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Re: Runes (was: Re: RV: Old English)

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 29, 2000, 20:30
Vasiliy Chernov wrote:

> But I'm afraid to get lost in all this. So I'll be deeply grateful > for pointers to any science-like outlines/overviews.
Well, here is what the Unicode Standard has to say. This makes most sense in connection with the chart at . The Runic script was historically used to write the languages of the early and medieval societies in the German, Scandinavian, and Anglo-Saxon areas. Use of the Runic script in various forms covers a period from the 1st to the 19th century. Some 6000 Runic inscriptions are known. They form an indispensable source of information about the development of the Germanic languages. Historical Script. [omitted] Direction. Like other early writing systems, runes could be written either from left to right or from right to left, or moving first in one direction, then the other (boustrophedon), or following the outlines of the inscribed object. At times, characters appear in mirror image, or upside down, or both. In modern scholarly literature, Runic is written left to right [...]. The Runic Alphabet. Present-day knowledge about runes is incomplete. The set of graphemically distinct units shows greater variation in its graphical shapes than most modern scripts. The Runic alphabet changed several times during its history, both in the number and shapes of the letters contained in it. The shape of most runes can be related to some Latin capital letter, but not necessarily with a letter representing the same sound. The most conspicuous difference between the Latin and the Runic alphabets is the order of the letters. The Runic alphabet is known as the _futhark_ from the name of its first six letters. The original _old futhark_ contained 24 runes: U+16A0 U+16A2 U+16A6 U+16A8 U+16B1 U+16B2 U+16B7 U+16B9 U+16BC U+16BE U+16C1 U+16C3 U+16C7 U+16C8 U+16C9 U+16CA U+16CF U+16D2 U+16D6 U+16D7 U+16DA U+16DC U+16DE U+16DF They are usually transliterated in this way: f u þ a r k g w ( = thorn) h n i j ï p z s (ï = i with diaeresis) t b e m l ng d o (ng = angma) In England and Friesland, seven additional runes were added from the 5th century to the 9th century. In the Scandinavian countries, the _futhark_ changed in a different way; in the 8th century, the simplified _younger futhark_ appeared. It consists of only 16 different runes, some of which are used in two different forms. The long-branch form is shown here: U+16A0 U+16A2 U+16A6 U+16AC U+16B2 U+16B4 U+16BC U+16BE U+16C1 U+16C5 U+16CB U+16CF U+16D2 U+16D8 U+16DA U+16E6 f u þ o r k h n i a s t b m l R The use of runes continued in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages. During that time, the _futhark_ was influenced by the Latin alphabet and new runes were invented so that there was full correspondence with the Latin letters. Representative Glyphs. The known inscriptions can include considerable variations of shape for a given rune, sometimes to the point where a nonspecialist will mistake the shape for a different rune. There is no dominant main form for some runes, particularly for many runes added in the Anglo-Frisian and medieval Nordic systems. When transcribing a Runic inscription into its Unicode-encoded form, one cannot rely on the idealized _reference glyph_ shape in the character chart alone. One must take into account to which of the four Runic systems an inscription belongs, and be knowledgeable about the permitted form variations within each system. The reference glyphs were chosen to provide an image that distinguishes each rune visually from all other runes in the same system. For actual use, it might be advisable to use a separate font for each Runic system. Of particular note is the fact that the glyph for U+16C4 is actually a rare form, as the more common form is already used for U+16E1. Unifications. When a rune in an earlier writing system evolved into several different runes in a later system, the unification of the earlier rune with one of the later runes is based on similarity in graphic form rather than similarity in sound value. In cases where a substantial change in the typical graphical form has occurred, though the historical continuity is undisputed, unification has not been attempted. When runes from different writing systems have the same graphic form but a different origin and denote different sounds, they have been coded as separate characters. Long-Branch and Short-Twig. Two sharply different graphic forms, the _long-branch_ and the _short-twig_ forms were used for 9 of the 16 Viking Age Nordic runes. Although only one form is generally used in a given inscription, there are runologically important exceptions. In some cases, the two forms were used to convey different meanings in later use in the medieval system. Therefore the two forms have been separated in the Unicode Standard. Staveless Runes. These are a third form of the Viking Age Nordic runes, a kind of runic shorthand. The number of known inscriptions is small and the graphic forms of many of the runes show great variability betwen inscriptions. For this reason, staveless runes have been unified with the corresponding Viking Age Nordic runes [...], specifically the short-twig characters, where both short-twig and long-branch characters exist. Punctuation Marks. The wide variety of Runic punctuation marks has been reduced to three distinct characters based on simple aspects of their graphical form, as very little is known about any difference in intended meaning between marks that look different [...]. Golden Numbers. Runes were used as symbols for Sunday letters and golden numbers on calendar staves used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages. To complete the number series 1-19, three additional calendar runes were added [...]. Encoding. [omitted] -- Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis um dies! || John Cowan <jcowan@...> Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, || Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau, || Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)