Monday, October 26, 2009

The skáld scratched skillfully the words -- honor to her who is hearkened to in memory and mead

In lieu of my SCA kingdoms in Old Norse post, I offer this musical tangent.  I'm lucky to find that the the cup of Suttungs mead has been passed to me, and I drink thankfully. Now, not all the songs I have written are particularly Norse. And the following is not one that follows the conventions of Viking Age poetry. However, I'm including it in this blog for two reasons. First, it invokes several Viking Age words and concepts. Second, I wrote the melody completely on the harpa (aka, the lyre -- mine is a Trossingen inspired harpa named Lofveig).

It is also a song that is particularly personal to me. I wrote the words a little after my maternal grandmother died, and it is meant as a memory poem to her (hence the title minnis-kvæði).  Jólinn is my persona's equivalent to my maternal grandmother. Unfortunately, I have not found the declension of the name Jólinn, so I have no idea if I have formed the genitive correctly in the title (I've assumed an indeclinable declension). If I ever do find it, the title will change accordingly.


Jólinn Minniskvæði
copywrite Eyja Bassadottir/Melanie Pafko 
I saw you sitting by the door
to watch the world so near.

A little sad the times you've had
yet always kept some cheer.

The völva brings some news to you

of what is meant to be:
'Turn your face now from this place,'
she says most forcefully.

All rivers run from north to south
Fate has no remorse.
The water's flow can't let you go
It all points to that course...

The silver curls upon your head
touch softly 'gainst the pyre.
Once golden fair like Sif's bright hair
echoes 'gainst the fire.

The corpse-horse rides to Niflheim
with you upon his back.
Guard you well to gate of Hel,
don't wander from the track.

Your head's bright jewels
are bright no more

The mound is touched by snow.

Oh amma mín, my mamma's kin,

I'd rather not you go.

As alluded to above, minnis-kvæði has a connection to the function of the song.  Kvæði (n.) is the general word for a poem or song.  Minnis is the genitive form of minni (n.) which can have the meaning of 'memory' or 'memorial', and is particularly associated with the Norse tradition of a memory toast (also can refer to the cup the toast is given upon) spoken for a god or the deceased.  Gunnvor, the Viking Answer Lady, mentions the tradition in her essay on "Alcoholic Beverages and Drinking Customs in the Viking Age".  I took the two words and made the compound minnis-kvæði to give the idea of a memorial song as opposed to a toast.

The first Norse word that occurs in the kvæði is völva (f.). 'a prophetess' -- often translated into English as 'sybil'.  She was one who could prophesy someone's Fate using spá magic and was highly respected. 

In the fourth verse, I invoke the image of Sif, a goddess.  She is listed by Snorri Surluson in his Edda as the wife of Þórr, and appears in a story involving Loki.  Loki, for an unknown reason, decides to cut off Sif's hair.  When it is discovered, he is, predictably, in trouble.  As his punishment he goes to the dwarves to order three magical items: one being Sif's replacement hair.  Sif's wig is actually made of pure gold and once placed on her head, grows like real hair.  This story results in a kenning used by poets: 'Sif's hair' refers to gold.  I thought it fitting to use this reference for my grandmother's hair, which I'm told was once blonde.

'The corpse horse' is a reference inspired by H.R. Ellis Davidson's book, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe.  I don't know whether I can properly document the phrase to period, but I liked the image, and so I used it.

Niflheim is a place in Norse mythology -- the underworld, where the spirits of the dead go.  It is ruled over by Hel, the goddess, who is also referred to in my song.  Even Baldr goes to Niflheim -- so, it's not segregated to evil doers, etc. like the Christian Hell.  Thus I felt it fitting to wish my grandmother well as she went to Niflheim.

'Your head's bright jewels' is my only kenning in the poem, and refers to the eyes.

