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Word History: From Ancient Scandinavian Dialect to Modern-Day Languages

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

What language did the Viking speak? What is Old Norse? Old West Norse? Old Icelandic? Old Norwegian? Old East Norse? Old Danish? Old Swedish?

Old Norse is a member of the Germanic family of languages, which also includes English, German, and several other languages that are widely spoken today..

The Old Norse Language and How to Learn It

Ask veit ek standa, heitir Yggdrasill, hár baðmr, ausinn hvíta auri; þaðan koma döggvar, þærs í dala falla, stendr æ yfir grænn Urðarbrunni.

(“There stands an ash called Yggdrasil,

A mighty tree showered in white hail.

From there come the dews that fall in the valleys.

It stands evergreen above Urd’s Well.”)

Old Norse was the language spoken by the Vikings, and the language in which the Eddas, sagas, and most of the other primary sources for our current knowledge of Norse mythology were written.

Please add your thoughts about early Viking language.

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