Review of Viking Language 1 submitted to Amazon

John McWhorter uses the phrase “bristling morphology” to label languages like Old Norse. You like ending? O.N. has ’em. (BTW, ’em is the Old English form of the word ‘them’, borrowed from O.N., not a contraction).
Let me just list the features I like – I took a course in O.N. with a buddy and we still talk about what a great course it was having nothing to do with anything else we were studying. We affectionately call it our “Old Norse Course.”
Nothing is neglected. A good excursion into runes will delight some readers. Most interesting to me whose interest lies in language learning and teaching (SLA) is the approach to vocabulary: to go by word frequency in presenting it. Along with carefully crafted samples of O.N., explanations of how the poetry worked as well as an immense amount of cultural and historical background abound to give it all context. That background is filled out with good illustrations in pen and ink, photos, diagrams, maps, including those that clarify the linguistic background of O.N. in Indo-European linguistic and cultural history. And not just history but contemporary mates of O.N. in Modern Icelandic. The list goes on.
Pronunciation is presented which is necessary to appreciate the poetry and the prose because of the many epics represented in O.N. An example of cultural background is that naming practices are explained, a topic that each culture tends to treat uniquely (cf. Spanish, Russian, Korean, etc.). And for those besotted by all this, there are follow up books! Purchase with confidence.


  1. 伟思礼 says:

    My approach to teaching myself vocabulary is to mix equal parts of high-frequency words with whatever words appear in things I’m interested in. (And of course there’s a huge overlap there.)

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      An Urdu vocabulary expander is on its way and I’ll report on that one on the blog. Several people on the Urdu Listserv say it’s terrific. I made up about 3000 index cards with high frequency words. My plan is to be able to fill in every card with the appropriate word in about 9 languages. What makes it fun is that matches are often not that easy to make. Culture keeps sticking its nose in.

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