My short bio: I have a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies (specializing in medieval Scandinavia) from the University of Wisconsin and I taught Old Norse, Vikings, Norse myth, etc. at UCLA from 2011-14. I recently published the first translation of the Poetic Edda (the main source of Norse mythology) that is intended for a general readership.

My Proof: Compare the author photo on the book's Amazon page ( to the photo here (

Edit 4/13: I am very grateful for the interest but time constraints are going to force me to have to close this AMA. Thank you everyone!

Comments: 1111 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

inverted_visions272 karma

Have you seen History channels "Vikings"? If so, what do you think about the direction they've taken the show? Would you like to see more or less symbolism?

JacksonCrawford219 karma

I've never seen the show. Odd as that is, perhaps.

Subject1337246 karma

I think most people know the more popular facets of norse mythology (Thor, Loki, Odin, etc.) but what are some of the cooler stories that most of us haven't heard before? Who is your favorite "b-list" god?

JacksonCrawford432 karma

I think the worst-overlooked part of the Edda would have to be the Helgi poems, about the human heroes Helgi Hjorvarthsson and Helgi Sigmundsson. They are really weird and archaic stories featuring Valkyries, tense swordfights, trolls, and even an intervention by Odin. I think the main reason they've been overlooked is the difficulty of translating them.

As to the gods themselves, my favorite "b-lister" is probably Bragi, because I dig skaldic poetry.

Linearts7 karma

What's skaldic poetry?

JacksonCrawford6 karma

It's a more complicated style of Old Norse poetry than the Eddic style, used mostly in praise poetry.

TheNordguy3 karma

Isn't it "Brage"? At least that's what he's called in Norway.

JacksonCrawford9 karma

In Norwegian and Swedish most unstressed <i>'s in Old Norse become <e> so Brage is just the expected modern form of his name in those languages.

MrsTiggyWiggy206 karma

Which is closer to old Norse: Faroese or Icelandic?

JacksonCrawford340 karma

My knee-jerk answer is that there isn't really a "closer" in the sense that both have been changing for the same amount of time. But the grammar of Modern Icelandic is less changed than that of Modern Faroese, in most respects.

Solmundarson26 karma

But still i never speak english to my faroese friends! Haha

orscentedcandles21 karma

i can speak Icelandic with foroese people, it's very similar

doodeman13 karma

I was at a festival in Germany last year, and me and a friend (Icelandic) were rambling around, when we saw a Faroese flag over one of the camps.

We decided that we would absolutely refuse to speak any English, and only use Icelandic with them. At first it was a bit awkward, but once we got used to their pronunciation, we had very few problems.

We did have some amusing incidents though, such as the word "sniðugur"; In Icelandic, it means clever or witty, in a positive way. That word also exists in Faroese, and also means clever or witty, but in a derogatory manner; So more like devious. I told one of the Faroese, "Þú ert sniðugur" (you are sniðugur), and his face dropped, and he was clearly insulted.

I think it's very interesting how words in different languages can essentially retain their meaning but develop entirely new subtexts.

vsync19 karma

Wow! "You are" in Icelandic is effectively "thou art"?

JacksonCrawford12 karma

Yeah, English and the Scandinavian languages are very close.

kristoferen168 karma

Thanks for doing an IAmA!

Would you please tell us a bit about how your version of the Poetic Edda differs from previous ones (such as Hollander's)? Does "General Readership" mean that the book is presented in an easier to follow form, or is it that the language you use is more modern and relatable?

Second question, and I can understand if you don't want to answer this: The hardcover version is more than three times as expensive as the paperback. While I'm sure the quality of materials makes it more expensive, I also imagine there is more of a profit margin on the hardcover version. Would you prefer people purchase the hardcover version because you make more off it, or is the extra money go purely to the publisher & materials?

JacksonCrawford230 karma

Hollander's is probably the translation most different from my own, since his language is so Shakespearean and the meter is more like that of the original. But all the translations that I had read in English by ~2012 when I was first teaching the Eddas at UCLA weren't really usable in a normal undergraduate classroom, mostly because they would do awkward things with word order (sometimes trying to fit the meter of the original) or use archaic vocabulary or lots of endnotes. So students were distracted by having to use a glossary to read the translation, and they missed the contents of the poem.

So "General Readership" means both: I try to make the poems easy to follow in English, and the language is contemporary.

