The activity of víking is not specified further, either. The etymology of víkingr and víking is hotly debated by scholars, but needn’t detain us because etymology only tells us what the word originally meant when coined, and not necessarily how it was used or what it means now. There are actually two, or even three, different words that such explanations could refer to. This they had in common with a great many Western and other cultures throughout history. Some of the terms listed below (such as "Gringo", "Yank", etc.) The widow's laughter while talking with her husband's killer is a nervous outburst, perhaps, or even a ploy; soon she tricks him with "advice" that will lead to his own death. Víkingr did not imply any particular ethnicity and it was a fairly neutral term, which could be used of one’s own group or another group. “Viking” in present-day English can be used as a noun (“a Viking”) or an adjective (“a Viking raid”). The Irish spoke Old Irish which developed into Middle Irish from around 900 AD. Write an article and join a growing community of more than 115,600 academics and researchers from 3,759 institutions. Professor of Viking Studies, University of Nottingham. Among more educated Vikings sexual name-calling continued, often wrapped in sometimes obscure mythological or literary allusions. It could certainly include raiding, but was not restricted to that. The English word “Viking” was revived in the 19th century (an early adopter was Sir Walter Scott) and borrowed from the Scandinavian languages of that time. Attempts to fit Walt Whitman or Lord Byron into a comfortable diagnosis of "homosexual" falter on the realities of their time and place. A pejorative meaning of the word began to develop in the Viking Age, but is clearest in the medieval Icelandic sagas, written two or three centuries later – in the 1300s and 1400s. 10:06 am, (adapted from a long-ago post on a listserv). The Icelandic sagas went on to have an enormous influence on our perceptions of what came to be called the Viking Age, and “Viking” in present-day English is influenced by this pejorative and restricted meaning. Rjeindeer-Fjucker: Norwegians: More specifically applies to Scandinavian aboriginals (Saami), but most popular towards Norwegians. Male sexuality, the urge to copulate, was presumed to be powerful and general and not particularly or necessarily limited to women. Nonetheless, for Vikings, a muttered accusation of sansorðinn was serious business. The early use of humiliation referred not to an inner state but to being made humble in the presence of those higher on the social scale. While Danish Vikings were more active in Britain and especially England, the majority of the Vikings arriving at the Irish shores, hailed from Norway and was often referred to as Norsemen or the “Fair Foreigners”. A more inclusive meaning acknowledges that raiding and pillaging were just one aspect of the Viking Age, with the mobile Vikings central to the expansive, complex and multicultural activities of the time. Please see the table below for Norse, Irish, Norwegian and English translations. ", There was so much emotion about Viking sexual insults that the thirteenth-century Gulaðing proscribed the use of these words in public. The word “kerling” describes mountains of a certain shape. But note that the Vikings distinguished the "catcher" from the "pitcher" role. It’s actually very popular among Norwegian sport supporters. In fact, the Scandinavian influence on the Irish language is small, though not insignificant and makes for a very interesting study. Copyright © 2010–2020, The Conversation US, Inc. Vikings came from a world of good stories. Finally, there are also some examples of words moving from Irish to Old Norse. The Norse Vikings settling in Ireland from the 9 th century spoke Old Norse, a North Germanic language. Please see some examples in the table below. Swedish National Heritage Board, Photo Bengt A. Lundberg, they should not be assumed to have the same meanings, also absorbed people who were not originally. Viking quotes, sayings, and phrases are powerful to know… because they contain the wisdom of a legendary, knowledgeable people, that for most of us, conjure visions of war, adventure, and conquest.. And while they were relentless warriors, and certainly a force to be reckoned with, the Viking people’s wisdom and wit often go overlooked. We are accustomed to understanding emotion as a personal experience -- something that occurs "inside" and may or may not be expressed. Respectable books and websites will confidently tell you that the Old Norse word “Viking” means “pirate” or “raider”, but is this the case? But there is also a stereotype hidden in the word “Viking”. The Viking Age was a large and complex phenomenon which went far beyond the purely military, and also absorbed people who were not originally of Scandinavian ethnicity. Only in the 18th century did it become normal to say "I feel humiliated" rather than "I am humiliated. What does the word really mean, and how should we use it? In Old Norse, there are two words, both nouns: a víkingr is a person, while víking is an activity. University of Nottingham provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK. water-logged island or harbour of the mud flats. Characters' behavior