, a, , o, , u, , au) and ø, and before consonants; medially before l or n; after consonants when followed by a or u; finally after consonants
    (2) ck y as in 'back yard'   initially before front vowels and glides (e, , i, , y, æ, œ, ei, ey, j); medially after consonants when followed by i or j
    (3) y as in 'year'   after vowels when followed by i or j
    (4) ch as in Scots 'loch'   immediately preceding s or t
    (5) ch as in Scots 'loch', but voiced   after a vowel when followed by a, u, r, ð; finally after vowels
h   (1) h as in 'have'   all environments other than (2) or (3), below
    (2) h as in 'huge'   immediately preceding or j
    (3) c as in 'call'   immediately preceding v
  ee as in 'feet'    
i   (1) i as in 'pit'   all environments other than (2), below
    (2) ee as in 'feet'   immediately preceding ng or gi
j   y as in 'year'    
k   (1) c as in 'call'   all environments other than (2) or (3), below
    (2) ck y as in 'back yard'   before front vowels and glides (e, , i, , y, æ, œ, ei, ey, j)
    (3) ch as in Scots 'loch'   immediately before t
l   (1) l as in 'leaf'   initially; following an unaccented vowel
    (2) l as in 'leaf', but voiceless   immediately following h at the beginning of a word; at the end of a word when following a voiceless consonant; between voiceless consonants
m   m as in 'home'    
n   (1) n as in 'sin'   all environments other than (2) or (3), below
    (2) n as in 'sin', but voiceless   immediately following h at the beginning of a word; at the end of a word when following a voiceless consonant; between voiceless consonants
    (3) ng as in 'sing'   immediately preceding g or k
  oa as in 'roam'    
o   (1) aw as in 'law'   all environments other than (2), below
    (2) oy as in 'boy'   immediately preceding gi
p   (1) pp as in 'happy'   all environments other than (2), below
    (2) f as in 'far'   immediately before k, s or t
q   (see k above)    
r   (1) r as in 'rather', but trilled   all environments other than (2), below
    (2) rt as in 'cart'   after a vowel and immediately preceding l or n in final position or before a vowel
s   s as in 'this'    
t   t as in 'boat'    
  oo as in 'droop'    
u   (1) oo as in 'droop'   immediately preceding ng
    (2) wee as in 'sweet'   immediately preceding gi
    (3) u as in 'cute'   otherwise
v   v as in 'very'    
w   (see v above)    
x   chs as in Scots 'lochs'    
  ee as in 'feet'    
y   i as in 'pit'    
z   s as in 'this'    
þ   th as in 'thin'    
æ   y as in 'my'    
ǫ́   eu as in French 'peur'    
  (1) eu as in French 'peur'   all environments other than (2), below
    (2) oei as in French 'oeil'   immediately preceding ng or gi
ø   eu as in French 'peur'    
œ   y as in 'my'    

Since c, q, and w only appear in manuscripts with distinctly regional characteristics in the classical period, they have no "modern" pronunciation as such.

Doubled consonants, as in the classical pronunciation, are usually held longer than their individual counterparts. The doubled consonants kk, pp, tt are pre-aspirated in Modern Icelandic. This means that the same puff of air which follows p in American English 'pot' actually precedes kk, pp, or tt in the modern pronunciation. The consonants k, p, and t are also preaspirated when they immediately precede l, m, or n. The double consonant ll has a peculiar pronunciation. Many speakers articulate this as the cluster tl, but where the l is unvoiced. Thus there is a dental or alveolar tap followed by lateral expulsion of air around the tongue, but without any of the vocal chord vibration an English speaker normally associates with l. When consonant clusters exceed two, alteration or deletion may occur, so that, e.g., rigndi is pronounced more like "rindi", barns more like "bass".

The diphthongs too are pronounced differently from their presumed classical values. Their pronunciations are listed below.

Diphthong   Pronunciation
     
au   oei as in French 'oeil'
ei   ay as in 'hay'
ey   ay as in 'hay'

After the classical period, Icelandic developed an epenthetic vowel, u, which appeared between a consonant (not r) and r. It is most commonly found before such an r in final position. Thus classical maðr is represented by modern maður, classical bindr by modern bindur.

2 Sound System

The sections below discuss the sound system of Old Norse in the classical period, to the extent that it can be reconstructed. This should not be confused with the sound system of Modern Icelandic, which differs from that of Old Norse in several respects.

2.1 Consonants

The sounds of ON may be characterized according to their manner of articulation. The following chart represents the articulation of consonants.

        Labial   (Alveo-)Dental   Velar
                 
Stops                
    Voiceless:   p   t   k
    Voiced:   b   d   g
Continuants       f   þ   h
Sibilant           s    
Nasals       m   n    
Liquids                
    Continuant:       l    
    Trilled:       r    

The above, of course, is an idealization, since Section 1 makes quite clear that the phonemes of ON and the letters are by no means in one-to-one correspondence. The chart places the letters of ON in the position of their most common phonetic value. For example, the position of f in the chart above corresponds only to pronunciation (1) in the preceding section. Likewise, the placement of p in the chart follows from its own pronunciation (1), since its pronunciation (2) is already represented by f. The letter ð is not phonemically (although it is phonetically) distinct from þ and is therefore not included explicitly in the chart. Note also that z is orthographic shorthand for t+s or ð+s, and x for k+s.

2.2 Vowels

The chart below similarly organizes the vowels of ON by their manner of articulation. In each pair, the first member is the short vowel, the second the corresponding long vowel.

    Front       Back    
    Unrounded   Rounded   Unrounded   Rounded
High   i,   y,       u
Mid   e,   ø, œ       o,
Low   -, æ       a,   , (ǫ́)

The basic vowels a, e, i, o, u all have long variants. The other vowels are derived from these by either i-umlaut or u-umlaut depending on phonetic environment. This led to the asymmetric system shown above.

There were also two semivowels in ON, v and j (v seems originally to have been a semivowel, only later taking on the characteristics of a bilabial fricative). They could not carry the peak of sonority in a syllable, but they could effect umlaut in the vowel of a preceding syllable.

2.3 Syllables and Stress

There are various monosyllabic words in ON, such as , til, at. In polysyllabic words, when they are not compounds of more than one word, it is customary to divide syllables before a vowel, e.g. far-a, kall-a, gǫrð-um, gam-all-a, hundr--a. In compound words, syllable division occurs at the boundary of the compounded elements, e.g. vápn-lauss, vík-ing-a-hǫfð-ing-i (< víkinga + hǫfðingi). Syllable length is an important factor in the operation of many phonological rules, and within this scheme there are the following types of syllables:

    Type   Description   Examples
             
1   Short   (short vowel) + (short consonant)   bað
2   Long   (short vowel) + (consonant group)   rann, ǫnd
3   Long   (long vowel) + (short/no consonant)   hús, fé, gnúa
4   Overlong   (long vowel) + (consonant group)   nótt, blástr

Though it is traditional, a few important grammars of ON do not follow the above method of syllable division and long/short classification. Alternatively, syllables are divided so that non-initial syllables begin with a consonant, e.g. fa-ra, kal-la, gǫr-ðum, ga-mal-la, hund-ra-ða. (This agrees with syllable division in the classical languages, Latin and Greek.) In this scheme, the long/short distinction follows the principle:

    a short syllable is one that
    ends in a short vowel or
    ends in a long vowel followed by a weakly-stressed short vowel.

For example, the initial syllables of geta, konungr, búa, róa are short. All other syllables are thus long. The fact that a long vowel such as is shortened before the following short vowel parallels the shortening of the o of do in a phrase like 'do it!' (This is not the same as in Latin and Greek.) Under the traditional length scheme, grammatical and metrical length differ. Thus bað, under the first scheme, is a grammatically short syllable. In poetry, however, this syllable may be counted as metrically long. The second scheme does in fact count this syllable as long. (The situation is complicated by the fact that different types of poetry employ different rules for determining vowel length.)

Weakly stressed syllables may only contain the short vowels a, i, u. Short vowels may not immediately precede short vowels within a word-form; in situations where this would arise through morphological changes, the first vowel is dropped. For example, lifi- plus the ending -r yields lifir, but with the ending -um gives lifum.

Primary stress falls on the first syllable of a word stem. In compounds of two words, primary stress falls on the first syllable of the first word stem, and secondary stress is given to the first syllable of the second word stem. In triple compounds, the first word receives primary stress, the last word secondary stress, and the middle word tertiary stress, all in accordance with the above-mentioned placement of stress on the word stem. In the following examples, ' precedes the syllable with primary stress, '' the syllable with secondary stress, ''' the syllable with tertiary stress:

Simplex   Duplex   Triplex
         
'út out        
'ganga course   'út-''ganga exit    
'dyrr door       'út-'''gǫngu-''dyrr exit door
         
'land land        
'nám seizure   'land-''nám land-settlement    
'maðr man       'land-'''náms-''maðr settler
2.4 Umlaut

The process of umlaut, or mutation, is pervasive in ON morphological paradigms. Umlaut refers to what might otherwise be called vocalic assimilation. Specifically, the articulation of a vowel in a given syllable may be changed by the speaker's anticipation of the vowel in the following syllable. Because of this anticipation, the articulation of the following vowel colors the articulation of the given vowel, producing in essence a new vowel with features of both. In ON, i and u most commonly trigger such changes in a preceding vowel, a process called i- and u-umlaut, respectively.

Although pervasive, i- and u-umlaut are no longer productive in ON. The learner of ON must view the process as having already occurred and stopped by the time of the ON texts. Not every i or u in a syllable will cause umlaut in the preceding vowel. Rather the results of i- and u-umlaut have been regularized and should be viewed as yielding vocalic alternations which are frozen within verbal and nominal paradigms. Beyond those vocalic alternations found in paradigms, no other umlaut functions (regularly) in the ON texts. Often the i or u which caused umlaut in a given form will have subsequently been lost, so that the reason for umlaut within a given paradigm may not be apparent on the surface.

In i-umlaut, or front mutation, a following i or j causes a preceding primary stressed vowel to be fronted, while the vowel's roundness remains unaffected. This produces the following correspondences.

    Underlying Vowel   Result of i-umlaut
         
    a   e
      æ
    o   ø
      œ
    u   y
     

Examples of where this process does not occur are the following: the i in case endings of masculine and neuter nouns; the thematic i of noun declensions; the thematic i of certain weak verbs. At the time i-umlaut was productive in ON, these vowels were e, and the shift e > i occurred after i-umlaut stopped being an automatic process.

In u-umlaut, or back mutation, a following u or v causes a preceding primary stressed vowel to be rounded, while its backness/frontness remains unaffected. This produces the following correspondences.

    Underlying Vowel   Result of u-umlaut
         
    a  
      (ǫ́) >
    e   ø
      œ
    i   y
     
         
    unstressed a   u

Presumably u-umlaut caused the mutation of the long to a long back rounded vowel ǫ́, but this seems to have merged with at an early stage and is not found in texts of the classical period. The u-umlaut of long and short i and e is marginal compared to the u-umlaut of a. Remember that only a, i, u may occur in unstressed syllables, and of these, a shifts to u in the process of u-umlaut.

The sounds o and y also alternate in ON. Originally, u and y alternated as a result of i-umlaut. In certain environments no longer systematic in ON, u lowered to o and left an alternation between o and y.

2.5 Consonant Changes

Consonant changes regularly occurred under several specific circumstances. The most notable of these are given below.

Gemination

The sounds -t or -r geminated (doubled) when attached to a stem ending in a long stressed vowel, e.g. ný- + -t > nýtt; fá- + -ri > fárri.

Simplification

A double consonant is simplified when preceded by another consonant, e.g. akr- + -r > akrr > akr; fagr- + -rar > fagrrar > fagrar; jarl- + -r > jarll (see assimilation, below) > jarl.

Assimilation

The were five important situations for consonant assimilation:

Devoicing

A final consonant cluster is devoiced, and assimilated, in the second principal part of certain Class III and Class VII strong verbs: -nd > -tt; -ng > -kk; -ld > -lt. For example, binda 'to bind' > batt (past 3rd sing.); stinga 'to sting' > stakk; gjalda 'to pay' > galt; ganga 'to go' > gekk; halda 'to hold' > helt.

Consonant Loss

An -n- or -l- occasionally drops before final -t in an unstressed short syllable, e.g. mikil- + -t > mikit; búin- + -t > búit; but gamal- + -t > gamalt.

3 Strong Declension

There are three grammatical genders in ON -- masculine, feminine, neuter. These have no bearing on sexual gender, but when the referent has a distinct sexual gender, the noun representing it typically has the grammatical gender of the same name (but not always). The gender of compound nouns was that of the final element. There are two numbers, singular (one of a thing) and plural (more than one of a thing), except for the personal pronouns, which also display forms for the dual (two of a thing). There are four nominal cases -- Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative. A noun in the nominative case acts as the grammatical subject of its clause, or specifies something predicated to the subject. A noun in the accusative acts as a direct object, or displays the terminus of directed motion, be the motion spatial or temporal (e.g. 'for several miles' or 'for several days' could be expressed by accusative forms, without the need for prepositions). A noun in the genitive marks a general sphere of relation; this relation could be so specific that it connotes possession ('John's book'), but it might be more general ('a day's journey'). A noun in the dative denotes the indirect object of its clause, or more generally a party interested in the action. Grammatical cases inherently connote what in English would usually require a preposition, so that prepositions are not strictly necessary. But to elicit certain nuances, prepositions are commonly used in ON.

All nouns in ON decline according to strong or weak declensions. This is a property of the noun; a noun declines according to one or the other, not both. The declension must be learned for each noun. The terms 'strong' and 'weak' are historically due to J. Grimm; the terminology is no longer deemed insightful and no import should be read into the names. One might just as easily use 'first' and 'second' for the declensions, but inertia keeps the traditional nomenclature in place. The nominative singular of most strong nouns ends in a consonant; the nominative singular of all weak nouns ends in a vowel. The designations of the declensions follow the thematic vowel of the noun stem, which usually shows itself in ON in the accusative plural of strong masculine nouns. The nominative and accusative forms of neuter nouns are always identical.

3.1 a / ja / wa-Stems

The a / ja / wa-stem nouns are generally masculine or neuter. The endings are as follows.

    Masculine   Neuter
         
N Sg.   -r   -
A   -   -
G   -s, -r   -s
D   -i   -i
         
N Pl.   (thematic) + -r   (u-umlaut)
A   (thematic) + -   (u-umlaut)
G   -a   -a
D   -um   -um
         

There is no ending in the masculine accusative, singular and plural. The thematic vowel shows itself in the masculine plural nominative and accusative. There is no ending for the neuter nominative and accusative, both singular and plural. The historical presence of u in the neuter nominative and accusative plural causes the vowel of the last stem syllable to undergo u-umlaut; the u itself, however, was subsequently dropped and does not occur in texts of the classical period.

The masculine nouns harmr 'sorrow' and himinn 'heaven', and the neuter nouns barn 'child' and kné 'knee', illustrate the a-stem declension.

    Masculine       Neuter    
                 
Stem   harm-a-   himin-a-   barn-   kné-
                 
N Sg.   harmr   himinn   barn   kné
A   harm   himin   barn   kné
G   harms   himins   barns   knés
D   harmi   himni   barni   kné
                 
N Pl.   harmar   himnar   bǫrn   kné
A   harma   himna   bǫrn   kné
G   harma   himna   barna   knjá
D   hǫrmum   himnum   bǫrnum   knjám, knjóm

Note the u of the dative plural ending causes u-umlaut of the preceding vowel, as one would expect. The u causing umlaut in the neuter nominative and accusative plural, however, no longer remains. Note also the appearance of a glide j within the paradigm of kné.

Disyllabic nouns generally declined like himinn. The vowel of the last stem syllable dropped before endings beginning with a vowel, or before the thematic vowel itself. The common name Gunnar, D sg. Gunnari, is a notable exception. Some words, such as ketill and lykill, whose first vowel is a result of umlaut brought on by the second syllable, revert to the non-umlauted vowel in syncopated forms, e.g. D sg. katli and lukli.

The masculine nouns niðr 'kinsman' and hirðir 'herdsman', and the neuter nouns ríki 'kingdom', kyn 'kin' and kvæði 'poem', illustrate the ja-stem declension.

    Masculine       Neuter        
                     
Stem   niðj-a-   hirðj-a-   ríkj-   kynj-   kvæðj-
                     
N Sg.   niðr   hirðir   ríki   kyn   kvæði
A   nið   hirði   ríki   kyn   kvæði
G   niðs   hirðis   ríkis   kyns   kvæðis
D   nið   hirði   ríki   kyni   kvæði
                     
N Pl.   niðjar   hirðar   ríki   kyn   kvæði
A   niðja   hirða   ríki   kyn   kvæði
G   niðja   hirða   ríkja   kynja   kvæða
D   niðjum   hirðum   ríkjum   kynjum   kvæðum

The nouns niðr and kyn illustrate the declension of so-called short stems; the rest illustrate long stems.

The masculine nouns sǫngr 'song' and sær 'sea', and the neuter noun hǫgg 'strike', illustrate the wa-stem declension.

    Masculine           Neuter
                 
Stem   sǫngv-a-   sæv-a-       hǫggv-
                 
N Sg.   sǫngr   sær   sjór   hǫgg
A   sǫng     sjó   hǫgg
G   sǫngs   sævar   sjóvar   hǫggs
D   sǫngvi   (vi)   sjó(vi)   hǫggvi
                 
N Pl.   sǫngvar   sævar   sjóvar   hǫgg
A   sǫngva   sæva   sjóva   hǫgg
G   sǫngva   sæva   sjóva   hǫggva
D   sǫngum   (v)um   sjóvum   hǫggum
                 

The w (v in the orthography) of the stem remained only when it followed a short syllable, a g, or a k, and preceded a or u.

3.2 / jō / wō-Stems

The / jō / wō-stem nouns are feminine. The stems are so-named for historical reasons; the stem vowel does not appear as by the time ON is written down. The declensional endings are as follows.

    Feminine
     
N Sg.   (u-umlaut), -r
A   (-u), -
G   -ar
D   (-u), -
     
N Pl.   (thematic) + -r
A   (thematic) + -r
G   -a
D   -um

The vowel of the final stem syllable undergoes u-umlaut in the N sg. The nominative ending -r appears only on long jō-stem nouns. The A D sg. ending -u is optional; it generally does not occur with monosyllabic stems. The A D sg. are subject to u-umlaut, even if the u-ending does not appear.

The feminine nouns grǫf 'hole', fjǫðr 'feather', 'river', and Ingibjǫrg 'Ingeborg' illustrate the -stem declension.

    Feminine            
                 
Stem   graf-a-   fjaðr-a-   -a-   Ingibjarg-a-
                 
N Sg.   grǫf   fjǫðr     Ingibjǫrg
A   grǫf   fjǫðr     Ingibjǫrgu
G   grafar   fjaðrar   ár   Ingibjargar
D   grǫf   fjǫðr     Ingibjǫrgu
                 
N Pl.   grafar   fjaðrar   ár    
A   grafar   fjaðrar   ár    
G   grafa   fjaðra      
D   grǫfum   fjǫðrum   ám    

Note that the r in the N sg. of fjǫðr is part of the stem, not the alternate N sg. ending. Also note the appearance of the -u ending in the A D sg. of Ingibjǫrg. Though the -u ending does not always appear in the A D sg. of o-stem nouns, u-umlaut still occurs.

The feminine short stem nouns ben 'wound' and ey 'island', and the long stem heiðr 'heath', illustrate the jō-stem declension.