As to your second question, you'd have to ask my publisher about the pricing.

bi-furious112 karma

Hello Dr. Crawford! I preordered your translation as soon as it came up on your blog. I haven't got all the way through it, but so far I think you definitely accomplished your goal of creating a straight forwarded version of the Eddas for English speakers. I've seen lots of people who have trouble grasping the other translations, so you really did a service to this community!

I know your focus is on Scandinavia, but I'm also interested in the continental variations of the pre-Christian Germanic religion and culture - particularly around Germany. Do you have any insight on sources or scholars who study that area? I'm already making my way through Grimm's Teutonic Mythology.

Also, what was the process of translation like for you, since you decided to approach it so differently than previous translators? What kind of unexpected problems came up for you?

Thanks for dropping by to chat with us!

JacksonCrawford115 karma

Non-Scandinavian (but Germanic) pre-Christian myth is in a tough place because we don't have the same kind of primary sources as we do in Scandinavia. For Germany we have the Merseburg charms (which are really remarkable) and for England we have some poems that reflect the pre-Christian heroic tradition (e.g. Beowulf, and sort of Guthlac) but that's about it aside from hissed hints in the sermons of early missionaries about the idols one must not be tempted to worship.

Off the top of my head I can't think of too many people who have made a special study of the non-Scandinavian evidence for Germanic myth recently. Tom Dubois at Wisconsin or Rudy Simek would probably have some insight on that though.

My translation process was pretty straightforward. I sat down with the text in the original, often with reproductions of the manuscript itself where these were clear enough to read. Stanza by stanza, I would write out what I thought was an acceptable English equivalent of what it said and then turn that into rhythmic English free verse. At the end I'd read over the whole thing and make sure it flowed, and I'd often compare another (non-English) translation or two to see if there were surprising differences in how someone else had interpreted the same text.

Unexpected problems: There were some really hard stanzas, and since I had sworn off footnotes/endnotes these could hang me up for a long time while I sought some clarity in what the stanza was saying. Havamal, Hymiskvitha, Atlakvitha, and Hamthismal come to mind as poems that often gave me trouble with particular stanzas. But also the word "argr" (and its relatives) was troublesome to translate--since it's an insult for men who show non-masculine traits, and those words tend to be both really sensitive and to change swiftly in popular culture. I ended up going with "sissy" but there can't really be a perfectly apposite translation for a term like that.

EasonG91 karma

For somebody who has no experience with Scandinavian languages, but is interested in Old Norse (particularly the runic writing system), is there a good entry point that you would recommend?

JacksonCrawford208 karma

I recommend the "New Introduction to Old Norse" that is available for free as a set of 4 .pdfs from the Viking Society for Northern Research at

alwaysnefarious75 karma

Do we have any educated guesses as to how old the Norse Myths are compared to the beginning of the Viking Age?

JacksonCrawford94 karma

Looking at Tacitus, they were probably pretty different in some unexpected ways. For instance, Tacitus mentions a goddess Nerthus whose name is cognate with that of the male Norse god Njorth, and we don't really understand what's going on there. And there are hints from literature and linguistics alike that some gods like Ull and Tyr were formerly more important.

Windy_Sails35 karma

Is Njorth the same entity as the Vanir sea god Njordr? Sometimes its hard to tell whether there are as many gods as there are translations what with such similar names as Frey, Frejya, and Frigg. It seems each edition transcribes the deities names a little differently.

JacksonCrawford79 karma

The Old Norse word is Njǫrðr. The letter ð is sometimes represented in English as d, sometimes as th. And the -r at the end (which is a case ending, like I vs. me or they vs. them) is sometimes left out and sometimes not. So Njorthr = Njorth = Njordr = Njord.

Magni_Thorsson70 karma

Do you think Snorri's transcriptions of the Eddas were influenced by his Christianity? Did he change the myth at all to push Loki into more of a devilish role to better match the Christian mythology?

JacksonCrawford102 karma

I've wondered about that. In some ways Snorri is a remarkably tolerant medieval Christian--if you look at the introduction to the Prose Edda, he says his pagan ancestors were misinformed, not evil, after all. But I suspect he did suffer a little bit from the general medieval temptation to read a Christian (or Classical) paradigm into everything.

cowsinspace59 karma

what is the best way to get the layman into mythology?

JacksonCrawford130 karma

Mythology in general or Norse mythology specifically?

For mythology in general, I do like Edith Hamilton's classic book "Mythology" though it's pretty old-fashioned and focuses mostly on Greek. Joseph Campbell's books might be another good starting place.