And finally, my last bit of Norse in the poem, amma mín, which literally means 'my grandmother'.  From the construction of the rest of the poem, the rhyming schema for that line should be 3-4 syllables per half line, with the rhyme on the final word of the half line.  This final rhyme differs, as the final words for the half line is a pararhyme since the vowels differ -- mín being a long closed front vowel while kin is a short mid-closed mid-front vowel (or rather, the former is tense and the latter is lax).  The true rhyme for this line is actually in the penultimate words: amma and mamma (let's ignore that pesky genitive).  Of course, this is all extremely picky, and obviously, I like the construction well enough to leave it.

No kennings in this entry's subject, just a lot of alliteration.

Also, my SCA Kingdom post might be pushed back until after November due to NaNoWriMo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Listen Lífsteinn, Ymir's bones bear not only one way of naming -- even Óðinn has not one.

I'm in the process of composing an entry on SCA Kingdom names translated into Old Norse, and I thought it might be handy to have a list of the period place names I may be referencing later, including new place names I've found.  The places are in alphabetical order, and I've included the references to the country's populace and languages of those places when I've found them.  Sometimes the populace- and language-vocabulary are repeated under multiple names for the same place, but are not necessarily derived from the same root etymology.

Austr(h)álfa [u] f. (Baltic, East Europe)
  • austrhálfulýðr "people of the East"
Austrlönd n. pl. (the East, =Eastern Europe)
  • austanmaðr m. "eastern man"
  • austkylfir m.pl. "easterlings"
  • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes.
Austrríki n. (Eastern Europe, esp. Russia, Austria)
  • austanmaðr m. "eastern man"
  • austkylfir m.pl. "easterlings"
  • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes.
Austrvegr m. (esp. Russia, Wenden, the east Baltic)
  • austanmaðr m. "eastern man"
  • austkylfir m.pl. "easterlings"
Bretland n. (Wales)
  • inn breski (byname) "the Welshman"
  • Valir m. pl. "the Welsh"
  • Brezkr adj. "Welsh"
Danmörk f. (Denmark)
  • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes.
  • Danir m. pl. "Danes"
  • danskr adj. "Danish"
  • Dönsk tunga "the Danish tongue" -- the earliest recorded name of the common Scandinavian tongue 
Danaveldi n. (the empire of the Danes)
  • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes. 
  • Danir m. pl. "Danes"
  • danskr adj. "Danish"
  • Dönsk tunga "the Danish tongue" -- the earliest recorded name of the common Scandinavian tongue
England n. (England)
  • Englar "the English people"
  • Enskr adj. "English"
  • Enzka "English-tongue"
    Frakkland n. (the land of the Franks)
    • Frakkar m.pl. 'the Franks'
    (mod.?) Franz f. (France)
    • Frankismenn "the French" 
    • Frankismál "the Frankish tongue" 
    • (mod.?) Franziska "the French tongue"
    Frísland n. (Frisia) 
    • Frísir m. pl. "the Frisians" 
    • Frískr adj. "Frisian"
    Færeyjar f. pl. (the Faroe Islands, lit. "Sheep Islands") 
    • Færeyingar m. pl. "people of the Faroe Islands" 
    • Færeyskr adj. "Faroese"
    Garðar m./Garðarríki n./Garðaveldi n. (Scand-Rus Kingdom) 
    • Garðarríksmenn m. pl. "the Rus, Russians"
    (mod.?) Grikkland n.
    • Garðskonungr "the Greek Emperor"
    Hjaltland n. (Shetlands)
    • Hjaltlendingr m. "a Shetlander" 
    • Hjaltlenzkr/Haltneskr adj. "Shetlandish"
    Írland n. (Ireland)
    • Írar m. pl. "Irishmen" 
    • Írskr adj. "Irish" 
    • Írska "Irish tongue"
    Ísland n. (Iceland)
    • Íslendingar m. "Icelanders"
    • Norræna "Norse tongue" -- first used in 13th and 14th century Iceland instead of Dönsk tunga for the Norwegian and Icelandic language
    • Íslenzkt mál "Icelandic tongue" -- first used in the 15th century, and the phrase used in Bible translations
    Langbarðaland n. (Lombardy)
    • Langbarðar m.pl. "the Lombards"  
    Miðjarðarhaf n. (The Mediterranean Sea)
              --> Miðjörð f. 'The Mediterranean' [I'm backforming here]

