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The Old English Name of the S-Rune and “Sun” in Germanic

  • Douglas P. A. Simms (a1)

The name of the Old English s-rune, sigil, as found in various medieval manuscripts, is puzzling, as it is the only Anglo-Saxon rune name that is etymologically a loan word. This article examines the variant spelling found only in MS Codex Vindobonensis 795, arguing that the spelling with is a scribal interpolation. In addressing how an Old High German-speaking scribe might have come to make such an interpolation it is argued that the word sugil found in Continental runica abecedaria ought to be considered an Old High German lexeme relevant to this discussion. A novel etymology for words for ‘sun’ in Germanic is presented, particularly for forms derived from the l-stem variants of the Proto-Indo-European heteroclite.

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Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL 62026, USA []
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Wilhelm Braune . 2004. Althochdeutsche Grammatik I: Laut- und Formenlehre . 15th edn., revised by Ingo Reiffenstein . Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.

Karl Brunner . 1965. Altenglische Grammatik. Nach der angelsächsischen Grammtik von Eduard Sievers. 3rd revised edn. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.

David Fertig . 1996. Phonology, orthography and the umlaut puzzle. Germanic linguistics: Syntactic and diachronic, ed. by Rosina L. Lippi-Green & Joseph C. Salmons , 169184. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Adolf Gütter . 2011. Frühe Belege für den Umlaut von ahd. /u/ /ō/ und /ū/. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Deutschen Sprache und Literatur 133.113.

Hermann Paul . 1882. Beiträge zur geschichte der lautentwicklung und formenassociation von demselben. 9. Nochmal gotisch au vor vocalen. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Deutschen Sprache und Literatur 8.210221.

John R. R. Tolkien 1932. Sigelwara Land. Medium Ævum 1. 183–96.

John R. R. Tolkien 1934. Sigelwara Land. Medium Ævum 3.95111.

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Journal of Germanic Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1470-5427
  • EISSN: 1475-3014
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-germanic-linguistics
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