Alright, so. Say I want to study the migration and low medieval periods. Specifically the history of what is now Germany, Scandinavia and Post-Roman Britain.
How do I learn old norse or perhaps old Frankonian?
Easy Mode: Frisian.
You go to school, and take those trips with you.
What school? Promise not to dox you.
I live near UCLA and want to take their Sumerian courses as an extension student. I just checked their Indo-European program page and they offer Old Saxon and Old-Icelandic.
Well, you have old east norse too, which is the ancestor to danish and swedish. You also have greenland norse, but there's such a little corpus of text for it that there's no point in bothering.
Most old east norse is attested in runestone carvings IIRC, so there's not much there either.
Your primary textual corpus for old west norse is icelandic sagas, the eddas, shit like gragas (a legal text), landnamabok, etc etc...shit you would find on some asatruarfag's reading list.
Older than that, you start getting into proto-norse, which is attested on the odd runestone or so, but why even bother at that point.
>Or would I be better off just learning Latin.
In general? Probably. If you're interested in reading medieval writing in general, it would be wise to learn ecclesiastical latin, and depending on how balls deep you're getting with manuscripts, you may want to brush up on medieval scribal abbreviations, and familiarize yourself with some of the weirder letter forms that occur in textualis and carolingian scripts.
How mutually intelligible is Old Norse. Is it like with English Being the Bukkake Queen of the west germanic languages or is it like Danish, Swedish and Norwegian where if you get one, you basically get the other for free?
between dialects, or with west norse vis a vis modern icelandic?
East and West norse are about as different as modern swedish and nynorsk. However, the text corpus of the former is so small that if you know the latter + how to read runes, you can pretty much read it.
Modern Icelandic and Old West Norse are about as mutually intelligible as modern english and wycliffe's english.
So there's some work to be done, regardless. I understand.
If that's the case, it would probably be best to start with old west norse if the written form is mutually intelligible.
>In general? Probably. If you're interested in reading medieval writing in general, it would be wise to learn ecclesiastical latin, and depending on how balls deep you're getting with manuscripts, you may want to brush up on medieval scribal abbreviations, and familiarize yourself with some of the weirder letter forms that occur in textualis and carolingian scripts.
Got it. The joys of being an aspiring medievalist: You're not catholic but you might as well be.
>it would probably be best to start with old west norse if the written form is mutually intelligible
It would be best to start with it because there's actually a decent amount of shit to be read in it compared to east norse, which is basically a few rock carvings.
>You're not catholic but you might as well be.
Well, when the only niggas around who can read or write are monks...
>You're not catholic but you might as well be.
Also, bear strongly in mind that the medieval church is (to the chagrin of catholics today) a very different beast than the modern religion.
If you went into a catholic church today behaving as a pre-vatican I&II, pre-tridentine parishoner, you would probably not be assumed to be catholic at all due to how wildly variant your customs would be.
Basically, you wouldn't be able to learn modern catholicism by studying anything from before the council of trent.
>tfw you taught yourself elder futhark when you were a third-grader with no fucking friends
>tfw it later came in handy and helped you lose your virginity
And now I shitpost on /his/ and shill for runic alphabets. Funny where life can take you.
>tfw learn anglo saxon runes in highschool
>tfw used to record drug sales and chemical information in it to keep records useless to most low-authorities in highschool
>tfw you feel like a goddamn medieval alchemist keeping your patent medicine trade secrets safe from the spies of arabs and the local prince-bishop
>have no fucking friends
>join Boy Scouts with the other class autist
>day-trip to the big county museum
>HOLY FUCKING SHITSNACKS, ITS THE VIKINGS EXHIBIT
>get to make rubbings of runestones
>later, get a sheet with letter-translation
Being a friendless nerd, I thought being able to write "viking letters" was neat as shit. Fast forward...
>walking to work
>run into an acquaintance
>qt as fuck, had long-term bf
>walk over and say hi
>realize she's writing notes in runic
>remember enough futhark to realize its a break-up letter
Turns out, she also taught herself Elder as a kid, mostly to trade notes with her girlfriends. They all forgot, but this girl kept writing her personal diary in runic out of habit. After the shock of realizing I could read it wore off, we started talking about her relationship problems. I became her emotional tampon, but beat the odds a few months later. We dated for a bit of time, but it didn't work out turns out, teaching yourself runic at a young age correlates with having emotional issues that make you a terrible bf/gf.
Hah! Not bad.
I went on to use runic in my philosophy courses. There was a joker who would copy try to copy our work during symbolic logic, and he eventually took to sitting next to me. I started doing everything (mostly notes, some in-class work) in runic symbols and the habit stuck.
Because it's relevant to the emphasis I'd like to pursue but it's not widely taught because American Medieval history is all England, All France, All HRE, ALL THE TIME.
While I don't deny that those things are insanely relevant, my interests lie a bit further north and back in time.
>further back in time
until the Christian era, the majority of Scandinavian "literature" was epiteth writing on stones and household articles.
for example, the grand epic of the vimose comb, the earliest attestation of Germanic writing, saying simply "hair" (harja).
secondhand and post christian works are what you'll end up reading if you're interested in north Germanic history.
here's some things you can read:
saxo's gesta danorum (12th c., Latin, "deeds of the danes")
landnamabok (12th c, at latest. old west Norse. "land naming book" -- describes the settlement of Iceland)
snorri's heimskringla (13th c, old west Norse, "world circle" -- a book of sagas about Norwegian kings).
before this 12th-13th century time period, you're reading either Carolingian, English or Roman works about their encounters with northerners.