    Feminine        
    Short   Long    
             
Stem   benj-a-   eyj-a-   heiðj-a-
             
N Sg.   ben   ey   heiðr
A   ben   ey   heiði
G   benjar   eyjar   heiðar
D   ben   eyju   heiði
             
N Pl.   benjar   eyjar   heiðar
A   benjar   eyjar   heiðar
G   benja   eyja   heiða
D   benjum   eyjum   heiðum

Note the ending -r in the N sg. of the long stem nouns. The differences between / jō-stems parallel those between a / ja-stems.

The feminine noun ǫr 'arrow' illustrates the wō-stem declension.

    Feminine
     
Stem   ǫrv-a-
     
N Sg.   ǫr
A   ǫr
G   ǫrvar
D   ǫr(u)
     
N Pl.   ǫrvar
A   ǫrvar
G   ǫrva
D   ǫrum
4 Strong Conjugation

As with nouns, there were two types of verbs, strong and weak. These labels bear no relation to the same terms applied to nouns. Again the terminology could just as well be replaced with 'Type I' and 'Type II', since the adjectives 'strong' and 'weak' have no real connotation.

There were two tenses in ON, present and past; and three moods, indicative, subjunctive, and imperative. The tenses might more properly be termed past and non-past, inasmuch as the present forms filled the role of both present and future. Compare Modern English 'I am going to the store later', where the present tense has future meaning, equivalent to 'will go'. Likewise, the past forms in ON may have the connotation of several different tenses in Modern English, such as the simple past 'did', perfect 'has done', and pluperfect 'had done'. The latter may be expressed, as in English, by periphrastic constructions. The moods were built off of either the past or present stems, except for the imperative, which only employed the present stem. Generally the past subjunctive forms denoted potential completed actions, whereas the present subjunctive would have no such implication of completion. This parallels somewhat Modern English 'might have done' vs. 'might do'. Sometimes there seems to be little distinction between the two.

4.1 Strong Verb Classes

Strong verbs were characterized by ablaut, or vowel gradation. This process still survives in Modern English, cf. sing-sang-sung-song. Ablaut refers to the meaning- or function-specific alternation of vowels within a single verb's system. As in the example above, the s-ng base gives present verb forms with insertion of i, past verb forms with a, a past participle with u, and a derived noun with o. Not every verb which employs ablaut employs the same ablaut; take for example hang-hung-hung, where present forms are built from the a-form, past from the u-form, past participle from the u-form, and no extant noun derived through ablaut.

There are seven classes of strong verbs, based for the most part on the sequence of vowels in an ablaut system. To illustrate the possible vowel changes within a system, a selection of principal parts of verbs is made. For the study of ON, the usual choice is infinitive, present indicative (pres. 3rd sg.), past indicative (past 3rd. sg.), past indicative (past 3rd pl.), past subjunctive (past subj. 3rd. sg.), past participle. This gives six principal parts in all, from which the remaining forms of the verb may be derived. Note that the past indicative is built from two stems, one employed in the singular, the other in the plural. The principal parts used are certainly not universal, and some grammars make do with fewer; any slack is compensated for by an increased number of phonological rules.

The verbs bíta 'bite', skjóta 'shoot', bresta 'burst', bera 'bear', reka 'drive', and fara 'go' illustrate the principal parts of the first six strong verb classes. Optional principal parts are in parentheses.

Class   Infinitive   (3 Sg. Pres.)   3 Sg. Past   3 Pl. Past   (3 Sg. Past Subj.)   Past Ptcple
                         
I   bíta 'bite'   bítr   beit   bitu   biti   bitinn
II   skjóta 'shoot'   skýtr   skaut   skutu   skyti   skotinn
III   bresta 'burst'   brestr   brast   brustu   brysti   brostinn
IV   bera 'bear'   berr   bar   báru   bæri   borinn
V   reka 'drive'   rekr   rak   ráku   ræki   rekinn
VI   fara 'go'   ferr   fór   fóru   fœri   farinn

For the seventh class, it is convenient to quote additional principal parts: 3rd pl. pres. indic., 3rd sg. pres. subj.. These principal parts are listed in brackets. The seventh class historically comprised reduplicated verbs. The verbs róa 'row' and snúa 'turn' illustrate the seventh class.

Class   Infinitive   (3 Sg. Pres.)   [3 Pl. Pres.]   [3 Sg. Pr. Subj.]   3 Sg. Past   3 Pl. Past   (3 Sg. Pa. Subj.)   Pa. Ptcple
                                 
VII   róa 'row'   rœr   róa   rói   reri / røri   røru / reru   reri / røri   róit
    snúa 'turn'   snýr   snúa   snúi   sneri / snøri   snøru / sneru   sneri / snøri   snúit

A few common verbs are idiosyncratic enough to warrant special mention. Though not reduplicated, some grammars place these verbs in the seventh class. Their ablaut series do not fit conveniently into the above classes, and so they are listed below.

Class   Infinitive   (3 Sg. Pres.)   3 Sg. Past   3 Pl. Past   (3 Sg. Past Subj.)   Past Ptcple
                         
(VII)   falla 'fall'   fellr   fell   fellu   felli   fallin
    gráta 'cry'   grætr   grét   grétu   gréti   grátinn
    hlaupa 'leap'   hleypr   hljóp   hljópu   hlýpi   hlaupinn
    leika 'play'   leikr   lék   léku   léki   leikinn
4.2 Active Paradigm

The active endings of the strong verb paradigms are as follows.

Strong Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   -   -a    
2   -r   -ir   -
3   -r   -i    
             
1 Pl.   -um   -im   -um
2   -   -   -
3   -a   -i    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   -   -a    
2   -t   -ir    
3   -   -i    
             
1 Pl.   -um   -im    
2   -   -    
3   -u   -i    

The mark "-" represents a form whose ending is zero; a blank space represents the complete absence of any such form.

The conjugation of the second class verb rjúfa 'break' illustrates the endings.

Strong Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   rýf   rjúfa    
2   rýfr   rjúfir   rjúf
3   rýfr   rjúfi    
             
1 Pl.   rjúfum   rjúfim   rjúfum
2   rjúfið   rjúið   rjúfið
3   rjúfa   rjúfi    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   rauf   ryfa    
2   rauft   ryfir    
3   rauf   ryfi    
             
1 Pl.   rufum   ryfim    
2   rufuð   ryfið    
3   rufu   ryfi    
             
Infinitive   rjúfa        
             
Pres. Ptc.   rjúfandi        
             
Past Ptc.   rofinn        

These forms are derivable from a minimal set of four principal parts, namely the principal parts not in parentheses in the chart of the preceding section. Specifically, these are the following principal parts:

The procedure for arriving at the verb forms is this:

Note however that a non-back vowel in a given principal part may undergo back mutation before the ending -um. Labelling the principal part stems as (1), (2), (3), (4), this gives the following schematic representation.

Strong Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   (1) + (i-mut.) + -   (1) + -a    
2   (1) + (i-mut.) + -r   (1) + -ir   (1) + -
3   (1) + (i-mut.) + -r   (1) + -i    
             
1 Pl.   (1) + (u-mut.) + -um   (1) + -im   (1) + (u-mut.) + -um
2   (1) + -   (1) + -   (1) + -
3   (1) + -a   (1) + -i    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   (2) + -   (3) + (i-mut.) + -a    
2   (2) + -t   (3) + (i-mut.) + -ir    
3   (2) + -   (3) + (i-mut.) + -i    
             
1 Pl.   (3) + (u-mut.) + -um   (3) + (i-mut.) + -im    
2   (3) + -   (3) + (i-mut.) + -    
3   (3) + -u   (3) + (i-mut.) + -i    
             
Infinitive   (1) + -a        
             
Pres. Ptc.   (1) + -andi        
             
Past Ptc.   (4) + -inn        
4.3 Middle Paradigm

The concept of voice deals with the manner in which agent and patient play a role in a given statement. The agent is the logical performer of an action; the patient is the logical recipient, or object, of an action. The agent may or may not be the grammatical subject of its clause, and likewise the patient may or may not be the direct object of its clause. A statement is active when the agent is also the grammatical subject; in this situation, if the patient is expressed, it is the direct object. An example is 'the dog bites the man'. The dog is the logical performer of the action, the agent, and is also the grammatical subject of the verb 'bites'. The statement is therefore active; the patient, 'the man', is the direct object. A statement is passive when the the patient is the grammatical subject. We may recast the same sentiment as before in the fashion 'the man is bitten by the dog'. Again the logical performer of the action is 'the dog' -- this remains the agent. It is no longer, however, the grammatical subject; rather the patient, 'the man', is the grammatical subject of the verb 'is bitten', making this a passive statement.

The middle voice, as its name would imply, occupies a position somewhere between active and passive, and is typically less precisely defined. The middle voice is used for expressing actions which have some sort of effect back on the subject, either by simple reflexive action ('I washed myself'), by personal benefit ('I had a sacrifice performed'), by internal process ('I called to mind what he said'), or a number of other nuances. In ON, the sense of the middle voice often overlaps with the passive.

The endings of the middle voice are given below. For the most part they are simply the active endings with a post-posed -sk (-mk in the 1st pers. sg.), and attendant sound changes.

Strong Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   -umk   -umk    
2   -sk   -isk   -sk
3   -sk   -isk    
             
1 Pl.   -umsk   -imsk   -umsk
2   -izk   -izk   -izk
3   -ask   -isk    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   -umk   -umk    
2   -zk   -isk    
3   -sk   -isk    
             
1 Pl.   -umsk   -imsk    
2   -uzk   -izk    
3   -usk   -isk    

As above, the conjugation of the second class verb rjúfa 'break' illustrates the endings.

Strong Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   rjúfumk   rjúfumk    
2   rýfsk   rjúfisk   rjúfsk
3   rýfsk   rjúfisk    
             
1 Pl.   rjúfumsk   rjúfimsk   rjúfumsk
2   rjúfizk   rjúizk   rjúfizk
3   rjúfask   rjúfisk    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   rufumk   ryfumk    
2   raufzk   ryfisk    
3   raufsk   ryfisk    
             
1 Pl.   rufumsk   ryfimsk    
2   rufuzk   ryfizk    
3   rufusk   ryfisk    
             
Infinitive   rjúfask        
             
Pres. Ptc.   rjúfandisk        
             
Past Ptc.   rofizk        

As in the preceding section, a non-back vowel in a given principal part may undergo back mutation before the ending -umk. This gives the following schematic representation.

Strong Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   (1) + (u-mut.) + -umk   (1) + (u-mut.) + -umk    
2   (1) + (i-mut.) + -sk   (1) + -isk   (1) + -sk
3   (1) + (i-mut.) + -sk   (1) + -isk    
             
1 Pl.   (1) + (u-mut.) + -umsk   (1) + -imsk   (1) + (u-mut.) + -umsk
2   (1) + -izk   (1) + -izk   (1) + -izk
3   (1) + -ask   (1) + -isk    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   (3) + (u-mut.) + -umk   (3) + (i-mut.) + -umk    
2   (2) + -zt   (3) + (i-mut.) + -isk    
3   (2) + -sk   (3) + (i-mut.) + -isk    
             
1 Pl.   (3) + (u-mut.) + -umsk   (3) + (i-mut.) + -imsk    
2   (3) + -uzk   (3) + (i-mut.) + -izk    
3   (3) + -usk   (3) + (i-mut.) + -isk    
             
Infinitive   (1) + -ask        
             
Pres. Ptc.   (1) + -andisk        
             
Past Ptc.   (4) + -izk        

The present participle middle is declined like the active, with -sk added after the declensional endings. The past participle is formed analogously, but is only found in the neuter.

5 Word Order and Concord

The basic word order of a declarative statement in ON was

    Subject + Verb (+ Adverb) (+ Object),

where Subject and Object may stand for nouns and attendant modifiers, or even whole clauses; Adverb may stand for a single element or adverbial phrase; and Verb stands for a finite verb form. For example, Bǫðvarr gengr nú til þess rúms 'Bothvar goes now to the place...' When the Adverb comes first, it is usually followed by the Verb and Subject,

    Adverb + Verb + Subject (+ Object),

e.g. Nú kømr jóla-aptann 'Now comes Christmas Eve'. Word order is fluid enough that VSO and OVS word orders are chosen when particular emphasis or stylistic variation is desired. When two clauses are joined, the normal word order is followed in each clause. The common conjunction ok 'and', however, is always followed by the verb of the second clause. Thus,

    S + V (+ Adv) (+ O) + ok + V + S (+ O).

For example, hann lætr Hǫtt fara með sér, ok gørir hann þat nauðugr ok kallaði hann sér stýrt til bana 'He commanded Hott to go with him; and he did so unwillingly, and said it would be his death.' The word order of dependent clauses is the same as that for simple declarative main clauses:

    Relative (+ Subject) + Verb (+ Adverb) (+ Object), or
    Relative (+ Adverb) + Verb (+ Subject) (+ Object).

If the subject is simply a lone relative pronoun, then one finds either

    Rel.Pron. + Verb (+ Adverb) (+ Object), or
    Rel.Pron. + Adverb + Verb (+ Object).

Statements of existence of the sort 'there is...', 'there are...' place the subject or topic first, with no blank pronoun or adverb as in Modern English. Thus Margar sagnir eru... means 'There are great stories...'. Contrast Þar er nú hǫfuðstaðr... 'There is the capital...'; þar always has a specifically locative connotation and is not equivalent to 'there' in Modern English existential 'there is/are...' constructions. Truly impersonal constructions arise in the order

    Verb (+ Adverb) + Object.

The subject is not expressed; such constructions are often equivalent to a passive in Modern English: Skal hér nefna suma þeira ('Shall here name some of them') 'Here some of them shall be named.'

An adjective may either precede or follow the noun it modifies. They agree in gender, case, and number. A plural adjective or pronoun referring to two nouns of different gender is put in the neuter, e.g. vit skulum aka tvau 'we two (Thor (masc.) and Freya (fem.)) shall drive together'. An emphatic adjective generally precedes the noun, but this practice varies quite frequently for stylistic reasons, especially to avoid repetitive constructions. A possessive pronoun generally follows the noun it governs, e.g. skip hans 'his ship'; the alternate hans skip places emphasis on the pronoun. Though there is a definite article in ON, it typically does not modify a noun governed by a genitive, e.g. jarlar konungs 'the earls of the king'. The genitive itself, however, may take a definite article: konungr landsins 'the king of the land'.

When a plural subject follows the verb, a preceding pronoun or noun referring to the subject might be put in the singular. The verb may be singular, though usually plural: þat eru nú fjǫrur kallaðar 'that's now called the fore-shore(s).'

Old Norse Online

Lesson 2

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

The Farmstead

Contrary to what the records of Continental Europe would have us believe, viking life consisted more of farming than of going 'a-viking'. Even for those adventurers who did join the raiding parties, it was essentially a seasonal activity, with the off-season involving tending to matters at the homestead. Though the disparate lands and climates inhabited by the Scandinavians led to a diversity of home activities, there are a few general trends of the society as a whole. In all the reaches of their expanse, the Scandinavians tended animals, mostly for dairy products, but also for meat and hides. This practice was mixed with genuine agriculture, particularly the cultivation of grains. Where the land was more fertile in the southern regions, cultivation made up the greater portion of the farming endeavor; but as one proceeds farther north and the land becomes less tillable, the rearing of animals takes over as the farming mainstay. In the eastern regions, these farming practices were typically supplemented by hunting wild animals and birds. Fishing and the hunting of seals, walruses, and whales were part of the general Scandinavian arsenal, not only for sustinence, but also for purposes of trading hides, ivory, and oil.

There were a few common methods of constructing the houses and other farm buildings. By far the most prevalent, both for the convenience of the materials and the readiness of construction, was turf construction. Walls would be heaped up from the surrounding turf, and wood would only be used to form the roof. In those regions more dense with wooded areas, houses would be built from timber. One method involved using vertical planks set edge-to-edge; another method involved placing horizontal planks between vertical posts.

Scandinavian house design was quite consistent over the wide region of their expanse. The basic house consisted of one long room, anywhere from 40 to 100 feet long, and tapering at either end in a fashion similar to a ship's hull. Two rows of posts ran along the middle to support the weight of the roof. Along each long wall ran a floor of raised earth, held with smooth boards or stone. The central floor sat below these, the center occupied by one or more stone-lined hearths and a cooking pit. In the earliest days these structures seemed to house both humans and animals, but by the time of the Viking Age, the farm animals were relegated to separate structures either appended to the long house or set off at a distance. The long house itself was often sectioned by wooden walls enclosing small areas at either end for storage and sleeping quarters. Later houses separated the kitchen, some walled off an entrance area, and others separated sleeping quarters from the rooms of daytime activities. The later houses lost the characteristic curve of the long walls.

An entire farmstead, of course, consisted of more than just a single dwelling. The excavations at Jarlshof in the Shetlands have uncovered the development of a farmstead which seems to have occured in stages. The original long house seems to have been built first, only followed some 40 or 50 years later by other structures. A second long house was built, presumably for the next generation, divided into a dwelling space and a cowhouse. Near the orignal long house was a separate outhouse divided into sections. There was also a separate stable, with cobbled floor, and a smithy separate from these, containing an anvil, hearth, and lumps of iron slag. There was yet another separate structure, whose purpose is not altogether clear, but was perhaps a barn.

The farming year began when the snow melted. This exposed the grass for grazing the cattle, and marked the time for planting cereal crops. Primarily these consisted of barley and oats. The plough was usually drawn by oxen, and was made in two styles. One was a wheel-drawn plough which was very heavy, and another was a lighter plough merely held and guided by the farmer. This was also the time to replenish the fuel stores by digging peat and cutting wood.

The period from roughly May to June consisted of weaning the lambs, shearing the flocks, and finally driving the animals to upland pastures in the hills. In this upland area a farm typically had a separate living quarter where some of the household would live during the summer months. The cows would be milked and butter and cheese would be made.

Following this, a period of haymaking began in July and continued through August and into September. Grass was cut, rolled to dry, and stored in barns or protected with turf. This period overlapped with the harvest, which began in late August or early September. At the same time, livestock was gathered from the hills, and the owner would make an estimate based on the harvest as to how many animals could be kept alive for the winter. The rest were slaughtered and their meat dried. The winter months were devoted to work inside as much as possible. Often animals would be left outside in the cold as much as they could handle it, but the cows could not endure such conditions, and so were kept inside and hay brought to them. Women often took to indoor necessities such as weaving and needlework, using the wool cut earlier in the year.

Author Introduction

Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) is generally viewed by historians as the educated Scandinavian par excellence, a leading figure in the social, political, and literary life of Iceland at the time. Snorri travelled on at least two occasions to the court of the Norwegian king Hákon Hákonarson and appears to have agreed to promote the interests of the king and his father-in-law Skúli in Iceland. Skúli rebelled, however, against the king and was eventually killed in 1240. Snorri too fell out of favor with the king; eventually he was killed in his own home on the orders of the Icelander Gizurr Þorvaldsson.

Snorri has a great literary corpus to his credit. His literary productivity is at times extended too far, as historians attempt to assign to his authorship this and that extant work of unknown provenance. But several works are fairly certainly ascribed to Snorri. Several of his poems are quoted in Sturlunga saga and Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar. Heimskringla, a collection of stories of legendary and historical kings of Norway, was likely compiled by Snorri. Some ascribe Egils saga to Snorri's talent, but there is no direct evidence for such a claim.

