Old Norse for Beginners - Lesson Nine
- Genitive Case: Partition
- Dative Case: Instrumental
- Verbs with Dative and Genitive
- Strong Masculine Declensions
- Infinitive Clauses
- Clauses of Purpose, Sequences
- Translate the phrases into English
- Translate the phrases into Old Norse
- Translate the text into English
- Translate the text into Old Norse
1.1 Genitive Case: Partition
There are some more uses to the genitive case than possession, presented last lesson. This can be seen through observation of the English genitive; in English, this case is marked by 's, for possession exclusively, but more commonly by the preposition 'of'. Examples:
|'Norway's king is called Olaf.''The King of Norway is called Olaf.'|
|'Peter's car is blue.''The car of Peter is blue.'|
Using the 's is normal for possession, except in the case of titles, like 'The King of Norway.' But there are other types of genitive, or at least other cases where the 'of' preposition is used abstractively:
'Three of us came over.' 'He saw all of them.'
This is called 'partitive genitive'. There we're using the genitive to mark the whole whence an amount derives; 'hundreds of men.' - from an undefined mass called 'men', 'hundreds' are selected. The genitive would seem logical, as the extracted amount belongs to the original whole.
Luckily, Old Norse uses the genitive in the exact same way. Except, of course, its genitive is marked exclusively through inflection and not by the help of prepositions. So, first an example of the possessive usage we already know:
Bátr Óláfs er langr.
Then, an example of the partitive genitive:
Sumir vár vilja eigi vera í Úlfarsheimi. 'Some of us don't want to be in Úlfarsheimr.'
Note, by the way, that the verb conjugates in the third person in this example. Though it may seem to be a semantic first person, the verb refers to 'sumir', which is a third group. Remember that verbs always agree to the subject in the sentence, and the subject is always in nominative (like 'sumir', but unlike 'vár').
1.2 Dative Case: Instrumental
As detailed in lesson 5, section 1.1, the dative case in ON originates from a fusion of many different case forms. But the various functions of those originally different cases still remain in the dative case. One of those functions is called "instrumental", and marks the object with which the verb is executed. Examples:
"He slays the dragon with the mighty sword." "He comes to England by ship."
"It's a Trial by Fire."
In those sentences, "sword", "ship" and "fire" serve instrumental functions, and are marked in English by the instrumental case prepositions "with" and "by".
In ON, we have until now relied on the preposition "með" + dat, which marks instruments, among other things. But ON can also omit any preposition, relying on the naked dative form to identify the instrumental function. Example:
"Þórr vegr jötuninn hamri." Thor slays the giant with a hammer.
This function of the dative is not very common, especially not in prose.
1.3 Verbs with Dative and Genitive
So far, we have used only verbs followed by a direct object marked with accusative. However, to complicate matters, the 'patients' of many ON verbs are not marked with accusative, but rather with dative or even genitive (rare), as illogical as it may seem:
|"Ek kasta steini." 'I throw a stone.' (dative)|
|"Þeir moeta hánum." 'They meet him.' (dative)|
|"Hon saknar hans." 'She misses him.' (genitive)|
The explanation to this phenomenon probably lies in the etymology of the individual verbs; a verb's original meaning may have logically called for such case marking, but then changed meaning while retaining the case use. The compulsory dative marking would in a great many cases stem from instrumental dative usage (see 1.2 above) which has "frozen" (become mandatory). At the same time, other verbs of similar meaning may then have changed to model themselves to the anomalous verb, so that all verbs of a similar "theme" meaning will govern the same case; e.g. all verbs that describe "projectile" meanings (like "kasta" above) tend to govern dative.
In any case, by the time of Old Norse it is no longer practical to consider such (perhaps obscure) historical details; it is most practical to say that the grammatic case governed by an ON verb is one of its inherent variables, to be learnt as soon as one learns the verb itself.
Thus, from now on, verbs will be specifically identified with the case they govern:
|vega, veg + acc slay kasta, kasta + dat throw|
|sakna, sakna + gen miss, feel the loss of|
Most verbs learnt so far govern accusative; the only exception is:
sigla, sigli + dat sail
It may be of help to some students, however, to try to assign some minimal logic to some of the abnormal case use, perhaps especially with verbs that govern the genitive case. For example, with the example above of the verb 'sakna', one may assume something like this as an explanation:
"Hon saknar hans." "She misses his [presence]."
But this is only recommended as a mnemonic, for those whom it helps.
1.4 Strong Masculine Declensions
The strong masculine is certainly the most varied declension.
Some strong masculines end in -ir in the nominative. They decline quite easily:
The dative cannot be 'hilmii', as 'ii' is not possible in ON.
