Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

How to Pronounce "Hnefatafl"

Approximation of the pronunciation of hnefatafl.
Approximation of the pronunciation of hnefatafl.

Wednesday, 25th June 2014

There is a question that comes up very often on the social media accounts attached to this site, and in email too: how to pronounce hnefatafl. That has set me thinking about adding a FAQ page to the web site. But in the mean time, I'll address the issue in this blog post.

I'm no expert on Old Norse pronunciation, but unless you want to discuss the game in that language, then an English approximation should do. I usually pronounce it "neffa-taffle", a suggestion that has come up a few times on older forums. If you understand the International Phonetic Alphabet, ˈne-fə-taː-f(ə)l is a closer approximation.

As to how the Vikings said it, that's a different matter. Some people point to Icelandic pronunciation and say that the 'f's should be pronounced more like 'p's. Icelandic is the closest living language to Old Norse, so perhaps this is how the Vikings pronounced it. But I can't see this pronunciation becoming widespread among English-speakers.


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