Old Norse For Modern Times – Review

A fun and humorous little book that is a must for fans of Norse history and myth, though might be limited in its appeal to others.

Authors – Ian Stuart Sharpe, Joshua Gillingham, Dr. Arngrímur Vídalín.

Pages – 102

Old Norse For Modern Times is another Norse Gem from Outland Entertainment, written by Ian Stuart Sharpe, Josh Gillingham and Dr. Arngrímur Vídalín.

I don’t think it will appeal to everyone, but it isn’t the sort of book that aims to do so.

It is basically a phrasebook. There are some short explanations and an introduction but there is no ending as such, with the vast majority of the book being a list of modern phrases along with the Old Norse translation.

This is done very tongue in cheek and I found it really fun – it’s not a “what time is it?” Or a “where is the railway station?” phrasebook. It’s “Hvar es Leðrblǫkumaðrinn?” (Where is the Batman?) And “#MánudagsMæða” (#MondayMotivation)!

There are some great references (Norse Mythology, popular culture of all kinds) and phrases that really made me laugh. I found myself smiling at the page all the way through the book pretty much.

I think there is potential for even greater enjoyment though for those that have a general idea how to pronounce the words, or for this to be featured on an audiobook as this would have been really cool to hear spoken.

There is an audiobook coming you can listen to a sample from here! Will definitely be picking this up.

Old Norse for the Modern Age AUDIO!

It might also in the meantime have helped to have a pronunciation guide which would prompt you to take the book at a slower pace to attempt some of the phrases more often – as it stands for casual Norse fans you’ll probably flick through it without being overly attentive to the translations for more than a glance. Because so much work has gone into finding these translations it would therefore be a shame not to either hear the words out loud or incorporate a pronunciation guide. Saying that, Josh Gillingham has a great guide at the beginning of his The Gatewatch novel – maybe in future editions he can steal this from himself to add here. Or you can go and buy it and use it for this book!

Will the book suit you?

Casual history/general readers:

Limited appeal, though you can still appreciate the humour and creativity of some of the phrases in English.

Readers with an interest in all things Old Norse:

You’ll appreciate a lot more references and maybe even pick up on some of the Old Norse. There’s a lot of content you can learn to use online in blogs and social media that would actually come in useful and impress other fans of Old Norse culture, history and mythology.

Readers who spend time with other people who have an interest in Old Norse:

This would be essential reading for you.

There are some hilarious phrases you can add into conversation and start using through habit with those around you who are all in on it, so to speak.

Ultimately if you have a passion for Norse Mythology, The Vikings, Norse culture etc. then I highly recommend buying this book. It’s a bit of fun and isn’t too taxing on the mind, and you can learn phrases you can actually use, if only for a laugh. If you do want to approach it more seriously, there is of course the opportunity to look at some of the influences on the English language that Old Norse has impacted. Have a look if you almost recognise any of the words.

Despite being a book designed to entertain, research and study has gone into making this authentic and as true to the language as possible and it’s very re-read able. I know I’ll be using this every day during Norsevember later in the year.

I also think the physical version would make a perfect gift for any Norse fan in your life. It’s that sort of nice book to show others and have on your shelf, especially as the cover design is especially cool.

Never be lost for words again…with this book of lost words. Have you ever wanted to wield the silver tongue of Loki, or to hammer home your point like a Thundergod? Old Norse is the language of legends and the stuff of sagas, the inspiration for Tolkien and Marvel, for award-winning manga and epic videogames. It is the language of cleverly crafted kennings, blood-curdling curses, and pithy retorts to Ragnarök. Old Norse for Modern Times gives you the perfect phrase for every contemporary situationfrom memorable movie quotes (“”We’re going to need a bigger boat.”” þurfa munu vér skip stærra) to battle-cries to yell on Discord (“”Do I look to be in a gaming mood?”” Sýnisk þér ek vera í skapi til leika?), from mead hall musings (“”This drink, I like it! ANOTHER!”” Líkar mér drykkr þessi! ANNAN!) to tried-and-tested pickup lines (“”Nice tattoo!”” Fagrt er húðflúrið””). With over 500 phrases inside (plus the chance to add your own!) it is the perfect guide for Vikings fans, whether they are re-enactors, role-players, or simply in love with Ragnar.


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