For Norse myth, I would suggest the two most significant primary sources, the Poetic Edda (which I've just translated) and the Prose Edda (there is a very good translation by Faulkes).

postfish26 karma

Do you plan on tackling the prose?

JacksonCrawford20 karma

I don't think there's as much need to do so, since Faulkes' translation is very good and readable. But maybe, at some point down the road.

Voreshem54 karma

Were you torn over whether or not to anglicize names?

JacksonCrawford98 karma

Sort of. I did use "th" to represent the letter "edh" <ð> most of the time--so I write e.g. "Njorth" rather than "Njord"--but relented when a name was so well-established in popular culture in English that I thought it would cause confusion (so I write "Odin" and "Midgard" not "Othin" and "Mithgarth"). I didn't think this was really more inappropriate than writing e.g. "Valkyrie" rather than "Valkyrja"--some characters and creatures just have their own English names now.

A_Privateer42 karma

Wait...have I been mispronouncing the Norse gods' names my whole life?

Nirilia44 karma

Probably, most English speakers can't pronounce it like we do in Scandinavia. :-)

Odin, Hel, Thor, Loke, Hunin, Munin, Sleipner..

I don't know when Loke got translated to Loki (as they call him in the marvel movies) but that's the most common mispronounced name if that counts. :-)

JacksonCrawford22 karma

Loke is the modern form of his name in Scandinavia, Loki is the Old Norse form (unstressed <i> becomes <e> in Modern Scandinavian).

LaraCroftWithBCups19 karma

Want to give a thrown-together translation of how we should be saying those (Oh-din, for example)? :P I'm super curious now haha.

Olheix66 karma

I havent heard them spoken in years but here's how I'd pronounce them as a swede.

Cloud_Garrett14 karma

Thanks for that, my friend. One statement and two questions, if you don't mind:

  1. Nice voice! Also, your recording is VERY clear and easy to understand.

  2. Can you please make a recording saying "svipul", "Gila" and "Yggdrasil"?

  3. The way Odin is said, while not a very hard "d" sound, it's closer to 'd' than 'th' to me. Would the norm be to translate spelling it, and similar sounding words, with a 'th'? The d sounds closer to me.

Thanks again!

FrejGG12 karma

Remember that modern scandinavian pronounciation is not the same as Old Norse. Though english pronounciation is often very butchered, scandinavian pronounciation isn't necessarily historically accurate as we don't use the 'th' at all really.

Cloud_Garrett3 karma

Thank you. I've started to take an interest in learning a new language (on my own) but I haven't had much luck. I'm due to go to Iceland twice in 2016 so I've been looking on some of the more well known sites/programs but with no luck. I don't mind paying either up front or a fee but I couldn't find ocean doc on Rosetta Stone, duo lingo, and one or two others.

I'd love some recommendations if you (or another redditor) might have.

JacksonCrawford3 karma

"Complete Icelandic" (a book/CD pack) by Hildur Jónsdóttir isn't bad. There's also this online program:

JacksonCrawford6 karma

Swedish/Norwegian pronunciation is not the same as the pronunciation of the medieval language. Here's a recording of the gods' names in Old Norse:

In Old Norse the name of the god is Óðinn, the letter ð is pronounced like the "th" in "then." Most people transcribe the letter as a "d" in English, though in my translation I write it as "th" except where there's an already really established English form (like Odin, Midgard).

JacksonCrawford16 karma

"Loki" is the Old Norse form of his name, "Loke" is the Modern Scandinavian form.

Thorhallur_Bjornsson11 karma

Well, in Iceland we have Óðinn, Hel, Þór, Loki, Huginn, Muninn, Sleipnir...

I'm pretty sure they took the 'Loki' spelling from Icelandic. I've wondered for a while, though. Why do Swedes spell so many things with an 'E' whereas Icelanders would with an 'I'? e.g. Óðinn - Oden, Loki - Loke, Sleipnir - Sleipner etc.

JacksonCrawford10 karma

Unstressed Old Norse <i> becomes <e> in the Scandinavian languages on the continent, but not in Icelandic.

JacksonCrawford42 karma

Here is a video of me pronouncing the Norse gods' names, made just for you folks this morning:

ojo_pelao9 karma

Why is Odín not written with eth in English if we have that sound? Did it pass out of English and back at some point?

