24 January 2010
a report from Iceland in today's Observer: that newspaper has discovered Icelandic orthography. Accented and umlauted vowels appear in both the paper and online versions of the article and there are even two instances of 'ð'. One of the people interviewed is a Herdís Ólöf Kjartansdóttir - all her vowels are intact. Needless to say, not all of the vowels that should have been accented are, and they persist in calling an interviewed professor 'Guðmundsson' as if it were a surname. But it's not a bad effort, is it the first time? It's certainly the first time I've noticed a British newspaper using 'ð's though they have essayed the odd accented vowel before, but if anyone has noticed differently, do let me know. Once the newspapers do it properly, I'll get my students on board as well. Though I have to say that, in recent years, technology has noticeably improved the appearance, orthography-wise, of student essays on Old Norse and Icelandic topics.
21 January 2010
The Vikings. Now, over half a century later, we hear that another blue-eyed superstar wants to make a film that is 'more historically accurate' than the Kirk Douglas effort. Huh! We'll see what Mel Gibson can do. He claims (in this article in the Daily Mail) that he once studied Old Norse (at the age of 16...) and that the characters in the film will be speaking in English and Old Norse (though his idea of the latter seems to be 'low guttural German'). Oh, and lots of violence and brutality are promised. No cuddly Vikings here, then.
15 January 2010
I bet you never knew that Shakespeare spent some of his youth in Stornoway... Neither did I, to tell the truth, but maybe I should take his collected works with me when I go there in May, to see if they resonate with the landscape. And I shall look out for more fragments of his juvenilia there, like his play MacLeod, recently discovered in a fish-box. The play provides a Lewis-eye view of the arrival of the Vikings, as seen by Murdo the hermit. As one would expect from juvenilia, the verse is a bit rocky, though it sometimes rattles along nicely, as in this scene in which Murdo tells Lord Stornoway and his factor what he has seen:
My Lord I must impart to you grave tidings of lament
Don’t tell me that once again you’re behind with the rent?
No my Lord its worse than that. I’ve seen the dragon prow!
You mean to say…?
In a roundabout way….
That the Norse are coming now!
I spotted sails last evens’ time, approaching like a sea beast, a longship with a dragons head and eighty oars at least.
What was their destination, could you perceive their plot?
I didn’t feel to tarry, so fast away I got!
They could be in this bay by now in full view of this Castle
This pile is falling ’round our ears, they’ll capture it no hassle.