The Prose Edda is paramount among Snorri's literary contributions. The work is in three parts: the Prologue and Gylfaginning, containing accounts of the mythology of Scandinavia; the Skáldskaparmál ('poetic diction'), a treatise on the mechanics of poetic composition; and the Háttatál, a description of poetic verse-forms.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following passage begins the Prologue of Snorri's Edda. Lest one be lulled into believing that Iceland was the last bastion of true polytheistic worship in medieval Europe, the passage below clearly illustrates that, by Snorri's time, Christianity had found firm footing on this isolated island. Certainly Scandinavians, and Icelanders in particular, had held on to earlier beliefs until a relatively late date. But the following passage makes clear that, at least in many educated circles, the remants of the older ways were being reinterpreted from a Christian viewpoint. In this way, Snorri's Prologue is strikingly modern in its stance and tone.

Almáttigr guð skapaði himin ok jǫrð ok alla þá hluti er þeim fylgja, ok síðarst menn tvá er ættir eru frá komnar, Adam ok Evu, ok fjǫlgaðisk þeira kynslóð ok dreifðisk um heim allan.
  • almáttigr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <almáttigr> almighty -- almighty
  • guð -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <guð> god -- god # neuter in form, but with masc. concord
  • skapaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <skapa (að)> create; make, shape; determine -- created
  • himin -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <himinn> heaven, sky -- heaven
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • jǫrð -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil -- earth
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • alla -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • þá -- demonstrative used as adjective; accusative plural masculine of <sá> that -- the
  • hluti -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <hlutr> part, piece, thing -- things
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural neuter of <sá> that -- to them
  • fylgja -- verb; 3rd plural present of <fylgja (gð)> belong to, attend to, accompany, serve, appertain to -- belong
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • síðarst -- adverb; superlative of <síð> late -- finally
  • menn -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- people
  • tvá -- numeral; accusative plural masculine of <tveir> two -- two # note not neuter, though the referents' (Adam and Eve's) genders differ, by proximity to menn
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- whom
  • ættir -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <ætt> direction, region; family, line; stock, tribe; ancestry -- races
  • eru -- verb; 3rd plural present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- ...
  • frá -- preposition; <frá> from; concerning -- from
  • komnar -- past participle; nominative plural feminine of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- descended
  • Adam -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Adam> Adam -- Adam
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • Evu -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Eva> Eve -- Eve
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fjǫlgaðisk -- verb; 3rd plural past middle of <fjǫlgask (að)> multiply -- multiplied
  • þeira -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive plural neuter of <sá> that -- their
  • kynslóð -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <kynslóð> progeny, family line -- progeny
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • dreifðisk -- verb; 3rd plural past middle of <dreifa (ð)> scatter (dat.); besprinkle (acc.) -- dispersed
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- across
  • heim -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <heimr> region; world -- land
  • allan -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all the

En er fram liðu stundir, þá ójafnaðisk mannfólkit: váru sumir góðir ok rétt trúaðir, en myklu fleiri snerusk eptir girndum heimsins ok órœktu guðs boðorð, ok fyrir því drekti guð heiminum í sjávargangi ok ǫllum kvikvendum heimsins nema þeim er í ǫrkinni váru með Nóa.
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- as
  • fram -- adverb; <fram> forward, on; away; out -- by
  • liðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <líða> move, go; pass, progress -- went
  • stundir -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <stund> period of time; hour; time -- time
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • ójafnaðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <ójafnask (að)> become unequal, diverse -- diversified
  • mannfólkit -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <mannfolk> mankind; people + definite article; nominative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the people
  • váru -- verb; 3rd plural past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- were
  • sumir -- adjective used as substantive; nominative plural masculine of <sumr> some -- some
  • góðir -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <góðr> good -- good
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • rétt -- adverb; <rétt> right, rightly -- very
  • trúaðir -- past participle; nominative plural masculine of <trúa (ð)> believe, trust, have faith in -- faithful
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • myklu -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- far
  • fleiri -- comparative adjective; nominative plural masculine of <fleiri> more; further, other -- more
  • snerusk -- verb; 3rd plural past middle of <snúa> plait, tie, twist; turn -- took
  • eptir -- preposition; <eptir> after, behind; for, to obtain; along; according to; in succession to -- to
  • girndum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <girnd> desire -- the pleasures
  • heimsins -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <heimr> region; world + definite article; genitive singular masculine of <inn> the -- of the land
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • órœktu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <órœkja (kt)> neglect, fail to heed -- spurned
  • guðs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <guð> god -- god's # neuter in form, but with masc. concord
  • boðorð -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <boðorð> commandment -- command
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- -fore
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- there-
  • drekti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <drekkja (kt)> drown (dat.) -- submerged
  • guð -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <guð> god -- god # neuter in form, but with masc. concord
  • heiminum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <heimr> region; world + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the land
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • sjávargangi -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <sævargangr> surge of sea; flood -- flood
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- as well as
  • ǫllum -- adjective; dative plural neuter of <allr> all, whole; every -- all the
  • kvikvendum -- adjective used as substantive; dative plural neuter of <kvikvendi> living being, creature; animals -- creatures
  • heimsins -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <heimr> region; world + definite article; genitive singular masculine of <inn> the -- of the land
  • nema -- conjunction; <nema> unless; except -- save
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural neuter of <sá> that -- those
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • ǫrkinni -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <ǫrk> ark + definite article; dative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the ark
  • váru -- verb; 3rd plural past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- were
  • með -- preposition; <með> with; by means of; among; along -- with
  • Nóa -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Nói> Noah -- Noah

Eptir Nóa flóð lifðu átta menn þeir er heiminn bygðu ok kómu frá þeim ættir, ok varð enn sem fyrr at þá er fjǫlmentisk ok bygðisk verǫldin þá var þat allr fjǫlði mannfólksins er elskaði ágirni fja/r ok metnaðar en afrœktusk guðs hlýðni, ok svá mikit gerðisk af því at þeir vildu eigi nefna guð.
  • eptir -- preposition; <eptir> after, behind; for, to obtain; along; according to; in succession to -- after
  • Nóa -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Nói> Noah -- Noah's
  • flóð -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <flóð> flood -- flood
  • lifðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <lifa (ð)> live -- lived
  • átta -- numeral; <átta> eight -- eight
  • menn -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- men
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <sá> that -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • heiminn -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <heimr> region; world + definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the land
  • bygðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <byggja (gð)> dwell, settle; build, inhabit -- settled
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • kómu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- descended
  • frá -- preposition; <frá> from; concerning -- from
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural masculine of <sá> that -- them
  • ættir -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <ætt> direction, region; family, line; stock, tribe; ancestry -- races
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • varð -- verb; 3rd singular past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- it happened
  • enn -- adverb; <enn> still; also; yet; further; again; moreover; even -- just
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- as
  • fyrr -- adverb; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- before
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • fjǫlmentisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <fjǫlmennask (t)> become peopled, full of people -- was populated
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • bygðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <byggja (gð)> dwell, settle; build, inhabit -- settled
  • verǫldin -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <verǫld> world + definite article; nominative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the world
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- occurred (that)
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sá> that -- it
  • allr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- the
  • fjǫlði -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <fjǫlði> multitude -- majority
  • mannfólksins -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <mannfolk> mankind; people + definite article; genitive singular neuter of <inn> the -- of the population
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- ...
  • elskaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <elska (að)> love -- preferred
  • ágirni -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <ágirni> greed -- hunger
  • fja/r -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <fé> cattle; sheep; money; possessions -- for wealth
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • metnaðar -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <metnaðr> glory -- glory
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • afrœktusk -- verb; 3rd plural past middle of <afrœkjask (kt)> neglect -- set aside
  • guðs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <guð> god -- god's # neuter in form, but with masc. concord
  • hlýðni -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <hlýðni> obedience -- obedience
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • mikit -- adverb; accusative singular neuter of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- far
  • gerðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past reflexive of <gera (ð)> do, perform; act; make, build; finish -- went
  • af -- preposition; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- ...
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- ...
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • vildu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <vilja> will, wish, be willing; intend -- desired
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- no longer
  • nefna -- verb; infinitive of <nefna (d)> name, call; mention -- to speak the name of
  • guð -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <guð> god -- god

En hverr mundi þá segja sonum þeira frá guðs stórmerkjum? Svá kom at þeir týndu guðs nafni ok víðast um verǫldina fansk eigi sá maðr er deili kunni á skapara sínum.
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • hverr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- who
  • mundi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- could
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • segja -- verb; infinitive of <segja (sagða)> say, speak; tell, tell of; relate -- tell
  • sonum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <sonr> son -- sons
  • þeira -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive plural masculine of <hann> this one -- their
  • frá -- preposition; <frá> from; concerning -- about
  • guðs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <guð> god -- god's # neuter in form, but with masc. concord
  • stórmerkjum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <stórmerki> notable thing; mystery, sacrament -- great works
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • kom -- verb; 3rd singular past of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- it came about
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • týndu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <týna (d)> lose; forget (dat.) -- forgot
  • guðs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <guð> god -- god's # neuter in form, but with masc. concord
  • nafni -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <nafn> name -- name
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • víðast -- adverb; superlative of <víða> widely, in many places; extensively -- in most places
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- around
  • verǫldina -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <verǫld> world + definite article; accusative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the world
  • fansk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <finna> find, meet; discover; notice; invent -- could... be found
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- not
  • sá -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sá> that -- a
  • maðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <maðr> man, person; husband; henchman -- man
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- who
  • deili -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <deili> (pl.) details -- the details
  • kunni -- verb; 3rd singular past of <kunna> know, know how to; be able -- knew
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- of
  • skapara -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <skapari> creator -- creator
  • sínum -- possessive adjective; dative singular masculine of <sínn> own, one's own -- his

En eigi at síðr veitti guð þeim jarðligar giptir, fé ok sælu, er þeir skyldu við vera í heiminum. Miðlaði hann ok spekina svá at þeir skilðu alla jarðliga hluti ok allar greinir þær er sjá mátti loptsins ok jarðarinnar.
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • eigi at síðr -- conjunction; <eigi_at_síðr> nontheless -- nonetheless
  • veitti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <veita (tt)> grant, give; help; pay, yield; (recip.) back one another -- gave
  • guð -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <guð> god -- god # neuter in form, but with masc. concord
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural masculine of <sá> that -- them
  • jarðligar -- adjective; accusative plural feminine of <jarðligr> earthly; worldly -- earthly
  • giptir -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <gipt> gift -- gifts
  • fé -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <fé> cattle; sheep; money; possessions -- property
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • sælu -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <sæla> happiness; prosperity -- prosperity
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • skyldu -- verb; 3rd plural past subjunctive of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should
  • við -- adverb; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- ...
  • vera -- verb; infinitive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- possess
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- on
  • heiminum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <heimr> region; world + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the land
  • miðlaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <miðla (að)> share out, distribute -- distributed
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- also
  • spekina -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <speki> wisdom; branch of learning, body of knowledge + definite article; accusative singular feminine of <inn> the -- wisdom
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • skilðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <skilja (ð, d)> divide, separate; disband; understand, perceive -- distinguished
  • alla -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all the
  • jarðliga -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <jarðligr> earthly; worldly -- earthly
  • hluti -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <hlutr> part, piece, thing -- things
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • allar -- adjective; accusative plural feminine of <allr> all, whole; every -- all the
  • greinir -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <grein> branch, division; particular, detail -- details
  • þær -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative plural feminine of <sá> that -- which
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- ...
  • sjá -- verb; infinitive of <sjá> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- discern
  • mátti -- verb; 3rd plural past of <mega> be able to, can; may -- one could
  • loptsins -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <lopt> air, sky; upper room + definite article; genitive singular neuter of <inn> the -- of the air # read alternatively as adverbial genitive 'in the air'
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • jarðarinnar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil + definite article; genitive singular feminine of <inn> the -- the earth # read alternatively as adverbial genitive 'on the earth'

Þat hugsuðu þeir ok undruðusk hverju þat mundi gegna at jǫrðin ok dýrin ok fuglarnir hǫfðu saman eðli í sumum hlutum ok var þó ólíkt at hætti.
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sá> that -- this
  • hugsuðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <hugsa (að)> consider, think over; determine -- contemplated
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • undruðusk -- verb; 3rd plural past middle of <undrask (að)> wonder, be astonished (at) -- wondered
  • hverju -- interrogative pronoun; dative singular neuter of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- what
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <sá> that -- it
  • mundi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- might
  • gegna -- verb; infinitive of <gegna (d)> (dat.) be suitable for; mean, bode -- mean
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • jǫrðin -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil + definite article; nominative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the earth
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • dýrin -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <dýr> (wild) animal + definite article; nominative plural neuter of <inn> the -- the animals
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fuglarnir -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <fugl> bird + definite article; nominative plural neuter of <inn> the -- the birds
  • hǫfðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- had
  • saman -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <samr> same + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the same
  • eðli -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <eðli> nature, characteristic(s) -- nature
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • sumum -- adjective; dative plural masculine of <sumr> some -- certain
  • hlutum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <hlutr> part, piece, thing -- respects
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- there was
  • þó -- adverb; <þó> yet, and yet; however, nevertheless -- nevertheless
  • ólíkt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <ólíkr> unlike, unlike to, different from -- dissimilarity
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- in
  • hætti -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <háttr> kind, type; (pl.) activity, habits, behavior -- type

Þat var eitt eðli at jǫrðin var grafin í hám fjalltindum ok spratt þar vatn upp ok þurfti þar eigi lengra at grafa til vaz en í djúpum dǫlum. Svá eru ok dýr ok fuglar, at jafnlangt er til blóðs í hǫfði ok fótum.
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sá> that -- ...
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • eitt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <einn> one; a certain, particular -- one
  • eðli -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <eðli> nature, characteristic(s) -- characteristic
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • jǫrðin -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil + definite article; nominative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the earth
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • grafin -- past participle; nominative singular feminine of <grafa> dig; engrave, inlay -- piled up
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • hám -- adjective; dative plural masculine of <hár> tall, high; loud -- high
  • fjalltindum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <fjalltindr> mountain top -- mountaintops
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • spratt -- verb; 3rd singular past of <spretta> spring -- sprang
  • þar -- adverb; <þar> there, in that place -- there
  • vatn -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <vatn> water; lake; waterway; river -- water
  • upp -- adverb; <upp> up -- forth
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • þurfti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <þurfa (þarf, þurfta)> need; (impers.) be necessary -- there was... need
  • þar -- adverb; <þar> there, in that place -- ...
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- no
  • lengra -- adverb; comparative of <lengi> long; far; for a long time -- further
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • grafa -- verb; infinitive of <grafa> dig; engrave, inlay -- dig
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- for
  • vaz -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <vatn> water; lake; waterway; river -- water
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- than
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • djúpum -- adjective; dative plural masculine of <djúpr> deep -- deep
  • dǫlum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <dalr> dale, dell, valley -- valleys
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- such
  • eru -- verb; 3rd plural present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- are
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • dýr -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <dýr> (wild) animal -- the animals
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fuglar -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <fugl> bird -- birds
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- so that
  • jafnlangt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <jafnlangr> of equal length -- equally far
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it is
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- for
  • blóðs -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <blóð> blood -- blood
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- to
  • hǫfði -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <hǫfuð> head -- the head
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- or
  • fótum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <fótr> foot; leg -- feet

Ǫnnur náttúra er sú jarðar at á hverju ári vex á jǫrðunni gras ok blóm ok á sama ári fellr þat allt ok fǫlnar. Svá eru ok dýr ok fuglar, at þeim vex hár ok fjaðrar ok fellr af á hverju ári.
  • ǫnnur -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <annarr> other, another; second, next; one (of two) -- another
  • náttúra -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <náttúra> nature, characteristic quality, property -- feature
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • sú -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <sá> that -- ...
  • jarðar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil -- of the earth
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- ...
  • hverju -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- each
  • ári -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <ár> year; (good) season -- year
  • vex -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vaxa> wax, grow, increase -- grows
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- on
  • jǫrðunni -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil + definite article; dative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the earth
  • gras -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <gras> grass, pasture; vegetation -- greenery
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • blóm -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <blóm> flower -- flowers
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- in
  • sama -- adjective; weak dative singular neuter of <samr> same -- the same
  • ári -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <ár> year; (good) season -- year
  • fellr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <falla> fall, fall down; flow; be slain -- falls
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <sá> that -- it
  • allt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fǫlnar -- verb; 3rd singular present of <fǫlna (að)> grow pale; fade -- fades
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- such
  • eru -- verb; 3rd plural present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- are
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • dýr -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <dýr> (wild) animal -- the animals
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fuglar -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <fugl> bird -- birds
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- so that
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural neuter of <sá> that -- upon them
  • vex -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vaxa> wax, grow, increase -- grow
  • hár -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <hár> hair -- hair
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fjaðrar -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <fjǫðr> feather -- feathers
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • fellr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <falla> fall, fall down; flow; be slain -- fall
  • af -- adverb; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- off
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- ...
  • hverju -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- each
  • ári -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <ár> year; (good) season -- year

Þat er hin þriðja náttúra jarðar þá er hon er opnuð ok grafin þá grœr gras á þeiri moldu er efst er á jǫrðunni. Bjǫrg ok steina þýddu þeir á móti tǫnnum ok beinum kvikvenda.
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sá> that -- ...
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • hin -- demonstrative used as adjective; nominative singular feminine of <hinn> this one; that; the -- the
  • þriðja -- adjective; weak nominative singular feminine of <þriði> third -- third
  • náttúra -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <náttúra> nature, characteristic quality, property -- characteristic
  • jarðar -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil -- of the earth
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • hon -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <hann> this one -- she
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • opnuð -- past participle; nominative singular feminine of <opna (að)> (cut) open -- opened
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • grafin -- past participle; nominative singular feminine of <grafa> dig; engrave, inlay -- dug up
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • grœr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <gróa> grow -- grows
  • gras -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <gras> grass, pasture; vegetation -- the grass
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- in
  • þeiri -- demonstrative used as adjective; dative singular feminine of <sá> that -- the
  • moldu -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <mold> soil, earth (as substance) -- soil
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • efst -- superlative adjective; nominative singular feminine of <efstr> uppermost, highest -- topmost
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- on
  • jǫrðunni -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil + definite article; dative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the earth
  • bjǫrg -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <bjarg> rock; mountain -- the rocks
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • steina -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <steinn> stone, rock -- stones
  • þýddu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <þýða (dd)> make equivalent, interpret as -- likened
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • á móti -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of + noun; dative singular neuter of <mót> meeting -- to
  • tǫnnum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <tǫnn> tooth -- the teeth
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • beinum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <bein> bone; ivory -- bones
  • kvikvenda -- adjective used as substantive; genitive plural neuter of <kvikvendi> living being, creature; animals -- of living creatures

Af þessu skilðu þeir svá at jǫrðin væri kyk ok hefði líf með nokkurum hætti, ok þat vissu þeir at hon var furðuliga gǫmul at aldartali ok máttug í eðli.
  • af -- preposition; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- from
  • þessu -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular feminine of <sjá> this -- this
  • skilðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <skilja (ð, d)> divide, separate; disband; understand, perceive -- reasoned
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- ...
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • jǫrðin -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <jǫrð> earth, world; ground, soil + definite article; nominative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the earth
  • væri -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- could be
  • kyk -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <kykr> alive, animate -- living
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • hefði -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- have
  • líf -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <líf> life -- life
  • með -- preposition; <með> with; by means of; among; along -- of
  • nokkurum -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <nakkvarr, nǫkkurr> a, a certain; any -- a certain
  • hætti -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <háttr> kind, type; (pl.) activity, habits, behavior -- sort
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sá> that -- this
  • vissu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- understood
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hon -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <hann> this one -- it
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • furðuliga -- adverb; <furðuliga> terribly -- exceedingly
  • gǫmul -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <gamall> old -- old
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- in
  • aldartali -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <aldartal> count of time, age -- years
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • máttug -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <máttugr> mighty -- rich
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • eðli -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <eðli> nature, characteristic(s) -- character

