The Fuþark, Part III

The Runes present a peculiarity in the Phoenician derived alphabets. When the Greeks borrowed the alphabet, they also borrowed the names of each letter, although without any carrying over of the meaning. ‘Alpha’ meant nothing in Greek, but ‘ʾālep’ meant ‘ox’ to the Phoenicians. In the Runic tradition, however, each Rune had a name in the native language, and these names were so strongly associated with the character that a change in the quality of the representative sound in the word could change the phonetic quality of said character.

As well, the order of the Phoenician derived alphabets are generally quite stable: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Eta, etc., besides, A, B, C, D, E, etc. But the Runic order is drastically different, giving the common name for a Runic alphabet: ‘Fuþark.’ The earliest complete Fuþark dates to the 5th century A.D., and we find that all later Fuþarks follow this formula quite closely, with the most notable variation being in the order of Runes 13-14 and 23-24.

Photo: Kylverstenen 1383 by Gunnar Creutz, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Link

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