A very large group of nouns within the declension are declined like this:
Strong masculines of this type are called 'i-stems'; the ones we know so far are called 'a-stems'. To summarize, i-stem declension is different in the following ways:
- a) gen sg -ar, not -s
- b) nom pl -ir, not -ar
- c) acc pl -i, not -a
- d) dat sg -Ø, not -i ('Ø' is commonly used to symbolize "no ending")
A few strong masculines' declension is a mix between i-stem and a-stem declension:
That is, i-stem gen sg -ar, but otherwise just like other a-stems. The only such words we have encountered so far are 'skógr' and 'matr'.
Some i-stem nouns have -s in the sg gen.
So, as you'll be thinking by now, how do we keep track of all this? We intend to do so by using a new way to introduce future vocabulary from the strong masculine declension:
|hestr, hests, hestar||horse|
|vinr, vinar, vinir||friend|
|skógr, skógar, skógar||forest|
|hilmir, hilmis, hilmar||king|
|áss, áss, æsir||god|
These three case forms are what characterize and identify the different declensions, nom sg (as before), gen sg, and nom pl. From now on, make sure you learn to which declension each strong masculine noun belongs, before you continue.
Names will also be presented this way, though not with the plural form, e.g.:
1.5 Infinitive Clauses
With verbs like 'claim' or 'believe', English can have full clauses following with all its main verbs in infinitive. In those clauses, the infinitive is always marked with 'to':
|I believe him to be passed away.|
|I claim her to be may legal heir.|
|I believe it to have happened already.|
In ON, such infinitive clauses are even more prolific. The difference to English is that the infinitive marker (at) is never used, and the verb infinitive tends to be idiomatically placed last in the sentence. As in the English example sentences above, the subject of the infinitive clause is not in nominative, but rather in accusative:
|"Ek tel hann góðan mann vera." I believe him to be a good man.|
|"Ek segi þik illan konung vera." I claim you to be an evil king.|
In lesson 3, section 1.2, infinitive clauses with sense words like 'see' and 'hear' were taught. They are analogous to the clauses presented above:
|"Vér sjám þá ganga um skóginn." We see them walking around the forest.|
|"Þeir heyra konunginn mæla." They hear the king speak.|
And as mentioned there, clauses with the word 'vita' (to know):
|"Ask veit ek standa." An ash I know standing.|
1.6 Clauses of Purpose, Sequences
Some subordinate clauses express purpose:
|"They go to find the wood." ("they go - [in order] to find the wood")|
In ON, such clauses are connected to the main clause by "til at":
|"Þeir fara til at finna viðinn."|
Alternatively, one might say:
|"Þeir fara at finna viðinn."|
This merely indicates a sequence of events, though purpose is strongly suggested. This omission of "til" is quite common.
|vinr, vinar, vinir||friend|
|áss, áss, æsir||ace, god, one of the Æsir|
|askr, asks, askar||ash tree; small wooden pot|
|sveinn, sveins, sveinar||young man|
|peningr, penings, peningar||money|
|máttr, máttar, mættir||power|
|kaupmaðr, -manns, -menn||merchant|
|dómr, dóms, dómar||judgement, -hood ("state of being" suffix)|
|þrældómr, -dóms, -dómar||slavery|
|Mjölnir, Mjölnis||Mjolner, Thor's hammer|
|Askr Yggdrasils||The Ash of Yggdrasil, the World Tree|
|Útgarðr||Outgard, alternate name for Gianthome|
|Surtr||Surt, the Fire Giant|
|Múspellsheimr|| Muspellsheim, the World of Fire Giants|
|Ása-Þór||"Thor of [the] Æsir", alternate name for Thor|
Demonstrative pronoun, masculine:
|sá||that, the one that|
Example of the demonstrative "that" function:
|"Hvat heitir sá maðr, er stendr hjá jarli?" "What is that man called, who stands by the earl?"|
This also serves as a relative pronoun, "the one that"; for example
|"Sá er fiska veiðir..." The one who catches fish...|
Note how the plural simply uses the masc 3p pl personal pronoun.
|alvitr|| omniscient, all-knowing|
|smíða, smíð ||craft, make|
|trúa, trúi + dat || believe; believe in, have faith in|
|leita, leita + gen||search; search for|
|kaupa, kaupi|| buy|
|halda, held + dat||hold, keep|
|velja, vel|| choose|
|gjalda, geld + dat||pay|
|sigla, sigli + dat||sail|
|rísa, rís || rise|
|lækna, lækna|| heal|
And one present-preterite verb:
It should be mentioned now that the character 'z' represents a combination of 't','d' or 'ð' + 's', just as 'x' is a combination of 'k' and 's'. This makes the form 'veizt' more understandable, as it essentially the stem 'veit' + the ending '-st'; 'veitst' > 'veizt'. The 'z' was originally pronounced 'ts', but tended to simplify to 's' in later ON and its descendant languages.
|til||more, yet more|
|undir + dat||under|
|meðal + gen||among(st)|
|frá + dat||from|
3.1 Translate the phrases into English
- "Sumir yðvar fara aldregi heim til Noregs."