Hon fœddi ǫll kvikvendi ok hon eignaðisk allt þat er dó. Fyrir þá sǫk gáfu þeir henni nafn ok tǫlðu ættir sínar til hennar.
  • hon -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <hann> this one -- she
  • fœddi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <fœða (dd)> feed; nurse; rear, bring up -- fed
  • ǫll -- adjective; accusative plural neuter of <allr> all, whole; every -- all the
  • kvikvendi -- adjective used as substantive; accusative plural neuter of <kvikvendi> living being, creature; animals -- living creatures
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • hon -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <hann> this one -- ...
  • eignaðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <eigna (að)> take possession of -- took to herself
  • allt -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sá> that -- that
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- ...
  • dó -- verb; 3rd singular past of <deyja> die, pass away -- died
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- for
  • þá -- demonstrative used as adjective; accusative singular feminine of <sá> that -- that
  • sǫk -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <sǫk> cause, reason; lawsuit, dispute; sake -- reason
  • gáfu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <gefa> give; give in marriage; (impers.) be obtainable -- gave
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • henni -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular feminine of <hann> this one -- her
  • nafn -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <nafn> name -- a name
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • tǫlðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <telja (talða)> reckon, count; trace; number, enumerate; recount; declare -- traced
  • ættir -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <ætt> direction, region; family, line; stock, tribe; ancestry -- ancestry
  • sínar -- possessive adjective; accusative plural feminine of <sínn> own, one's own -- their
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- to
  • hennar -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular feminine of <hann> this one -- her

Lesson Text

Almáttigr guð skapaði himin ok jǫrð ok alla þá hluti er þeim fylgja, ok síðarst menn tvá er ættir eru frá komnar, Adam ok Evu, ok fjǫlgaðisk þeira kynslóð ok dreifðisk um heim allan. En er fram liðu stundir, þá ójafnaðisk mannfólkit: váru sumir góðir ok rétt trúaðir, en myklu fleiri snerusk eptir girndum heimsins ok órœktu guðs boðorð, ok fyrir því drekti guð heiminum í sjávargangi ok ǫllum kvikvendum heimsins nema þeim er í ǫrkinni váru með Nóa. Eptir Nóa flóð lifðu átta menn þeir er heiminn bygðu ok kómu frá þeim ættir, ok varð enn sem fyrr at þá er fjǫlmentisk ok bygðisk verǫldin þá var þat allr fjǫlði mannfólksins er elskaði ágirni fja/r ok metnaðar en afrœktusk guðs hlýðni, ok svá mikit gerðisk af því at þeir vildu eigi nefna guð. En hverr mundi þá segja sonum þeira frá guðs stórmerkjum? Svá kom at þeir týndu guðs nafni ok víðast um verǫldina fansk eigi sá maðr er deili kunni á skapara sínum. En eigi at síðr veitti guð þeim jarðligar giptir, fé ok sælu, er þeir skyldu við vera í heiminum. Miðlaði hann ok spekina svá at þeir skilðu alla jarðliga hluti ok allar greinir þær er sjá mátti loptsins ok jarðarinnar. Þat hugsuðu þeir ok undruðusk hverju þat mundi gegna at jǫrðin ok dýrin ok fuglarnir hǫfðu saman eðli í sumum hlutum ok var þó ólíkt at hætti. Þat var eitt eðli at jǫrðin var grafin í hám fjalltindum ok spratt þar vatn upp ok þurfti þar eigi lengra at grafa til vaz en í djúpum dǫlum. Svá eru ok dýr ok fuglar, at jafnlangt er til blóðs í hǫfði ok fótum. Ǫnnur náttúra er sú jarðar at á hverju ári vex á jǫrðunni gras ok blóm ok á sama ári fellr þat allt ok fǫlnar. Svá eru ok dýr ok fuglar, at þeim vex hár ok fjaðrar ok fellr af á hverju ári. Þat er hin þriðja náttúra jarðar þá er hon er opnuð ok grafin þá grœr gras á þeiri moldu er efst er á jǫrðunni. Bjǫrg ok steina þýddu þeir á móti tǫnnum ok beinum kvikvenda. Af þessu skilðu þeir svá at jǫrðin væri kyk ok hefði líf með nokkurum hætti, ok þat vissu þeir at hon var furðuliga gǫmul at aldartali ok máttug í eðli. Hon fœddi ǫll kvikvendi ok hon eignaðisk allt þat er dó. Fyrir þá sǫk gáfu þeir henni nafn ok tǫlðu ættir sínar til hennar.

Translation

Almighty God created heaven and earth and all the things which belong to them, and finally two people from whom races descended, Adam and Eve, and their progeny multiplied and dispersed across all the land. But as time went by, the people diversified: some were good and very faithful, but far more took to the pleasures of the land and spurned God's command, and therefore God submerged the land in a flood, as well as all the creatures of the land, save those which were with Noah in the ark. After Noah's flood, eight men lived who settled the land and races descended from them, and just as before it happened that when the world was populated and settled, it occurred that the majority of the population preferred hunger for wealth and glory and set aside obedience to God, and this went so far that they no longer desired to speak the name of God. But who then could tell their children about God's great works? So it came about that they forgot God's name and in most places around the world a man could not be found who knew the details of his creator. But nonetheless God gave them earthly gifts, property and prosperity, which they should possess on the land. He also distributed wisdom so that they distinguished all the earthly things and all the details of the air and the earth which one could discern. They contemplated this and wondered what it might mean that the earth and the animals and the birds had the same nature in certain respects and nevertheless there was dissimilarity in type. One characteristic was that the earth was piled up in high mountaintops and there water sprang forth and there was no need to dig further for water than in deep valleys. And such are the animals and birds, so that it is equally far for the blood to the head or feet. Another feature of the earth is that each year greenery grows on the earth, and flowers, and in the same year it all falls and fades. And such are the animals and birds, so that hair and feathers grow upon them and fall off each year. The third characteristic of the earth is when it is opened and dug up, then the grass grows in the soil which is topmost on the earth. They likened the rocks and stones to the teeth and bones of living creatures. From this they reasoned that the earth could be living and have life of a certain sort, and they understood this, that she was exceedingly old in years and rich in character. She fed all the living creatures and took to herself all that died. For that reason they gave her a name and traced their ancestry to her.

Grammar

6 Further Sound Rules

The major sound rules of Old Norse are treated in Lesson 1. In an attempt at greater completeness, a few of the more dominant sound rules are discussed below.

6.1 Syncope and Contraction

Syncope refers to the situation in which short, unaccented vowels were dropped, e.g. himin + i > himni. Short vowels bearing secondary accent are weakened.

Contraction occurrs when an unaccented vowel comes to stand directly after an accented vowel. They contract if both are back vowels (except úa, óa, and sometimes úu), or if both front vowels. Hence fá from *fáa. A back vowel followed by a front vowel remains, e.g. búinn. A front vowel followed by a back vowel creates a diphthong, e.g. *féar > fjar (G sg. of fé); *knéum > knjám or knjóm (D pl. of kné).

6.2 Breaking

Breaking, or fracture, is a process by which a simple vowel becomes a diphthong in certain environments. In ON, the only vowel subject to breaking was the underlying *e in Proto-Norse (PN). The mechanism of fracture in ON continues to be debated. Heuristically, we may say that *e > ja; hence ON gjalda beside OE geldan; ON jafn beside OE efen. Such fracture is typical in verbs of the strong third conjugation, but not in verbs of the fourth or fifth conjugations, e.g. PN *getan > ON geta. When the following syllable contains u (which may or may not have disappeared by the time of ON), then there is the further evolution *e > ja > jǫ; e.g. PN *meku > ON mjǫk. Fracture does not occur at all if *e is preceded by v, l, or r, e.g. verða, leðr. In a few masculine nouns, all forms exhibit fracture except the dative singular and nominative plural, where the original PN *e remains as ON i: skjǫldr 'shield' has A Sg. skjǫld, G sg. skjaldar, A pl. skjǫldu, G pl. skjalda, D pl. skjǫldum; but D sg. skildi (perhaps from *skeldiu), N pl. skildir (perhaps from *skeldiur). All such nouns have jǫ in the N sg.

6.3 Raising

Original *e may be raised, or fronted, to i in the j-augmented present stem of certain class five strong verbs, e.g. *beðjan > biðja. The shift *e > i happens elsewhere, and seems to date to a period different from that in which i-umlaut affected the back vowels. It is often a matter of some dispute as to whether a given form is the result of this process or the process of i-umlaut discussed in Lesson 1.

6.4 Lengthening and Shortening

A stressed vowel in final position is long, e.g. þú. This occurs even when loss of a final consonant leaves a stressed vowel in final position, e.g. *vag > vá 'slew', past tense of vega 'to slay'.

Long vowels are often shortened before consonant clusters. This occurs particularly before double consonants. Compare neuter gott with masculine góðr; minn with feminine mín. The diphthong ei is shortened to e, hence ekki from eitt + gi.

6.5 Retention of Semi-Vowels

Original j dropped at the beginning of words. Hence ON ungr beside OE geong. Initial j in ON is of different origin (see above on Breaking). Medial j dropped before the front vowels i, y, ø, œ, and sometimes e. Medial j remains before other vowels, if it follows a short syllable, or following a g or k: e.g. veljum (1st pl.) vs. velið (2nd pl.).

Original w (v in Icelandic orthography) dropped initially when preceding l or r, hence ON líta beside OE wlitan. w dropped before round vowels u, y, o, ø, œ, but not . Thus urðu and orðinn, past tense and participle of verða; also ON œpa beside OE wēpan. w droppen after and , hence ON glóa beside OE glowan. w disappeared before consonants and at the end of words, cf. sær, with G sg. sævar; ǫr, with G sg. ǫrvar. Medial w remains when following a short syllable, or following g or k: bǫð, with G sg. bǫðvar.

7 Strong Declension
7.1 i-Stems

Several nouns have stems with an i-suffix. In some nouns, such as gestr, this caused i-umlaut which carried through the entire paradigm (contrast Goth. gasts). In other nouns, such as staðr, this situation did not obtain. The nouns staðr 'place', gestr 'guest', and bekkr 'bench' illustrate the masculine forms.

    Masculine        
             
Stem   stað-i-   gest-i-   bekk-i-
             
N Sg.   staðr   gestr   bekkr
A   stað   gest   bekk
G   staðar   gests   bekks, bekkjar
D   stað   gest(i)   bekk
             
N Pl.   staðir   gestir   bekkir
A   staði   gesti   bekki
G   staða   gesta   bekkja
D   stǫðum   gestum   bekkjum
             

On the appearance of the j in certain forms, see Section 6.5 above.

The nouns nauð(r) 'distress', þǫkk 'thanks', and hǫll 'hall' illustrate the declension of feminine i-stems.

    Feminine        
             
Stems   nauð-i-   þakk-i-   hall-i-
             
N Sg.   nauð(r)   þǫkk   hǫll
A   nauð   þǫkk   hǫll
G   nauðar   þakkar   hallar
D   nauð   þǫkk   hǫll(u)
             
N Pl.   nauðir   þakkir   hallir
A   nauðir   þakkir   hallir
G   nauða   þakka   halla
D   nauðum   þǫkkum   hǫllum
             

These forms are actually a confluence of the feminine -stems and the i-stems. nauðr may be traced back to an original i-stem (cf. Goth. nauþs, N pl. nauþeis), but other words like þǫkk and hǫll were original -stems which adopted the N pl. of the i-stems.

7.2 u-Stems

The u-stem nouns were all masculine. Some of these underwent fracture in the root vowel in all forms but the D sg. and N pl. These latter forms, however, were subject to i-umlaut. Elsewhere, the remaining root vowel underwent u-umlaut where possible. The words skjǫldr 'shield', vǫllr 'ground', and fǫgnuðr 'entertainment' illustrate the forms.

    Masculine        
             
Stem   skeld-u-   vall-u-   fagnað-u-
             
N Sg.   skjǫldr   vǫllr   fǫgnuðr
A   skjǫld   vǫll   fǫgnuð
G   skjaldar   vallar   fagnaðar
D   skildi   velli   fagnaði
             
N Pl.   skildir   vellir   fagnaðir
A   skjǫldu   vǫllu   fǫgnuðu
G   skjalda   valla   fagnaða
D   skjǫldum   vǫllum   fǫgnuðum
             

Note the absence of i-umlaut in the D sg. and N pl. of fǫgnuðr, since this process rarely applied to syllables which did not carry the primary accent.

8 Personal Pronouns

Old Norse verbal inflection is robust enough that, strictly speaking, use of subject pronouns is unnecessary. The subject pronouns are often added for emphasis. The first and second person pronouns distinguish not only singular and plural, but also dual ('we two', 'us two', 'you two', etc.).

8.1 First and Second Person Pronouns

The forms of the first and second person pronouns are as follows.

    1st Pers.   2nd Pers.
         
N Sg.   ek   þú
A   mik   þik
G   mín   þín
D   mér   þér
         
N Du.   vit   it, þit
A   okkr   ykkr
G   okkar   ykkar
D   okkr   ykkr
         
N Pl.   vér   ér, þér
A   oss   yðr
G   vár   yðar
D   oss   yðr
         

The nominative forms are often suffixed to the verb, e.g. mæli-k 'I speak', má-k-at 'I cannot' (-at 'not', frequent in poetry). Similarly heyrðu and skaltu < skalt þú. Such occurrences with the dual and plural forms of the second person pronoun led to re-analysis on the part of the speakers: skuluð ér > skuluðér was subsequently interpreted as skulu þér. Hence the alternate forms þit and þér, and the frequent use of the 3rd person plural in place of the 2nd person.

The oblique cases are often used reflexively. The D sg. mér is often suffixed to the verb as -m, e.g. biðjum 'I ask for myself', and the A sg. mik as -mk. When added to the 3rd singular of a verb, the plural form of the verb is used instead. The suffix -mk often doubles as a form for the dative as well, hence þóttumk for þótti mér 'it seemed to me'.

8.2 Third Person Pronouns

The third person pronoun is actually a suppletive system. The masculine and feminine singular forms are built from the demonstrative hann 'this one, he'; the neuter singular and the plural of all genders are built from the þ-forms found in the demonstrative sá (masc.), sú (fem.), þat (neut.). The paradigm for the third person pronoun is given below.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   hann   hon   þat
A   hann   hana   þat
G   hans   hennar   þess
D   honum   henni   því, þí
             
N Pl.   þeir   þær   þau
A   þá   þær   þau
G   þeir(r)a   þeir(r)a   þeir(r)a
D   þeim   þeim   þeim
             

This system parallels that found in modern English, with the singular forms him, her, etc., but plural forms they, them. These pronouns are not used reflexively. Instead, the following pronoun is used.

    Reflexive
     
N   -
A   sik
G   sín
D   sér
     

These forms are used regardless of the gender or number of the referent. Thus sik might equally represent 'himself', 'herself', 'itself', 'themselves'; similarly for the other forms.

The form sik was often used enclitically following a verb, reduced to -sk. This form was then generalized as the marker of the middle voice.

9 Weak Conjugation

The weak verbs stand in contradistinction to the strong verbs. Unlike strong verbs, weak verbs are not characterized by vocalic alternation within the stem. This is not to say that there is no vocalic alternation; rather the vocalic alternation is a very predictable result of the applied weak verbal endings. The past forms exhibit a dental suffix -ð (in certain enviroments -d or -t), to which are appended the endings -- verbal to arrive at the finite verb forms, or nominal to yield the past participle. The same is found in English walk, with past tense walked. The d suffix is found in both the past tense ('I called my friend') and the past participle ('called on to answer, he tried to divert the question').

9.1 Weak Verb Classes

There are three classes of weak verbs. We may list the same principal parts as with the strong verbs. The verbs krefja 'demand', kalla 'call', and vaka 'wake' illustrate the classes.

Class   Infinitive   (3 Sg. Pres.)   3 Sg. Past   3 Pl. Past   (3 Sg. Past Subj.)   Past Ptcple
                         
I   krefja 'demand'   krefr   krafði   krǫfðu   krefði   krafðr
II   kalla 'call'   kallar   kallaði   kǫlluðu   kallaði   kallaðr
III   vaka 'wake'   vakir   vakþi   vǫkþu   vekþi   vakat (nt.)

The 3rd pers. sg. of the present is often used as an indicator of class. At times this conflicts with historical considerations, so that some authors may assign a given verb to different classes depending on the characterization chosen. For instance, some authors assign heyra 'hear' to the first class based on historical grounds, while others assign it to the third class based on the present form. Its principal parts are given below.

Class   Infinitive   (3 Sg. Pres.)   3 Sg. Past   3 Pl. Past   (3 Sg. Past Subj.)   Past Ptcple
                         
I or III   heyra 'hear'   heyrir   heyrði   heyrðu   heyrði   heyrðr
9.2 Active Paradigm

The active endings of the weak verb paradigms are as follows.

Weak Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   - / -a / -i   -a    
2   -r / -ar/ -ir   -ir   -
3   -r / -ar/ -ir   -i    
             
1 Pl.   -um   -im   -um
2   -   -   -
3   -a   -i    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   -ða   -ða    
2   -ðir   -ðir    
3   -ði   -ði    
             
1 Pl.   -ðum   -ðim    
2   -ðuð   -ðið    
3   -ðu   -ði    

The endings are in essence the same as those for the strong verbs, except in the past singular. The singular of the Present Indicative retains a linking vowel depending on the class of the verb (or, more specifically, on historical grounds -- cf. mention of heyra above). The -ð- in the Past forms is a suffix intervening between root and ending, and is included only to call attention to this difference from the past tense of the strong verbs (i.e. the -ð- only appears once in the verb). This -ð- may be realized as -d- or -t- in certain phonetic environments.

The conjugation of the first class verb berja 'beat' illustrates the endings.

Weak Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   ber   berja    
2   berr   berir   ber
3   berr   beri    
             
1 Pl.   berjum   berim   berjum
2   berið   berið   berið
3   berja   beri    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   barða   berða    
2   barðir   berðir    
3   barði   berði    
             
1 Pl.   bǫrðum   berðim    
2   bǫrðuð   berðið    
3   bǫrðu   berði    
             
Infinitive   berja        
             
Pres. Ptc.   berjandi        
             
Past Ptc.   bar(i)ðr        

These forms are derivable from a minimal set of three principal parts, fewer than are necessary for the strong verbs. Specifically, these are the following principal parts:

The procedure for arriving at the verb forms is as follows:

Labelling the principal part stems as (1), (2), (3), this gives the following schematic representation.

Weak Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   (1) + - / -a / -i   (1) + -a    
2   (1) + -r / -ar/ -ir   (1) + -ir   (1) + -
3   (1) + -r / -ar/ -ir   (1) + -i    
             
1 Pl.   (1) + (u-mut.) + -um   (1) + -im   (1) + (u-mut.) + -um
2   (1) + -   (1) + -   (1) + -
3   (1) + -a   (1) + -i    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   (2) + -ða   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ða    
2   (2) + -ðir   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ðir    
3   (2) + -ði   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ði    
             
1 Pl.   (2) + (u-mut.) + -ðum   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ðim    
2   (2) + (u-mut.) + -ðuð   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ðið    
3   (2) + (u-mut.) + -ðu   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ði    
             
Infinitive   (1) + -a        
             
Pres. Ptc.   (1) + -andi        
             
Past Ptc.   (3) + -ðr        
9.3 Middle Paradigm

The middle voice of the weak verbs is formed exactly as above, with the active endings replaced by the middle endings, involving the -sk suffix. The forms are given below for ease of reference.

