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NameProto-GermanicOld EnglishOld Norse
ShapeElder FutharkFuthorcYounger Futhark
Runic letter kauna.svgRunic letter cen.svgLong-branch Kaun.svg
Transcriptionkck, g
IPA[k][k], [c], [t?][k], [g]
Position in
The evolution of the rune in the elder futhark during the centuries.

The k-rune ? (Younger Futhark ?, Anglo-Saxon futhorc ?) is called Kaun in both the Norwegian and Icelandic rune poems, meaning "ulcer". The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Kaun?. It is also known as Kenaz ("torch"), based on its Anglo-Saxon name.

The Elder Futhark shape is likely directly based on Old Italic c (C, ?) and on Latin C. The Younger Futhark and Anglo-Saxon Futhorc shapes have parallels in Old Italic shapes of k (K, ?) and Latin K (compare the Negau helmet inscription). The corresponding Gothic letter is ? k, called kusma.

The shape of the Younger Futhark kaun rune (?) is identical to that of the "bookhand" s rune in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc. The ? rune also occurs in some continental runic inscriptions. It has been suggested that in these instances, it represents the ch /?/ sound resulting from the Old High German sound shift (e.g. elch in Nordendorf II).[1]

Rune Poem:[2] English Translation:

Old Norwegian
? Kaun er barna b?lvan;
b?l gørver nán f?lvan.

Ulcer is fatal to children;
death makes a corpse pale.

Old Icelandic
? Kaun er barna böl
ok bardaga [för]
ok holdfúa hús.
flagella konungr.

Disease fatal to children
and painful spot
and abode of mortification.

? Cen byþ c?icera geh?am, cuþ on fyre
blac ond beorhtlic, byrneþ oftust
ðær hi æþelingas inne restaþ.

The torch is known to every living man
by its pale, bright flame; it always burns
where princes sit within.

  • The Icelandic poem is glossed with Latin flagella "whip".
  • The Anglo-Saxon poem gives the name cen "torch".


  1. ^ Tineke Looijenga, Texts & contexts of the oldest Runic inscriptions, BRILL, 2003, ISBN 978-90-04-12396-0, p. 129.
  2. ^ Original poems and translation from the Rune Poem Page.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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