Old Norse for Modern Times is a partly humorous guide to the Old Norse language, containing translations of modern English phrases into mostly literal Norse equivalents. The book is designed for a light-hearted study aide, a tool for role-players and recreationists, and the perfect birthday present for Vikings fans. For as long as I can remember, I’ve though this book would be a good idea. Not exactly necessary, mind you – but amusing.
It was inspired by Latin for All Occasions (Lingua Latina Occasionibus Omnibus), a 1990 book by Henry Beard, who translated expressions like “Get your ducks in a row” to Anates tuas in acie instrue. As Beard notes, the significance of having ducks lined up would be lost on an ancient Roman (or indeed to a non-American), which is what makes it even more hilarious.
Beard’s book has two limitations. Firstly, what have the Romans ever done for us? And secondly, an awful lot has changed since the 90s. The world is unrecognizable to me in 30 short years, let alone someone from our far flung past. I think, at root, Old Norse for Modern Times is an attempt to make sense of it all, through the unique perspective of a Norseman. A group of warriors, merchants and sailors who uncovered all manner of strange and exciting new things as they explored the world. A culture that praised poets and worshiped wordplay. A civilization that has already given us hundreds of words and place names still in common use. Who better to tell us that Thor must be mightily pissed off (Þórr mun reiður vera), or that Winter is coming (Vetr kømr)?
Check out the Preview Page on Kickstarter here, and make sure to register your interest!