The research unit Kiel deals with the runic inscriptions in the older fuþark (main research focus: North Germanic inscriptions) and with the inscriptions in the younger fuþąrk/fuþork.
Adapting and modifying the concepts of German Verschrif-tung ('scripting') and Verschriftlichung ('textualisation') used in orality-literacy research, research concentrates on the medial aspect of runic writing, focusing on the relation of sound and written representation (Runic Graphemics), and on the conceptual features of the runic texts and the monuments as a whole, to find out their communicative function and to describe the changes in the use of the runic script from the perspective of social and cultural history (Runic Textgrammar and Pragmatics). In both domains, the relationship between runic and Latin script will be of importance. What were the effects of the long period of their co-existence? Were the two writing systems linked to specific cultural spheres or to different commu-nicative domains? Was the nature of contact one of dialogue or of demarcation?
Work in the first part of the research programme is devoted to theoretical-methodological preliminaries in the domains graphemics and pragmatics, the aim of which is the development of a homogeneous model of description and classification for the study of the runic monuments. This will form the basis for the design of a relational database structure into which all the results of the subsequent research will be entered.
The database find forms the basis of this structure and includes data on the runic object itself, the find category and the archaeological context and/or history of the find. Wherever possible, these data are complemented by information on the function and dating of the object. The subsequent runological part comprises a transliteration of the inscription and an interpretation/interpretations.
Due to the number of inscriptions in the younger fuþąrk/fuþork (circa 6000 inscriptions) it will not be possible to include them all in the following in-depth studies into runic graphemics and pragmatics. The theoretical-methodological preliminaries also serve the development of selection criteria to delimit this corpus to a representative sample.