    Mikligarðr m. (Byzantium/Constantinople)

    Mön f. [gen. Manar] (Isle of Man)
    • Manarmenn m. pl. "Manxmen"
    Norðmanndi n. 'Normandy'
    • Norðmanndingar m. "people of Normandy"
    Norðr(h)álfa f. (Northern Europe)

    Norðrlönd n. pl. (Scandinavia)
    • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes. 
    • Dönsk tunga "the Danish tongue -- the earliest recorded name of the common Scandinavian tongue
    • Norræna "Norse tongue" -- first used in 13th and 14th century Iceland instead of Dönsk tunga for the Norwegian and Icelandic language
    Noregr n. (Norway)
    • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes.
    • Noregsmenn m. pl. "men of Norway"
    • Norðmaðr m. "North-man, Norwegian" 
    • Dönsk tunga "the Danish tongue" -- the earliest recorded name of the common Scandinavian tongue
    • Norræna "Norse tongue" -- first used in 13th and 14th century Iceland instead of Dönsk tunga for the Norwegian and Icelandic language
    Norðymbraland n. (Northumbria)
    • Norðymbrar m. pl. "Northumbrians"
    Orkneyjar f. pl. (the Orkeys)
    • Orkneyingar m. pl. "the people of the Orkneys" 
    • Orkneyskr adj.
    Róm n./Róma f./Rómaborg f./Rúmaborg f. (Rome -- the city)

    Rómaborgar ríki n. "the Roman Empire"
    • Rómaborgar lýðr m. (pl. lýðir) "the Roman people"
    Saxland n. (Germany)
    • Saxar m. pl. "Saxons, Germans"
    • Saxlenskr adj. "Saxon"
    • Saxneskr adj. "Saxon"
    Serkland (Arabia)
    • Serkir m. pl. "Saracens" (Northern Africa, Southern Spain)
    Skotland (Scotland, sometimes Ireland)
    • Skotar m. pl. "the Scots" 
    • Skotzkr adj. "Scottish"
    Suðreyjar (Sodor, the Hebridges)
    • Suðreyingar m. 'people of the Hebridges'
    • Suðreyskr adj.
    • under suðr "south" it is noted that an older form of the word is sunnr (ex. sunnr gunnar, sunnr runna) and is used in poems. Sunnr is also listed as an adv. meaning 'south' and is seen in several place names
    Suðr(h)álfa f. [u] ("the southern region")
    • under suðr "south" it is noted that an older form of the word is sunnr (ex. sunnr gunnar, sunnr runna) and is used in poems. Sunnr is also listed as an adv. meaning 'south' and is seen in several place names
    Suðrlönd (Saxony, South Germany)
    • suðrmaðr m. "a Southerner", esp. of Saxon, German 
    • under suðr "south" it is noted that an older form of the word is sunnr (ex. sunnr gunnar, sunnr runna) and is used in poems. Sunnr is also listed as an adv. meaning 'south' and is seen in several place names
    Suðrríki n. (esp. Central and Southern Europe)
    • under suðr "south" it is noted that an older form of the word is sunnr (ex. sunnr gunnar, sunnr runna) and is used by older poets. Sunnr is also listed as an adv. meaning 'south' and is seen in several place names
    Svíaríki (Sweden)
    • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes. 
    • Svíar n. pl. "the Swedes", originally limited to the Northern Swedes.
    • Dönsk tunga 'the Danish tongue' -- the earliest recorded name of the common Scandinavian tongue
    Svíaveldi (Swedish-kingdom)
    • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes. 
    • Svíar n. pl. "the Swedes", originally limited to the Northern Swedes.
    • Dönsk tunga "the Danish tongue" -- the earliest recorded name of the common Scandinavian tongue
    Svíþjóð (Sweden)
    • austmaðr m. "eastman" -- a term used in Iceland and Northern England to refer to those who came from the Scandinavian continent, especially merchants. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent is easterling. In Norway, this term referred to Swedes. 
    • Svíar n. pl. "the Swedes", originally limited to the Northern Swedes
    • Dönsk tunga "the Danish tongue" -- the earliest recorded name of the common Scandinavian tongue
    Vestrlönd (British Isles, Normandy, Bretagne, etc.)
    • vestanmaðr m. 'western-man'
    • Vestmaðr m. 'man from British Isles, esp. Irish'

