The seventh Rune of the Second Ætt of the Elder Futhark
(for more information on the First Ætt per se, go to

This is an installment in a series covering each and every Rune of the Elder Futhark. In this series, instead of giving the esoteric meaning of the Rune by citing the Rune poems written in Old Icelandic, Old Norwegian and Anglo-Saxon (a.k.a. Old English), or any modern commentary, the etymology of the Rune name is presented.


                    Z                  Z                  Z
                        Z              Z               Z
                           Z           Z            Z
                              Z        Z         Z
                                  Z    Z     Z
                                      Z   Z 

Pronunciations: ALIGIZ is pronounced “ahl-geez” with stress on first syllable “ahl.” ELHAZ is pronounced “el-hhhahz” with stress on first syllable “el,” and “hhh” standing for that sort of hoarse glottal sound in Scottish “loch” and German “Bach” (a voiceless velar fricative). The Z came from Indo-European /s/, and this /z/ phase later becomes a sort of palatal r-sound (rather like the “z” in “azure”), and then becomes a regular trilled r in Norse (an alveolor trill - see RAIDHO).

Here is a good example of this sound change of /z/ to /r/: TEIWAZ become TEIWAR became TEIWR became TYR - given that EI and W coalesced as the palatal quality of EI was preserved while the lip-roundedness of W was added to the EI (see EIHWAZ for discussion of EI and TYR). The A between W and R deleted simply because of the nature of the Germanic stress accent, i.e. - to make a long story short - A was unstressed and therefore unpreserved...

Writing: The ALGIZ/ELHAZ stave is not necessarily a stave that stands for a phoneme only, but seems somehow tied up in the morphology of the language, as the sound it represents occurs largely, if not exclusively, in grammatical endings, and as the last letter of such endings, and therefore as the last phoneme of a word. The sound this stave stands for is therefore not inherently the same as that of English /z/, even though its earlier phase (just after Indo-European) was as this z-sound (like the Z in “zebra”). This stave stands for that last sound of the grammatical ending; and this sound become an r-type of sound. Therefore, to represent the Z-sound in runes, you may wish to use the following rune, which is the S-rune. The S-sound in Germanic can sometimes manifest as a Z-sound - at least, this is what happens commonly in Modern German -  and thus the S-rune (SOWILO) may be your favored choice for the z-sound.

Etymology: ALGIZ and ELHAZ both derive from a Proto-Germanic form alhi. The ALGIZ version displays Verner’s Law, i.e, a voiceless consonant becoming voiced when the following syllable in late Proto-Indo-European or early Proto-Germanic was stressed. Thus, Verner’s Law here has /h/ going over to /g/. The ELHAZ version displays i-umlaut (a.k.a. i-mutation), i.e, a non-front vowel (a, o, u) picking up qualities of an upcoming front vowel (i, e). Umlauted o, u > ö, ü - sounds not present in English and that are hybrids of front’ness and back’ness, and that are not recognized by English’s grammar; but umlauted /a/ is simply another fully front vowel, /e/.

NOTE: For questions about this sort of phonological process, please feel free to visit

ELHAZ is the West Germanic form. It is attested in Anglo-Saxon (a.k.a. Old English) elh and eolh. /e/ going to diphthong /eo/ is an example of ‘breaking’ - a phenomenon common to and characteristic of Old English. Eventually in English the /h/ was replaced by a /k/ - hence Modern English elk. German, like English, is a West Germanic language; and the form in German is Elch (elk).

NOTE: /h/ going to /k/ was a common process in the history of English: see the New Oxford American Dictionary under “elk.”

ALGIZ is the North Germanic proto-form. It is attested in the Old Norse form elgr, which does, after all, show umlaut. Icelandic alk(a) (swan) - which, after all, does not show Verner’s Law.

And so: ALGIZ and ELHAZ both stem from Proto-Germanic alhi, which, via Grimm’s Law, goes back to Indo-European alkV. V stands for some vowel - we do not yet have enough information to go on to state what it was in Proto-Indo-European. We can confirm this posited form by searching for attestations of it in conservative Indo-European languages. Indeed, posited root alkV is confirmed in Latin alcēs (elk) (c represents the k-sound here) and Greek álkē. The attestations tell us the nature of the original vowel, so as that we now can say the full Proto-Indo-European form was alkē.

However, just like we had to confirm what we derived from the various Germanic languages by going back in time to Proto-Indo-European and its attestations, we must test what new thing we ostensibly learned from those attestations to see if it makes sense in the process of going forwards in time from Indo-European to Old Germanic. What we have seemed to learn is that the V of the original Indo-European proto-form was /ē/. Does it make sense to derive Proto-Germanic short /i/ from long /ē/?

We can learn much about the vowel shift that took place from Indo-European to Old Germanic by looking at English orthography and comparing it with its pronunciation. That which used to be a long /ē/ in English was spelt with two e’s instead of the bar over one e - hence, the “ee” vowel digraph of English which we DON’T pronounce /ē/ (like the “a” in “fate”) but /ī/ (like the “ee” in “feet”). 

Non-stressed vowels, especially when at the end of the syllable in Germanic, are known to be reduced or even deleted: hence the Old Germanic form is alhi and not alhī - athough, of course, we can posit the latter as an intermediary form. After the reduction, deletion followed: hence English elk and NOT elky; and that is why conservative Icelandic shows vowels at the end of words with various distinct qualities while in non-conservative German all those vowels have become a uniform schwa or deleted. Vestiges of this end-vowel is the “silent e” of English orthography.

Going back to the analysis of ELHAZ with the explanation of it having E instead of A like ALGIZ being due to umlaut of A to E, we can see how this holds up now that we are searching for attestations of the original forms in the older Indo-European languages. Could the variance of E vs. A be not due to Germanic umlaut, but instead Indo-European ablaut? [e.g, sing~sang~sung and noun-form song, as opposed to, e.g,  umlaut man~men]

NOTE: To learn the difference between umlaut and ablaut, see:

AND: Concerning an ever deeper Indo-European root el (red, brown), see:

If el is the ultimate Indo-European root, then we can expect it to take the following forms: el, ēl, ol, ōl, l.

Compare with WUNJO at:

Any of these forms could have various suffixes added on to them. One of those suffixes could be the the -kē we see in Latin and Greek, and, via Grimm’s Law, in Germanic with vowel reduction, -hi, and with Verner’s Law added, -gi.       

Do peruse the forms listed here:!

    Kluge’s Etymologisches Wörterbuch
    University of Texas Indo-Euruopean Lexicon...
    New Oxford American Dictionary


...Now, NOTICE the entire semantic domain covered by ALGIZ/ELHAZ through time. Let this be the MYSTICAL MEANING of ALGIZ/ELHAZ. Study it and ABSORB it.

AUTHOR: Francis Tokarski