Alessandro Palumbo

Image of Alessandro Palumbo
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22856967
Room HW 330
Available hours By appointment
Visiting address Niels Henrik Abels vei 36 Henrik Wergelands hus 0313 Oslo
Postal address Postboks 1102 Blindern 0317 Oslo

I am an associate professor in runology and Scandinavian language history, and a Marie Curie fellow at the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies.

Background and academic interests

My main research interests are runology and medieval epigraphy, historical sociolinguistics, bilingualism and biscriptality, and historical linguistic landscapes.

At the moment, I lead the project Language switching and script mixing: multilingual landscapes of medieval Scandinavia (LangMix), which focuses on the encounter between the runic and Latin written traditions, and on inscriptions where both Latin and the Scandinavian vernaculars, Roman letters and runes are used together.

Another of my main research interests concerns the development of historical writing systems, and the relationship between graphemic and phonological variation and change, both from a structural and sociolinguistic perspective.

In my  doctoral dissertation, "Changing writing systems: a graphematic and palaeographic study of the Swedish medieval runic inscriptions", I studied the changes that the runic writing system went through during the High and Late Middle Ages in Sweden, when the runic tradition came in contact with the Latin written culture. After the Viking Age, the runic alphabet was significantly expanded, and old spelling practices and writing conventions changed substantially. My research resulted in a deeper knowledge of these changes' chronology, of different local writing traditions, and of the developments that written and spoken Old Swedish went through during the 12th and 13th century.

During my PhD, I also collaborated as a doctoral fellow in the project "Runic Writing in the Germanic Languages" at the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and in the project "Reading and interpreting runic inscriptions: the theory and method of runology" at the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. I am also affiliated to the project Modes of Modification.

Courses taught

At the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, I have taught Runology - General introductionRunic inscriptions of the Middle Ages and Philology in an interdisciplinary perspective.

Previously, I have held courses in runology and Swedish as a foreign language at Uppsala University, as well as guest lectures and seminars at Ca' Foscari University of Venice and at L'Orientale University of Naples.

Upcoming publications

  • Palumbo, Alessandro (in press): How Latin is runic Latin? Thoughts on the influence of Latin writing on medieval runic orthography. In Edith Marold & Christiane Zimmermann (ed.), Vergleichende Studien zur runischen Graphematik: Methodische Ansätze und digitale Umsetzung. (Runrön.) Uppsala: Institutionen för nordiska språk, Uppsala universitet.
  • Palumbo, Alessandro & Harjula, Janne (in press): Material and Written Culture in Medieval Turku: Runic Inscriptions on Stave Vessels. In Kendra Willson (ed.), Runes in Finland. (Runrön.) Uppsala: Institutionen för nordiska språk, Uppsala universitet.
Tags: Runology, Epigraphy, Old Norse Philology, Historical sociolinguistics, Multilingualism, Linguistic Landscapes


  • Blennow, Anna & Palumbo, Alessandro (2021). At the Crossroads between Script Cultures: The Runic and Latin Epigraphic Areas of Västergötland. In Johansson, Karl G. & Horn, Anna Catharina (Ed.), The Meaning of Media: Texts and Materiality in Medieval Scandinavia. Walter de Gruyter (De Gruyter). ISSN 9783110694970. p. 39–70. doi: 10.1515/9783110695366-003. Full text in Research Archive
  • Palumbo, Alessandro (2020). Same script, different rules? On the alleged different spelling of names compared to other words in runic inscriptions. In Löfdahl, Maria; Waldispuhl, Michelle & Wenner, Lena (Ed.), Namn i skrift. Names in Writing. Handlingar från NORNAs 48:e symposium i Göteborg den 29–30 november 2018. Norna. ISSN 978-91-7276-098-1. p. 263–287. Full text in Research Archive
  • Palumbo, Alessandro (2016). Among Demons and Ave Marias: Runes and the Supernatural on Swedish Amulets. Annali - Istituto Universitario Orientale. Sezione Gemanica. ISSN 1124-3724. 26(1-2), p. 85–102.
  • Palumbo, Alessandro (2014). Ett fragment av Barlaams saga ok Josaphats: Diplomatarisk utgåva av AM 231 VII fol. med en paleografisk och ortografisk undersökning. Annali - Istituto Universitario Orientale. Sezione Gemanica. ISSN 1124-3724. 24(1-2), p. 271–294.

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  • Palumbo, Alessandro (2020). Review of Lisbeth M. Imer. Peasants and Prayers: The Inscriptions of Norse Greenland. Copenhagen: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2017. Futhark: International Journal of Runic Studies. ISSN 1892-0950. 9-10, p. 287–294. doi: 10.33063/diva-402191.
  • Palumbo, Alessandro (2015). Recension av Carla Cucina 2013 “Libri runici del computo: Il calendario di Bologna e i suoi analoghi europei”. Futhark: International Journal of Runic Studies. ISSN 1892-0950. 5, p. 199–206.
  • Palumbo, Alessandro (2012). Gutarunor: studie i runformernas bruk och utveckling på Gotland under medeltiden och reformationstiden. Institutionen för nordiska språk, Uppsala universitet.

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Published Jan. 11, 2019 12:23 PM - Last modified May 10, 2021 5:17 PM