    Listen Lífsteinn, Ymir's bones bear not only one way of naming -- even Óðinn has not one.
    • 'Ymir's bones' are mountains -- in the case representing the land (as I have excluded names for seaways, oceans etc. from this list)

    For my craft is cunning and cannot fail for fault -- twice is too frequent.

    So, I forgot to translate the kennings in the last post's title:

    Yet the sweet mead of Suttung may mold the mind-speaker in many ways sly and slippery

    • the 'mead of Suttung' is poetry
    • the 'mind-speaker' which it molds is the tongue

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Yet the sweet mead of Suttung may mold the mind-speaker in many ways sly and slippery

    Language is a fluid thing and thus can be very tricky when translating from one to another. A concept might be translatable into the target language in several different ways, or not at all. And often times, the words available might have shades of meaning that are not available in the other. Thus, it is my philosophy that when translating a piece for someone else (henceforth, the client), I will keep them involved in as much of the decision making as possible. It allows for the meaning that they want to come through, and thus hopefully leads to a more satisfactory end translation for the client. And to help the client in making that decision, I will research all the different possible translations that I can find into the target language and then explain the choices, including etymology (if I can find it). I like to include the etymology because it can sometimes help show the shade of meaning that cannot otherwise be clearly expressed. A pleasant byproduct is that sharing this information helps teach the client about a new topic, a topic I myself find fascinating. And often, it teaches me more about the language and introduces me to some new vocabulary.


    Below, is a project I was honored to be a part of -- a friend of mine was being elevated to the Order of the Laurel, which is one of the highest awards one can be given in the Society. It is given to people who excel in the Arts and Sciences, in this particular case for Bardic Arts, and who have given a great deal of time, energy, and skill to the Society. After being elevated, they are considered a Master. As a skáld, my friend Ingus has a marvelous gift for words, and so provided me with what he wanted to say in his oath to the royalty of our kingdom, to be translated into Old Norse:


    Hail, Hrodir King, Storm Rider, Wind Master
    You have called me and I have come
    .
    Hail, Giulia Queen, Truth Seer, Land Keeper

    Hear me as I mark this verse.


    Wordcraft is my vessel and I am her Captain.

    Stories are my canvas and Songs are my keel.

    So, too, are these words my anchor and moorings.

    To this land, my home, and to its Sovereigns

    Do I swear fealty.

    All my talents and efforts are yours to command.

    My eyes shall not see but to look for the best in all things.

    My back shall not bend but to support Northshield, her people, and her Leaders.

    My heart shall not wander but to seek justice and nurture kindness.

    My hands shall not be idle but to hold fast any trust or secret or to guide those who seek my aid.

    You have marked this course, and evermore shall I sail it.
    So say I….

    My task then was to as accurately and grammatically translate his words into the target language (Old Norse) as I could, and in enough time so as he would be able to memorize his oath to speak to the then king and queen. I kept in contact with him as I set about translating, and I had many revisions as I checked and double checked the grammar, vocabulary, and semantics of the words we were choosing. Below is the end result:


    Heill Hroðir Konungr, Stormsriddari, Vindsdróttinn
    Þú kallaðir mik ok ek kem.