- "Veizt þú eigi, hvárt menninir skulu sigla brott?"
- "Eigi veit ek, hverir mannanna skulu sigla."
- "Kristr heitir drottinn sá, er verndar oss."
- "Ek veit annan, er verndar oss hamri gegn illum jötnum."
- "Hvárt mun sá Þórr heita, ok hamarrinn Mjölnir?"
- "Eigi hefir sá Kristr slíkan hamar er Mjölnir er."
- "Kristr hefir eigi hamra eða branda, því at hann er góðr ok vegr eigi menn né jötna."
3.2 Translate the phrases into Old Norse
- There are many villains among Olaf's friends.
- "That viking is such a villain, that he never spares good men."
- "Thor's might is in the hammer."
- "Do you know, slave, whence they come, who they are, and what they call themselves?"
- "They come from Westway, and are Irish men. They call themselves free."
- "No good men come from there. Take the sword and bring them to me."
- "Some of you are thieves, who take horses. Who are they?"
- "Those who know, shall bring me the thieves."
- "The thieves must give in. If they do not do so, I will kill you all."
3.3 Translate the text into English
Oddr segir við Ragnar jarl, "Seg mér, jarl, af heiminum,
af jötnum ok ásum." Ragnarr svarar, "Þat skal ek, Oddr."
"Í heimi stendr askr stórr er vér köllum Ask Yggdrasils.
Við askinn eru heimar þeir er heita Miðgarðr, þar er vér búm;
Útgarðr, þar er jötnar búa, en hann heitir ok Jötunheimr;
ok Ásgarðr, þar er æsir búa. Undir askinum búa dvergar, er
smíða bauga ok branda."
"Drottin ása köllum vér Óðin, ok er hann áss mjök spakr.
Hann hefir hrafna, er heita Huginn ok Muninn, ok fljúga þeir
hrafnar um heimana. Þat, er hrafnarnir sjá, sér ok Óðinn.
Því er Óðinn áss alvitr. Í Ásgarði býr ok áss sá er Þórr heitir.
Þórr hefir hamarinn Mjölni ok flýgr hann oft til Jötunheims ok
vegr með hánum jötna. Margir æsir búa í Ásgarði, ok vernda þeir
allir mennina ok heiminn, gegn illum jötnum."
"Surt veit ek búa í Múspellsheimi. Sá er stórr ok illr jötunn
elds. Í heimi þeim brenna heitir eldar ok mun Surtr leiða þaðan jötna
gegn ásum. Hann mun vega æsi eldi ok brandi þeim, er hann hefir.
Illr er mjök jötunn sá."
"Í Miðgarði búm vér menninir. Um Miðgarð allan veit ek orm hringa sik,
er vér köllum Miðgarðsorm. Ormr sá er illr. Ása-Þór vill veiða þann orm ok
vega hann hamrinum."
Oddr mælir nú, "Kenni ek nú marga æsi. En sumir segja mér af öðrum,
er þeir nefna Krist. Hvárt er sá meðal ása?" Ragnarr svarar, "Sá er eigi
áss, heldr maðr. Menn segja hann lækna sjúka ok blinda, rísa aftr dauðr,
ok koma af himnum. Margir norroenna manna trúa nú hánum, en sjálfr veit ek eigi mátt Krists."
Fara nú Ragnarr ok víkingarnir at leita sér þræla meðal írskra manna.
Þeir kaupa þar í Vestrvegi marga unga sveina af norroenum kaupmönnum, er halda
sveinunum þrældómi. Kaupmaðr segir, "Sveinarnir eru sterkir mjök, ok sá kaupir
vel er þá velr. Tak þú, jarl, þá sveina er þar standa, þá gef ek þér annan til."
Ragnarr telr kaupmanninn bjóða sér vel, ok geldr hánum peningum. Býðr hann svá
þrælunum at ganga í bátana, ok siglir brott.
Er Svartr ok Kormákr foera viðinn heim til jarls, spyrr Svartr Kormák, "Hvárt
eru allir írskir menn þrælar, sem þú ert, Kormákr?" Kormákr svarar, "Eigi erum vér
allir þrælar en mörgum vár halda norroenir menn í þrældómi."
3.4 Translate the text into Old Norse
Many (of) Nordic men believe in (the) Æsir, but not all of them.
Some believe in Christ, Lord of Heaven. Irish men do not believe in
the Æsir, but rather in Lord Christ.
The King of Norway commands all Norwegian men to call himself King.
He also commands them not to have faith in the Æsir, but rather in Christ.
Others, such as (the) earls of Norway, say that Thor will slay Christ
himself ("segja Þór munu vega sjálfan Krist..."), with his hammer, Mjolner.
Many of (the) Norwegians believe the earls.