JacksonCrawford5 karma

His name in Proto-Germanic was probably something like *Wōðanaz.

In Old English, this regularly becomes Wóden, and in Old Norse Óðinn (Modern Scandinavian Odin/Oden). However he was forgotten in England and when the myths of the Norse gods were first translated into English the Scandinavian forms of their names were used rather than the English, and most English and Scandinavian translators write <d> for <ð>.

Hoenir-53 karma

Will your book be coming to Kindle? or is there a way to buy a digital copy anywhere? as someone fascinated by norse mythology I was told about the upcoming release of this a while ago on reddit and I've been looking forward to it ever since.

JacksonCrawford81 karma

Yes, a Kindle version should be available by the end of this month.

antichristreboot28 karma

horned helmets. were these a thing or not? if not, why is this a prevalent myth?

JacksonCrawford56 karma

They weren't really a thing. I've read various ideas on why that became a popular notion, including pre-Norse petroglyphs in Scandinavia that depict horned humanoid figures and even the influence of Classical iconography in the nineteenth century (since the Greek and Roman gods and heroes are often depicted with stuff on their helmets).

mcecil8225 karma

Hi Jackson!

What is it about Norse mythology that you're drawn to over Greek/Roman/Egyptian mythology?

What aspect of the Old Norse language do you think is the hardest to master?

JacksonCrawford37 karma

I'm a linguist first and foremost, and came to the mythology mostly through my interest in the language it's written in.

As to the hardest part of the language for learners, learning the rules of umlaut always seemed to be a big challenge.

rudeboyskunk5 karma

Are the umlaut rules similar to German?

JacksonCrawford3 karma

No, umlaut (by which I mean vowels that change depending on the presence of other vowels in the ending of a word) is triggered in a lot of different places than in German and there are more types.

InfernalWedgie22 karma

I'm a big fan of mythology and folklore; Hamilton's 'Mythology' was one of my favorite books when I was kid. But the thing I didn't like about the book was its writing style. How much attention do you give writing style when you're doing translation work? What's your process like with that?

JacksonCrawford38 karma

My goal was to write poetry that read rhythmically and understandably in English. There are other translations that try to match the meter and alliteration of the original, but that sacrifices clarity since it forces awkward word choices and especially awkward word order. I wanted to write a translation that communicated the content clearly.

Incidentally, Hamilton's "Mythology" was the first book in which I read the Norse myths as a kid. I remember her commenting to the effect that the language of the Poetic Edda must have been awkward, since all the English translations were awkward!

mcmalloy22 karma

How similar would you say the pronounciation of words are for Old Norse compared to modern day Icelandic?

JacksonCrawford53 karma

Pretty different. The similarities between Old Norse and Modern Icelandic are often exaggerated, not least because ModIce looks more like ON on the written page than it actually sounds, and this tends to lead people (Icelandic or otherwise) to thinking the language has changed less than it has. The vowels in particular are very different today than they were in Old Norse (continental Scandinavian vowels are more similar to those of Old Norse).

A long time ago I posted a recording of myself reading some texts in reconstructed Old Norse pronunciation:

mcmalloy11 karma

That's amazing and thank you for the reply. I'm actually from Denmark hence my interest in ON. Bonus question : how long time did it take for you to learn ON, and would you say it was a difficult language to learn ?

JacksonCrawford21 karma

I started learning Old Norse at 17 but I had studied Latin and Old English for about 5 years at that point so it wasn't as hard as if I'd come at it cold. I'd say I could read it pretty fluently after a solid ~2 1/2 years of reading it every day.

If your native language is Danish you won't find the vocabulary very hard. But the grammar is vastly more complicated, probably about as hard as Greek (harder than Latin but easier than Sanskrit).

kovahdiin21 karma

It's a hard question but which poem is your hands down, absolute favourite?

I did a short course on Norse mythology and I have to say my favourite comes down to a choice of three. The poem of Loki systematically talking shit to the gods, the poem of Thor catching the Midgard serpent or Hárbarðsljóð.

JacksonCrawford26 karma

All those are good. And Harbarthsljoth is close to the top of my list too. But Havamal will always be the poem I have the closest relationship to.

izwald8812 karma

Hello and thank you for your time.

What is your advice for prospective students of the Viking Era and the liberal arts field in general? I have a BS in history with a focus on the Viking Era but, as much as I love the subject matter, I felt it would be irresponsible to pursue grad school. What is your take on that? My apologies for the broad question.