Weak Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   -umk   -umk    
2   -sk / -ask / -isk   -isk   -sk / -ask
3   -sk / -ask / -isk   -isk    
             
1 Pl.   -umsk   -imsk   -umsk
2   -izk   -izk   -izk
3   -ask   -isk    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   -ðumk   -ðumk    
2   -ðisk   -ðisk    
3   -ðisk   -ðisk    
             
1 Pl.   -ðumsk   -ðimsk    
2   -ðuzk   -ðizk    
3   -ðusk   -ðisk    

As above, the conjugation of the first class verb berja 'beat' illustrates the endings.

Weak Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   berjumk   berjumk    
2   bersk   berisk   bersk
3   bersk   berisk    
             
1 Pl.   berjumsk   berimsk   berjumsk
2   berizk   berizk   berizk
3   berjask   berisk    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   bǫrðumk   berðumk    
2   barðisk   berðisk    
3   barðisk   berðisk    
             
1 Pl.   bǫrðumsk   berðimsk    
2   bǫrðuzk   berðizk    
3   bǫrðusk   berðisk    
             
Infinitive   berjask        
             
Pres. Ptc.   berjandisk        
             
Past Ptc.   bar(i)zk        

This gives the following schematic representation.

Weak Verbs   Indicative   Subjunctive   Imperative
Present            
1 Sg.   (1) + (u-mut.) + -umk   (1) + (u-mut.) + -umk    
2   (1) + -sk / -ask/ -isk   (1) + -isk   (1) + -sk / -ask
3   (1) + -sk / -ask/ -isk   (1) + -isk    
             
1 Pl.   (1) + (u-mut.) + -umsk   (1) + -imsk   (1) + (u-mut.) + -umsk
2   (1) + -izk   (1) + -izk   (1) + -
3   (1) + -ask   (1) + -isk    
             
Past            
1 Sg.   (2) + (u-mut.) + -ðumk   (2) + (u-mut.) + -ðumk    
2   (2) + -ðisk   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ðisk    
3   (2) + -ðisk   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ðisk    
             
1 Pl.   (2) + (u-mut.) + -ðumsk   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ðimsk    
2   (2) + (u-mut.) + -ðuzk   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ðizk    
3   (2) + (u-mut.) + -ðusk   (2) + (i-mut.) + -ðisk    
             
Infinitive   (1) + -ask        
             
Pres. Ptc.   (1) + -andisk        
             
Past Ptc.   (3) + -zk        

As mentioned with the strong verbs, the present participle middle is declined like the active, with -sk added after the declensional endings. The past participle is formed analogously, but is only found in the neuter.

10 Particles

Old Norse makes significant use of small words or function words to display coordination or subordination, or to shift nuance. The coordinating conjunctions ok 'and' and en 'but' typically join two parallel constructions. Less common are eða 'or' and né 'nor'. Sometimes two words are used to link constructions, such as bæði... ok 'both... and'; annattveggja... eða 'either... or'; hvárki... né 'neither... nor'.

One of the most common particles is er, which is used as an all-purpose relative (not to be confused with er, 3rd sg. pres. of vera 'be'). er most often follows a demonstrative, making it into the corresponding relative: þá 'then', beside þá er 'when'; sá 'he, that one', beside sá er '(the one) who'. More will be said concerning this particle in a later lesson.

Old Norse makes amazing use of prepositions to add nuance to verb phrases. For example, sœkja 'seek' vs. sœkja at 'attack'. One must understand that, while a preposition so added may govern its own object, it often does not. The preposition may be used in an absolute sense, while the verb itself governs an object. When the preposition is able in principle to govern nouns in the same case as the verb, the distinction may be difficult to make; certain situations, however, do make it clear that a verb may govern its object, while the preposition serves only to modify nuance. For example: sóttu at í annat sinn 'they attacked another time'. In this instance the preposition at is used absolutely, serving only to modify the verb's meaning. Another example: Gunnarr... skaut til þeira, ok kom á Eilíf Ǫnundarson, ok fekk hann af sár mikit 'Gunnar shot at them, and [the arrow] came at Eilif Onundarson, and he received a great wound.' In the last clause, fekk governs the accusative sár mikit; the latter phrase cannot be governed by af, which only takes the dative. Sometimes another particle may imply an object for the preposition, as in the following: hann finnr, at þar var stungit sverði Sigmundar 'he notices that there it was thrust in with the sword of Sigmund'. The adverb þar points to the location to which refers. The word sverði is an instrumental dative, and not governed by itself.

The Old Norse use of prepositions is very close to modern English usage. For example, one can 'work a problem', or one can 'work out a problem'. In the latter, 'work' governs the object, not 'out' (we may rephrase as 'work a problem out'). What is more, one can 'work out at the gym', where now the preposition 'out' changes entirely the meaning of the verb, so that 'work out' is synonymous with 'exercise'.

Old Norse Online

Lesson 3

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

The Gokstad Ship

It is through their seafaring skills that the Vikings entered the historical records of Western Europe, descending upon the coastal towns from the high seas. At the time the Continent encountered the Vikings, they truly wielded a mastery of the waves unparalled elsewhere in Europe, both in ship construction and in navigational skill. Fortunately some remnants of these ships have survived, so that comparison with artistic depictions in regions attacked or settled by the Scandinavians, and with the written accounts of the Scandinavians themselves, allows for a fairly robust understanding of their capabilities on the open sea.

The best preserved remnant of a Viking ship comes from a grave at Gokstad, near the Oslo Fjord. The situation of the burial was fortunate, since all of the ship below the figurehead was buried in a thick clay which lent itself to excellent preservation. The burial dates to roughly 900, and the ship measures 76 feet 6 inches from stem to stern, and 17 feet 6 inches at the beam, with a draught of some 3 feet. The keel is formed from a single oak, capped by ends which rise but whose tops have unfortunately rotted away.

The rest of the hull is built clinker style from 16 planks, each overlapping the one below and riveted to it. These planks are each an inch or less thick, except for the tenth at the waterline and the fourteenth with the oarholes, both of which are slightly thicker. The planks are so thin they can be lifted by one man; they are so flexible that they can be bent with ease some 14 degrees side to side. Each plank runs the length of the ship. In order to produce such long, flexible strips of wood, the shipbuilders took the trunks of large trees and drove wedges into the wood. In contrast to sawing, which cuts across the grain, this method of splitting allows the wood to separate along its grain, leaving a strong but flexible plank. These planks are fitted to 19 ribs, spaced 3 feet apart. Above the waterline the planks are nailed to the ribs, but below they are only lashed with spruce-roots to allow the boat to expand with the stress and strain of the open sea. Employing relatively thin planks retains a light and swift structure.

The shape and construction of the ship contribute in interesting ways to its speed, which was in fact noticeably greater than that of other ships of the period. The clinker building technique, with its overlapping planks, actually forces some air down along the seams and under the ship. This has the effect of producing a faint pocket of air between the hull and the water, reducing the overall drag of the ship. Though the effect is not large, it is perhaps a factor in increasing the speed of the ship. A greater factor is the shape of the ship itself. The narrow prow giving way to a wide, flat midsection allows the ship more to skim over the water, rather than cut through it. As the speed of the boat increases, under moderate surface conditions, the hull actually lifts slightly out of the water, so that there is a mild hydroplaning effect. More than the clinker style construction, this reduces drag, thus increasing speed. These factors, coupled with the overall lightness, gave the viking ship an average speed a few knots greater than anything else sailing the ocean at the time.

The deck consists of floorboards which are not fixed to the vessel, but merely rest upon the crossbeams. They could be lifted to open up storage area, or to allow access for bailing water. Running along the ship below the floorboards is a 12 foot oaken block which served as a base for the mast when raised. The mast was steadied by a longer block above this, with a slit allowing for raising and lowering of the mast. Estimates suggest that the mast itself was approximately 40 feet high. The sail is made not of cloth but rather wool. The wool used was naturally water resistant and flexible, thus allowing the sail to flex in strong winds, yet return to its original shape. The actual rigging used is unclear, none having survived. Images of viking ships suggest that a complicated mesh of ropes may have been used to hem in the sail, perhaps with several members of the crew reigning in different sections. Whether this was the case, or alternatively a wooden yard was set through eyelets at the bottom of the sail, either method would have allowed the ship to run close to the wind. Viking ships are thus not limited to merely running with their back to the wind, but appear to have been able to tack into the wind as well.

The rudder is mounted on the right side (cf. the term starboard), and in shape is nothing more than a broadened oar. It is fastened to the ship by means of an oak block running through the ship's planks, and this in turn is fastened to a strengthened rib. There is a secondary attachment, a strap holding the rudder to the gunwale. The yard-long tiller is detachable, and decorated with a carved animal head. Releasing this strap and hauling a rope attached to the board itself allows the rudder to be raised in shallow water. When fully extended into the water, the rudder projects 18 inches below the keel, providing good lateral resistance.

Introduction

The authorship of Grettis saga is uncertain, as are the origins of many aspects of the story itself. Grettir the Strong was apparently an outlaw in Iceland who lived from 996-1031 AD. The composition of the saga itself, in the form we have it, dates from the 14th century. It is not clear how much of the story is based on actual exploits of the man himself and how much was added from other storytelling traditions current at the time. Many scholars find, within the narrative, elements of the story of Beowulf, and for this reason they suspect that the two tales are in fact variants of the same story. In this view, Beowulf is the high-style retelling, while Grettis saga is the more straightforward, action-packed version. The parallels stem from similar motifs in the primary battles, namely descent into the unknown, the slaying of a beast, the severing of an arm, and retrieval of a weapon. Grettir fights with Glám, a rather typical example of the Icelandic notion of a ghost, more substantial than modern notions of some ethereal vapor, and then fights with the troll-wife. This sequence parallels Beowulf's fight with Grendel and then his mother.

Grettis saga is not only noteworthy for its possible literary heritage. The saga affords one of the few clear descriptions of Scandinavian household layout for the period. The house is described as one large room in which all domestic activities take place. For a time, scholars studying the terminology of other literary records believed that this depiction was too primitive for Viking Age homes, and that other literature suggested more complex structures. In the end, archaeology proved Grettis saga correct; other sagas give misleading descriptions of structures of the time, and still others use terminology too vague to lead to any definite conclusions.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following passage from chapter 35 begins the scene of Grettir's fight with Glám. The narrative style is simple and direct. The beginning shows the slow build up and suspense of any modern ghost story or thriller. Many of the details of the fight parallel Beowulf's fight with Grendel, such as the contest of sheer strength rather than weaponry; even the emotional content is similar, with Grendel's surprise at Beowulf's strength and his desire to flee all displayed by Glám in the following narrative.

Ljós brann í skálanum um nóttina. Ok er af mundi þriðjungr at nótt, heyrði Grettir út dunur miklar.
  • ljós -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <ljós> light, lantern -- a light
  • brann -- verb; 3rd singular past of <brenna> (intrans.) burn, be on fire -- burned
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • skálanum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the hall
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- through
  • nóttina -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <nótt> night + definite article; accusative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the night
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- as
  • af -- preposition; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- ...
  • mundi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- passed
  • þriðjungr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <þriðjungr> third part -- the third part
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- of
  • nótt -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <nótt> night -- the night
  • heyrði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <heyra (ð)> hear, hear of -- heard
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- outside
  • dunur -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <duna> thunderous noise -- rumblings
  • miklar -- adjective; accusative plural feminine of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- great

Var þá farit upp á húsin ok riðit skálanum ok barit hælunum, svá at brakaði í hverju tré.
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- ...
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • farit -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- (it) came
  • upp -- adverb; <upp> up -- up
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- to
  • húsin -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <hús> house; room of house; (pl.) farm + definite article; accusative plural neuter of <inn> the -- the house
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • riðit -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <ríða> ride; ride over -- passed
  • skálanum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- into the hall
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • barit -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <berja (barði, bariðr)> smite, beat; (refl.) fight -- struck
  • hælunum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <hæll> heel + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- with its heels
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • brakaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <braka (að)> crack, creak -- it creaked
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- on
  • hverju -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- every
  • tré -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <tré> tree; log, beam -- beam

Því gekk lengi; þá var farit ofan af húsinum ok til dura gengit.
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- ...
  • gekk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- (this) went on
  • lengi -- adverb; <lengi> long; far; for a long time -- for a bit
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- ...
  • farit -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- (it) went
  • ofan -- adverb; <ofan> from above, down; southwards -- ...
  • af -- preposition; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- from
  • húsinum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <hús> house; room of house; (pl.) farm + definite article; dative plural neuter of <inn> the -- the house
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- to
  • dura -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <dyrr> door, doorway -- the doors
  • gengit -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- came

Ok er upp var lokit hurðunni, sá Grettir at þrællinn rétti inn hǫfuðit, ok sýndisk honum afskræmiliga mikit ok undarliga stórskorit.
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- as
  • upp -- adverb; <upp> up -- open
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- ...
  • lokit -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <lúka> finish, end; use up -- came
  • hurðunni -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <hurð> door + definite article; dative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the door
  • sá -- verb; 3rd singular past of <sjá> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- watched
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- as
  • þrællinn -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <þræll> thrall, slave + definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the thrall
  • rétti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <rétta (tt)> reach, stretch up or out; raise; put right -- poked
  • inn -- adverb; <inn> in, within -- inside
  • hǫfuðit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <hǫfuð> head; person + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- (his) head
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • sýndisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <sýna (d)> show; (mid.) appear to be, seem; exist -- seemed
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- to him
  • afskræmiliga -- adverb; <afskræmiliga> hideously -- hideously
  • mikit -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- powerful
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • undarliga -- adverb; <undarliga> wondrously, strangely -- outlandishly
  • stórskorit -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <stórskorinn> of huge proportions -- huge

Glámr fór seint ok réttisk upp, er hann kom inn í dyrnar. Hann gnæfaði ofarliga við ræfrinu.
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • fór -- verb; 3rd singular past of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- advanced
  • seint -- adverb; <seint> slowly; coldly -- slowly
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • réttisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <rétta (tt)> reach, stretch up or out; raise; put right -- stood
  • upp -- adverb; <upp> up -- upright
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- as
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • kom -- verb; 3rd singular past of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- came
  • inn -- adverb; <inn> in, within -- inside
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- through
  • dyrnar -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <dyrr> door, doorway + definite article; accusative plural feminine of <inn> the -- the doors
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • gnæfaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <gnæfa (að)> to rise high, tower -- extended
  • ofarliga -- adverb; <ofarliga> high up -- right
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- up to
  • ræfrinu -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <ræfr> roof + definite article; dative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the roof

Snýr skálanum ok lagði handlegginn upp á þvertréit ok gægðisk inn yfir skálann.
  • snýr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <snúa> plait, tie, twist; turn -- he turned
  • skálanum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- to the hall
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • lagði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <leggja> lay, place, put; put down, lay down; move, bring; thrust, throw; make; give -- set
  • handlegginn -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <handleggr> arm; (pl.) upper arm and forearm + definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- (his) arm
  • upp -- adverb; <upp> up -- up-
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- -on
  • þvertréit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <þvertré> cross-beam + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the crossbeam
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • gægðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <gægjask (ð)> bend forward to see, gaze, glare -- peered
  • inn -- adverb; <inn> in, within -- in
  • yfir -- preposition; <yfir> above, over, at; across, upon -- across
  • skálann -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall + definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the hall

Ekki lét bóndi heyra til sín, því at honum þótti œrit um, er hann heyrði hvat um var úti.
  • ekki -- pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <engi> no, none, no one -- no (sound)
  • lét -- verb; 3rd singular past of <láta> put, place; let, allow; concede, yield; leave, leave off; lose; cause to be done, command; behave (as if); declare; sound -- let
  • bóndi -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <bóndi> yeoman, franklin; husband -- the yeoman
  • heyra -- verb; infinitive of <heyra (ð)> hear, hear of -- escape
  • til -- preposition; <til> in; of, concerning; on; as, for, to obtain; until, to, up to the time -- ...
  • sín -- reflexive pronoun; genitive of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- ...
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- ...
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- ...
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- to him
  • þótti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <þykkja (þótti)> seem, be thought -- (and this) seemed
  • œrit -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <œrinn> sufficient, enough -- sufficient
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- when
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • heyrði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <heyra (ð)> hear, hear of -- heard
  • hvat -- interrogative pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- what (all)
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- ...
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • úti -- adverb; <úti> outside; out at sea; unsheltered -- outside

Grettir lá kyrr ok hrœrði sik hvergi. Glámr sá at hrúga nǫkkur lá í setinu, ok rézk nú innar eptir skálanum ok þreif í feldinn stundar fast.
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • lá -- verb; 3rd singular past of <liggja> be situated; lie (down); be slain -- lay
  • kyrr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <kyrr> quiet -- quiet
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • hrœrði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <hrœra (ð)> move, stir -- moved
  • sik -- reflexive pronoun; accusative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- ...
  • hvergi -- adverb; <hvergi> nowhere; not at all -- not a bit
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • sá -- verb; 3rd singular past of <sjá> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- noticed
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hrúga -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <hrúga> heap -- heap
  • nǫkkur -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <nakkvarr, nǫkkurr> a, a certain; any -- some
  • lá -- verb; 3rd singular past of <liggja> be situated; lie (down); be slain -- lay
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- along
  • setinu -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <set> seat; raised floor along the sides of a hall + definite article; dative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the sideboards
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • rézk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <ráða> advise, counsel; discuss; plot; set, arrange; decide; govern; prevail; have to deal with; go, take one's way -- made his way
  • nú -- adverb; <nú> now -- now
  • innar -- adverb; comparative of <inn> in, within -- farther in
  • eptir -- preposition; <eptir> after, behind; for, to obtain; along; according to; in succession to -- along
  • skálanum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the hall
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • þreif -- verb; 3rd singular past of <þrífa> grasp -- took a... hold
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- of
  • feldinn -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <feldr> cloak + definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the cloak
  • stundar -- adverb; <stundar> very, quite -- ...
  • fast -- adverb; <fast> fast, strongly, hard; certainly -- strong

Grettir spyrndi í stokkinn ok gekk því hvergi. Glámr hnykti í annat sinn miklu fastara, ok bifaðisk hvergi feldrinn.
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • spyrndi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <spyrna (d)> kick; place the feet -- braced
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- against
  • stokkinn -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <stokkr> log, piece of wood; beam + definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the plank
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • gekk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- did... move
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- ...
  • hvergi -- adverb; <hvergi> nowhere; not at all -- not... at all
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • hnykti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <hnykkja (ð, t)> pull violently -- pulled
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • annat -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <annarr> other, another; second, next; one (of two) -- a second
  • sinn -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sinn> time -- time
  • miklu -- adjective used as substantive; dative singular neuter of <mikill> great, large, big; severe -- much
  • fastara -- adverb; comparative of <fast> fast, strongly, hard; certainly -- harder
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- but
  • bifaðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <bifask (ð, að)> tremble; move; march -- would... budge
  • hvergi -- adverb; <hvergi> nowhere; not at all -- not
  • feldrinn -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <feldr> cloak + definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the cloak

Í þriðja sinn þreif hann í með báðum hǫndum svá fast at hann rétti Gretti upp ór setinu; kiptu nú í sundr feldinum í millum sín.

