Before I developed this utility, there was no reliable resource to help students of Old Norse verify that they had a good understanding of strong verb inflection. Dictionaries as yet provide no exhaustive lists of forms, and even exhaustive historical dictionaries do not reconstruct unattested forms other than infinitives. Meanwhile, the best grammars provide no more than a handful of complete strong verb paradigms in the active voice and one or two in middle voice. What online parsers and paradigm sets existed when I began this project were very limited indeed. A few have since been developed, but each has its weaknesses. In 2011, the only resource of any substantial size was Sean Crist’s 2004 “Old Icelandic Paradigms”, really a 34,745-line plaintext file described as “programming-oriented data […] not conveniently readable by a human.” In order to address the crucial need among human students for a resource against which to test one’s knowledge, I wrote a PHP script to open the 16,700 strong verb forms (198 fully conjugated verbs) contained in Sean’s resource up to the masses.

I soon found, however, that there were substantial problems with the inflected forms as provided. Sean had arrived at them through a clever Perl script that reconstructed full paradigms based on a minimum of required information, but it failed to take various sorts of conflict resolution between adjacent phonemes into consideration. Furthermore, neither the code nor the lexical set had been subjected to rigorous testing and proofreading, so that a number of errors were promulgated widely throughout the paradigms, while some paradigms were matched with erroneous translations, listed the wrong strong verb class, or provided strong conjugations for verbs that are only attested weak. Aided by my HTML interface and the power of regular expressions, I set about building an improved inflectional catalogue using Sean’s data set as my starting point.

What began as correction soon became a creative act in its own right. Not only have I made corrections to almost all paradigms, excluded spurious items, and added a substantial number of new verbs, including sets for preterite-present and class 3 weak verbs, of which latter there were none in Sean’s collection, I have also added extensive additional information on several aspects of the verbs described. The range of senses provided is rivalled by few dictionaries. I have also added information on cognates with hyperlinks to authoritative dictionaries; information on variant forms; and keyword references to discussions of sound laws in a forthcoming reference book. Paradigms and metadata are still under revision as I prepare the data set for publication.

This resource is freely accessible online as a favour to students and scholars. In return, I ask that you please do respect my intellectual property and not mirror or republish my data.

Paul Langeslag
August 2017