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Old Norse language

Old Norse is the Germanic language once spoken by the inhabitants of the Nordic countries (for instance during the Viking Age).

Its modern descendants are the West Scandinavian languages of Icelandic, Norwegian, Faroese and the extinct Norn language of the Orkney and the Shetland Islands as well as the East Scandinavian languages of Swedish and Danish. Norwegian was later heavily influenced by East Scandinavian.

Among these, Icelandic and the closely related Faroese have changed the least from Old Norse in the last thousand years. Old Norse also had an influence on English dialects and particularly Scots which contains many Old Norse loanwords.

The earliest inscriptions are runic, from the first centuries CE, and runes continued to be used for a thousand years. The main literary texts are in the Latin alphabet, the great sagas and eddas of medieval Iceland.

See also: Old Norse orthography