So I Read 1500 Year Old Scandinavian Language

The oldest runestones in Sweden are written in a language that was called Old Scandinavian (or Proto Norse). In that time the language was understtod throughout Scandinavia.

Järsberg runestone, 1400 years after it was written.

I visited one of the runestones in Järsberg, Sweden, in the summer. And I encountered a verbform that is still easily read today: ᚹᚫᚱᛁᛏᚢ writu (write). So despite the almost 1500 years there is still something very common with the language.

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Runic Swedish

I visited during the summer holidays the perhaps best known runestone in Sweden. The stone is called “Rök runestone” and has both an impressive size and a lot of Runic Swedish in its inscription. Runic Swedish was the predecessor of today’s Swedish and it was spoken 1000 years ago.

Rök Runestone still standing the time in 2017

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Semitic Languages in Europe 500BC

We know that the Arabs and Jews speak Semitic languages. And the Arabic speaking tribes conquered much of the Iberian peninsula around AD700.

But there were Semitic speaking tribes in Europe much before, the Carthaginians. They establised colonies around the Mediterranean and were finally crushed by the ancient Romans much later. Anyway around 500BC the Semitic tribes — represented by the Carthaginians — had a strong presence on the shores of the Mediterranean, as shown on the map.

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The Ancient Ligurians 1000BC

The Ligurian language was spoken in pre-Roman times and into the Roman era by an ancient people known as the Ligures.
Very little is known about this language which is generally believed to have been Indo-European.

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Italic Peoples 500BC

The Italics were all the peoples who spoke an idiom belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages and had settled in the Italian peninsula.

As seen on the map, the Italic tribes and Italic languages were spoken on a very small area in the beginning. One of the languages, though, was Latin. The Roman conquests eventually spread it throughout the peninsula and beyond in the Roman Empire. The evolved dialects of Latin gave birth to the Romance languages; French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, etc. that are nowadays spoken allover the world.

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Sigynni, the Tribe I Never Knew About

The Sigynnae (Sigynni) were an obscure people of antiquity. They are variously located by ancient authors. Sigynnae — as mentioned by Herodotus — were “a people widely spread in the Danubic basin in the 5th century BC”.

The Sigynni were likely to be Iranian (Indo-Aryan) people.

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Illyrians Still on the Map

The Illyrians were a group of Indo-European tribes, who once inhabited western Balkans.

Starting from the 2nd century AD the Illyrians were gradually wiped off from the map;  and The Illyrians were mentioned for the last time in the 7th century. With the disintegration of the Roman Empire, Gothic and Hunnic tribes raided the Balkan peninsula, forcing many Illyrians to seek refuge in the highlands. With the arrival of the Slavs in the 6th century, most Illyrians were Slavicized.

Follow the link to see where the Illyrians once lived.

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The Ancient Greeks on the Map

Around 600BC Ancient Greek dialects were spoken not only in today’s Greece but also all around the shores of the Black Sea. Ancient Greek includes the forms of Greek used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BC to the 6th century AD.

The language was spoken on other locations, too. Follow the link to see where.

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  • Greek tribes on the map 600BC. Be sure to switch the map base layer to ‘political boundaries’ so that you will see the Greek areas shown in light gray.

 

Anatolian Languages 1500 BC

The most ancient Indo-European texts were written in Anatolian languages in the 18th century BC. This branch of the Indo-European family spread over the territory of modern Turkey and northern Syria.

The Anatolian languages were spoken 3½ millenia ago, and the following link show some migrations of the tribes.

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Julotta or to Awake Early in the Morning

In Swedish language there is the specific work for the Church worship held early in the Christmas day’s morning. The word is julotta.

The word julotta consists etymologically of two words:

  • jul Christmas
  • otta archaic word for the earliest time of the day, the hours before dawn that are related to activities such as work or other. More generally it refers to early morning.

So the word otta has nothing to do with number 8 ‘åtta’, but because the meaning of the word otta is not known commonly, people have thought that julotta is the Christmas Day’s worship at 8 o’clock. And yes, the word is commonly misspelled julåtta.

On the contrary the etymology of otta goes back to the ancient Sanskrit word aktú, which means darkness or ray.

And finally some Swedish speaking finns have adopted the word as a verb meaning ‘to wake up early in the Christmas day’s morning  (to clean up the living room)’.

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  • Conjugate the Swedish verb julotta.
  • Wikipedia article about julotta.
  • Swedish (Finland) definition of julotta, including the verb julotta as used in Åboland, Finland.