  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • þriðja -- adjective; weak accusative singular neuter of <þriði> third -- the third
  • sinn -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sinn> time -- time
  • þreif -- verb; 3rd singular past of <þrífa> grasp -- grabbed hold
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • með -- preposition; <með> with; by means of; among; along -- with
  • báðum -- adjective; dative plural feminine of <báðir> both -- both
  • hǫndum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <hǫnd> hand, arm and hand; side, part -- hands
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • fast -- adverb; <fast> fast, strongly, hard; certainly -- hard
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • rétti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <rétta (tt)> reach, stretch up or out; raise; put right -- raised
  • Gretti -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • upp -- adverb; <upp> up -- up
  • ór -- preposition; <ór> out of, from; of; with the material of -- from
  • setinu -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <set> seat; raised floor along the sides of a hall + definite article; dative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the sideboards
  • kiptu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <kippa (ð, t)> pull, jerk; snatch, pick up; rend -- they rent
  • nú -- adverb; <nú> now -- ...
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • sundr -- adverb; <sundr> asunder -- asunder
  • feldinum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <feldr> cloak + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the cloak
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • millum -- adverb; <miðli, milli, millum> between, among -- between
  • sín -- reflexive pronoun; genitive of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- them

Glámr leit á slitrit er hann helt á, ok undraðisk mjǫk hverr svá fast mundi togask við hann.
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • leit -- verb; 3rd singular past of <líta> look; see; regard -- looked
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- at
  • slitrit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <slitri> rag, torn piece + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the rag
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • helt -- verb; 3rd singular past of <halda> hold; hold fast, grip; keep; steer; protect; last, hold good, remain -- was holding
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- ...
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • undraðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <undrask (að)> wonder, be astonished (at) -- he was... astonished (that)
  • mjǫk -- adverb; <mjǫk> much; very -- quite
  • hverr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- someone
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • fast -- adverb; <fast> fast, strongly, hard; certainly -- hard
  • mundi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- could
  • togask -- verb; infinitive middle of <toga (að)> tug, pull -- pull
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- against
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him

Ok í því hljóp Grettir undir hendr honum ok þreif um hann miðjan ok spenti á honum hrygginn sem fastast gat hann, ok ætlaði hann at Glámr skyldi kikna við.
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- at
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- that (moment)
  • hljóp -- verb; 3rd singular past of <hlaupa> leap, spring, climb; mount; run -- lept
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • undir -- preposition; <undir> under, below; beneath; up to; behind -- under
  • hendr -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <hǫnd> hand, arm and hand; side, part -- hands
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • þreif -- verb; 3rd singular past of <þrífa> grasp -- grabbed
  • um -- preposition; <um> over, across; through, throughout; round, about; concerning -- round
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his
  • miðjan -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <miðr> middle, the middle of -- midsection
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • spenti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <spenna (t)> span, clasp -- wrapped
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- round
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his
  • hrygginn -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <hryggr> back + definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- back
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- as
  • fastast -- adverb; superlative of <fast> fast, strongly, hard; certainly -- tight (as)
  • gat -- verb; 3rd singular past of <geta> get, obtain; engender; (with ppart.) be able to, get done; (with infin.) happen to (do); be obtainable; guess, suppose; relate, tell of -- could
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- as
  • ætlaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <ætla (að)> think, consider (to be); expect, look for; intend (to do) -- intended
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • skyldi -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <skulu> shall, must, ought -- should
  • kikna -- verb; infinitive of <kikna (að)> give way at the knees -- give way underneath
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- ...

En þrællinn lagði at handleggjum Grettis svá fast at hann hǫrfaði allr fyrir orku sakir.
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • þrællinn -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <þræll> thrall, slave + definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the thrall
  • lagði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <leggja> lay, place, put; put down, lay down; move, bring; thrust, throw; make; give -- laid hold
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- of
  • handleggjum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <handleggr> arm; (pl.) upper arm and forearm -- arms
  • Grettis -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir's
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • fast -- adverb; <fast> fast, strongly, hard; certainly -- tight
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • hǫrfaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <hǫrfa (að)> recoil, give way -- gave way
  • allr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <allr> all, whole; every -- completely
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- on
  • orku -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <orka> strength, might -- of (his) strength
  • sakir -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <sǫk> cause, reason; lawsuit, dispute; sake -- account

Fór Grettir þá undan í ýmis setin. Gengu þá frá stokkarnir, ok alt brotnaði þat sem fyrir varð.
  • fór -- verb; 3rd singular past of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- slipped
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • undan -- adverb; <undan> from under; away; (thrown) down -- away
  • í ýmis setin -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto + adjective; accusative plural neuter of <ýmiss> various + noun, neuter; accusative singular of <set> seat; raised floor along the sides of a hall + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- from bed to bed
  • gengu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- shot
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • frá -- preposition; <frá> from; concerning -- from (their settings)
  • stokkarnir -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <stokkr> log, piece of wood; beam + definite article; nominative plural masculine of <inn> the -- the planks
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • alt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • brotnaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <brotna (að)> (intrans.) break, be broken -- was broken
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <sá> that -- that
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- ...
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- before (them)
  • varð -- verb; 3rd singular past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- came

Vildi Glámr leita út, en Grettir fœrði við fœtr hvar sem hann mátti. En þó gat Glámr dregit hann fram ór skálanum.
  • vildi -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vilja> will, wish, be willing; intend -- wanted
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • leita -- verb; infinitive of <leita (að)> seek, search for; find; try to go, go; attack -- to find a way
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- out
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • fœrði -- verb; 3rd singular past (subj.) of <fœra (ð)> bring, send; hurl, smite; move; present -- would brace
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- ...
  • fœtr -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <fótr> foot; leg -- (his) feet
  • hvar -- adverb; <hvar> where; everywhere -- everyplace
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- ...
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • mátti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <mega> be able to, can; may -- tried
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- ...
  • þó -- adverb; <þó> yet, and yet; however, nevertheless -- at last
  • gat -- verb; 3rd singular past of <geta> get, obtain; engender; (with ppart.) be able to, get done; (with infin.) happen to (do); be obtainable; guess, suppose; relate, tell of -- was able
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • dregit -- past participle; accusative singular neuter of <draga> draw, haul -- to drag
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • fram -- adverb; <fram> forward, on; away; out -- out
  • ór -- preposition; <ór> out of, from; of; with the material of -- from
  • skálanum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the hall

Áttu þeir þá allharða sókn, því at þrællinn ætlaði at koma honum út ór bœnum; en svá ilt sem at eiga var við Glám inni, þá sá Grettir at þó var verra at fásk við hann úti, ok því brauzk hann í móti af ǫllu afli at fara út.
  • áttu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <eiga> own, have, possess; have in marriage; have the power to; have claim to; have duty to -- had
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • allharða -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <allharðr> severe, violent -- a fierce
  • sókn -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <sókn> fight, attack -- struggle
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- such
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • þrællinn -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <þræll> thrall, slave + definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the thrall
  • ætlaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <ætla (að)> think, consider (to be); expect, look for; intend (to do) -- thought
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • koma -- verb; infinitive of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- send
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- out
  • ór -- preposition; <ór> out of, from; of; with the material of -- of
  • bœnum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <bœr> farmhouse, farmstead; farm, landed estate; town + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the house
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- as
  • ilt -- adjective; nominative singular neuter of <illr> bad, evil; ugly, unpleasing; difficult -- difficult
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- as
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • eiga -- verb; 3rd plural past of <eiga> own, have, possess; have in marriage; have the power to; have claim to; have duty to -- hold up
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it was
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- against
  • Glám -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • inni -- adverb; <inni> within, within the house -- inside
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- nevertheless
  • sá -- verb; 3rd singular past of <sjá> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- saw
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • þó -- adverb; <þó> yet, and yet; however, nevertheless -- still
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- it was
  • verra -- comparative adjective; nominative singular neuter of <verri> worse -- worse
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • fásk -- verb; infinitive middle of <fá> get, take; catch; have, make use of; put; give; receive; suffer; (with ppart.) be able to, get accomplished; (mid.) take place; struggle -- struggle
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- with
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • úti -- adverb; <úti> outside; out at sea; unsheltered -- outside
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- for this
  • brauzk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <brjóta> (trans.) break, destroy; distribute; (mid.) exert oneself -- strove
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • móti -- preposition; <móti> against; towards; to meet -- against
  • af -- preposition; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- with
  • ǫllu -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <allr> all, whole; every -- all
  • afli -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <afl> strength -- (his) might
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • fara -- verb; infinitive of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- exit
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- ...

Glámr fœrðisk í aukana ok knepti hann at sér, er þeir komu í anddyrit.
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • fœrðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <fœra (ð)> bring, send; hurl, smite; move; present -- struck out
  • í aukana -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto + noun; accusative plural masculine of <auki> increase + definite article; accusative plural masculine of <inn> the -- with everything he had
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • knepti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <kneppa (t)> fasten, button; pull -- pulled
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • sér -- reflexive pronoun; dative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- himself
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- as
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • komu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- came
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- to
  • anddyrit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <anddyri> vestibule of hall + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the hall vestibule

Ok er Grettir sér at hann fekk eigi við spornat, hefir hann alt eitt atriðit at hann hleypr sem harðast í fang þrælnum ok spyrnir báðum fótum í jarðfastan stein, er stóð í durunum.
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- as
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • sér -- verb; 3rd singular present of <sjá> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- saw
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • fekk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <fá> get, take; catch; have, make use of; put; give; receive; suffer; (with ppart.) be able to, get accomplished; (mid.) take place; struggle -- was... able to
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- not
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- ...
  • spornat -- past participle; accusative singular neuter of <sporna (að)> spurn, tread upon -- resist
  • hefir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- executed
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • alt -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <allr> all, whole; every -- fluid
  • eitt -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <einn> one; a certain, particular -- one
  • atriðit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <atrið> movement + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- motion
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- as
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • hleypr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <hlaupa> leap, spring, climb; mount; run -- lept
  • sem -- relative particle; <sem> as; as if, that; while; when; where -- as
  • harðast -- adverb; superlative of <hart> hard; sharply -- hard (as possible)
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- against
  • fang -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <fang> grasp, hold; breast; wrestling, contest; catch; provisions -- breast
  • þrælnum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <þræll> thrall, slave + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the thrall's
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • spyrnir -- verb; 3rd singular present of <spyrna (d)> kick; place the feet -- kicked (him)
  • báðum -- adjective; dative plural masculine of <báðir> both -- with both
  • fótum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <fótr> foot; leg -- feet
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- against
  • jarðfastan -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <jarðfastr> fixed in the earth -- set in the ground
  • stein -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <steinn> stone, rock -- a stone
  • er -- relative particle; <er> who, which; when -- which
  • stóð -- verb; 3rd singular past of <standa> stand (firm); get up; take up a position; be in a place; remain valid; be in a specified condition; trend, flow; weigh -- stood
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- before
  • durunum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <dyrr> door, doorway + definite article; dative plural feminine of <inn> the -- the door

Við þessu bjósk þrællinn eigi; hann hafði þá togazk við at draga Gretti at sér, ok því kiknaði Glámr á bak aptr ok rauk ǫfugr út á dyrnar, svá at herðarnar námu uppdyrit ok ræfrit gekk í sundr, bæði viðirnir ok þekjan frerin; fell hann svá opinn ok ǫfugr út ór húsinu, en Grettir á hann ofan.
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- for
  • þessu -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sjá> this -- this
  • bjósk -- verb; 3rd singular past middle of <búa> be ready, prepare, secure -- had... prepared himself
  • þrællinn -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <þræll> thrall, slave + definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the thrall
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- not
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • hafði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <hafa (ð)> have, keep; hold; accept -- had
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- ...
  • togazk -- past participle; accusative singular neuter middle of <toga (að)> tug, pull -- stuggled
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- ...
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • draga -- verb; infinitive of <draga> draw, haul -- drag
  • Gretti -- proper noun, masculine; accusative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • sér -- reflexive pronoun; dative of <sik> him-, her-, it-self; them-selves; one-self -- himself
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • því -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sá> that -- at that
  • kiknaði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <kikna (að)> give way at the knees -- fell
  • Glámr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Glámr> Glam -- Glam
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- to
  • bak -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <bak> back -- the back
  • aptr -- adverb; <aptr> back; aft -- ...
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • rauk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <rjúka> reek, smoke; go flying, tumble -- tumbled
  • ǫfugr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ǫfugr> turned the wrong way, backwards -- backwards
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- out
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- towards
  • dyrnar -- noun, feminine; accusative plural of <dyrr> door, doorway + definite article; accusative plural feminine of <inn> the -- the door
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- so
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • herðarnar -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <herðar> (pl.) shoulders + definite article; nominative plural feminine of <inn> the -- (his) shoulders
  • námu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <nema> take; take possession of; catch, strike against; amount to -- struck
  • uppdyrit -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <uppdyri> upper cross-piece of doorway, lintel + definite article; accusative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the lintel
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • ræfrit -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <ræfr> roof + definite article; nominative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the roof
  • gekk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- fell
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- ...
  • sundr -- adverb; <sundr> asunder -- apart
  • bæði -- conjunction; <bæði> both -- both
  • viðirnir -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <viðr> tree; beam; forest; wood + definite article; nominative plural masculine of <inn> the -- the beams
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • þekjan -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <þekja> thatch, roof + definite article; nominative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the... thatch
  • frerin -- past participle; nominative singular feminine of <frjósa> freeze -- frozen
  • fell -- verb; 3rd singular past of <falla> fall, fall down; flow; be slain -- fell
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • svá -- adverb; <svá> so, thus, in this way; also; as, as if -- ...
  • opinn -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <opinn> open; on one's back -- over
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • ǫfugr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ǫfugr> turned the wrong way, backwards -- backwards
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- out
  • ór -- preposition; <ór> out of, from; of; with the material of -- of
  • húsinu -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <hús> house; room of house; (pl.) farm + definite article; dative singular neuter of <inn> the -- the house
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- and
  • Grettir -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Grettir> Grettir -- Grettir
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- (fell) on
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • ofan -- adverb; <ofan> from above, down; southwards -- top of

Lesson Text

Ljós brann í skálanum um nóttina. Ok er af mundi þriðjungr at nótt, heyrði Grettir út dunur miklar. Var þá farit upp á húsin ok riðit skálanum ok barit hælunum, svá at brakaði í hverju tré. Því gekk lengi; þá var farit ofan af húsinum ok til dura gengit. Ok er upp var lokit hurðunni, sá Grettir at þrællinn rétti inn hǫfuðit, ok sýndisk honum afskræmiliga mikit ok undarliga stórskorit. Glámr fór seint ok réttisk upp, er hann kom inn í dyrnar. Hann gnæfaði ofarliga við ræfrinu. Snýr skálanum ok lagði handlegginn upp á þvertréit ok gægðisk inn yfir skálann. Ekki lét bóndi heyra til sín, því at honum þótti œrit um, er hann heyrði hvat um var úti. Grettir lá kyrr ok hrœrði sik hvergi. Glámr sá at hrúga nǫkkur lá í setinu, ok rézk nú innar eptir skálanum ok þreif í feldinn stundar fast. Grettir spyrndi í stokkinn ok gekk því hvergi. Glámr hnykti í annat sinn miklu fastara, ok bifaðisk hvergi feldrinn. Í þriðja sinn þreif hann í með báðum hǫndum svá fast at hann rétti Gretti upp ór setinu; kiptu nú í sundr feldinum í millum sín.

Glámr leit á slitrit er hann helt á, ok undraðisk mjǫk hverr svá fast mundi togask við hann. Ok í því hljóp Grettir undir hendr honum ok þreif um hann miðjan ok spenti á honum hrygginn sem fastast gat hann, ok ætlaði hann at Glámr skyldi kikna við. En þrællinn lagði at handleggjum Grettis svá fast at hann hǫrfaði allr fyrir orku sakir. Fór Grettir þá undan í ýmis setin. Gengu þá frá stokkarnir, ok alt brotnaði þat sem fyrir varð. Vildi Glámr leita út, en Grettir fœrði við fœtr hvar sem hann mátti. En þó gat Glámr dregit hann fram ór skálanum. Áttu þeir þá allharða sókn, því at þrællinn ætlaði at koma honum út ór bœnum; en svá ilt sem at eiga var við Glám inni, þá sá Grettir at þó var verra at fásk við hann úti, ok því brauzk hann í móti af ǫllu afli at fara út. Glámr fœrðisk í aukana ok knepti hann at sér, er þeir komu í anddyrit. Ok er Grettir sér at hann fekk eigi við spornat, hefir hann alt eitt atriðit at hann hleypr sem harðast í fang þrælnum ok spyrnir báðum fótum í jarðfastan stein, er stóð í durunum. Við þessu bjósk þrællinn eigi; hann hafði þá togazk við at draga Gretti at sér, ok því kiknaði Glámr á bak aptr ok rauk ǫfugr út á dyrnar, svá at herðarnar námu uppdyrit ok ræfrit gekk í sundr, bæði viðirnir ok þekjan frerin; fell hann svá opinn ok ǫfugr út ór húsinu, en Grettir á hann ofan.

Translation

A light burned in the hall through the night. And as the third part of the night passed, Grettir heard great rumblings outside. It came up to the house and passed into the hall and struck with its heels, so that it creaked on every beam. This went on for a bit; then it went from the house and came to the doors. And as the door came open, Grettir watched as the thrall poked his head inside, and seemed to him hideously powerful and outlandishly huge. Glam advanced slowly and stood upright as he came inside through the doors. He extended right up to the roof. He turned to the hall and set his arm upon the crossbeam and peered in across the hall. The yeoman let no sound escape, and this seemed to him sufficient, when he heard what all was outside. Grettir lay quiet and moved not a bit. Glam noticed that some heap lay along the sideboards, and now made his way farther in along the hall and took a strong hold of the cloak. Grettir braced against the plank and did not move at all. Glam pulled a second time, much harder, but the cloak would not budge. The third time he grabbed hold with both hands so hard that he raised Grettir up from the sideboards; they rent the cloak asunder between them.
Glam looked at the rag which he was holding and was quite astonished that someone could pull so hard against him. And at that moment Grettir lept under his hands and grabbed round his midsection and wrapped round his back as tight as he could, as he intended that Glam should give way underneath. But the thrall laid hold of Grettir's arms so tight that he completely gave way on account of his strength. Grettir then slipped away from bed to bed. The planks shot from their settings, and all that came before them was broken. Glam wanted to find a way out, but Grettir would brace his feet everyplace he tried. At last Glam was able to drag him out from the hall. They had such a fierce struggle that the thrall thought to send him out of the house; but as difficult as it was to hold up against Glam inside, nevertheless Grettir saw that it was still worse to struggle with him outside, and for this he strove against his exit with all his might. Glam struck out with everything he had and pulled him to himself as they came to the hall vestibule. And as Grettir saw that he was not able to resist, he executed one fluid motion as he lept as hard as possible against the thrall's breast and kicked him with both feet against a stone set in the ground, which stood before the door. The thrall had not prepared himself for this; he had struggled to drag Grettir to himself, and at that Glam fell to the back and tumbled backwards out towards the door, so that his shoulders struck the lintel and the roof fell apart, both the beams and the frozen thatch; he fell over and backwards out of the house, and Grettir fell on top of him.

Grammar

11 Strong Declension

The strong noun declensions discussed so far have all been formed from stems ending in a vowel. Some stems do not belong to this type, but rather end in consonants. For the most part, these are archaic holdovers from an earlier period, as is clear from the meanings of the nouns which belong to the r-declension below.

