Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

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Language Change: Asatruar, Asatruars, Asatruers

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

There are a number of words specific to modern Asatru in the English language which were based on Old Icelandic or Old Norse and which differ from Modern Icelandic. For example, in Asatru a blot is a ritual sacrifice. In Modern Icelandic, a blota is a cussword. In Asatru in the USA, a fulltrui is a patron god, and in Modern Icelandic it's the word for a customer service representative.

There are also words in use in English that were originally based on Icelandic but have undergone Anglicization.
One of those words is the word Asatruar and Asatruars. In its original language, the word Asatruar is plural. Asatru is the religion of all those Asatruars over here in this room with the mead horn. That's how we say it in English. Sometime between when modern English speaking adherents of Asatru started calling themselves Asatruar, and today, we unconsciously regularized the word to the standard English plural S as Asatruars. So instead of the word Asatruar being understood as a plural word like in Icelandic, with -ar being the plural, we treat it like words like baker, trader, farmer, maker, with the -er understood as one who does. Asatru means faith in the gods of Asgard, so in English Asatruar has started to be treated like it means one who does Asatru.

The word Asatruars looks like wrong Icelandic to actual Icelandic speakers. At this point I don't think we are going to stop saying Asatruars. So, I propose that we complete the Anglicization of this word and start writing it Asatruers, to be parallel with the way similar sounding words such as baker are written. Then instead of looking like wrong Icelandic it will simply be an English language word.

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.


  • Victoria
    Victoria Saturday, 14 August 2021

    blót/a v (acc/dat) (-aði)

    A. (acc) (dýrka goð) worship pagan gods
    B. (dat)
    1. (bölva) curse, swear
    2. (fórna) sacrifice

    full·trú/i m (-a, -ar)
    representative, delegate

    Pretty sad when Norse pagans can't grasp the very basics of the tittle of their folkway:, perhaps the onus is on their elders to educate them. Here's a discussion on pronunciation and use of Ásatrú, Ásatrúar and trúari.

    If your not sure just call yourself a Norse heathen.

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Saturday, 14 August 2021

    You do not have to speak Old Norse to be Asatru. You do not have to speak Aramaic, Ancient Greek, or Latin to be a Christian. You do not have to speak any of the many languages of India to be a Buddhist.

  • Victoria
    Victoria Sunday, 26 September 2021

    No you don't I agree but if you are going to use or post Old Norse terms use them appropriately.

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