Inquiring Minds: What is and how do you pronounce Yggdrasil?

Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here’s one of the most interesting ones they’ve gotten lately.

Q. What is Yggdrasil? And how do you pronounce it?

A. In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the giant ash tree that stands at the center of the universe and unites all parts of the world through its trunk, branches and roots. Yggdrasil is represented as a tree, even though the meaning of the word is “the horse of the terrible one.” Scholars think that the “terrible one” refers to the Norse god Odin, but they are divided on the question of why Odin’s horse should actually be a tree.

The word itself comes from Old Icelandic and if you pronounce it “EEG-drah-sil,” most Vikings would probably recognize what you were trying to say.

(“The Norse Myths.” Also special thanks to Professor Anatoly Liberman of the University of Minnesota for pronunciation assistance.)

 

Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 651-724-6001 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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