11.1 r-Stems

The r-stem nouns form a very small part of the lexicon of Old Norse, but are nevertheless high-frequency words for very important concepts. The combination of these two facts hints at the archaic nature of the declension. The nouns faðir 'father', móðir 'mother', bróðir 'brother', dóttir 'daughter', and systir 'sister' illustrate the declension. The nouns all denote familial relation, with the grammatical gender following the natural gender.

    faðir   móðir   bróðir   dóttir   systir
    'father'   'mother'   'brother'   'daughter'   'sister'
                     
N Sg.   faðir   móðir   bróðir   dóttir   systir
A   fǫður, feðr   móður   bróður   dóttur   systur
G   fǫður, feðr   móður   bróður   dóttur   systur
D   fǫður, feðr   móður   bróður   dóttur, dœtr   systur
                     
N Pl.   feðr   mœðr   brœðr   dœtr   systr
A   feðr   mœðr   brœðr   dœtr   systr
G   feðra   mœðra   brœðra   dœtra   systra
D   feðrum   mœðrum   brœðrum   dœtrum   systrum
                     

The paradigms of móðir, bróðir, and dóttir are clearly essentially the same. They are all included for the sake of completeness, these being all of the most common r-stem nouns. The plural forms are all characterized by i-umlaut; the singular is for the most part characterized by u-umlaut in the oblique, with alternate forms containing i-umlaut.

11.2 nd-Stems

The nd-stem nouns appear to have been present participles which became frozen as substantives. The nouns bóndi 'yeoman' and gefandi 'giver' illustrate the declension.

    bóndi   gefandi
         
N Sg.   bóndi   gefandi
A   bónda   gefanda
G   bónda   gefanda
D   bónda   gefanda
         
N Pl.   bœndr   gefendr
A   bœndr   gefendr
G   bónda   gefenda
D   bóndum   gefǫndum
         

Note the N and A singular show the same i-umlaut exhibited in the declension of the r-stem nouns.

11.3 Other Consonant Stems

Other common nouns whose stems end in consonants do not fall into declensional patterns as prevalent as those above. These are collected below. As with the declensions above, these are characterized by the ending -r in the N and A plural, which may be assimilated to the final stem consonant. These forms also exhibit i-umlaut of the root vowel.

The following nouns are masculine consonant stems: maðr 'man', nagl 'nail', mónuðr 'month', vetr 'winter', fótr 'foot'.

    maðr   nagl   mónuðr   vetr   fótr
                     
N Sg.   maðr   nagl   mónuðr   vetr   fótr
A   mann   nagl   mónuð   vetr   fót
G   manns   nagls   mánaðar   vetrar   fótar
D   manni   nagli   mónuð   vetr   fœti
                     
N Pl.   menn   negl   mónuðr   vetr   fœtr
A   menn   negl   mónuðr   vetr   fœtr
G   manna   nagla   mánaða   vetra   fóta
D   mǫnnum   nǫglum   mónuðum   vetrum   fótum
                     

The noun mónuðr is also found as mánaðr. The common noun fingr 'finger' also follows the declension of vetr.

The following nouns are feminine consonant stems: bók 'book', tǫnn 'tooth', nátt 'night', kýr 'cow'.

    bók   tǫnn   nátt, nótt   kýr
                 
N Sg.   bók   tǫnn   nátt, nótt   kýr
A   bók   tǫnn   nátt, nótt   kú
G   bókar, bœkr   tannar   náttar, nætr   kýr
D   bók   tǫnn   nátt, nótt   kú
                 
N Pl.   bœkr   tennr   nætr   kýr
A   bœkr   tennr   nætr   kýr
G   bóka   tanna   nátta   kúa
D   bókum   tǫnnum   náttum, nóttum   kúm
                 

The noun tǫnn also shows the form teðr in the N and A plural. The alternate form for the G sg. of nátt is rare, but there are examples: sátu þeir at drykkju til miðrar nætr 'they sat drinking until midnight.'

12 Demonstratives

Old Norse makes use of several different demonstrative stems. As mentioned in Section 8.2, two different stems are used in a suppletive system to fill out the paradigm of the third person pronoun. These same stems, as well as others, were often used as deictic pronouns or adjectives, pointing to spatial (e.g. 'that dog over there'), temporal ('that day last year'), or logical ('these considerations just mentioned') proximity to or distance from the perspective of the speaker.

12.1 Pronouns & Adjectives

The demonstrative sá is used as both pronoun and adjective. Its adjectival uses range from a true deictic 'that', pointing to something relatively distant from the perspective of the speaker, to the simple article 'the', referring to a noun already mentioned. In a pronominal role, the same uses may translate as 'that one' and 'this (just mentioned)', respectively. The paradigm is as follows.

    Maculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   sá   sú   þat
A   þann   þá   þat
G   þess   þeir(r)ar   þess
D   þeim   þeir(r)i   því, þí
             
N Pl.   þeir   þær   þau
A   þá   þær   þau
G   þeir(r)a   þeir(r)a   þeir(r)a
D   þeim   þeim   þeim
             

As already noted, the plural forms are used as the plural of the third person pronoun. They may often be translated simply as 'they', 'them' in this role, as opposed to the truly deictic 'those (ones)'.

The demonstrative sjá 'this (one)' refers to something relatively close in the estimation of the speaker. Like sá, it is used as both pronoun and adjective. The forms are as follows.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   sjá, þessi   sjá, þessi   þetta
A   þenna   þessa   þetta
G   þessa   þessar   þessa
D   þessum   þessi   þessu
             
N Pl.   þessir   þessar   þessi
A   þessa   þessar   þessi
G   þessa   þessa   þessa
D   þessum   þessum   þessum
             

Another common demonstrative is hinn. Its meaning is not as strongly marked for distance, like sá, or for proximity, like sjá. hinn is often translated as 'that', but may also be used for the second referent in constructions of the sort 'the one... the other...'. hinn thus often serves to contrast one referent with another marked by sá or sjá. The forms of hinn are as follows.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   hinn   hin   hitt
A   hinn   hina   hitt
G   hins   hinnar   hins
D   hinum   hinni   hinu
             
N Pl.   hinir   hinar   hin
A   hina   hinar   hin
G   hinna   hinna   hinna
D   hinum   hinum   hinum
             

When hitt is used as an article before an adjective, the form is shortened to hit.

12.2 Definite Article

Old Norse possesses a definite article inn. Unlike English, where the article either precedes the noun it modifies or precedes the adjective modifying the noun, the Old Norse definite article is most frequently postpositive. It typically follows the noun it modifies, or follows the adjective describing a noun. In this practice ON shows a similarity to, e.g., Old Church Slavonic. The English use and the Old Norse use of the definite article do not correlate exactly, and one finds that ON often omits the article in situations where Modern English requires it. The declension of inn parallels that of hinn, and the relation between the two is often a matter of debate. The declension of inn, when not suffixed to the substantive it modifies, is as follows.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   inn   in   it
A   inn   ina   it
G   ins   innar   ins
D   inum   inni   inu
             
N Pl.   inir   inar   in
A   ina   inar   in
G   inna   inna   inna
D   inum   inum   inum
             

This form of the article is found in constructions which parallel those of Modern English. For example, inn blindi maðr 'the blind mann'. In such freestanding constructions, the difference between hinn and inn is slight, if present at all. Thus the preceding phrase may also be rendered hinn blindi maðr. The article is found with bare substantives, e.g. (h)inir augðu 'the rich'. Such constructions are fairly uncommon, occurring mainly when a contrast between nouns is emphasized. More typical word order is for the article and noun to follow the modified noun, e.g. Óláfr inn helgi 'Olaf the saint'; hendi inn hœgri 'the right hand'.

The article is commonly used in conjunction with other demonstratives. A typical rendering of Modern English 'the blind man' would be ON sá (h)inn blindi maðr, literally 'that the blind man'. Other variations are possible, such as maðr sá (h)inn blindi or sá maðr (h)inn blindi.

When suffixed to a noun or adjective, the forms of inn undergo some modification. The initial vowel is dropped when following a short unaccented vowel. The disyllabic forms also show the following changes:

  • disyllables drop the initial vowel after a long vowel;
  • disyllables with a single n usually drop the initial vowel also after consonants, except in the feminine A sg.

Monosyllabic forms show slightly different treatment:

    monosyllables retain the initial vowel after a long vowel.

In addition, the final -m of the dative plural is dropped from the preceding noun or adjective when suffixed with -inum. For convenience, the forms of inn are listed below suffixed to some typical nouns.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   úlfr-inn   gjǫf-in   tré-it
A   úlf-inn   gjǫf-ina   tré-it
G   úlfs-ins   gjafar-innar   trés-ins
D   úlfi-num   gjǫf-inni   tré-nu
             
N Pl.   úlfar-nir   gjafar-nar   tré-in
A   úlfa-na   gjafar-nar   tré-in
G   úlfa-nna   gjafa-nna   trjá-nna
D   úlfu-num   gjǫfu-num   trjá-num
             

The following are some examples with substantives that follow weak declension (to be discussed later).

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   bogi-nn   kona-n   auga-t
A   boga-nn   konu-na   auga-t
G   boga-ns   konu-nnar   auga-ns
D   boga-num   konu-nni   augu-nu
             
N Pl.   bogar-nir   konur-nar   augu-n
A   boga-na   konur-nar   augu-n
G   boga-nna   kvenna-nna   augna-nna
D   bogu-num   konu-num   augu-num
             

The use of the suffixed article does not preclude the possibility of another preposed article, though hinn is used to avoid repetition of inn. Hence hinn hvíti bjǫrninn, literally 'the white beard-the'. Other deictics may be used as well, e.g. hǫndin sú hœgri, literally 'hand-the that white'.

13 Adjectives

Adjectives fall into two main types, strong and weak. These names (1) bear no relation to the similarly-named verbal conjugation types, and (2) have no connotations beyond signifying a binary system. The terms Type A and Type B would serve just as well. The two types do, however, display a difference in usage. To wit, strong adjectives are indefinite, weak adjectives are definite. The term 'strong adjective' is shorthand for 'an adjective exhibiting strong endings', and similarly for 'weak adjective'. Any adjective may be declined according to either the strong or weak paradigms. The classification as 'strong' or 'weak' is not inherent when applied to adjectives, but merely describes a particular instance. This differs from the use of the same terms when applied to nouns, which are inherently either strong or weak. A weak noun is always weak; a weak adjective may also be declined as strong. In respect to paradigms, the endings of strong adjectives resemble those of strong nouns; likewise for weak adjectives and nouns.

13.1 Strong Declension

The adjective endings differ slightly from those of the nouns. They are listed below. Whenever the ending begins with u, the stem vowel is subject to the same u-umlaut found among the nouns. This umlaut is also found in other situations where the ending no longer displays u; such forms are so marked.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   -r   (u-umlaut)   -t
A   -an   -a   -t
G   -s   -rar   -s
D   -um   -ri   -u
             
N Pl.   -ir   -ar   (u-umlaut)
A   -a   -ar   (u-umlaut)
G   -ra   -ra   -ra
D   -um   -um   -um
             

The adjectives sterkr 'strong', vænn 'handsome', gamall 'old', nýr 'new', frægr 'famous', rǫskr 'brave' illustrate the paradigms. The masculine forms are as follows.

Stem   sterk-   væn-   gamal-   nýj-   frægj-   rǫskv-
                         
N Sg.   sterkr   vænn   gamall   nýr   frægr   rǫskr
A   sterkan   vænan   gamlan   nýjan   frægjan   rǫskvan
G   sterks   væns   gamals   nýs   frægs   rǫsks
D   sterkum   vænum   gǫmlum   nýjum   frægjum   rǫskum
                         
N Pl.   sterkir   vænir   gamlir   nýir   frægir   rǫskvir
A   sterka   væna   gamla   nýja   frægja   rǫskva
G   sterkra   vænna   gamalla   nýrra   frægra   rǫskra
D   sterkum   vænum   gǫmlum   nýjum   frægjum   rǫskum
                         

The feminine forms are as follows.

Stem   sterk-   væn-   gamal-   nýj-   frægj-   rǫskv-
                         
N Sg.   sterk   væn   gǫmul   ný   fræg   rǫsk
A   sterka   væna   gamla   nýja   frægja   rǫskva
G   sterkrar   vænnar   gamallar   nýrrar   frægrar   rǫskrar
D   sterkri   vænni   gamalli   nýrri   frægri   rǫskri
                         
N Pl.   sterkar   vænar   gamlar   nýjar   frægjar   rǫskvar
A   sterkar   vænar   gamlar   nýjar   frægjar   rǫskvar
G   sterkra   vænna   gamalla   nýrra   frægra   rǫskra
D   sterkum   vænum   gǫmlum   nýjum   frægjum   rǫskum
                         

The neuter forms are as follows. Note the overall similarity with the masculine forms.

Stem   sterk-   væn-   gamal-   nýj-   frægj-   rǫskv-
                         
N Sg.   sterkt   vænt   gamalt   nýtt   frægt   rǫskt
A   sterkt   vænt   gamalt   nýtt   frægt   rǫskt
G   sterks   væns   gamals   nýs   frægs   rǫsks
D   sterku   vænu   gǫmlu   nýju   frægju   rǫsku
                         
N Pl.   sterk   væn   gǫmul   ný   fræg   rǫsk
A   sterk   væn   gǫmul   ný   fræg   rǫsk
G   sterkra   vænna   gamalla   nýrra   frægra   rǫskra
D   sterkum   vænum   gǫmlum   nýjum   frægjum   rǫskum
                         

Some adjectives have stems ending in -r. Such adjectives drop the ending -r, so that, e.g., N sg. masc. fagr contrasts with N sg. fem. fǫgr and neut. fagrt. The endings beginning with -r- show assimilation of the r to a preceding l or single n.

Adjectives whose stem ends in a stressed long vowel double the -t of the neuter N sg. ending. Hence fár shows N sg. neut. fátt. Contraction occurs when the ending begins with a or u, e.g. fán and fám, but fáir.

Adjectives ending in -inn -- particularly, but not exclusively, the past participles of strong verbs -- show the ending -n rather than -an in the masculine A sg. Compare inn, with A sg. masc. inn; hverr, A sg. masc. hvern; nǫkkurr, A sg. masc. nǫkkurn.

13.2 Declension of annarr

The declension of annarr 'other, another; second, next' always follows the pattern of strong adjectives. Some forms display the stem aðr- rather than ann-. Its declension is as follows.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   annarr   ǫnnur   annat
A   annan   aðra   annat
G   annars   annarrar   annars
D   ǫðrum   annarri   ǫðrum
             
N Pl.   aðrir   aðrar   ǫnnur
A   aðra   aðrar   ǫnnur
G   annarra   annarra   annarra
D   ǫðrum   ǫðrum   ǫðrum
             
13.3 Possessive Adjectives

The possessive adjectives were derived from the genitive forms of the personal pronouns. This genitive form was taken as stem, and the strong adjective endings were suffixed. For example, ek 'I', with G sg. mín 'of me', gives adjectival *mín-r > minn 'my' (N sg. masc.). As this example shows, the stem vowel is shortened before a double consonant. The paradigm of minn 'my' is given below.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   minn   mín   mitt
A   minn   mína   mitt
G   míns   minnar   míns
D   mínum   minni   mínu
             
N Pl.   mínir   mínar   mín
A   mína   mínar   mín
G   minna   minna   minna
D   mínum   mínum   mínum
             

The second person builds a possessive adjective þinn, and the reflexive pronoun has possessive sinn. The dual and plural forms of the personal pronouns also build possessives:

Person   Stem   Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
                 
1 Sg.   mín-   minn   mín   mitt
2   þín-   þinn   þín   þitt
reflex.   sín-   sinn   sín   sitt
                 
1 Du.   okkar-   okkarr   okkur   okkart
2   ykkar-   ykkarr   ykkur   ykkart
-                
                 
1 Pl.   vár-   várr   vár   várt
2   yð(v)ar-   yð(v)arr   yður   yð(v)art
-                
                 

The reflexive possessive adjective sinn serves as a reflexive for any number, just as the pronoun itself. The declension of várr 'our' is given below.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   várr   vár   várt
A   váran, várn   vára   várt
G   várs   várrar   várs
D   várum   várri   váru
             
N Pl.   várir   várar   vár
A   vára   várar   vár
G   várra   várra   várra
D   várum   várum   várum
             

Note the stem vowel of várr does not undergo shortening. The second vowel of the short yðar- is dropped in trisyllabic forms, while the second vowel is retained everywhere in the full form yðvar-. Hence D sg. masc. yðrum, but G sg. fem. yðrar or yðvarrar. The stems ykkar- and okkar- optionally drop the second stem vowel in trisyllabic forms: A sg. masc. okkurum, ykkurum or okkrum, ykkrum.

The third person pronouns have no corresponding possessive adjectives, using simply the genitive forms of the pronoun: singular hans, hennar, þess; plural þeira.

14 Past Participle

Old Norse, like Modern English, has a past participle, whose formation depends on whether the verb is strong or weak. Unlike, e.g., classical Greek, which has morphologically distinct past active and past passive participles, Old Norse makes no morphological distinction between active and passive participles. One and the same formation generally has different interpretations based on the transitivity of the root: the past participle of transitive verbs is construed as passive ('having been done'), while the past participle of intransitive verbs is construed as active ('having done').

14.1 Formation

The formation of past participles in Old Norse parallels that of Modern English. There are two types of past participles, reflecting the distinction between strong and weak verbs. Strong verbs form the past participle by adding the suffix -in to the verbal stem, which in general displays ablaut. Compare Modern English eat-en. Adjective endings are then added to the -in suffix. Because of the relative unpredictability of ablaut, the past participle is typically given as one of the principal parts. The past participle kominn, from koma 'come', serves to illustrate the forms of the strong past participle.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   kominn   komin   komit
A   kominn   komna   komit
G   komins   kominnar   komins
D   komnum   kominni   komnu
             
N Pl.   komnir   komnar   komin
A   komna   komnar   komin
G   kominna   kominna   kominna
D   komnum   komnum   komnum
             

Weak verbs form the past participle by means of a dental suffix -ð. Compare Modern English ask-ed. This is added to the stem, sometimes with an intervening vowel, and adjective endings are added to this. For example, kalla 'call' (stem kall-a-) forms past participle kallað-; spyrja 'find out' (stem spur-j-) forms spurð-; stefna 'aim' (stem stafn-j-) forms stefnð-; lifa 'live' (stem lif-i-) forms lifað-; ná 'reach' (stem ná-i-) forms náð-; hafa 'have' forms hafð-. The past participle of elska (að) 'love' will illustrate the forms.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   elskaðr   elskuð   elskat
A   elskaðan   elskaða   elskat
G   elskaðs   elskaðrar   elskaðs
D   elskuðum   elskaðri   elskuðu
             
N Pl.   elskaðir   elskaðar   elskuð
A   elskaða   elskaðar   elskuð
G   elskaðra   elskaðra   elskaðra
D   elskuðum   elskuðum   elskuðum
             

For comparison, the weak declension is given below. Weak declension of adjectives will be treated separately.

    Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
             
N Sg.   elskaði   elskaða   elskaða
A   elskaða   elskuðu   elskaða
G   elskaða   elskuðu   elskaða
D   elskaða   elskuðu   elskaða
             
N Pl.   elskuðu   elskuðu   elskuðu
A   elskuðu   elskuðu   elskuðu
G   elskuðu   elskuðu   elskuðu
D   elskuðum   elskuðum   elskuðum
             

As mentioned above, the past participle of transitive verbs is construed as passive in sense; the past participle of intransitive verbs is construed as active. For example, koma 'to come' (intransitive) vs. kominn 'come' (active -- cf. Shakespearean 'I am come' = 'I have arrived'), but bera 'to bear' (transitive) vs. borinn 'borne' (passive); likewise elska 'to love' (transitive) vs. elskaðr 'loved' (passive), but þegja 'be silent' (intransitive) vs. þagat '(having been or become) silent' (active).

