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I understand that the runes of the Younger Futhark alphabet had names such as hagall and bjarkan, I also understand that these rune names had meanings, such as hail and birch. I also understand that these runes were sometimes ligatured together to form bindrunes.

Were rune names ever spelled out with other runes in Old Norse or were the runes themselves considered the words of their rune names as D and S are considered words? When these runes were joined as ligatures as bindrunes, I understand that these bindrunes are considered one individual glyph. was this glyph considered one rune or one word in Old Norse or did these bindrunes have any names themselves or were they read as two separate runes even though they are one glyph?

As an example, the Bluetooth logo is a bindrune of hagall and bjarkan, the initials of Harald Bluetooth, when the two are separated they are read as two initials “hagall” and “bjarkan”. When they are joined are they still read separately or is this glyph read as hagallbjarkan as one word in Old Norse? When are the words hagall and bjarkan used to write the initials, and are the runes alone used?

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Bindrunes, or ligatures, are rather rare in ON. They are far more common in neo-pagan uses for runes, but that's nothing to do with Linguistics. So this answer will focus on attested, historical use of bindrunes.

Consider for example Kragehul I. This is in the Elder Fuþark, not the Younger Fuþark, but the principle is exactly the same. Here the text begins

ek e⸗rila⸗z asugisalas m⸗uh⸗a h⸗aite 

where means a ligature of the adjacent letters, for example e⸗r is a bindrune of e and r.

But how is that read in Old Norse? Someone who reads that text will just read

ek erilaz asugisalas muha haite

as though there were no ligatures. That's because e⸗r is not read in isolation. It's not *ehwaz-raido, because it's part of running text, so it's just the phonemic sequence of e and r. It's the syllable, er. It's just a convenient short hand, if you want to reduce the labour of chiselling the letters onto the writing surface, that's all. And this means, that they are not seen as independent letters, so they don't have names.

Your example with h⸗b is not really how runes were used in Old Norse. They didn't really abbreviate people's names to initials like we do, so Haraldr Blátǫnn would have really been written straight-forwardly as haraltr blatan.

I understand that these bindrunes are considered one individual glyph,

Not really, it's more like a graphical variant of a sequence of two runes. Kind of like typographical ligatures for sequences fi, ffi, fl etc in English.

was this glyph considered one rune or one word in old Norse

Nope, one bindrune is really several runes, just a little different visually since it's munched up into one shape.

or did these bindrunes have any names themselves or were they read as two separate runes even though they are called one glyph

They had no names, as I have shown. Also they are read as two separate runes, because that's truly what they are.

  • In other words, that ligature of H and B is not genuinely a bindrune since it's not part of written ON. So to ask how to read it isn't really an answerable question. – Wilson Dec 12 '18 at 11:52

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