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The Early Runic Inscriptions

Their Western Features


Irene García Losquiño

Why were runes invented? What did the Germanic peoples of southern Scandinavia speak during the first centuries CE? Can the earliest runic inscriptions be used to learn something about their dialects, and can we extract other information from their study as a corpus? The Early Runic Inscriptions: Their Western Features gives answers to these questions through an analysis of the earliest runic inscriptions found mainly in Denmark, and later in England and on the continent up to the seventh century. This analysis offers a novel tracing of the initial appearance and later establishment of West Germanic dialectal features in an area and time usually referred to as having a more Northern linguistic identity.
The earliest runic inscriptions are an invaluable source of information about the state of the Germanic dialects during the first seven centuries of our era. They also provide insights about some of the social customs of different Germanic groups during this period, such as the development of the purposes of runic writing or personal-name formation. Using a comparative and comprehensive methodology, this book combines linguistics with other disciplines to cast as much light as possible on these oftentimes single-worded inscriptions.
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Chapter 2: Runic names showcasing loss of –z


Throughout the previous chapter, I have analysed the ending -o in the earlier runic inscriptions. It has been demonstrated that this ending works in unconventional ways in the early runic inscriptions and that it has been misunderstood as a categorically feminine feature until now. In the same way in which I have attempted to present a new reading for the o-ending and an explanation for the appearance or variation in its use (WGmc innovation), this chapter will present a new reading for another nominative ending that, like -o, presents a certain amount of variation and can also be analysed as a WGmc dialectical innovation. This chapter presents the strongest evidence for the presence of WGmc traits in the language of the Oldest Runic inscriptions. In particular, the trait that I will subsequently be analysing is the loss of the masculine nominative ending -z in some of the inscriptions, mainly from a- and i-stems. The sound -z evolved differently in the later Germanic languages. The Germanic -z became -R in Old Norse, and “im Zuge der Entsonorisierung stimmhafter Auslautkonsonanten got. -s ergab”.1 However, this ending was lost in the WGmc languages. This loss is normally assumed to have started after 400AD for OE, OS and OF, whereas OHG may have received this change from contact with the former languages.2 In this chapter, I will analyse runic inscriptions from the early Danish corpus that contain a loss of this ending. Theories to explain this absence will be revised, and...

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