14.2 Supine

The supine in Old Norse is rather different from the concept of the same name in say Latin or Old Church Slavonic. The supine refers to the use of the neuter N/A sg. form of the past participle in conjunction with forms of the verb hafa 'have' to form a compound past tense. For example, vega 'slay' forms past participle vegin-; then hafa vegit is 'to have slain'. Similarly hafði vegit 'he had slain'; eptir at hafa vegit... 'after having slain...'.

Historically one finds that constructions like 'I have slain a man' came about from phrases like 'I have a man (who is) slain', where 'slain' is an adjective agreeing with 'a man', which is in turn the direct object of 'have'. Examples of this are found especially in early ON texts, for example Vǫluspá: hverir hafði lopt alt lævi blandit eða ætt iotuns Óðs mey gefna 'who had filled all the air with calamity or given Od's wife to the giant's race'. Here blandit is neuter accusative singular in agreement with lopt, and gefna feminine accusative singular with mey. These constructions began to give ground to use of the supine, so that by the time of classical ON texts, the two usages are in free variation. In constructions with the supine, the neuter singular form of the participle is used regardless of the gender and number of the direct object: sýndisk nú ǫllum sem Loki hefði látit leikinn 'it appeared to everyone like Loki had lost the contest', where látit is a supine, and leikinn is masculine accusative singular. The construction with the supine is also found with intransitive verbs: ekki hafa hér komit þeir menn 'men have not come here'.

15 Prepositions

Old Norse makes exceptional use of prepositions, both in prepositional phrases and in absolute uses as adverbs. This is similar to the situation in Modern English, where one can say both 'He walked in the house' and 'He walked in without saying hello'; in the former, the preposition in governs an object, in the latter it does not. Each ON preposition governs objects in one or more of the oblique cases. The case governed is a property of the preposition: each preposition governs only a specific case or cases. If a preposition governs more than one case, its meaning may change depending on the case employed. Prepositions rarely govern objects in the genitive case; the accusative and dative are quite common. Generally the dative is used after a preposition to denote position in space or time without motion, or to denote source, cause, or instrument. The accusative is used after a preposition to denote motion to or through space or time, or to denote a point of time within a certain period, opposition, or correspondence. At times a preposition together with its object may serve as a compound preposition, in the same manner as Modern English 'for the sake of'. The primary ON prepositions are listed below, together with the cases they govern and the associated meanings.

Preposition   Case   Meaning
         
  acc.   onto, on, to; during, at, in
    dat.   on, in; during, at, in
         
af   dat.   off, from; by (denoting agent); of, because of
         
án   acc./gen./dat.   without
         
at   acc.   after
    dat.   at, to, towards; at, in; from; according to
         
eptir   acc.   after (time/event)
    dat.   after, following (person/thing); along; according to
         
frá   dat.   from; concerning, about
         
fyrir   acc.   (motion) before, in front of; over, past; before (time); in return for, in place of
    dat.   (location) before, in front of; in charge of; in the presence of; ago
         
gagnvart / gegnvart   dat.   opposite
         
gegn   dat.   against; towards
         
(í) gegnum   acc.   through
hjá   dat.   at someone's (house); close to, next to, by; past; compared with
         
  acc.   into, in, to; during, in, at
    dat.   in
         
innan   gen.   within
         
með   acc.   with (accompaniment or means); against
    dat.   together with; (instrument) with; (manner) with, in, by; among
         
(á / í) meðal   gen.   among, between
         
(á / í) milli / millum   gen.   among, between
         
(á / í) mót / móti   dat.   against; towards
         
nær   dat.   near
         
of   acc.   over, across; during, in
    dat.   over, above
         
ór / úr   dat.   out of, from
         
til   gen.   to, towards; regarding, concerning; to, until
         
um   acc.   around, over, across; during, in; about, concerning
    dat.   over, above; during, in
         
umfram   acc.   beyond, above, more than
         
umhverfis   acc.   around
         
undan   dat.   away from
         
undir   acc.   (motion) under
    dat.   (location) under
         
utan   acc./gen.   outside; without
         
við   acc.   near, by; (direction) to, towards, vis-a-vis
    dat.   against; towards
         
yfir   acc.   (motion) over, above
    dat.   (location) over, above
         

Old Norse Online

Lesson 4

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

Women in Viking Society

Women in Norse culture enjoyed a fair bit more stature than those of many other concurrent cultures in Europe. The culture prized women who were autonomous and spirited. The narrative of the legendary swordswoman Hervǫr, daughter and heir to the berserker warrior Angantýr, suggests at the very least that post-Viking saga audiences did not find the idea of heroic warrior ancestresses impossible. It is unclear how often this happened in reality, but the sagas are filled with women who goad their husbands into action with taunts and jibes.

Though a man might often consort with many concubines under one roof, the legal wife's status was ensured primarily by the 'bride-price' paid by her husband. This bride-price, as well as a gift given by the husband to his wife the day after the wedding, remained the property of the wife. Her father also supplied a dowry for the wedding, but this was repaid if the marriage terminated in divorce. A wife did not take the name of her husband, but kept her own patronymic, and was free to ally with either family if they fell into dispute. A wife was as free as a husband to seek divorce. The sagas tell of impotence, the husband wearing an effeminate shirt, and the woman wearing pants as grounds for divorce. The method of divorce was simple: gather witnesses, state the particular complaint, and the intention to divorce. The result seemed to carry no social stigma for either party.

Children in Viking Society

Children were generally reared at home, provided they had not been drowned or left out to die of exposure after birth (a measure generally made on grounds of the family's economic situation or because of deformity or other poor health). It was not uncommon, however, for a male child to go to live with another family as a foster-son. This secured ties between families, and in disputes a child would often rely as much upon his foster family as on his own. Children were expected to labor at the household duties. Nevertheless a certain argumentative and unruly nature was not only tolerated, but generally praised.

Illegitimate children were not altogether without rights. They might receive a small amount of the blood-money paid for their father or brother, or could inherit items of minor worth from the father. Often the status of a concubine was not very distinct from that of a legal wife, and in this situation the concubine's child would be treated little different from the wife's. A father might even adopt the illegitimate child, giving legal equality with the legitimate children.

A boy became a legal adult at 12, though usually he stayed at home for a few years more. This early adulthood was often the time for roaming with viking expeditions. Such exploits might last for several years. Typically one would return after some period to a life of farming. But the youth might just as well continue such escapades or take up residence in the retinue of some local leader. After marriage, a son could either take up residence in his father's house, or build one nearby. In Iceland he would typically settle miles away from the father's homestead.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The author of Brennu-Njáls saga is unknown. The saga as we have it dates from roughly 1250-1275 AD. The saga really contains three stories. The first is the story of Gunnar, in which Njál plays a somewhat incidental role. The harsh mannerisms of Gunnar's wife caused many to hold hostility toward Gunnar. After a fight Gunnar was unjustly sentenced to exile, but at the point of departure he could not bring himself to leave the land he held so dear. He stayed as an outlaw, which permitted his enemies to kill him legally.

Njál's story comes to center stage in the following episodes. Njál is known as a wise and generous man, but the impetuous nature of his sons finally brings about his doom. When they slay a man by the name of Þráin, Njál attempts to put an end to the ensuing feud by adopting his son, Hǫskuld. Njál's sons soon find reason to take issue with Hǫskuld, and kill him as well. His widow's kinsman, Flosi, then takes up the cause of revenge, and this leads to Njál's death as his house goes up in flames.

The third story relates how Kári exacts revenge upon those who burned Njál and his family. He finally comes to reconciliation with Flosi.

The following passage is an excerpt from chapter 77, depicting Gunnar's death. Even in light of the ensuing tragedy, the narrative is at times comical. The attackers appear rather inept in carrying out their mission, and their continual failure leads to sarcastic banter. As with the sagas in general, the scene is filled with direct speech. Given the context, there is no reason to suspect that the speech is anything but natural and reflective of Old Norse as it was spoken at the time. This means, of course, that the statements can at times be highly idiomatic and elliptical. But patience is rewarded with witty quips and outright jokes that testify to the longevity of the saga as a popular form of entertainment.

Skáli Gunnars var gǫrr af viði einum ok súðþakiðr útan, ok gluggar hjá brúnásunum ok snúin þar fyrir speld.
  • skáli -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall -- hall
  • Gunnars -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Gunnarr> Gunnar -- Gunnar's
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • gǫrr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <gǫrr (van)> made, built; done; ready; sent; done for, finished off -- made
  • af -- preposition; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- with
  • viði -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <viðr> tree; beam; forest; wood -- beam
  • einum -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <einn> one; a certain, particular -- one
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • súðþakiðr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <súðþakiðr> roofed with overlapping boards -- overlapping boards
  • útan -- preposition; <útan> outside (of); beyond; without -- on the outside
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • gluggar -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <gluggr> window -- (there were) windows
  • hjá -- preposition; <hjá> beside, at the side of; compared with; close by -- by
  • brúnásunum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <brúnáss> ridge-beam + definite article; dative plural masculine of <inn> the -- the ridge-beams
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • snúin -- past participle; nominative plural neuter of <snúa> plait, tie, twist; turn -- fastened
  • þar -- adverb; <þar> there, in that place -- these
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- in front of
  • speld -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <speld> shutter -- shutters

Gunnarr svaf í lopti einu í skálanum ok Hallgerðr ok móðir hans.
  • Gunnarr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Gunnarr> Gunnar -- Gunnar
  • svaf -- verb; 3rd singular past of <sofa> sleep -- slept
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- in
  • lopti -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <lopt> air, sky; upper room -- loft
  • einu -- adjective; dative singular neuter of <einn> one; a certain, particular -- one
  • -- preposition; <í> in, within; among; during; into, onto -- of
  • skálanum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the hall
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- as well as
  • Hallgerðr -- proper noun, feminine; nominative singular of <Hallgerðr> Hallgertha, Gunnar's wife -- Hallgertha
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • móðir -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <móðir> mother -- mother
  • hans -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his

Þá er þeir kómu at, vissu þeir eigi hvárt Gunnarr myndi heim vera, ok báðu at einnhverr myndi fara heim fyrir ok vita hvers víss yrði, en þeir settusk niðr á vǫllinn.
  • þá er -- relative adverb; <þá_er> when -- when
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • kómu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- arrived
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • vissu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- did... know
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • eigi -- adverb; <eigi> not -- not
  • hvárt -- conjunction; <hvárt> whether; (introduces direct question); however -- whether
  • Gunnarr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Gunnarr> Gunnar -- Gunnar
  • myndi -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- would
  • heim -- adverb; <heim> home; to(wards) the house -- at home
  • vera -- verb; infinitive of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- be
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • báðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <biðja> ask; beg; pray; bid -- they said
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • einnhverr -- pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <einnhverr> a certain, some, any -- someone
  • myndi -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <munu> will, be about to; will be; must; might -- should
  • fara -- past participle; nominative singular neuter of <fara> fare, happen, turn out; go, move, travel -- go
  • heim -- adverb; <heim> home; to(wards) the house -- to the house
  • fyrir -- preposition; <fyrir> before, in front of; against; because of, for -- up
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • vita -- verb; infinitive of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- find out
  • hvers -- indefinite pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hverr> who, which, what; each, every -- ...
  • víss -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <víss> certain, wise -- (for) certain
  • yrði -- verb; 3rd singular past subjunctive of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- ... # awkward construction -- perhaps more literally "(someone) should go up to the house and be(come) sure to find someone"
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- while
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <sá> that -- the others
  • settusk -- verb; 3rd plural past reflexive of <setja> set, place, put; seat; set up; establish; endow; direct; hurl; adorn -- set themselves
  • niðr -- adverb; <niðr> down -- down
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- on
  • vǫllinn -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <vǫllr> level ground, ground; plain; field + definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the ground

Þorgrímr austmaðr gekk upp á skálann; Gunnarr sér at rauðan kyrtil bar við glugginum, ok leggr út með atgeirinum á hann miðjan.
  • Þorgrímr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Þorgrímr> Thorgrim -- Thorgrim
  • austmaðr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <austmaðr> Easterner, Norwegian -- a Norwegian
  • gekk -- verb; 3rd singular past of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- went
  • upp -- adverb; <upp> up -- up
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- to
  • skálann -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <skáli> shed; hall, sleeping-hall + definite article; accusative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the hall
  • Gunnarr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Gunnarr> Gunnar -- Gunnar
  • sér -- verb; 3rd singular present of <sjá> see, perceive; find; understand; look -- saw
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- that
  • rauðan -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <rauðr> red -- a red
  • kyrtil -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <kyrtil> kirtle, tunic -- kirtle
  • bar -- verb; 3rd singular past of <bera> bear, bring, carry; wear; give birth to; overcome; endure; bear (witness) -- he bore
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- up to
  • glugginum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <gluggr> window + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the window
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • leggr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <leggja> lay, place, put; put down, lay down; move, bring; thrust, throw; make; give -- shot
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- out
  • með -- preposition; <með> with; by means of; among; along -- ...
  • atgeirinum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <atgeirr> thrusting spear + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- a spear
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- at
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his
  • miðjan -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <miðr> middle, the middle of -- midsection

Þorgrími skruppu fœtrnir ok varð lauss skjǫldrinn, ok hrataði hann ofan af þekjunni.
  • Þorgrími -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Þorgrímr> Thorgrim -- Thorgrim's
  • skruppu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <skreppa> slip -- slipped
  • fœtrnir -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <fótr> foot; leg + definite article; nominative plural masculine of <inn> the -- feet
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • varð -- verb; 3rd singular past of <verða> happen, come to pass; befall; chance to be; become -- came
  • lauss -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <lauss> loose, free -- loose
  • skjǫldrinn -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <skjǫldr> shield + definite article; nominative singular masculine of <inn> the -- his shield
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • hrataði -- verb; 3rd singular past of <hrata (að)> tumble, fall -- tumbled
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • ofan -- adverb; <ofan> from above, down; southwards -- down
  • af -- preposition; <af> out of, from; with; concerning; because of -- off
  • þekjunni -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <þekja> thatch, roof + definite article; dative singular feminine of <inn> the -- the thatch

Gengr hann síðan at þeim Gizuri, þar er þeir sátu á vellinum. Gizurr leit við honum ok mælti, "Hvárt er Gunnarr heima?"
  • gengr -- verb; 3rd singular present of <ganga> go, walk; advance; take place; extend; go on, last; turn out -- went
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • síðan -- adverb; <síðan> afterwards, since then -- then
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural masculine of <sá> that -- the (rest)
  • Gizuri -- proper noun, masculine; dative singular of <Gizurr> Gizur -- Gizur (among them)
  • þar -- adverb; <þar> there, in that place -- ...
  • er -- relative; nominative singular neuter of <er> who, which -- where
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • sátu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <sitja> sit; stay, remain; reside -- sat
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- on
  • vellinum -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <vǫllr> level ground, ground; plain; field + definite article; dative singular masculine of <inn> the -- the ground
  • Gizurr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Gizurr> Gizur -- Gizur
  • leit -- verb; 3rd singular past of <líta> look; see; regard -- looked
  • við -- preposition; <við> reaching to, against, with; towards, at; in exchange for; by; (together) with, close to; because of -- at
  • honum -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- him
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • mælti -- verb; 3rd singular past of <mæla (t)> speak -- said
  • hvárt -- conjunction; <hvárt> whether; (introduces direct question); however -- ...
  • er -- verb; 3rd singular present of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- is
  • Gunnarr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Gunnarr> Gunnar -- Gunnar
  • heima -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <heima> home; (as adv.) at home -- home

Þorgrímr svarar, "Viti þér þat, en hitt vissa ek, at atgeirr hans var heima." Síðan fell hann niðr dauðr.
  • Þorgrímr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Þorgrímr> Thorgrim -- Thorgrim
  • svarar -- verb; 3rd singular present of <svara (að)> answer -- answered
  • viti -- verb; 2nd plural imperative of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- find out # viti þér from earlier vitið ér
  • þér -- pronoun; nominative plural of <þú> thou, you -- you # þér from earlier ér, with þ co-opted from the 2nd pers. pl. verb ending
  • þat -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sá> that -- ...
  • en -- conjunction; <en> but, and; than -- but
  • hitt -- demonstrative used as pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <hinn> this one; that; the -- this
  • vissa -- verb; 1st singular past of <vita (ssi)> know, be aware of; understand; know how (to); know of; find out -- discovered
  • ek -- pronoun; nominative singular of <ek> I -- I
  • at -- conjunction; <at> that -- ...
  • atgeirr -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <atgeirr> thrusting spear -- spear
  • hans -- demonstrative used as pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hann> this one -- his
  • var -- verb; 3rd singular past of <vera> be; stay; be done; happen -- was
  • heima -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <heima> home; (as adv.) at home -- at home
  • síðan -- adverb; <síðan> afterwards, since then -- then
  • fell -- verb; 3rd singular past of <falla> fall, fall down; flow; be slain -- fell
  • hann -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hann> this one -- he
  • niðr -- adverb; <niðr> down -- ...
  • dauðr -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <dauðr> dead -- dead

Þeir sóttu þá at húsinum. Gunnarr skaut út ǫrum at þeim ok varðisk vel, ok gátu þeir ekki at gǫrt.
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • sóttu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <sœkja> seek, go to fetch; visit; proceed -- rushed
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- at
  • húsinum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <hús> house; room of house; (pl.) farm + definite article; dative plural neuter of <inn> the -- the house
  • Gunnarr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Gunnarr> Gunnar -- Gunnar
  • skaut -- verb; 3rd singular past of <skjóta> shoot, throw -- lashed
  • út -- adverb; <út> out; from abroad -- out
  • ǫrum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <ǫr> arrow -- with arrows
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- at
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural masculine of <sá> that -- them
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • varðisk -- verb; 3rd singular past reflexive of <verja (varði)> defend, protect -- defended himself
  • vel -- adverb; <vel> well, readily, easily -- well
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and (so)
  • gátu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <geta> get, obtain; engender; (with ppart.) be able to, get done; (with infin.) happen to (do); be obtainable; guess, suppose; relate, tell of -- got
  • þeir -- demonstrative used as pronoun; nominative plural masculine of <hann> this one -- they
  • ekki -- pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <engi> no, none, no one -- nothing
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- ...
  • gǫrt -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <gǫrr (van)> made, built; done; ready; sent; done for, finished off -- done

Þá hljópu sumir á húsin ok ætluðu þaðan at sœkja. Gunnarr kom þangat at þeim ǫrunum, ok gátu þeir ekki at gǫrt, ok fór svá fram um hríð.
  • þá -- adverb; <þá> then -- then
  • hljópu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <hlaupa> leap, spring, climb; mount; run -- lept
  • sumir -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <sumr> some -- some
  • -- preposition; <á> on, upon; at, in; to, towards; by means of; during; in the manner of -- upon
  • húsin -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <hús> house; room of house; (pl.) farm + definite article; accusative plural neuter of <inn> the -- the house
  • ok -- conjunction; <ok> and, also; but, though -- and
  • ætluðu -- verb; 3rd plural past of <ætla (að)> think, consider (to be); expect, look for; intend (to do) -- intended
  • þaðan -- adverb; <þaðan> thence -- from there
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- to
  • sœkja -- verb; infinitive of <sœkja> seek, go to fetch; visit; proceed -- attack
  • Gunnarr -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Gunnarr> Gunnar -- Gunnar
  • kom -- verb; 3rd singular past of <koma> come, arrive; reach; obtain; occur -- came
  • þangat -- adverb; <þangat> thither -- there
  • at -- preposition; <at> to, towards, against; at, in; from; according to; regarding; concerning; after -- at
  • þeim -- demonstrative used as pronoun; dative plural neuter of <sá> that -- them