View Full Version : Runic Transliteration

Sunday, February 8th, 2009, 03:09 AM
This is a response to my own inability to find a definitive transliteration of English phonetic sounds into the Elder Futhark Rune alphabet. I’ve been looking for something like this so that I could actually start writing with Runes on a more mundane basis and, while I have found plenty of sources assigning an English letter equivalent to each of the Runes, this by no means covers all of the sounds in the English language, and it helps little in matters of consistency. My final solution to this was to do my own transliteration, and I will share that here for anyone who might be interested. Although it would be nice to see a Heathen-wide standard adopted, I don’t entertain the hopes that my transliteration will be it…until such a time as I’m pointed to a standard that has been adopted, I will use this to maintain my own personal consistency.

My approach was to first find a suitable list of English phonetic sounds and their symbols. I found such a list here. After this, I took the Runes of the Elder Futhark and used established letter assignments to place the Runes with groups of sounds. To further encourage some sense of consistency, an English dictionary should be consulted when determining the phonetic structure of a word, since we have the tendency to pronounce words differently. Since the dictionary I’m referring to here is the Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary, and since this dictionary doesn’t make use of the same phonetic symbols as my first source, I made some conversions.

Since the Runes didn’t evolve with American English, some allowances have also been made. First in the area of certain combination sounds, like the ‘sh‘ sound, I have listed a combination of Runes. These combinations do not necessarily follow the spelling of the word, but do stick with the actual sound itself. A good example of this would be with the ‘au‘ sound, as it is found in the word, house…the Rune combination I suggest for this is Ansuz-Uruz, despite the word being spelled with o-u. Despite all of these measures, there will be some situations in which consistency can’t be achieved - what comes to mind first is the word, ‘the‘. That word is not consistently pronounced, and has multiple valid phonetic entries in the dictionary (it’s pronounciation typically hinges on the word it precedes). With words like that, though, consistent representation of the sounds in the words will still allow some relative ease of understanding.

What I will list here are the symbols used by the online dictionary, an example of that sound in a common American English word, and the name of the corresponding Rune. There are 20 vowels and diphthongs, and then another 24 consonant sounds that are represented here; so please excuse the length of this post.

Vowels & Diphthongs

E (as pronounced in tree) Isa
i (as pronounced in insect) Isa
i (as pronounced in near) Isa
e (as pronounced in bet) Ehwaz
A (as pronounced in play) Ehwaz
e (as pronounced in where) Ehwaz
a (as pronounced in cat) Ansuz
(as pronounced in car) Ansuz
aw (as pronounced in saw) Ansuz
o (as pronounced in bought) Othala
O (as pronounced in know) Othala
& (as pronounced in fur) Uruz
& (as pronounced in ago) Uruz
u (as pronounced in foot) Uruz
(as pronounced in boot) Uruz
& (as pronounced in up) Uruz
yu (as pronounced in pure) Uruz
I (as pronounced in sky) Eihwaz
au (as pronounced in how) Ansuz-Uruz
oi (as pronounced in boy) Othala-Isa


b (as pronounced in boy) Berkano
ch (as pronounced in chin) Tiwaz-Sowilo-Hagalaz
d (as pronounced in dog) Dagaz
f (as pronounced in fine) Fehu
g (as pronounced in got) Gebo
h (as pronounced in how) Hagalaz
j (as pronounced in judge) Dagaz-Algiz-Hagalaz
k (as pronounced in cat) Kaunaz
l (as pronounced in leg) Laguz
m (as pronounced in much) Mannaz
n (as pronounced in now) Nauthiz
ng (as pronounced in sing) Ingwaz
p (as pronounced in play) Perthro
r (as pronounced in read) Raidho
s (as pronounced in sick) Sowilo
sh (as pronounced in shine) Sowilo-Hagalaz
t (as pronounced in tree) Tiwaz
th (as pronounced in thin) Thurisaz
TH*(as pronounced in then) Thurisaz
v (as pronounced in visit) Wunjo
w (as pronounced in wet) Wunjo
y (as pronounced in yes) Jera
z (as pronounced in zoo) Algiz
zh (as pronounced in vision) Algiz-Hagalaz

*in the Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary, this sound is represented as an underlined ‘th’, here it is represented capitalized

Source: http://heathenblog.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/runic-transliteration/ (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fheathenb log.wordpress.com%2F2006%2F12%2F30%2Frun ic-transliteration%2F)