often appears bizarrely unemotional. Carlingford in County Louth is an interesting one, with the Old Norse name thought to have been Kerlingafjǫrðr. Not included in the table below is Limerick, another Irish town founded by the Vikings. (Think about it.). Those hairy warriors from Scandinavia who raided and pillaged, and slashed and burned their way across Europe, leaving behind fear and destruction, but also their genes, and some good stories about Thor and Odin. The laconic but contemporary evidence of runic inscriptions and skaldic verse (Viking Age praise poetry) provides some clues. Also, an Old Irish word, “caillech”, means nun or hag, which further could have inspired the Vikings choice of name for Carlingford. The insult didn't have to be that direct, as long as the meaning was clear. The strict division of male sexuality into hetero- and homo- that we presume today was not usually made before the late 19th century. Ultimately, it derives from a word in Old Norse, but not directly. We all know about the Vikings. The Norse Vikings settling in Ireland from the 9th century spoke Old Norse, a North Germanic language. Blunder The word blundra means to shut your eyes and therefore to walk around banging into things. That could be punished by fullrettirsorð "full penalty," meaning that the insulted man could kill the insulter with impunity. What we probably can take for granted, would be that the first Norse “visitors”, hardly were met with the Irish expression “Céad Míle Fáilte” (a hundred thousand welcomes), when raiding and pillaging monastic sites in search of treasures. Vikings were Norse or Scandinavian raiders and seafarers. But beware of the consequences. From the late 8th to early 12th centuries they raided wide areas of Europe and also established many governments, and trading networks. The first Norse loanword in Irish was erell developed from iarla (jarl) followed by punnann (a sheaf of corn = kornband/nek). In the Lokasenna ("The Insolence of Loki"), the term argr is bandied about openly. When entering the Carlingford Lough, both pilots and seafarers are using three distinguished mountain tops, the Three Nuns, in order to navigate. Refers to the abundance of Reindeer and silent J's found in this part of the world. The authorities would look the other way. Most of the Old Norse words entering the Irish language related to navigation, seafaring, fishing, trading and clothing. The Vikings were known for their ferocity and sailing ability. A víkingr was someone who went on expeditions, usually abroad, usually by sea, and usually in a group with other víkingar (the plural). Linguistics have discovered that Old Norse words and expressions are far more common in Scottish Gaelic than in the Irish Gaelic language. Calling a man a "mare," or a "woman," or worse, argr (its polite meaning is "cowardly"; its sexual meaning is "emasculated, unmanned, womanish") could also call down the weight of fullrettirsorð. ... To lap the distance between that world and ours, you have to keep reading, and think in terms of the codes of honor. Rather than entering the Irish language, the Old Norse name Hlymrekr was taken directly into English. The stereotypes about Vikings can partly be blamed on Hollywood, or the History Channel. The worst was implying that a man was sansorðinn -- "used in the position of a female (blauðr) by another man," in other words "demonstrably sodomized." Talking with the man who killed her beloved husband, a woman makes jokes about the bloody ax he carries. Linguistics have discovered that Old Norse words and expressions are far more common in Scottish Gaelic than in the Irish Gaelic language. “Viking” in present-day English can be used as a noun (“a Viking”) or an adjective (“a Viking raid”). To lap the distance between that world and ours, you have to keep reading, and think in terms of the codes of honor. The word “Viking” does not describe the Norse or Scandinavian people as a whole, but rather it describes the Norse or … Scandinavians in Ireland were merchants who founded towns and never settled far from the coast, while their Scottish counterparts mainly were farmers and fishermen. Also, some Irish place-names have been derived from Old Norse, while others are directly translated from Irish names. Reference: A Dictionary of Scandinavian Words in the Languages of Britain and Ireland authored by Diarmaid Ó Muirithe and published by Four Courts Press. Dublin was named Dyflin by the Vikings, taken from the Old Irish Dublinn (dubh linn), meaning black pool. Although the English word is ultimately linked to the Old Norse words, they should not be assumed to have the same meanings. One reason for this disparity, could be the difference in social conditions. The following is a list of ethnic slurs (ethnophaulisms) that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity, or to refer to them in a derogatory (that is, critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or otherwise insulting manner.. The debate between those who would see the Vikings primarily as predatory warriors and those who draw attention to their more constructive activities in exploration, trade and settlement, then, largely boils down to how we understand and use the word Viking.

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