Learn What Old Norse Sounded Like, with UC Berkeley’s “Cowboy Professor, Dr. Jackson Crawford

If you want to study anoth­er lan­guage, by all means feel free to study such wide­ly spo­ken ones as Eng­lish, Span­ish, and Chi­nese. But obscu­ri­ty, as we all learn at one point or anoth­er grow­ing up, also has an appeal, though we often need some­one cool to give us a hint as to which obscu­ri­ties to pur­sue. One “cow­boy pro­fes­sor” has, since the videos he posts to Youtube have begun to gain pop­u­lar­i­ty, emerged as the cool guy who may well turn a gen­er­a­tion of schol­ars-to-be on to the study of Old Norse. Though he holds an aca­d­e­m­ic posi­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, “Wyoming’s Dr. Jack­son Craw­ford,” as he refers to him­self, seems to spend at least part of his time in what he describes as “the Wilder­ness of the Amer­i­can West.”

He also shoots his videos out there, an appro­pri­ate­ly sub­lime back­drop for the dis­cus­sion of the mechan­ics of the Old Norse lan­guage, orig­i­nal­ly spo­ken by the Scan­di­na­vians of the 9th through the 13h cen­turies, and the myth and poet­ry com­posed in it.

Here we have three of Craw­ford’s videos meant to address ques­tions of gen­er­al curios­i­ty about Old Norse: what the lan­guage sound­ed like, and, in two parts, how best to pro­nounce the names of the var­i­ous gods, places, and oth­er ele­ments of its mythol­o­gy, from Óðinn (whom you might have seen referred to as Odin) to Val­hǫll (Val­hal­la) to Ásgarðr (Asgard).

Jack­son also gives read­ings from the 13th-cen­tu­ry Poet­ic Edda, arguably the most influ­en­tial piece of Scan­di­na­vian lit­er­a­ture ever writ­ten, and one which he recent­ly trans­lat­ed into mod­ern Eng­lish. Per­haps a sam­ple:

Þagalt ok hugalt
skyli þjóðans barn,
ok vígd­jarft vera.
Glaðr ok reifr
skyli gum­na hverr,
unz sinn bíðr bana.

A noble man should
be silent, thought­ful,
and bold in bat­tle.
But every man should also
be cheer­ful and hap­py,
till the inevitable day of death.

In addi­tion to that and oth­er impres­sive CV items, he also came up with the runes and Old Norse dia­logue for the hit Dis­ney movie Frozen — just in case you had any con­cerns as to the lan­guage’s pro­fes­sion­al prac­ti­cal­i­ty. Explore his Youtube chan­nel here.

via Digg

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Homer’s Ili­ad Read in the Orig­i­nal Ancient Greek

What Ancient Latin Sound­ed Like, And How We Know It

What Shake­speare Sound­ed Like to Shake­speare: Recon­struct­ing the Bard’s Orig­i­nal Pro­nun­ci­a­tion

Hear The Epic of Gil­gamesh Read in the Orig­i­nal Akka­di­an, the Lan­guage of Mesopotamia

Hear Beowulf Read In the Orig­i­nal Old Eng­lish: How Many Words Do You Rec­og­nize?

Learn Latin, Old Eng­lish, San­skrit, Clas­si­cal Greek & Oth­er Ancient Lan­guages in 10 Lessons

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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