The runic alphabet that was in use circa 800 C.E. was called the futhark after the first 6 letters. The word alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet – Alef, Bet – in case you didn’t know. Or apparently Alpha and Beta if you think the Greeks invented everything. Which is wrong. Hebrews beat them to it by a couple of centuries. Sorry. But I digress…
So this article is discussing learning to write runes in terms of remnants of practice pieces – people writing out the whole alphabet (futhark) to practice learning it. But everything is very fragmentary, so they’re counting just f, just fu, and just futh. (th is one letter that I’m sure I have no idea how to show you the symbol for within this post, so see the pictures below.) The problem is that futh (or perhaps fud – it’s kinda hard to tell) “was also a word for vagina in Old Norse, and this ambiguity was used by various carvers to create double-entendres or obscene statements similar to those found on the walls of public toilets today.”
And the second gem – apparently fud-rog lin-smyl loosely translates to ‘nymphomaniac linen-troll.’ This is from a conference proceeding!
Knirk, James E. “Learning to Write with Runes in Medieval Norway” Medeltida skrift-och språkkultur. Nordisk medeltidsliteracy i ett diglossiskt och digrafiskt perspektiv II. Nio föreläsningar från ett symposium i Stockholm våren 1992. Red. I. Lindell. Runica et mediævalia, Opuscula 2, Stockholm 1994, s. 169-212.
long branch futhark image from Wikipedia
short twig futhark image from Wikipedia