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All about

Viking Language

The Vikings spoke a language known as Old Norse, a North Germanic Language which was spoken in Scandinavia roughly between the seventh and the fifteenth centuries. Modern-day Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish languages evolved from Old Norse.

The Vikings passed down stories from generation to generation, known as the Viking sagas. Many sagas that were written in Old Norse have survived, generally dating to the latter stages of the Viking attacks on Western Europe in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Over the years, as the Vikings settled in other countries, different elements of Old Norse crept into the language used by the people who were already living there. Modern-day English (and other languages) have many words that have roots in Old Norse. For example, some English words for animals come from the Viking language, including a ‘reindeer’ and a ‘bull’. The word ‘window’ also comes from Old Norse, as do ‘ugly’ and ‘happy’. These are just a few examples of the vast number of words we use today that have Viking roots.

The Viking language was written using letters known as ‘runes’. Each runes was made with only straight lines, which were easier to carve into stone, bone or wood. The Vikings also used some runes as lucky symbols and believed they had magical powers.

Viking Language