JacksonCrawford20 karma

This is a tortured question for me because I've tasted the wine and the vinegar. In 2011 I applied for a faculty position in Scandinavian at UCLA as a replacement for a professor who was on leave. It was an amazing job till 2014 when he came back and the funding for the position evaporated. I've been working outside of academia since to pay the rent, and applying hard for new positions.

So unfortunately my answer is that it's luck. And the same luck that feeds you one year can starve you the next.

count-fistula12 karma

Thanks for doing this AmA! Are there any solid ideas for how Viking age versions the poems and mythologies may have differed from the Icelandic manuscripts?

JacksonCrawford20 karma

They no doubt differed in some very serious ways, and not just between the Viking Age and the writing of these manuscripts in Iceland, but also probably between country and country and even valley and valley at the same time. One interesting hint is in which gods' names come up in place names in different parts of Scandinavia--Thor seems to have been popular everywhere, but Frey seems to have been a more important figure in Sweden than elsewhere, and Njorth and Tyr and Odin more prominent in parts of Denmark and coastal Norway. This no doubt reflects important differences in Viking-Age (and earlier) religion.

thetin_man12 karma

Hello, I run a viking styled group in the SCA and wish to keep it as accurate as I am able, what would it be like in a group or a village, what roles would be filled, also, as a second question I have been told of oaths being a large part of their community and am attempting to make one for the aforementioned group, what kind of things were part of these oaths when swearing fealty to a house or a Jarl?

JacksonCrawford32 karma

I don't think I could give you a picture of a Norse village that would do it justice in just a Reddit comment, but a good book on the subject is Kirsten Wolf's "Daily Life of the Vikings" which draws on evidence both from archaeology and literature. One thing to remember is that the society was quite classist but also not nearly as specialized as our own, with capable members of each class expected to fulfill multiple different roles during different seasons both on the farm and aboard ship.

Sworn oaths and vows were a very significant part of the culture, and in the Edda we see numerous conflicts started and resolved either by keeping or by breaking oaths. One thing that seems to have made an oath more important or binding was being sworn at a large ceremony like a feast (including the ultimate feast of Yule).

Ulfrum12 karma

Is there any chance of me finding a good leather bound version of this book?

And as someone that grew up in DePere WI, is there any chance of me getting it signed?

JacksonCrawford15 karma

I don't think there's going to be a leather-bound version, but the hardback looks pretty snazzy.

I'm in Wisconsin now and then. If I do a speaking event there I'll announce it on the book's Facebook page (

Ulfrum8 karma

Very cool, I checked out your Amazon page, but is there a place I could buy the hardback?

Also it seems to have some great reviews so it looks promising. Great job

JacksonCrawford10 karma

It looks like the hardcover is in stock on Amazon. If it goes out of stock you can order direct from the publisher at

FusRoDuuh11 karma

Do you have a favorite Norse story, and if so, which one?

JacksonCrawford14 karma

My favorite narrative poems in the Edda are probably Harbarthsljoth (where Odin and Thor exchange insults) and the Helgi poems (about two human warriors named Helgi and their love for a Valkyrie).

Out of the sagas, my favorite from the Sagas of the Icelanders is Egil's Saga. My favorite of the mythical-heroic sagas is Arrow-Odd's Saga, and Thithrek's Saga is kind of a guilty pleasure too.

RedOrm211 karma

Thank you for the AMA! I am looking forward to reading your translation!

Are there areas of Scandinavian studies that have largely been overlooked?

JacksonCrawford20 karma

Hmmm I think the history of law in Scandinavia could bear some new eyes on it. Maybe the interaction and history of Scandinavian-Russian connections and medieval Scandinavian economics too. Looking for a thesis topic?

SigurthrEnterprises10 karma

For the writings that were thought to have originated far earlier on than the writing of the Codex Regius, but are mostly or only found therein, how different do you think they are in their written form from how they would have been told in the oral tradition originally.

JacksonCrawford12 karma

It's impossible that no differences accumulated during the 200 years or so of oral transition between the poems' original composition and the earlier manuscript the Codex Regius is copied from. What exactly those differences are I couldn't say, lacking a time machine, but I would suspect that elements that are not strictly narrative--the words to spells, prayers, or rituals, perhaps--might have been expunged in several places.


What is the origin of the word "Viking" and why are they called as such?