    Heil Giulia Drottning, Sannleiksvörðr, Landsgæzlumaðr

    Heyrðu mik þá er ek segi upp þetta ljóð.


    Orðfimi er mitt skip ok ek em þess stýrimaðr.

    Mál eru mín segl ok söngvar eru minn kjölr.

    Ok þessi mín orð eru bæði mitt akkeri ok mínar landfestar.

    Fyrir þessu landi, mínu heima, ok fyrir þessum Höfðingum

    Ek vinn hollustu-eið.

    Öllum mínum gáfum ok öllum mínum iðjum þit stjórnið.

    Mín auga skulu sjá ekki, en skulu leita eftir því besta í öllu.

    Mitt bak skal vera boginn ekki, en skal bera Norðsætr, þess fólk, ok þess Leiðar.

    Mitt hjarta skal ráfa ekki, en skal leita réttvísi ok fóstrar gæzka.

    Mínar handar skulu sitja um kyrt ekki, en skulu halda trúnaði eða skulu leiðbeina einhver er leitandi minnar hjálpar.

    Þit vildið þessa leið, ok ek ætla at sigla hana.

    Svo segi ek…


    I rely heavily in all my translations on the Cleasby-Vigfusson An Icelandic-English Dictionary, which can be found online. I also use E.V. Gordon's An Introduction to Old Norse and Alan Bower's A synopsis of Old Icelandic morphology. In addition I use my Íslenk-Ensk Órðabók and an online English to Icelandic to English Dictionary. The latter I use because I don't always know the appropriate word in Icelandic -- and it's hard to find such a word without a dictionary that I can input the English word -- and because Icelandic is very similar to Old Norse. I then always check the Gordon and the Cleasby to make sure the word I found in Icelandic was around in Old Norse and had the same meaning. Now, neither the Gordon or the Cleasby is infallible, but they are currently my best resources. Another trick I've found most helpful when I need to find a very particular word in Icelandic (for instance, the Icelandic translation of the Atlantic Ocean) is to look up the Wikipedia article on that word, and then switch languages to Icelandic.


    Ingus spoke this oath using the reconstructed (and thus hypothetical) pronunciation of Old Norse rather than the Modern Icelandic. I thought it would be 1. more appropriate since we are trying to recreate something closer to the Viking Age (hence the use of Old Norse spelling and grammar rather than Modern Icelandic) and 2. simpler in some ways (no pre-aspiration to explain and teach to produce, for instance).


    Below are some of the details on the translation (referencing gender, number, declination, tense, and conjugation -- which I'm sure is only helpful to a select few) and some commentary on specific vocabulary choices.

    The abbreviations are:
    • m. 'masculine'
    • f. 'feminine'
    • n. 'neuter'
    • sing. 'singular'
    • pl. 'plural'
    • 1p. '1st person'
    • 2p. '2nd person'
    • 2p.d. '2nd person dual'
    • 3p. '3rd person'
    • c. 'conjunctive'
    • p. 'preposition'
    • nom. 'nominative'
    • acc. 'accusative'
    • dat. 'dative'
    • gen. 'genitive'
    • inf. 'infinitive'
    • prt. 'present tense'
    • pst. 'past tense'

    Heill
    Hroðir
    Konungr,
    Stormsriddari,
    hail
    Hróðir
    King
    storm-rider/knight,
    (m.sng.)
    (m.sng.nom.)
    (m.sng.nom.)
    (m.sng.gen.)-(m.sng.nom.)
    Vinds-
    dróttinn


    wind-
    lord


    (m.sng.gen.)-
    (m.sng.nom.)




    Riddari means 'rider' and was especially used for the equivalence of 'knights'. I thought this was particularly appropriate as Hrodir is a knight. According to Cleasby, the term itself did not enter into Old Norse until the 13th century.

