Runes to text
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Runes to text
Want to translate a regular text into runes instead? Then check out the rune converter! It currently features three futharks - elder, younger, anglo-saxon and can be used to turn text into either of those
Good to know about the runesThey are phonetic
Meaning that each rune symbolizes a certain noise that you can make with your mouth - instead of having a one to one conversion between a latin letter and rune letter. For example the rune ᚦ makes a noise that is similar to the english written "th" and you can see we need two letter to express that sound. Similar differences occur even nowadays between different languages, for example the English letter A and Estonian letter A - even though they are written the same way they express a different sound. So this is something to keep in mind when using runes, they transfer better when using phonetically. The translator on here I've used the most common and agreed upon way of transfering runes to the English sounding alphabet.
The runic alphabet is called a futhark
Our current collection of letters is called an alphabet because alpha-beta are the two first letters. It's the same for runes, the first six letters are F U Th A R K. There is no agreed reason or evidence why it's so different from all the other writing systems where always an alphabet is used. The main speculated reasons are that it's an alternate greek alphabet that was written this way or that the futhark sequence we know nowadays is some magical/cryptic sequence instead of the regular ABC sequence and that for unknown reasons it became the widely used version.
Runes were used to write different languages
As you can see here - there are three different futharks, they each symbolize a different language. There are actually more futharks in the world with one of the oldest being a Portugese one, if you're interested in that look up on youtube Arith Härger as he has done an amazing job exploring that. There's also a gothic futhark and numerous others as well. With the futharks depicted on here the oldest is the Elder Futhark and that was used to write the proto-norse language. The Younger Futhark was used to write Old Norse and was the one in common use during the Viking age. The Anglo-Saxon futhark was used in England by the inhabitants of that land to write Old English.
The runes have names
At least the Anglo-Saxon and Younger Futhark ones do. We know these from old poems that were used to remember the runes - similar to some of the childrens songs you see today where they sing something along the lines of "a is for apple, b is for bee, c is for cat and d is for dog". The rune poems we know are from Icelandic, Old Norwegian and English backgrounds and you can find them on the interenet, I believe wikipedia has them all listed out as well.
The runes did have magical purposes even in the old days
Now it's some-what debated if the runes were only used to write a language or for magical purpose as well. I think it's very clear they had magical meanings to them, as you can see from for example the Kragehul spear shaft or Lindholm amulet that they feature sequences of runes that make no sense. Now unless the person was having a seizure while writing these things it's pretty clear they are some kind of chants. For example the lindholm amulet that was likely created around the years 100-400 AD reads "ᛖᚲᛖᚱᛁᛚᚨᛉᛋᚨ[ᚹ]ᛁᛚᚨᚷᚨᛉᚺᚨᛏᛖᚲᚨ᛬ | ᚨᚨᚨᚨᚨᚨᚨᚨᛉᛉᛉᚾᚾ[ᚾ]ᛒᛗᚢᛏᛏᛏ᛬ᚨᛚᚢ᛬" and as you can see features a row of ᚨ runes. We know this rune means "god" in the rune poems so it's speculated it's calling upon a certain god (Odin perhaps?) or a number of gods. It's very clear that the magical purpose of the runes is not a medieval/modern creation but was already at play back then - of course there is a lot of new age nonsense attributed to the runes as well.
Bindrunes were a thing back in the day
A lot of the runic inscriptions we find feature some kind of a bindrune. Meaning two runes are written as one. If this was done for some magical purpose or to save space is unknown - perhaps both. They do look beautiful though, some examples are: The Kragehul spearshaft (ᚷᚨ written as one rune), Kylver runestone (Stacked tiwaz runes, these could actually indicate to the 3 aetts), The rök runestone(ᛅᚦ written as one) and so on