JacksonCrawford15 karma

I made a post on the Facebook page for the book that was meant to answer this very question:

JacksonCrawford4 karma

What do you think about my tattoos?

Very well done.

TheMemoman8 karma

Hi. Did you have a particular approach to kennings?

I tried creating new ones that would fall in place with the original ones, in terms of style, but easier to understand for people unfamiliar with them. And it was quite challenging, but also fun.

JacksonCrawford10 karma

My approach to kennings was to "smooth them out." The primary purpose of my translation was to make something that people* could read and understand the content of, so I didn't regard it as outside my translator's rights to render e.g. "whale road" as "sea."

*I.e. people who had never heard the word "kenning" and would never look it up but were otherwise intelligent.

HistoricPancake7 karma

What is the most crazy story you've translated?

JacksonCrawford24 karma

The craziest that I've translated, in the Poetic Edda, is a hard call to make since all the stories are produced by a very different culture. The poem Volundarkvitha might be high on the list--the tale of a smith (who's apparently an elf, whatever that really meant) who falls in love with a Valkyrie who later leaves him, becomes a prisoner, builds a pair of wings for himself, and takes a strange, horrible vengeance on his captors.

But out of the whole list of Norse literature, the craziest stories might be Arrow-Odd's Saga and Thithrek's Saga.

vatothe07 karma

How accurate is "Eaters of the Dead"?

What stands out as glaringly false? What is disturbingly accurate?

JacksonCrawford23 karma

I read "Eaters of the Dead" maybe 12 years ago and don't remember the book well, though I kind of enjoyed the movie version ("The 13th Warrior") which I saw more recently. Ibn Fadlan was a real man who encountered Scandinavian (or probably mixed Slavic/Scandinavian) warriors, though he didn't get to Scandinavia, and I have my doubts about the survival of Neanderthals (though one could be inspired by the sagas of the Hrafnistumenn and I think Crichton and also Harry Harrison were in their novels). In the movie I thought the sets and clothes were pretty good and the use of actual Scandinavian languages (and Greek and Latin as trade languages) was cool.

Fuckitmykeyboard7 karma


JacksonCrawford11 karma

I guess you could. Anyone with a Norwegian background probably has an ancestor who went on Viking raids somewhere back there.

Hrafnsmal7 karma

Thank you for taking the time to do an AMA!

I am really passionate about Viking and Scandinavian history/anthropology and desire to make it my focus. What advice do you have for someone starting out in this field? Are there any schools of note for Scandinavian Studies? Norway seems like an idea place for this, but I have yet to find a school that focuses on it.

JacksonCrawford12 karma

There are several programs in Scandinavian Studies in the US and Canada. Wisconsin, Minnesota, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Washington, and Harvard all have solid programs in the USA, and at Alberta and Toronto there are good people too. In Norway there are strong Norse scholars at the universities in Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim.

My general advice would be twofold. One would be, within the field, know the languages and literatures really well. If you don't enjoy reading an Icelandic saga or an Ibsen play in the original as you fall asleep, you won't enjoy grad school much. And the more you know about everything in Scandinavian studies, the more complete a scholar you'll be.

But then outside your studies, remember that jobs in a field this specialized are a matter of luck as much as skill. Be ready to spend years paying the rent with a "back-up" job, and hopefully develop some skills that will help you do that.

Alajarin7 karma

You said that you are primarily a linguist and only got interested in mythology after the language. What did you see yourself doing just with languages when you were, say, an undergrad student, and what do you currently want to do - just teaching Old Norse, some kind of work on the sociolinguistics of North Germanic languages, the historical linguistics of North Germanic languages etc.?

In a similar vein, what does the future hold? More translations (and are there any particular works which you think could do with a better English translation)? More work at uni? Papers?

Thanks for the AMA!

JacksonCrawford10 karma

I studied primarily historical linguistics (BA Classics, MA Linguistics with a focus on historical, PhD Scandinavian Studies). This has always been the primary field in which I've published (my dissertation research was on the history of color classification in Scandinavian languages, for instance).

The Poetic Edda called out to me as a medieval Scandinavian source that had never been translated in such a way that your average educated person could read it on a bus. That's not really the case for the other most important sources of Norse myth, e.g. the Prose Edda (the Faulkes translation is great) or Volsunga Saga (I like Finch's translation, though people aren't as aware of it as they should be). If I were to translated another text at this point, it might be Volsunga Saga or maybe one of the other really pivotal sagas or saga cycles, like the Hrafnistumenn sagas (e.g. Arrow-Odd's Saga).