    Dróttinn means 'lord, master', and was specifically the leader of a drótt 'household, people', and was probably at one time the masculine cognate of dróttning 'queen', but dróttning some time in the past was paired with konungr 'king'.


    Heil
    Giulia
    Drottning,
    Sannleiksvörðr,
    hail
    Guilia
    Queen
    truth-warden
    (f.sng.)
    (f.sng.nom.)
    (f.sng.nom.)
    (m.sng.gen.)-(m.sng.nom.)
    Lands-
    gæzlumaðr


    land-
    guardian


    (n.sng.gen.)-
    (m.sng.nom.)




    Giulia is of course the spelling of the queen's name in her persona's language, Italian, and Ingus pronounced it the common way her name is pronounced in the Society. However, this is not the way a Norse speaking person would have pronounced the name, of course, and I did do a transliteration of her name in how I thought a Norse speaking person would have pronounced it: Júlía. Transliterated (and possibly translated when the foreign word has a native cognate) foreign names are commonly seen in Old Norse. Aðalráðr for Anglo-Saxon Æðelreð, Tristram for Old French Tristran.


    ...en
    skal
    bera
    Norðsætr,
    ...but
    shall
    bear
    Northshield
    (c.)
    (prt.1p.)
    (inf.)
    (n.acc.)
    þess
    fólk,
    ok
    þess
    its
    folk
    and
    its
    (3p.sng.n.acc.)
    (n.sng.acc.)
    (c.)
    (3p.pl.m.acc.)
    Leiðar.



    leaders



    (m.pl.acc.)





    Norð-sætr literally means 'north-shieling'. A shieling is a small hut up in a mountain pasture that a herder uses as a base when he's retrieving his flock from the mountains. I used this as my translation of Northshield, my home kingdom, because I had heard that the -shield suffix actually was a form of -shieling. It was several weeks after the fact that I got the full story on the history of the name Northshield from a first-hand witness to the naming.

    When the area that would become Northshield was being named, one of the least disliked suggestions was North-shield, named for the Preambrain or Canadian Shield -- a geologic feature that runs through the area. It was some clever herald a bit later who found a precedent in an England town that used -shields (South Shields) as a contraction of -shielings. Well, using back-formation, if there is a plural -shields 'shielings', there could, therefore, be a singular -shield 'shieling'. But it was not this example that originally inspired the name of the kingdom.

    There is also a kingdom bardic tradition that I should have guessed at from my own readings, but didn't know at the time I was working on this project: the use of some Beowulf terminology. In the Anglo-Saxon (henceforth AS) poem there is the term Scyldingas, literally 'shield-ings' or 'shield-ers' (shield as in 'sword and shield' not 'to shield (e.g. 'to protect') the weak'), that is used to reference the Danes. I was familiar with this term because it was talked about in Snorri Sturlusons Prose Edda, the Old Norse version being Skjöldungar (sng. Skjöldungr). The Danes were called this because of their mythic founder Skjöldr (AS Scyld Scelding) 'shield'. The bards of Northshield have therefore applied this term for the Danes to the residents of Northshield.

    Between these two traditions (the inspiration for the original naming and the bardic tradition), I have been convinced that the Old Norse rendering of the name Northshield should be Norðskjöldr, not Norðsætr, and its people referred to as Skjöldungar. I have yet to find that Old Norse had a specific word for the geological shield (The Canadian Shield). The English, I would assume, just borrowed the common word shield since the geologic feature looks vaguely shield-shaped (but etymology is a slippery beast and can surprise you -- and I admit I have not done the research on it). An interesting note is that the Wikipedia article, while it does not have an Icelandic version of the page, does have a Norwegian version, in which the Canadian Shield is translated to Det kanadiske *skjold* (emphasis mine).


