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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

November 25th, 2012

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09:21 am - Ogham and Rune Transliterations: It Seems I'm Stumped On Things
I have a project I want to work on, but I'm having difficulty with certain letters. Specifically, I want to do something with people's initials, but I can't really do that until I have all the English letters figured out.

Since Old Irish (and Ogam) just doesn't have all these letters (you know, being Q-Celtic and all, plus decidedly not Latin), I'm running into some issues with the transliterations.

Anyone with a deeper knowledge than me care to take a stab at where some English letters might fall? Here's what I've got so far:

beith - B
luis - L
fearn - F, V, W
saille - S
nuin - N
úath - H, J
duir - D
tinne - T
coll - C, K
ceirt - Q
muin - M
gort - G
gétal - NG
straif - Z
ruis - R
ailm - A
onn - O
úr - U
edad - E
idad - I

ébad - EA, (X?)
óir - OI
uillenn - UI, Y
iphin - IO (P?)
emancholl - AE (X?)

I'm pretty comfortable with H and J being together at úath, F and V being together in fearn, and C and K being together in coll. Obviously, my biggest issues are with the letters X, W, Y, and P. Here's what I've surmised about these:

  • X - Apparently, ébadis occasionally used as an "X" in inscriptions, but emancholl occasionally takes the /ch/ sound that would be associated with an X. I'm leaning toward emancholl at the moment.
  • W - I currently have W listed with F and V, but I'm not sure it belongs there. It may be better suited to the letter "B" given the change in the Germanic /w/ over time. Still, fearn as a letter name has its roots in the PIE *werna, so I've stuck it there.
  • Y - Y can end up in uillenn easiest, I think, but McManus suggested it show up instead in úath
  • P - This is perhaps the most complicated, as iphin was apparently "originally" a P-sound, pín, making it a possible candidate, but then it became a diphthong. Wikipedia also describes an ogham, peith, which is line beside the line. The question then becomes, which to use here?
I am somewhat more confident about my runic transliterations:

Fehu - F, V
Uruz - U, Y
Thurz - TH
Ansuz - A
Raido - R
Kenaz - C, K, Q
Gebo - G
Wunjo - W
Hagalaz - H
Naudiz - N
Isa - I
Jera - J
Eihwaz - EA
Pertho - P
Algiz - Z, X
Suwilo - S
Tiwaz - T
Berkano - B
Ehwaz - E
Mannaz - M
Laguz - L
Ing - NG
Dagaz - D
Odila - O

With runes, it's much clearer. V goes with F because of the /f/ sound, Y with U because of the /u/ sound common in Germanic languages with the letter, K with C for obvious reasons, X with Z because of the Americanization of X as a /z/ for things like "xylophone" and "Xander." Q was the hardest, but I followed Thorsson on that one.

Feel free to comment and correct anything I think I have right, too ;)
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: "Cattle Truckin'", -JB

(7 comments Leave a comment)


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 25th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
Germans handle the W as a V because, I think, that's what "W" means to them, phonetically. :) But V is closer to F in terms of actual usage.

Ooh, just found this in Gordon's An Introduction to Old Norse: "v in the 12th century was a voiced bilabial fricative, like german u in quelle or Spanish b in saber; during the thirteenth century v became labio-dental, like English v, the same sound as Icelandic f medial and final. Hence a word like æve was often spelled æfi. In the combination hv the sound of v was voiceless, but in the 14th century hv became kv in some dialects."

Well, that's more than either of us ever wanted to know about that, isn't it? :)

For X, I thought about doing two runes (kenaz and suwilo are Thorsson's suggestion), but that's far more complicated than I wanted to go on this. Interestingly, Gordon suggests "G" might be a good option, as it could be used as an unvoiced ch (as in "loch") at times, too.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:November 25th, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC)
I put it as Uruz because according to Elmer Antonsen's A Concise Grammar of the Older Runic Inscriptions, he places Uruz phonetically as both /u/ and /u/ (with the long bar over the top of the second "/u/", which I can't figure out how to print on-screen). In Old and Middle English, "Y" was the tranliteration for that "/y/" sound (though it devolves into /i/ in Middle English, eventually), which is where I picked this up.

The best option, but not suited to what I'm doing, is to try and do a bindrune or more than one rune for it, like Isa/Uruz, I think.

Eihwaz might be a good choice, but so is Jera, really. I think a lot of it depends on whether it's a consonant or a vowel (Eihwaz or Uruz for vowel, Jera for consonant).
[User Picture]
Date:November 25th, 2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
On further reflection, I think Eihwaz is the better place to put "Y". In answering sleepingwolf above, I found a passage in Gordon that suggests that the /i/ is more likely to be what was eventually transliterated as "y." Thanks!
[User Picture]
Date:November 26th, 2012 05:05 am (UTC)
Typically Eiwhaz is the final y sound (trul-y) and Jera is the initial y sound (Y-ear).

I've always seen stuff relating Uruz to U or V. But you have way more linguistics backing up F/V than I could ever do.
[User Picture]
Date:November 26th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've been thinking more "consonant/vowel" than "ending/beginning" for the J/Y association. I thought about putting it with J and just being done with it, but I wasn't real comfortable with that.

Linguistics: they're fun. Sorta :)
[User Picture]
Date:November 26th, 2012 02:23 pm (UTC)
I also like emancholl as X. You'll get people twitching about it either way, but I dig it.

I also think that keeping y in uillenn is easiest, only because if you line it up with uath you will confuse the hell out of the h and j association.

I usually drag p into other sounds like a B. It's a tricky one (tricky enough that people actually use peith for stuff) so maybe peith is an option as long as you're not doing any divination with it. If it's just a font, then that's fine. if you want discriminatory meaning out of peith you're pretty much diving into UPG land.
[User Picture]
Date:November 26th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm not thinking much about divination, so I'm sort of leaning toward the peith option for P. I keep thinking about Irish people calling "Patrick" "Batrick," and that just doesn't do it for me :)

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