As to the present/future, I would be happy to find work at a university again, and I continue to publish papers (mostly on my color research). But every school on the planet seems to be cutting back right now and it's not easy.

F1eetwoodmac5 karma

Hi JacksonCrawford,

This question may be a bit off topic, but what is the most effective way to go about learning a Scandinavian language?

My University does not offer any of these languages and I am potentially interested in exploring Scandinavian Studies. I understand that I would have to learn several of these languages in order to read primary sources.

Any input would be appreciated.


JacksonCrawford7 karma

There are good self-teaching books for all of them. Which are you most interested in?

beetnemesis5 karma

Anything interesting or controversial pop up in your translation?

Or, if you want a less clickbait-y question, what made you want to do your own translation? Is it a "oh, I see a lot of things in this translation I would have interpreted differently, let me give it a whirl" type thing?

JacksonCrawford16 karma

I did my own translation not because of inaccuracies in the ones that existed but because of different priorities. I wanted a translation that I could hand to a random relative, not just to someone who had gone to grad school. A translation that could make someone say "Oh, I see why you think these stories are interesting" without being in overwhelmingly weird English that had to be deciphered before you could make sense of the stories.

As far as controversial, I did have to think long and hard about how to translate the word "argr"--which imputes certain unmasculine characteristics to the person it's used against. I ended up settling on "sissy" to avoid more sensitive or generational words, since those tend to change so much and quickly over time.

ErroneousBosch3 karma

Who would win in a fight, E.V. Gordon or Geir Zoega? And would Tolkien surprise elbow smash both and take the title?

wagamamalullaby3 karma

Lol. I think Tolkien and Gordon would team up on Zoega.

JacksonCrawford5 karma

I'm for Gordon on this one. I learned Old Norse originally from his book. Good memories.

TheIdesOfLurch3 karma

Do you know my friend John Sexton?

JacksonCrawford2 karma

I don't recall meeting him, no.

mattsoca3 karma

I know this may be off topic, but what are your thoughts of the Kenzington Rune Stone?

JacksonCrawford7 karma

It appears to be a hoax. Both the language itself and some of the written characters/letters are too modern for the time period in which it was supposed to be written.

Hreinzi3 karma

What is your favorite part from the books?

mine would be when the gods managed to stop the Jöttuninn from completing the wall

JacksonCrawford3 karma

The story about the wall is from the Prose Edda, and is only alluded to in one poem in the Poetic Edda (Voluspa). My favorite poem is Havamal.

Pepsmearicus3 karma

Know any good sites or any general information on the Polans?

JacksonCrawford3 karma

Unfortunately Slavic peoples are a little outside my domain.

iamthelucky13 karma

Is your book coming to kindle?

JacksonCrawford5 karma

Yes, a Kindle version should be available by the end of this month.

bon_bons3 karma

Have you seen the brand new Viking exhibit at the field museum of natural history? It's pretty sweet

JacksonCrawford3 karma

Unfortunately my ability to travel has been pretty limited this past year but I hope to see it eventually.

Shwan902 karma

Do you like the show "Vikings"?

JacksonCrawford4 karma

I've never seen it. Though I did give them an interview that's in the Special Features of the Season 2 DVD set.

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InfernalWedgie5 karma

it's okay /u/JacksonCrawford, I believe you.

JacksonCrawford8 karma


MrsTiggyWiggy-2 karma

Why are you a Vikings expert and not a Viking expert?

And, as a follow-up, do you ever go viking?

Edit: definition of viking - Old Norse - "maurading"

JacksonCrawford12 karma

I suppose I didn't think about it, "Vikings expert" just flowed better coming out of my mouth.

And I have never, personally, been out a-Viking.

randomusername123458-3 karma

What do you think of the Minnesota Vikings?

JacksonCrawford8 karma

I have no real opinion.

[deleted]-9 karma


JacksonCrawford9 karma

Is this a reference to the Vikings TV show? I've never seen it.

mcecil822 karma

Did you make a deliberate choice not to watch the show? (bothered by historical inaccuracies etc)

JacksonCrawford3 karma

I have almost no attention span for watching anything. I can read for hours but I get antsy watching TV.

kinz_r31-10 karma


JacksonCrawford9 karma

Haha, well on real Vikings, not on the TV show. I did do an interview for the DVD box set of season 2 for that show though.