    Þit
    vildið
    þessa
    leið,
    ok
    ek
    you
    willed
    this
    course
    and
    I
    (2p.d.)
    (pst.2p.d.)
    (3p.sng.f.acc.)
    (f.sng.acc.)
    (c.)
    (1p.sng.nom.)
    ætla
    at

    sigla

    hana.

    intend
    to
    sail
    her
    (prt.1p.)
    (p.)
    (inf.)
    (3p.sng.f.acc.)


    Here the dual 'you' þit is used to indicate that both and only the king and queen have willed the course. Indeed, after the initial address to the king and queen, whenever both are referred to ('you' in the translation), the dual form of the pronoun is used.

    Also note that leið, being a feminine noun, takes the feminine pronoun hana when referencing back. Gender agreement between pronouns and their nouns is of course necessary in Old Norse. But this gender agreement can form some unusual sentences when the right combination (say the noun gender and the person's actual sex come into conflict). For example:




    The official, literal translation (the English translated to Norse translated back into English) is as follows:


    Hail Hrodir King, Storm-rider/knight, Wind-lord
    You called me and I come.
    Hail Giulia Queen, Truth-warden, Land-guardian.
    Hear me when I declare this verse.

    Word-skill is my ship and I am its captain.
    Stories are my sail and songs are my keel.
    And these, my words, are both my anchor and my moorings.
    Before this land, my home, and before these Rulers
    I swear (lit. work) a faithful oath.
    All my gifts and all my doings you (two) command.
    My eyes shall see not, but shall look for the best in all things.
    My back shall be bent not, but shall bear Northshield, its folk, and its Leaders.
    My heart shall wander not, but shall seek justice and foster kindness.
    My hands shall sit at rest not, but shall hold trust or shall guide anyone who seeks my help.
    You (two) will this course, and I intend to sail her.
    So say I...


    Project begun in mid-July 2007.
    Translation finished August 2nd, 2007.
    Oath spoken September 8th, 2007.

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    The wounder of the battle-wand with Kvasis-blood can flow freely

    The purpose of this blog is to compile my efforts of researching and recreating Viking Age Norway, and to catalog my thoughts more formally, perhaps into the seeds of essays. Who am I? I am a re-enactor and Viking Age enthusiast. I research the Viking Age not only by reading the work of scholars and archeologists, but by doing the crafts and recreating the clothes and objects of the period I study, 10th century Norway. I was introduced to this way of learning history through the SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism, and remain fairly active ever since I first joined six years ago. I am known in the Society as Eyja Bassadóttir. My kit is not perfect, but I have yet to meet anyone who can claim that, and I'm sure that this blog will help document some of my progression towards a better understanding of 10th century Norse society.

    So, what is my background and what are my particular interests? Outside the Society, I have gotten my Bachelor's in Linguistics and minored in both Medieval Studies and History. So you may guess that I have a particular interest in language. I have studied formally both Old Norse and Modern Icelandic and have produced some translation both in and out of Old Norse. I am also a bit of a crafts-junkie. I have become textilist through osmosis of my friends, learning sewing (both machine and hand-work) and nálbinding, with tablet weaving and 'embroidery' projects in the future. I have strung my own jewelry and have some wire-weaving in the works. I also consider myself a musician and poet, and have studied a little bit of Viking Age verse making and the art of playing the lyre (or, harpa). I've also experimented in a few Viking Age re-enactors' recipes, and hopefully will experiment a little more. And I suspect I might dabble in a few more crafts before too long.



    Norðlendingr derives from Norðland 'North-land' and thus literally means 'North-lander'. It follows the same conventions as Ísland - Íslendingr 'Iceland - Icelander'. It seemed a fitting title.

    The entry title features some Viking Age poetical devices, including a few kennings:

    The wounder of the battle-wand with Kvasis-blood can flow freely

    • 'the battle-wand' is a sword
    • its 'wounder' is a pen
    • 'Kvasis-blood' is poetry
    Yes, I am referencing that famous non-Norse saying.